Raise your own: Congratulations on a very well researched and written article ["A Killer Nanny," by Wendy Grossman, March 6].
While I can understand the Fosters' horror at having a convicted murderer in their home caring for their children, they should be thanking their lucky stars that nothing happened. Mr. Bieri/Davis was correct in saying that there was no way the agency could have known, since he had presented all the pertinent documentation. If somebody wants to change his identity badly enough, he can do it.
Perhaps the Fosters should have taken a moment after this incident to re-evaluate their situation. It appears that they are "people of means" and they could have easily rearranged their work and social schedules to take care of their own children without outside help.
Many of us are not in a position to quit jobs or reduce our work schedules, and we must rely upon outside help. If I had been able to care for my own children and still clothe and feed them and not work, I would have done it.
The Fosters should have taken the $12,000 they spent on the lawsuit and gone on a family vacation together to try to heal whatever "mental and emotional anguish" might have been perpetrated by virtue of Mr. Bieri/Davis's one-week stay at their home.
Be thankful: Though I can certainly understand Mr. and Mrs. Foster's alarm in finding out the nanny they hired had a criminal record dating back 20 years, I think the only danger those boys are in now is from their neurotic mother!
It seems she took a big chance inviting strangers into her home and leaving her children with them before all background checks had been completed. She should count her blessings and move on.
Good program: It seems like the critics of the CRACK program are unhappy because drug treatment and universal medical coverage are not being provided ["Deal of a Lifetime," by Craig Malisow, February 27]. I think CRACK is doing a good job with the limited funds it has as a private charity.
Look, no Hans! The Houston Symphony Orchestra is not going broke ["Going Baroque," by Jennifer Mathieu, February 20] -- it is already there.
HSO's financial problems did not begin with Tropical Storm Allison or Enron's demise or the recession. CEO Ann Kennedy's regime has done nothing to establish the financial viability of HSO. Kennedy has announced that HSO will not have a plan to increase its endowment until May. Ann, where have you been for the past two years?
The way HSO is run, it can't do anything but lose money -- buckets of it. The officers and board must challenge management to excel, and if board members cannot be major contributors or fund-raisers, they should step down.
Mathieu's article mentions Christoph Eschenbach nine times but Hans Graf (a.k.a. Hans Who?), the current music director, is mentioned only for his refusal to comment. His community presence is virtually nonexistent, and under his leadership, programs have been dull.
No one doubts Graf's musical abilities, but the hallmark of an orchestra is how well it integrates itself into the community.
We need a new music director at the expiration of Graf's contract.
A mum Marshall: In my opinion, it is a sleazy practice for any member of the HISD Board of Education to be a paid lobbyist for a district vendor ["A Paige from the Past?" by Jennifer Mathieu, March 6].
Larry Marshall requested a campaign contribution from me when he last ran for office. I did not refuse but requested a meeting with him (at the Buffalo Grille!) to discuss some of my concerns about the district. I never heard from him again.
Up Against the Wall
Water Marks: Thank you for your article on the ugly wall [The Insider, by Tim Fleck, February 27].
I am amazed by Councilman Bert Keller's lack of knowledge, since I discussed the wall with his aide on February 17. Neighbors had talked with the aide prior to that. He told us that he had taken Harris County Flood Control officials to the property to look at the way Mr. Marks has changed the flow of the water to help get their approval.
The wall is not for security. Anyone can walk around it, and in fact vagrants now can hide behind it. Anyone can walk along the edge of the water straight into Mr. Marks' backyard unless he barricades the water, too.
If he wanted real security, he'd put the fence where it belongs -- in his backyard -- not where it destroys the view for the rest of us. He cut down some beautiful trees to erect this monstrosity, with total disregard for the environment and his neighbors.
Aside from the promo: My thoughts rarely coincide with the News Hostage or its Chron-bashing. Sometimes research is vital for an article. Your continued bashing of local TV, particularly KPRC, took its toll in your recent criticism of KPRC's special feature "Petnapping" [News Hostage, by Richard Connelly, February 27].
If you had tuned in, you would understand the importance of tagging pets (whether with a collar or microchip); you would understand that thousands of dogs and cats are "euthanized" because there is no way to identify them; you would understand the severity of stolen pit bulls in the Houston area used for dog fighting; you would also understand that bashing local TV without thorough research is not the best-est way to write an article. Mr. Connelly, you have taken hostage of the truth and journalism, for that matter.
Reb religion: Jean Oppenheimer's review of Gods and Generals was off the mark in more than a few ways ["In the Name Of ," February 20]. Judging a person's piety through hindsight of more than 140 years is the height of arrogance. It is obvious that being a writer does not require a degree in anything else.
Whilst I share not a whit of their religious outlook, the piety of generals Jackson and Lee was accurate. Jackson was noted for his extreme and overzealous religious beliefs. He found religion after his first wife and child died in childbirth.
And yes, it didn't take women's liberation to make women strong enough to stand by their men. My mother stood by my father while he was away fighting two of our nation's wars, and she raised four children in five states and two foreign countries while at his side. She didn't mind a bit.
Scott's standard: Your review of Cindy Scott's record is really unfair [Local Rotation, by Timothy J. O'Brien, March 6]. I mean, to spend the first paragraph waxing over the choice of her first song was so unnecessary.
I assume from the review that she sings jazz standards, and like it or not, "It Don't Mean a Thing" is a jazz standard. To knock that would be just as bad as knocking a gospel artist for performing "Amazing Grace." In either case, all this consumer needs to know is how her performance measures up to the material. You did say her voice and the instrumentalists were "superb," but it was more like an afterthought.
No mere customer: I was happy Robb Walsh visited Boulevard Bistrot; after nine years it's good to be reviewed again ["Teachings of the Pope," February 13] as I believe we have gotten better at what we do at every level. I would like to respond, however, to chef Tom Williams's letter [Letters, "Eating Her Words," February 27].
Chef Williams (who used to own and operate Fox Diner) has practically made a career out of writing "consumer" comments about me and my restaurant. When he came in, my staff tried to offer their help and expertise with the menu, tried to answer questions and tried to fix the food he didn't like. But it's as if he and his manager came determined to hate everything and to leave unhappy. Williams poses as a customer to write on Citysearch and Digital Dining that my food is "inedible," that my food is confused, that we don't care about our customers.
He seems to be fixated on my menu words. As he's a chef himself, I think he should be open to the flavors that I try to achieve. The Houston public has come so far in experimenting, exploring and educating themselves in eating. Foods that have been revived, rediscovered and combined no longer frighten them but entice them. I give my public much more credit than Williams does.
I have stayed quiet until now because I believe people have a right to express opinions, but Williams continues to present his opinion as a "regular customer" when, in fact, he is in direct competition with us as a chef and restaurateur. This puts a different perspective on his comments. You'd have to ask him what instigated his professional and now, it seems, personal vendetta against me and my staff.
Chef Williams, it's okay if you don't get it. My loyal following and my proud staff are enough for me. Writing glowing reviews of your own establishment wasn't enough to keep you in business; writing scathing attacks on my business isn't going to finish me. I only write this to inform the public of your identity.
Death and honor: The Houston music community has suffered the loss of several of its members in the last few weeks. John Nova Lomax writes of two such losses [Racket, February 27], who happen to have been longtime friends.
He writes of the tragedy surrounding the death of A.J. Murphy at Kinney Abair's funeral only moments after eulogizing his lost brother. However, Lomax chooses to sensationalize this ironical death by spinning the delusional thoughts and hearsay of some without seeking verification.
The result is a poorly written and documented article that does not even do justice to the typical trashy publications that surround us in checkout aisles. It certainly does not do justice to A.J. and Kinney. They and their loved ones deserve much more.
Kenne G. Turner
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No dark angel: I cannot believe that John Nova Lomax has sunk to the depths of rag journalism by publishing the statements of those who felt there was bad blood between Amuel J. "Murph" Murphy and Kinney Abair, and that this caused Murph's untimely and eerie death. For Lomax to include these comments is ridiculous.
This is not the type of positive memories all concerned wish to attain and keep. I knew Amuel Murphy for over 20 years and know in my heart he was a solid human with a pure heart.
I can state truthfully that I have witnessed him and Abair argue over $5 to $50 and laugh ten minutes later when we'd hit the after-hours jazz joints. I am entering my 33rd year in the newspaper industry, and I can tell you that this sort of journalism is grocery store material.
R. "The Wheel" Carter
Palm Beach, Florida