Checking the records: Tim Fleck's article "Food Fight Indigestion" [October 24] was an excellent look at the lobbyist and insider fight for Houston's lucrative $250 million airport concession contract. I would add only that campaign contributions also may have played a role. City Councilman Vasquez received at least $4,250 in contributions from January 2001 to July 2002 from the winning party, Four Families Inc., and its three lobbyists. The councilman also received at least $2,000 from Louis Corranza of Primus Construction, to whom the losing side alleges the councilman wanted to give a related construction contract. Our cursory review of other council campaign records shows that they received tens of thousands of dollars in contributions from Four Families members and lobbyists. It smells like a pay-to-play food fight.
Fred Lewis, Campaigns for People
A good partnership: Having been involved as a volunteer and as the parent of a former player of both Post Oak Little League and Post Oak Pony League, I was utterly dismayed at Margaret Downing's article ["Power Plays," October 24], which grossly misrepresents both the historical and current relationship between the Post Oak Baseball Leagues and the T.H. Rogers school.
In 1981, Post Oak Little League and Post Oak Pony League were part of the same organization, and they relocated to a barren field behind the T.H. Rogers school. Since then, tens of thousands of children ages eight to 14 have benefited from the after-school use of these facilities. It is the T.H. Rogers students who have been, and continue to be, the primary beneficiary of the hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of capital improvements that have been made over the last 21 years.
As my office overlooks the school, I witness firsthand the daily use (weather permitting) of all four fields by students of all ages. Not only do the students have complete use of the grounds, but soccer, baseball, kickball and track and field events are conducted on the fields.
Now a handful of school parents want to tear down a baseball complex to allow room for an on-campus UIL-size soccer field for the children. No mention of the fact that it would force the removal of hundreds of thousands of dollars of HISD-owned capital assets and toss away tens of thousands of dollars of privately funded annual maintenance. And why? So that four or five times a year they won't have to have 20 kids walk 200 yards to an existing regulation soccer field located immediately adjacent to the school. If these parents have their way, they will be pulling the plug on generations of children playing Little League baseball. The article suggests that somehow this would be in the public's best interest. Nothing could be further from the truth.
What about the pool? After reading your article, I felt it necessary to point out an even larger problem regarding HISD and its playground at T.H. Rogers. The existing playground was a donation to HISD from the Be An Angel Fund Inc., a charity based in Houston that funds projects for multiply handicapped children. This "crappy wedge of a playground" was built with no government monies at a total expense of $245,000. When it was built and donated in 1994, it was a state-of-the-art recreational area.
In addition to the barrier-free playground, Be An Angel Fund Inc. raised more than $1 million to fund and complete the construction of a swimming pool complex, which was gifted to T.H. Rogers and HISD. The pool facilities include a special hydrotherapy pool for the multiply handicapped children and an Olympic-size pool for the Vanguard and deaf children.
When these facilities were gifted, HISD agreed in writing to maintain them. HISD has not honored this agreement. T.H. Rogers has returned to Be An Angel Fund on several occasions to request funds for cleaning equipment, humidity control equipment, as well as playground surface maintenance. The charity has fulfilled some of these requests and is studying current requests. HISD has repeatedly denied its responsibility for maintenance, and it has refused to budget any funds for this purpose since 1994.
The playground and pool are not being used as often as they should because of their poor condition. It's tragic that HISD has squandered such beautiful gifts.
Karl Kuenning, board member
Be An Angel Fund Inc.
Who's talking now? So Brad Levy doesn't want to "get started on the BBB " ["All About the Kids," by Richard Connelly, October 24]. No surprise to us there; he and Kid-Care pretty much made that clear when we received a voice mail from their auditor stating that they would not be providing any more information concerning their financials to the bureau. Fine, but don't cry and wail and lambaste the BBB on KPFT radio talk shows and in the Houston Press, calling our role so unfair. You had a chance, actually a bunch of them, and chose to clam up.
We keep hearing how Kid-Care is going to tell its side of the story. When?
Parsons is president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Metropolitan Houston.
The Bridegroom Responds
So you don't like us? Dear Rufus [Rufus Coletrain in Letters, October 24]: Why pick on Lee Williams? We've gotten equally "slobbering" reviews from each of the Press critics who came before her, not to mention the Chronicle, Artlies, OutSmart, citysearch, sidewalk, PublicNews and national theater media like American Theatre and Stage Directions. The conspiracy to prop us up, apparently undeserved, is vast indeed. It also includes a great variety of foundations, local businesses and, of course, our loyal audience, half of which almost never attends cultural arts events other than IBP shows and the other half of which includes arts pros from the Alley, Stages, DiverseWorks, Bobbindoctrin, Suchu Dance and many other cool groups.
As for the charge that we "lack focus," well, I guess it doesn't take too much focus to mount 46 productions (including 15 world premieres) in ten years. Or to build a theater, ground up, which after five years of all volunteer labor, now employs a full-time staff of five, pays its artists (though certainly not enough) and balances its relatively meager budget. Or to run our outreach and education programs, which have affected hundreds of students at local high schools and universities. Imagine what we could do if we were focused.
Regarding our outrageous wealth: Most of us drink Lone Star and like it. Have you seen the cars we drive? We'd be a wealthy theater company in Cuba, I guess. As it stands, we're like most Houston arts organizations: getting by on hard work, nominal fees and plenty of pats on the back.
Don't hate the player, Rufus. Be part of the solution. Maybe you could be a critic. I can see it now: "It wasn't very good, and my friends agree with me." We'll hold two press comps for Friday, November 7, opening night of A Soap Opera by the Kinks, under your name. And I'll look forward to reading your review.
Nodler is Infernal Bridegroom Productions' artistic director.
Swatting The Nightfly
The shallows: The last word I would ever use to describe Craig D. Lindsey's Nightfly column is "reliable." Words like "shallow," "incomplete," "skewed" and "bullshit" leap forward in my list of words to describe his writing. When I say shallow, I mean describing single white females at the Davenport as "straight from the set of Sex and the City" and the music of the Social on Tuesday nights as "acid jazz." While deep house is melodic and spatial in nature, it's sad that Mr. Lindsey can't note the distinctions between these discrete genres.
When I say incomplete, I mean writing about the "cowboys," ignoring our core Tuesday-night crowd of twenty- and thirtysomethings who are DJs and producers, interested in the music, who come back again and again, for the comfort and luxury of the Social. As the resident Social DJ, I cannot remember ever seeing "30-year-old [or any age] gals in Daisy Dukes."
When I say skewed, I mean describing any venue that concentrates on electronic music and crowds of 18 and over as a "rave." He writes on our Breathe Deep Tuesday night as if it were the product of one DJ, until offering his backhanded apology in a later column. When I say bullshit, I mean repeatedly making reference to "threats," "vendettas" and "thugs" almost anytime he writes about Tastylick Studios or those associated with it.
Andy "Champa" Moore
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