No PAL of Mine

The doors indeed will close on a respected program

Charles Lutz, board president of the Police Activities League, is getting ready to shut things down. The 14 vans that pick up kids, the $100,000 service center, the meals, everything used to keep kids from joining gangs, is headed to the mothballs.

Despite a last-minute campaign to save it, PAL apparently isn't going to survive the budget cuts Mayor Bill White and new HPD chief Harold Hurtt are being forced to implement to balance the city's budget.

"I really think it's dead," Lutz says.

The horrors of female urination can be mitigated.
The horrors of female urination can be mitigated.
Lonely Lanes: It's 9:30 on a weekday 
morning. Do you know where your traffic is? It's not on 
the new Westpark Tollway. After $260 million, five 
weeks of operation, two floods and the temporary 
closing of a key exit, the tollway's open for business. 
Such as it is.
Lonely Lanes: It's 9:30 on a weekday morning. Do you know where your traffic is? It's not on the new Westpark Tollway. After $260 million, five weeks of operation, two floods and the temporary closing of a key exit, the tollway's open for business. Such as it is.

Hurtt told City Councilmembers June 3 that he believes PAL is a worthy program, but the dozen or so officers assigned to it are simply needed more urgently elsewhere.

When the new fiscal year begins July 1, the PAL officers will almost certainly be reassigned. And PAL's bylaws require such officers to drive the cars or provide the services; if they're gone, the organization will have to give away to other charities all the private donations it's received.

The only other options are long shots, Lutz says: trying to hook up with the equally budget-crunched Harris County Sheriff's Department, or rewriting the group's charter so that retired HPD officers can be used.

There's not much time to do either. Especially since Hurtt's major reshuffling of the department has officers scrambling not to get shut out of the best reassignments.

Current PAL officers can't afford to wait to see if the program survives before they put in for other slots, Lutz says. Some are choosing to retire.

"I got 30 years here," says PAL Sergeant Wesley Andrews. "I'm old, fat and ugly, and I don't want to work in the jail or put the gun belt back on and patrol the streets. PAL's a really viable program. I think it's a shame."


Summer brings with it a lot more travel, and travel brings with it…a lot more pee anxiety.

For the ladies, of course. Guys generally don't devote a lot of psychic energy to worrying about taking a leak. But women? It's a world of, as the inventors of My Sweet Pee put it, "lining the toilet with paper, crouching, or having to sit down on filthy seats in a public restroom!"

The urgency denoted by that exclamation point led to creativity from Vivian Lipman and Joyce Nimetz, retired twin sisters from Houston who are marketing the My Sweet Pee shield.

Despite its name, the shield does nothing to sweeten your urine; instead the flat piece of rubber allows a woman to pee standing up. "It molds into a funnel shape and acts as a splash guard and trough," Lipman says. (But can you write your name in the snow with it? Apparently not.)

My Sweet Pee comes in both reusable and disposable models. A "citrus cleanser" allegedly allays any fears that a woman (who refuses to pee normally in a public restroom) might have about sticking a urine-soaked piece of rubber in her purse.

It's $14.95 for a reusable and $11.95 for ten disposables. And if you're not interested at the moment, "It's a wonderful little stocking stuffer," Lipman says.

We're sure it is. Our suggestion: Put it in a Tiffany box before you wrap it. Imagine the look of surprise on the little lady's face…

What's in a Name?

Vox, a weekly in the University of Missouri town of Columbia, reports that UM is having a little difficulty filling an endowed chair in economics.

Even with a $1.1 million endowment, the position has remained open for years. More than two dozen business and economics professors wrote an open letter decrying the chair as an embarrassment.

Why? Maybe because it's the Kenneth L. Lay Chair in International Economics.

Geez, the next thing you know these ivory-towered types will be criticizing the George Tenet Chair in Slam-Dunk Analysis. Or the Ben Affleck Endowed Chair in Choosing Film Roles.

Luckily, in Houston we have no such concerns. Lay, the Enron kingpin who can still proudly wear the label "as yet unindicted," is a graduate of the University of Houston and has endowed two professorships there. Two professorships that are quite filled, thank you very much, thanks to UH's administrative policy of No Qualms Here when it comes to Enron. (Or, for that matter, the flashy and controversial plaintiff's lawyer John O'Quinn.)

One Lay professorship is in economics, and the other is in social sciences.

And we infer absolutely nothing into the fact that the economics one is held by a man with the first name of…Bent. We're sure Bent E. Sorenson, who holds the Dr. Kenneth L. Lay Endowed Professorship in UH's Department of Economics, is an absolute straight shooter. As is Kenny Boy, if you determine "straight shooter" status by the number of indictments.

Those That Can't Teach

Of course, sometimes it's better to leave an educational position open. Former mayor Lee Brown is back at Rice University, but he's not going anywhere near a classroom.

In past stints at Rice, Brown's reviews from students taking his classes were, to put it kindly, brutal. "It was like a really bad high school class where all we did was read out of textbooks," one student told the Houston Press as the mayor was leaving City Hall.

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