Prison retaliation: I loved your treatise of the TDCJ journalism stew ["Prose and Cons," by John Suval, August 23]. The Texas Department of Confusion (forget about Justice, there is none) got scared because less than a handful of inmates sounded intelligent in The Echo and perhaps tried to operate the prison paper in an intelligent manner.
However, the reporting therein was lopsided. Did they write the administration to dialogue with them before printing their views? Obviously not. Then the administration retaliated with Nazi tactics and burned the paper.
If The Echo had continued on course with talented writers such as Jorge Renaud, Texas would have a prison newspaper to rival The Angolite.
Too bad the administration boys were so unsure of themselves as leaders and examples that they had to close down the paper until mediocre lukewarm reporters could be found.
If the administration would unabashedly dialogue and work with, not censor or suppress, the journalists on The Echo (those who were on it), then I believe the state of Texas would have something of which to be proud, even though it comes from and serves mainly a prison population.
Surprising rebirth: I truly appreciate the depth of your excellent reporting on the status of The Echo. I read Renaud's terrific piece on the lockdown and was impressed by his writing style and apparent dead-on accuracy; I was also stunned that the TDCJ would ever allow his words to be read by anyone on the inside, much less outside the prison walls.
It just defied the basic instincts of institutional survival to allow such blatant criticisms by an inmate. I still am surprised that the TDCJ is allowing any form of The Echo to be revived. Allowing critical comment and analysis of operational issues by inmates of the institutional structure in which they reside is just completely contrary to the management mind-set of prison officials, no matter how "enlightened" they profess to be.
Thanks for keeping us informed of the status of that newspaper, and for keeping up the heat on the management of the TDCJ.
Name withheld by request
Mail mayhem: I am glad that a revealing article ["Zoned Out," by Jeffrey Gilbert, August 23] was able to provide the public with some insight into the problems with the U.S. Postal Service. Anyone who has talked to a postal employee has heard some real horror stories. The so-called technological advance of presorted mail, called DPS, usually sorts incorrectly, so that when it is sent to a station the carrier must spend time on the street trying to sort it correctly.
The delivery routes have been so combined and lengthened that the carrier cannot possibly deliver all the mail before nightfall. Station managers make the mail carriers the scapegoats when postal patrons complain. At a loss as to how to make this new system work, the managers harass and threaten the mail carriers to the breaking point. The inspectors who analyze the carriers' routes penalize carriers for taking work time to use the restroom, scratch their heads or stop at too many traffic lights.
The postal service plans to cut employees and service while continuing to give managers large monetary awards. Real improvements must begin with the elimination of mismanagement, corruption, nepotism and archaic personnel supervision. Our country should be capable of providing the best and most up-to-date mail delivery in the world.
Résumé protector: After a great deal of thought on your Insider column on Vanessa Leggett ["Mercenary or Media Martyr?" by Tim Fleck, August 23], I can't decide if you are driven by partisan motives or if you are just dense. Publication is not necessary for a journalist to be a journalist.
Had I not decided to do some self-promotional writing for some local publications years ago, I would not be a "published" writer, even though I have worked as a writer/editor on behalf of over 7,000 business and individual clients. Had I never published a word, would you support the police if they seized my hard drive because they heard I was working on a book? It seems clear to me that you would side with the police.
Glad I'm not really a journalist -- I think I have too much in the way of personal and professional ethics to play word games with the First Amendment. I have always told my clients that even though I am not shielded by the First Amendment (as it has been interpreted by our stunningly reactionary courts), their résumés are safe with me.
Congratulations on finding a "new" angle to what must be a tired story in Houston, but to the rest of the country, this is still a strange, inexplicably frightening case that really has nothing to do with Leggett's credibility as a journalist. And if such things did matter, how do you justify all the pundit whores in D.C. who long ago forfeited even the slightest right to call themselves journalists?
St. Paul, Minnesota
First Amendment ruse? Yet another Vanessa caught with her clothes off! I'd been wondering how this woman had been making a living. Thanks for uncovering her despicable ruse. I'm not too thrilled with Mr. DeGeurin, either, but then, I never have been.
Bagels and respect: I enjoyed most of Robb Walsh's article ["Bagels Rip My Flesh," August 16] and do agree; their bagels, food and portion sizes are the best in Houston! On the other hand, I felt he was being unfair to Jay Kornhaber, one of the owners of New York Coffee Shop. My family and I have known Jay since he opened his establishment many years ago and have never had a bad experience with him. He has always been respectful to me and my whole family!
It's a true fact that Ed, his partner, is more outgoing and greets everyone like family, but that doesn't make Jay a villain, as Mr. Walsh portrayed him in his article.
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