March 1, 2002 by  
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In Your Face

by Roger Gray

By the Way, Enron in Spanish is “Argentina”

Last month, I mentioned that former Enron chief Ken Lay has taken to wearing a burka around town. One can only hope it will be replaced with an orange jumpsuit. There was a moment during the Army-McCarthy hearings when the army’s attorney Joseph Welch turned to the blustering phony from Wisconsin and said courageously, “At long last, have you no decency left, sir?” Given the deceit, influence peddling, self-enrichment, ruined futures and ruined lives for crying out loud, one might reasonably ask the same of the Kenster. If the Justice Department can find someone untainted by Enron’s cash, a Diogenes-level assignment, there is a career to be made in this.

This Just In

Elmer Perkins, a farmer in Marfa, has just recused himself from the Enron case.

Profiles in Courage

Well, actually, there are none. Let’s start with the only president we have. As Bob Dole said and George Will echoed, “Where is the outrage?” First, it’s ridiculous to paint Enron as a nest of Democrats when three-quarters of the $2.3 million in soft money given to both parties in the 1996 and 2000 federal elections, the $900,000 given since 1989 in statewide races, the $329,000 to Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Phil Gramm (whose wife Wendy is an Enron board member and as a couple are the unofficial cabana boys to Enron) went to Republicans. It is weaseling worthy of Bush’s predecessor. So far, it doesn’t appear there was any undue effort expended on Enron’s behalf, but that’s OK. They carried enough Enron water in the past year to embarrass Gunga Din.

Did Dick Cheney lobby India for Enron? One memo seems to indicate the invisible VP was Ken’s messenger boy.

Did Enron flunkies help write the Bush administration’s energy plan? We don’t know because, like Hillary’s health care task force, the meetings were held in secret.

And are we to believe that Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill and Commerce Secretary Donald Evans got a call from Kenneth seeking help to avert the largest bankruptcy in American history and didn’t tell the prez? It’s as tough to swallow as the pretzel deal.

And although Republicans were the primary recipients of Enron’s political ATM, Democrats also have been on the dole, and they are scrambling to cover their tracks. What this illustrates is that John McCain, yet another Enron target, is right. The system stinks, and both parties are mud wrestling in this money pit.

Given that, remember when listening to the evening news and ranting talk show hosts that payback is hell. What would be happening right now if Bill Clinton were president? Three books on the Clinton/Enron scandal would be in galleys as we speak.

Or Perhaps Laura Winged a D-Cell at Him?It?s Happened at The White House Before

I for one have a lot of trouble with the pretzel/collapse story. And if you’re wolfing down pretzels at such a rate that you pull a Mama Cass and end up facedown in the Karastan, the question occurs: What gave you such a bad case of the munchies? As Bush family food events go, though, at least GW didn?t ralph on a foreign dignitary.

And Michael Milkin is Handling City Investments

Does it make all of you feel as secure as it does me to know that our City Council, the electoral equivalent of Homer Simpson, has approved the hiring of – drum roll please – Arthur Andersen Accounting to handle some city business? Mercifully, the motion to hire O.J. as a city pitchman has been tabled.

Hot Off the Wires

Mrs. Ethel Morgenstern, a Wharton housewife, has recused herself from the Enron case.

Pat Metheny

March 1, 2002 by  
Filed under Edit

Speaking of Jazz

20 Minutes with Pat Metheny

by Fred Morales

During a musical career that has spanned more than 20 years, jazz guitarist Pat Metheny has developed a reputation for blurring and obliterating stylistic conventions in pursuit of a truly unique sound. Fans the world over recognize his innovative playing, and his work remains on the cutting edge of modern jazz.

With the release of “Speaking of Now,” their 11th album, the Pat Metheny Group returns to Houston after a three-year absence. Forming the core of the group is Metheny, keyboardist and group co-founder Lyle Mays and veteran bass player Steve Rodby. New members of the group include Antonio Sanchez on drums, Richard Bona on percussion and vocals and Cuong Vu on trumpet. Recently, H Texas spoke to Metheny from his home in New York City.

Let me just say that I’ve enjoyed your work since the release of “American Garage” in 1980. Now after listening to the new album, “Speaking of Now,” I’m just blown away. What would you say was the main inspiration behind this collection of tunes?

Well, I would say that every time we get together with the Group it’s a special thing. I mean this is a band that at this point has a fairly significant history – I mean you just mentioned an album that was recorded 20-some years ago. It’s really been a long continuous research project into music, trying to figure out some real alternative ways to think about things. That word “alternative” gets thrown around a lot now, but it’s probably a little bit forgotten how unusual our approach was when we first started relative to what had happened in jazz before that. I think the basic premise that we started on has never exactly gone away. We’re still working on a lot of the same ideas, trying to blend electric and acoustic instruments together in unusual and hopefully good, responsible, musical ways that people will enjoy.

So having said all that, it’s like, OK, we’re going to get together and do a new record. It was time to kind of shake things up in the band a little bit. The major changes in the rhythm section, with an incredible new drummer in Antonio, I think in many ways is the major inspiration for a lot of the new music. He’s got a range of things he can do stylistically and still sound like a jazz drummer. I’ve been able to play with most of the great drummers in jazz, and there hasn’t really been anybody quite like him show up for quite a while.

So a lot of the music was sort of built around that. Then we realized that we’ve got this whole platform as a rhythm section going, and so we did a bunch of auditions, and both Richard and Cuong emerged as these incredibly gifted and quite well-known musicians who wanted to play with us. Like Antonio, they had both grown up listening to our group and really wanted to do the gig.

So we found ourselves with this all-star band with very distinct and unique and wonderful personalities, and writing for that was stimulating and a real pleasure.

It sounds like it’s been an exciting process just assembling the members of the band.

It really has been. From the early days of the group, we’ve enjoyed it, and it’s really satisfying to see how successful the band has become and that we’ve actually managed to survive. But this was especially rewarding. I think we’re all really happy with the way the record came out and to see what it will be like to do a tour with everybody in this lineup.

It seems as though many fans would simply like to hear some of your older songs over and over again. Do those ever get old to you?

Well, to tell you the truth, there are a bunch of those older tunes that I probably could play 24 hours a day. I mean, I just never get tired of playing “Are You Going With Me?” or some of the older stuff.

There are bands that seem to completely reinvent themselves every few years, and we’ve certainly had our little tangents, but the basic premise of what we’re trying to do has remained intact. This new record, with these three new guys who grew up listening to us, made us look back at stuff that we had done in the past and say, “Wow, here are these three great musicians that were influenced by us. What did we do exactly?”

Let’s talk a little bit about Houston. Several prominent musicians are from here, including Kirk Whalum, Joe Sample, Ronnie Laws, to name a few. How would you describe Houston audiences?

Houston’s great, but just a little unpredictable. It seems to change every few years. I’m thinking maybe more so during the eighties, during the boom and bust. Houston has a good reputation as a jazz town from other musicians on tour.

But Houston is one of those places where, just like all across America, people tend to want to stay home now. I’m from Kansas City and it’s the same way there. It takes a lot to motivate people to get into their cars and come check out your show. That?s why interviews like this are so important, because we need to get the message out about what we’re doing. But we always do well in Houston.

The Pat Metheny Group, Verizon Wireless Theater, Saturday, March 30, 8 p.m.

For tickets visit www.ticketmaster.com.

How to Choose a Realtor

March 1, 2002 by  
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Have Your Say

Choosing the right Realtor for you

by Wendy Wall

Unless you are an expert on property taxes, real estate values, real estate law, home loans and title searches, you are going to need to build a solid team for your home buying transaction. Having a good team to work with can make a huge difference in how well your closing goes.

With the home buying process, think of yourself as the general manager of a team and your Realtor as the team coach. But how do you find the right Realtor for you? What should you expect from this person? Who do you need on this team?

You will, and should, expect a lot from your Realtor. This person will help you build your team and guide you safely through the potentially turbulent waters of the home buying process. Your Realtor’s job is not just to help you pick out a home, there’s a whole lot more to the process than meets the eye. Also keep in mind one very important point – make sure you use a Realtor. There is a difference between a Realtor and a licensed real estate agent. The Realtor has taken classes and exams, has earned this designation and abides by a strict code of ethics, much like an architect or an attorney.

But how do you locate them? Well, I asked family members, friends, work associates, even my insurance company. And while you get a lot of good leads from your friends, it isn’t enough. You need to research the people, their brokerage firm and interview the Realtor. One of the best ways to research the firm and the Realtor is to log onto www.har.com. Every Realtor in town is listed here, and you can search by name or broker.

If you are relocating to a new city, call your favorite real estate broker to see whom they work with in other markets, or you can ask your human resources department where you work for leads.

Another option is to visit open houses in the different neighborhoods that you like and speak with Realtors. You may find a company or person that you click with immediately.

Managing your expectations: You may wonder what you need to ask in the interview. Well, the first thing you are looking for is a gut check. Are you comfortable with this person? Does this Realtor make you feel at ease? Ask questions like how long have they been in the real estate business. What was the average price of the homes that they helped their clients buy and sell? What are their primary neighborhoods? How do they communicate? The last two questions are very important. You probably do not want a Realtor who works in the downtown area if you are looking for a house in The Woodlands. The communication question is vital. Nothing can sour a relationship faster than a Realtor calling you every five minutes when you communicate primarily via e-mail.

Picking the players: Here’s another place where your Realtor will really come in handy. Before you can close on your house, you will need: an inspector, a mortgage company, an insurance carrier, a title company, a real estate attorney and an appraiser. All of these people, with your Realtor juggling the appointments and leading the charge, work together so that you meet your projected closing date. For example, with regards to your mortgage company, your Realtor can give you a few different companies when you begin your search and also can help you find out about bond money or learn about other local, state or federal incentive programs in your area.

There are a few rules of etiquette that you also will need to follow. Toni Nelson, Houston Association of Realtors – secretary/treasurer, says to -make sure that you are aboveboard and honest with your Realtor. Your Realtor cannot help you if they do not know all of your circumstances. If you have poor credit, child support or student loans, tell your Realtor. It’s their job to steer you in the right direction to help you overcome that obstacle.

Nelson adds that as a consumer, you need to make sure that you work with only one Realtor at a time. It’s not fair to work with one person and then let another one receive the commission. It also is important to explain to your Realtor where you are in the process. Are you waiting six months to buy a house and just want to learn the market right now? Let your Realtor know this, so that they can put you on a timeline that?s right for you.

Houston’s Pet Problem

March 1, 2002 by  
Filed under Edit

Giving Animals a Voice

Houston’s pet problem not news to Lisa Foronda

When she’s not on television finishing one newscast and preparing for another, KHOU Channel 11 anchor/reporter Lisa Foronda likes to spend some time with her friends – among them, Indy, Bailey, Gabby and Katy.

“People are important, but pets are important, too,” says Foronda, who grew up in Tampa, Fla., surrounded by pets. “Pets are the greatest friends you can have because they give unconditional love. They’re not going to criticize you, and if you have a horrible day at work, you can go home, and they’re just happy to see you. They love you no matter what. They don’t nag. They just want to come up and lick your face.”

Her tone is lighthearted, but for Foronda, responsible pet ownership is a serious matter. She is a vocal advocate of spaying and neutering, and she donates her time generously to organizations such as the Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (HSPCA) and the Spay-Neuter Assistance Program (SNAP). Additionally, she can be seen Saturday mornings on “Pet Project,” a news segment promoting pet care and adoption.

“Not everyone in this country at this time has the financial resources to donate (to these organizations), but you can always donate your time, or, at the very least, if you?re a pet owner, you can spay or neuter your pet,” says Foronda. Through her involvement in these organizations, she sees the effects that irresponsible pet ownership has unleashed – the unwanted, abandoned animals that roam the city, existing on what they can scrounge up and perpetuating an already bad situation through unrestricted breeding.

“There are stray animals all over this town. You can’t even count them all,” she says. “There’s a problem everywhere, all over the world, with animals that are just left to multiply.”

Of her two dogs and two cats, all but Indy, a golden retriever (posed with Foronda on the cover), are from animal shelters. For Foronda, it’s simply about educating the public about how to be responsible pet owners and to have their pets spayed or neutered. “Those are the two main things – pet owner education and spaying and neutering,” she says. “Of course, that’s true of education for just about anything. The more educated we are about any subject, the better able we are to make good decisions about it.”

Foronda first became involved in animal welfare when she moved to Houston a little more than four years ago. “I just kind of fell into it here. I guess it was just a natural extension of my love for animals,” she says. “I’ve always been around (animals). I’ve always had a pet of some sort.”

While Foronda and other advocates see some of the effects of the pet overpopulation problem, people such as Patricia Mercer, the HSPCA’s executive director, have seen the ugly side of it – sights and scenes that would make most recoil in disgust.

HSPCA: the victims’ voice

She chooses her words thoughtfully as she speaks about the horror of animal abuse and what must be done to bring the violators to justice. “They (animals) are not only the victims, they are the evidence,” says Mercer of the many investigations that must be conducted each year when people abuse or neglect animals. Mercer has spent 18 years at the helm of the organization and has seen it all.

The HSPCA receives nearly 40,000 animals every year, or about 100 a day, including dogs, cats, horses, goats, cattle, pigs, small mammals, exotic animals such as tigers and monkeys and wild animals such as wolves. For the majority, the agency and its many devoted associates bend over backwards to try to find responsible homes for these displaced creatures.

Additionally, the HSPCA responds to more than 4,000 calls annually of animal abuse, cruelty and neglect. Its investigations department is staffed by six full-time cruelty investigators. These dedicated professionals are responsible for covering more than 2,664 square miles with a total human population of about 3.2 million. Combined, they drive more than 7,000 miles each month.

The HSPCA cruelty investigators work closely with other humane organizations and with law enforcement officials, both locally and nationally, to provide specialized training and assistance for cases involving animal cruelty, as well as manpower for coordinated rescue efforts. Demand for the organization’s services is tremendous, and all reports of animal cruelty, neglect and abuse are taken seriously and handled professionally. “The mission of the HSPCA is to promote respect for all animals and free them from suffering and abuse,” says Mercer.

And the suffering and abuse is not always limited to animals, suggests the FBI. The nation’s top crime-fighting agency has stated that there is often a link between animal abuse and human violence. Violent offenders, according to the FBI, regularly start with pets. Jim Boller, chief investigator for the HSPCA has helped train Houston police officers in the identification and handling of animal cruelty and neglect for exactly this reason. When Boller goes to the scene of a suspected cruelty case, he collects evidence – bloody carpet, photos of decaying animal carcasses and, often, the animals themselves.

He, like Mercer, sees the ugly side of pet overpopulation and abuse, but slowly over time, these two, Foronda and many other dedicated people are making a difference in the quality of life for those who cannot speak for themselves.

Spay Neuter Assistance Program

March 1, 2002 by  
Filed under Edit

Taking it to the Streets

Everyone has seen the stray dogs and cats that call the streets of Houston home. You can’t miss them. They haunt the backs of restaurants and convenience stores asking for handouts. They troll schoolyards hoping for leftovers from a lunchbox or the chance to follow a sympathetic child home. They lie lifeless on the sides of rural streets and busy highways, the products of a losing battle with a machine-driven world. Now a local organization is taking the solution to the streets.

When they see stray animals, most people are haunted by the question, “Where will they end up?”

But at least one Houstonian asked a different question. “How does Houston’s stray animal problem start?” More importantly, he asked, “How can we stop it?” Then he went even further. He came up with the answers.

Sean Hawkins, executive director of the Spay-Neuter Assistance Program (SNAP), started focusing on Houston’s stray animal problem at an age when most of his peers were focusing on homecoming dates and algebra homework.

“When I was about 13 years old, CAP (Citizens for Animal Protection) built their first shelter a few blocks from my parents’ house,” Hawkins says. “From day one, I walked down to help with the critters. Eventually, that included helping to euthanize the animals. There was one weekend when we had to euthanize over 100 puppies and kittens. I remember saying to myself, ‘When I grow up, I’m going to do something to prevent homeless dogs and cats.'”

He was only 15 years old at the time, but his commitment to do something has lasted through the years and made SNAP a true Houston success story.

During his years at Stratford Senior High School and then the University of Houston, Hawkins became increasingly involved in helping the homeless, injured and diseased animals crowding Houston’s hectic streets. Sadly, it was obvious that no matter how hard he and others worked at supporting and operating shelters, they just couldn’t keep up with the number of homeless animals being born.

At the same time that he was attending college and volunteering with animal protection organizations, Hawkins was spending his nights working full-time as an animal health technician at an emergency vet clinic. Here, he mastered the skills of caring for animals before, during and after surgery. He also learned about all that goes into running an animal surgery unit.

In 1989, Hawkins first combined his skills as a nonprofit organizer and animal health professional by working with City of Houston Animal Control to start Houston?s first free spay and neuter clinic. Animal Control provided an empty room. Local clinics donated supplies and pharmaceuticals. Veterinarians volunteered to do surgeries at no charge, and Hawkins called upon his network of animal lovers to staff the office. All pet owners had to do was show financial need, and their animals would be spayed or neutered without their owners having to pay a cent. It didn?t take long for word to get out and clients to show up at the door. But there weren?t as many as there should have been.

“The problem was that the community we were targeting had no way of getting to the clinic,” Hawkins says. “Animals aren’t allowed on public transportation. So even though we were eliminating surgery fees as a barrier, the services still weren’t accessible to the pet owners who really needed them most.”

Because pet owners struggling to make ends meet often can’t afford vet care, low-income neighborhoods often become the breeding ground for future generations of homeless cats and dogs. According to SNAP literature, two breeding cats with all their offspring generate 420,000 cats in just six years, and two breeding dogs with all their offspring produce 67,000 dogs in seven years. Hawkins knew that spaying and neutering pets in low-income neighborhoods would make a huge difference in animal overpopulation. The problem was how to get the animals to the clinic. Or was it?

Like many innovators, Hawkins had his “a-ha” moment in the unlikeliest of places. He didn’t come up with his answer to preventing homeless pets in an association boardroom or even a vet clinic. It came to him when he was at a football game with his partner Jay Mueller.

“The idea solidified when I was out running around with Jay in some of his work,” Hawkins says. “He was setting up satellite transmissions at sporting events. We’d pull up at a stadium or a football field in this truck and have the entire video production facility in the back.

“It was at one of those setups that it hit me. If they can do all that in the back of a truck, why can’t we put a mobile surgery in the back of a truck? Then we wouldn’t have to figure out how to get animals to the clinic – we?d take the clinic to them.”

In 1993, Hawkins got busy making his idea a reality. His first task was to figure out how to pay for a mobile spay/neuter surgery clinic. Like all good nonprofit fundraisers, he started with the people he knew. He remembered meeting Houston Rockets owner Leslie and Nanci Alexander at a CAP fundraiser, and that turned out to be a great place to start. The Alexander Foundation gave SNAP its first check in the form of a $35,000 grant, the amount needed to purchase the basic truck.

Now that Hawkins knew what he wanted to do and had a grant that was going to pay for it, he just had to figure out if it was possible.

“I basically called truck companies and said, ‘This is my idea. Can we make it work?'” he says. “It had never been done before, so nobody knew if it could be done or not.”

General Truck Body, a local Houston company, attacked the project with gusto, and that’s what got them the job. Hawkins says that there was a lot of head scratching at first, but the designers at General Truck Body worked with him and went back and forth with options until they found the right combination. After many meetings, the designers transformed Hawkins’ napkin-scrawled notes into design drawings. They also gave him an estimate of how much it would cost to build it all in the back of a truck. The first mobile animal surgical unit in the world was only another $100,000 away.

Fundraising wasn’t foreign to Hawkins by now. He’d raised money for each of the organizations he’d worked with in the past, and he already had one grant commitment in hand, but now he faced some new obstacles.

“We got a lot of criticism when we were trying to build the first mobile surgery,” Hawkins says. “Some local animal protection leaders and vets said it was unsafe, and that hurt us. There was that fear of the unknown because it hadn?t ever been done before.”

In addition, some private practice vets disapproved of SNAP seeking funding to provide top-quality care for animals in low-income families. They expressed the opinion that people who can’t afford pets shouldn’t have them. Hawkins dismisses this idea as unrealistic. He says that low-income families do have pets regardless of anyone?s opinion of whether they should or not.

“And our taxes pay for it,” he adds. “It costs taxpayers $150 to send out a truck to pick up a stray, shelter it for 72 hours, destroy it and send the body to a landfill. It costs SNAP $60 to spay an animal. Not only is prevention kinder, prevention is cheaper.”

Despite the negativity and disapproval of some, the Hershey Foundation and the Houston Endowment stepped up with the additional funding needed to build the first truck. Hawkins didn’t waste any time putting the money to good use. In 1994, only one year after that ‘a-ha’ moment, the first mobile spay/neuter surgery clinic in the world was operational on Houston’s streets.

The outside of the SNAP mobile surgery doesn’t look much different from any of the thousands of moving vans and cargo trucks on Houston?s highways. It’s just an unassuming box behind an Isuzu cab. But inside that box, all similarities to a moving van disappear. The interior is a cross between a space-shuttle cabin, a medical lab and an operating room. Every surface is gleaming stainless steel. Patients wait and recover in sturdy, built-in cages along one long wall. Along the other long wall, the vet technicians process paperwork and check charts. They make sure patients show proof of need such as food stamps, WIC or Major VA Disability. At the back, kept sterile behind a glass viewing window and more stainless steel, is the state-of-the-art operating room. Everything is precisely placed and sized to make the maximum use of limited space, which means the décor is Spartan, and people are squeezed into tight spaces. But there are no compromises when it comes to patient care.

“We use the same type of gas in our surgeries that they use in human hospitals,” Hawkins says. “Many private (animal) practices didn’t use this gas until recently. Our mobile clinics used it from the beginning, even when it was very expensive, because for our patients, it was the best choice.”

What about those vets and animal protection workers who said the mobile surgery wouldn’t be safe? The standard of care and uncompromising quality evident in the surgery itself has won over even the toughest skeptics. Hawkins says that vets who tour the truck usually walk away in awe after seeing facilities, technology and equipment to match or overshadow that in their own clinics.

While the initial funding paid for the truck to be built, the first year of operating the mobile surgery was one of pinching pennies and funding operations one day at a time. Hawkins, Mueller and a small group of volunteers drove the truck and worked as vet techs without pay. But it still took money to pay vets, buy supplies and maintain the truck.

“Literally, we’d have a garage sale on one weekend to pay a vet to work the next weekend,” he says. “We’d go for a couple of weeks at a time without operating. If we didn?t have the money, we didn?t do it.?

Then, SNAP’s guardian angel made an appearance. His name was Cleveland Amory. The noted humanitarian, founder of the Fund for Animals (FFA) and author was in Houston in 1994 on a book tour for “The Cat Who Came for Christmas.” His publicist needed someone to gather Houston’s animal lovers, and Hawkins got the call.

“When I met him, Amory said he’d heard about the mobile clinic and wanted to see it,” Hawkins says. “We happened to be operating that day, so I drove him out to see it. Then I flew to Dallas with him for the next stage of his book tour, and he offered me a job on the plane.”

As easy as that, Hawkins became the director of spay/neuter services for the FFA. His directive from Amory was to open mobile and stationary SNAP clinics just like the ones in Houston in other cities throughout the nation. Houston was to be the model that animal protection organizations throughout the world would follow, and the FFA would provide the financial backing needed to make it all work.

“We ran very successfully as part of the FFA until 1999,” Hawkins says. “But after Cleveland died in 1998, the board decided to get out of the spay and neuter business. They wanted to refocus on wildlife.”

Since going out on its own in 1999, SNAP has been rebuilding the infrastructure and support system it lost. But the primary focus is on getting money in the door to keep the clinics and surgeries open. So far, Hawkins and his team have been successful. The Houston operations continue to be the model upon which mobile spay/neuter operations around the world are based.

“We’ve worked with organizations in Israel, Hong Kong and Brazil,” Hawkins says. “We even had Russian vets come here to Houston to see how the mobile clinic works.”

SNAP also has been involved in every mobile clinic project developed in the United States since 1995. The expertise developed in Houston has gone into designing the trucks, the programs and the procedures for each of these projects, which now number more than 20 and spread from coast to coast.

“SNAP is Houston homegrown,” Hawkins says. “Because of what we’ve accomplished here, people come to us and either ask our advice on how to duplicate the program in another place or ask us to duplicate the program for them. When people say,” We will give you money to do this in other places,” that’s a great compliment for what we’ve done here in Houston.”

But the best compliment of all is in the number of animals SNAP has kept out of shelters by preventing overpopulation. In the four years that SNAP has been operating mobile surgery clinics, Hawkins says that, the number of animals ending up in shelters across the state of Texas is down by 16 percent. In Houston, that number has gone down by 22 percent.

“SNAP isn’t here to criticize the shelters,” he says. “They’re the real heroes. They take the animals no one else wants and either rehabilitate them or give them death with dignity. But we?d all be thrilled if there were no more need for shelters. That would be the ultimate success.”

Administrative offices:

Spay-Neuter Assistance Program
PO Box 70286, Houston, TX 77270
(713) 862-3863

Clinic for shots, heartworm testing, etc.:
Houston Wellness Clinic
1801 Durham Drive, Suite 1 at I-10, Houston, TX 77007
(713) 863-0010

Stationary low-cost spay and neuter clinic:
Houston Spay & Neuter Clinic
1603 Shepherd Drive
Houston, TX 77007
(713) 863-0010

The Web site and e-mail are the same for all three: www.snaptx.org :: snapinfo@snaptx.org

by Kelli D. Meyer

To: Ken Lay, CEO, Enron

March 1, 2002 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

To: Ken Lay, CEO, Enron
Houston, Texas

Dear Mr. Lay,

The directors of the Houston Couth Society deeply appreciate your most generous donations in the past, and we have enjoyed your serving on our board. Unfortunately, it has been brought to our attention that your term expired last summer. Silly us. So you will be spared the burden of having to attend any more of those long, dreadfully boring meetings. Best of luck and, if possible, keep the donations coming.

Dear Mr. Lay,

We here at the Former Enron Employees Club would like to extend to you an invitation to address our group at your convenience. We are open to any date since our calendars seem to be clear except on Wednesday afternoons when we pick up our check at the Texas Workforce Commission. The club meets for lunch in Memorial Park. You?ll love our Alpo hash, or as we call it, Ken-L Rations for the Lay-ed Off.

Mr. Ken Lay,

It is ?Ken? isn?t it? There seems to be some rumors in Washington that you and I met privately on several occasions to draft an energy plan for America. I, frankly, cannot recall any such meetings or even remember very much about you. Tall African-American? No, wait. You have a Norwegian accent and stutter, right?

Vice President Dick Cheney
Undisclosed Location
North America

To: Ken Lay, CEO, Enron
From: The Houston Sports Authority
Re: Enron Field

We note that the annual check of $3.3 million from Enron ? as part of a $100 million 30-year deal ? is overdue. If the payment is not received within seven (7) business days, we shall be forced to cancel your contract and go ahead with the bid from K-Mart.

Mr. Ken Lay,

As members of the House Committee on Opportunistic Investigations, we order you to appear before our panel to answer questions about Enron. We shall be meeting at 9:30 p.m. (EST) on Tuesday. That way, we get a bump from ?Frasier? and don?t have to go up against re-runs of ?Friends.?

To: Ken Lay, CEO, Enron
From: President George W. Bush
Return to sender

Dear Mr. Lay,

The executive committee here at Bull & Gluttony Stockbrokers, Inc. would like you to re-define ?financial hoop-rah? and ?megabucks? in that we currently possess 23-squillion shares of Enron stock based on the personal and expressed optimism of your company?s future prospects. Also, we would like to know just exactly what is it that Enron does?

Press Release – National Republican Party:

It is despicable that the Democratic National Committee attempts to link campaign contributions given by Enron CEO Ken Lay with his ability to pick up the phone and directly call three members of the Cabinet. It is a known fact that Americans have equal access to all members of this Administration. Indeed, John Ashcroft is having a backyard barbecue next Saturday, and everyone is welcome. And the Joint Chief?s Tank-a-Thon was a huge success. As for the Democrats, they are only angry that Lay didn?t give them as much.

Dear Ken,

There seems to be some misunderstanding about the work my company performed for Enron. We took your records at face value and, using ?usually accepted accounting practices? ? if you get my drift ? we found your books to be in order. Unfortunately, the Securities and Exchange Commission has been extremely picky in this entire matter. It would help my situation if you would put down in writing just how you lied, cheated, misrepresented and managed to conceal from my accountants the true economic picture of your company.

Arthur Andersen
PS: Please hurry. Sentencing is Friday.

Dear Ken,

Sorry to be so long in getting back to you. Bar and I have been busy with our new bread maker and before that we traveled a lot ? Galveston, Tomball, all over. So what?s new with you? I?ve been out of the loop.

PS: How?s the stutter? ih