CONGRATULATIONS TO SKIP HOLLANDSWORTH for his heartbreaking, brilliant piece on fatherhood at its worst [“Honor Thy Father,” June 1998]. I just hope all the other Bill Butterfields read it. What a tragedy that a kid with so many attributes is fettered by a felony for doing what anyone in his shoes would have done. His father? Good riddance to an abusive, weak failure who reaped what he sowed. The greatest strength is in gentleness.
JOHN R. BELL
I HOPE ALL THE FRIENDS of Lance Butterfield who were at the trial to show support will also be there for him when he returns home. Lance was the victim of his father, not the other way around. This young man and his family need our prayers and deserve sympathy and understanding for all they endured. Lance’s sentence should be commuted immediately.
LONESOME DOVE! I JUST CAN’T get enough of it [“ Dove Shoot,” June 1998]. What a magnificent layout of photographs by Bill Wittliff. Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones, and the others were a “picture perfect” cast.
JOHN W. BERNSTEIN
Ivan the Great
GOD BLESS MICHAEL GEFFNER for his article on Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez [“Diamond in the Rough,” June 1998]. Not only did Mr. Geffner show Mr. Rodriguez’s great family values, but also his love for baseball. The article was an inspiration: It showed that if you want something badly enough, it doesn’t matter where you come from—anything is possible.
MARIE J. CASTILLO
THE FALL OF THE LAST PATRÓN” was unfair to me, my son, and to Rio Grande City [June 1998]. My son and I have wholly separate businesses, and he has never been charged with anything in his life. The charge referred to against me is no more than a fabrication regarding a routine business transaction: The government has criminalized many matters no one would ever think of as crimes, and reform is needed. Note that I have not entered a plea with regard to the government’s case against me—as Sheriff Falcón did. Pleas are for those with something to cover up.
People were not blasé about our lawsuit against Sheriff Falcón; we received many congratulatory phone calls indicating otherwise. That a judge ruled for Sheriff Falcón is incorrect. We had an agreed judgment, but we believe Sheriff Falcón violated that agreement. The judge did not find Sheriff Falcón in contempt of that agreement, but that was before Sheriff Falcón pleaded guilty to bribery. We have appealed and await the court’s ruling.
Also, bail bonding is not feeding off the bottom but the top. Bail is a constitutional right; otherwise, let us recall the Third Reich. Yes, there is poverty in Rio Grande City, but there are also multimillion-dollar agribusinesses that feed the world and an escalating tourism business, something of a Hill Country of the Valley, with its historic sights, a bed and breakfast, a one-of-a-kind mall, and more fine cuisine than in larger towns. It’s not just a dusty spot on the road.
You jeopardized our right to a fair trial in both cases. We didn’t harm Sheriff Falcón’s business; he harmed ours.
ERNESTO C. CASTANEDA
Rio Grande City
I HAVE MET ERNESTO ROJAS SERNA and have a great respect for him and his gentle-touch training methods [Profile: “Horse Sense,” June 1998], but there is another Texas gentleman who also deserves recognition. Craig Cameron, from Bluff Dale, has dedicated his life to educating people about the soft-touch method of communication and understanding of horse handling—his method of teaching is not limited to the horse. He has transformed many a horse owner who arrived timid, unsure, with no confidence in his or her horsemanship skills.
GIVEN MY FOUR YEARS OF EXPERIENCE as a physician’s assistant providing medical care for inmates, I can say that Texas inmates receive medical care that is as good as—in many cases better and faster than—that provided to Texas citizens by their HMOs [Texas Monthly Reporter: “Rx for Scandal,” June 1998]. Oftentimes inmates come to prison with existing problems and expect to have them fixed at the taxpayers’ expense. Our protocols allow us to refer inmates for surgery for what in many cases are elective surgeries not covered in many health plans. HOWARD K. BENNETT
CONSIDER ME HARD-HEARTED BUT I have little sympathy for those incarcerated in Texas prisons. They are there by choice: Their own activities have divorced them from society—a society that, by the way, is hard-pressed to tend to the needs of its law-abiding citizens. Why, then, are we so concerned about the well-being of those who would destroy us?
C. H. HUTTANUS
JORDAN MACKAY’S ARTICLE ABOUT the mohair industry and Angora goat producers was informative, with the exception of his reference to the mohair incentive payments as subsidies [Texas Monthly Reporter: “Woolly,” June 1998]. The National Wool Act of 1954 instituted an incentive payment program to encourage more production of wool and mohair, paid for by an existing tariff on imported wool and mohair. The payments in any year were limited to no more than 70 percent of the total duties collected. The incentive was based on the dollar amount of hair sold, not on pounds of hair produced. The better the hair, the more it brought at market and the more “incentive” the producer received.
Over the life of the payments, the tariff generated more than $9.2 billion, of which only a little more than $3 billion went out to producers. That means almost $6.2 billion went into the general fund of the United States. Furthermore, the tariff is still in place, and the money from it still goes into the general fund. Vice President Al Gore and Congress repealed the Wool Act, telling the public that the incentives came out of taxpayers’ pockets. Tell me how it was costing the taxpayers when it was going to the producers of American wool and mohair.