By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Jennifer Roy says she got more than she bargained for when she went for counseling to Val D. Adams, a preacher at Canaan Missionary Baptist Church.
Besides being physically screwed, intercoursewise, she says she was also bilked out of $600,000 when Adams told her the FBI was investigating her, but he could put an end to it.
"Adams claimed," Roy's lawsuit says, "as a minister of the church he had acquired inside information from a former FBI agent that an alleged investigation was ongoing and that he could 'investigate' and/or 'remove' the investigation if [Roy] was to give and/or grant him money."
(That day's sermon was apparently taken from the Gospel According to Tony Soprano.)
We couldn't reach Adams to get his side, but the dude has an interesting past, including a prolific career in writing bad checks in the '90s. He also got involved in a scholarship scam in 1999 that led a Harris County prosecutor to tell the AP wire service, "Based on my contact with him, I would be concerned if he were in any business where anyone was relying on his promises."
The Houston Chronicle did a story on Adams (whose godmother is Texas Rep. Senfronia Thompson) in April headlined "Canaan Baptist Church Pastor Returns to Pulpit; Val D. Adams Delivers Sermon on Miracles, Second Chances."
Oddly, none of those "second chances" involved his criminal past. Instead, it was about a recent heart attack.
It's not the first time it happened. When Adams was sued by a credit-card company over a trademark-infringement claim in 1996, the Chron had to come back the day after their initial story to say Adams "said he was a minister and businessman, but he left out a few other details," like the "76 criminal complaints filed against him in Harris County since 1975."
None of that made the Chron's "second chances" story, nor did they make it into a June story about how his church is handing out more scholarships. (Uh-oh.)
The "second chances" story was all sunshine and lollipops.
"To be back three months later, back preaching, in full recovery," the Chron quoted Adams as saying, "just shows how awesome our God is."
And He works in mysterious ways, to be sure.
One thing most everyone can agree on — Houston sucks when it comes to recycling.
The Texas Campaign for the Environment says Houston has the second-worst recycling rate of any city in the U.S. (Thank you, El Paso!!)
Houston recycles about 4 percent of its waste, says Marina Joseph of the city's Solid Waste Department. That compares to 20-25 percent in places like Austin or Fort Worth, not to mention the approximately 40 percent in San Francisco.
Most other cities recycle glass even though it's not a big moneymaker like plastic or paper. Not Houston, which stopped doing that in 1999.
Maybe — just maybe — that might be about to change.
Edward Chen, the city's deputy director of recycling and environmental services, says he's looking into finding a corporate sponsor to get involved with glass recycling.
He's hoping someone like Anheuser-Busch or Anchor Glass would help out. Robin Schneider, of the Texas Campaign for the Environment, isn't too optimistic, however.
"Everyone bellyaches about glass because of the cost," she says.
Chen's plan is still in the nascent stages, and may come to nothing. Which means dedicated Houston recyclers will be forced to continue taking their glass to one of the ten locations not-so-conveniently placed around the city.
Of course, Houston has more basic problems when it comes to recycling: Neighborhoods have to be put on waiting lists for curbside recycling pickup.
But sometimes baby steps are better than none.
God Is My Cellmate
Like many news outlets, we here at the Press enjoy, or endure, an ongoing correspondence with completely innocent folks who have been wrongly imprisoned by the Texas justice system.
We received an update from one writer recently, informing us that his "religious transfer" had come through and he had a new return address (that we would never, ever use).
We hadn't heard of a "religious transfer." Neither had Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokeswoman Michelle Lyons. But she checked it out, and introduced us to the wonderful world of religion among TDCJ's 163,000 or so guests of the state.
Who's got more criminals, Catholics or Baptists? Baptists, baby. By a count of 35,474 to 29,150.
There are 30 Druids in TDCJ, 615 Wiccans and ten Scientologists.
Lyons says people can apply for religious transfers so they can attend services that are held only at certain facilities.
Unless you want to become Jewish. You better come into TDCJ as a member of the tribe, because unlike with other religions, you can't convert once you're inside.
A potential convert would have to prove his knowledge of all things Hebrew to a religious council, Lyons says, and the council doesn't go into prisons.
There's another hang-up. "Conversion would also involve circumcision...and we're obviously not going to spend taxpayers' money to fund that," she says.
Two Misunderstood People
Houston oil tycoon Oscar Wyatt, the husband of international celebrity-groupie Lynn Wyatt, has been on trial in a federal courtroom in New York. (Wyatt pled guilty October 1.) He was accused of illegally funneling millions in kickbacks to Saddam Hussein, by prosecutors who obviously dont know what it takes to run an oil bidness. Wyatt is not alone in his fight against injustice; his ordeal is eerily similar to that of another member of the ultrarich. To see what Oscar Wyatt and Paris Hilton have in common, click here.