Another Round of Turpentine
The response of Thomas Jones [Letters, "Taste of Turpentine," November 21], former campaign manager for Sylvester Turner, to your October 24 story on Mr. Turner ["Man Overboard," by Jim Simmon] uses the very tactics that it decries. Mr. Jones attacks the Press story as "grossly misleading and extraordinarily biased," concluding that 12 jurors delivered a "stinging" verdict on behalf of Mr. Turner. As a juror on this case, my interpretation of the verdict is far different.

In the interests of fairness, I have to point out that the monetary award was made in two parts -- actual damages awarded to Mr. Turner and exemplary or punitive damages against Channel 13. The actual damages awarded by the jury to Mr. Turner were one-tenth the amount assessed against Channel 13. This was so because the verdict was never so much affirmatively "for," or to use Mr. Jones's words, "on behalf of" Mr. Turner as it was clearly against the actions of Channel 13. Although Channel 13 and Wayne Dolcefino crossed the line of journalistic responsibility, it was frequently difficult to be sympathetic to Mr. Turner. In the mind of this juror at least, so many of Mr. Turner's actions painted a portrait of himself that was much closer to that of the Channel 13 story (and far less flattering) than the portrait Mr. Turner tried to paint of himself for the jury.

The whole truth concerning the verdict is somewhat more complex than Mr. Jones's characterization of it. But what is the whole truth? That has always been the question in this matter.

Name withheld by request

Flushed with Pride in Kingwood
In the past, I've pooh-poohed your uncritical support for Kingwood annexation. But now I'm really pissed. You suggested that "Kingwoodolians," while downtown, should "leave a few quarters behind every time they flush" [Editor's reply to "Another Satisfied Kingwood Customer," Letters, November 28].

Speaking as one commuter who flushes with pride every time I visit dear downtown Houston (without which, of course, my life would be utterly meaningless, barely worth living), I am outraged -- outraged, I say! -- by the insinuation that my fellow Metro riders and I are potty parasites.

Your charge is more than a wee, wee bit insulting. It's a cheap one-ply tissue of lies, an unscented malodorous slander.

Here's the real poop:
Number one: Each time we jiggle the lever, someone pays -- either our employer, our landlord, Foley's or James Coney Island, to name a few.

Number two: The cost of each such small act of civic responsibility is charged back to us through our salary, our rent or the price of our Red Apple special or our chili dog (cut the beans, cut the cheese).

Notwithstanding the Press's view to the contrary, there is no such thing as a free launch.

Bottom line: we Kingwoodolians can in good conscience keep our quarters in our pockets: We already gave at the office and the store. End of discussion.

Now wipe your own consciences clean! Apologize instantly! Otherwise, we march from the suburbs to the Press and conduct a merciless on-site sit-down strike!!

Name withheld by request

Compliments of Kingwood
In response to Theresa A. Tilley's letter regarding Kingwood's annexation ["No Pimpin' in the Heights, Either," November 14], I would like to point out that if she is, as she says, "highly educated," she would know that one should never use the objective case as a predicate compliment [sic] -- that is, a pronoun preceding or following some form of the verb "to be." I refer to her statement "me and my Heights neighbors are highly educated ...."

This usage is acceptable in informal colloquial speaking, but should never be used in written form. Any educated or otherwise learned person knows that only the nominative case pronoun "I" would be correct.

My Kingwood neighbors and I not only take exception to being portrayed as bigots and snobs, but we also object to unfounded, scathing criticism from (and worse, comparison to) the likes of Ms. Tilley.

Pat Monaghan

Playing Twister in Cyclone
After reading "He's Out of Here" [November 21], I thought The Insider could use some outside help:

It's High Noon at UH. Gary Cooperish provost stands alone to face down campus shenanigans. He's armed with honesty and the kind of dignity that only comes from being personally acquainted with goodness. Although his foes outnumber him, they despise the light of day. Cowering in the shadows, they writhe. Disarming this provost is tricky.

Strategy: Let's play twister! Fragments of Chris Davenport's resignation set up the atmospheric instability. Kappa Kappa Kappa planted in a board member's mind creates the needed updraft. A columnist on the prowl for inclement weather and a master of spin provides the rotational momentum. Run for cover, folks. We have got us a number five cyclone -- a white male provost with white sheet tendencies. Ooh, it couldn't provoke a colder public shudder -- yessssssssss (don't miss the hiss here), for the conditions that produced our twister were nothing short of handlebar-mustache sinister.

Politics at their best are savvy. Politics at their worst are self-serving and carve a destructive path. For in hardball politics, the bumper sticker reads "ends justify means." Had Mr. Fleck dusted for prints, he would have found certain UH faculty thumbs all over this one. Had he consulted the radar, he could have pinpointed the location for the turbulence where the hot air of invention was colliding with the cool air of reality.

There is no university policy regarding counteroffers. It is left to the deans to set their colleges' priorities. In truth, there is not a biased bone in Jack Ivancevich's body, so his image needed oxidizing. Unfortunately for Mr. Fleck, his vantage point was on the fringes and the real story passed him by. His weather report could have sizzled in ways he never thought possible. Instead, he got to be the mouthpiece for his favorite UH "department sources" and missed his chance at tabloid stardom.

Angi Patton
President-elect, UH Faculty Senate

In light of the Houston Police Department's well-documented policy of stopping law-abiding people of color passing through the city's tonier "white" neighborhoods and Jim Simmon's article "Where the Sidewalk Ends" [November 11] describing HPD's detention of a hapless Caucasian tourist who stumbled into the predominantly African-American Fourth Ward, it might be in order for our Visitors & Conventions Bureau to distribute skin color-coded city maps so that unwary visitors of all races could avoid similar indignities.

Tobin A. Sparling


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