Bayousphere Veto power: Chinese-American vets protest the Chinese government's detainment of U.S. soldiers last month in a demonstration outside the Chinese embassy in Houston.
Bayousphere Veto power: Chinese-American vets protest the Chinese government's detainment of U.S. soldiers last month in a demonstration outside the Chinese embassy in Houston.
Deron Neblett


Hysteric Preservation

Wrong numbers: You might not guess it by reading "Bulldozers at the Gate" [by Brian Wallstin, May 3], but we agree that historic neighborhoods ought to be preserved. Let us make this clear: We would not and have never destroyed a historic home. The lot we're building on was vacant for years.

In the article, the neighborhood association says the Old Sixth Ward contained "about 300" historic buildings in 1978. It claims nearly half have since been demolished. But according to the city inventory, there were 302 historic properties in 1997. We cross-referenced it with what's actually there: 294 historic buildings.

To keep its historic designation, the neighborhood must retain a ratio of 51 percent or more historic buildings. When protesting our house at City Hall, the neighborhood association said the Old Sixth Ward is dangerously close to the 51 percent mark. Yet it heartily approves of faux Victorians -- even though these, too, detract from the ratio. The ratio we observed comes out to 88 percent historic, so it seems pretty clearly just a cloaked disagreement over style.

The neighborhood association wants style control, which would be fine if they'd come right out and say it. Instead, they play politics by irrationally linking our project to bulldozers and "destruction."

Christine Harden and Martin Lopez

Ladder-day saint: I propose a vote of thanks to Marty Lopez and Christine Harden for investing in our neighborhood. Thank you for saving an empty lot from high-density development. Thank you for removing the overgrown weeds and the KEEP OUT sign that blighted the corner of Decatur and Silver for so many years.

And thank you for not being frightened off by the vocal minority who might have you believe you are not welcome. Mi casa es tu casa, and I am easy to find. Hang a left at the gaggle of well-dressed activists. I'm the quiet one up the ladder with the paintbrush in my hand. It's a lovely neighborhood when you look at it from up here.

Peter Thompson

Blame Brandi

Rape avoidance: First of all, I am greatly hurt to read something like this ["Flashing Lights," by Wendy Grossman, May 3] happening by an HISD police officer -- or any police officer, for that matter.

On the other hand, I do believe that Brandi could have avoided the "rape." It wasn't like the officer kidnapped her; she was to follow him! She could have gone down a back street.

Being raised to think that a guy "just wants to listen to music in his dorm room" and to "respect your elders" has nothing to do with being completely obtuse!

Kimberly Hodge

Innocence Lost

Give kids a break: How can anyone tell whether a four-year-old is gifted ["Secrets of a Vanguard Parent," by Lisa Gray, April 12]? It's too much pressure to put a four-year-old through that process. Applying for a school, making them take tests and interviews. Yes, every parent wants the best for their children, as well as me as a mother.

Education in this world means a lot; it is like hitting the lottery, as the writer said. But having a four-year-old go through that process to get into a school is just too much.

It's really important to know as much as possible about the school our children are going to. But all I'm saying is to let kids have a childhood; don't just give them books to read and study. They are kids; they have to have fun and play with friends or toys, and of course they also need to study. However, don't pressure them with all those tests and interviews.

Yadira Arroyo

Jackson Whole

Taking issue: I felt compelled to address the mischaracterization of Jackson Securities Incorporated, as penned by Tim Fleck [The Insider, April 19].

The firm has been certified by the City of Houston as an MWDBE for the past three years and was not recertified only because of a technical issue relating to a change in city policy that was not identified until after the certification had expired. Jackson Securities was working diligently to correct the technicality prior to the selection of underwriters.

The firm was selected as co-senior, a distinct difference in revenue opportunity compared to a book-running senior manager, as can be confirmed by the city's financial adviser.

The performance by Jackson Securities on the last transaction the firm participated in exceeded our liability with allotments. Because of the industry structure, it is often the case that, for all transactions, the co-managers are not allowed to sell the full amount of their liability because of the priority of orders. This is inherent in the system that is beneficial for the city, but not the highest revenue-producing solution for nonsenior managing underwriters. Therefore, we hope Ms. Garcia's comments were taken out of context.

The firm had been removed from the selection list for city brokerage work (this is not bond underwriting) because the firm decided not to renew its approval as a policy matter that affected all of our brokerage clients when we determined to exit from the cash management fixed-income business.

It was omitted that former mayor Bob Lanier originally appointed Jackson Securities to play a small role in the underwriting syndicate on this transaction; Mayor Brown was simply continuing that appointment. Second, the firm made only $5,000 on the transaction.

Jackson Securities never has violated the letter or spirit of municipal securities regulations on political contributions, as they apply to any Houston or other elected official for whom we cannot vote.

The column says The Insider had no luck contacting the Houston office of Jackson Securities. Our five-year-old Houston office is staffed five days a week. I only can conclude that if you received a fast busy, you were dialing the wrong number or using faulty equipment.

It is unfortunate that you saw fit to run an article without giving us a chance to comment and without getting the facts correct.

Maynard Jackson
Chairman of Jackson Securities

Atlanta, Georgia

Tim Fleck responds: City officials dispute several of Mr. Jackson's assertions. He fails to note that his firm was not certified as an MWDBE when it received its first contract with the city. As with the current deals, it was certified after the fact, a point Controller Sylvia Garcia mentioned in her meeting with Mayor Brown. The firm was recently reinstated only after Garcia complained to the mayor that she would not approve an uncertified firm.

The controller sticks with her position that Jackson Securities underperformed on previous deals.

Whereas Jackson says Lanier originally appointed his firm to a bond deal, controller staffers cite city records indicating the deal was amended to add Jackson's firm after Mayor Brown took office.

My article made no accusations about violations of securities rules concerning political contributions. In researching the story, I repeatedly called Jackson Securities using the phone number listed by the city and in the current business white pages. It yielded a busy signal with no rollover. After receiving Mr. Jackson's letter, I found there is a newer directory-assistance number for Jackson Securities that was answered by a secretary.


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