Breaking the Mold

Plus: Bias -- By Whom?, No Alternative, South Park Fallout

Breaking the Mold

Lemon aid:Texas should have a lemon law for homes ["Buyers' Remorse," by Wendy Grossman, June 20]. A home is a huge long-term investment (more so than a car), and it only makes sense that the builders should have to stand behind their work.

With a lemon law, the crooked builders would have to go rip people off in another state.

Robert Walters
Baytown

Housework: Thank you for Wendy Grossman's article about the moldy home.

Many new homes in all price ranges have builder errors, some that lead to mold, and builders are not being held legally accountable. Approximately half of our states don't license contractors. In some states, the homeowner as plaintiff cannot recover legal, expert or other related fees in a lawsuit, let alone any kind of compensation for the strain the case puts a family through.

Because of weak consumer protection and low payout, it's a challenge just to find a lawyer who has handled such cases and is willing to take them on contingency. Homeowners are told essentially that even if they win, they lose.

Arbitration clauses further take away a homeowner's right to sue, even if they can afford to pursue it just on principle. As a volunteer for the national nonprofit advocacy organization Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings (and president of the Oklahoma chapter), I see increasing numbers of educated, careful people getting burned by unscrupulous builders. What I don't see are people filing frivolous lawsuits against builders. They can't even file serious, valid cases, in many instances. Home builders use excuses like "too many houseplants" to explain away mold growing inside walls, and refuse to take responsibility for roof leaks, plumbing defects, etc.

Home buyers need to be cautious and really do their homework before buying. The old methods of checking with the Better Business Bureau, etc., are insufficient. The information on HADD's site (www.hadd.com) will help buyers avoid becoming the owner of a nightmare house.

Cindy Schnackel
Edmond, Oklahoma

Bias -- By Whom?

Blame Macario: It really saddens me that Macario Ramirez thinks he is the subject of discrimination ["Poodle Pact," by Dylan Otto Krider, June 27]. Of course, the Press should have gotten more of the facts before painting such a negative picture.

Did Mr. Ramirez fail to mention that over the years he has been asked to attend the 19th Street Association meetings and failed to attend, or that he refused to commit monies for activities/events/advertising for all of us? After all, you can beat a dead horse only so many times.

How can he accuse all of the merchants of discrimination when he does not know many of us or care to know us? Shame on you, sir!

Whether there was a "gay theme" intended, this event was for everyone, not a select few. This is a gathering of our friends and customers to show our appreciation for their support and patronage.

Mr. Ramirez, if you choose to be an independent merchant, that is your business. But don't run the rest of us into the ground with your agenda of discrimination and bigotry! Imagine: a Hispanic band on one side and drag queens on the other -- what a treat!

Scott King
Houston

Open season on Hispanics? It saddens me to see this again. There is open prejudice against Hispanics displayed by fellow Texans, Houstonians in particular. The sad fact is that it still seems acceptable.

I guess that for as long as I live, this will be the minority that it seems okay to knock openly, since we do not have a proactive equivalent of the NAACP or civil rights group that will cry foul and sue and intimidate other people into not being their prejudiced little selves.

Irma Metherd
Houston

Poodle prejudice:Discrimination? On 19th Street in the Heights? Impossible!

How do I know? I am the general manager of a brand-new store on 19th, Kasbah Import. We are thrilled to have an event that will attract thousands of people to our new location. With Jubilee and Zocalo as our neighbors, we have something for all.

Gay or straight? Just bring your checkbook! The Heights is exploding with new families, and we welcome all of them.

Pink Poodle (no matter how tragically named -- a Woodland Heights resident actually feared for his white poodle on their Web site!) is a family-friendly event open to all.

Stop by the Kasbah and see me.

Johnny Hooks
Houston

In toto pinkus:When will we get it? Learning to share and play nice is not just for the playground, but obviously most adults have forgotten. I think all the intolerance begins with the "me first" attitude. I would love to see a community be communal.

Let's donate a set of dictionaries to the 19th Street Association so they can understand the meaning of "festival," "tolerance," "equality" and "community." Who knows? Maybe Toto was a pink poodle before they left Kansas!

Claudia Sydney
Houston

No Alternative

Expedient educators: We have seen where the schools get tired of dealing with their children ["Million-Dollar Babies," by Margaret Downing, June 27]. I have seen and even heard assistant principals threaten the children with CEP. There have been several times when the principals would rather send children to alternative schools than listen to their problems.

There may be other deep-rooted problems that need to be addressed but won't until we get our communities to protest the alternative method of handling discipline problems. My child was threatened with CEP. The school district and principal found out the hard way that we fight for the rights of our child and other children who have been treated wrong by the school.

We want only the best education for children. My child's school has a history of abusing children. Sometimes they even let the educators involved do their own investigations -- of course, they clear themselves.

Angel Seguin Garcia
Houston

South Park Fallout

Wake-up call: I am livid after reading a couple of the letters to the editor [June 20] regarding the verdict of musician Carlos Coy, a.k.a. South Park Mexican ["South Park Monster," by John Nova Lomax, June 6]. Once again, someone feels the need to make a crime committed by a Hispanic a racial issue. Why? The facts in this case are clear. The charges were clear. The verdict and punishment that the jurors imposed was also clear. So I ask you, where is the racial issue?

The victim was of the same race as the perpetrator. Mr. Coy could have just as easily been white, his victim black or Asian! It still would not have been less of a crime.

People should get educated on the facts before shouting to the entire world that "woe is me, the poor Hispanic; the white people are after me again!" I am Hispanic, of Mexican and Nicaraguan descent, and very proud to be. However, in my pride there is no room for whining about "white" or "black" or "Asian" people. We are all one nation under God and should act as one. So Carlos Coy was a successful musician and the world was at his feet. So what? That doesn't make him infallible. He and only he is to blame. Have you stopped to think about the child? She is the only real victim.

Wake up, people. Life is too short for you to be so ignorant.

Yvonne Salvatiera
Houston

BadPress:This article was horrible. Wasn't the Press singing the praises of SPM for the last couple of years as one of the best things to come out of Houston? The wheel turns, I guess. I love the fact that only after the trial was SPM's album panned.

It's funny; the album sounds like the same negativity SPM has been pumping out all along. It's also funny that SPM is now a monster, but only because of the child-molestation verdict and not because of his horrible misogyny and violent lyrics.

It's also funny that David Allan Coe, a man who has songs like "Nigger Fucker" and other wonderful things, gets positive press. I guess until he's caught with a child, right? The lack of coverage of local hip-hop acts that are not preaching negativity is glaring. I suppose if it's not talking about sippin' syrup or slinging rocks, fuckin' hoes or poppin' caps, just like in the mainstream media, it gets overlooked.

Doug Spearman
Houston

Din of Inequity

Focus on the real problems: Mr. Menez's problem with noise is so minute compared to the real problems of downtown ["Facing the Music," by George Flynn, June 20]. Spy was there before the lofts even opened, so why did Salvador Menez move there? Did he think it was a quiet neighborhood? Hello, there's a nightclub across the street!

Downtown's problems don't affect just tenants but also the people who work and/or play downtown. Travis doesn't even have working streetlights, leaving Market Square a dangerous area. The transients who beg for money can be intimidating and scary for some people, especially the ones hanging out in Market Square.

Last, but not least, is parking. It just sucks. There isn't any parking, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. I'm not complaining, by any means. I just don't think Mr. Menez has a legitimate gripe.

Anne Aldrich
Houston

Hear and now: At first I thought "Facing the Music" was a clever lampoon of the Montrose area's pseudo-face-lift; when the influx of yuppies a few years ago changed the local flavor from spicy and tangy to bland and homogenized. To my surprise, this Menez guy is not a fictional character but a real-life pud trying to do away with the racket he was paying to live right next to.

Huh? Who in their right mind moves downtown in any city and expects peace and quiet? Anybody complaining about the noise should have done a little scouting around before signing the lease. You'd have to be a top-notch A-hole to make an issue out of noise on the streets of downtown, and arming yourself with a noise meter just clinches it.

This city is full of people hoping for a better future, and that future is compromised by people looking for issues to exploit. The unnamed City Hall staffer had it right: Go back to Kingwood.

Brent Himes
Houston

The British Are Coming!

Revolutionary notion: I'm fairly new to Houston, and I've been seeing "BP" everywhere. Maybe BP has sponsored other civic events in the past and I'm just behind the irony curve. Doesn't it strike anyone as odd (or just plain wrong) that British Petroleum was chosen to sponsor Houston's Independence Day festivities?

Brad Emmons
Houston

Royal Treatment

Classic ball: While reading John W. Royal's riff on Elston ["Fair Play," Night & Day, June 27], I was reminded of the years when my dad and I watched the Colt .45s play. I enjoyed baseball at Colt Stadium: the evening games when the Gulf breeze would move in, the smell of the peanuts, the satisfying thump of a fastball in the catcher's mitt, the immediacy of the field. All that was lost with the advent of indoor baseball.

I look forward to reading more articles on Houston baseball from Mr. Royal.

M. M. Nash
Alvin

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