Abuse of Authority
I just wanted to respond to your article in the April 2 issue about Madison High School's unruly principal ["Power to the Principal," by Shaila Dewan]. I think it is disgusting when people abuse the gift of authority that they were given. Mr. Ervin is the epitome of a man who is angry and dissatisfied with his own life, so he is constantly criticizing others, all the time believing that he is doing a good deed.
I did not go to Madison High School, but I assure you that there are many predominantly male teachers with the same kind of judgmental, holier-than-thou attitude that shames the entire teaching profession. His first job as principal should be educating those children, not reprimanding the teachers. Along with the stress of keeping a room full of teenagers focused and productive, the teachers have to worry themselves over a ridiculous dictator coming down on them.
I have taught classes myself, and would absolutely explode with fury if I did not believe I had the support of someone who is supposed to be on my side. I also think that if Mr. Ervin spent more time trying to improve the educational values of his school instead of writing up, transferring and firing teachers, he might have a fighting chance to compete academically with any other school in this city. I praise any and all teachers for doing what they do. It is a thankless job that Mr. Ervin has made impossible.
I also believe that the school district, along with his direct supervisors, should look at the big picture, instead of giving an across-the-board "acceptable" rating." If I mistreated any of my employees, by way of attitude or simply abusing my authority, I would be fired -- whether my production was up or not. School principals need to be the complete package of educator, disciplinarian, social worker and overall hero if they want well-balanced children to grow into well-adjusted adults. Mr. Ervin, you should be ashamed.
Take That, You Bandwagoners, You!
I just read the responses of the letters about your article ["Geezer Follies," by Richard Connelly, March 19] and they basically show what I have been saying about Rockets fans for years. They are nothing but ignorant, hypocritical bandwagoners who are unwilling to be honest about their team and lack any real basketball knowledge. You show more honesty than the so-called sportswriters in this town, who always have the propensity to kiss their asses.
Hey, Rocket fans, quit your moaning and whining and stop pointing fingers at people who tell the truth about your team. The season is over. Deal with it!
Councilmember Jew Don Boney Responds
One undertakes an interview with the Houston Press with much ambivalence, given the Houston Press's position in this news market as the slicer and dicer of elected officials. However, I felt that it was important to address the issues raised by the Houston Press. I am now compelled to respond to numerous implications created in the article "Situational Ethics" [by Brian Wallstin, March 26].
First, let me state for the record that my ethics are not "situational." I have a steadfast belief in right and wrong and have spent all of my adult life fighting for people who have been denied their civil and human rights.
My ethical commitments and principles have not changed; I am even more committed to public service. That commitment, while unswerving, is tempered by the reality of politics and economics. My commitment to serve the people and my God is absolute. I have given my life to public service, and those who know me best know that I have sacrificed much in order to serve.
I believe that "we the people" must challenge ourselves to constantly champion the causes of those who are least able to represent themselves. But, at the same time, we must move beyond mere symbolism to get something positive done, not just anything, but some meaningful, measurable progress on the agenda of the people. District D is one of the most diverse City Council districts in the city. It includes not just African-Americans and the poor, but also Hispanics, Anglos and Asians. I have a responsibility and a commitment to represent all of the constituents of District D equally and fairly.
Secondly, I neither solicited, received nor was offered payment from former councilmember Ben Reyes in exchange for a vote on any issue. It is quite apparent to me that by leading with the FBI sting, the Houston Press attempted to find complicity where there is none. It's absolutely ludicrous to suggest that I am so slick as to elude the snare of an FBI target.
Redevelopment in the Fourth Ward has been a tenuous issue for at least four decades. I am comfortable that the development plan now in place is one that will secure low-income and affordable housing. Unfortunately, I cannot change the fact that less than 1 percent of the land in the historical district of the Fourth Ward, known as Freedmen's Town, is owned by African-Americans. In previous plans "designed to help the residents," neither the residents nor the African-American community were included in those discussions, but rather the residents were discussed and told what would happen to them. In the current redevelopment plan, 255 units of affordable housing will be available to low-income residents, with deep subsidies for homebuyers; 50 units of historical houses (row houses) and 500 units of low-income rental units in Allen Parkway Village will be renovated. This plan was accepted and approved with the full participation of area residents through public hearings and by the Fourth Ward Community Coalition, who hired David Lee, a renowned city planner who happens to be African-American, to oversee and coordinate the development of the master plan.
The article also raised questions concerning my support of the BSL golf project for Hermann Park. My support was based upon what was in the best interest of my constituents -- making Hermann Park a first-class golf course comparable to the city's premier golf course, Memorial Park, and other courses throughout the city. All [improvements] will be done with a nominal increase to fees, which will still be significantly lower than what it costs to play on other municipal golf courses in Houston.
My main priorities as City Council member have been to improve constituent services. Neighborhoods like Scott Terrace will see some of the main streets in the area fully reconstructed. This project has been nearly 25 years in the making. This is not an aberration, either. Many basic needs have gone unfulfilled in District D because the neighborhoods were neglected.
While the position of councilmember is considered a part-time job, I treat it as a full-time responsibility. I am personally gratified when the constituents are pleased. However, I must also do what I can to provide for my family. BSR Consulting is an opportunity for me to do so. While I have continued to work to encourage voter participation and mobilization with BSR Consulting, I have always been careful to avoid conflicts of interest.
I am proud of my record and I believe that it stands on its merit. I am constantly encouraged by my constituents when I see them in the district. They tell me about what they need, and I, in turn, work to provide it.
Councilmember Jew Don Boney, Jr.
More on Tila's
As a 20-year friend of Tila Leach, I must come to her defense from the letter published in your March 26 issue [in response to "Dish," March 12]. Tila's recipes for the first Tila's Cantina & Taqueria were from her home in Mexico City. I was in her home many times when she cooked her recipes for private gatherings. Her cooking techniques were a valuable asset to Tila's. How can someone from Washington be such a connoisseur of authentic Mexican recipes? It is true, [executive chef Clive] Duval was in the kitchen many days, but only observing and making sure the quality of Tila's recipes was followed to the fullest degree. Tila is a tough woman with the support of many good friends who believe in her, and are sure of 100 percent success in her reopening of Tila's.
And Now, from Tila Herself
I agree that it would have been appropriate to mention Clive Duval in the March 12 issue of "Dish," because, in fact, he did breathe life into Tila's in the mid-'80s. That was then and this is now, and Clive chose not to involve himself this time. Nevertheless, I am still friends and in touch with Clivy (his nickname by those close to him) after being good friends for three decades. I, in fact, spoke to him about being involved with the reopening of Tila's, but he has other plans near the D.C. area and for his own Mexican fast-food, low-fat restaurant, which will not be Tila's in name or concept. For the record, those true fans who really know and witnessed the creation of Tila's and remained loyal customers will tell you the success of Tila's was the result of the combined talents and effort of Randy Jones and Bee Morrow of Decorative Arts, Clive Duval and myself. As for my part, I fashioned the food concepts. Born and raised in Mexico City, I introduced and taught Clivy -- as well as trained the other cooks -- many of my family recipes and other traditional Mexico City dishes. I was also responsible for food quality control and consistency of the cuisine. Randy Jones and Bee Morrow did the fabulous design and decor. Clive certainly was devoted in supervising the operation, and ultimately became the reigning personality at Tila's. We should not forget our loyal and hard-working team of employees, either. Although I will miss Clivy, Tila's is back (with Clive's blessings), with the fond "old" as well as "new" surprises to come.
Tila Hidalgo Leach
In Need of a Bath
Between the Ben Reyes trial and the Sports Authority, I feel in need of a bath whenever I think about Houston politicians, black, Hispanic or WASP. So it was a happy experience, first, to read bag woman Betti Maldonado's bribery advice to the FBI sting man about Gracie Saenz: "It's not going to happen with Gracie," and then to see that Al Luna is trying to keep the Sports Authority, that home for political has-beens, honest.
Along with many of my colleagues, I had the honor to teach both Gracie and Al when they were law students at the UH Law Center. They were class acts then and they're class acts now. It should be deemed an insult to congratulate a public servant for being honest and responsive to the people, but here in Houston, there are so few who fit that distinction that it's an act of collective self-defense to do so.
Law Foundation Professor of Law
University of Houston Law Center
More on Cecil Hooper
You really captured Cecil Hopper's ["The Dead Zoo," by Randall Patterson, March 5] spirit: laughing, joking, enjoying the world.
I was disappointed that you didn't have the time to really get to know Mary Lee. While she is a sweet little old lady, she is no pushover, and when she says "frog!" Cecil jumps -- she just doesn't have to say it very often.
Perhaps I missed it, but I did not see any mention of Cecil's having founded the Hunters for the Hungry program. This program solicits donations of wild game -- mostly venison -- foodstuffs, cash and beef to a local homeless shelter. At one and a half tons per year, just from the back of Cecil's truck, over the last 20 years this has provided probably 40,000 pounds of meat, right where it is needed the most.
Also not mentioned was Cecil's involvement in the breeding program for the highly endangered black rhinos that Cecil and his friends personally flew to Texas from Africa at their own expense.
By the way, anyone who is interested in darting and tagging a jaguar, taking DNA samples, and then releasing the animal back into the wild can call Cecil. That's the sort of project he supports, when he's not joshing reporters.
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The Houston Safari Club, of which Cecil is a past president, has monthly dinner meetings and can be reached at 666-7171 or at www.houstonsafari.org.
The Miller Theatre debacle ["Waiting for Get Done," by Bob Burtman, March 19] is another outrageous example of why most government contracts should have incentives for quality, on-time completion, and why most projects of this kind should be left up to charities and the private sector. The renovation of the Pierce Elevated and the construction of the Wortham Center prove things can be done right with less governmental involvement.