No lame duck: Shelley Sekula-Gibbs has been known as a respected physician, loving wife and mother, dedicated city council member and tireless public servant ["Turkeys of the Year," by Richard Connelly, November 23]. Did the special election suddenly change her?
As one who has worked closely with her in city government, I think not.
Then why did the District 22 congressional staff ("Tom's terrors") jump ship faster than the rats on the Titanic?
Could it be that after a six-month "working vacation" with no boss they decided getting down to the people's business a little too taxing?
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Could it be that their loyalty was not to the folks of District 22 but to a disgraced memory of power and prestige?
Could it be that the so-called "mean meeting" was nothing more than a new captain trying to enforce the rules of the sea but facing a mutinous crew?
Or could it be as banal as a group of political sycophants planning to serve another candidate and stacking the deck against Shelley with bad press heading toward 2008?
From my point of view, Dr. Sekula-Gibbs is no lame duck. She is trying to accomplish something with the few weeks she has in office. Others would sit back and enjoy having a title without responsibility. Not Shelley Sekula-Gibbs. She sees this as a time of opportunity to do important work for the citizens of District 22 and is dedicated to it.
She has been called many names in the past few weeks, but only one will be remembered; and if we are fortunate, it will be repeated in 2008: Congresswoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs.
Skewed: Since early 2003, I have worked with Shelley Sekula-Gibbs to serve the people of Houston and then of the 22nd Congressional District of Texas. Congresswoman Sekula-Gibbs serves her constituents with the highest honor and integrity. As a fourth-generation Mexican-American, I am proud to work with such a leader, and also proud that because of Dr. Sekula-Gibbs's vigorous efforts to improve the lives of Mexican-Americans and all Americans, several members of my family have joined me in supporting Dr. Sekula-Gibbs in her efforts to serve the people of Houston and of the United States of America.
During the transition period from Dr. Sekula-Gibbs's service on Houston City Council to the United States Congress, I participated in a conference call with her and a staff member of CD22. The Congresswoman requested this individual invite several people to her open house, among them the President and Vice President of the United States of America. She followed this request with an acknowledgement that they, of course, could not possibly attend, but she would be remiss not to invite them, since their kind efforts had proven instrumental to her victory. She extended the invitation with courtesy and with high respect for the leaders of our nation.
It now saddens me to see skewed accounts of related events and alleged exchanges that occurred after this conference call. I know firsthand that Dr. Sekula-Gibbs always acts graciously and in a dignified manner, and much of what has been printed is simply false.
In the thousands of hours I have spent with Dr. Sekula-Gibbs, I have never witnessed an unkind act from her. Yes, she expects hard work from her employees. I hope my Congressperson expects the same from his staff. If Americans across the nation elected more officials who set high standards for their staff, we might have fewer complaints about our elected representation.
The Trojan Horse approach executed by a handful of people has not damaged Congresswoman Sekula-Gibbs's prospects for 2008. The citizens of CD22 are much too intelligent to allow gossip and speculation to cloud their view of reality. By now, it should be obvious that no amount of money can do that, as evidenced by Dr. Sekula-Gibbs's Special Election votes outweighing those of her Democrat opponent's in the General Election.
If Congresswoman Sekula-Gibbs chooses to run again in 2008, I look forward to being a part of her team then and for many future elections.
Andrea Ramirez Seagraves
Right number: I, too, have been curious about the actions of Shelley Sekula-Gibbs since the election. I'm not sure if her trip to Washington qualifies as comedy or tragedy, but it is definitely a piece of theater.
I am surprised, however, that you would even question the figure of 9,000 Americans lost at the hands of illegal immigrants every year. The numbers on intoxicated manslaughter alone would easily support that figure. Do the math -- 15 deaths per month in each of the 50 states. Harris County alone probably has at least ten deaths per month in this category. I bet even tiny Rhode Island meets the minimum daily requirement. Just this past weekend in Chicago, a van was involved in a serious accident. Not only did the pillar of the community jump out and run, he left two small children in the van!
Your disbelief of the number indicates just how narrow your parameters are.
Back to realty: Although I got a kick out of seeing Drew Alexander's caricature stomping the River Oaks Theatre like a Japanese cinema monster, the article could not be more off-base. You are either very young or not from Houston.
Once upon a time, The River Oaks Shopping Center was a junky, disjointed collection of retailers. Through the meticulous efforts of the good folks at Weingarten Realty, under Drew Alexander's leadership, the property has been transformed over the years into a Houston landmark. Should they not be able to keep transforming their property?
Do you remember the Village Theater and the surrounding blocks in The Rice Village that once was full of dilapidated buildings and a XXX movie theater? Again, Weingarten Realty revitalized the area, and today the Village Arcade Shopping Center is where thousands shop, dine and visit daily.
How about the Highland Village Shopping Center? Do you know who had the vision and began the transition of this high-profile property prior to selling it? Again, Weingarten Realty.
Each re-gentrification was a benefit to the community and was made possible because the Weingarten team had vision and excellent execution. If there is a landlord that Houston can trust to do a quality job in repositioning a property, even if it means scrapping the River Oaks Theatre, it is Weingarten Realty.
If you really want to benefit Houston architecturally, shine your critical light on the Zone D'Erotica in front of Dillard's at the Galleria -- our most visited tourist destination. Now that is a real Turkey!
We Effed Up
In "Migrants and Minutemen" [by Kelly Klaasmeyer, November 30], the video portion of "The Border Film Project" was incorrectly attributed to William Howard. The work should have been credited to Rudy Adler, Victoria Criado and Brett Huneycutt.
Also, "The Measure of Kielbasa" [by Robb Walsh, November 2] incorrectly stated the address of Polonia Restaurant. The correct address is 1900 Blalock Rd.
The Houston Press regrets the errors.
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