Salute from Saudi

Wonderful story of courage and initiative ["Cambodian Queen," by Melissa Hung, April 13]. I wish that all who came to the United States seeking opportunity would demonstrate the same qualities. Last month, while on a visit to Cambodia, I met many young people who were not waiting for someone to take care of them, but were working to get an education and to help build Cambodia into a tiger of the 21st century. What a great spirit. Bravo, Melissa, and bravo, people of Cambodia.

Paul McCord

Saudi Arabia

Catching a Whopper

Your recent articles on Sam Rayburn Reservoir and our paper mill at Lufkin ["Reeling," by Bob Burtman, April 6] require clarification and a clear statement of what the facts are, at least from our perspective:

The TNRCC rules change is based on scientific data gathered from the area. The data collection process was overseen and approved by the TNRCC. This change, along with our investment of more than $200 million, will mean that Donohue's process water effluent will be in compliance with all applicable standards and limits. The mill already operates under the most restrictive BOD permit limits of any bleached kraft paper mill in the South. The reservoir will retain its high aquatic life use designation.

It is not reasonable to hold the Lufkin mill to a standard the river itself cannot meet, much less a standard not based on sound science. With or without a paper mill, this part of the river can support only intermediate aquatic life.

Parks and Wildlife has determined that the likely cause of the fish kill was the largemouth bass virus, which also hit nine other Southern states and was probably caused by high temperatures and low lake levels.

Four times a year minnows are put in straight 100 percent effluent from the mill for two days to test for effluent toxicity. The fish have always survived this test. The reservoir is producing quantities of fish of normal and championship size. At a recent B.A.S.S. tournament, more than 3,000 fish were caught. The winner caught 15 fish with a total weight of 55 pounds. We learned of a recent trophy bass that weighed 13.77 pounds.

Seth Kursman, Donohue vice president


Saint Bernard

You did a great job on the Russell/James Coney Island story ["Bad Dog," by Brad Tyer, April 13]. I've known Ivy Bernard McLemore for a number of years, stretching back to our Houston Post days. He is far and away the most reasonable person I know, thus demonstrating what assholes James Coney and its attorneys are.

The world needs more stories like this (the victims' pains aside, of course).

Tom Kennedy


Don't Blame the Clinic

This is in response to the nameless mother from Crosby who bemoaned the fact that her teenage daughter was allegedly counseled inadequately as to abortion alternatives by the folk at the clinic where she received one [Letters, April 13].

In spite of not being informed by the misguided souls who copy down license plates and notify relatives of people's visits to health clinics ["Poison Pen," by Steve McVicker, March 23], this woman obviously found out somehow that her daughter not only had had an abortion before, but was now pregnant again and sexually active. Has it never occurred to her to sit down and talk to her daughter about these goings-on? Apparently not, since it's far more convenient to scapegoat someone else for not doing one's own job.

When did it become a health clinic's responsibility to provide the moral and ethical instruction her daughter apparently lacked? Even if it hadn't prevented her from having premarital sex or seeking an abortion, it might have at least given her the tools to prevent conception or disease. That's the parents' job. The clinic is there to provide a service, not talk people into or out of anything. Silly me. My mistake.

Name withheld by request


School Functions

You missed a critical issue regarding "Carlos" and other children having difficulty transferring their Spanish language skills into English skills ["Tongue-tied," by Margaret Downing, April 6]. An assessment needs to be given to him to fully evaluate his skills, abilities and capabilities and knowledge of Spanish (I'm not sure whether these assessment tools are readily available and used in HISD). He may be functioning at a preschool level in Spanish. Unless one knows his abilities in his native language, how can any curriculum or program aid in transfer skills, and how can one recommend a faster pace to the same program?

Denise Reilly


I'm a big fan of the Houston Press and almost never miss an issue. However, as a practitioner of bilingual education, I found this column to be more a trashing of bilingual education than a well-researched attempt at grasping the issues underlying the role of it in helping or hindering student success.

Downing characterized poor "Carlos" as "trapped" despite the fact that his mother had the legal right to remove him from the program. Downing cites statistics to show that program students fare better than those limited-English students who opt out, but she chooses to give greater credibility to a disenchanted bilingual teacher. She also faults the bilingual program for insulating its students from English-speaking peers when, in fact, many schools with bilingual programs are 90 percent or more Hispanic.

Had she researched a little deeper, she would have discovered that HISD implemented an experimental structured immersion program (which involved very little use of Spanish) in the late '80s and early '90s. The results were so horrendous that the ill-fated program was eventually scrapped.

My research shows that the great majority of parents are satisfied with the progress their children are making in their bilingual classes. Unfortunately, when it comes to bilingual education, journalists rarely get around to celebrating.

Robert J. Johnson


Downing replies: The column never pretended to be a comprehensive analysis of bilingual program statistics from HISD. Instead, it focused on the more personal concerns of those involved -- everyone from HISD trustees, administrators, teachers and parents to the pupils themselves. As the column indicates, many of them question the effectiveness of the program and worry that the students are trapped, limited in both their educational opportunities and prospects for a productive future.

Zero Tolerance

The divisive school-prayer vote last month ["Trying to Make Amens," by Margaret Downing, March 30] by a majority of the Fort Bend ISD board is not surprising, when we consider that a few years ago FBISD, under pressure from some segments of the community, removed "tolerance" as a tenet to be taught in a character-building program.

Someday FBISD may find itself deemed fiscally irresponsible (in view of recent court decisions in other states) for failure to protect the rights of its sexual-minority students. The Houston chapter of the national support group P-FLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) has conducted several conferences that addressed the unique situations of gay students. Nearly 30 Houston-area school districts have sent administrators and counselors to these, but FBISD so far has declined to participate.

As the bumper sticker says: "A closed mind is a wonderful thing to lose."

Irv Smith

Missouri City

I just love this debate about prayers and school. For instance I can just hear the players' huddle:

"Šin the Lord Jesus Christ's name we pray. Amen. Okay, guys, get your *&%damned ass in there and kick the living *&%$ out of those *&%damned mother*&%#ers! Amen."

John R. Cobarruvias


Sermon on the Mound

The greater Houston area -- all of it -- needs Richard Connelly's words ["Low and Outside," March 30] much more than it needs Father Rossi's [Letters, April 13]. Mr. Connelly uses his God-given vision and brain to understand that truth and beauty are the same, that they are found everywhere -- including here in Houston, not just in Rome -- and that God places the ability to possess such knowledge inside each one of us, even inside Father Rossi. But there is hope for Father Rossi -- he reads the Houston Press.

Jim Swindell, ex-Catholic


My boyfriend is a lifelong Astros fan. Some of his taxes went to build beautiful Enron Field. My boyfriend is also a wheelchair-bound paraplegic. There is no handicapped parking at beautiful Enron Field. All handicapped seating tickets have to be bought at the box office at beautiful Enron Field.

If my boyfriend wants to go to a game, he must wheel himself through miles of downtown, or pay out the wazoo to park close, so he doesn't burn out his shoulder sockets. Then he must go to the box office to get tickets. Then he may be turned away if the seats are sold out. When we called the Harris County Sports Authority, we were told that they were unaware of the parking issue until the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Debbie Tesar


Huh? Recently the entire issue, save for a few measly column inches, of the Houston Press was devoted to Enron Field. I almost wrote to bitch about it but thought, What the hell, this too shall pass. But noooŠ More the next week, and you're the guilty one.

Jay Bute

El Lago, Texas

Dumping Ground?

I am a parent of a child who has now attended CEP for two school years ["Making (Up) the Grade," by Wendy Grossman, April 6]. When I enrolled him, the principal told me that the school's objective was for him to move up two grades in one year.

He has advanced one grade level only, and everything in your article regarding Mr. Kellow's findings I believe are correct. My son sits at a computer all day or works on his folder. There is not much interaction with the teachers. Basically they are baby-sitters. I am seriously considering not letting him attend next year.

My son breezed through elementary school. He began having problems when he made the transition to middle school. There were also a lot of problems at home with his father, and I think that had something to do with it. My son hasn't really been in any trouble in middle school, except with one particular teacher, and he was an asshole anyway. I really don't think he was ever a good candidate for this school. I do believe this is a school that gives the school district an opportunity to get rid of these kids at the slightest sign of problems. Paige is wrong; Kellow is very right.

Name withheld by request


Stock Answer

In your article ["High on Speed," by Lisa Gray, March 23] you mention the Stock Car Club of America, when in fact it is the Sports Car Club of America.

Keith Hanna


On the Spot

I'm confused. At the end of the Letters section, there is a full account ["Casting All Modesty Aside," April 13] of how the Houston Press received more awards than the Houston Chronicle at The Press Club of Houston awards ceremony. The short statement described how you crushed the Chronicle in most of the categories, competing head-on with them since you both have circulation over 100,000.

Yet in Richard Connelly's News Hostage column, you blast the Chronicle for boycotting The Press Club's Spot News Reporting category, which nobody won. Why didn't the Houston Press win the award if there were no other contestants in this category? Was the Press snubbed by The Press Club just as the Chronicle had been the year before? Is this a case of what comes around goes around?

Alicia Russo-Stevens


Connelly replies: The Spot News category is given for covering breaking news, the stories that are considered to concern events that happened the previous day. So that category is open only to daily newspapers. The Chronicle is the only daily paper over 100,000 circulation in the area covered by the Houston Press Club awards.

Diverse and Perverse

As a loyal listener to the now defunct Stevens & Pruett Show [News Hostage, by Richard Connelly, March 23], I found the show highly entertaining. Although there were times when I switched stations to avoid hearing callers talk about their latest sexcapades, it was more interesting by far than Houston's FM version of Rush Limbaugh (i.e. Sam Malone).

They also presented the most diverse lineup of guests in this market, something other stations on that bandwidth do not offer. I, for one, will continue to listen to the new morning show of Grego, Pruett and the Boner. By the way, there is no period after the "S" in Harry S Truman. It stood for nothing.

David Teter


Too Much Sugar

Wanted to neglect our restaurant duties long enough to say thanks for Margaret Briggs's review of Riva's ["Inner-City Suburban," March 9]. We've worked long and hard (having a lot of fun along the way!) to make our restaurant both relaxing and comfortable; to discover that Ms. Briggs enjoyed our cooking as well was truly gratifying. We only hope that next time she comes she'll have time enough to stay for the crème brûlée.

Michael and Joseph Sibouyeh

Owners, Riva's Restaurant

Intoxicating Performance

Thanks to Craig D. Lindsey for the good review of our show [Listen In, April 6]. We really appreciate the Press write-up whenever we can get it! And to write that the horn section "was a happy-go-lucky threesome, playing with a joyful unruliness." This is the best description we've heard for "drunk" yet! Thanks again!

Ryan Gabbart



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