POLICE UNION CONTENT

BY MICHAEL D. OESER

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

In the hopes of starting things off on the right foot, the newly-elected officials of the Houston Police Patrolmen's Union invited Mayor Bob Lanier, City Council members, the City Controller's office staff and their friends to a barbecue luncheon.

President of the HPPU Gregg Bisso said he expects a great amount of cooperation with the invited city officers now that the mayorship belongs to Lanier.

"Now we have a mayor that's open to communication. We haven't had that before," he said.

In some short remarks he made to the attendees, Bisso said that he doesn't expect to have to go through some of the "fisticuffs" the union experienced in the past in dealing with other city offices.

Bisso said that the last ten years were difficult for the department, but the last month and a half has been a relief.

Bisso said a special invitation was made to Police Chief nominee Sam Nuchia (NEW-chee) to give him a chance to meet the members of City Council and the Controller's Office.

Nuchia made a swift appearance, but promptly left after the meal; outgoing Police Chief Elizabeth Watson was not in attendance.

Bisso said one of the first priorities the union will work on with the mayor is increasing the number of officers in the force pursuant to Lanier's promise to put 655 more officers on the streets.

So far, the mayor has put more than 430 officers on the streets by moving certified officers from desk jobs to street beats and implementing overtime schedules for most officers during peak crime times of the day.

"What we have done so far is put a bandage in the problem. Now we have to start dealing with the cause," Bisso said.

He said the $100 increase in officer pay just passed Wednesday will help retain current officers and attract new officers. Bisso also denied rumors circulating among police ranks of a move to double overtime in the near future to help compensate for the remaining promised officers.

The new president also said the mayor's office and his organization have yet to discuss if there will be a change in the departmental policy started under Watson to help foster more neighborhood patrol programs or if either group has considered a change in cadet requirements to attract and hire more new officers.

 

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DISTRIBUTION OF PROPAGANDA SPARKS CONTROVERSY AT UT

BY REBECCA MCPHAIL

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

Jewish students at the University of Texas are up in arms over allegations that a doctor at the Student Health Center has been handing out anti-Semitic literature.

UT student Laura Roberts complained to the UT student newspaper, The Daily Texan, that Dr. James Breazeale gave her two copies of The Spotlight, a newspaper published by the alleged anti-Semitic organization, Liberty Lobby.

According to Barbara Harberg, southwest regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, Liberty Lobby is no stranger to this area.

"(It) is one of the best-financed, most active, anti-Semitic groups in the country," she said.

UT Student Health Center interim Medical Director Dr. Nancy Van Vessem said that on a subsequent visit, Breazeale gave Roberts a copy of a pamphlet published by The Institute for Historical Review.

The publication denies the occurrence of the Holocaust, in which an estimated 6 million Jews were systematically exterminated.

Shamir Caplan, a UT student and member of the Jewish Student Council, is upset about the incident.

"I'm shocked that a state university can allow something this offensive to take place," he said.

According to The Daily Texan, Student Health Center Director Dr. J. Robert Wirag has begun an investigation into the activities of Breazeale.

Van Vessem said the investigation is necessary because of the small amount of evidence against Breazeale.

"Our only source is the two copies of `The Spolight' and the booklet from the Institute for Historical Review," she said.

Breazeale may have violated university policies if he passed out the literature.

"The penalty would have to be further discussed. There are no precedents," Van Vessem said.

Caplan, however, is hoping that the university will take more decisive measures.

"We, in the community, would really like to see action taken against him, individually," he said.

The professional behavior of Breazeale is not in question, Caplan said.

"I can't complain about the (medical) care," he said, "but we, as students, are paying for this man to have an opportunity to pass out his literature."

According to Harberg, biased behavior is on the rise across the country. The Anti-Defamation League conducts a survey of biased behavior every year.

"We're reporting an 11 percent increase in incidents since 1991," Harberg said.

Rabbi Bruce Federow of UH B'nai B'rith said that he has not directly experienced prejudice in the vein of receiving anti-Semitic material. However, this is in direct contrast to Harberg's findings.

"The incidents of bigotry on college campuses are certainly up," she said.

 

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ATTENDANCE SPARSE AT HIV SEMINAR IN TOWERS

BY MARCIA MARBURY

NEWS REPORTER

The Black Student Union (BSU) sponsored an "AIDS in the Black Community" forum in honor of Black History Month Feb. 13 in the Moody Towers, but no one attended.

Despite several UH organizations' efforts, UH Health Center Director Dr. Billie Jean Smith said students just aren't listening.

"I'm not surprised students didn't attend the AIDS meeting. We've sponsored several AIDS awareness events in the past, but the turnout of students was usually few," Smith said.

According to Omar Lindsey, HIV preventive educator for the city of Houston and guest speaker at the "AIDS in the Black Community" forum, people who suffer from one of the 25 opportunistic infections such as pneumonia, purple skin color or excessive weight loss due to diarrhea could be HIV positive.

"Once the HIV-positive infection spreads, the virus begins to kill off white blood cells needed to fight off infections. When the white blood cells decrease to a certain level, they are then diagnosed as having AIDS," Smith said.

"People want to listen to an HIV message once they've contracted AIDS, but then it's too late," she said.

Lindsey said the spread of AIDS will never be prevented or eliminated if people don't begin to listen and learn from HIV prevention information.

"Young adults must learn to deny themselves sex until they become familiar with their sex partner," he said.

Smith, a 14-year veteran at the UH Health Center, said it's upsetting to know students have little interest in learning about an incurable disease that, since 1980, has already claimed millions of lives.

"What's worse is a lot of students have misconceptions about how the virus is transmitted. A lot of students believe HIV is contracted through casual contact although they say different. And people can contract AIDS even if they use a condom," Smith said.

A recently released report from the World Health Organization stated that of the 1 million people who are infected with AIDS, 90 percent contracted the virus from heterosexual intercourse.

She said students need to stay informed of new information about AIDS.

Smith said she strongly agrees with Lindsey.

"I would recommend that people who aren't HIV positive make sure each sex partner is tested twice, six months apart, for AIDS before having sex with that partner," she said.

The president of BSU Rhonda Bailey said she is partially to blame for the no-show.

"Maybe if we (BSU) would've done more advertising of the forum, students would've shown up," Bailey said.

 

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THE STRUGGLE OF FREEDMAN'S TOWN

BY PATRICIA MOORE

SPECIAL TO THE COUGAR

In the shadows of downtown Houston lies the city's oldest and poorest black community, commonly known as the Fourth Ward. But its original name is Freedmen's Town, given by the freed slaves who settled it.

Although the source of the black population that moved into the Fourth Ward after the Civil War is not well-documented, a tremendous influx of emancipated slaves after June 19, 1865, made their way up from the Brazos River bottom-land plantations and settled along Buffalo Bayou, where Allen Parkway Village now stands. Plots of land were sold or given to former slaves who prospered and built their town.

Wedged in between skyscrapers, Antioch Missionary Baptist Church was, and is, a major focal point of Freedmen's Town. The church was relocated from its original site on "Baptist Hill" in 1866, where the Music Hall and Sam Houston Coliseum now stand.

Most of the simple, sturdy, wood houses standing today are a testament to Rev. Jack Yates, the first black pastor of Antioch. Yates founded Houston College in 1885 to teach people bricklaying and carpentry so they could build their homes in Freedmen's Town.

Today, Jack Yates High School in the Third Ward stands in his honor.

Located in Freedmen's Town is the city's first cemetery, Founders' Cemetery, where Augustus and John Kirby Allen, the founders of Houston, lie buried. Nearby is the hanging tree where justice was meted out -- recipients of that justice could be conveniently buried a few steps away.

On Aug. 23, 1917, the bloodiest race riot in Houston's history took place in Freedmen's Town.

Black troops at Camp Logan, a World War I military training installation located where Memorial Park now stands, marched up West Dallas Street toward the police station downtown to retaliate for the brutal treatment they had received at the hands of white police and civilians.

Ultimately, 16 white and four black civilians were killed in the riot. Later in San Antonio, the Army executed 19 of the black soldiers.

By 1920, Freedmen's Town had grown to represent one-third of Houston's population. It was the center of black-owned business and commercial interests, bustling with offices, shops, cafes and jazz clubs.

At its zenith, Freedmen's Town boundaries extended east to Travis Street, west to Taft Street, north to Allen Parkway, and south to Sutton Street.

After the turn of the century, several events conspired to diminish 75 percent of Freedmen's Town.

The city condemned the eastern side to make room for public buildings, including City Hall, the Music Hall, the main post office, the Albert Thomas Convention Center and the Sam Houston Coliseum.

In 1939, the city took 37 acres for a public housing project and built a fence on West Dallas to separate Freedmen's Town from the new housing project, San Felipe Courts (now called Allen Parkway Village).

The black occupants hoped for safe and decent new housing after their homes and businesses were razed, but for 26 years, only whites were allowed to live there.

In 1959, the city bisected Freedmen's Town with the Gulf Freeway (I-45), plowing through the community's baseball stadium, Booker T. Washington High School and the Black Carnegie Library.

In 1980, the Houston Independent School District closed Edgar M. Gregory School, located in the heart of Freedmen's Town.

Built in 1872, Gregory School is the oldest school for African- Americans in Houston.

HISD granted the city a lease to use the facility to house a multi-service center. However, the city has only allowed the site to deteriorate.

Gladys House, president and CEO of Freedmen's Town Association and its community-development corporation is pressing the issue of turning the site over to Freedmen's Town in order that it may be preserved, restored and used to address the needs of the community.

Further investigation into the Gregory multi-service center project reveals deception on the part of city officials involved with application of Community Development Block Grant funds, of which Freedmen's Town, with the poorest population in Houston, has been the model and tool used to extract CDBG funds from the federal government.

In fact, during 1987, to extract additional CDBG funding, the Gregory multi-service center was renamed four times.

According to records obtained at the City Secretary's office, funds totaling $3,170,000, which was earmarked for the project, then called the Gregory Regional Kitchen, were transferred to other Community Development programs' yearly budget accounts, never reaching the Fourth Ward.

In fact, the CDBG money, considered unexpected funds in allowance for the budget accounts, was used in many instances to pay for administration fees.

The Fourth Ward's fire station was shut down in 1987 after much protest from the residents. According to records obtained from the City Arson Bureau, an analysis of fires set on six blocks of the historic district reveal 32 fires-of which 17 are unsolved arson cases over the last five years.

The city's response, or lack of response, has been feeble at best, and, if such fires in Freedman's Town continue, The Fourth Ward will not have enough homes left to warrant historic district status.

Nia Becnel, the late assistant professot of architecture at UH, believed in Freedmen's Town.

At the time of her death in November 1990, Becnel was directing her students' work on a redevelopment plan with a group called the Fourth Ward Neighborhood Association.

Lenwood Johnson, a member of the group and president of the Allen Parkway Village Tenants Association, along with Becnel, hoped to scoop the Founders Park developers by presenting their plan to the City Council first, after a news conference on Nov. 5, 1990.

The Founders Park project, loudly and vehemently opposed by Becnel, is a plan by two major city developers that would convert 640 acres of Freedmen's Town and North Montrose into a Tax Increment Financing District, so that land and homes inside the district could be condemned by City Council and redevelopment could then convert the land into new businesses and high-income townhouses.

Freedmen's Town and other Fourth Ward groups, needless to say, are strongly opposed to the project.

In September 1990, Becnel calledr the Founders Park project "the annihilation of the current population" at a steering committee meeting hosted by the developers, American General and Cullen Center.

Founders Park promises replacement housing, yet under the plan, she said, there would be no replacement housing for at least two years, and the new homes would be priced out of the market for most of the 5,000 renters in the Fourth Ward.

"Some things," she said, "even in America, transcend dollars and cents."

On the afternoon of Nov. 1, 1990, Becnel's and Johnson's master-plan drawing, displayed on an easel in a studio down the hall from Becnel's UH office, disappeared. Finally she called Johnson, distraught, and told him she would stay up all night and reconstruct as much of it as she could.

She grew very ill the next day, later entered a hospital, and on Nov. 10, Becnel, 41, died of a stroke.

Her master-plan drawing has not yet been found.

This examination of Freedmen's Town, not often publicized, raises almost as many questions as it answers, but for 50 years following the emancipation of black slaves, it was the center of much black activity and culture, serving as the location of the first black schools, the first black churches and many of the first black businesses.

THe Fourth Ward became the "Mother Ward" of black Houston, and if redevelopment is inevitable - shouldn't it be by and for the people who live there?

 

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KENNY ROGERS TO GIVE CONCERT IN HOFHEINZ

BY DEBBIE HOUSEL

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

Hofheinz Pavilion will swing on April 2 when country western star Kenny Rogers brings his Back Home Again Tour to UH.

UH's contract with Rogers costs $125,000, but instead of receiving his usual percentage off ticket sales, he waived his cut, said Wendy Adair, associate vice president for university relations.

Ticket sales from the 8 p.m. performance are expected to gross between $190,000 and $250,000. The net proceeds will benefit UH's general scholarship program.

The concert will highlight the UH Cougar Fiesta & Cook-Off Weekend.

Rogers will receive the E. E. Oberholzer Award for Lifetime Contributions to American Culture Through Music at the second annual president's Report to the Community, which will take place in the afternoon before Rogers' performance.

UH faculty, staff and students can purchase up to two tickets for $15 each. Tickets for the general public cost $25 with limited floor seating available at $100 a ticket. Tickets go on sale March 9 at the UH athletic department ticket office and Ticketmaster.

 

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ATHLETICS PARADES ITS BENEFITS, CONFORMS TO NEW NCAA RULES

BY CROSBY KING

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

The oft-criticized UH Athletic Department got its day in the sun Wednesday as representatives told the Faculty Senate about improved treatment of today's athletes.

Associate Athletic Director Conrad Colbert said that by using enhanced tutoring and counseling, UH won't see student athletes returning to their neighborhood playgrounds from which they were recruited.

"There are too many people who think if we can't put the student back into the student athlete, we're misusing them, and we're fooling ourselves," he said.

Colbert spoke at length about how recent National Collegiate Athletic Association requirements affect UH athletes.

One of the more stringent rules calls for a limit of 20 hours of practice per week for football players, including three hours of game time.

Colbert said this mandates a strict regimen of weekday practice.

"We have to monitor every minute of every hour," he said. "At the end of the week, each student athlete has to sign an affidavit that says they haven't spent more then 20 hours in athletics.

"The coaches can't even touch them on Sunday."

Colbert said UH now demands that athletes attend programs on drug abuse, eating disorders, date rape and career planning. The athletic department also offers a seminar advising juniors who are considering joining the professional ranks.

He said student athletes will be periodically tested for drugs, including alcohol and steroids.

Colbert told the Faculty Senate that the athletic program profoundly helped the image of the university, citing Andre Ware's Heisman Trophy as a major source of publicity.

"I don't know where (else) you can go to get front-page coverage all over the United States," Colbert said.

In other business,

senate President Bill Cook announced that President Marguerite Ross Barnett had left the hospital and is now at home.

He also announced the death of Ted Waskey, associate dean of the College of Hotel and Restaurant Management.

 

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LADY COUGARS TAKE OUT RICE

BY JIM MOSLEY

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

The 21st-ranked Lady Cougars defeated the Rice Owls 62-53 Wednesday night in Autry Court, ending their four-game losing streak on the road.

Darla Simpson, LaShawn Johnson and Kellye Jones lead the Cougars (18-5, 7-3 conference) with 11 points each.

The game was very physical with two Lady Cougars having to temporarily leave the game after collisions under the basket.

"Every time someone goes down, we have our fingers crossed," UH Women's Basketball Coach Jessie Kenlaw said. "We only have nine players. We cannot afford anymore injuries."

The Cougars were not plagued by their usual foul troubles.

"The referees let us play tonight," Kenlaw said. "Lately, every time Darla (Simpson) goes up to block a shot, they call a foul."

The Owls played the Lady Cougars well, battling back from a 10-point deficit to tie the game in the second half.

"They always play us tough here," Kenlaw said. "Last year, we only won by six points."

With the score tied at 42, the Cougar defense took over, causing six Rice turnovers for a 12-0 scoring run.

"It was our full-court press that did it," Junior Post Margo Graham said. "It helped us take control of the game."

The Cougars shot only 34 percent from the floor in the second half.

"Our shooting was off in the second half," Kenlaw said. "Our defense won the game."

Rice's Evenda Barnes lead all scorers with 20 points.

The Lady Cougars' next game will be against conference leader Texas Tech on Feb. 27 at Hofheinz.

"I'm going to be up for that game," Graham said. "I used to play for them, so I'll be ready."

The Cougars lost a heart-breaker to Texas Tech in Lubbock on Jan. 25 in front of 6,750 hostile fans.

"Tech plays us strong," Kenlaw said. "They do a good job at playing a half-court defense. But we will be at home and we play best there."

 

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