Manual Labor Waste
I laughed out loud reading about the "desk manual" program at HISD [Insider, by Tim Fleck, April 22] until I got to the part about ten employees and a half-million-dollar-a-year budget to administer this insanity -- a sick, sad combination of Dilbert, Saturday Night Live and The Twilight Zone.

Our schools are falling down, HISD is always begging for bond issues, and this is how our money is spent? The story is hilarious, but it is the kids (and the taxpayers) who are the real losers.

Obviously Paige is a total flake who is completely out of touch with reality and far too irresponsible to be running our school system. Did the school board actually know about this, and did its members approve these expenditures? If so, they need to go, too. You have done Houstonians a huge favor by exposing this absurdity. Now give us phone numbers of board members and meeting times so we can all protest this ridiculous waste of time and money.

Houstonians need to get on "The Northbound Train" (get with the program) to make sure that Paige and every member of the school board who approved this craziness get dumped into the "Cruel Sea" (sacrificed for the good of the organization) as soon as possible.

L.A. Gilbert
via Internet

Promising a Lot
The parking problems you described ["No Parking," by Margaret L. Briggs, April 29] are just the beginning. There is no doubt that adequate convenient parking for new downtown businesses is critical for success. At least retail, restaurants and club owners have somebody on their side (downtown Historic District's new division).

Unfortunately, I haven't heard much said about what will happen to the folks who will have to continue to come to the northern edge of downtown and try to park to take care of business -- whether to get a friend or relative out of jail, go to divorce court, traffic court, pay taxes or pay child support, not to mention the hundreds of folks called for jury service every day.

And what about several thousand Harris County employees? Is anyone concerned that they will all have to pay higher parking fees and will find it increasingly difficult to even find a place to park? Judge Eckels announced plans to build a county parking garage of 1,200 spots. Well, that's a start.

I really think downtown planners are anticipating that everyone will drive over to the Astrodome and catch a ride downtown on the "light rail!" Oh, well, the streets will be well lit and lined with trees, and we'll discover what a pleasant way of life that can be.

Name withheld by request
via Internet

100-Meter Race
I don't understand. Why are the simplest problems made to seem so complex?
So, downtown Houston has a parking "problem." From what I see when I go downtown, Houston is one big parking "opportunity."

Why not repave the spaces set up for parallel parking around Market Square into diagonal parking spaces, put in new parking meters and thereby:

1. Provide revenue for the city.
2. Keep valet parkers from fighting with business owners.
3. Make surface parking lots obsolete.

4. Create development opportunities for the owners of surface lots who are not currently compelled to develop their land.

5. Create more pedestrian traffic overall and a more active downtown, with the added parking and new development.

Problem solved.
James Rowland
via Internet

Funnel Cloud
Your usual insight and thorough research was compromised in "Digging Up the Dirt" [April 29] by Bob Burtman.

I've interviewed with Burtman on several occasions and usually enjoy reading his articles. Unfortunately, his statement that my previous "office funneled public works payments and should have known how the finances were jimmied" is inaccurate.

Payments are initiated by the operating departments, in this case Public Works and Engineering, upon invoice from a Council-approved contractor, and forwarded to the City Controller, not Finance and Administration, for verification and payment.

I look forward to your future insightful and accurate articles on local government.

Richard Lewis
Deputy Chief Administrative Officer

Mixing It Up
A letter by S. Whitmarsh ["Ethnic Cleansing," April 22] poses an interesting dilemma in our society. By the content of the letter, it seems that Whitmarsh is not racist and merely wishes to open up a dialog, something that can be educational and beneficial to all races.

I am a history student at UH who is married to an African-American woman. While I do not think this is an ideal situation for everyone, it does work out for many people.

We have subjugated vast quantities of peoples during colonialistic and imperialistic times. The quantity of whites has never been as physically important as the quantity of the wealth they control. Ask almost any black man in the U.S. if he feels whites have an advantage here, and he will say yes.

As far as race mixing goes, we are already mixed. You are arguing to preserve something that has never existed. There was mixing of blacks, whites and other races in the distant and recent past.

There is nothing wrong with biodiversity as long as you give people the right to choose. Don't infringe upon other people's right to "mix."

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