Your article "The Grass Wars" [by Randall Patterson, March 25] shed light on the events but did not change my original shock that Joe Sybille could beat his neighbor with a shovel and receive only a ten-day jail term.
What was the jury thinking? If Sybille had beaten him to death, what would they have given him -- 30 days?
What I was most amazed about is that Sybille considers himself the poor victim in all of this. Joe, in your tit-for-tat court battle count, do not count this sentence as a loss.
If the Shovel Doesn't Fit...
Help me to understand this. A black family moves into an upscale white neighborhood, causes no trouble, cares for its property with great care, gets along with its white neighbors and lives the good life until an alleged killer moves in with a long history of confrontations with people in other neighborhoods where he has lived.
Then each time there is a dispute, the First Colony board of directors always finds in favor of the white man. Hmm. It appears that First Colony has made a choice. Where is Johnny Cochran when we really need him?
Name withheld by request
Headaches in Spades
Randall Patterson's story on the feuding neighbors suggests that if a person is a) bigger than you, b) obnoxious, in your opinion, and c) calls you a name you don't like, then you are entitled to hit that person with a shovel (while his back is turned) and do so repeatedly even after the individual has fallen or is attempting to flee.
Mr. Patterson suggests that such a person beaten under these circumstances cannot claim to be a victim, but you can claim to be a victim if you are prosecuted of the crime of assault.
If Mr. Patterson truly believes this, I suspect that he may have been hit repeatedly in the head with a shovel, causing him neurological deficits. It is this type of convenient rationalization that fosters road rage and other forms of senseless violence in our society.
Kudos to the Houston Press and Steve McVicker for the complimentary profile of Katherine Scardino ["Queen of the Good Ol' Boys," March 25]. As your article notes, female criminal-defense lawyers seldom gain recognition in Harris County, and no one is as deserving as Ms. Scardino. Surely prosecutor Chuck Rosenthal was misquoted; who would choose to denigrate an opponent who thoroughly kicked one's derriere, rather than acknowledge the superior skills required?
The Durrett trial was a morality play of the type seldom produced in our local courtrooms. The state attempted to manipulate evidence to support an unfounded prosecutorial theory.
What is truly sad is how law enforcement guarantees that society is punished in these rare instances when a trial not only proves the accused not guilty but also points convincingly at the true perpetrator. Miffed in defeat, the police generally refuse to pursue new leads, and prosecutors close the file, insisting that "justice" was thwarted and will never again be sought. That'll show us!
Shawna L. Reagin
In the Katherine Scardino article, I first felt like I was reading about myself -- born on a backwoods farm in East Texas, no electricity, water from a well and an outdoor toilet, and very poor. Like Katherine, I am close to her age, tall and attractive.
But when I read that she considers her own escape from poverty and abuse a matter of luck, the similarity ended. I consider my escape a matter of pride in who I was, moral values and a desire to work in order to better my lot in life. I also got a strong gut feeling that Katherine's ultimate goal is to be famous.
Earth Day Pact
Here's a happy ending to a Houston Earth Day wrinkle first reported in the Insider [by Tim Fleck, March 18].
After some cross-pollination of ideas, Planned Parenthood, Enron Corporation and the Citizens Environmental Coalition reached a satisfactory agreement about Planned Parenthood's continued participation in Earth Day. The CEC board voted that Planned Parenthood, longtime advocate of international family planning, could participate along with other CEC member organizations.
Planned Parenthood's message will continue to focus on international family planning and the importance of women's health to families around the globe.
Vice President of Communications
Planned Parenthood of Houston
and Southeast Texas, Inc.
Oh my God! Get ready to impeach young George! Who could possibly vote for this man knowing he was once engaged to be married, then called it off over 32 years ago ["The Woman George W. Bush Didn't Marry," by Tim Fleck, March 25]. Did it ever occur to Tim Fleck that the wedding was canceled because they didn't love each other enough? Hell, maybe she called it off because Bush was a Presbyterian!
Fleck would better serve the public by speculating on who the current President is banging in the Oval Office.
Don't stop at George W.'s college escapades. The inquiring mindless need to know who his date was for his high school senior prom. Who was his first crush? What do they and their families and friends and enemies have to say about being cast aside in his rise to wherever he stands today? Think of the talk show venues this could open up to fill the 20 months until the election!
Congratulations on out-Chronicling the paper you love to spurn.
Dolores A. Lamb
Thanks for telling us who was engaged to GWB back in the '60s. I've been waiting for some enterprising reporter to do the legwork on this. Who knows, maybe someone in the Wolfman family will finally open up and drop some dirt on the Guv early next year.
Name withheld by request
Over the Line
I am truly disappointed in the Houston Press. I have defended your paper numerous times as being willing to write about important issues that the Chronicle would not dare touch. And you generally do so with what I consider to be journalistic excellence. But Tim Fleck's article was way out of line.
Can we not focus on George W.'s stand on the issues? He appears to be a good Christian family man -- does that terrify you? He might not wholeheartedly support Israel in whatever games they choose to play (a president who might look to our nation's best interests? Oh, no!).
If the worst dirt you can find is that he broke some young woman's heart by breaking off an engagement, then perhaps we have a man with the honesty and integrity that most of us would like to see in a president.
Blow It Off
Good grief. A broken engagement is evidence of racism, anti-Semitism or somesuch? Why the hell can't we talk about issues instead of trying to dig up dirt? Reporters must be suffering from Monica withdrawal.
Poetry in Motion
Expand your verse!
So. You think you're a poet.
Now's your chance to prove it.
April, sometimes referred to as "the cruelest month," is also, by sheer coincidence, National Poetry Month, and we're celebrating by having the first ever Houston Press National Poetry Month Contest.
Enter and win a prize, to be announced, as well as publication in the Press. First-, second- and third-place winners will be spotlighted, as will other noteworthy poems received, if space allows. There is no entry fee.
Here are the rules:
There are no subject, topic or form restrictions for the poems. Rhyme, free verse, sonnet, sestina, haiku, we don't care. Just make it good. (Hint: Walt Whitman, good; Jewel, bad.)
Poems must be the sole property of the person entering them and must be previously unpublished; plagiarism is obviously prohibited.
Poems must be typed and double-spaced and can be no longer than two typed, double-spaced pages (approximately 400 words).
Each entrant may submit only one poem.
Deadline: 5 p.m. April 19.
Publication date: April 29.
Your poem will be judged by editors and staff writers at the Houston Press.
No poems will be returned; do not send us your only copy.
Send typewritten copy to: Poetry Contest, Houston Press, 1621 Milam, Suite 100, Houston, TX 77006, attn. Kirsten Bubier.
Include a cover sheet with your name, the title of your poem, and your address and telephone number for verification. Or e-mail it, along with all of the above information, to firstname.lastname@example.org with "Poetry Contest" in the subject header.
No phone calls, please.
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