Rotten to the Corps, Wife Strife, Sweet and Neat

Rotten to the Corps

Floodplain follies: I'm a former U.S. Corps of Engineers flood control project manager, but I have no particular knowledge of the unique circumstances behind the Clear Creek project ["Not Worth a Dam," by Brian Wallstin, September 13]. In fact, yours was the most comprehensive report I have seen.

It does, however, seem unlikely that environmental concerns were the only (or even major) factor in the delay of the Clear Creek project -- the corps normally makes short shrift of such concerns. My only point is one that you already have made, that waiting for the corps to solve a flooding problem is a losing proposition. When I worked there, the average time for completion of a federal project was 26 years -- and then there was always a question as to whether the project would work as intended. My advice is simple: Don't build in a floodplain in the first place.

Bayousphere High holy days: Chabad Rabbi Dovid Goldstein blows the shofar (ram's-horn trumpet) during his Shofar Factory outreach visit to the Seven Acres retirement community on North Braeswood.
Deron Neblett
Bayousphere High holy days: Chabad Rabbi Dovid Goldstein blows the shofar (ram's-horn trumpet) during his Shofar Factory outreach visit to the Seven Acres retirement community on North Braeswood.

FEMA's buyouts are a start; improving Texas land use planning abilities (which are virtually nonexistent) would be a good step as well. Thanks for the excellent reporting.

Dennis Oakes
League City

Wife Strife

War casualty? Loved the story "Drug Money" [by Steve McVicker and Tim Carman, September 6]. Like the victims mentioned there, my wife did a favor for a "friend" in a small town. Six months later she ended up with a felony conviction, five years' probation and thousands of dollars in fines.

Turns out her "friend" was rolling over on people he knew in order to escape indictment for robbing a convenience store. So thanks to you, repentant cons-turned-informants. Thanks for ruining any chance my wife, 14-month-old son and I have for moving on, escaping the past, leading a normal life -- just to save your own sorry ass.

She made some bad choices like just about every one of us has. But not as bad as the choice you made.

Name withheld by request

Sweet and Neat

Give the Girls a break: So the Sweet Girls are not always the best of pals, and like many collaborations, theirs has been a mutable one ["Sugar and Spice," by Lauren Kern, August 30]. But am I the only reader who found your report a bit of a cop-out? Yeah, it's always more fun to chart social rifts than to talk about art, but like VH1's Behind the Music, your article adhered to the clichés, with only a few paragraphs about the implications of their work.

What dismayed me is the assumption that the Sweet Girls should be judged for failing to achieve a fixed goal. Your article turns them into one-hit wonders, a girl band who blew their chance to perpetuate and profit from a well-defined image. Actually, such associations in art blossom and come apart with mind-boggling speed. Indeed, it's the cycle of change that usually keeps things interesting.

I had no idea what the Sweet Girls were up to before walking into Lawing Gallery earlier. As a feminist who came of age in the much sterner '70s, I got a bang out of their hilariously seductive and savvy installation. Was it great art? No. Was it a provocative summer show that made me curious to know what would come next from these ladies, whether as a group or on their own? You betcha.

Alison de Lima Greene

Past Glory

Help Westbury: After reading Margaret Downing's article ["Stepchild," September 6], it's clear that the "traditionalists" of Westbury High School are trying to hold on to a past that is out of touch with today's public school crisis from not upgrading schools in minority communities.

The Westbury community will never return to the glory days of majority white, blue-collar, etc. Westbury's problems did not begin three or four years ago. Where were the "traditionalists" at the onset of racial change? What did they do at that point to ensure that Westbury High would never slip into what is now commonplace in many schools that are largely minority? Why not let school officials, academic experts and rational residents meet in a crisis summit to do damage control to a situation that has been years in the making?

Everyone who is familiar with the plight of today's schools, with large numbers of minority students, knows that there cannot be a strong academic program without student discipline. This group's solution seems to be "tear down the apartment complexes and return the neighborhood to its former status."

Johnny Reb and the rebel flag have no place in a school with a vast cross-section of racial groups.

Name withheld by request

Chron Crunch

Irish stew: Though not prone to revel in any individual's misfortune, I would argue that collectively the Houston Chronicle's woes [News Hostage, by Richard Connelly, September 6] elicit no tears from the city's active Irish and Irish-American communities.

Richard Connelly was spot on with his contention of the paper having its "sacred cows" and "untouchable" institutions, a fatal flaw when the public has ample access to factual news coverage. From our perspective, the Chronicle's reporting and editorials of current events in Northern Ireland are notoriously and blatantly pro-British. Yet innumerable editorial rebuttals and demands subsequently tendered for accurate reporting curiously fail to merit publication or consideration.

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