HIV SURVEY INACCURATE SAYS HEALTH CENTER BRASS

BY MARGARET HUSER AND DAI HUYNG

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

An HIV survey indicating that UH students were infected with the virus at a rate twice the national college average is probably misleading, UH health officials said.

The statistics are not reflective of the overall UH student population, rather they are a measure of how many students who have had their blood tested at the UH Health Center are HIV positive, said Billie Smith, UH Health Center director.

UH consists of about 33,000 students, and only 437 students were tested for the HIV virus.

Smith interpreted the results as surprisingly low, depending on how one looks at the results and what they are compared to.

"Considering we live in a metropolitan area ranked the highest in AIDS incidence in the state of Texas, the numbers are low," she said.

Based on the sample, and not the overall population, only two people out of the 437 students tested were HIV positive.

According to UH officials, the Houston Chronicle's account of the survey's findings were sensationalistic.

Smith, unhappy with the Chronicle's report, which states that UH has one of the worst infection rates, said she is in the process of drafting a response letter.

"The Chronicle made unnecessary generalizations about the findings, and the headline was completely irresponsible," Smith said.

The Health Center's chief nurse, Barbara Brown, said "The article was very unprofessional and it's not what I expected from the Houston Chronicle," she said.

Some professionals completely disagree with the method of sampling involved with the college health center testing.

Kenneth Dirk, director of the Texas A&M Health Center, said "Because of the present constraints involved with a study of the AIDS virus or determining HIV carriers, Texas A&M would not have any part in such a study."

There could not be an accurate estimation of the student population with HIV unless the whole population was tested, Dirk said.

UH was one of 35 randomly selected United States colleges involved with the 1990 study.

Between Sept. 1, 1989, and Dec. 31, 1990, the Health Center recieved $5,000 to participate in the study co-sponsored by the Houston Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and the American College Health Association.

The center went through a lengthy process of eliminating any identification, and does not have access to the identity of the two patients who were tested positive.

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

APPROVAL NEEDED FOR NEW CENTER

BY DAI HUYNH

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

Despite the sign announcing the proposed site for the new UH Alumni Center, officials say groundbreaking for the facility will not begin until internal disputes over the $6 million project are solved.

Plans for the center, which is scheduled to be located on the corner of Calhoun and Elgin, are still being worked out in the Project Planning Committee, said UH Alumni Organization Executive Vice President Frank Holmes.

Although the architects and the contractor have not yet been approved by President Marguerite Ross Barnett or the Board of Regents, the project is well under way and alumni members hope to get it completed within the next year, Holmes said.

However, nothing is definite, and anything said concerning the new alumni center is purely speculative, Interim Vice President for Administration and Finance Tom Jones said.

Holmes said that about $5.5 million has been raised for the estimated $6 million facility.

Leroy Melcher started the campaign drive for the new building by donating $2 million toward the facility. Holmes said that the campaign to raise more money for the center will continue.

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

FORMER PROF DIES

BY FRANK M. ROSSI

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

George R. Bunker, art professor emeritus and former chairman of the Art Department, died of natural causes Tuesday morning at his home. He had been suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was 68 years old and a widower.

Bunker came to UH in 1974 and served as art department chair from his arrival at UH until 1983. He retired in 1986.

He was a printmaker and a painter and he also taught painting, drawing and printmaking to undergraduates and graduates at UH.

While at UH, he also started the Print Study Collection in the Art Department.

Bunker attracted many famous artists to UH, including Gael Stack, Derek Boshier, Ed Hill and Suzanne Bloom.

In addition, he had his work displayed at the Harris Gallery and had a one-man show at the Glassell School of Art, which is part of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts.

Before coming to UH, Bunker was the director of the Fine Arts department at the Philadelphia College of Art from 1955 to 1972. He was also the faculty dean from 1965 to 1972.

He then served as a visiting professor at the University of New Mexico from 1973 to 1974.

Marti Mayo, director of the Blaffer Gallery, said Bunker was a major part of the Houston art community.

"The city has lost a great friend of the arts. He was the genius behind the UH department and he brought many great artists to UH," she said.

She added that he was philanthropic as well.

"He was a generous and cultivated man. He donated time and money quietly and constructively. No one will know all the causes of which he was a benefactor," she said.

She also said he was an innovator in education.

"He was a master with a vision, and he stressed the importance of visual arts in education," she said.

A private ceremony will be held at Bunker's summer home on Great Cranberry Island off the coast of Maine.

A public memorial service will be held in Houston this fall. No date has been set.

A scholarship has been formed in George Bunker's name, and donations can be made through the UH Foundation.

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

ALUMNI GOING ON THEIR OWN:

MOVING OUT

BY DAI HUYNH

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

Seeking more autonomy in its decision making, the UH Alumni Organization has begun to implement its plan to break away from the university.

In a summary statement, AO states that a more autonomous organizational structure will allow it to direct its own staff and carry out policies and programs unimpeded by competing interests and changing priorities.

"Even in the very best of circumstances, the AO's chief administrator should not be held accountable to both the board and a university, as it places his or her credibility and effectiveness at risk," the summary states.

For example, AO Director Frank Holmes had to report to the AO Board of Directors and the UH administration, resulting in disagreements over whose authority held precedence.

Independence from the university would provide greater flexibility in terms of staff structure and would allow a more streamlined, efficient method of conducting the organization's business, assuring that the staff is focused on the board's priorities and programs, states the summary.

AO President Stanley Binion said there were some misunderstandings over whether the university's administrators or the AO board has the power to dismiss an AO employee.

"The university perhaps widely believed that the staff was their employees and they should take their marching orders from the university. There was that little problem and

this (AO's self-governance) certainly resolves that problem because AO is a corporate entity, and it has a board of directors who are perfectly capable of supervising the activities of their staff," he said.

Binion said both he and President Marguerite Ross Barnett believe an independent AO will be beneficial to the university and AO.

"That's what she intends. That's what we both intend. So we're not at odds," he said. "Originally, there might have been some misunderstanding of what we were doing and that caused some problems initially, but those have all been resolved. All those concerns -- I think -- have been resolved satisfactorily to everybody."

Vice President for External Affairs David Keith said the university has been encouraging AO to become independent for many years.

Binion said, "It was not the spur of the moment thing. The decision to break away had nothing to do with the administration. It was just an objective of ours that we have pursued for a long time."

AO's membership stands at about 16,000 members and is steadily increasing, providing AO with the monetary funds to support itself, Binion said.

"Also the funding from the university to the AO has decreased thru the years, and we anticipate that this year, if the funding from the Legislature is as skimpy as it may be, our funding from the university would have been cut back drastically," he said.

"We're still hoping and expecting that the university will be supportive of us, but by the same token we realize that because of the financial crunch, their ability to support us would have diminished," Binion said.

AO will officially become independent and self-governed September 1, but as of August 1 the staff of AO is no longer on the university payroll.

A Special Task Force for Recommendation on an Independent Alumni Organization has been set up by Barnett to distinguish what the university's and AO's duties will be.

"Questions such as what programs that they're currently involved in will continue to be their program, their housings and utilities have to be addressed," Keith said. "Hopefully, it will move very rapidly so the Alumni Organization can get some of these logistics things resolved so we'll know what direction we're going in."

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

POLICE BEAT

BY FRANK M. ROSSI

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

***BLOTTER***

7/30, 6:15 p.m., General Services: Parole violator apprehended

8/1, 1:34 a.m., 3814 Wheeler, Parole violator apprehended; 1:50 a.m., 3800 blk. Scott @ Wheeler: Two juveniles robbed another juvenile of his tennis shoes (both were arrested);

8/2, 3:39 p.m., Houston Science Center: Two juvenile trespassers apprehended

8/3, 9:50 p.m., Burger King (Scott St.): Visitor arrested for public intoxication

8/4, 12:44 a.m., Football Practice Field: Two juveniles arrested for public intoxication

*THEFTS*

7/22, 3 p.m., UHPD Building: Police radio

7/26, 8:35 a.m., Allied Geophysical Lab: Amplifier

7/30, 5:06 p.m., North Engineering Bldg.: Office and lab equipment

7/31, 11:52 a.m., E. Cullen: Computer disk drive

8/1, 10:40 a.m., E. Cullen: Missing UH property (description unavailable); 1:53 p.m., AH Hall: Purse, books and umbrella (later recovered)

8/2, 11:38 a.m., Lot 17D: Credit cards (from a parked vehicle)

8/3, 1:47 a.m., Lot 15F: Stereo (from a parked vehicle); 1:19 p.m., Lot 1A: License plate

*VANDALISM*

7/29, 7:16 a.m., Cullen Engineering Bldg.: Broken window which resulted in damaged UH property (description unavailable)

8/3, 1:54 a.m., UH Hilton: Damaged convertible top; 8:06 p.m., Cullen Engineering Bldg.: Attempted break-in of office

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

PROF RELEASED ON BOND,

BUT HOSPITALIZED

STAFF REPORTS

UH Drama Professor Claude Caux, recently charged with first degree murder in the stabbing death of UH alumna and actress Mary Chovantez, was released from sheriff's department custody on bond late last week.

Since being released Caux has not been back to the Central Campus and has been admitted to a psychiatric hospital, Drama Department Head Sidney Berger said.

Since Caux's stay at the hospital, the case against him has not progressed much further. While the police have many witnesses and a taped confession from Caux, the Samaritan who intervened during Caux's attack has not been located.

In preparing for the trial, Caux's family has enlisted the services of noted lawyer Dick Deguerin for the professor's defense.

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

ALUMNI ASK GRAD FOR HELP

BY MICHAEL HINES

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

A bill asking $500 million in cuts from higher education could hit the legislative floor as early as Friday and the UH Alumni organization is asking volunteers to call alumni in hopes of raising vociferous opposition.

Michael Lawler, the assistant director for annual support, said the group is asking former and present students to write or call their representatives, senators or governor and ask they not support this plan.

"UH students will suffer greatly if we don't oppose this," Lawler told the Students' Association at its Monday night meeting. "We need students to volunteer a couple of hours of their time to call alumni."

"One hour can make a difference," he said. "You can make ten phone calls in this time and get a few responses."

The proposed budget cut is likely to affect summer school, enrollment numbers, tuition costs, course class availability and other student services.

Lawler said any volunteer help would be greatly appreciated. Anyone interested in helping is asked to call 749-3271 or go to the 5th floor of the E. Cullen Building through Thursday from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm.

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

Read said talking to The Daily Cougar would not "serve any purpose" in "straightening out" a UH administration he later went on to say is filled with "every kind of graft and corruption."

"Not one damn thing has ever been done or ever will," Read said.

"I still have friends out there (in the Physical Plant) that are going to reap a bitter harvest," he said.

Read said that if The Daily Cougar could get one representative from the state attorney general's office and one representative from the state governor's office, he would "give a deposition that would curl your hair."

Read was an employee at UH from April 1, 1971 to April 16, 1990.

UH is being defended by state Attorney General Dan Morale's office in the lawsuit.

Collier said he wouldn't comment on the lawsuit and that it had to be handled by university attorneys. He said he knew nothing about Postel being known as the "Prince of Darkness," as the complaint alleges.

Collier said he and King played on the same softball team.

In a Daily Cougar article dated March 27, 1990, Collier said, "I vaguely remember he (King) worked here. I think he resigned. I don't know what he did or why he resigned."

Postel said he had nothing to say about the lawsuit.

Footer said UH has a policy of not commenting on any pending litigation.

"All I can tell you is that we are very vigorously defending this suit," Footer said.

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

GORBY`S REIGN NEARING END SAY EXPERTS

BY DAI HUYNH

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

As the threads of the Soviet Union flag begin to unravel, the future looks bleak for Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.

Gorbachev's power has been seriously impaired despite his successful retrieval of the presidency after the coup's collapse, Political Science Professor Joseph Nogee said.

"He comes back weaker than before the coup because the people who organized the coup were chosen by Gorbachev, and to some extent, this has discredited him," Nogee said.

Even more detrimental to Gorbachev's position is the influence of the Russian President. Boris Yeltsin's star is now clearly eclipsing Gorbachev's, Nogee said.

"Yeltsin and Gorbachev have had a long career of working together. They have been both rivals and collaborators, but Gorbachev had always been the dominant person in Soviet politics," Nogee said. "Now the balance has changed toward Yeltsin."

Political Science Professor Ray Duch, who returned from the Soviet Union a day before the coup began, said polls show that public support for Gorbachev has dropped dramatically in the last two years.

Gorbachev will have a very difficult time reestablishing his prestige and power, Duch said. He therefore has little choice but to form some type of partnership with Yeltsin, who is being hailed as a national hero, Duch said.

"We've already seen that in the last couple of days. He is going to have to cede considerable power and authority to Yeltsin whether he likes it or not," Duch said.

Duch said he expects the movement for independence to accelerate dramatically in the Baltic republics.

"Whether they'll be independent next year means that a lot of issues will have to be resolved," Duch said. "Territorial, financial and economic issues will have to be resolved before full independence is granted, assuming the Soviets are willing to do it."

Nogee said one problem that precipitated the coup was the relationship between the central government and the republics.

"The hardliners who staged the coup where opposed to the transferring of autonomy to the various republics," Nogee said. "That is probably the reason why the coup was timed when it was because Gorbachev was scheduled to sign a new treaty and he was willing to give the republics more autonomy."

Although Gorbachev had steadfastly opposed outright independence for any of the republics, Yeltsin long ago conceded the rights of those who want to break free of the Soviet Union, Nogee said.

"Now that Yeltsin is in the ascent, the chance to break away for some of the republics is greater now than ever," he said.

The Baltics consisting of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia have declared their independence. However, the Supreme Soviet Central Government does not recognize their claims.

Nogee predicts Gorbachev's next step will be to purge personnel from both the army and the KGB because of their participation in the coup.

Gorbachev will scale down the KGB substantially as a political institution, but the army will not be pared down in the same way because of its important role in national defense policy, Nogee said.

"What I mean by scale down is the size of the military forces at the disposal of the KGB has to be reduced. The security function of the KGB should be taken away from the police and put into the hands of normal civilian institutions," he said.

Both Nogee and Duch attribute the coup's failure to its weak leadership. Although the coup was lead primarily by mediocre political figures, its marks a turning point in Soviet history, Nogee said.

"I would compare it to the most important single day in Soviet history since Nov. 7, 1917 (the Bolshevik Revolution) in the sense that it marked the real beginning of the end of authoritarian institution in Soviet society," Nogee said.

"Eventually, a party structure will develop in the Soviet Union, and the hardliners in the country, which there are many, will organize around whatever party structure emerges," Nogee said.

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

MFA SCREENING OF CONTROVERSIAL NEW

FLICK GIVES AUDIENCES LOOK AT WHAT

8 WOULD NOT

BY SONIA SBEITI

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

The free screening of the controversial documentary about gay black men Tongues Untied attracted more than 362 people (homosexuals and heterosexuals of all colors and nationalities) to the Museum of Fine Arts last Thursday.

The auditorium at the MFA could only seat 150 people which led to two extra shows at DiverseWorks ArtSpace off Main Street.

Tongues Untied, described as "A daring, visionary work that speaks with the eloquence of barbed wire," received its free screening after Channel 8 pulled it from its Point of View program, supposedly for its vulgar language in which the word "fuck" was explicitly used.

The documentary explored black gay life through extensive use of poetry, personal testimony, rap and drama. These were united to confront the homophobia and racism directed toward gay black men.

UH RTV major Kaci Fannin, who has seen this film several times, said the desire to see the film repeatedly increased every time she saw it.

"It was absolutely interesting because it expressed voices that go unheard so often," she said.

These were the voices of discrimination expressed throughout the film.

Emmy Award-winning director Marlon Riggs collaborated with numerous black gay organizations and artists for this film.

The program contained some male frontal nudity and explicit language. The men told stories beginning with their childhood to becoming adults. They described the phases they went through and how difficult it was for them to be accepted in this society for being not only gay, but black.

The innovative work of art received some fame.

Visual Artist Annette Lawrence said, "It was an artful and a beautiful piece."

The program was co-sponsored by the Museum of Fine Arts, DiverseWorks ArtSpace, The Community Artists Collective and the Houston and Southwest Alternate Media Project.

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

BY JOHN GRIFFIN

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

 

On a gameshow, a 73-year-old barmistress from mid-town Manhattan named Agnes Balter declines to play for the ultimate prize. The gameshow, successful in its own right, is patterned after an already established and wildly succesful show in which contestants combine roulette wheel chance with scholarly erudition. The ultimate prize, offered Agnes after seven consecutive nights of high-caliber play, is a $97,000 chinchilla coat, handmade in Soviet Georgia by peasants, which was modeled exquisitely by the hostess/spokesmodel earlier in the program. Agnes addresses the host, Bob Jensen.

"Mr. Jensen," she says. "I will not play. Despite my previous record, I cannot, in good faith, even attempt an attempt at garnering this, your ultimate prize. Furthermore, I will not, having made my intentions clear, play to lose. This due to the possibility, albeit a phenomenally small and virtually impossible one, that in attempting to lose, I might mistakenly win, thereby leaving me saddled with a cavalcade of chinchilla pelts for which I have neither the desire nor the stomach for."

The host smiles at the camera and maintains his composure. The studio audience is stunned and restless.

"I understand your dilemma, Agnes, having been a bartender in my youth, he says. However, you must play for the coat. These are the rules and I don't see how we can get around the rules."

From the left flank Fitzmaarten, director of production, sprints onstage. He is fat and does not wear a coat. His face is pink and bloated and he is carrying a book, waving his arms frantically.

"Oh no. Agnes. Ms. Balter. We cannot allow this."

Agnes stands her ground, head held back and firm.

"Sir, she says, I must remind you, I am older than you and wise beyond my years. You cannot intimidate me." "I have no doubt ma'am, he says, that you are wise beyond all of our years. I have no doubt that you are a woman of outstanding substance and that besides being a barmistress were probably once a Phi Beta Kappa at Radcliffe or perhaps an award-winning marine biologist with a passion for narwhales. Your character is not at task here. But for God's sake, this is a gameshow. We cannot change the rules simply to accommodate you. This is highly unprofessional."

"My father fought in the first great war, sir. I have four children, a nephew involved in pediatrics; I am a member of the Sierra Club, and I met Grace Paley once. I will not play for the coat.".

"I don't see how we can do such a thing," Fitzmaarten says. "Look here, this is the official manual for the show: Rules and Regulations. Section IV: The Ultimate Prize. It says here `The Ultimate Prize is aptly named for it is the ultimate prize, the grandest thing one can attain as a contestant on the show.

Contestants shall not be allowed to exchange or play for a different item as Ultimate Prize. Furthermore, any contestant who insists or shows true beligerence in his/her request for substitution quite obviously has no respect for either the Ultimate Prize or the institute of capitalism, indeed the American Dream. Any such contestant shall be removed and investigated thoroughly for traces of communist or socialist ties and shall have all previous winnings and existing self-esteem stripped away."'

Fitzmaarten smiles and looks at the camera, shutting the book with a triumphant smash. Agnes looks at him, puzzled.

"Where did you find that? She asks.

"It is the official manual. I found it in the place where the official manual is kept."

"Who wrote it?"

"We don't know. It merely exists."

Fitzmaarten shifts his weight and wipes his sweating forehead. Agnes leans closer.

"I think I understand, you fear death."

"Completely."

"Mr. Fitzmaarten, may I have a word with the host please."

"Yes, I suppose. But do be quick." Agnes turns and takes the host by the arm..

"Looks bleak," she says. "As host what do you suggest?"

The host scratches his chin.

"Do you have any communist ties?"

"Marxist Mothers, 1971. We met at Elaine Grumwald's patio home in Hoboken. Nothing since then. But we had somewhat of a notorious reputation in the suburbs. Could be risky."

"You could sell the fur."

"I could win and burn the coat in front of the camera."

"They'd detain you or flog you," he says.

Fitzmaarten, who has since grown even redder, comes walking over. "Have you decided, Ms. Balter? We must have an answer now. The show must go on."

"I am uncertain what I shall do, but let us proceed."

"The crowd cheers."

At home, in midtown Manhattan, in a brownstone overlooking a

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

PHYSICAL PLANT OFFICIALS UNDER FIRE

BY CHRIS PAYNE

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

Former UH Physical Plant employee Dana King's discrimination lawsuit against the uni

versity, currently in the "discovery" phase of litigation, is slated for a Nov. 4 docket call in federal court.

Filed in May 1990, Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint names Paul Postel, manager of building maintenance; Thomas Wray, assistant director of the Physical Plant; Herbert Collier, executive director of the Physical Plant; and Robert Scott, mechanical maintenance foreman, as defendants.

Physical Plant foreman James Mitchell is stated as a defendant in the court document, but he is no longer a party to the suit because allegations against him happened too long ago to satisfy the statute of limitations, UH Assistant University Counsel Nancy Footer said.

The lawsuit asks for more than $1 million in punitive damages and will be heard in U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas in Houston, under Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt.

A former Harris County Deputy Constable, King, 41, was a plumber at the Physical Plant from 1982 until he was fired on Sept. 25, 1990.

In 1985, according to the complaint, Postel and Mitchell called King into Mitchell's office and asked him to look up "case numbers for certain items, including a riding lawnmower, tractor and boat trailer." When King asked Mitchell and Postel if the Physical Plant had a problem with theft, Mitchell told King the items were not stolen, but taken by he and Postel, the complaint says.

Mitchell then told King, "He did not know what Postel did

with his items, but that he (Mitchell) had taken his up to the lake," the court document says. When King refused to look up the numbers, Mitchell called him to his office about three days later and told King "that he was not playing" and that Postel is the "Prince of Darkness and you don't turn him down," the complaint states.

The complaint states that Mitchell called King into his office and told him his ex-wife was "living with a Mexican," and wanted King to find their car license number and address and arrest them. When King refused, the document states, Mitchell told him to "play or you'll wish you had."

In 1985, the complaint states, the UH Police Department began searching for a sewer machine that was missing. When the machine was found in Mitchell's possession, King, at UHPD's request, positively identified the machine, the document states.

No charges were ever brought against Mitchell and all UHPD officers "involved in the investigation are no longer employed in their previous positions," the complaint states.

King was harassed by Collier, Postel and Wray for his participation in the investigation, the document says, and was forced to work in a "tunnel containing steam-return lines that were wrapped with asbestos" and to work outdoors in the rain on electrical equipment. When King refused to do the electrical work in the rain, he was fired by Postel, Wray and Collier, the court document states.

After filing a complaint with the UH Personnel Department in July 1987, King was reinstated on Sept. 2, 1987, the complaint says.

After King's reinstatement, the court document says, he met with Collier, who told him, "I can take everything you got" and "I know people who can take care of you."

Mitchell, the complaint states, told King a "UH official was found dead in the hotel on campus after he did not play the game."

King was fired again on Sept. 29, 1990, and was told by Scott that he needed "psychological help for messing with these people again" and that he "was in never-never land now" and that he had "messed with the Prince of Darkness," the court document states.

The complaint says that when King suggested calling the police, Scott told him "I've got somebody else I'll call."

After contacting an attorney, the document states, Collier called King at his home and told him, "I know people who can take care of you."

After the filing of the lawsuit on March 20, 1990, the document states, King received a phone call from someone who told him he should contact Wray to settle the lawsuit and that King should not tell anybody about the phone call.

The complaint says the caller refused to identify himself and told King the defendants would cause him "a lot of problems" if he refused to settle the case.

Since the lawsuit was filed, King has received numerous phone threats and his home has been burglarized more than once, his attorneys, Mary Ann French and Joe Indelicato, Jr., said.

Indelicato said he and French are concerned for their client's safety.

"Before the suit was filed, his house was never broken into," Indelicato said. A filing cabinet containing documents relating to the lawsuit were taken in one break-in, he said.

A Harris County Sherriff's Department police report dated Dec. 6, 1990, confirms that King's residence was burglarized on that date. Among the items reported stolen, including jewelery and numerous firearms, is a "small case, lock-type" that "contained all numbers and gun records."

Roy Read, a former Physical Plant employee who recently gave his deposition concerning the lawsuit, refused to comment on the lawsuit.

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

BY CHRIS PAYNE

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

 

Former UH Physical Plant employee Dana King's discrimination lawsuit against the uni

versity, currently in the "discovery" phase of litigation, is slated for a Nov. 4 docket call in federal court.

Filed in May 1990, Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint names Paul Postel, manager of building maintenance; Thomas Wray, assistant director of the Physical Plant; Herbert Collier, executive director of the Physical Plant; and Robert Scott, mechanical maintenance foreman, as defendants.

Physical Plant foreman James Mitchell is stated as a defendant in the court document, but he is no longer a party to the suit because allegations against him happened too long ago to satisfy the statute of limitations, UH Assistant University Counsel Nancy Footer said.

The lawsuit asks for more than $1 million in punitive damages and will be heard in U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas in Houston, under Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt.

A former Harris County Deputy Constable, King, 41, was a plumber at the Physical Plant from 1982 until he was fired on Sept. 25, 1990.

In 1985, according to the complaint, Postel and Mitchell called King into Mitchell's office and asked him to look up "case numbers for certain items, including a riding lawnmower, tractor and boat trailer." When King asked Mitchell and Postel if the Physical Plant had a problem with theft, Mitchell told King the items were not stolen, but taken by he and Postel, the complaint says.

Mitchell then told King, "He did not know what Postel did

with his items, but that he (Mitchell) had taken his up to the lake," the court document says. When King refused to look up the numbers, Mitchell called him to his office about three days later and told King "that he was not playing" and that Postel is the "Prince of Darkness and you don't turn him down," the complaint states.

The complaint states that Mitchell called King into his office and told him his ex-wife was "living with a Mexican," and wanted King to find their car license number and address and arrest them. When King refused, the document states, Mitchell told him to "play or you'll wish you had."

In 1985, the complaint states, the UH Police Department began searching for a sewer machine that was missing. When the machine was found in Mitchell's possession, King, at UHPD's request, positively identified the machine, the document states.

No charges were ever brought against Mitchell and all UHPD officers "involved in the investigation are no longer employed in their previous positions," the complaint states.

King was harassed by Collier, Postel and Wray for his participation in the investigation, the document says, and was forced to work in a "tunnel containing steam-return lines that were wrapped with asbestos" and to work outdoors in the rain on electrical equipment. When King refused to do the electrical work in the rain, he was fired by Postel, Wray and Collier, the court document states.

After filing a complaint with the UH Personnel Department in July 1987, King was reinstated on Sept. 2, 1987, the complaint says.

After King's reinstatement, the court document says, he met with Collier, who told him, "I can take everything you got" and "I know people who can take care of you."

Mitchell, the complaint states, told King a "UH official was found dead in the hotel on campus after he did not play the game."

King was fired again on Sept. 29, 1990, and was told by Scott that he needed "psychological help for messing with these people again" and that he "was in never-never land now" and that he had "messed with the Prince of Darkness," the court document states.

The complaint says that when King suggested calling the police, Scott told him "I've got somebody else I'll call."

After contacting an attorney, the document states, Collier called King at his home and told him, "I know people who can take care of you."

After the filing of the lawsuit on March 20, 1990, the document states, King received a phone call from someone who told him he should contact Wray to settle the lawsuit and that King should not tell anybody about the phone call.

The complaint says the caller refused to identify himself and told King the defendants would cause him "a lot of problems" if he refused to settle the case.

Since the lawsuit was filed, King has received numerous phone threats and his home has been burglarized more than once, his attorneys, Mary Ann French and Joe Indelicato, Jr., said.

Indelicato said he and French are concerned for their client's safety.

"Before the suit was filed, his house was never broken into," Indelicato said. A filing cabinet containing documents relating to the lawsuit were taken in one break-in, he said.

A Harris County Sherriff's Department police report dated Dec. 6, 1990, confirms that King's residence was burglarized on that date. Among the items reported stolen, including jewelery and numerous firearms, is a "small case, lock-type" that "contained all numbers and gun records."

Roy Read, a former Physical Plant employee who recently gave his deposition concerning the lawsuit, refused to comment on the lawsuit.

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

WORKERS NOT ENCOURAGED WITH PETITION

BY LAURA ELDER

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

Approach a group of UH Physical Plant workers on campus with a reporter's notebook and strange things begin to happen.

Blue collars scatter, workers look over their shoulders and some, while nervously walking backward, stammer about fear of being seen with a reporter and losing their jobs.

And if you look hard enough, turn the right corner on campus or bump into the right person, someone might talk. When they do, it's with the promise that their name won't be used in print.

Whatever their reaction to outside inquiries about the management and worker morale in the

Physical Plant, almost all of the workers say they are walking the same tight rope -- one of fear for their job security and some say even their physical safety.

This cloak-and-dagger behavior is nothing new.

For the past five months The Daily Cougar has received anonymous tips about the treatment and frustration of about 400 workers who make up the $18,000,000 operation.

In November 1990 that frustration led at least 75 workers to go public with their grievances against upper-management at the plant.

For those workers, something had to give.

In a preamble to a petition presented to President Marguerite Ross Barnett that November, workers said, "Employee morale at the University of Houston has reached not only an all-time low, it is rapidly approaching critical mass," and went on to list 20 points of contention the workers have with management there.

Some of the injustices workers alleged in the petition include: the "unjust system of apportioning merit raises," having to work on legal holidays for straight time rather than time-and-a-half; having to pay regular parking rates; the "disparity in the ratio of public-to-private sector pay rates from one shop to another... and the tremendous gap in pay rates between foremen and workers;" and lack of a "nonambiguous, clearly defined (worker's) policy covering the entire university system."

Hopeful that going public with their grievances would alleviate tensions at the Physical Plant and prompt an investigation of the allegations, workers said they were disillusioned when they met once again with managerial bureaucracy.

Since November, Barnett has directed at least three officials to oversee the investigations and meetings with representatives.

Former Vice President for Administration and Finance Sharon Richardson had originally been handling the matter but changed positions here, forcing Barnett to toss the matter into the lap of then newcomer Robert Kerley, who served briefly as interim senior vice president before abruptly resigning last spring. Kerley held his position only four months at UH.

During the shuffle, workers say the petition was lost and the issues were put on the back-burner until interim Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance Thomas Jones began meeting with workers and management at the plant to deal with the grievances.

Interim Director of Human Resources Sara Goodwin is also researching the concerns the petition has raised at this time.

Goodwin could not be reached by press time.

Despite assurances this week to the Cougar from Jones and Herb Collier, executive director of the Physical Plant, that problems are being smoothed out, some workers say they are skeptical.

While Jones said he will send a memo to workers and The Cougar outlining possible solutions to some of the problems at a later date, he refused to speak about the petition to reporters until workers get a copy of that memo.

And Collier said a communications group made up of representatives from every department at the plant has been formed and has met at least five times, prompting Goodwin to research issues such as alternative health insurance for workers and ways to improve the system of handling issues concerning overtime.

Goodwin, Collier said, is also in the process of interviewing outsiders for a position that would act as a buffer between workers and managers.

But workers say they aren't allowed to get their points across at the meetings and one worker, who wouldn't reveal his name, said that a mediator should come from within the group of workers and not from an outsider that could be influenced by management at the plant.

He also said there is a lack of trust for Jones and Goodwin.

"She's (Goodwin) in with them," he said. "Why don't they let us pick a representative instead of some outsider they can control?"

When the worker said he suggested that the mediator come from within at a meeting, he said, "Ms. Goodwin shut me up real quick and said it's a complicated process and no one in the Physical Plant is qualified to handle it."

Goodwin could not be reached by press time.

One worker who signed the petition said negotiations don't look encouraging.

"We're just getting the runaround," he said.

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

BUSH APPOINTS BARNETT TO

ENVIRONMENTAL PANEL

BY MICHAEL HINES

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

UH President Marguerite Ross Barnett was appointed to the newly formed President's Commission on Environmental Quality on July 23.

Barnett, one of 25 members chosen by President George Bush on the PCEQ, is the only university president on the committee.

Kenneth Lay, the chair of the UH Board of Regents and the chairman and chief executive officer of Enron Corporation in Houston, was also appointed to the commission.

"I can't think of an issue that's more important than this," Barnett said. "The environment is always in the top five list of public concerns."

Bush hopes the commission will promote alliances and partnerships that will stimulate innovative environmental programs by creating efforts that will move beyond existing legislative and regulatory efforts to improve the environment.

"This is a very important commission," Barnett said. "The committee will help shape our country's future environmental policies."

The PCEQ, which has met once already, will meet four times a year during the commission's scheduled two-year existence. At the end of this time period, the commission could be extended if warranted.

"We were sworn in last Monday (July 22) by the President," Barnett said. "During our first meeting we set the mission of the committee."

The PCEQ's main goal will be to work on the environmental challenges of the 1990's by combining environmental quality, economic growth and quality of life goals.

The commission has identified four areas for consideration that reflect the new environmental agenda. These are Pollution Prevention and Environmental Quality Management, Natural Resource Management, International Cooperation, and the area Barnett will work with, Education and Communication.

Barnett said that by communicating, the commission hopes to encourage people to participate.

Barnett, as a commissioned member, will also be allowed to appoint one representative to serve on a subcommittee. She said she has yet to choose her representative.

"One faculty member has asked for the position," she said. "He wrote me a very nice letter and he seems very qualified. I haven't been able to get in touch with him yet."

The guiding principles of the commission will be to harness the power of the marketplace, empower people to act voluntarily, promote pollution prevention, manage for environmental quality and foster cooperative partnerships.

To accomplish these goals, the PCEQ has established a set of guidelines that the commission will take.

First on the agenda, establishing a leadership network, has been accomplished with the appointments of the 25 members. Next the group hopes to identify successful models of what the private sector can do to help.

Following this, the group hopes to stimulate further action by informing the public, and finally, improve these by evaluating the overall process through gaining feedback.

Through these goals, the Commission hopes to develop a framework for action that will invite individuals and organizations to work toward enhancing America's ecological and economic health.

 

Visit The Daily Cougar