I just want to say how much I enjoyed your Voter's Guide ["Turkeys (And Other Creatures) On the Ballot," by Tim Fleck, November 3]. Tim Fleck is a perceptive and funny writer. Although I am new to politics (as I'm sure you can tell by the way I bobbled the HGLPC episode), I've learned that an essential qualification for office is the ability to occasionally laugh at one's self.
I do want to point out, however, that judicial candidates are placed under unfortunate special interest group pressure in the race for "endorsements." I tried to give everyone the same message, to wit: (1) I was the better qualified candidate; and (2) all persons, regardless of background or circumstances, are entitled to due process, equal protection of the laws and an
However, if I campaign to the "left," I am condemned by the Terry Lowrys of the world; if I also advertise my qualifications in the Link Letter, well, then I appear as
a hypocrite to others, such as the Houston Press.
The problem with discouraging candidates from trying to campaign among all parts of the spectrum is that this further polarizes politics and leads candidates to choose early if they will identify with the "left" or the "right" or perhaps shun both extremes and speak only to the Rotary Club. I tend to think the voters are not well served by this, since judicial candidates, at least in theory, are supposed to stand for equal and impartial treatment of all citizens. It also adds negativity to the process.
It's a thorny problem, particularly since the "religious right" is so influential in the Republican primaries (they turn out 40,000 to 45,000 votes, and there were 71,000 votes cast in my race last March). Candidates don't have to pander to them, but we cannot ignore them either. It is unfortunate that moderates who would like to broaden the base of the Republican Party usually wind up having their heads bitten off by either the "left" or the "right" -- or both!
In any case, thanks for injecting some much needed humor into this election.
David J. Willis
Editor's note: This letter was received before the November 8 election, in which Willis was one of only two local Republican judicial candidates to lose (the other was a black candidate for an appellate bench). Willis had the misfortune of being tagged by the Press as one of our "Turkeys On the Ballot" and being targeted for defeat by right-wing Republicans because of an endorsement he received from the Houston Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus. We doubt he found much humor in the outcome, and we wish him better luck next time.
No, not everyone has forgotten Sig Byrd ["The Lost Houston of Sig Byrd," by David Theis, November 10]. I grew up down the street on Stanford in Montrose and spent many a late afternoon on Sig and Ruth's front stoop.
Ruth Byrd was one of the finest ladies I ever knew, and she talked to me like I was a grownup, even though I was in my mid- and late teens. When Sig would come home, he would join us and we'd talk until it was time for me to go home to supper.
Sig was moody, but he was always swell to me and it was obvious that he adored his Ruth. I hate that I lost touch with them. Sig wrote so many wonderful columns, including many about old Montrose: Charlie Cheatem of Cheatem's Grocery, Ed Cooksey at the Barber Shop, Mickey's Bakery and the like.
Sig Byrd's Houston was a good place to grow up. Thanks for the story. I wish there had been room for more samples of Sig's brilliant writing.
I have just had the pleasure of reading the story which is featured on the front page of your November 10-16, 1994, issue of the Houston Press ["The Lost Houston of Sig Byrd," by David Theis].
This article was called to my attention by Mrs. Mary Chadick, who lives at my address and whose brother was the subject of the article.
I read the material with great interest, both for the beautiful writing of Sigman Byrd, some of whose work was quoted, and for the thoroughness of Mr. Theis' research and the quality of his own writing.
Being given this particular issue of the Houston Press also had another benefit to me. I had not known that the paper had been revived from earlier days. I have not had the opportunity of reading the whole paper, but I look forward to doing so.
In the meantime, let me again commend Mr. Theis and his work to you.
Marion S. Sawyer
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Editor's note: Though the names may be the same, the present day Houston Press has no connection to the daily Press that went out of business in the 1960s.
Eyes on Art
Clearly, the visual arts have fallen out of favor with your paper. Weekly, I see reviews on film and the performing arts, but the visual arts reviews by Susie Kalil are becoming less frequent. Are they less important? While I don't always share Kalil's views, the reviews are nonetheless insightful and I look forward to reading them.
Please reconsider this apparent change in focus.
Elizabeth D. Wood
Editor's note: The recent schedule of art reviews has as much to do with the critic's available time -- and what's up that's considered worth reviewing -- as it does any judgment of the relative importance of performing versus visual arts. Rest assured that the Press will continue to cover the fields of painting, sculpture and other visual arts.