Letters: Wednesday, August 15, 2002
Hard Lessons

To the editor: As the former head of a Texas state agency, I have seen more than my share of the comptroller’s office “performance reports” (“Losing Fat or Muscle,” July 25, 2002). Your first instinct is to always be defensive. These are outsiders, after all, who know little about your business, or have some political ax to grind. At the end of the day, however, your job as a public servant and agency leader is to do your duty to the taxpayers.

The bureaucratic instinct is to delay, nitpick, and hope folks forget. Mr. Tocco is apparently of that mind, and not the innovative leader we were led to believe when he was hired. Such arrogance is ultimately paid for by the taxpayers and our children. When the [Fort Worth school] board gets around to the Rylander report’s savings, they can add another half a million dollars by dumping the top bureaucrat. Hopefully, this will become an issue in the board president election!

John C. Pouland

Fort Worth

Editor’s note: John Pouland was head of Texas’ General Services Commission and also served as regional director for the federal General Services Administration.

To the editor: Over the years I’ve heard countless first-hand accounts of rich learning experiences at the Outdoor Learning Center from both teachers and students. It is one of the many well-conceived and well-administered programs that has made ours such an outstanding system of education. I find it inconceivable that citizens will allow [Superintendent] Tom Tocco to close it. Betty Brink is right on the nail as always.

John Browning

Fort Worth

To the editor: I just wanted to thank you for your outstanding, in-depth article on the Outdoor Learning Center. Why don’t people sit up and get it? It’s been stated by Juan Rangel that closing the OLC would “save” $650K, but over $400K of that goes to salaries for contracted staff, which the FWISD must still pay, so the savings of closing the Center is actually just barely over $200K. People — citizens and parents — are just content in sticking their collective heads in the sand and allowing Tocco & Co. to continue their destructive wheeling and dealing.

OK, I’ll get off my soapbox — for the time being. But, again, thank you. Pieces like that would never appear in the Startle-gram.

Jeff Menges

Fort Worth

Fearing the Police

To the editor: For the first time in my life I fear police more than criminals. Imagine — a convicted thief acting as an undercover informant and a tape recording so lacking in credibility that it is used by the defense team in the trial — landing a guy in jail for 30 years (“Crack Troops,” Aug. 1, 2002). Thirty years.

Why not question the performance of the jury? Because I’ve never had a personal encounter with a jury, but Ihave experienced first-hand being framed by a police officer.

I am not mad at all police. I know too many overworked and underpaid ones, and it will likely be the testimony of other police officers in the case that Imentioned who will be my salvation. But what to do about the bad cops and the cases where juries give police actions the benefit of the doubt? Establish a Citizens Review Commission of Police in every county in Texas to weed out bad cops, reward good ones, and enlighten “upstanding citizens.”

Reading about injustice at the hands of authority will never move people as much as experiencing it, but it will move people, and this could make the difference in cases like Mr. Jefferson’s.

He needs to be set free.

B.J. Harper

Fort Worth

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