Confronting the issues: Nice piece on ABS ["Ship Wrecked," by Josh Harkinson, February 12]. Complete, balanced, rounded, but raises an important and unknown issue.

Bob Frump
New York City, New York

Wringing Bell

Racial divide: I am not only highly offended but equally disturbed that the Houston Press would publish editorial drivel in the form of "Race for the House" [Hair Balls, February 19]. I understand the First Amendment right of freedom of speech, but I also understand the duty of responsible journalism.

What an incredibly divisive and racist article. I am sorry for the Press that you print that garbage, but I am equally disturbed that in a city that is so racially and culturally diverse you would allow this sort of senseless journalism.

Gary Teixeira

Education first: Congressman Chris Bell is definitely the best candidate for the Ninth Congressional District seat. He is a staunch advocate for improving our nation's public school system. He is working with the area school districts to increase the federal aid they receive. These funds would help pay for better classrooms and quality teachers.

With Chris Bell in office, I am confident that my children will get a quality education. I support him all the way.

Claudette Ocampo

Tanning our hide: You all can't possibly be sliding into amateur political writing so soon after Tim Fleck is gone! He may have had a bitchy tone similar to the nameless reporter in your Chris Bell hit piece, but he would have never been spoon-fed bad facts and racist rhetoric. Any political reporter worth his or her salt would know that West U and Bellaire were not the areas that helped Chris Bell win his first election to Congress. They hated him there!

He won the primary and the general election because of the broad coalition of African-Americans, Hispanics, Anglos and Asians. And that is how he will win his re-election.

The article was dripping with racial stereotypes of both Anglos and African-Americans. At least you were an equal opportunity offender.

And at least I still can clip free tanning coupons from this fine newspaper.

Richard Bauer

Flood of support: Considering Congressman Chris Bell's record of staunch support for local education, overtime pay and minimum wage, I think he is a candidate that all concerned Houstonians can applaud and support.

And if that's not enough, he recently brought home $53.5 million in federal flood relief funds to help prevent disasters like Tropical Storm Allison from recurring. Let's reward action with action, and send Bell back to Congress.

Adam Dorris

Riding Hard

Phillips gets his nod: In a former life (1996), I worked as a mechanic and talked with Harris County motorcycle officers on a regular basis. One of those frequent customers was Smokie Phillips ["The Freedom Fighter?" by Sarah Fenske, February 19]. When his troubles with the federal prosecutor started, naturally he became the subject of a lot of conversation among fellow officers.

One of the things pointed out by one of the senior cops stuck in my mind. His point was that he could barely keep up with Smokie during his normal patrol hours, let alone all of the extra escorts and funerals that Phillips seemed to be constantly occupied with. In other words, how could somebody who stayed so busy working have time to be involved in the activities he was charged with?

Even though I am a loyal Republican, I would have no trouble voting for him because of what those other officers had to say about his work ethic, not to mention the frequency of maintenance to keep his motorcycle on the road.

Glen Risley

Burqa Irka

Vulgar stereotypes: I was stunned that your newspaper, which courts the less conservative crowd, would publish a cartoon as ignorant as The City's February 12 lampoon of the Janet Jackson "costume reveal." The last frame that depicts the so-called Muslim version is a vulgar and unnecessary reinforcement of stereotypes.

Even though I am not a Muslim, I am offended that your paper chose to participate in this kind of prejudice and fearmongering. The editors should be ashamed of themselves.

Patrick Dunican

Ciao-ing Down

Sharpe words: Nothing wakes you up like being spitefully attacked in print by someone you considered a friend, or at least a good acquaintance. I'm referring to Robb Walsh's red-faced rant ["Terrible Ciao," February 19] about my Texas Monthly review of Terra Bosco's, which he decided to attack solely because I wrote that I liked it -- I rated it fourth in my list of the ten best new restaurants in Texas. (Hey, Terra Bosco's, I'm sorry for bringing the wrath of Robb down on you.)

Robb Walsh is free to disagree with me, but I object to his snidely disparaging my critical credentials across the board ("Does this lady know how to pick 'em, or what?") by leaving out salient information. He didn't mention that he himself likes the three other Houston restaurants I chose: Artista, Rouge and Vic & Anthony's. (Read what he wrote -- his comments range from generally positive to glowing.) But admitting he agreed with me on those would have undermined his slash-and-burn attack.

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