In reference to the "Rough Justice" article [by Steve McVicker] in your May 22 edition: My sympathy is for the family of Mr. Hall and not the criminal, Anthony Westley, who was put to death. I have a difficult time feeling sorry for a man involved in an aggravated robbery, and whether he directly or indirectly pulled the trigger, he was very much a part of an innocent man's death. Remember, Chester Hall and his family are the victims here. As for Mr. Westley, well, let's just say he got what he deserved.
Let's see, men enter a business, armed with guns. They're committed to executing a violent crime. Someone dies.
Why were they armed? Dramatic effect?
Maybe I missed something in the story? Was it the part where Anthony Westley unsuccessfully tried to stop a robbery and murder?
Only an attorney could stand with a straight face and say his client didn't deserve his punishment because he may not have pulled the trigger. Mr. Westley was an armed and willing participant in the robbery. The only injustice in the criminal case was that both of the surviving conspirators weren't convicted of capital murder.
I'll save my sympathy and outrage for the family of Mr. Hall. He and the clerk were the only innocent parties involved.
Gilbert N. Mauricio
In the Spirit of Volunteerism
It is unfathomable to me how businesses in Texas City can legally subject their residents to such a panoply of ills which result in physical debilitation, as described in the "Shadow over Texas City" article [by Bob Burtman] in the May 29 Press. Although there is some risk associated with living near petrochemical plants, the events described smack of a conscious choice not to provide better safety measures.
Pollution prevention generally has economic benefits as well, and I'm curious as to what type of measures, if any, the petrochemical refineries are considering. It would be very enlightening to tour one of these plants to see how toxic releases take place. I can only hope that the new air standards being considered by the EPA for particulates pass, and that the companies become more aware of the horrors they commit and voluntarily preserve public health.
Even More Harrowing ...
Applause for Bob Burtman's "Shadow over Texas City." Burtman did an excellent job of drawing attention to a problem that has been blatantly neglected by the local media. Even more harrowing than the situation in Texas City is the proposal before Congress to weaken the Clean Air Act and deregulate industrial emissions.
As the situation in Texas City clearly demonstrates, there is a direct correlation between polluted air and serious health problems. Research has indicated that levels of ozone smog and particulate soot are already unhealthy, especially for children. As the medical crisis in Texas City clearly indicates, we cannot afford to ignore problems with air pollution.
I enjoyed the "Brothers of The Road" story [by Michael Berryhill] in your May 22 issue. I must agree with your contention that the proposed routing of Interstate 69 was done more with an eye on the political map than on the road map. Goodness knows it would be possible to build the road more cheaply in a fashion that would serve the traveling public just as well. Here is my modest proposal on how to accomplish this: 1) Route the new I-69 through Texarkana. This could be done using an alignment similar to the existing U.S. Highway 59 from Nacogdoches. 2) Pair I-69 with the existing Interstate 30 across Arkansas to Little Rock. Then continue with a dual designation on I-40 from Little Rock east to Memphis.
This would be a much cheaper alternative to reaching Memphis than new construction, as the I-30 and I-40 roadways already exist. Also, it would save several years of construction activity and several hundred million dollars. An additional traffic lane could be added as needed in areas where there would be significantly increased traffic counts. The costs associated with this approach would be much lower. The point-to-point distance from Shreveport to Memphis would be slightly longer using the Texarkana gateway, but that is an acceptable tradeoff. Most of the traffic is going to be originating or terminating in Texas, not Louisiana. If need be, the I-69 portion from Shreveport (direct) to Memphis could be built at a later date.
Mark R. Setterberg
Sixteen's a Crowd
In reference to your article in the May 15 issue [The Insider, "Law of the Pack," by Tim Fleck] about Gary Cameron being handcuffed and kicked in the head by our brave police: Officer T.L. Davis was so in fear for her safety that she had to call for help, and 15 officers converged on the scene and finished the job. I'm really surprised they did not shoot him in the back while he was on the ground. I guess what stopped them was all of the witnesses. It would be hard to explain.
I am responding to Kimberly Weathers's letter ["Back to Pakistan?", June 5] concerning the John Shike story ["One-Man Mob," by Steve McVicker, May 8].
I am equally appalled by this individual who thinks he can intimidate his adversaries by using and abusing the U.S. justice system. My only concern is that Weathers failed to examine the fact that the majority of the people that the U.S. government supports are Americans. I think she is making a reference to the illegal immigrants that are benefiting from our tax dollars, and I can empathize with that. But she needs to re-evaluate her comment that she's tired of taking care of immigrants whom "we take care of like our own." Legal immigrants pay taxes as much as she does. The taxes that they pay benefit Americans, too. It just happens that John Shike, a naturalized American "zit," is of Middle Eastern descent.
Name withheld by request
Cagey Bureaucrat Versus Defensive Journalist
Sounds like Brian Wallstin may have been cut by Kathy Barton's letter [Letters, "If You Just Would Have Listened to Me...," May 29]. So eager was he to defend his shaky ground ["A Flaky Deal," April 24] that he himself "seemed confused" by the contents of Barton's letter. The condescending tone of the first paragraph of Wallstin's response ("Now it can be told...") is particularly inappropriate in that he completely misses Ms. Barton's point on the subject at hand. It's not that "the city won't remove lead-based paint from homes that have no air conditioning." It's that the source of the lead can't actually be determined in this home.
Let me lay the chain out for you, Brian. No air conditioning means the windows are open. Extensive exterior stripping means that there are particles in the air from that. Marginal housekeeping means that these particles, once they enter the house in question, stay there.
I don't know if any of this is true. I've never visited the areas in question. But this is what Ms. Barton said in her letter, not the infinitely more absurd assertion that the city "won't bother if the house doesn't pass the white-glove test."
Your ill-advised defensiveness, coupled with your simple misreading of the launching-off point for your rant, has severely undermined your argument, and now I don't know who to believe: the cagey bureaucrat or the journalist with the bruised ego.
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I'm a 45-year-old family man who can easily be classified as a conservative Republican. I thought you'd like to know how much I enjoy reading your newspaper each week. I especially enjoy The Insider and your feature articles. I believe you bring a necessary second opinion to the Houston resident who cares about how things get done and how things are run. Keep up the good work. I'll be reading.
With respect to your story "Special Crime" in the May 22 Insider [by Tim Fleck]: In the last month there have been several news stories about a weight loss product and the advertising campaign for it, where they send out an ad and what appears to be a handwritten note suggesting that the recipient was seen in public in serious need of weight loss. Dollar to a doughnut this is what the secretary got.
R. W. Hughes