Third World Ways
I read the article "Under Siege" by Shaila Dewan [November 12] with horror and outrage over the insanity of what passes for politics in the city of South Houston! Mayor Romero should be applauded and commended for all he's done and is trying to do for the people of South Houston.

I have never heard of such widespread nepotism, misuse of power and mismanagement in government in my life! I felt like I was reading a story about a third world country -- not a city in the United States! It was an excellent article and it should open some eyes and raise awareness as to what exactly is going on in our "backyard."

Name withheld by request
via Internet

Taking Advantage
I had heard about taxi dancing going on even before I read about it in the Houston Press ["Partners for Pay," by Russell Contreras, October 22]. I know some people who take these young girls to these clubs. They lure them with thoughts of easy money and no strings attached, just fun and drinks.

I feel for the girl in your story, because I believe "Jess" is a victim of her older friends. Not because they lure her there, but because when these men get drunk and the night is over they want something in exchange for their money, and that is when these "girls" get caught in a bad situation. In reality, who knows how many have been raped? Who is going to talk about this when these kids are minors? One could say that the operators of these clubs are contributing to the exploitation of children, because a middle school student can still be considered a child, right?

Lucia Mar
via Internet

Permanent Palabra
I am writing to thank the Houston Press for giving Nuestra Palabra the local attention it deserves ["Meet the Aztec Love God," by Shaila Dewan, October 1]. I would also like to personally thank Shaila Dewan for her interest.

Our organization is only six months old, but we will continue to bring our voice to the community. Maybe Houston does not know this, but this is something that Houston really needs. Love us or hate us, we are here to stay.

Alvaro Saar Rios
via Internet

Siege Mentality
The story is ludicrous on Waco reporter John McLemore and the attempt to paint him as a victim because his attempt to exploit the ATF/Branch Davidian tragedy didn't work and he wound up stuck in Waco making $20,000 ["In the Line of Fire," by Ann Zimmerman, November 12].

There are much bigger victims of the ATF's attempt to publicize a Nazi-style raid on a property where there were many women and children. Many less dramatic, but not as publicity opportunistic, methods were certainly available to get Koresh or to check for illegal weapons.

Some really deserving reporter might try reporting the truth about what happened at Waco and about those truly responsible. The real victims continue to suffer; the families of all the people burned to death, the Davidians serving Draconian sentences of up to 40 years for trumped-up charges. If reporters were to write about that they would be courageous and perhaps they might deserve an award, not someone whining because they consider themselves an incidental victim. The ATF managed to find plenty of scapegoats for the barbaric actions.

Jerry King

Brad Tyer is to be congratulated on his outstanding "Closing Costs" article [October 29]. I really like his writing style. I am a friend and neighbor of John Cobarruvias and can attest to his frustrations of dealing with these problems. I also give John and others credit for taking on the Goliath companies (and their lawyers).

Frank Brody
via Internet

Clean Up
Regarding the article in the Press about John Covarrubias and his headaches (and heartaches) with his Ryland home, I cleaned many of those homes around the time they were newly built and purchased. I noticed then that the workmanship was very shoddy.

I have never trusted any builder who would throw together a home, office or any other building in less than two months.

Maybe the unsuspecting prospective buyer should have looked more carefully into how quickly the house was put together. Still, the major fault lies with the builder who should be honest and sincere enough to make good on the principles on which his business started out. Keep on fooling people, and it will turn on you. And, caveat emptor.

Dolly Fischer
via Internet

Unhappy Homebuyers
I just finished reading your article on the problems some folks are having with their Ryland homes. There are currently 186 homeowners in Houston suing Kimball Hill homes for exactly the sorts of things that it appears Ryland is guilty of. We're also suing Houston Lighting & Power for certifying homes as "Good Cents" energy-efficient quality homes when they were not. The Houston Chronicle originally reported the suit around November 1 of last year, then, a few months later, incorrectly stated that it had been dismissed.

Valerie M. Yeary
via Internet

Lemon Houses
I just read the excellent article on defective construction and I am somewhat jealous. But I remember that they do this in a big way in Texas. I live in California and have been involved in construction defect/shoddy workmanship issues and litigation for almost 30 years.

It started with my own lemon house in a tract of lemon houses and it got me involved as an expert witness in some other construction defect lawsuits with major builders.

The home-buying consumer continues to get the short end of the deal, or worse. I have known people who have had to walk away from their major investment because it was unlivable (and yet the mortgage wouldn't go away and they couldn't sell it) or they have had their health compromised by the stress and frustration, or in a couple of cases fatal coronaries or suicide ended the problem.

There have been state senate "blue ribbon" panels and state assembly committees but they get buried in the organized opposition by the building and construction industry.

I blame the insurance companies because disputes always end up in some kind of an insurance settlement that never solves the problem. What is the solution? More articles and a network of homeowners who have been ripped off by the naive purchase of a new home.

Paul D. Stutrud
Rohnert Park, California

Stalking the Hawks
On page 18 of your "Easygoing George W. Bush" article [by Stuart Eskenazi, October 29] appears a list of his character flaws which might be used against him during the next presidential election. One stated that he was a student draft-dodger during the Vietnam War.

On this point, the news media, the conservative wing of the GOP and the veterans' groups need to quit demonizing white, middle-class males of the Vietnam War as a rationalization for evading the American government's atrocities in that war. They sound as pathetic as the older Germans who used to offer totally idiotic rationalizations for Hitler's atrocities.

The news media needs to ask Governor Bush how he can head a Texas Republican Party loaded down with veterans and conservatives who tormented students like him during the Vietnam War.

And most conservatives continue to bitterly resist every effort to commemorate the shooting deaths of the four Kent State University students by the Ohio State Guard.

Henning Fernstrom

Hey - Thanks
Hey, Stuart. Good story on Bush ["Easygoing George Bush," by Stuart Eskenazi, October 29].

Ron Dusek
via Internet

Editor's note: Dusek is public information officer for the Texas Attorney General's Office.

Inner Looper?
Nice work -- especially the comments from Geoff Davidian's former co-workers ["Insider," by Tim Fleck, November 5]. I would be interested to know why his overture for re-employment was turned down. I would suggest it was because of the "embellishments" he tends to include in his news copy and the strangeness of the man himself.

Davidian fails to check his facts or care whether they are accurate. Byron Looper is not the only Republican official in the county. At least two of the five members of the Cookeville City Council are Republicans, and one of them, in fact, is a former Republican nominee for governor of Tennessee. In addition, the county has had elected Republican legislators, school superintendents and county executives.

Looper apparently decided he was a Republican after getting into a dispute with his family over the mishandling of his late father's estate. The court-appointed attorney for Looper's brother was also the Democratic state representative from that district. After Looper was ordered by the court to pay back some of the money he had misappropriated from the estate, Looper turned Republican to run against the Democrat.

Jim Herrin
via Internet

Red Meat Treat
I read the letter from Shannon Rasp in the November 5 issue about the comic strip Red Meat.

Her letter indicated that she not only lacks a sense of humor but is also short of common sense. The writer was offended by one of the strips, and the letter indicates that she has read the strip "week after week." Hello! If you do not like it, don't read it! Read the articles, read Life in Hell, but skip Red Meat if you do not like it. My friends and I enjoy Red Meat and go out of our way to read it. Since you have a journalism degree, feel free to start your own weekly publication that provides intriguing articles on local issues, excellent reviews of Houston hot spots and outrageous humor. In the meantime, appreciate the Houston Press for all that it provides, not just the part you like.

Jim Skipper
via Internet

Can't Beat the Meat
Thanks to Shannon Rasp for flexing her own free-speech muscle in the letter "Going Meatless?" But here's a simple tip, Ms. Rasp -- humans differ in many ways. While you do not find Red Meat funny, others like myself are extremely entertained with creator Max Cannon's taste in comedy. The Press exists to deliver Houstonians diverse forms of information and entertainment; Red Meat is part of the package. You assert that the strip "fails to be comical week after week." Please do not speak with such authority. Enjoy your comic strip and I'll enjoy mine. I certainly won't hold it against you.

Randy Lanier
via Internet

Long Distance Look
Your October 29 column on the Oregon protest ["Insider," By Tim Fleck] was a fine piece of opinion and put this reader from 2,000 miles away very clearly into the scene of Houston politics.

Many cities and communities have someone like Travis Morales. I don't know him from Adam, and it's highly unlikely I would ever have been tempted to yank the Revolutionary Communist Party or La Resistencia lever in the voting booth.

But what your column and my finickiness often overlook is that these characters are not only there in high-profile matters like the Oregon killing, they also bring their witness and devote many hours of their lives to many other community injustices and moral wounds which barely get ink or notice from the media.

But I had to laugh when I read that "Mayor Lee Brown's Hispanic Advisory Committee has tried to get the Oregon family to associate itself with political moderates." If this killing had happened to a member of your family, would your gut instinct be to associate yourself with political moderates -- like the current police chief, the mayor and former police chief -- in general, with a dozen well-groomed, tasteful, thoughtful lawyers who, however well-intentioned, helped create and continue to maintain the engines, atmosphere and circumstances that brought about the killing?

A common and often fair critique of someone like Travis Morales is that such people are self-aggrandizing, egomaniacal media magnets. But in this they differ not a whit from any moderate or mainstream politician -- only in their tactics (or lack of them), and their tailoring and grooming. We're talking aesthetics rather than substance here.

It could not be just fair but accurate to consider people like Morales not only for their presence at the Scandal du Jour, but for their life achievements, their determination, their stamina, their witness. They keep bringing it to the public dialogue.They make it harder for the community to be in denial about our questionable, unexamined doings. And I think that's an important and substantive life achievement.

Bob Merkin
Northampton, Massachusetts

Earthy Opinion
The Eric fellah who has been doing your restaurant review of late does not appear to have been born and raised on this particular part of the planet. Really hard to connect to his food preferences. T'was a vast improvement to see Margaret L. Briggs's review of the "new" Tila's ["Of Time and Tila's," October 29]. She thinks and pontificates as we'uns in this part of the world do. More of the same, please. For once, regionalism is better.

Bob Miller
via Internet

Goals and Net Gains
Randall Patterson might have missed the real story ["The Polo Wars," November 19]. Question: How were the Goodmans able to transfer so much wealth without any apparent gift or estate taxes?

Gerald P. German
via Internet

Rose's Thorn
To Katrina Rose for her comments [Letters, October 8] on Log Cabin:
The only evident difference your gender-reassignment surgery made was to change you from being an angry man to an even angrier woman. Your anti-Republican tirade in the Houston Press has about as much credibility as O.J. Simpson saying he's innocent.

If you've got a legitimate beef with dimwit Republicans, fine, that's your pot to piss in. But your ultra-liberal leanings are a turnoff to Democratic gay folks like me who see value in Log Cabin piercing directly into the heart of darkness.

So, chill, boy toy, and get a clue. You sound like you've been politically molested.

Name withheld by request
via Internet


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