Workers Comp and Rescued Dogs

Insurance, defined: I wanted to write today and express my appreciation for all your work on the article "Bad Faith" [by Margaret Downing, November 13]. You are a good teacher, as I learned so much about the tactical battles that take place daily between injured workers and "insurance" companies. There may be opportunity for another article someday soon when we all wake up and realize that several "insurance" programs in Texas and the U.S. do not meet the definition of "insurance" in the first place.

"Insurance" is defined as: a system to protect persons against the risks of financial loss by transferring the risks to a large group who share the financial losses. It would appear to me that entities sign up with Texas Mutual if they are reasonably certain that they will have a problem with workplace injuries. If so, there is no large group of customers who share the financial losses. The same may be true for CHIP, the federal Children's Health Insurance Program. I suspect parents who have knowledge that their children will experience health problems sign up for CHIP and parents who believe their children will not have health problems do not.

It would be much more efficient if all companies (or parents) were automatically signed up for "insurance" such as our federal Medicare coverage and then given the opportunity to opt out of the program. The current system requires an opt-in decision, which plays havoc with the economic underpinning of any insurance model. Just because someone in Austin or Washington, DC uses the term "insurance" doesn't mean that we should assume that's what the program really is.


Texas workers' compensation

Thanks again for your good work.

Gary Packwood

Change the laws: I was waiting for my local post office to open and was much too early. To pass the time, I found the November 13 copy of the Houston Press. My interest was and is piqued by your article "Bad Faith," since it deals with various abuses, inefficiencies, excess costs and attorneys who legislate for themselves, not for the people of Texas.

I was a New Yorker for 23 years of my early life and had the opportunity to study business law in high school and college. I was employed by an insurance company in its workers' compensation department. The company I worked for for 37 years rarely took on contracts in Texas, at least early on, because the workers' compensation laws of Texas were prohibitive. Today Texas workers' compensation laws are based on legislation with so many revisions, even attorneys find them difficult to deal with. That's because attorneys in our legislature pass laws for attorneys, not for the people. By the way, I have been Texan for 40 years and am proud of it.

Needless to say, regarding Texas workers' compensation laws, you hit the nail on the head. I enjoyed your article immensely because it brings out the shortcomings of Texas workers' compensation laws, wherein cases must go to court — and sometimes to the Supreme Court — for a final decision. Meanwhile, the poor schmuck who has been injured continues suffering because our workers' comp laws are tying up the courts unnecessarily due to continuous appeals. Governor Ann Richards had the guts to go to New York, study its workers' compensation laws and procedures and recommend adoption of them in Texas. But the Texas Legislature's lawyers had the temerity, no the gall, to scoff at her suggestion. After all, that illustrious body didn't want to make efficient legislation that would lessen their ­revenues.

Attorney Mike Doyle should receive kudos, and hopefully he will continue to succeed until current workers' compensation laws are changed so that settlements are made outside state court systems under procedures established by state law. It's the only way existing inefficiencies can be removed. In this manner, the injured party receives all that is due in workers' compensation. Some fraud and negligence will continue as well, but the longer it takes to settle court actions, the more the injured lose precious and immediate medical ­treatment.

Frank B. Dori


Hair Balls blog readers comment on Those "Rescued" Dogs Are Dead, Or Lining Up To Die," Friday, November 21, by Craig ­Malisow.

Retrain them: The Michael Vick case was such a huge milestone for the pit bull community. The dogs from that case proved that even fighting pit bulls can be rehabilitated and re-homed to become wonderful canine citizens. For goodness' sakes, one of them is even a therapy dog. It sickens me to know that even after the huge success of those dogs, we still have people and organizations that are holding onto their old, ignorant views that these dogs are inherently "aggressive" and a "liability" to the public. Fighting dogs fight because they are trained and rewarded to do so. Any dog trainer will tell you that any behavior that can be trained in, can also be trained out.


Test the dogs: I am happy that this has some light put on it, but it saddens me that, since this dog ring was not funded by a celebrity, we just close our eyes and kill the dogs without even testing them. The Houston SPCA has failed these animals, and if we continue to donate to such an organization, this kind of treatment of all types of animals will be subject to the same outcome.

David C

Dallas Press Club honors Houston Press writers

Houston Press writers were honored in three categories last week in the statewide Katie Awards sponsored by the Press Club of Dallas. The club had suspended the awards program last year after a judging scandal was uncovered.

Frequent Press contributor and Crime Story column writer Randall Patterson won first place in the Best Column category for "To Catch a Rapist."

Staff writer Chris Vogel placed second in the Best Business Reporting category for "The Getaway."

And former staffer Todd Spivak took third place in the Best Investigative Series/Story category for "Toxic Town."

There was no Katie Award competition in 2007 when it was discovered that the 2006 and 2005 awards were rigged by its former president — who gave herself several of the awards. The competition had grown to include six states; this year it went back to just Texas.

The 2008 entries were judged by the prestigious Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Michael Ruby and Merrill McLoughlin, former co-editors of U.S. News & World Report and assistant editors of ­Newsweek.


Last week's article on Beyoncé, "Fierce Creature" by Dave Mendonca, incorrectly identified the name of her forthcoming movie as Cadillac Dreams in the first paragraph. It was identified correctly as Cadillac Records later in the article.

The Houston Press regrets the error.

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