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Betty in charge
I read with absolute delight the aptly entitled article "Betty's in charge" [March 27]. Frankly, I got a kick out of "hearing" Betty again. You see, I was once one of her trusted mid-level managers until I ran afoul of Betty and found myself on the outside looking in.

But, I'm not writing to gripe. She, in fact, did me a favor. I had a very interesting experience in Dallas County government, one that I shall never forget. However, your story caught the essence of Culbreath. She is fresh, invigorating, smart as hell, and will cuss you out in a New York minute. I do not want your readership to get the idea that Culbreath is an incompetent, foul-mouthed fool. She's just the opposite. So fellas, as Bette Davis would say, "Don't fuck with her." She will cut your throat.

And a word to the wise for Ken Williams (Grand Prairie) and Tom Hatfield (Richardson): If you want to tangle with Betty, you better come stocked, locked, and ready to fire, 'cause Betty don't play that! If you are so interested in establishing and keeping contact, I strongly urge you to make the phone call. 'Cause if you're waiting for Betty to call you, it sure ain't gonna happen now. And when you do finally get her, I suggest that you cover your ears, cower in the corner, and pray for rain!

I have yet to unravel exactly where the article was supposed to take us, but I sure enjoyed "hearing" Culbreath again. Betty, keep up the good work. It's hard (dare I say impossible) to take a scrapper down.

G. Keith Harlin
Cedar Hill

Wait a minute--in her article "Betty's in charge," Rose Farley writes about Dr. Ron Anderson: "Although Anderson would never say so, he, more than anyone else in Dallas, understands how severely limited the county commissioners are in terms of understanding--or even caring about--public health issues." Whoa! If it is true that Anderson would never say so, how could anyone else know that this is what he understands? How could Farley know?

Is this article based on verifiable facts or on mere wishful thinking? Is this journalism or speculation?

Adam Stolfi

Betty Culbreath says, "Ain't nobody not being served." What definitely isn't being served, obviously, is the English language.

G. Leontin

I found Betty Culbreath's grammatical error in her memo on grammatical errors ironic but subtle. Rose Farley points out that Culbreath had written "This type activity is unacceptable..." omitting the 'of' after type. It was equally ironic to find two grammatical shortcomings in my cursory reading of Farley's article.

Farley writes, "But Culbreath's clout extends even farther than that." Although this might be an acceptable use of the word farther, further might have been the better word to use according to Strunk and White in The Elements of Style. They say, "farther serves best as a distance word, further as a time or quantity word."

I can give Farley the benefit of the choice of farther versus further, but then Farley writes, "...Culbreath hasn't bothered to inform him who he should call in the event of an outbreak." Shouldn't who be whom in this case because it is the object in the predicate clause?

Writing correctly is hard work so I criticize neither Culbreath nor Farley, who wrote a balanced piece. No one is perfect. In fact, if you reread my first paragraph, you will find I too have shortcomings.

Debra Decker

Rose Farley was right about a couple of things: Dallas County could have done a better job explaining our Health Department reorganization, and Betty Culbreath's passion sometimes gets the best of her.

However, your story does not convey the depth of Culbreath's commitment to delivering better services. You mention her personal sincerity, but not her management record of expanding and improving services to indigents, the homeless, senior citizens, and HIV-positive clients of the Human Services Department for the past six years.

Culbreath was promoted to lead the new Health and Human Services Department because members of the Commissioners Court believed unanimously that she will provide able and effective leadership for our Health Department.

Dallas County posted advertisements several weeks ago for a medical director and epidemiologist to provide the necessary medical leadership in our department, and Culbreath has met with the Dallas County Medical Society to discuss future plans. Dr. Charles Haley, the department's former epidemiologist, has been retained as a consultant until the position is permanently filled, and Culbreath has tendered an offer to a local physician to fill the medical director's position.

One statement in Rose Farley's story was obvious hyperbole. I agree that members of our Commissioners Court are "moral conservatives and fiscal fundamentalists," neither of which sounds like an insult to me, but it is a silly distortion of our county government for Farley to say that court members "never saw a social program they didn't want to gut or a salary they didn't want to freeze." She presents only one bit of evidence to support this jibe, an admittedly very bitter fight over condoms and bleach kits which was a very atypical issue.

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