Letters 08-03-2000

Pollandaise Sauce

I so much enjoyed your article on Gary Polland being boss of the Harris County Courthouse ["GOP Inc., by Tim Fleck, July 20].

I have spoken to many lawyers, and even filed a grievance, but could not convince anyone that Polland was string-pulling. Most people did not believe that this kind of stuff goes on down at the courthouse. Yeah, right.

I concur with the comments of the anonymous Republican judge about Polland's political motivations not having a philosophical foundation. It's been my observation that Polland just craves the limelight and will do just about anything to get in it, even if it's something controversial.

Lynn Cook

While I profess no knowledge of or opinions about Mr. Polland's politics, I want to report to you that his legal abilities, contrary to what you suggest, are first-rate.

Probate Court Judge Russell Austin appointed Gary Polland as guardian ad litem for two minor children in a wrongful death case filed after the death of their mother. This case came to trial on June 19, immediately after the Republican Convention reported on in your article. Mr. Polland conducted himself admirably during this weeklong trial.

He was extremely well prepared regarding the facts of the case. He further displayed the tactical skills of an aggressive trial attorney. His diligent attention was extremely helpful in obtaining not only a large damage award for the children, but also an award of punitive damages against the drunk driver that caused their tragic loss.

His attention to his responsibilities as guardian ad litem was well above what I have come to expect from one. While your paper may be critical of the ad litem procedures in general, I believe it is unfair to be critical of Polland, since he earned his modest fee through hard work and litigating skill.

Robert F. Stein

Beaches or Houses?

I thoroughly enjoyed your article regarding the erosion of Texas beaches ["This Sand Is Your Sand," by Brad Tyer, July 13]. I must say the facts of the issue are quite disconcerting, but it was well presented.

It is sad to see what is happening, but the complete lack of cohesion in doing anything about it is even more sobering. The Open Beaches Act is an example of a grand statement being chipped away at by those who do not agree with it, including the state attorney general. Too often in America the interests of a few take precedence over the interests of the many.

In this case, it is by state officials trying to get elected (or re-elected), local government not carrying its burden to use collected funds to keep the beaches maintained or homeowners protecting their investments at the expense of every sand- and surf-loving (and potentially taxpaying) Texan.

It sounds like someone needs to come in and enforce the current law or else risk losing the sandy sanctuaries along the coastline once and for all. So what will it be, beaches or houses?

Alex Clayton

In reference to Brad Tyer's article on the Open Beaches Act, we would like to call attention to the following factors:

Public access to the beach is not being questioned, only vehicular access

Vehicular traffic destroys the dunes and the beaches and contributes to erosion

No other state allows vehicles open access to its beaches

Vehicular traffic on the beaches is particularly deadly and has resulted in a number of fatalities.

Name withheld by request

Beach erosion presents a dilemma -- should we retreat from or defend the beach? Retreat is acceptable for most Texas beaches; however, where appropriate and economically feasible, defense is preferable. Texas needs to balance the public interest in the beach (ingress and use) and the public interest in the land (public and privately owned land, public infrastructure and the interest of coastal communities that depend on the beach and on which the public depends for use and enjoyment of the beach.

In short, Texas needs to save its beach and, where appropriate and economically feasible, it needs to stabilize the beach, thereby saving both the beach and the land.

If I were calling the shots at Surfside, I would nourish the beach in order to make it better for the public and to diminish the threat to the beachfront houses. I would not place breakwaters that would interfere with those coveted surfing waves. I would place sand dunes with geotube cores at the back of the beach and erect amenities designed to better accommodate all users of the beach. In the end, I would create a positive climate for recreation, growth and harmony at this unique beachside community. If you stop to think about it, most charming beachside communities have been created this way. All it takes is money.

I believe everyone would benefit if the Open Beaches Act were amended simply to provide that if a house appears on the beach as the result of erosion, it may be repaired and connected to public utilities and public roads unless it (1) significantly blocks public access to or on the beach, or (2) presents an imminent threat to public health.

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