Saying Goodbye: A serial killer's victim is finally buried and Metro kicks the homeless off the light rail.
36 Years On, a Victim Buried
Unknown teen killed by The Candy man put to rest
By Richard Connelly
Just a couple of weeks ago we went on a Houston 101 nostalgia trip about Houston's most notorious mass murderer, Dean Corll.
Now into our e-mail-box comes word that one of Corll's victims will be buried.
Harris County announced that one of the unidentified victims left over from Corll's sad list of 27 dead young boys will be buried in the county's potter's field. He is one of only two bodies left unidentified from the 1973 event.
Who is he? Says the county:
"The victim being buried is described as a white male, 15-20 years of age at the time of his death. He had dark brown hair about 7 inches in length. Personal effects believed to be his are being included with the remains in burial. They include a brightly striped swimming suit, cowboy boots, corduroy slacks, and a rope bracelet. This body was retrieved from the infamous boat shed in southeast Houston."
A longhaired teen runaway who for whatever reason couldn't stay home and instead found hell, like all of Corll's victims.
Cindy Gabriel, spokeswoman for the county's Community Services Department, which manages indigent burials, tells Hair Balls the decision to bury the boy now is partly tied to hopes that publicity will bring relatives to contact authorities.
She says Sharon Derrick, an anthropologist with the medical examiner's office, pretty much adopted the cause of ID'ing the two remaining bodies.
"She says she's basically gotten all the DNA she can from this one, and it's time to let it go," Gabriel says.
The county says relatives of victims can come forward and give DNA samples to help identify the unknowns.
"Today, DNA testing is advancing while the families associated with the crime are aging, creating a narrowing window of opportunity to bring closure to the families of the two remaining unidentified victims," the county's release said.
"We are running out of time to close this case," Derrick said. "The parents of these boys are elderly or deceased, but most of their siblings are still living and are wondering what happened."
Hard to Say Goodbye
UT President Still Getting Paid to Commute From Philly
By Richard Connelly
Well over a year ago — back in May 2008, when Hillary Clinton was still a viable candidate for the Democratic nomination — the UT Health Science Center here in Houston hired Dr. Larry Kaiser as its new president.
How much does he love Houston? So much that the UT Board of Regents is about to consider an agenda item that will continue paying Kaiser commuting costs from his Pennsylvania home until August 2010.
"For personal reasons, Dr. Kaiser and his family have been unable to permanently move to Houston and hence the extension of this provision of his employment agreement," Dr. Kenneth Shine, UT System executive vice-chancellor for health affairs, tells Hair Balls.
We're pretty sure "personal reasons" means "can't get a good price for his house back east."
Anthony de Bruyn, spokesman for the regents, tells us there's no cap on how much commuting costs the university will pay. He also doesn't have a figure on how much they've paid so far.
Kaiser came to the UT Health Science Center from the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which is based in Philadelphia. He was chairman of the department of surgery.
His UT biography proudly notes that "He has been named both a 'Top Doc' and a 'World Class Doc' multiple times by Philadelphia magazine."
Was Jonas Salk ever named a "Top Doc" by Philadelphia magazine? We think not.
So come on down to Houston, Doc. It's not that bad a place. At least not so bad it should take more than two years to move here.
And you'd probably get a pretty good deal on whatever mansion you buy.
Tales From Transit
No Home? No Light Rail for You
A Metro VP gets a little too blunt about the customers
By John Nova Lomax
Todd Mason is the vice president of real estate services for Metro. At the time of his hiring, there was some concern that by hiring Mason and dabbling in big-time real estate development at and around Metro properties, the transit organization was extending itself far beyond its mission statement, which reads:
METRO is an innovative regional transportation organization of dedicated employees committed to partnering with the public and private sectors to provide the safest, highest quality services and mobility solutions that exceed our customers' expectations while creating economic growth.
Consider those fears well-founded. Apparently, Mason is now attempting to decide who gets to ride the light rail and who doesn't.
At an October meeting in the mayor's conference room at City Hall, Mason addressed a roomful of concerned downtown citizens, including Anthony Love, the president of the Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County, as follows in a pretty-much-verbatim transcript assembled by Hair Balls after hearing a copy of the tape.
Mason: The bus transit system provides more connectivity for the homeless...Metro is not in the business of attempting to put the homeless on the train. That's the signature service downtown.
Love: Is that the official position of Metro?
Mason: The board isn't going to adopt an official position.
Love: Then whose position is it?
Mason: Today it will be my personal position.
So there you have it, folks. According to this very well-paid Metro vice president, the train is for nice people. The bums can ride the bus. This in spite of the fact that Metro eliminated the downtown legs of the Bissonnet, Richmond and Bellaire routes when it decided to have them all terminate at the light-rail line.
So if you are homeless on the southwest side, you best plan to do some walking if you want to go downtown, or to any of the many agencies along Main in Midtown that cater to the problems of the disenfranchised. You can take the bus as far as it goes, but after that you're on your own.
Like the man said, the light rail is the signature service, like a fancy grocery store. It is not for Houston's riffraff.
"Metro is for anyone to ride," says Love. "Anyone who pays a fare should be able to ride Metro. If there's any discrimination, Metro should be taken to task for that. If it does come to fruition that that is their strategy, or that's what they're doing, then we would really expect officials to either change that policy or get rid of the people who are promoting that policy."
Including guys like Mason, whom Metro secured when they paid his private real estate firm McDade, Smith, Gould, Johnston, Mason + Company $2 million dollars for five years of Mason's exclusive services. And even though he's raking in $400K a year from Metro, Mason doesn't pay when he rides the train (like, admittedly, too many of the homeless).
Mason did not respond to a detailed e-mail from Hair Balls.
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