Come On, Get Nekkid
Jump back! The Houston Press offers a critical view of an alternative lifestyle! Randall Patterson's assessment of the American Association of Nude Recreation at Live Oak Resort ["Skin Deep," August 21] was at least partly accurate, but nowhere near complete. I've seen better and more evenhanded coverage of the issue in the Chronicle.
To frame the issue, Mr. Patterson, try using a less rectilinear frame. Naturists are a diverse lot, to whom having the one issue of textile-freedom in common is sufficient to create a community, the way many communities in the U.S. have only geography or sexual orientation in common.
The "herd" that you saw at Live Oak is, unfortunately, typical of the naturist crowd in one respect: It's the over-35, the established, the gravity victims who actually have the time and money to invest in this lifestyle for the travel, the membership fees, the camping gear. But please don't fault the nudists for their waggling and sagging; their lack of firmness is on display for those not so superficial as to make it an issue. Nudism is not meant to be sexy: Sex involves tension and release, whereas nude recreation skips right past the tension (after the first visit, anyway). At the landed clubs, even public displays of affection are strongly discouraged.
The etiquette regarding the omnipresent towels arises from a recognized fact of life: People's nether regions emit fluids onto furniture, fluids which are unpleasant to sit in. The towel is just a minor inconvenience, one which naturists will endure in their pursuit of clothes-free R&R. I would encourage Mr. Patterson, or a more courageous Press writer, to visit Live Oak or Natural Horisun on a non-convention weekend and participate in the culture, rather than observing as an outsider.
Anthropology, Randall? Think of Margaret Mead. Become part of the tribe, if only for a day.
Your August 7 story on Rob Mosbacher Jr.'s mayoral candidacy ["Show 'Em Your Money," by Jim Simmon] appears to produce the opposite of your intended effect. Instead of hurting his campaign, your comments seem to strengthen it.
First, I took your advice and obtained copies of the July 15 financial disclosure reports on the three front-runners in the mayoral race. These reports indicate that Mosbacher raised $1,290,764 from 1,171 contributors, an average of $1,102 per contributor; Lee Brown had collected $434,507 from 442 contributors, or $983 per contributor; and George Greanias had a total of $167,572 from 396 contributors for a $423 average. These figures show that each candidate is averaging far below the $5,000 maximum limit for individual contributions, so it is a reach to buy into your conclusion that a $1,000 average contributor, or even a $5,000 contributor, will be able to seriously influence Houston's mayor.
Next you suggest that Mosbacher and the other candidates should abide by the recommended $1.5 million voluntary cap on campaign spending in city races. Since the $5,000 limit on individual contributions prohibits influence peddling, it appears that campaign spending takes care of itself by allowing Houstonians to decide whom they will support with their contributions and their votes.
Additionally, I read that Mosbacher is publishing his list of contributors on a monthly basis. By not getting his funds "in the men's room," Mosbacher is showing the voters the money. If all candidates are as forthcoming with their contributions, then the voters will be allowed to make an informed decision, and the conflicts of interest you apparently fear will disappear.
You also imply that by accepting out-of-state contributions our next mayor will be corrupted by un-Texan influences. In other financial disclosures, all three of the leading candidates have reported receiving funds from outside Texas. Expressed as part of their total contributions, Brown has received 12.62 percent, Mosbacher 9.64 percent and Greanias 2.16 percent. It follows that Houston will have a mayor receiving advice from non-Texans who may offer an outside perspective on issues which can help Houston become more attractive as a major city. For example, I read recently where Mosbacher has taken a successful out-of-state idea, "Operation Nightlight," and proposes to adopt it as a means of dramatically reducing juvenile crime in Houston.
Finally, you allege that Mosbacher is "buying elections (as) just a small part of the cost of doing business," because you believe that Mosbacher's family business will benefit financially if he's elected. In fact, Mosbacher will be giving up his position as president of his company, which will most likely suffer by his absence. If he is elected mayor, however, Mosbacher will become the CEO of Houston, and the voters will benefit from Mosbacher's business experience and leadership. If you really want to put down Mosbacher's candidacy, you should stop playing to his strong suits.
Peter W. Johnston
Jim Simmon replies: If Mr. Johnston had read my column as closely as he apparently read the candidates' campaign disclosures, he would know that I neither said nor implied most of what he attributes to me. As for Mosbacher's "publishing his list of contributors on a monthly basis," hey, Pete, he's required to disclose his contributions on two more occasions before the November 4 election. It's the law, you see. He also has to disclose his expenditures, which he's not making public on a monthly basis.
Same Business, Different Room
Jim Simmon's analysis of Houston's commercialized political culture represents the kind of excellence in journalism rarely seen in a town where gossip, TV tabloids and worn-out recitations of official spin pass for news. "Daddy Mosbucks" and Ben Reyes really are in the same business -- passing money around to protect the privileges of the deal crowd. In Houston the voters are constantly entertained by such sideshows, but as Simmon suggests (with a sense of political morality not often found in Houston reporting), None Dare Call It Democracy.
David A. Jones
In your coverage of the mayor's race, I haven't read anything regarding candidate Jean-Claude Lanau. He has received coverage by Channels 11, 13, 48, AM and FM talk stations and the Houston Chronicle. Is it propaganda by omission? Whether positive or negative, I would like to read something about Jean-Claude Lanau in the Houston Press.
Alex J. Chidichimo
Editor's reply: Jean-Claude Lanau has a delightful accent. Will that do?
Half the Story
"Helter Shelter" [by Bob Burtman, July 31] has a great lead-in and was on an important topic, but it's only half an article. For example, what happened to Jennifer Franklin? Where did she go after being kicked out of the busy Women Helping Women shelter? Does she now have a safe place to live? Look, if you're to begin Jennifer's story, please continue it. If it has a reasonably happy ending, tell us. And what happened to Lisa?
So much of the article was proving the case against Faye Turner. Fine, she did a lousy job. You overproved this about five times. Let's remember that a complex antagonist makes for a better story. So, did Turner initially try to do a good job and lack managerial skills? Did she receive praise and adulation too early, and then not want it to be found out that it was undeserved? To her credit, she did fire the threatening housemother and sent faxes to other shelters (presumably telling them not to hire her); but perhaps Turner did not fire her soon enough. How about a good follow-up in a couple of months? Has Turner turned the shelter over to a good manager? Has the Precinct 4 Constable's office developed better oversight of funded projects? And of course, how are Jennifer and Lisa doing now?
Which Movie Critic Are You Referring To?
I think your movie critic could be a better one if he'd come down off his pompous high horse. It sounds like he hates everything, including himself.
I'm getting really tired of hearing about how severely Kristen Pain was punished for possession of almost ten grams of cocaine ["Pain for the Prosecution," by Steve McVicker, June 26]. All the parties involved in Pain's case directed your attention to the "highly unusual" 45 days she had to serve as a condition of her deferred adjudication probation. The purpose of this misdirection was to disguise the fact that she did receive special handling of her case from the very beginning when, before the special prosecutor was appointed, Johnny Holmes approved the "highly unusual" charge of simple possession instead of possession with intent to deliver. I challenge anyone to find any other case where a person in possession of more than four grams of cocaine was initially charged with simple possession (a second-degree felony) and not possession with intent to deliver (a first-degree felony). In an exceptionally weak case, if a person in possession of almost ten grams of cocaine has good, retained counsel, the charge might be plea bargained down to simple possession, but the sentence will not be deferred adjudication probation, unless that person has some very good political connections.
So Pain's sentence was "highly unusual" only because the charge was lower and the sentence was less harsh than anyone else would have received. Save your sympathy for the uneducated, indigent people with court-appointed lawyers and no political connections who are now serving long sentences in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for possession of more than four grams of cocaine with intent to deliver.
Name withheld by request