Letters 08-03-2000

We all share the opportunity to gain much if we do the right thing and lose much if we do the wrong thing. We need to try to understand each other and work together to get erosion before it gets us. The butter is on that side of the bread.

Sidney S. McClendon II
Houston

Excellent article. Without government-subsidized insurance programs -- mainly federal flood insurance, but also state windstorm insurance -- few beach houses could ever have been built, because no bank would ever have given a mortgage on one.

Bankers know how susceptible any beach house is to destruction by a storm and won't risk lending a dime on one -- unless somebody guarantees them that their collateral will be rebuilt after the storm. That somebody is the government. If beachfront homeowners didn't have those insurance checks in their hands after every storm, the only debate would be where to dispose of the debris from their houses after it's scraped up off the beach.

It happened that way on Bolivar Peninsula after Tropical Storm Josephine a few years ago. Several houses were left on the beach by the erosion. Because of a technicality in the insurance coverage, the owners were denied full coverage. Their insurance companies paid them a pittance and they gladly signed releases letting the GLO tear down the houses and haul off the rubble. Compared to the other options, that's a pretty cheap way to keep the beaches open.

Congress amended the federal flood insurance program a few years ago to adopt a sort of "three strikes and you're out" approach. Houses that are damaged multiple times eventually can't get insurance anymore. Had this been in place in years past, houses like Arrington's would have been history long ago. It will be interesting to see what happens in a few years, when some of the beachfront houses in Texas have one too many strikes against them.

This was probably the best piece I've ever seen in a newspaper or magazine on the whole open beaches issue. Good job.

Tom Nuckols
Former director of the GLO's Coastal Division

Houston

Making a Difference

I want to thank you and commend you for the fine article ["Board and Care(less)," by Margaret Downing, July 6] concerning my son, Darrell Jones, and other individuals in our society who have been exploited and victimized because their mental conditions preclude their being able to protect themselves.

When I released the information to Margaret Downing, I did it with the realization that often the media takes facts and skews or distorts them for its own purposes. I hoped that your concern for this population was as genuine as it appeared when I met you. I am grateful that my hopes were fulfilled.

I am especially thankful for your sensitivity to our family and the other individuals who have been affected by outrageous abuses. Until more people become aware of the atrocities our homeless and/or mentally ill populations encounter, we cannot hope to correct the problem.

Once again, thank you for raising public awareness of this problem. Hopefully, through your efforts appropriate action will be taken by the individuals in this society who have the means to make a difference.

B. Lee Ligon, Ph.D.
Houston

Laid to Rest

I read your story about the execution of Gary Graham ["Hanging with Mr. X," by Steve McVicker, June 29] and was very pleased at what I perceived as unbiased reporting. You told both sides of the story, which I don't see very often in your paper, nor in the Houston Comical, and you laid it on the line for everyone to see.

I'm sorry that it took me so long to write and thank you, but as luck would have it I just plumb forgot about old Shaka after the first week! Thanks again for a great story.

Ron Hamlet
Houston

The Accused

I thought I was hallucinating or dreaming when I read this article ["A Yenne for Your Thoughts," by John Suval, June 29]. A public official, a district attorney no less, who worries about the constitutionality of her or others' actions in government? Imagine that. I left her a voice-mail saying, "God bless you." We need more people like her.

Our own benevolent and all-knowing federal government gives pollution credits to industry, and at the same time a "junker" car gets taken off the roads. Could this be the reason the EPA is going after you and me and not industry?

Mr. Suval, please write more stories exposing the government when it's wrong, and praising officials who do right. You won't have many of those stories.

Steve Block
Houston

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