Inequality Under the Law
Thank you for Steve McVicker's piece on the contract deputy scandal ["Trickle Down Protection," March 30]. This program is an affront to the basic principle of equality under the law.
The most amazing thing about this program is that it has continued for so long in the face of several attorney general opinions that it is illegal and the fact that, as shown in the article, it has effectively resulted in poor neighborhoods in unincorporated Harris County going without any police patrols at all, while subsidizing police protection for their wealthier neighbors. The local news media and the elected representatives of the people who are being deprived of their fair share of police protection deserve some of the blame for not exposing the issue more aggressively. Senator Gallegos and Representative Bailey and the Houston Press, conversely, are heroes for putting the issue on the table.
Law enforcement resources should be allocated on the basis of efficiency and need. They should be allocated with the recognition that all of us want our families to be safe and secure. Clearly, allocating patrols to quiet suburban subdivisions at the expense of crime-ridden inner-city neighborhoods is ass-backwards. If the residents of Kingwood and Meyerland feel that tax revenues are insufficient to pay for the level of police patrols they need, they should call their city councilmember/county commissioner and ask her/him to raise taxes to a level where the entire community can have adequate protection. How can we expect anyone to believe that we believe that "all men are created equal" if we allow the most basic governmental services to be sold openly to the highest bidder?
No Shows in Brazos
The reason the reporters and longtime state politicos don't know of Wendy Gramm's visibility in the early years of Senator Gramm's political career ["The Wendy Card," by David Pasztor, April 6] is that they weren't on the political rally circuit in Brazos County in 1976, 1978 or 1980. I was and so was Wendy Gramm. I can recall many times where she covered for Phil in making appearances in a district that ran all the way to Dallas-Fort Worth. Any suggestion that he kept her in the closet is ludicrous revisionism that happens to support your story line.
I have known all too few men in my life who have the unabashed pride in their wives that Phil Gramm has. She will make a great first lady teamed with a great president.
Service is Our Middle Name
Score another one for the unfair liberal journalist who has an editor who will actually print his material.
The office of the president of the United States is the only office that produces a first lady. That's the reason for Wendy Gramm's emerging eminence as a candidate's wife. Not because Phil Gramm has been trying to hide her. Since I know that you know this as well as I do, you must agree with my original statement.
Anyway, keep the unfair articles coming so conservatives will have examples of liberal journalism to point to.
But It Was a Good Yuck
Wendy Gramm had it right the first time. "Oh, yuck."
Gone to Austin
In reference to Joe Hon's review of the Hellhole record [Rotation, March 16] ... not only is there no substantive insight into the actual record, (which some of the bands I know personally, and think they have never sounded better), it is a complete personal slam to Randall Jamail and the whole Houston music scene, and is exactly why I moved to Austin, where records still get bad reviews, but personal character slams on people and the scene don't exist.
Just a note to thank you for your coverage of the Shamrock Hotel wreath laying ceremony [Press Picks, March 16].
The Shamrock Hotel opening on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 1949, was really one of the several great moments of Houston's history. The sentiment and love for the Shamrock and Glenn McCarthy is abundant. The questions as to why it was demolished go unanswered. And the fact that the Texas Medical Center tore down, "Paradise to pave a parking lot," is quite apparent.
The Shamrock Hotel is truly "the Houston hotel -- America will always remember."
Back from Hell(With A Suggestion)
I enjoyed your article "Wrecker Hell" [By D.J. Wilson, March 9]. I've been there many a time.
May I suggest an article on state legislators who have law practices, focusing on:
1) Where their practices are located;
2) Where their local representative offices are;
3) How long some court cases have waited to be adjudicated because of legislative session delays.
Back From Greenbriar(With a Complaint)
Last month, I went with a friend to visit a restaurant in the Richmond/Greenbriar area. When we did not immediately find a parking space, my companion drove up the street and parked on the street directly behind The Pig "Live" parallel to Alabama Street. I recall the neighborhood as older apartments/subdivided houses and I recall that I had concerns about leaving my friend's car on this street, as there were no house or street lights to light the area around her car. My friend pointed out a No Parking sign and I looked at the sign, which prohibited parking from "6-9." Thinking that there was no conceivable reason why parking would be prohibited on this darkened street at night, I assured my friend that the "6-9" parking prohibition referred to 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
When we returned later that night, the car had been towed. Needless to say, once the car was towed, the night was pretty well ruined.
After this experience, I found your article, "Street Fight," [News, by Brian Wallstin, March 2] very interesting. I hope that Laura Puzio, former president of the Westlawn Terrace Civic Association, now understands why "others are so upset." People are "so upset" because of the ridiculous parking restrictions imposed by these civic associations.
James Thomas, el presidente of the Colquitt Court Civic Club, suggests that he has nothing against The Pig "Live" or any other neighborhood bar; he "just asks that their customers park somewhere other than in front of his house." What a whiny attitude to display in a city that has shunned zoning for decades. I would remind Mr. Thomas that public tax dollars are used to maintain the street in front of his house and lacking some better reason to exclude parking, the public should be allowed to park there.
One last question: is it really necessary to tow cars from this area? Would not a parking ticket give people the message that the area is restricted? Could city revenue enhancement or the lobbying efforts of towing companies explain the quick action of the city of declaring this entire area a tow-away zone? I wonder.
Cinch Your Testicles
Mr. Wise, if you really believe that rodeo stock are not abused [Letters, "Roping Fry," by Kenneth P. Wise, March 23], then you do your name a major injustice.
I attended the rodeo opening night and saw two animals injured in the ring. If you don't think that being corralled into a pen, and then released only to have your neck snapped back by a man on a horse with a rope in front of thousands of screaming people is not abusive, then please define abuse to me. Even better, why don't we cinch your testicles up against your stomach to the point where you feel the need to jump around in an enraged state while some "yahoo" sits on your back?
Don't get me wrong. I found the rodeo quite entertaining, but don't try and fool yourself or anyone else into believing that the rodeo is something that livestock look forward to.
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The Full Sharp Picture
Your article on John Sharp ["Winner and Losers," by Tim Fleck, March 23] should serve as a instruction manual on the state of the art of politics in Texas. However it seems rather one-sided in that John Sharp has done more while he has been in office than just get the lottery going.
His performance audits have changed much of the way that government performs in Texas. Through outcome measures, manner of delivery of services, even the philosophy of agencies, we are on the road to more caring and efficient services. Politicians don't like performance audits because they force a lean and mean system.
The perfect politician doesn't exist because we the voters won't allow it. But judgments should be made on the whole and not strictly on the weakness displayed.
R. Mike Harvey Sr.