Smoking, Metal Detectors, Drug Sweeps and Houston Pavilions

The Ban and Business

Hair Balls blog readers respond to "City Says Smoking Ban Has Had No Impact On Bars," By John Nova Lomax, February 26:

An alternative to smoking bans: If the public was honestly and truthfully informed about the effects of second-hand smoke, there would be fewer no-smoking laws in this country.

A little smoke from a handful of crushed leaves and some paper that is mixed with the air of a decently ventilated venue is going to harm or kill you? There has never been a single study showing that exposure to the low levels of smoke found in bars and restaurants with decent modern ventilation and filtration systems kills or harms anyone.

As to the annoyance of smoking, a compromise between smokers and nonsmokers can be reached, through setting a quality standard and the use of modern ventilation technology.

Air ventilation can easily create a comfortable environment that removes not just passive smoke, but also and especially the potentially serious contaminants that are independent from smoking. Smoke from tobacco in a decently ventilated venue is a statistically insignificant health risk.

Thomas Laprade

Lying liars: You know, I don't understand why it still bothers me that the government lies like this. Everyone who goes to bars knows that business dropped off. Thomas's post is right on the money too, absolutely true that secondhand smoke is not dangerous, and the "studies" that say it is have been manipulated through bad statistical analysis to say it is.

Richard Doll

Let me guess: The idiot government employees that got paid taxpayer dollars to do this study only asked the current patrons of the bars, ya know, the ones who don't smoke. They sure didn't ask bar owners like Carolyn Wenglar. If they did, the results of this study would show that the truth just gets in the way of a fairy-tale ending.

Mark Greco

Metal Heads

Hair Balls blog readers respond to "Guys With Metal Detectors: Heroes Or Pillagers? And, Um, Should We Care?" by Richard Connelly, February 23:

You should care: I would like to thank you, Richard Connelly, for putting this out for the public, and I would like to thank Robbie Morin for his diligence.

Jerry Eversole is using the Antiquities Code as a crutch. Connelly says this is "a cause that maybe not so many people care about," but they should — we all pay taxes to support our use of these public parks, and to deprive people whose use actually leaves the park in better shape than what they found it in...well, who's to say they won't start restricting other uses?

Johnny R Vestal Jr.

No problem: Why should people with metal detectors be treated any differently than any other park user? As long as they don't leave holes in the ground, I don't see a problem.

Jon

Make a list: Maybe Commissioner Eversole can provide a list of parks that are "registered historical sites." The ones that are not registered should be open to detecting. I don't think someone recovering items three to six inches deep will damage his artifacts. In the unlikely event an archaeological site is uncovered, he can restrict it going forward. By doing this, he can help the archaeologists recover the artifacts that are currently rusting away.

Wayne

Wrong: Things are going downhill fast here in Texas. A ban on metal detecting in public parks? I have on several occasions asked people I have seen metal-detecting parks what they had found. They have dumped their items on a picnic table, and all I saw was junk and a few coins. By junk, I mean shredded cans, nails and all sorts of metal scraps. I for one do not see the enjoyment in it, but if one chooses this for their hobby, I see no reason they should not be allowed to use public parks.

Commissioner Eversole is worried about legality? Please, the next time someone cuts their foot open on a pop top or piece of metal, can they sue the city? Maybe we should close all the parks to everybody. Is it right to allow the people that use the park to trash it, then ban a poor guy from his hobby that incidentally helps clean it up. Something's wrong with this picture.

Bill

Who's next? Thank you for putting this on the blog's page. If you use any park area, you should care about this hobby ban.

Are the dog walkers who don't pick up the dog poop next? Someone could slip on the poop and get hurt. Or the ballplayers who with their cleats tear out clods of dirt from the fields? Another player could fall from the hole left.

Or children playing in the playground could fall off the equipment. Who will Eversole restrict from the Precinct 4 parks next? It could be you.

Robbie Morin

Crazy: I totally agree that metal detecting in parks should be allowed. San Antonio has a system where certain historical parks are off limits, but the rest are available. A blanket ban on all is crazy.

Richard A Litton

Detective Eversole: A challenge should be issued to Eversole. Morin should take him detecting at one of the parks in question and allow him to see firsthand what one would find in a park. After maybe the first 50 pull tabs and trash, he might just get it.

Jerry

Teacher's Turn

A Hair Balls blog reader responds to "Roberts Elementary Teacher, Nabbed In Drug Sweep, May Get Fast-Track Reinstatement," by Richard Connelly, March 5:

Wow, this is a fast track? Ms. Herrick received the honor of being arrested on the campus where hundreds of her grade school students work. That's a real boost in self-esteem when you've worked for years to be a role model to all of these kids.

For months, she has been banned from her campus as a suspected criminal. Presumably, this has left her little to do in her free time except to see how high she can get up in the Google search results for "art teacher drugs." No. 3 as of today.

I'm not as familiar with the other cases (Ms. Herrick is my son's teacher), and I'm not suggesting she should get special treatment relative to similarly wronged teachers. But she has had this hanging over her for months because the DA is too cowardly to drop the charges. Suggesting that there is anything fast about this is a joke.

Copa

On the Pavilions

A Hair Balls blog reader responds to "Houston Pavilions: the Reviews Are In, And They're Not Good," by John Nova Lomax, March 5:

Whoa whoa whoa! Hold the phone and slow your roll. We live in Houston, Texas, the land of no zoning, skyscrapers that can sprout out of literally nowhere, and we're gonna criticize Houston Pavilions for being disjointed from the activity centers of downtown? Give me a break. Where's the criticism for those who decided to build the George R. Brown and the Theater District on opposite ends of downtown? Surely the awesome burden of connectivity does not fall entirely to one brave little development that decided to open in the midst of a recession.

Houston Pavilions facing inward really sucks, I agree with that. But it's nothing they can't fix with some aggressive signage (and more tenants, which hopefully will come). We're just shy of five months into this thing. I'm by no means impressed with Houston Pavilions, but I am willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.

wayne2k33

EDUCATION AWARD
Houston Press editor recognized for column

Margaret Downing, editor of the Houston Press, has received a second-place award in the 2008 National Awards for Education Reporting sponsored by the Education Writers of America, a professional organization of education reporters and writers.

Downing placed second in the Newspapers Under 100,000 — Opinion category for her column "Exit Exams," in which she explored the repercussions of the No Child Left Behind policy and how in Texas, it has actually resulted in forcing some kids out of school.

DERAILED

In "Punk en Español" [by David Ensminger, February 19], former Axiom owner J.R. Delgado is referred to as a co-founder of the band the Recipients. The band Delgado helped start was the Derailers.

The Houston Press regrets the error.

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