City Hall Gall

Ban goofing off: I really enjoyed reading the feature "Parting Shots" [by Tim Fleck, May 15] about Mayor Brown.

My impression of Brown is that he does not work hard, so his staff does not work hard.

The article educated me as to Brown's inability to make tough decisions and his delegating of responsibility to department heads whom he trusts to do a good job, with no accountability to him. It also pointed out that Brown does not have the political skills to persuade City Council as Bob Lanier did.

In the future, we need a mayor who is a good administrator and who shows by example a desire to improve the city with good hardworking people who watch our dollars and do a day's work for a day's pay. No goofing off by any city employee will be allowed.

Jimmy Dunne

Better with Brown: I'm not sure what you have against Mayor Brown personally, but your dislike was more than evident in your recent Houston Press article. I can't speak to all of the mayor's successes or failures, as I don't follow politics very closely, but I can offer a brief perspective from a non-native Houstonian.

I moved to Houston in 1996 fresh out of Florida A&M University, virtually sight unseen. I had visited Houston only once for a one-day interview before I decided to make it my home. Within 18 months I could take no more and moved to Atlanta. At that time, Houston seemed to be one of the deadest, least interesting, least developed, least diverse "major" cities I had ever been to. Downtown nightlife was nonexistent, nothing was being built, and the whole city was just outright boring to me. The good ol' (cow)boy persona seemed to rule the city.

Were it not for my wife wanting to move back here to be closer to her family, I would have fulfilled my vow to never return to Houston or Texas. Fast-forward to today and I can see a city thriving, growing not just in population, but in culture, industry and plain old brick and mortar. As you should know, with growth come growing pains (e.g., your city streets issue). I can't go as far as saying Mayor Brown deserves all of the credit, but he has been the man in office during this resurgence. I still don't see Houston in the same light as Atlanta, Miami or D.C., but I appreciate what the city has become. I'm not so eager to move now.

You seem to blame the mayor for the city's deficiencies, while giving minimal credit for what he has accomplished. Maybe there is a personal issue at play; I have no idea. But honestly ask yourself, Is Houston, as a whole, better or worse off than it was when Mayor Brown first took the job?

Personal issues aside, how could you not say better?

M. Angelo Pettis

Abandon downtown: I just finished reading your article on our lame-duck mayor. Thank you for a most insightful tour de force through Hizzonor's administration. It has added depth to my understanding of Mr. Brown's rise and Mayor Bob's selection of him as his successor. I have always said that Lanier's reason for picking Brown was to have someone (weak) in that position so that the downtown cabal of good ol' boys could continue to run things as they saw fit. Brown has fit that description perfectly.

It was the cabal (not the people) that decided we needed a new baseball stadium and a new basketball arena -- and that they needed to be downtown, where the cabal stood to profit at taxpayers' expense.

The problem with the administration's vision is much more fundamental. The entire justification for revitalizing downtown is based on an erroneous premise, because downtowns are a relic of second-wave capitalism (read: 19th century). Why is it that no one even asks why downtowns are always in need of revitalization in the first place?

A majority of Houstonians hate going downtown, yet that's where the new stadiums are. Is it even desirable to continue to fight the exodus from the cities? For most of us who have voted with our feet, the answer is a resounding no!

We see Brown as a figurehead (and your article validates it), a man who has always abdicated his responsibility. As an expatriate African-American Houstonian, I say the more a city's demographic comes to resemble that of a third-world country, the more its government will.

Kirk Kuykendall

Cemetery Grief

A public service: I read your "Dead Wrong" piece [by Wendy Grossman, April 10] and became concerned because my parents are buried in Hollywood Cemetery, and we have had problems similar to those you recounted. These problems were also "explained away" by the management.

You did a real public service with your article. I believe it is unlikely that most people knew, before reading it, how unregulated and unsupervised these places are.

Carol Lang Speed

Cauldron Confrontations

Standing up to UST: Thank you for your story on the courageous Cauldron staff ["The Cauldron Bubbles Over," by Jennifer Mathieu, May 22]. I was editor of the paper three years ago (and a friend of Marsha's) and can tell you from experience that the kind of intimidation and pressure on Cauldron staffers described in your story is nothing new from University of St. Thomas officials. For years administrators have gone out of their way to try to keep important stories off the pages, not just by dodging phone calls and lying on the record, but through active intimidation and -- most despicably -- using and bullying student leaders to cover their own tracks.

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