Capital Ideas

Poorly executed: Wow! Are you printing freshman comp exercises from HCC now? That was the weakest thing I have ever read in your rag ["No Pain, No Gain," by Richard Connelly, May 26].

Kevin Wahl

Life-or-death lottery: I am not a fan of the death penalty, but there is a way to make the process faster, without destroying the rights of the prisoners:

Allow one large-scope appeal to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Within 30 days after rejection of that appeal, the prisoner may take the option of risking immediate execution.

The prisoner would get strapped in and hooked up to the death mechanism and, at some point, would be told he has 30 seconds to pick one of three buttons. One would activate the poison; the other two would activate a water IV. If the prisoner survives, he would be informed five minutes after the process starts. He would be paroled in 20 years with good behavior, and breaking parole would result in waiting 20 more years for the normal life-sentence parole to become available.

Those convicted of murders for hire and premeditated murders, like those by "Candy Man" killer Ronald Clark O'Bryan, and some others would be ineligible.

Advantages would include speedy justice, and juries could sentence multiple murderers to subsequent death sentences, increasing their odds of execution. And victims' families could see what they really want to see from the condemned prisoner: fear, the kind their family member must have faced.

The Death Penalty Information Center Web site quotes a 1992 news article that says a Texas death penalty case costs an average of $2.3 million -- about three times that of imprisoning someone in a single cell at the highest security level for 40 years.

Charles Carter

Not OK Corral

Penned in: Your report on what happened at the Halliburton protest on May 18 was the most accurate portrayal I have seen so far ["Horse Shoed," by Josh Harkinson, May 26]. I was one of the participants in the demonstration, and had unknowingly stopped right by the parking garage exit.

The police horses were so close to me that I was petting one's face until his police rider demanded, "Don't touch the horse!" (My back was already near the building; the police were on the sidewalks in our faces, basically, before anything happened.) I had no idea what was happening or even that we were in a wrong place (an exit) when the police just began riding their horses into us.

Thank you very much for the excellent, factual coverage. A number of us are pursuing this police action in hopes of having an investigation and corrections, so that nothing like this will ever be repeated.

Rochelle Brackman

Media silence: Thanks for having the balls to tell the story of what really happened outside the Four Seasons.

With every other so-called news outlet sitting on this story (including the public radio station KUHF), it's somewhat heartening to see the Press has not fallen lock-step into the "code of silence" that has gripped our nation's news media.

HPD displayed a clear agenda of political oppression that day, and everyone should know that.

Thanks for doing your job, HP. It's hard to find a reporter willing to do that these days.

Joseph Michael Gabriel

Boys in the hood: Well, I wasn't at the Halliburton demonstration, but I did see coverage of it on TV. What I saw was the so-called peaceful demonstrators wearing hoods and striking horses.

Protesters do not have the right to block sidewalks or the entrances to parking garages. They can protest within limits -- and those limits do not include the right to interfere with businesses and pedestrian traffic.

The whole aim of the protesters is media coverage. If there is no incident, then they don't get the media coverage. Knowing this, I seriously doubt that they do absolutely nothing to provoke the police. As you state in your article, their Web site called for them to be "uncooperative." I believe they desperately wanted an incident to happen.

Why no mention of the demonstrators' hoods? If they are passionate about their cause and believe enough in it to demonstrate, why are they wearing hoods to conceal their identities? It would seem that they are in fact ashamed of their actions. It reminded me of another organization -- one that has a series of K's in its name.

Mary Bell

Serious journalism: I want to personally thank Press staff writers Josh Harkinson and Keith Plocek for the truly fair and balanced report on the recent Halliburton shareholders' meeting protest.

I and seven others were arrested inside the Four Seasons Hotel that morning. The article was a breath of fresh air after the top daily paper and news stations in Houston sensationalized the violence factor and spun the protest story to sound as if the 50-plus officers in attendance had something to fear from peaceful protesters.

Thank you, Houston Press, for being there that day and looking at both sides of the story before plunging ahead. I wish other local journalists took their jobs as seriously.

Katie Helm

Pack Animals

The straight skinny: Please tell me the article "Got a Light?" [by Keith Plocek, May 12] was tongue-in-cheek. If the author was serious, then I have to ask if big tobacco wrote the article. It was filled with half-truths, conjecture and bias.

Multiple studies show that secondhand smoke causes cancer. For every antismoking zealot. there is a chain-smoking NASCAR fan who thinks it is his God-given right to smoke anywhere. Rights to smoke end where they can put me at risk for cancer. Most restaurants do not have adequate ventilation to keep people safe.

The article said that smokers have more fun than nonsmokers; that is juvenile and a stereotype. The article said that smoking keeps you thin. Well, so does crack cocaine, but I would not recommend it.

Chad Wagner

Another big-tobacco ploy: The notion of hurting sales by enacting ordinances banning environmental tobacco smoke in public places is actually just another ploy of big tobacco (always in the background, quietly funding such lies), using "smokers' rights" as its front. Bar/hospitality sales have actually increased in cities such as New York and Dublin, where bans on smoking in all public places have been in place for several years. Or maybe you simply want to be this industry's mouthpiece, promoting the more attractive side effects of cigarette smoking -- such as the inability to have/maintain an erection, bad skin and looking old before your time, and heroic means of death like suffocating from emphysema and lung cancer.

I'll not call you crazy, as you asked us to do at the end of the article, just stupid, for you've chosen to buy the lie of big tobacco and pass it on as truth. Houston should not stop at restaurants but extend the smoking ban to include all public places, including bars. Less smoke, better sex: a nice trade-off, don't ya think?

Dan Clarke

Peddling Paranoia

Watching you: Finally, someone in Houston has the courage and tenacity to seek the truth about the sham of a bicycle trail program in Houston ["Path to Nowhere?" by Greg Harman, May 12]. The Buffalo Bayou Partnership was supposed to advocate for this almost 15 years ago. It is not, however, in its current contract to do so, so why do they even care now? The only reason, I think, is greed and collaboration with the powers that be in the real estate "scam commission." This whole entity has been rife with benefiting the few at the expense of the many for so long that nobody even notices anymore!

Now comes super-bikeman-hero Alan Atkinson. If you really think that what he is doing is out of a sense of right, you are sadly wrong. Mr. Atkinson seeks to serve himself and anyone else who will pay.

Mr. Atkinson's de facto trail project is there with blessings and curses from the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, albeit with looming safety concerns, substandard construction techniques, lack of legal rights-of-way, lack of legal surveys and construction at dark on legal holidays.

We are in Austin. We are in Washington, D.C. We are concerned. We are watching.

Name withheld by request

Raked over the Coals

Poor-taste cook-out: I am an occasional reader of the Press. Every once in a while, amid the ads for the various perversions practiced in the Montrose area, you guys have managed to find something with some real news value. Most of the time, though, you tilt even further left than the Houston Comical.

But the May 26 issue tore it, as far as I am concerned. I got as far as page four and said, "What the fuck?" I then threw the paper in the trash. And I won't ever read your rag again.

Derf's so-called "cartoon," The City, of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld having a cook-out in Arlington Cemetery went beyond the pale. Derf has got to be mentally deranged if he can come up with something that totally vile. And it saddens me that no one at the Press had enough journalistic integrity to say, "Wait a minute, this is way over the line," and to strike the cartoon. Actually, journalistic integrity be damned: No one had the common decency to do it.

Shame on him for drawing it, and shame on you for printing it.

Chuck Sears

Who's on First?

Too kind: Robb Walsh was really too kind in his review of Alfredo's on Montrose ["Wurst-Case Scenario," May 12]. If the owner believes he is the first to serve German sausage sandwiches in Texas, he is crazy. Roland's Swiss Bakery on Del Monte has served such sandwiches with real homemade potato salad, as well as many other wonderful items, especially soups and a wurst salad, for at least 25 years.

What is that guy thinking?

Robert Rosenberg
Wilton Manors, Florida


The June 2 "Ensemble Dining" cafe review misidentified the chef of Julia's Bistro. David Sanchez has been replaced by former sous-chef Jose Garcia, who deserves the credit for most of the current menu items and all of the great cooking.

The Press regrets the error.


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