He Should Have Known
It bothers me that activists hold up Rodney Hulin's story ["What Really Happened to Rodney Hulin?" by Michael Berryhill, August 7] as an example of what's wrong with sending juvenile offenders into adult prisons. I'm glad your article pointed out that Rodney was victimized by people his age. It shouldn't be that shocking, considering all the things Rodney did before he was sent to prison. I feel for the family, having to deal with unanswered questions and the loss of their son, brother or relative. But Rodney was sent to prison for a reason. I do believe that prisons are sometimes out of control. But it's no secret; Rodney should have known that.
It sounds to me as if Rodney Hulin didn't have the proper communication and closeness that he should have had as a young child. He should have been shown love and attention to pull him back to what was normal and real, rather than fantasy. He was not beyond hope, and the two alternatives given him show the horrors of our justice system. Sure, he did some wrong -- but he was not a bad-to-the-core kid. This was not a child who belonged in the prison system; he belonged in the probation system.
This story was disgusting, and I am in awe that we have adults who are deciding this fate for any child. He begged to be protected -- and he was not helped. This is worse than the concentration camps of World War II. We are in the best country there is, and yet our courts and our judges come up with a conclusion that gives a kid two of the worst choices of society to choose for his life. Something has to be done. With all the money spent on drug reform, etc., can't we give some misdirected (and only temporarily misdirected) kids something better than eight years in prison with sexual offenders and heartless guards?
Speed Bumps: The Key to Safer, Happier Neighborhoods
I was so pleased to see that you published an article having to do with forms of blockades ["A Neighborhood Divided," by Jennifer Gin Lee, July 24]. I have lived in two neighborhoods, one with large speed bumps down the streets and the other with a gate. In my opinion, speed bumps were a very good thing. Kids could play in the streets without worrying about cars going 50 mph. Then my family and I moved into a home in a gated community. Honestly, the purpose of this gate is to keep strangers, criminals and people not living there out.
In a way I can see how the people on the Dian side could feel, with the people on the Timbergrove side believing that the crime was coming from the other half of the street. From the other point of view, I can see how the people of Timbergrove would feel that the gate was a solution to their problems, but there are far more down sides to a gate than up sides. A better solution would be to place a lot of speed bumps along the street. People do not like to cut through a street that you have to go 20 mph on. Although I think that the damage is already done, and people's feelings are already hurt, the key to a safer and happier neighborhood is to have good relations with your neighbors.
Mary Elaine Curry
Defending Ms. Sheila
Judge Norman Black was a gentleman of the highest order. He was compassionate and kind, and this made him an exemplary judge. I am proud to be able to feel counted among his friends and was a pallbearer at his funeral. I wish to express my objection to the tacky, cheap shot that was taken at Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee in The Insider ["Pretty (Noxious) in Pink," by Tim Fleck, July 31]. Sheila Jackson Lee is a leading member of the House Judiciary Committee. She worked closely with Judge Black, who was the chief judge of the U.S. Southern District of Texas. I know that Judge Black held Congresswoman Lee in great esteem and that she had great feelings of friendship and respect for him.
I did not see Congresswoman Lee at the funeral, and surely I would have had she pushed herself into the middle of the funeral, as your article seems to indicate. The color of her clothing seems to be criticized. I can assure you that there were many bright colors at Judge Black's funeral.
Congresswoman Lee is devoted to her constituency. Whether you agree with her or not, she takes strong and passionate positions on issues of importance. She has risen from an extremely humble background, managing to put herself through the best schools in America to become a member of the United States Congress. She is hard-working, perhaps to a fault. She does expect a lot of the people who work around her. We may not like the approach that we hear about all of the time, but no one can say that this intelligent, articulate spokesman for her district doesn't give it her all.
I am thus very offended, as I imagine other readers are, by what appears to be an ongoing attack on Congresswoman Lee. The prior article ["Driving Miss Sheila," by Tim Fleck, February 20] had substance that one could say, arguably, merited comment, even though one may disagree with it. This last little "blurb" certainly does nothing to preserve the kind of dignity and respect that we should be able to have as citizens for men and woman of the press corps. One must only wonder whether the writer of the last piece in The Insider has ever within his or her lifetime ever managed to accomplish a fraction of what Congresswoman Lee has managed to accomplish. Why don't we take a look at the positive things that our politicians, of both parties, do? Most are extremely hard-working, devoted to public service and very conscientious about society. I would hope that the Houston Press would aspire to be more than a gadfly over unfair and inaccurate trivia.
Arthur L. Schechter
Editor's reply: The item in question may have been tacky, and it may have been trivial, but it was accurate.
Where Faye Turner and the Houston Music Council Meet
Like most folks opening up the Houston Press, I don't expect to read about anyone I know. In the July 31 issue, though, I was surprised to see an article and "articlette" mentioning people I know -- or thought I knew better than I did. The first was Faye Turner, who despite her best intentions, was not able to do for Houston's women-in-crisis what she really wanted ["Helter Shelter," by Bob Burtman]. Not all of us have the skills and talents to fulfill our best intentions, but Faye tried and had some successes. I was a volunteer with Women Helping Women a few years ago. I witnessed some of the negative things mentioned, but was also involved in some of the positive things that it accomplished.
Not unlike my experience with the Houston Music Council, mentioned in Hobart Rowland's weekly blather [Static] about the Houston music scene (or at least that part of the scene he'd be seen in). As one of those "disloyal" former board members, drafted/ elected in recent years, I, too, tried. Along with other members and officers, I was a part of some successes. Mostly, I found my association with HMC to be a stressful one, because we lacked the cohesiveness an organization like HMC should have to accomplish what it set out to do. Pettiness and manipulation wasted valuable time and resources that should have been spent furthering the cause of HMC: to promote and support local Houston music.
Each of the Houston Music Council's past four CDs has been better than the one that came before it. Although panned by some, the latest is receiving considerable airplay in Europe. Many on the CD have been contacted to send more material for more airplay. Now that's not too bad for a "crappy" CD. I wish the new board members success in their endeavor to make HMC a better organization. To those who would crucify Faye Turner for trying and discredit HMC's "disloyal" board members for doing the best they could, I can only pray their intentions are not to build success by slinging mud.
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Melissa P. Stout
Triple A Revelation
I enjoyed what John Eudy had to say about the Triple A Restaurant [Cafe, "Simple Delight," July 24]. It is nice to hear that small businesses can still get some big recognition in the city. In my hometown of Harlingen, these types of cafes are important to the community, not only because they are reasonable in their prices, but because they are places where you can feel at home. Being a new Houstonian, I was pleased to hear that there are some places here in the city that relate to my hometown. The Triple A reminds me of a place back home called El Taquito, a cafe known for its Mexican flour tacos, which are so big you have to eat them with a fork. My favorite thing to do is eat, and I have been wanting to find a place that is good, reasonable and friendly. I never knew this small cafe even existed until I saw the article in the Press. In the near future I am going to give the Triple A my own personal taste test to see if the chicken and dumplings are as good as the writer bragged about in his article!
In last week's The Insider column, Marguerite Ross Barnett, the late president of the University of Houston, was misidentified as Camille Barnett. The Press regrets the error.