Guardian Angel - Or Grinch?

Dear tenants: If you must stay, better hold your breath!

A fax from Helmsley-Spear management to The Insider noted that the TNRCC has granted Memorial Hills an innocent owner certificate absolving it of any responsibility for the pollution.

"As best we know," stated the fax, "we have disclosed information concerning the contamination in notices to our tenants."

Curiously, the management of Memorial Hills seemed to actually welcome news coverage of the pollution threat in the area. "And when did you say your story is going to run?" a leasing office employee cheerfully asked.

TNRCC spokesman Dick Lewis is more than a bit dubious about the intent of the management letter to the tenants. He claims the agency did a thorough assessment of the pollution risk, and notes that the lab analysis does not back up Helmsley-Spear's warnings.

"That's the reason I wonder about the motives," says Lewis. "If I owned an apartment complex and I wrote a letter stating if you live here you're going to get very ill or die, well, that's a quick way to empty out the property."

Rotary Disconnection

The Insider reported recently about a mangled testimonial letter by President-elect George W. Bush in a program for the recent Lombardi Award dinner program in Houston ("Get Thee to a Spellchecker," December 21). The item drew a heartfelt mea culpa from Rotary Club of Houston Executive Vice President Tom Troegel. He explains regretfully that it was his own volunteers who did the misspellings and grammatical mistakes as they transcribed Shrub's paean to those beefy college football linemen nominated for the trophy.

"As you can well imagine," writes Troegel, "we are embarrassed by these circumstances. I can assure you that I will do everything possible to make sure that mistakes of this kind do not happen again.

"I am sure that all Rotarians in the 30 clubs in the city, and beyond, are embarrassed by our club's mistake. Further, we apologize to those individuals working on the staff of president-elect Bush, the president-elect, and all Rotarians for not living up to our high standards and having caused them undue criticism from this mistake."

We remain mystified why those allegedly sloppy Rotary volunteers produced impeccable versions of the program testimonials from President Bill Clinton and Mayor Lee Brown, but butchered the Bush letter. Perhaps the good Rotarians can institute remedial English classes for the membership in the near future.

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