Caring for the Kids

Plus: Last Seen Wearing..., Punch Lines, Looking Down

Caring for the Kids

Improve funding: "Sick Kids," by Wendy Grossman [November 8] was an excellent article, sad and entertaining at the same time. There are a couple of clarifications I would like to add:

The article states there are 50 kids in my custody because of their mental health needs. That is an accurate count of those most mentally incapacitated, but today there actually are 925 kids in my custody, and approximately 35 percent have a diagnosed emotional disturbance or mental illness. That does not count those addicted to a drug. For that population, the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department will spend in excess of $12 million for mental health placements and services.

The purchase of the 16 beds at the Harris County Psychiatric Center came only after Dick Raycraft, budget officer for Harris County, personally visited the kids in the detention center and supported the deal. Commissioners Court subsequently voted unanimously to spend the money. In these financially strapped times that was a significant commitment.

Last, there's a lot to be done on this topic. In a city the size of Houston, with all our resources, I am incredulous that an indigent child can get long-term psychiatric care only if he breaks the law and is placed into my custody. Texas, and even more so Harris County MHMRA, is terribly underfunded. I believe Texas ranks 49th in mental health funding for kids -- a totally unacceptable fact. Thanks again for the article.

Elmer E. Bailey Jr., executive director
Harris County Juvenile Probation Office

Last Seen Wearing...

Hold up? Hold on: Your front page on the Muslim woman ["No Veiled Threats," by Jennifer Mathieu, November 15] looks like an ideal cover for someone planning to negate surveillance cameras in a bank or convenience store before robbing the place. With eye makeup and reflection-type sunglasses, it would be hard to tell whether the robber was male or female.

I vaguely remember a law concerning such disguises or cover-ups. A defense attorney would know, I am sure.

John Hall Jr.
Shenandoah

Mom's intuition: I was so impressed with your article about Heidi, my daughter, and other Muslims living in Houston. The integrity and compassion and the dedicated research that Jennifer Mathieu put into the article were evident. I was right to trust what I heard in her voice when we spoke on the phone. Thank you.

Pam Longley
Houston

Punch Lines

Clearing the air: I wish my comments in the interview could have been clearer, because unfortunately some of the things I said were misconstrued in the article ["Chicks with Shtick," by Brandon Cullum, November 22]. In putting on Lip Schtick Donnas, we're not whining about not getting stage time and inequity in the business; we're trying to build up to longer comedy sets, and the stage time at comedy clubs like the Laff Stop will follow.

I didn't mean the Laff Stop audience was snobby or snooty, but moreover, that the people who go to Rudz are much less likely to be offended. The whole point was and is this: It's comedy at a place that isn't a comedy club. This way, it's our risk, out of our pockets, not the comedy club's risk and reputation.

Mark Babbitt and the Laff Stop have done a lot for female comedians; he's hosted more female headliners than any other comedy club in the country and put on the Brassy Broads show -- which is the singular inspiration for the LSD show.

The purpose of our show is not to contrast with what's going on at the Laff Stop. It's to help us become better comics.

Melissa Nichols
Houston

No kidding: As a local stand-up comic, I applaud the ingenuity and talent of the young women involved in organizing their show at Rudyard's. But their attacks on comedy, the Laff Stop and general manager Mark Babbitt in particular were woefully remiss.

A summary glance at the November Laff Stop calendar reveals women in several headliner and featured slots and the all-female Brassy Broads show (which is a main-stage show, not an open mike, as was stated in the article) -- hardly a dearth of the fairer sex.

This typical sort of lineup is due in large part to the vision of the sorely maligned Mr. Babbitt himself, and any "restriction" he may place on material in his club is certainly not gender-specific; his hesitance to endorse that type of material should be understandable, considering he runs a comedy club that also generates revenue from non-angrily-leaving patrons.

I believe the comedy world is harder for women; the talent is there in spades, yet acceptance of the threat of a funny female varies. But that is not the case at the Laff Stop, where funny ladies are respected, encouraged and -- often -- created. I would suggest to the Lip Schtick Divas that they rely on their talent, wit and hard work (which I have seen firsthand) to make their show a success, instead of appropriating a phony veneer of victimhood and outsiderdom.

Mike MacRae
Houston

Looking Down

Vile victims:Your November 15 oppressed victim section had quite a lineup. Ms. Huanca of the Art Car Museum felt threatened because the FBI asked her a few questions about the god-awful stuff they display ["Quirky Yes, Al Qaeda No," by Jennifer Mathieu].

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