Give George a Chance
In response to the article that appeared in the Houston Press regarding George Greanias and Bayou City Enterprises written by Brian Wallstin [News, "Gunning for Greanias," February 23]:
Is anyone, other than the news media, willing to give our controller a fighting chance? George Greanias is our elected official whose job is to make sure our tax dollars are spent appropriately and efficiently. Every citizen of Houston should be thankful that there is still a politician in office who actually represents his or her constituents' interests.
The problem is that George Greanias is punished for doing just that by other city officials who feel it is more important to attack him and satisfy special interests than work together to run our city government. If certain city officials and government subcontractors (whether minority or not) would spend less time implementing personal attacks and more time doing their jobs, we would all reap the benefits: an effective city government contracting with reputable businesses that play by the rules to spend city tax dollars in a manner that is fair, equitable and easily justified. After all, it is our money ... isn't it?
Your issue of February 23 of this year was very interesting, especially "Gunning for Greanias" [News, By Brian Wallstin] and "The Czar's Return." [News, By Tim Fleck]. Both require some comment.
It is completely reprehensible to watch the mayor using his position for the obvious and blatant currying of favor and buying of votes by attacking the city controller for doing his job as mandated by the city charter and its taxpayers. It becomes even more reprehensible to watch the city attorney, appointed by the mayor, who is supposed to act in the city's and taxpayers' behalf, refuse to involve his office in the investigation of possible wrongdoing or to state whether he will defend the city controller if he is sued, which is his job.
As to the firms involved, if they are doing the job they are being paid for, then they should relish clearing the air and establishing their creditability. If they are not doing their job, and it appears by their actions they are not, then the controller is correct in requesting further documentation before authorizing the disbursement of funds.
In either case, the mayor and other officials should remain out of the controversy until either wrongdoing by the firms or the controller is established. Our mayor's biggest problem is he wants to be surrounded by yes men -- which, thankfully, Greanias is not -- and that he cannot fire him because he is not.
Regarding Lee Brown: is he the same Lee P. Brown who, as chief of police prior to Elizabeth Watson becoming chief, categorically stated, "Houston does not have a gang problem"? Did the gangs that Watson had to deal with just spring up overnight? I doubt it.
They were here when Brown left and they had been ignored. From the previous statement it appears Lee P. Brown does not have the needed credibility for the office of Houston mayor (not that there is much credibility at City Hall to be proud of). One must also ask, based on his employment -- Houston, to New York, to Washington, all within such a short period of time -- would he stay in Houston for a full term, or is this a stop while changing jobs?
William L. West III
Editor's note: As you may have read by now, Mayor Bob Lanier canceled the city's contract/subcontract/whatever with Bayou City Enterprises and said the city attorney's office would defend Greanias if he's sued by the firm.
I would like to compliment Michael Berryhill for a well-researched, even-handed and well-written article -- and a service to Texas school children ["The Curriculum Question," January 19]. In addition, John Privett deserves a medal for sailing into the teeth of HISD and surviving. Too bad his program did not fare as well.
As a (private) school board member, competing in the marketplace for more than seven years, I have often wondered why there has been no class-action suit against HISD and others. These districts are clearly guilty of fraud -- taking tax dollars, then not delivering an education. I count rebuffing Mr. Privett, and the teachers and parents who supported his program, as strike one against HISD students. Read the proposed charter school legislation and you'll find it's strike two. The rhetoric is carefully shaped to "support" charter schools; the substance ensures the power stays with the districts. Few charter schools will win that battle. Strike three is Mike Moses, a conservative upholder of the status quo if ever there was one.
With the students out for this inning, I guess I should be happy at the prospects for private schools. But I'm not. How about that fraud suit idea? Where can you find a good mass tort lawyer when you need one? Texas public school children need one.
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Thomas A. Wright
Board member, Tanglewood Academy
I'm writing in response to a letter to the editor from Jerry Jeff Walker's publicist [Letters, "Unfair to Jerry Jeff?," by John T. Davis, January 26] rebutting Edith Sorenson's December write-up on Jerry Jeff. Well, I'm one of his biggest fans and I always will be. I make all his concerts I can. And it's good his publicist stood up for him, but I can't let him fool you.
In his letter to the editor he mentioned the "spirit of camaraderie" within Walker's latest non-seasonal album, Viva Luckenbach! I'm here to tell you that though that spirit may be quite evident in this tape, his road show sure as hell lacks it. I saw him at a show in Gruene Hall last year. At the end of the concert a woman approached the stage with flowers. She wanted a hug. Jerry Jeff turned to look when she called his name, then turned back around and kept on walking away. Some "spirit of community and camaraderie." Don't let anybody fool you -- Edith Sorenson knew what she was talking about when she said there're two sides of Jerry Jeff.