Blame yourselves: I wonder how many folks will respond to condemn Toyya, who have themselves contributed to the population of unwanted pets -- especially in the communities where Toyya has lived ["Kitty Litter," by Wendy Grossman, July 3].
No miracle worker: Being a lover of pets, I read with an open mind the story of Toyya Braskey. I cannot come away from a story like this without thinking of the needs of these cats. Having had pets throughout the years, I have come to know that each pet is unique, each needs our love, companionship and care.
With 100 cats, there is no possible way each one is having its individual needs met. Life is life, but quality of life is just as important. The fact that Toyya is not taking good medical care of herself and not keeping up with the demand of simple sanitation and cleanliness tells me that she is not a miracle worker able to give these cats the companionship, medical attention and play time needed.
Being humane is a virtue, but confusing humanity with keeping these beautiful creatures in deplorable conditions is in no way justifiable. I wish Toyya well, but these cats deserve more than good intentions.
David R. Garza
No place to be: Anyone with a modicum of intelligence and who can read English will immediately be repulsed and saddened by the story of this very misguided woman, Toyya Braskey. From your photos, obviously her facility is filthy, smelly, overcrowded and an unsafe environment for cats, sick and healthy alike. Her facility must be violating Galveston County Animal Control and the Galveston County Health District regulations.
How many times will we see on television some extremely neglected, sick and dead animals removed from a filthy facility?
There is no question that she believes she is saving cats, but how can she not realize that it is unacceptable to allow kittens to die from spider bites rather than get medical help? It may not be illegal to choose to live in those conditions, but common decency and common sense should stir her "friends" to try to get her some help.
The truly saddest part of this dilemma is there is no place for all those cats to go where each can receive whatever level of treatment or care it needs. Most likely, if and when her facility is shut down, those 100 innocent and suffering cats will be rounded up by animal control and euthanized. How about if 100 citizens each volunteered to adopt one of the cats as an alternative to euthanizing them?
Harming the Homeless
Program cutbacks: Your cover story on the lack of services for Houston's homeless ["Dead End," by Craig Malisow, June 26] was very timely for those who are receiving services at the UT Houston Recovery Campus. It looks like UT is going to pull the plug on not one but three successful programs that help the homeless in Houston.
The excuse being given is that there is not enough money to match the state and federal funds already committed to these programs, but the reality seems to be more one of wanting to abandon a minority-run, community-supported/supporting institution, the former St. Elizabeth's Hospital. The services provided at HRC have given many people a real chance at a drug-free, independent (tax-paying) life that they would not have had otherwise. Your paper likes to call things as they are, rather than how they are spun, so here is your chance.
Name withheld by request
Baying at Bayport
A port called Goliath: I was the financial accounting manager for the Port of Houston from 1997 to 1999. I worked for the port for five and a half years, had two promotions, one nomination for employee of the year and nothing but favorable performance evaluations. Then, exactly one day after I filed a grievance, I was terminated for "non-performance of job duties." The proof submitted to the Texas Workforce Commission by the port, in its attempt to deny unemployment benefits, was a memo by my supervisor two days after my termination, saying in essence that I wasn't doing my job.
Fortunately, the port's powerful tentacles did not reach the TWC and I was granted my unemployment benefits. But, as the expression goes, I may have won the battle, but I lost the war.
I challenged the port legally on its refusal to grant a grievance hearing that I had properly requested. The port did what it always does: called in the lawyers, pulled out the taxpayers' checkbook and proceeded to spend, spend, spend whatever it took to beat the challenge. Despite my outrage at my treatment, I had to give up, as I could not afford the legal expenses.
So it comes as no surprise to me that Goliath is once again rearing its ugly head over Bayport ["Mixed Messages," by Scott Nowell, July 3], and now apparently tens of thousands of citizens living in the Clear Lake area are having the same run-in with the port's arrogance. And you can rest assured, the port will once again call in the lawyers, pull out the taxpayers' checkbook and proceed to spend, spend, spend until it can beat any and all challenges made against it.
The port has hundreds of millions of dollars sitting around in investments earning interest, and it says these are "committed funds" earmarked for capital improvements, which of course include Bayport. Much of this money makes its way into the hands of expensive lawyers and high-priced consultants who do little more than promote the port's powerful pro-Bayport agenda.
The port has always been a master at leveraging its favorable relationship with the Houston community. One only needs to utter the phrase "the port means jobs" and suddenly everybody is on their side. This has worked very well to the benefit of the port authority. Houston's port is only one of a handful in the nation that is entitled to assess a property tax to make its debt payments every year, in spite of the fact that the port generates tens of millions of surplus dollars annually.
My advice is to take a good look at how the port spends your money. As Mr. Kornegay expresses dismay in your article as to why people would want to live in an industrial area, for heaven's sake, why would they want to leave on a cruise ship from the port's planned terminal? I'm sure they would just love to hear from you.
Astro lineup: Thanks for all the many, many weeks over the years of great News Hostage columns. It was consistently my favorite section of the Houston Press, unless there was a particularly tantalizing restaurant featured in the food section that week, of course!
But I must take issue with the "White Riot" item in Hair Balls [by Richard Connelly, June 19]. While I agree that Houston's baseball lineup could use a bit more diversity, I think that calling out the starters for having but a single "token" minority (Orlando Merced) is a bit of a knock at the other fine minority players. From Jose Vizcaino, currently subbing for Jeff Kent, to Richard Hidalgo (heck, he's up there in the home-run chase with Berkman and Bagwell), Hispanics are certainly better represented than you pointed out. I wouldn't mind seeing some Asians and African-Americans on the team, however.
Let's not forget Octavio Dotel, currently the Astros' winningest pitcher despite being an eighth-inning setup man. He had the most smoking inning against the Yankees in the no-hitter this season, and just won his sixth game recently. He is the man.
And here comes our newest pitcher, Rodrigo Rosario, looking good for the future.
Need I go on?
Tame and shame: Regarding the writer of the letter about the Attwater's prairie chicken [Letters, "Feline Frenzies," July 3]: You obviously have a devout concern for them here in the Texas City area and the fact that you are convinced that feral cats are snuffing their existence.
Keep in mind, kind sir, that those birds are wildlife. The cats on the street are not wildlife. We as mankind put them there because we are fat, lazy and irresponsible. We most definitely should be protecting our wildlife, but I assure you that God expects us to do a hell of a lot more than what we are doing for our domestic life. Our pets give us unconditional love and deserve our protection. God gave these creatures to us and expects us to care for them, not throw them outdoors and let them fend for themselves, reproducing, starving and suffering. Would you not kill for food if you were in their position? Shame on you for saying that these animals should be destroyed like they are roaches.
From fun to ire: Whoever your dinner companion was for your second visit to the steak house, she's a woman after my own heart ["Forgiving Fertitta," by Robb Walsh, June 26]! I totally agree with her views regarding the raping and pillaging of poor Kemah.
I shed tears every time I remember how much fun it was to go to Kemah before it was Landry-ized. I hate the place now. And as for the downtown Aquarium -- I'm sure your companion had all the right adjectives.
Unfortunately, I think she and I are in the minority. I just wanted to let you know it pleased me to learn there is at least one other person in this city with sensitivity and taste when it comes to commercialism and rampant bad taste.
Frank's so fine: I enjoyed your review of Frank's Grill ["Summer Breakfast Strategy," by Robb Walsh, July 3] and agree with what you wrote, for the most part.
To me, one of the best items on his menu, and what makes the drive there from southwest Houston worth it, is the chicken-fried steak sandwich. There is none other like it anywhere! And it is best eaten at lunch, heat or no heat.
P. M. Knox
Music ballot blues: The Houston Press Music Awards ballot has a lack of choices, especially in the metal/industrial category. I have been a Houston fan of live music for quite a while. There are so many better new metal bands out there that are Houston-based, I really couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the ballot.
Bands such as Full Circle, Descent Into Madness, ZLOTZ, Magistral and Thrive are missing! It looks like your writers didn't put too much time into reviewing the local music scene and just grabbed the first thing from the CD list.
And who in the hell has heard a good producer in Houston? I certainly haven't, and I've worked for quite a while on the local scene and studio market as both a musician and a producer. On a professional level I can easily say that the people in that category are quite inept on a national level, and it is even a joke to vote for either one of them.
I believe that the Houston Press is a fine paper. It's just that the music editors and reviewers need to pay closer attention to the music scene and not to the few bands that somehow get across to them.
Give it up: Phil Freeman's article on Metallica ["Grumpy Old Men," June 19] was, unfortunately, on the mark. Musically, some aging rockers are able to grow up gracefully, creating new sounds that perpetuate their legacies in a positive way. Peter Gabriel, Sting and U2 come immediately to mind. Others, like Metallica, died long ago and should have remained in the past. St. Anger is a disaster in an embarrassing sort of way. To paraphrase what Woody Allen once said, "When a relationship stops moving, it dies like a shark."
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Kick ass from the dead: Perfect! Absolutely perfect! They are no longer (nor will they ever be) the perfectly orchestrated genius band that they once were, and it's very depressing. Cliff Burton needs to rise from the dead and slap some sense into these boys and take Bob Suck back with him.
I am extremely pissed off that they still go by that glorious name that once meant so much.
My brother told his wife before she listened to the CD that it was "Lords of Aggression." She didn't even recognize them! Why would she? Sorry to ramble, but you got me worked up. Damn good write-up.