Pick the Mayor's pocket
I've heard the pro-arena forces swear up and down that the new tax on hotels and auto rentals is only going to affect those that travel to our fair city and not our existing hard-working, over-taxed citizenry. Well, there's an easy way to prove this---just waive the tariff to anyone who can present a valid driver's license that shows they live in the taxable area. That would be a very simple and fair arrangement and would show, without a doubt, who is telling the truth about who is ultimately footing this bill.

And if this method results in a shortfall of predicted revenues, then the remainder should come directly out of [Tom] Hicks' and [Ron] Kirk's pockets.

Mike Stanfill
Via e-mail

The good Cowboy
I certainly hope Harvey Martin makes it this time ["The comeback of Harvey Martin," January 8].

Many years ago, our daughter had a boyfriend who moved to Houston. He came back to visit his grandmother and came to see us. He was crazy about Tony Dorsett, so my husband and I gathered up our two girls, this boy, and three other kids in the neighborhood, piled them in our car, and took them out to the Forest Lane practice field. When practice was over and the players came out to sign autographs, I guess Tony had something to do that day, because he never stopped. He ran for his car. Maybe Harvey Martin saw that or heard the kids' disappointment, because he told "our" kids to come around to his van. He let them in his van, signed autographs, and generally charmed all of us. He really made an impression on the kids. Thank you and good luck, Harvey.

Linda Hartley
Via e-mail

The few, the very proud
In light of the recent rash of bad publicity that the Marine Military Academy (MMA) in Harlingen has received ["The few, the proud, the battered," December 25], I would like to make your readers aware of my family's rewarding experience with this fine institution. If we had not discovered MMA, my son would most likely never have graduated from high school. MMA has given him a great opportunity for the future, and he more than likely will be able to attend the college of his choice.

For three years, my son did not pass a class at either Jesuit College Prep or Hillcrest High School, although he received a score of 1280 on his PSAT. I knew he was bright, but I was unable to motivate him. MMA has helped him discover all sorts of things about himself that he never realized were possible. He now has a 4.0 and was one of 44 boys to make the President's List. Through the guidance and encouragement of the coaches at MMA, he is breaking school records in the 50-meter freestyle. It makes my heart burst with happiness to watch him realize that he is capable of doing so many things.

My son is not a "problem" teenager. He's very sweet-natured, well liked, and a joy to have around. The decision to send him was very difficult. As a mother, I had fears of drill sergeants screaming orders and abusing him mentally. This is not the case. The staff at MMA is exceptionally fair and caring. Leadership skills and disciplined living are learned in a firmly structured yet understanding environment. I have visited the school on several occasions and speak to my son on a weekly basis. He has never witnessed any of the alleged violence or abuse in any way, shape, or form.

I strongly encourage any parent who is having a problem motivating their son to visit the school and attend presentations that are given in your area. Instead of listening to the overblown and misrepresented allegations of 11 anonymous boys who will do anything to get back home to an environment that doesn't demand anything from them, listen to the testimonials of the boys at the local presentation whose lives have been dramatically enhanced and bettered by the MMA experience.

Leslie Pritchard

Comfortably dumb
In response to Michael Sragow's criticism of James Cameron's Titanic ["Comfortably numb," January 8], one word comes to mind...Wow.

Am I and the tens of thousands who have been flocking to see this epic incorrect in thinking this is one of the best events in recent American cinema? Certainly not the "year's most overrated film," as you assert.

What Titanic gives us is a miraculous depiction of a tragedy that is not entirely factual, yet riveting and altogether absorbing. You claim that what you want from any reality-based disaster film are the facts, the reasons why. Might I recommend PBS if you're seeking such abstract detail, or perhaps a fine assembly of historical texts and black-and-white documentaries?

No, Titanic isn't a documentary, and that's not its purpose. Instead, it gives us an accurate depiction of the time of arrogance and conceit, the very instigators of the disaster. It lets us board the ship, take in its diverse passengers, know the despicable and the adorable.

Mr. Sragow, you cite director Cameron's lack of attention to crucial elements involving historical accuracies of the ship's sinking. I'd like to target you with similar criticism. In your review, you fail to mention such important details as how well the film was acted, how powerful the visual aspects of Titanic are, and how dynamic of a depiction Cameron gives of the actual sinking of the wonderful ship.

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