The Great Gulf

Readers discuss The Fish That Got Away

The Great Gulf

Online readers respond to "The Fish That Got Away," by Katharine Shilcutt, August 11:

Wow: Really awesome article! Thorough, well written and seemingly well researched. Congratulations on a damn fine job!

Eric Henao

Nice article: And if you think bluefin tuna had a dramatic perception change, look up lobster's history. They used to be considered trash, as well.


Not convinced: "The Japanese deem the Gulf of Mexico to be a toilet," says Carl Rosa. "Even though that's absolutely unfair." Why is this "absolutely" unfair? You give us examples of our ignorant misconceptions, and the best argument in favor is "the fish aren't swimming in Ozarka." Sorry. As much as the Press likes to laugh at East Texas and Pasadena — that sewer water goes some place. When I read a warning (yearly) to avoid raw Gulf oysters, I think I know where the waste is going. And while I don't have a degree in marine biology, it seems I read that flounder are bottom-feeders, just like oysters. I think a stronger defense could have been crafted than "try it, everybody else is doing it."

Mad Mac

Bycatch believer: We had ceviche at Xuco Xicana last week made from bycatch fish. It was excellent! JJ and other local chefs have started a trend which I hope carries over into sushi.


Worldwide problem: Sewage runoff is a serious issue, and one that can and does affect coastal seafood sources. But sewage and industrial pollution occurs in all coastal areas of the world and is not magically limited to the Gulf of Mexico. I agree that the issue is important, but no more or less than anywhere else.

All waters of the world are in trouble — no exceptions. The quicker we realize this, the better we can react. Singling out the Gulf makes no sense.


Untapped bounties: I think this article also helps illustrate fishing practices in the Gulf in general. I have spoken to Gulf fishermen who sadly cannot supply fish that are found in abundance in the Gulf because of fishing rules largely dictated by more powerful lobbies than the chefs who want particular fish for their menus. From what I have been told, the shrimp lobby has created systems restricting many kinds of fishing. As a result, staggering amounts of fish that would be outstanding for restaurant use, like sardines and red mullet, are left to die on boat decks and docks because the shrimp lobby has pushed for laws prohibiting net catching of these smaller fish. Seems like something that needs to be examined and changed.


Annoying misconception: All oceans are connected. Houston is not the only city in the world with water treatment plants and industrial sectors that produce pollution that is eventually deposited into the water.

The misconception that the Gulf of Mexico is "dirty" has been annoying my whole life, and it's truly shocking how many locals believe this to be true, mostly on the basis that "it just looks dirty." The clarity of the water in Galveston is not an accurate measure of the purity of the water. There are other factors that create that appearance — look it up sometime.

I've been a fisherman of Gulf Coast fish since about age eight, mostly inshore species, and have always wondered why these delicious fish are not used for sushi.

This article makes perfect sense — thanks for the interesting read.


Not Helping

Online readers comment on "Mean Girls vs. the Maids," by Karina Longworth, August 11:

Not these stories again: Can't a movie be made where the enfranchisement of blacks isn't dependent on the kindness of a white person?


New subject, please: I am tired of these kinds of stories about blacks. There are so many other stories about black culture, black contributions and black struggles to be told that would paint a better and more clear picture of the black experience. And, given that initially, the only roles blacks could get in films involved them portraying maids, servants or slaves, you'd think that by now, Hollywood would pick a new subject. I think this movie is a setback, and while I expect it to do well in the box office, I believe that its success will be due to a largely non-black audience. Blacks have had enough of this.


Game Changer

Online readers comment on "Sports-Talk 1560 Loses Another Veteran: Lance Zierlein Calls It Quits at The Game, Heads to 790," Hair Balls blog, by Jeff Balke, August 12:

RIP 1560: You had a good run, but ended up killing yourself and doing what you swore you would never do.


Terrible move by KGOW: Yahoo Sports Network? And I thought CBS radio was awful. Lance was the nucleus of that show. Granato is a stuttering hack, and the ratings will plummet. It will be off the air in three years. Good luck, Lance. You made it awesome.

Brian Jones

Double Rods, 1560: Local sports is what we as listeners want and need. You just lost your identity, and thus you are losing me as a listener.


Next Page »
My Voice Nation Help
Matt Bradshaw
Matt Bradshaw

Bad JournalismThere is an old saying, “Don’t let the truth or the facts get in the way of a good story.” I had a phone interview with Craig concerning what I knew about Ryan’s business deals. I will start off the same way that I started off the interview. I have no information about the murder charges against Ryan. I don’t live in Houston and only talked to Ryan occasionally. Every time we saw Ryan and Christie, we got the Brady Bunch version. I never saw them fight or argue. I have no information as to what happened in Houston when we were not there. I am reserving final judgment until I hear the evidence. I have thoughts about the charges but I don’t have the information necessary to make an educated judgment. I believe that is what the courts are for.I was open and honest with Craig about everything I knew about the business dealings. When we ended our conversation I made a comment to him that it was probably not the information he wanted because it would not make as good of a story. Craig told me that it might be more of a story of someone reaching beyond their capabilities versus a story of scam and theft. Of course, the majority of our interview did not merit entry in this article. Most of what did make it in was vastly contorted. So much for journalistic integrity. I guess whatever sells the story include, the rest contort or leave out. I called Craig and of course he defends his stories (even the several mistakes that he made that are now corrected after I told him about them). I wanted to give my side, my opinion, my knowledge of what I know of the business deals and how they went south. I don’t know if this comment will remain on the site long but I felt the need to say my piece. I have included copied text from the article and I wanted to fill in some of the “facts” that Craig failed to research, include, or simply distorted.A West Point graduate who played offensive guard on the academy's football team, Ryan Sumstad stood more than six feet tall and weighed around 250 pounds.Ryan was in the football program the summer before our freshman year. He lost too much weight and never actually played football, ever, for West Point. Not a big deal in the scope of the article but I merely wanted to point out the lack of fact checking by Craig. It sounds much better to showcase Ryan as this huge football player that liked to smash the defensive line. Sorry…just not true.The couple lived check-to-check, and Bradshaw says he lent Sumstad money just so he could pay whatever IEV employees remained.This is a big distortion of the truth from our interview. I explained that Ryan and the employees of IEV had put a lot of their personal money into making the HSBC in-ground asset deal work. Several of the IEV employees made personal loans to pay for attorney’s fees and paperwork associated with the deal. Ryan was a little fish trying to play in a big pond and he was trying to keep the company together long enough for the deal to go through. I lent Ryan money while the deal was proceeding so that his employees could still get paychecks while they were waiting for the deal to close. I figured that it was a small investment in a company that I thought I was going to work with. Of course now I am stuck with the remaining balance of these loans that Ryan had been paying.

With the couple in financial freefall, Sumstad ramped an earlier idea into overdrive: In 2007 he had flooded online business-to-business publications with press releases touting IEV's completion of a $1.83 billion venture capital fund. Although it doesn't appear that the fund ever existed, the ubiquitous announcements branded Sumstad as a bigshot.The original article listed the deal as $1.83 million until I notified Craig of his mistake. He has since changed this mis-fact. The deal was reported on several newswires to include:http://www.wirelessestimator.c...There are several key factors that I mentioned to Craig but that he failed to mention in this article. I am pasting the email that I sent to Craig:Some other things you might want to look into. As I was doing some research I started remembering some of the names involved in some of these deals. Ryan's mentor was named Brant Wallace. Ryan had told me that Brant had the certificates, degrees, and experience to help in these big deals. Ryan had an employee named Jason Miller that worked for IEV in most of these deals. He is the person that got IEV the deal with Eagle International Communications. I have attached some links to show some of the business dealings between these two as well as someone named Sacha Spindler. Jason Miller and Brant Wallace are now connected and both work for Eagle as well as other venture capital companies. Some of these companies have current lawsuits against them. I don't know if this means anything but it helps show why Ryan thought he would be able to accomplish some of these big deals and why some of them failed. Have a good night.

Matt WallaceSacha Spindler MillerSacha Spindler WallaceJason Miller WallaceJason Miller

Of course, IEV would need closing costs from each land owner, ranging from $15,000 to $25,000 a pop — a drop in the bucket compared to the fortune the owners stood to reap.This is another misstatement of the facts. I corrected him when we talked but he did not fix it in the article. These were not “closing costs”, they were engagement fees. This is even explained in all the ripoff reports that Craig claimed to have read. These fees were collected at the beginning of the process, not at closing. However, IEV wouldn't be doing the actual lending, nor the servicing of loans. This was to be done by Principal Financial Growth, a company Sumstad created out of thin air.Once again this is another misstatement of fact. The actual lending company was going to be American Synergy. I guess all the research did not turn up that nugget. Ryan had set up American Synergy as a separate company from IEV because of the size of the deal. Once the deal went through, then American Synergy would handle the distribution of the funds. Principal Growth was created to handle the repayments of the loans. Every company is created on paper before it functions in real life. That is how business society works.The company's CEO was Sumstad's friend, Bradshaw.I tried to explain this to Craig. Once the deal went through, I was going to be hired as the Vice President of Principal Growth to handle the repayment of the loans. Since the loans never materialized, Principal Growth had no further function and I never worked for Ryan. Ryan is listed as the CEO of Principal Growth. This is another fact that Craig distorts to make the story sounds better. While Principal's letterhead claimed the company was in Wilmington, Delaware, all calls were routed to Bradshaw, a pharmaceutical rep living in Victoria.I am sure that every corporation headquartered in Delaware is actually set up in Delaware. Craig should look at a map to see that Delaware isn’t even big enough to house all of the corporations that are licensed there. Favorable tax laws make Delaware a prime state for incorporation. The second part of this statement is a complete fabrication on Craig’s part to make his story sound better. I never had one call forwarded to me. One investor found my home number and called my house. I told him the same story I told Craig. From this Craig somehow gained the “fact” that every call was routed to me. I still had a day job. I, like everyone else, was waiting for the deal to go through before I quit my day job.Bradshaw told the Press that Sumstad genuinely believed he would get the money from HSBC so he could make everyone rich off the gold. He wanted to include his West Point buddies, and all Bradshaw had to do was pretend to be the vice president of a company that didn't exist.The first sentence is worded very poorly. Ryan thought that the deal would go through. He thought that everyone, to include RNJ and the mine owners, would reap the benefits of the deal. The reason that he was looking for “West Point buddies” was because he was stabbed in the back on previous deals (see the $1.83 billion deal listed above). Ryan wanted to work with people he knew and trusted. The last sentence I guess I must have been riding a unicorn over a rainbow when I talked to Craig. I didn’t have to pretend to be anything. I assisted in the deal with the future promise of employment in Principal Growth once the deal funded. When the deal failed to fund, Principal Growth and my role ceased to exist. Another thing to note on the timing of the fall of this deal is the crash of Wall Street: Street crashed in Sept 2008. This is the time when the deal went south. HSBC further documented that they were ceasing all loans and assets to the United States.One of those partners was a Florida man named Neal Jacobson. Jacobson shot and killed his wife and twin seven-year-old sons in January 2010. In a letter explaining his actions, Jacobson wrote: "I...believe that much of the correspondence Ryan Sumstad put out was false and [led] myself and many good people down a dead end path."The original article stated that the police indicated that Neal killed his family because of Ryan. This has since been changed. Neal is still on trial for the tragedy that he caused. He had many problems leading to the tragedy to include being far in debt due to mortgage problems. His own “suicide” letter talked about going from over $2 million in assets to over $2 million in debt before he ever met Ryan. Craig pulled one quote from the suicide letter to make his story sounds better. I include a link to the entire suicide letter: Jacobson recently tried to claim the defense that he was on powerful psych drugs that caused him to go crazy. I think pulling one quote from a five page letter to make your story sounds better is not the best journalism.A week later, he went to Atlanta for InvaderCON, a convention for fans of an animated show called Invader Zim. "Headed home after 48-hrs.of fun, silliness, laughter and DOOM at InvaderCon," Sumstad tweeted.Just a note. Ryan’s children’s favorite show is Invader Zim. He went to the conference for them.According to Christie's friends, Sumstad granted power of attorney to his friend and former business partner Mark Flynn, who moved into the Sumstad home.It is my understanding that Mark Flynn, whom I have never met, did not move into the house but cleared it out. Of course if Mark moved into the house it would sound better for Craig’s story. Like I said at the beginning of this comment, don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.

Houston Concert Tickets