Provide due process: Thanks for the article on Mr. Briggs ["Total Contempt," by Sarah Fenske, April 22].
While the use, or the threat of the use, of contempt-of-court charges may be helpful in some circumstances, the fact remains that the individual so charged is simultaneously found guilty -- there is no due process. Plus, the judge citing someone for contempt is scarcely impartial in the matter.
Since I don't consider worthwhile ends to justify improper means, I favor requiring the same due process for contempt charges as for any others.
Keep Briggs behind bars: As an African-American, I feel that Mr. Briggs deserves more time in prison. He continued to lie and purposely spent the family's money. He continues to have no remorse. More black-on-black crime.
I feel bad that he lost his spouse, but like the judge said, Mr. Briggs had the key! Mr. Briggs was not the victim; the family he stole from was the victim.
Support the Friends: If you love Hermann Park, I hope that you have visited recently to see the improvements that have been made by the Friends of Hermann Park working with the City of Houston ["Friends Like These," by Sarah Fenske, April 22]. There are thousands of new trees, hundreds of new picnic tables, benches and lights, more than 85 new restrooms to replace Port-a-Cans, a longer loop on the miniature train, a vastly expanded lake with island habitats for migrating birds, a fishing pier for young and old, new paths, wildflowers and lawns. The newest construction is the centerpiece: the beautiful Reflection Pool.
These improvements are free to the public, and serve more than six million park visitors every year. The Friends of Hermann Park is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the park's protection and improvement -- that is why the group was founded, and that is why it will continue. The city's park budget has been decimated over the past decade, so FHP has expanded its mission to embrace stewardship of the park. To this end, we are mobilizing an army of park volunteers and must continue to raise funds.
Because of FHP's city contract, five cents of every dollar spent in Hermann Park (excluding the zoo, golf course and Miller Outdoor Theatre) gets reinvested into the park and ten cents goes back to the parks department to care for other city parks. FHP has the responsibility to ensure full accountability for that income. I hope other readers will join our effort to improve this valuable and vulnerable civic asset, by volunteering time, joining the organization, participating in FHP events and helping to keep the park clean, green and safe. Find out more at www.hermannpark.org.
Jane Anderson Curtis, chair
Friends of Hermann Park
Don't vex the vendors: As a native Houstonian, I have gone to Hermann Park more times than I can count, each time begging my parents for a snow cone or a stuffed animal. I am a bit horrified that there is even a management presence over these vendors.
These individuals are out there earning an honest living and should not be told how run their business. If Lyle Lovett wants to be a friend, he should throw a fund-raising concert. Sharon Lay should return the money allegedly taken in the Enron scandal; I think that would be sufficient for the Friends of Hermann Park.
Derf's real target: While Derf did use fallen soldiers as a satirical means to an end (and I can therefore understand why some may be upset), his cartoon did not "poke fun" at them [Letters, "Derf and Dumb," April 22].
Derf poked fun at the man who sent them to die in the first place, and at his apathy toward their deaths. The same man who has sent more than 700 (so far) of our troops to die under false pretenses.
The same man who has refused to attend any of their funerals and has even forbidden any ceremonies or press coverage when remains are returned to this country.
The same man who initially lied to our service members about the duration of their tour of duty.
The same man who was complicit (at least) in cutting the VA budget and reducing troop pay.
Yes, Derf's piece may be disturbing. But what's most disturbing about it is how accurately it captures the attitude of President Bush.
Hale and Hearty
Leave Leon alone: I noticed you took a swipe at the Houston Chronicle and Leon Hale [Hair Balls, "This Modern World," April 22]. An occasional poke at the Chronicle is fine, but please lay off Leon Hale. I'm under 40 and work for one of the largest computer companies in the world, but I've enjoyed Mr. Hale's column for years.
He often writes about small-town Texas, although it could be any small town in America (like my small hometown in the Midwest). So he isn't the most technology-savvy guy on the planet. But his column often conjures up warm memories of a simpler time and stories I heard from my grandpa for the umpteenth time. So please cut Mr. Hale some slack. If you're looking for technology updates, maybe you could talk to the High-Tech Texan.
Tragically unhip, I suppose,
Call of the Tattoos
Cecil's fans: The "tattooed crew" has not moved on and are still favorites of Cecil's, because unlike the yuppies, they actually tip ["We Want the Funk," by Keith Plocek, April 22]! Perhaps you went either too early or not late enough. Your comparison to Bennigan's is so utterly offensive I balk at it.
The walls have always been dark green. The new floors look magnificent. The charming bathrooms have an antique feel. And the bartender, Teresa, always wears a tuxedo shirt with bow tie on the nights she works alone.
You did not even mention that Cecil's is still under construction.
I find it interesting that you feel the "cooler than thou" crowd would not embrace the bar they frequent because of some resurfacing. Your lack of knowledge of this bar is offensive to those of us "tattooed cooler than thou" who enjoy the old and new look of Cecil's.
Jukes and jerk: If the writer had researched Cecil's Tavern, he would've discovered that the tuxedo shirt and black bow tie ensemble was the uniform that all bartenders wore in the early days at Cecil's. The same courteous bartenders still run the place, which pours some of the best spirits for the money in the Montrose area.
The old familiar jukebox was also resurrected from the ashes and still cranks out the same old tunes. Sure, after a tragic fire, nothing is going to be the same, but if you look, you'll see some things haven't changed.
Back in the USA: A letter writer seemed to take the same attitude that many of our immigration officials have: If you don't like it, go somewhere else [Letters, "Border Vows," April 22]. He was right, however, about my tremendous sense of entitlement.
I feel that anyone who doesn't pose a threat to our security is entitled to basic human rights. And that when we have policies and procedures that treat a group of people badly, then we're entitled to make a change.
I drove the 800 miles to El Paso recently for the second time ["Flight of Angels," by Josh Harkinson, April 15]. My wife and I were first in line at the consulate's office, not because we stepped in front of 400 Mexican nationals, but because we got there at 4 a.m. and waited in the cold for the doors to open at 7 a.m.
Hours later, my wife, who is almost seven months pregnant, started to feel bad, and I asked for help. They immediately got our file and the official said that we had to file a waiver to correct the problem that occurred when they confiscated my wife's visa June 17. This would mean that we had to hire an attorney and wait up to two years to bring my wife to this country.
I refused, and later I called my congresswoman, Sheila Jackson Lee, and the next day the consulate immediately issued a visa. It seems that when Congresswoman Jackson Lee jumps into the picture, she helps make things right.
Now, in the next few weeks my wife will have her baby in Houston. I can be with her, and we can start a life together after waiting almost a year. Your reporter asked, when he interviewed my wife, "What happened to the angels?" When my wife finally met that reporter, she told him, "They were always with us."
Jack and Rocio Schyma
West Coast Wonder
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Two tales of Spalding: John Penner's story about Spalding Gray's last performance was an amazing journalistic feat ["Stage Death," April 15]. He wrote at least two different stories with the exact same words. In the LA Weekly article we hear about a liberal writer who happened to find himself in deep, dark "Bush Country," a backwards land where even Spalding Gray fans are conservative jerks.
In the Houston Press version of the story we read about a writer -- who I'm going to presume is local since it's in a local publication that tends to cover only local stories and they would tell me if it were syndicated, wouldn't they? -- who goes to see Gray and is shocked by the reaction of a Gray crowd to a few antiwar warm-up remarks.
Now, personally, I don't believe one word of the LA Weekly story. Clearly this guy is just playing on the cliché that Texans are all a bunch of rednecks and figures his L.A. audience naive enough to believe it. But the Houston Press article sends a chill down my spine.