Three Stooges?

Plus: Aid for AIDS, No Dogfight, Boys of Brazil

Three Stooges?

Less politics, more police: Captain Mark Aguirre of the Houston Police Department is right ["The War Within," by Richard Connelly, June 27]. In Houston there are too many political stooges, too many lazy cops, too many whiners and too many cowardly cops.

Houston deserves better than the administration and upper brass supported by Mayor Lee Brown or his departing aide, Mr. Hollingsworth.

I worked in Washington, D.C., when Hollingsworth was there beginning as a political stooge in the police department. And I remember when Brown worked in New York. He was another political stooge masked as the police commissioner, who could not get anything done there. So now the stooges have all come to Houston, and the results are terrible. Houston needs strong and brave cops. It needs people who are not afraid of the criminals. We need 50 more Captain Mark Aguirres.

Bill Scanlon
Houston

Aid for AIDS

Fund the medicines: Except for the typos about medications (it's Viread and Videx EC), the rest of your article was very good ["Med Check," by Jennifer Mathieu, July 4].

I would suggest that the AIDS Drug Assistance Program would do well to quit approving new drugs (do we really need an expensive medication like ProCrit added to the state formulary now?) and stick with the ones they've got. Only new HIV meds should be added.

I would suggest that they require clients to requalify every year, as they do for other Ryan White-funded programs. Lots of people get jobs when they start feeling better, but no one kicks them off the state program.

And I would suggest a sliding scale of co-payments, so you don't go from complete coverage to zilch if you get a small raise.

The Texas program is not overly generous. Oregon had to close its rolls, but you should see how much they were covering. We can't afford any cutbacks here, even with the extraordinary help of The Assistance Fund (the local agency that provides supplemental funding for meds).

Just a clarification: The reason people stay on meds even when they're resistant to everything is that they still do better than being on nothing at all.

Name withheld by request
Houston

No Dogfight

19th nervous breakdown: I surmise that our 19th Street "war" was short-lived, because our Summer Street Party was a humongous success ["Poodle Pact," by Dylan Otto Krider, June 27], with pink poodles, jazz combos, drag queens, hip-hop dancers and all the other wonderful entertainment. Thousands of folks turned out, no matter what their age, ethnic DNA or sexual preference might be. No one needed the Red Cross, as it turns out.

While we are certainly not a bunch of Victorian angel merchants up here in God's country (the Heights), we are not, nor were we ever, "warring."

We are indeed a hodgepodge group composed of every ethnic strain, religious belief and sexual background, and for 20-plus years most of us who cared enough have pooled our time and money together to show folks what we already know: that 19th Street is an authentic, history-laden, energetic gem, not a gaudy, boring McStrip. Like an extended family living under one roof, there are times when we may be a bit too close, but warring? Hardly.

Last, perhaps I should thank you for manifesting a sexual adjective when describing me personally -- no one else has to date. I noticed that no one else in any of your stories in that issue received such notice or advertisement. But then, you would no doubt need some serious spies and quite a big budget to try to identify the sexual preference of everyone you interviewed.

In the end, that makes me doubly blessed. The "war" is over, and I am "outed" by the Houston Press. I can relax and get back to my own business, an extremely creative one.

Jeff Law
Houston

Guilt by association: Good for Ramirez and Law, for recognizing middle-class duplicity and for once again pointing out that associations are exclusionary.

Gerida Brown
Houston

Boys of Brazil

Urban legend: I noticed with amusement that Robb Walsh made a reference to the urban legend concerning a George W. misquote about Brazil ["Gooooaaaal!" July 4]. In the future, you may wish to have Walsh cross-reference questions "supposedly asked" by our illustrious commander-in-chief with the Web site www.snopes.com. It does a succinct and efficient job of debasing the plausibility of Bush asking this question.

I find it curious that snopes.com poses the supposed question as "Do you have blacks, also?" whereas Walsh seems to have sources at Der Spiegel who have assured him that it was "Do you have blacks, too?"

But, hey, in all fairness, should details and newsworthiness really matter when it's an urban legend we're dealing with? Should referencing an urban legend in the context of a restaurant review even be considered relevant?

Maybe an in-depth article about the woman who dropped dead last year from the spider nest in her hair would be in order.

(P.S. As a displaced Washington, D.C., native and former City Paper reader, I do enjoy the Press. Keep up the good work!)

Scott L. Burton
Houston

Editor's note: Walsh correctly attributed the quote that appeared both in Der Spiegel and on snopes.com. Snopes leaves the veracity of it as "undetermined," and the White House dismissed it as "crap."

Ear-ing it Out

Spy's fine: I am a resident of Bayou Lofts and was shocked to see what was published by the Houston Press about Mr. Menez, who moved downtown after the Spy club was built and should have known about the noise concerns ["Facing the Music," by George Flynn, June 20]. I live much closer to Spy and at a lower level than Mr. Menez, and consider him to be just plain picky. He is expecting this to be a nice, quiet neighborhood; this is what living in a city is like.

I have had a manager in my loft when Spy is in full operation in the evening, and my air conditioner is louder than the club. Most of the problems come not from the club but from the cars on the street playing loud music.

I feel for Spy. If Mr. Menez had talked to the management before calling the police, I'm certain that he would have had a better response from the club. Every time I have talked to the club managers, they have been more than respectful of their neighbors.

I have lived downtown in other large cities, and this is the quietest one I have ever been in. If we force the clubs to leave, we will have our property values drop; the nightlife, restaurants, bars and close commutes are what bring people to the downtown area to live. If Mr. Menez lived on the side of the street that had the buses pulling up at 4 a.m., I'm curious how loud he would scream.

Name withheld by request
Houston

Setting It Straight

Election correction: Two errors have been reported in your coverage about Asian-American politics [The Insider, by Tim Fleck, June 27 and July 4].

Fort Bend ISD trustee Naomi Lam did not win her seat this year when Daniel Wong won his. She won her plurality election in May 2000.

Also, Tal Heflin's Alief-centered state representative's district does not include Fort Bend. It's all west Harris County.

Burt Levine
Sugar Land

Rotten Royalty

Spinning the Web: Racket [by John Nova Lomax, July 4] took an alarmist and mistaken view of the recent decision by the Library of Congress to set relatively high statutory rates for Webcasting.

Webcasters will have to pay 0.07 cents per song per stream, not seven cents, with noncommercial non-CPB Webcaster paying as little as 0.02 cents. These rates were determined not on the basis of piracy but on the basis of the only freely negotiated available rate structure for Webcasting, an agreement between the RIAA and Yahoo!

Furthermore, I feel the idea that the rule spells the end of Webcasting to be alarmist, as it is based on the beliefs that the rate has to apply to all music and the best thing for Webcasters to do is emulate commercial broadcasters. I do not believe either to be the case.

My understanding is that these licensing fees apply only when the Webcaster and the copyright owners "cannot agree on the royalty rates for the license." The major labels will likely use this rate structure, but perhaps other rates can be negotiated with other artists and labels. Of course the majors would be out of the independent Webcasting game, which is not a problem if we believe that Webcasting can be something different from broadcasting. In effect, we have a way out of the Clear Channel cradle-to-grave future through Webcasting that focuses primarily on local talent and other quality music not endorsed by the major labels.

The article also missed the one thing that might spell real doom for the Webcasters. Specifically, Webcasters must pay for all transmitted copyrighted material from October 28, 1998, to the present. This, even for noncommercial Webcasters, could add up to tens of thousands of dollars per year.

Ralph Cox
Houston

Editor's note: The rate of 0.07 cents per stream is correct. The higher amount stated in the column was caused by a copyediting error.

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