THREE WORDS ABOUT your January 2007 cover: incredibly bad taste.
Wichita Falls

PLEASE TELL ME what is the significance of an isolated accident that occurred on a private outing among friends. This was a cheap shot (no pun intended).

VICE PRESIDENT Dick Cheney is by no means on my list of favorite people, but your unfortunate decision to publish this cover is simply another testimony of how shallow, sick, and distorted much of our society has become.

PERHAPS IF YOU showed more respect for elected leaders, instead of trying to disgrace them, you would have more subscribers and would not have to resort to scare tactics for sales.

I SEE THAT YOU’VE accomplished your goal of becoming the hillbilly version of the National Enquirer.

YOUR COVER BROUGHT to mind a headline that I saw on the Internet around the time our vice president blasted his hunting partner: “A Grateful Nation, Weary of Friendly Fire Accidents During Wartime, Thanks Dick Cheney for Getting Five Draft Deferrals During the Vietnam War.”
El Paso

BRAVO ON THE JANUARY cover and also for giving credit where credit is due in the editor’s letter. The January 1973 death issue of National Lampoon is indeed a classic, as many of the Lampoon covers were, but, as you may know, in the editors’ section of the February 1973 issue of National Lampoon, there was a photo of the dead pooch and a tongue-in-cheek scolding of the readership for not buying enough issues of the magazine to save the dog’s life. I myself did not contribute to the canine’s demise, having purchased the issue way back then. It’s too bad that Texas Monthly didn’t have the gun pointed to Dick Cheney’s head. As a longtime subscriber, I would have canceled my subscription in a heartbeat.
via e-mail

Power Play

S. C. GWYNNE’S “Coal Hard Facts” is a thoroughly researched, well-written, and engaging piece of journalism covering a complex and critical issue [January 2007]. Unfortunately, it includes one statement attributed to me that lacks full context. It mistakenly suggests that I believe that, in establishing policy for the electric power industry, state legislators “do not have a seat at the table.” Nothing could be further from the truth. I regret that I failed to adequately communicate my point.

Obviously, state legislators are responsible for developing and overseeing the Texas electric industry’s competitive framework, which is the nation’s best functioning electric market. In fact, my exact language was “People are asking, ‘Where’s my seat at the table?’ ” as it pertains to the permitting process for new power plants. I was trying to say that, while large cities and industrial customers had a role in approving capital investment and setting rates in the old regulated era, when regulated utilities were guaranteed a rate of return, today’s competitive market no longer requires that those parties debate financial guarantees and investments. Under competition, electric companies assume those risks. We must compete successfully and make practical decisions on how best to meet the needs of customers—without guaranteed returns.

Clearly, I understand that the Texas Legislature has a “seat at the table” in governing this industry and ensuring that this market continues to deliver the anticipated benefits to all stakeholders. No one should believe that I think otherwise.

Punch Line

A BIT OF CONTEXT may help readers understand how I became unfortunately entangled with Dan Patrick, as described in “Here Comes Trouble” [January 2007]. While the article says I “assaulted” Patrick during the eighties, that’s just not so. That allegation was made by Patrick in the wake of events outside the nightclub he owned with former Houston Rocket Robert Reid. (By the way, Reid testified on my behalf.)

Yes, yes, I know that Mimi Swartz says later in her piece that I was found not guilty of the assault allegation, but the article initially
adopted Patrick’s self-serving version of events. As I was to find out on the night in question, Patrick didn’t appreciate a Houston Post column item that I had written about him. Anyway, when Patrick saw me at the club, he began to scream at me at the top of his lungs. My wife, Maria Teresa Espinoza Harasim (she’s now my ex), and I hurriedly decided to leave. Patrick came running after us. My wife, trying to talk sense into Patrick, stood between us in the parking lot. In his attempt to get at me, Patrick bent my wife’s thumb back and deliberately stepped on her foot. I then came to my wife’s defense.

Patrick, not surprisingly, left out the information about what he did to my wife when he ran to prosecutors. When my wife, who received medical treatment, tried to file charges against Patrick, we were told he had beaten her to the courthouse. By the way, my ex testified in court that as Patrick attacked her, he called her a “dirty Mexican.” And it should be noted that the criminal case was tried in court and I was found not guilty by Judge Don Hendrix within seconds of the end of testimony.


CHRISTOPHER KELLY gripes about almost every single aspect of Friday Night Lights [Reporter, Hollywood, TX, “Fumble!” January 2007], from handheld cameras to too many stereotypes. (Stereotypes? Let’s revisit Dallas and Walker, Texas Ranger. Aren’t we glad to have those behind us?)

I am willing to declare outright that Friday Night Lights is the only show to ever, ever get Texas, especially small-town Texas. This is not Hollywood’s version of Texas, something to placate us. This is Texas—the Texas of Dairy Queens and dollar stores.

Get out of your nice offices more often and go visit this Texas. It has a right nice feel to it, the feel of living all week for Friday’s paycheck and a football game.