Lease Unsafe
I read this story ["False Sense of Security," by Steve McVicker, December 31] with particular interest because I lived at Bayou Park Apartments when Ms. Morey was attacked.

At that time I, too, was a woman in her late twenties living alone, and I never felt safe there. I constantly received notices from Bayou Park about car break-ins, thefts and other property crimes. In fact, my car was broken into one night. There were also reports of suspicious men peering into windows. And, this was all before that horrible attack on Ms. Morey. What was especially disturbing was that Bayou Park and its owner, Gables Residential, never informed the tenants of the attack. The only way I found out about it was from the local television news.

Of course, it could happen anywhere, but Bayou Park handled the matter poorly. When I brought up the matter to them, they told me to talk to their lawyers. Even if Gables Residential and Bayou Park are not legally responsible for the attack, they never attempted to assure us that this kind of thing doesn't happen on their property. Frankly, it was unsafe before that attack, and I think that Gables and Bayou Park knew it.

Renata Gowie
via Internet

Mr. McVicker's article really did not begin to scratch the surface of the problems with private contract security.

Many of the over 100 licensed security companies in the Houston area will take an application in the morning and have the applicant on the job that night. This includes the larger, national companies like Pinkerton. Background, psychological and drug checks are done haphazardly and halfheartedly -- if they are done at all. Such testing takes time and costs money.

Many of the clients who utilize security services see them as cheap personnel agencies to be used and abused. They are indifferent as to whom or what they are serviced by as long as it's cheap. The old maxims "The cheapest way is the best way" and "You get what you pay for" still apply.

Despite what many clients say to the contrary, the three primary reasons they have security are insurance requirements, someone for the leasing agent to show to a prospective customer and as a scapegoat for any problems even if security had nothing to do with that problem.

Regulatory agencies such as the Texas Board of Private Investigators and Private Security Agencies, which itself has had more than its fair share of problems over the years, are placebos and dubious at best. I have heard it described in terms similar to "the fox guarding the henhouse."

There are exceptions to this. But they are few compared to the size of the industry. I would like to see your paper go further into the issue, possibly even conducting a best/worst security company survey for the Houston area.

Name withheld by request
via Internet

DeLay Play
Mr. Timothy Fleck, your article "Which Bug Gets the Gas?" [Insider, January 7] was nothing short of anti-American, racist and plain unfair potshots at one of America's most stellar and courageous warriors.

How do you possibly confirm through your overtly erroneous yellow-dog hacking that the U.S. Army or military forces "were not" indeed overly saturated as to not strike on House Whip DeLay's unlikely number in the draft? What he said is plain true. Look at all the other rich white boys who never served, and look at all the poor ones. If we are talking truly representative, isn't this man just that?

Tom DeLay brings in lots of money to people in the well-respected and highly representative districts of Clear Lake and Sugar Land! He has talked to my children and kissed my babies, been to their schools and talked about "service," respecting the flag and serving your country without hesitation.

How can you badmouth such a saint?
My daughter got her Aggie full-scholarship junked because DeLay said we needed every penny in the budget to get the Great Satan outta Pennsylvania Avenue. I fully agreed, and she likes the commute better to Houston Community College.

Besides, DeLay said A&M was mild Commie-Land 'cause there are too many damned moderates up there -- with the Bush library up there and George W. being too soft on Commies and all.

I'm sure that every other Sugar Land resident and voter feels the same as me, that any impostor candidate running against the Leader would be tarred and feathered quickly and forced to leave Sugar Land. We are so truly lucky to have such an excellent representative and example to our youth and children of tomorrow. Thank You, Thomas DeLay, Our Leader!

Marcus Peckering III
Sugar Land

Flynt's Waiting As Well
Great piece on Bugman DeLay! How I wish you could find the bones in his closet! He is dumb, dangerous and needs to be stopped.

Elizabeth Cook
via Internet

Hot Off The Rack
I picked up the Houston Press on Wednesday afternoon from the lobby of the Lyric Centre, which also houses tenant John O'Quinn, featured on the cover of the week's edition ["Business As Usual," by Richard Connelly, January 7].

While waiting for an elevator Thursday morning, I glanced over and saw the usually-stacked tables barren.

Without fail, there will be copies well into Friday afternoon and often into Tuesday of the next week. But today? Nada. Sure would be intriguing to know if Mr. O'Quinn or his loyal compatriots absconded with your papers and, if so, why?

Rick Burt
via Internet

On Your Guard
I was disheartened by some underlying concerns with your "Up To Date on '98" article. Your lead was about the Texas State Guard story ["The Old Guard, by Shaila Dewan, January 29, 1998].

I will not argue your update on the basis of facts. But I think it is unfortunate that the cynicism reflected when describing events impact the credibility (rightly or wrongly) of a time-honored organization. And that, by characterization, defames the role and nature of the complaints that were filed. Certainly when writing novels, this cynical style often works to chide interest and readership. However, stories which characterize the pain and suffering of human passions are not the works of novels. They are the works of nonfiction searches for truth and equity.

Referring to Major Shuffield and anyone else who speaks up about concerns as "malcontents" is a total disservice. However, I remind you that your uninvited intrusion into developing the original story was what got Shuffield relieved, whether legal and conscionable or not.

As a journalist, have you left your subject, not your source, again in the position of whipping boy for a system which consistently devours naysayers? The term "Shuffield and Company" also indicates conspiracy of effort, which I do not believe resembles truth in this case.

Having worked as management consultant for the Texas adjutant general of Texas, yet also presently suffering from the backlash of a "good old boy" system that is headed directly by the governor, I don't believe your update has served to either solve the problems or identify facts toward that solution. Maybe I just misunderstood, when we talked, that you had that serious purpose in mind.

There are plenty of journalists who lack the courage to take on the tough issues; they too constitute the majority. However, when writing professionally in areas of investigative reporting, I remember being taught in college, deference and respect must always be retained and reflected if credibility is to be established with the audience.

Thank you for your effort. I would hope that you could now make the appropriate apology to Shuffield and those who have taken risks to identify wrongs within a public system, or a system that you cannot substantiate was wrong in the first place.

Bill L. Burkett
LTC Texas Army National Guard
via Internet

Bored of Review
David Theis's review of Dancing at Lughnasa ["Slow Dancing," December 24] and my opinion of this beautiful, thought-provoking film differ. I thought it was superb. The National Board of Review named it one of '98's ten best films. Theis's flowery prose is affected: "mythopoetic conceits," "transubstantiate a communion host." He felt the characters were not developed enough and that the film didn't explain why they lived such isolated lives. I disagree.

Reviewers like Mr. Theis discourage your readers from seeing meaningful, heartfelt and, yes, "magical" films.

James H. Lewis

Apt Art
Kudos to Shaila Dewan for her comments ["Hedonist Theater," December 17] on the exhibition "Dan Flavin/Donald Judd: Aspects of Color." She brings a clear understanding to work that evades easy verbal description. Her research and insights are really good and her reference to "one's father's office" wonderfully apt. In a period of poor critical writing in the visual arts, you are doing remarkably well.

Paul Winkler
Director, The Menil Collection

Bringin' Up the Rear
Jennifer Lopez does have a fat ass. What if Craig Lindsey had stated "... a Jamaican druglord with an accent as thick as ... Michelle McGuire's moustache" [Letters, "Roles and Parts," December 3]?

It seems to me you are sounding off because you have never been deemed a "sexual toy." If you are being "reduced," it is only because you are allowing it. You are correct -- women do read the Houston Press, and some are even able to interpret it.

Dana L. Reynolds
Astoria, Queens, New York


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