Online readers comment on "Speak English, State Senator Chris Harris Tells Witness," Hair Balls blog, by Richard Connelly, June 17:
Should be fluent: If he's the head of an immigrants' rights organization and has been in the U.S. for 20-plus years, then shouldn't he know English? Laws at all levels of the government regarding immigration are written in English, not Spanish. I would think if he's in charge of such an organization, he should be able to fluently understand English and understand legalese to navigate the laws. Hell, most people who speak English don't understand U.S. laws! How do we expect a guy who doesn't speak fluent English to understand arcane immigration law?
The stand is different: I wonder how many times those critical of the witness have had the opportunity to speak from a witness stand. To hostile questioners. In some language other than what they first spoke. Under oath.
I began taking Spanish more than 40 years ago, when I was seven. I know from experience that I can communicate well enough for day-to-day needs (including work) in Spanish alone. But if I needed to testify in a legal proceeding in that language, you bet your wet tea bag I'd ask for an English interpreter.
Making a statement: You're showing your left-wing credentials, Connelly. You can bet that Antolin Aguirre of the Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition speaks fluent English. Addressing the panel in Spanish was a deliberate, calculated act of baiting the senators.
On the mark: Allow me to point out one simple thing that might be upsetting to some people. Yes, Americans are considered rude and pompous due to a perception that it's our way or the highway; however, in some countries, even if they can speak English, if you don't at least attempt to speak their native language, you will be ignored.
This country is a melting pot, and we take all. But I ask one thing. At least attempt to speak the language. Some states are printing voting ballots in ten or more languages. When is it enough? We send billions in aid to other countries each year, but when are we going to realize that we have to take care of ourselves first?
Someone may feel the comments were rude and out of line. But I feel they were right on the mark.
Disappointing: Do you understand that there is a difference between mastering English and socially mastering English? There is a difference, and you may want to look it up before you use the word "master." You do not know Aguirre's history and age when he arrived here. You do not know what type of education he received once he arrived, nor his prior education.
Research has proven that age and native language development is a crucial part of how a person will acquire English. It truly is disappointing that there are ignorant people who do not understand the underlying issues and just view what's happening on the surface.
Banning the Ban
Online readers comment on "Red Light Camera Ban Tossed Out," Hair Balls blog, by Richard Connelly, June 17:
Hear the people: Regardless, the bosses (and by that, I mean voters) of this city have spoken. If our government officials want to hem and haw, instead of acting on our wishes, then maybe we just need to take matters into our own hands and remove the equipment ourselves.
They didn't give us a say in the matter when the program was implemented. By the time we did get to voice our will, it was too late. There's nothing like being held hostage by your own government.
These folks in government might make the policies, but they (and more importantly, we) need to realize that we the people give them that power to ultimately make the decisions. And they need to learn not to abuse it, or we will have to remove that power from their hands.
It's called representative government: You elected the Mayor and the City Council that put the red light cameras up. Elect other people if you want the ordinances repealed. Do you expect everything to go before the voters first? Do you want approval on whether to spend $25 million to buy police cars next year? Do you want approval on limiting McDonald's signs to 10 feet by 30 feet?
A vote for safety: I voted to keep the cameras, and if another such vote ever comes up again, I'll vote the same way. I understand that people are upset because the vote went against the cameras and a judge is invalidating that, but that's part of what a representative government entails.
I will never understand why anyone would vote to remove the cameras. Maybe people will run red lights no matter what, but if there's a deterrent maybe they'll be less likely to do so. Running red lights is a life-taker, and it's something we should be discouraging in any way we possibly can.
Burgers at The Counter
Online readers comment on "Counter Culture," by Katharine Shilcutt, June 17:
Boring meat: Love the parmesan fries at The Counter, love the customization offers, love the quality of the meat, but the meat itself is just boring. I like my stuff to have some salt or pepper or garlic. Something!
And of course my dude told me to quit carrying Tony Chacheres around in my purse. Something about it being impolite to the chefs or some such. Whatever.
Expensive: Agreed on the quality and the atmosphere, but the prices blew me away. In what's apparently Burger City, USA, a meal for two with beers and fries shouldn't be $40. I'll go down to Hubcap and get the same quality for 30 percent cheaper. Peanut sauce and three kinds of pesto aren't that crucial.
Love it: The Counter is a great place for a burger. They have a great selection of burger toppings, and I've never paid $20 for a meal there. You are limited to "free" toppings and then charged if you order more, so maybe that raises the cost for some. I have had three great meals at The Counter and hope to have more.
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In our story "War Zoned" [June 23, by Steve Jansen], we made a failed attempt at humor about Robert Searcy saying that he got drunk.
This was not intended to be a statement of fact and, in fact, is not a statement of fact.
The Houston Press regrets the error.