Mow Down the Lawn Art
The fact is that in Houston deed restrictions are about all we have to keep our communities presentable ["The Mad Hatter vs. the Homeowners Association," by Jennifer Mathieu, April 1]. Remember: Some very well funded real estate interests have managed to defeat zoning every time out of the box.

Dr. Patt seems like a very concerned citizen, and I have a certain amount of sympathy for him and his position. Art, however, is very subjective. One man's Monet is another man's piece of crap.

If I want to see controversial artwork or leftover miniature golf props, there are places I can go to see them voluntarily. If I lived on Dr. Patt's street, I'd have to see them every day, like it or not. And if I should find it difficult to sell my house because of the lawn art next door, does that infringe upon my rights as a homeowner?

Dr. Patt now has a "cause" for which he can climb on a soapbox. His neighbors aren't "enlightened" enough to appreciate his "vision." This comes across as somewhat juvenile selfishness.

Dean Newton
via Internet

Taste and Waste
Deed restrictions are imposed on property before you purchase it, and if you don't want to live by the rules as established by the deed restrictions, perhaps you should find an alternative location to live.

There is no accounting for taste, but the deed restrictions should have nothing to do with taste. If Patt is not in violation of the deed restrictions and the community just doesn't think he fits in, then they are wasting time and possibly association money. You can't select your neighbors, but in a deed-restricted community, you can be assured of the things they will be permitted to do.

Protect the property values!
Pam Bailey
via Internet

Getting Exercised
As a board member of my homeowners association, I believe everyone should have the right to freedom of expression and the right to "improve" the looks of their front lawn.

But as a home owner with a $1,300 monthly mortgage, if the Mad Hatter moves on my street and puts his ten-foot bear in his yard, I'm going to kick his ass!

Thank you for letting me exercise my freedom of speech.
John R. Cobarruvias
via Internet

Go Carts
My husband and I recently shared a rare lunch together downtown (we both work outside the Loop). As we headed to an expensive sit-down restaurant, I asked him if Houston had street vendors ["Pushed Around," by Kimberly Reeves, April 1]. We're from New York, where pushcarts are as common to a street corner as the crosswalk signal.

I remember my mother's excitement at getting a "dirty old hot dog" beneath a yellow Sabaret's umbrella. There are some things -- praline nuts, a pretzel with mustard, a dog with sauerkraut -- you just can't get in a restaurant.

Restaurant owners shouldn't worry if I'm spending $2 on the street. They weren't going to get my business anyway, unless they planned on selling me half a tuna sandwich for that much. Give Mr. Lynch a break.

Name withheld by request
via Internet

Pulling for the Pushcart
Everyone who works downtown ought to visit Mark Lynch's cart at least once for the next two weeks, just to help this man out. Maybe he can sell Joe Roach wienie dogs for $1.

R. Young
via Internet

Good Call
Congratulations to Bob Burtman and the Press on another craftsmanlike job in your coverage of the demise of BCI ["Disconnected," April 1]. As one who was along on the ride -- and then the slide, I thought Bob's reporting was right on target. It's sad to think of what could have been.

Steven Long
via Internet

Telling Tale
Good story on BCI and Edwards. It's a story that needed to be told.
Greg Hahn
via Internet

I can't tell you how pleased I was by your two TAAS articles ["The Fix Is In," "Adding It All Up," by Shaila Dewan, February 28, March 4], even though they kept me awake at night. You gathered so much factual material; you have such a great way of reporting the education bureaucrats' denial; you add just the right amount of human interest to show that this is not just a theoretical issue. I just wish that somehow you could reach a larger audience.

Hilary Smith
via Internet

Taking HISD to TAAS
Being a first-year HISD teacher, I was intrigued by your cover story "The Fix Is In." I was prepared for another teacher-bashing, Wayne Dolcefino-type news story, but I was pleasantly surprised to find myself agreeing with many of Shaila Dewan's well-written points.

I wanted to teach the often-overlooked and underprivileged inner-city children. However, all HISD is concerned about are the TAAS scores. Why are these test scores so much more important than a child's future? The answer: money.

And in reference to Governor Bush's grand stand against social promotion, what a joke! He has offered no strategies, or the funds needed, to really give these students what they need in order to succeed.

What they need is more one-on-one attention. Parents need to be more involved in what their children are learning, and they too need to be educated about TAAS and what it represents.

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