Thanks, Darcel Rockett, for publicizing Bill Thompson's campaign to encourage responsible dog ownership ["Downtown Dumping, Dog-Style," November 5].
And welcome, Mr. Thompson, to a growing citizenry. Rampant poop and "poop rage" are not problems confined to downtown.

This poop winds up in our storm drains and bayous, ultimately polluting our oceans and our seafood. Rodney Barker's book, And the Waters Turned to Blood, documents the origins of the East Coast pfisteria epidemic and shows that fecal pollution is a health threat.

There is often a direct correlation between exasperated humans and increased disdain for animal welfare, if not increased cruelty to animals -- especially when our city gives us no legal tool to punish the true offender, the dog owner.

We need the city of Houston to help with the overPOOPulation problem. Austin, Bellaire and West University are among the cities with pooper-scooper laws. Those would be every bit as enforceable as a dog-at-large law in Houston's municipal court. Then there would be no need for the sign that I recently saw in the Heights, "We don't let our children s-- in your yard; please don't let your dog s-- in ours."

Page S. Williams
via Internet

Pooped Out
I understand Bill Thompson's outrage at the incredibly inconsiderate pet owners. As a homeowner in the downtown area, I have experienced the utter lack of common courtesy daily by the vast majority of pet owners in my residential neighborhood. It would be an effort to traverse the well tended lawns on my street without stepping in shit.

Why does a dog shit on my front yard? Because it can. Without incentive (such as an ordinance) this problem will only get worse. City officials forget about litter laws which could easily be invoked to control this problem.

Denney Cancelmo
via Internet

Water on the Brain
I was rather entertained by Bob Burtman's article, "Bad Sports," [November 5]. He examined Kris Wingenroth's firing with the selectivity of a spin doctor and narrated the tale in a way that would make Jerry Springer proud.

I'm the swimmer (now graduated) who Kris is quoted saying she didn't like from the time I visited. I find that an amusing statement since she offered me a scholarship that was increased to full by my senior year, and she appointed me team captain in 1995 (my sophomore year). Funny way to show someone you hate them.

A college coach's job is to help his or her athletes continue to love their sport. Kris Wingenroth didn't do her job.

I am pleased that the administration believes that keeping the student-athletes happy is a top priority -- it is. There will always be individual conflicts between coaches and their athletes. But if there's conflict between a coach and all of her athletes, something is very wrong.

Carrie Covington
via Internet

Prophet on Profits
So the minor sport Rice jocks go to top management and get coaches fired. Somehow, this doesn't seem too surprising.

Author Christopher Lasch said in his 1979 book, The Culture of Narcissism, "The business career which placed unprecedented emphasis on competition and the will to win made the acquisition of educational credentials essential and thus created in large numbers a new kind of student, utterly indifferent to higher learning but forced to undergo it for purely economic reasons. Large-scale athletic programs helped colleges attract such students, in competitive bidding for enrollments, and to entertain them once they enrolled." When a profit center (paying customers/future donors) has a problem with a cost center (the coaches/hired help), even Dilbert's boss could make the call.

Still, maybe the Rice "jocks" should be commended for their restraint. A 17-year-old gymnast fires her parents, NBA players may fire the owners, and that collegiate basketball factory Alabama produced Latrell Sprewell, who took a coaching problem into his own hands a little more literally.

Steve Kennedy
via Internet

Come What May
Imagine if Rice University selected a class of employees, say, for example, English professors or electricians, and denied them the due process and grievance rights of all other Rice employees. One might call that illegal.

And what might one call Athletic Director Bobby May? A coward, for pandering to a mad dog? A bigot, for appearing to have terminated only a woman and Asian-American? Or a fool, for stating that he had to "document nothing" to terminate a university employee?

Imagine if the Rice athletes turned on good ol' boy May. Of course, as an administrator, May is protected by due process and academic grievance procedure. One might call that ironic.

Name withheld by request
via Internet

Slabs and Suits
I read your very good, very thorough article on-line ["Closing Costs," by Brad Tyer, October 29]. I am the attorney who filed lawsuits for homeowners in North Charleston, South Carolina against The Ryland Group, Inc. and Ryland Homes -- all involving cracked slabs and poor soils with "organic content" that ranged from roots all the way to stumps and even building materials.

The cracks are "cosmetic" and "shrinkage," Ryland representatives say. Yet there was an active lawsuit by Ryland against the person who had sold them the raw land.

Someday, a book will be written. For now, a newspaper article or two will keep corporate America on its toes. As will lawsuits -- the last chance for people at large, gathered and selected as a jury, to stop Ryland and others from escaping the full responsibility of their actions.

Max G. Mahaffee, Esq.
Grimball & Cabaniss, LLC
Charleston, S.C.

Latest Lawyer Joke
On your web site, I just read Shaila Dewan's article, "Under Siege," [November 12] about the mayor of South Houston. I can't wait until it comes out in print tomorrow. It will save me a bundle on toilet paper. Thank goodness the Houston Press is here to allow writer-hacks who aren't good enough to write for the Chronicle to express their constitutionally-protected right to free speech. Long live the First Amendment and the Houston Press!

Scott Rothenberg
via Internet

Editor's Note: Rothenberg is the attorney for South Houston City Engineer Ron Patrick and the attorney for the filer of the successful impeachment complaint against the mayor.

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