[Re: Letters, June 18]: I'm jumping on William Machmer's bandwagon, since I, too, want to reward your paper for the only real reporting in town. I never believed the purpose of a newspaper was to defend and maintain the status quo, and I have always puzzled over the other paper's absolute refusal to investigate or report conflicts of interest, official misconduct, corruption and political double-dealing at the local level. It is funny to see how, just now, that paper is nibbling at the edges of the gross mismanagement and probable fraud at Parks and Recreation, while the Houston Press long ago exposed that particular end product of Bob Lanier's cronyism.
Houston tends to be a complacent city, one that believes any occasional unpleasantness will go away if ignored. We reject the self-aware laissez faire of a more sophisticated metropolis. Witness the all-too-frequent grand jury no-bills of police officers -- all shootings are justified and there is no such thing as excessive use of force in the Bayou City. Observe how the masses (well, the few who voted, anyway) flocked to the polls in support of a new sports stadium, in defiance of all common sense and logic. Does anyone still believe that no private interests or benefits are involved? Hear the outcry as yet another Lanier myrmidon reaps his reward of an overpaid sinecure, ultimately funded by taxpayers. Is this in our best interest?
The Houston Press is a sanity saver for reality buffs -- someone has to tell the emperor his ass is showing.
Shawna L. Reagin
First Birds, Now Us
Please come back to 3601 Allen Parkway [Allen House Apartments]. There's some other paper (The Paper) that can't hold a candle to you.... I don't know what prompted the change, but please know that you are missed!
Editor's note: We'd love to be back at Allen House Apartments. The racks were pulled at the orders of apartment management after the Press published an article ["Poop Happens," by Margaret Downing, April 16] in which some residents criticized the Allen House manager's placement of a net across the top of one unit of the complex to keep out birds.
Round 'n' Round
You might add the name Frank Gonzales Jr. to Governor Bush's stunning prison score ["The Special Needs of Frank Gonzales Jr.," by Steve McVicker, June 11].
What goes around, comes around.
Witness to Horror
I was at Westley's execution and witnessed the horror and anger of Westley's family when they learned that the governor was not going to intervene ["Capital Irony," by Steve McVicker, June 25]. An execution always creates another set of victims.
Dave Atwood, President
Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
A Mother's Scream
The latest edition of the Houston Press brought back an all-too-frequent nightmare.
I stood outside the death house in Huntsville, Texas, the night Anthony Westley was put to death.
I held his mother when she fell, screaming, to the street, although we had never met. At that time we were just two women, two mothers united in grief. I have never heard such pain issuing from the throat of a human being as I did from that mother as her child was being killed and she could not protect him.
At the time, I was unaware of many of the facts in the case. Now, after reading the article, it is all too clear what his mother meant when she screamed over and over, "They said we had to get proof; we got proof, you can't kill him...."
Yes, Virginia, in Texas, "they" can....
Very interesting piece on Trinity Church ["Psalms of Silence," by Bob Burtman, June 18]. There was a very similar situation at Grace Episcopal Cathedral in Topeka, Kansas, involving a vacillating bishop and a childish dean (rector of the cathedral) who decimated the congregation in the mid-1990s. Resignation of their outstanding music director was the straw that broke the camel's back and led the vestry to move to oust the dean a year or so ago.
Thank you, Bob, for finally having the guts to speak the truth about what has been happening at Trinity Church. For well over a year, I have seen the parish knee deep in secrecy. Funny, I thought Christians kinda went in for that "truth and honesty" thing?! Instead, many members and vestry members keep sticking their heads in the sand, or feel that "these issues should not be made public." Even this week, one of Trinity's elected vestry members continued the attack on Ed Franklin by claiming that he instigated this "investigative report" and has shamed Trinity by airing dirty laundry.
Where does that leave us? Praying that, yes, "The truth shall set us free," and that Ed Franklin and those like him who share their faith and talent and don't settle for the mediocre will actually be thanked and honored, not attacked and destroyed.
The Trinity Choir will have its final Choral Evensong on Sunday, July 12, at 5:30 p.m. (1015 Holman at Main). After that, according to Bishop Payne's "godly judgment," Mr. Franklin and the Trinity Choir are no more.
Rise and Shine
[Re: Trinity Church]: This article was informative and well written. I would hope that it is a wake-up call to dozing Anglicans everywhere.
Psalms of silence or confusion over canons? Open the Episcopal Hymnal and you will find Title II, Canon 5, where it is stated that the member of the clergy (in this case, John Graham) shall have "final authority in the administration of matters pertaining to music." When push comes to shove, the rector reigns over music.
Evidently, the vestry decided to proceed under Title III, Canons 20 and 21, which seem clearly to involve the rector and vestry with an appellate procedure set forth. I wonder about the propriety of a godly admonition against the organist/choirmaster who is not a party to the proceeding even though he may have partly caused the situation.
And, if the Press is correct that Franklin is "permanently barred from those jobs in the future," do not several legal questions come to mind?
Your people do a great job -- the research to document articles like the one on Sheila Jackson Lee ["Flying Miss Sheila," by Tim Fleck, May 14] must be exhaustive. I never liked the Chronicle or the Post -- you folks are like a breath of fresh air.
Keep up the good work.
Making the Grade
Perusing Professor Castaneda's Hawaiian Punch T-shirt mug shot and the accompanying intelligence ["Punches, Passion in Tenure War," by Russell Contreras, June 25], I must come clean and confess how truly entertained I became. Why?
Because it's not about the professor, the school or the grade. Everybody invested in the whole silly deal is missing the point that the man is trying to make. It is not whether you get an F or a D or an A+. It is whether you can hack him or not!
The ego-infested pre-yuppie folk, who won't even be able to chill through little Castaneda's hourlong torture, are the same babes who'll be facing Machiavellian co-workers and employers with all sorts of jungle warfare motives out in that real world of ours.
I say, "Thank God" that there are still classes hell-bent on the philosophy of reality, and that there are still drill sergeants and rogue free thinkers. Doctors Sheridan and Smith, I think you all are suffering a melancholic breakdown and fantasize perversely about the fine ol' days of "Cougar High School."
I am one of the many supporters of Quetzil Castaneda. He is a challenging and driven professor. He forces his students to ask questions about themselves and the world they live in. He so impressed me that, after taking an "intro" course he taught, I changed my major to anthropology and decided to pursue a career in academia. After watching the soap opera that plagues him, however, I changed my mind.
Dr. Castaneda is an academic anachronism, but he shouldn't be. He reflects the atmosphere that prevailed on campuses during the late sixties and early seventies. He asks his students to question the status quo. Yet, in a year of strong economic growth and apathetic citizens, his calls for change and skepticism fall on deaf ears. Most students long for the mythical "real world" where they will earn large salaries, buy houses, cars, cell phones and marry their dream trophy.
Dr. Castaneda wants to educate his students, not necessarily train them for jobs. He doesn't treat his students like children who need to be coddled. He is a great part of our faculty and, unfortunately, he is probably lost. He will undoubtedly go to a more progressive institution of higher learning. In light of all of the UH rhetoric about improving the profile and stature of the university, this situation is shameful.
I'm astounded at Cliff William's assertion ["Attacking the Taxman," by Richard Connelly, June 18]. I'm a member of the State Bar of Texas, perhaps not the easiest organization to respect. But, like all Texas lawyers, I'm licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas, a license I've had framed and displayed. Anyone who doesn't understand the distinction between membership in the bar and licensing by the court should stay out of the game.
You chose to present the ill-considered ramblings of Internal Revenue agent Jennifer Long ["Tales from the IRS," by Steve McVicker, April 16]. That story was serendipitously timed, appearing on the newsstands immediately before an investigation by the Treasury inspector general revealed her to be essentially clueless.
Now, though, you've hit rock bottom. Your June 18 issue contained a story entitled "Attacking the Taxman." Wouldn't it have been more descriptive to call it "Attacking Common Sense"? Or "Whiners Find New Ways to Shirk Their Civic Responsibility"? Or how about simply "Idiots R Us"? The way the protagonists of the piece, James Farmer and Cliff William, hold forth with irrational definitions of common words in an attempt to prove that they, somehow, have no obligation to pay taxes, is just plain silly. It may be only a hair's breadth this side of psychotic. If these guys ever do anything newsworthy, by all means tell us about it. In the meantime, though, do us a favor and give these absurd tax-protester ravings the coverage they deserve: none.
Name withheld by request
Hearts and Bottoms
I just read your article about this merger ["Tell It to the Boss," by Margaret Downing, June 18]. I have to say this: You are one kick-butt reporter. I really loved it, because you got to the heart of the problems. All I can say is, keep after this one and don't let go. Keep up the great work.
Name withheld by request
Wilford is Wonderful
You really ought to get both sides of the story. I am a (non-management) employee who has worked for Memorial for over 20 years, and I was "shaken" when I read your article. It read like Big Brother has come in and attempted to control the lives and behavior of the staff of Hermann Hospital. Your writing is based on the views of a few disgruntled employees.
In contrast to your article, Memorial Hermann is a good place to work. Sure, there is a difference in corporate cultures. The Memorial side of the family does not manage by memorandum, as stated in the article.
A committee staffed by employees developed programs resulting in millions of dollars in savings and an increased level of patient care. The philosophy at Memorial Hermann is to treat others with the same dignity and respect you want to be treated with. Dan Wilford is cordial and caring. His door is always open to employees of the organization, regardless of their position in the company.
In the arena of spiritual health, not one question points to a specific God or spiritual power. Memorial Hermann is not only concerned with the physical aspect of care, but the spiritual aspect as well.
The questions on the survey are meant to make people more aware of the risk factors in their lives and give them an incentive to reduce them. [Critical illnesses and costs of them] not only affect the individual and their family but the society as a whole, through increased insurance premiums and higher taxes for everyone. If you would like to see a system that is working not only to heal the sick, but to keep the community from getting sick, take a second look.
Those free-loading Tibetan swamis ["The A-List Buddhist," by Shaila Dewan, June 11] have no difficulty adapting to luxurious extended stays at an American swankienda. It is very sad to be invaded by China, which also inflicted much suffering on its own people during the Cultural Revolution, and other upheavals. Somehow, I wonder about the invisible 50 percent in Tibet, of whom these learned men make no mention in listing their sorrows. Do they procreate without women? Are women the economic backbone of their society, and hence unworthy of notice?
Edith D. Eisner
I enjoyed Shaila Dewan's evenhanded article on society matron Gail Gross and her preoccupation with Eastern mystics. It is humbling to realize that Man has evolved over the past two million years from a primitive, thoughtless, small-brained humanoid to a point where the upper reaches of Houston society are now populated by women who have no brains whatsoever. Darwin himself could not have predicted this evolutionary twist.
John D. Griffith, MD
Add the Ensemble
I am sure it was just an oversight, but Bob Morgan's Big Five [Letters, June 25] should have been the Big Six. He neglected The Ensemble Theatre -- the Southwest's leading African-American theater -- whose productions are covered by local critics. The Houston theater scene is filled with worthy venues, and we are thankful for the coverage!
Margie Beegle, Marketing and PR
The Ensemble Theatre
Write on Target
I was lucky enough to see an advance free screening of Out of Sight, and loved it! I couldn't have written your write-up ["Leonard's Canny Charmer," by Michael Sragow, June 25] any better. Keep up the good work.
Maybe You Scare Them
That picture of Bozo Porno Circus ["Houston Press Music Awards," June 25] frightens me. God bless the Hollisters.
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X-onerating the Files
Okay, I agree with you about most of your review ["X-Filer Fun," by Andy Klein, June 18]. Only two things really bugged me -- the two "plot holes" you point out toward the end: the earthquake and the clothes.
First, the earth quaked because Mulder's interference with the plumbing disturbed the alien craft buried below the ice. Second, Scully didn't have clothes on in the pod, she was wearing Mulder's parka and a pair of what seemed to be sweatpants that he, in all likelihood, brought with him. I don't usually take exception with reviews: After all, it's a free country; you know the spiel. Just wanted to point out that these aren't holes -- there's a reasonable explanation here. Thanks!