Burned by City Hall
Firefighters' dilemma: As a former Austin firefighter and emergency medical technician, I read the article about Chief Tyra and the Houston Fire Department with some interest ["In the Hot Seat," by Steve McVicker, August 17]. The emphasis on HFD policy and personnel, in terms of neighborhood health care, is at least partly misplaced. It is the responsibility of City Council and the mayor's office to resist the temptation to allow fire stations to evolve into walk-in medical clinics. These structures are expressly designed for the rapid transport of emergency service personnel and equipment to the victims, not the other way around.
Every time an ill citizen approaches a fire company at the station for help, firefighters take on secondary responsibilities that may or may not be superseded by their primary obligation: responding to fire alarms. And that's the dilemma. If the engine company responds to a fire after medical evaluation has been initiated, then continuity of care is broken, which could reasonably be judged medically unethical (and legally, who knows?). If the firefighters take themselves out of service to render medical care, can they justify a house burning down? The failure of City Council and the mayor's office to establish and/or publicize clear-cut guidelines puts HFD firefighters in an untenable and patently unfair position. And it is of great concern to me that this failure may represent a deliberate strategy by some elected representatives to avoid responsibility. In other words, it is council and the mayor who belong "on the hot seat."
Geoffrey M. Palter, M.D.
Les is best: As a Houston Fire Department veteran, I read your article on Chief Lester Tyra with great interest. While the facts in your article are true, I think there are several points that need clarification.
If there were a survey among the 3,200 HFD members concerning support for Chief Tyra, the results would be represented in the classic bell curve. Some are adamant supporters, a large group is neutral, and there's a group just as adamantly against the chief. As in most cases, the members against the chief are the most outspoken and receive the most press.
Chief Tyra's changes are requiring members to work more doing "non-emergency" activities such as apartment surveys, prefire planning and training. Coupled with an ever increasing number of emergency responses, it makes more work for the employee. Firefighters are not happy about that, but I challenge you to walk into any Houston fire station at any time during the workday and not find at least one member watching TV. We do have more work to do, but we also have ample downtime.
Donald Clark's rank was dispatcher. This rank is laterally equivalent to captain but requires an entirely different promotional test. If he developed a hearing loss as dispatcher, perhaps he should have taken a disability retirement, since it would seem to me to have affected his ability to do that job.
You can probably tell I am a supporter of Chief Tyra's. I am not in favor of every decision he has made, but he's the best fire chief in my 20 years with HFD. He's certainly the most knowledgeable and the most well spoken of the chiefs I've served under.
Name withheld by request
Leon and Joe
That balding goateed dude: Thank you for Tom Curtis's portrait of a wonderful and provocative colleague, Bill Simon, who will be very much missed at UH, and in Houston ["The Accidental Sexologist," August 24]. Not to complain, but who does the Houston Press take its readers for these days? Do we really need to be told that Joseph Stalin was a "Soviet dictator"? Or that Trotsky was his "more democratic, intellectual and internationalist adversary"? (The first of those three adjectives is highly debatable, by the way.)
David Mikics, associate English professor
University of Houston
Making a difference: I feel blessed to have known Bill Simon, even for the short time that I did. When I went to KPFT for the first radio show with him and professor George Reiter, as a guest on Class Notes, I was somewhat scared by the idea that I was to be in the company of such learned men.
They not only made me feel instantly at ease, but made me think I was more intelligent than I had given myself credit for. Simon encouraged and seemed to love the idea of HOUSNITCH, and for that I will always be grateful. My heart goes out to his lovely wife and family. He is one of the people who has truly earned the "He made a difference" epithet. He is sorely missed.
Brenda Flynn Flores
Muzzle This Mirth
OD on doggerel: Now just a doggone minute. Anyone who criticizes state Representative Debra Danburg for using a telephone database of supporters to help find her beloved pet is a Luna-tic [The Insider, by Tim Fleck, August 17]. That aghast critic mentioned in The Insider should quit hounding Deb and give her credit for doing everything possible to find her loose pooch. If Luna has landed with another family, let's just hope they're yellow-dog Dems and not rabid Rs.
Sophomoric trickery: Thank you, Richard Connelly, for shedding light on the ad campaign by the Houston Chronicle [News Hostage, August 24]. I have been seeing the Web sites everywhere (thatsbogus.com, rumorhasit.net) and have been tempted to go to them to find out what they are. After reading News Hostage, I don't need to. Thanks for saving my time. Is the Chronicle really so bad off that it needs to make up juvenile teasers in order to trick people into visiting its site?
Music in the Morning
Pullets over Polydoros: Since when is a crowing rooster a noise ["Room to Crow," by Melissa Hung, August 24]? It is beautiful music to my ears. How can anyone complain about the nostalgic sounds of a rooster's melody on the morning air of a new day? It seems to me that Mr. Polydoros should be running for his tape recorder instead of calling in a complaint. There will be a time in the near future when only the very old will remember the morning serenade of a Rhode Island Red.
The Wabash Feed Store has been a good neighbor to all the businesses and homes in that area for many years. Now some outsider comes in and starts to make noise. Real noise, not like the sounds of the rooster. My advice to Polydoros is to get a grip, get a life and move on. He is probably the type that cuts down trees unnecessarily to build those town houses that nobody really wants in their neighborhood anyway. It is plain to see who the real intruder is here.
I have lived 66 years and have never heard anyone classify the crow of a rooster as noise. I am offended by this upstart.
Get the real pros campaigning: Congratulations once again to Houston's best investigative reporter, Tim Fleck, for his insight into the arena wars [The Insider, August 24]. There is not a single shred of doubt in my head that the city, county, sports authority, Rockets, Comets, Aeros, Les Alexander, Chuck Watson, Robert Eckels, Lee Brown or Paul Bettencourt give a rat's patooty what is best for the taxpaying citizenry when it comes to our latest edifice.
It's all a game to make the rich richer, the powerful more powerful and to make a bigger name for those whose careers need a lift.
A little suggestion to whoever runs this plan: Unlike last year, when we were told the pros and cons by Bob Lanier, Lee Brown and Mattress Mac, I can save you lots of money by telling you to feature Hakeem, Clyde Drexler, Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes and Charles Barkley in your ads for the arena.
It doesn't matter that this playhouse is built for the rich and cannot be visited by the average working resident, but all voters have stars in their eyes, so put these "heroes" out front and the proposition will pass easily. And it will save the big bucks and commissions the political mercenaries would make on a campaign.
Dallas or Downtown?
Dynamic diversity: In regard to the story "Murphy's Law" [by Melissa Hung, August 3]:
This is Houston, not Dallas. We purchased a house in the Heights and moved in because of the diversity of the neighborhood, and who is Murphy calling "riffraff," anyway?
Why doesn't he move back to Dallas or get a loft downtown -- and save himself the 3.6-mile drive to work!
Hey, man, let's party: I think Murphy is totally full of himself and he has nothing better to do than raise hell against family-oriented establishments. I frequent Jax on a weekly basis, and we "riffraff" are from all walks of life.
Jax couldn't be a "club," because many children (age zero to 90) go there to enjoy the food and the music and to be with family. There are bankers, lawyers, doctors, businessmen and yes, even a few socialites. Walter's Ice House also has respectable citizens.
If Walter's and Jax were breaking any laws, they would have been shut down a long time ago.
Mr. Murphy needs to join in the fun of Jax. I think he's a lucky man to live within walking distance of such a popular and fun place.
À la leatherneck: Oops! Somebody goofed. I love your restaurant reviews. I have found so many new places through the Houston Press that I never would have found otherwise. However, now you're teasing us and leading us astray. After reading your article about Michaeline's ["Location Be Damned," by Dennis Abrams, August 24], I was so looking forward to trying the roasted jalapeño potato soup and the pork scallopine crabmeat dish.
When I arrived with a client for lunch, we were greeted by a charming yet apologetic woman who explained that they are not open for lunch, despite what was indicated in the Press. So instead we had to settle for a rather mediocre meal at Bocados.
Editor's note: That was no goof. Michaeline's reports that chef John A. Salazar has recently been away during the day to fulfill his duties as a Marine reservist. He then returns to prepare evening meals. His Marine requirements end in about a week, and then Michaeline's will decide whether to resume lunch service.
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