Letters

Parental Guidance

Your article on Mickey Dunlap ["Turnstyled and Junkpiled," by Brad Tyer, February 17] was alternately one of the saddest and most inspiring pieces of writing I've seen in the Press in a long time.

Does the state have any recourse against his parents? I hope those bastards get the chair.

E.W. Lambeth

Houston

Lottery Letdown

Excellent story, lousy cover ["Billie Bob's (Mis)Fortune," by Steve McVicker, February 10].

When the Harrell family moved from their old house to their new home in Kingwood, they found themselves across the street from us. They were a wonderful family. Billie once described his family as the Beverly Hillbillies. I laughed and told him I looked and acted more like Jed than he did. The humor faded as I began to realize Billie lacked the self-esteem needed to support his sudden success.

No one will ever know exactly \what triggered the tragedy of Billie's suicide. The concern that I had for Billie was that he didn't feel like he deserved to be a millionaire. He felt unworthy of the money and therefore tried hard to get rid of it. Billie and I discussed it on a couple of occasions. Unfortunately, as your article reflects, Billie could be immune to advice.

While I think that Mr. McVicker did an excellent job portraying various things in the article, I wish people could also know just how good a father Billie Harrell was. He was devoted to his three children, spent as much time as he could with them after he won the lottery, and beamed with pride over their character. Billie also demonstrated courage in a manner that I will never forget: We once found our home burglarized, and I sent my wife and son into the front yard while I made sure no one was still in the house. Billie saw them crying, learned what had happened, ran into his house and immediately returned to my front door with a loaded pistol to make sure that I was safe.

Your cover was gory. I realize you need to get people to pick up the paper to read it, but there must be a better way to do it without such a disservice to Mrs. Harrell, their children, his parents and the family's friends.

Harry Herzog

Houston

Fault Lines

I am getting more than tired of the ranting from the organizers of the Westheimer Street Festival ["Out in the Street," by Brandon Cullum, February 10]. Doesn't anyone remember about three or four years ago when there were plenty of Port-O-Lets and the streets were always cleaned daily after the fest? Or the ugly change of hands to the new organizers? The festival is a special event that represents the artistic underbelly of our great city. It has grown because we have.

The city is not to blame. The lack of Port-O-Lets and the trash and overall disorganization of the event can be blamed on only the current organizers. And the comment about police not doing their job is ludicrous. The organizers hire the security as well. So don't blame anyone but the organizers for the death of this once beautiful event. This has been a struggle for three years. It's funny that it comes to light only after they blew it.

Name withheld by request

Houston

Vice Is Nice

The highest and best use of the Fire Station No. 1 property would be for a large upscale brothel complex [Insider, by Tim Fleck, February 17]. Such a development could be subsidized by a special Prostitution Use Tax Zone (PUTZ).

Baghdad on the Bayou would then be closer to becoming a world-class city like Amsterdam and Sydney, Australia. In fact, an upscale red-light compound, or boys' town, would certainly help land the Olympics. There can be no doubt that Sydney's fabulous legal brothels and beautiful prostitutes were key to that city's landing the 2000 Summer Games.

Jay Bute

El Lago

Appeal to the Highest

It's incomprehensible that anyone would rejoice over the execution of a convicted murderer ["Stand Up and Holler," by Lauren Kern, February 3]. While I believe in the death penalty for those guilty of deliberate murder, I am certainly not in favor of the death penalty for those who are innocent.

There is an execution scheduled for March 1 for Odell Barnes. There are now three attorneys attempting to get George W. Bush to rule in Barnes's favor because of: 1) evidence that was never submitted to the jury, and 2) their investigations resulted in depositions of witnesses who were privy to information not brought out in the trial. The only thing left is a clemency petition to the board/governor.

I like Governor Bush, so I was dismayed to hear him state unequivocally in a campaign debate that "there aren't any innocent men on death row in Texas." I believe there's at least one, and George W. Bush is the only person who has the power to do anything about it.

I think it would be a better use of time, energy and effort if some of these people would stay home and pray for the victims' families, the men on death row who are faced with the ultimate punishment for their crimes, and for themselves.

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