Bad Breath

Bad Breath

The L-word: Having moved from Houston in June, I've kept up with the happenings of the city through your Internet version of the Houston Press. Thank you for that service.

While I'm not a Houston native (I lived there only 18 months), there were many aspects of the city that I enjoyed and now miss. The politics of the city, the county and the state are the least of what I miss. I'm sorry to have to use this word, but being a liberal, I was totally out of place in conservative Harris County.

I'm glad to be in New Mexico, where I can breathe -- both literally and politically. Your article on Enron CEO Ken Lay ["Lay of the Land," by Richard Connelly, January 3] was great. Its tongue-in-cheek style was probably the best writing I would have seen in any newspaper in Houston on the subject.

Fran Cangialosi

Courting the Vote

Politics and judges: I commend you for the Insider article on the resurgence of the Democratic Party in Harris County [by Tim Fleck, January 3]. You could have been a little fairer to me by listing me as one of those former judges, along with judges Ruben Guerrero and Al Leal, who lost office in the GOP sweep.

The real issue, which I hope you will explore between now and the November general election, is the manner in which we elect judges in Texas and what judicial candidates have to do in order to become their party's nominee and ultimately a judge.

The sad fact is, and has been amply demonstrated in virtually every election since 1980 in Harris County, the fate of the top of the ticket determines the outcome of judicial elections. For example, the unexpected defeat of Ann Richards by then-governor Bush in 1994 sealed the fate of 19 incumbent Democratic judges, myself included. I believe most informed political observers would readily agree that very few of those 19 judges would have been defeated in a nonpartisan election.

In fairness, this phenomenon has cut both ways, but the last Democratic victory year was 1982, when Mark White was elected governor and defeated a small number of Republican judges.

The point of your article is correct: The resurgence of the local Democratic Party is, in part, attributable to the expectation that the statewide Democratic ticket in 2002 will be viable and will sweep local candidates into office. However, this should not come as any surprise. It is exactly what the Republicans have been doing successfully since 1980.

I hope you will explore whether this is the way we should be electing judges, whom we expect to render fair, impartial, nonpartisan decisions, by not being influenced by those special interest groups, political factions, and ideologies and financial contributions, upon which our election will depend.

Thanks again for a fair, balanced article.

A. Robert Hinojosa

Taking Aim

Firearms are fine: Regarding "Gays with Guns" [Night & Day, by Dylan Otto Krider, January 3], we are all charged with the responsibility to provide for our defense, and personal firearms serve those who choose them (and develop and maintain proficiency) well.

No governmental or other entity has any enforceable duty to protect any individual. More power to those who operate under the "enlightened self-interest" and personal responsibility illustrated here.

L. Lane

Straight shooters: Thanks for the very nice article on Pink Pistols. We were concerned that, with the Press's leftist outlook, the article could come out biased against us. Instead, you produced a generally truthful story.

Only one problem of note: You leave the impression that straight gun owners generally have problems with us queer shooters. I thought I told you that they were a small minority, but that most were either supportive or intrigued by the idea. Nothing I would fuss and fume about, just a notation I made.

Dan Weiner


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