EMPLOYEES OWE BIG

BAD CHECKS, UNPAID TUITION CONTRIBUTE TO DEBT

by Heather Wolk

Daily Cougar Staff

One out of five UH employees owes money to the university, contributing to an employee debt of $193,000, according to a report from the president's office.

Much of that debt is caused by bad checks. UH received approximately $780,000 worth of returned checks in 1992, the report stated.

Employees wrote 86 of those checks, totalling $12,538, according to a report titled Current Employee Delinquent Accounts.

When Senior Vice President of Administration and Finance Dennis Boyd arrived last fall, he began to review financial activities as part of the university's reshaping plan. He planned an aggressive campaign to collect debts owed to UH, so a new collection program was initiated, beginning with employee debt.

Employees owing UH more than $500 were sent a letter in November requesting payment. Approximately $29,126 was collected after the letters were mailed, according to the aforementioned delinquent accounts report.

The remaining employee debt now totals $193,000, and more than 80 percent of these debtors owe on past student debts. Eight hundred ninety employees owe UH for debts such as tuition and parking tickets.

Associate Vice President of Media Relations Wendy Adair said employee debt has gone undetected for some time.

"When Dennis Boyd started reviewing accounts receivable, he began separating the categories of debt, and that's when these employee debts (debts of employees who are UH graduates) were discovered," Adair said.

She said student debts are more easily collected because more penalties can be placed on them.

"In the past, students are easily targeted, and debts are easily taken care of. They are simply dropped from classes if payments aren't made," Adair said.

She added that although UH is changing its collection methods, those methods have not been completely successful.

"UH has approximately $52 million in billing each year. It's understood that 1 percent is considered uncollectible," Adair said. "The previous collection process is effective for some, but not all."

UH President James Pickering sent a letter to campus officials stating that he and his staff were looking for ways to strengthen the university's fiscal policies by collecting outstanding debts and avoiding such problems in the future.

 

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SALARY HIKES SEEN AS ONE WAY TO EBB UHPD'S HIGH-TURNOVER TIDE

by Michica N. Guillory

Daily Cougar Staff

The university police department considers itself an integral part of this institution's backbone. However, this vertebra is being weakened by a high turnover rate.

According to a UHPD report, UH police officers received the lowest annual salaries (starting at $20,693) of the 11 other college and university police departments studied, which include: San Jacinto, Texas Southern, Alvin Community College, Texas A&M-Galveston, Houston Community College, Houston Baptist, College of the Mainland and the University of Texas Medical Center.

UHPD officers are looking for employment elsewhere. In the past five years, the turnover rate for the 40 officer positions averaged 21 percent, or about eight officers per year, according to a UHPD report.

During those five years, the lowest turnover rate was eight percent (three officers), and the highest was 30 percent (12 officers).

Officers are leaving for bigger salaries, health benefits, career advancement and location.

Some leave to venture into specialized areas UHPD cannot offer, such as narcotics and homicide.

The department has been stable in supervisory and management positions for several years.

"Supervisors usually don't move on for the same reasons as officers," said UHPD Lt. Malcolm Davis. "We are challenged more than the officers because we are responsible for them, as well as ourselves.

"Other stations have a pool of resources to pay officers more money with," said Davis, "but we get (money) allocated from Austin. There is a pay scale the university cannot leave."

Of all UH campuses, the main campus has the largest enrollment, with 33,000 students. UH-Clear Lake, which has 7,000 students, and UH-Downtown, with an enrollment of 8,000, pay their officers $23,415 and $23,192 respectively -- 11.6 percent more than what this campus pays.

Officers leave more than an open position behind when they go to work for other agencies. They leave the burden of their workloads.

"Someone has to do that person's job until they can be replaced," Davis said. "The department also loses the community contacts."

However, if a proposed compensation program is approved by the UH Board of Regents Wednesday, pay increases may go into effect as soon as March 1, 1993.

Higher salaries would allow UHPD to compete with officers' starting salaries at the Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro), Rice University, Texas Medical Center Police (the three main agencies UH loses its officers to) and other UH campuses.

If the program is approved, starting salaries for new officers would begin at $23,500, with increases based on longevity.

Corporals, sergeants and lieutenants would also have higher starting salaries with merit-based or state-mandated pay raises.

The proposed pay increases, however, will have drawbacks. According to an executive summary to be presented to the Board of Regents, the pay increases would require $54,233 to fund implementation on an annual basis.

Consequently, three officer positions will also have to be eliminated. And with university reshaping underway, the number of officers may decrease even more.

UHPD is prepared to handle the extra work load, though, by reorganizing the services it offers.

"Emergency calls would still take priority over all other calls," Davis said. "Students may have to wait longer for routine services, like getting a door unlocked or an escort, though."

 

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TSU STUDENTS RALLY

by Dianne Beirne

News Reporter

With emotional speeches and chants of "Save the Ocean," Texas Southern University students protested the dissolution of their marching band, the Ocean of Soul, and voiced anger at the university president.

About 200 people attended Friday's rally in front of the Ernest S. Sterling Student Center, which convened as a TSU Board of Regents meeting was concluding on campus.

At the meeting, which was packed with vocal students, TSU President William Harris reiterated his Dec. 17 decision to dissolve the Ocean of Soul and announced plans to form a new band for the fall semester.

"I have declared that the name 'Ocean of Soul' does not exist," Harris said. "I have made it clear we will move beyond the present situation."

In response to students' outbursts at the meeting, along with the urging of regent Walter Criner, Harris agreed to meet with a student committee to discuss grievances regarding the manner in which he dissolved the band.

Several band members complained that Harris did not address the band and inform them of the Tokyo incident investigation and its results. They said they learned about the dissolution of the band from the media and have yet to be informed of their status as future band members.

"We need to know why decisions are being made that directly affect our lives," Troy Bounds, 23, said.

Bounds, a music major and a former section leader with the band, added, "Changing the name won't take away the negative image. If my brother kills someone, I can't change my last name."

Harris' decision stems from a Dec. 7 incident when the band was in Tokyo to entertain the audience at the Coca Cola Bowl game between the University of Nebraska and Kansas State University.

As band members were browsing in the Akihabara shopping district the day after the game, at least 12 members were accused of stealing about $22,000 worth of electronic equipment from Japanese merchants.

After Japanese authorities threatened to prevent the band from leaving the country, most of the merchandise was returned.

An investigation of the incident further revealed that 28 people in the 120-member band were not enrolled at the university, and allegations surfaced that some members were paid to perform.

Deanna Burrell, vice president for Student Services, said judicial hearings were held for the members involved, and some are required to attend ethics classes that will be held in the next few weeks.

At the rally, several students voiced their support to keep the name Ocean of Soul, which has been the band's name for 23 years under the direction of Ben Butler. Many band members said the name signifies the band's crowd-pleasing music and moves that have made it nationally-recognized and a popular attraction at such events as the Galveston Mardi Gras.

Harris said Butler and three other band leaders have been reassigned to other teaching duties.

"President Harris was just wishy-washy about the whole band," said Cardell Cheeks, a band alumnus who played with the Ocean of Soul during its first few years. "He just threw it away. He threw away our name and our tradition."

Cheeks said band supporters have discussed lobbying Texas' top officials, including the governor, to support their cause. The supporters have circulated petitions to garner 50,000 signatures in favor of retaining the name Ocean of Soul.

State Rep. Ron Wilson (D-Houston) submitted a bill last week to the Legislature that would require TSU to keep Ocean of Soul as the band's official name.

Student Government President Tamara Sterling, who addressed the rally after speaking to the Board of Regents, told the crowd she was "highly upset and utterly disgusted" with Harris' decision to dissolve the Ocean of Soul.

"If it weren't for the Ocean, we wouldn't have athletics. Why do we go to the games in the first place?," she said. "We can understand putting the band under new direction, but for what the band means to the students, they want it to remain the same."

Genise Hurst, 20, has played the flute in the Ocean of Soul for three years. She said the band's tradition was instrumental in her decision to attend TSU.

"I didn't even know about TSU until the Ocean came and got me," Hurst said, holding rally signs that stated, "Don't drain the Ocean" and "Keep the Ocean flowing."

Not everyone at the rally supported the student movement to retain the band's name. TSU student Kail Austin, 24, said he felt Harris was correct in dissolving the band.

"When the TSU band went over there and they stole, they broke the law," Kail said. "When you break the law, you should be disciplined."

One student, who asked to remain anonymous, said he was "really disappointed" in the actions of some band members in Tokyo.

"They disgraced the school, and they disgraced the U.S.A.," he said. "I don't think they should have a band, at least not for awhile."

Another student, who asked to remain anonymous, said he believes the band should be closely monitored so incidents such as the one in Tokyo could be prevented.

 

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COUGARS SWEEP NO. 16 TULANE, RIDE GREEN WAVE TO 10-0 RECORD

by Patti Warner

Daily Cougar Staff

The Cougar baseball team continued its winning ways with a two-game sweep of No. 16 Tulane this weekend.

Houston (10-0) won 9-7 Saturday and 5-3 Sunday to start the Green Wave off with an 0-2 record.

"I think the key for us (Sunday) was six strong innings out of Jeff Wright," Cougars coach Bragg Stockton said. "It's been a long time since Jeff was this strong."

Wright went 5 2/3 innings, giving up five hits, three walks and two runs. His seven strikeouts set a season record for Houston.

The Cougars broke open a scoreless tie in the third inning with an unusual play. Shortstop Jason McDonald walked to lead off the inning. He advanced to third on outs by left fielder Brian Blair and center fielder Phil Lewis.

Green Wave starter Ivan Zweig heard a pop in his shoulder before the next pitch and immediately removed himself from the game.

Troy Mitchell, a spokesman for Tulane, said Zweig was concerned about his elbow since he had surgery last summer. As soon as he returned to the dugout, he had no more problems.

Todd Dyess came in to relieve Zweig. On the first pitch, McDonald broke for home. Tulane catcher Larry Schneider came forward to tag McDonald and was called for interference, sending the batter, right fielder Shane Buteaux, to first base.

Home plate umpire John Kleis ruled that Dyess had balked; therefore, McDonald's stolen base was erased.

Kleis stopped the game two other times to warn a boisterous Houston bench against any further complaints about his officiating.

The Cougars added another run in the fifth when catcher David Galvin singled to lead off the inning, then later scored on Lewis' ground-out.

Houston took the 2-0 lead through six innings before Schneider drilled a Jeff Wright pitch over the left-field fence for a two-run shot.

Brian Hamilton (3-0) relieved Wright to pick up his third victory of the season. In 2 1/3 innings, Hamilton gave up two hits, one run and hit two batters.

Brett Jones pitched the ninth inning in relief of Jeremy Tyson for his first save of the season.

Blair led Cougar hitters with three singles and the game-winning RBI in the seventh inning off Green Wave reliever Juan Ibieta (0-1).

"We manufactured our runs today," Stockton said. "It feels good to beat a team like this."

Houston added insurance when first baseman Kirk Taylor singled home two more runs in the eighth inning.

Junior Matt Beech (2-0) pitched 5 1/3 innings in relief of starter Wade Williams in Saturday's game. Beech struck out five and gave up one hit.

Blair had two hits for the Cougars and a career-best four RBIs.

Houston's defense also turned four double plays to tie a school record.

Tulane starter Mike Romano (0-1) was picked as a preseason All-American. He lasted four innings, giving up six earned runs.

Lewis, who played all weekend with a fever, was named Southwest Conference Player of the Week for the first week of the season.

"It's great," Lewis said. "But we just have to keep playing the way we have been."

Lewis finished the week at 17-26 with three doubles, two triples and one home run. His 11 RBIs lead the Cougars.

Houston hosts the McNeese State Cowboys at 2 p.m. today at Cougar Field.

 

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TEXAS A&M FREE THROWS DOWN PHYSICAL, FOUL-PRONE LADY COOGS

by Heather Ellis

Daily Cougar Staff

Andi Jackson's 17 points and seven rebounds were not enough to pull the Lady Cougars past the Lady Aggies on the road Saturday.

The free-throw factor dealt a heavy blow to the Cougars, who committed 32 fouls throughout the game. The Aggies capitalized on this, sinking 23 of their free-throws.

Close throughout the game, the Cougars trailed only by two at halftime, 31-29.

Houston was fouled 17 times and completed 11 of its free-throws and almost matched the Aggies' turnover total. Houston committed 19 and the Aggies, 21.

With the 66-61 victory firmly in place, the Aggies now claim sole position of third place in the Southwest Conference as their record improves to 12-8 overall and 5-4 in the SWC.

There is still little or no breathing room in the middle of the SWC. The Cougars, Southern Methodist Mustangs and Baylor Bears are in a perpetual tie for fourth place in the conference. The Cougars are 10-11 overall and 4-5 in conference.

The ominous flu bug spread to the team and chose Margo Graham as its first prey. Graham, who didn't start the game, finished with 14 points and three rebounds.

Senior forward Stephanie Edwards also didn't start because of an injured leg.

Junior guard Michelle Harris also had an on-night, scoring 12 points and grabbing three rebounds.

The two-time SWC Player of the Week, freshman Lisa Branch, led the Aggies in scoring with 23 points.

Junior forward Beth Burket also contributed to the Aggies' cause, scoring 10 points for the night.

The Cougars will hit the small screen Wednesday when they play the Baylor Bears at Hofheinz. The game starts at 5 p.m. and will be televised on Home Sports Entertainment.

 

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SCORCHING HOT

by Adam King

Daily Cougar Staff

The good news is Houston stomped Texas Tech 93-76 to win its first conference game in the last five attempts.

The not-so-good news is Houston took until 11:05 left in the game to put the Red Raiders away.

But the great news is the Cougars seem to be as healthy as a freshly aerobicized Jane Fonda tripping on wheat germ.

With 14 minutes remaining, Houston, 15-6 (5-4), went on a 17-0 run in a three-minute span to take a 57-47 lead. Anthony Goldwire's eight points and a Lloyd Wiles' three-pointer keyed the run.

Tech was able to close to within seven at 60-53, but Cougar center Charles "Bo" Outlaw, who finished with a career-high 28 points, took control, scoring nine points on an 18-9 Houston run to put the game out of reach.

"I knew we'd be flat coming back from the trip," said Houston coach Pat Foster, whose team played three games in six days. "I think it was the physical tiredness. The first half was about as poor as we've played all year, but then the second half was very good."

For the game, the Cougars shot a season-high 61.4 percent from the field and held the Red Raiders, 11-9 (3-6), to just 44 percent.

Since his recovery from the flu, Goldwire has been the boost the Cougar offense needed. In the last three games, he has averaged 16.7 points and eight assists.

"The last couple games, I've been trying to get back into my form like I was earlier in the year when I was trying to get back in shape shooting the ball, handling the ball and get everybody going," said Goldwire, who finished with 19 points and nine assists.

Goldwire went down in the second half after he was hit hard driving down the left baseline for a lay-up. He hobbled off the floor but later returned to the game.

After the game, his ankle began to swell.

"The first couple minutes (after returning to the game), it was kind of tight," Goldwire said. "I got with myself and said, 'I've got to play through this pain.' It just challenges me now to see if I can overcome it."

"Everybody has a better game when everybody's healthy," Outlaw said. "If Anthony's healthy, it's a plus because he's an extremely good point guard. When he's healthy and everybody's healthy, we're a good team."

Derrick Smith has also come back on a tear after slumping during Houston's four-game conference slide. Smith recently admitted he had been playing the season with a stress fracture in his shin.

Smith has averaged 14.3 points the last three games and scored 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting against Tech.

Foster said the fracture is now healed.

"The game in Reno he said for the first time, he played without pain," Foster said. "He seems to be getting better, and he's playing better as a result."

 

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JELLY FISH YIELDS FIRST-RATE CATCH

by Jeff Balke

Daily Cougar Staff

Sixties and '70s pop never sounded so good. This is not a Time/Life retrospective album, however. It's Jellyfish's new LP, Spilt Milk.

No, not Bouffant Jellyfish -- not by a long shot. This Jellyfish is a brilliant combination of Queen, Todd Rundgren, the Beatles and the Partridge Family -- not an alternative band from Texas, but a well-orchestrated, psychedelic pop band from California.

<i>Spilt Milk <p> is one of the best albums of the '90s and an incredible follow-up to <i>Bellybutton<p> , their critically acclaimed debut album.

Heavily-layered, Queen-like vocals and extremely catchy melodies lay on a bed of orchestration, complete with a calliope, timpani drums, a full string section and a variety of other orchestra and percussion instruments that blanket the wonderfully crafted songs.

Basically, Jellyfish takes an old approach to songwriting (melody and arrangement first) and adds the kind of production that '90s technology allows, leading to more adventurous forms of rock music.

The band is made up of Andy Sturmer (drums, vocals), Roger Manning (keyboards, vocals), Tim Smith (bass, vocals) and an assortment of guitarists Their original guitar player left after their last tour.

Jellyfish has earned high praise from critics; their shows are usually filled with many noted names in the music industry (especially their record-release show in L.A. for <i>Bellybutton<p>), and they've toured with the likes of the Black Crowes, who are known for their discerning taste in musical travelling companions.

The band's critical recognition is mostly a result of the level of musicianship found in their songs, but there is more to their songs than just great arrangements.

Their lyrics are filled with deep, insightful and sometimes satirical sentiments. Both <i>Bellybutton <p> and <i>Spilt Milk <p> delve into various topics, including battered wives, drug addiction, spoiled rich kids, fan clubs, depression and love of one's private parts, just to name a few.

Even though Jellyfish could be classified as a pop band, they still have the occasional urge to crank up the guitars, as is evident in "Fan Club," "The Ghost at Number One" and "All is Forgiven."

This is not to say that the band is made for Top 40 radio. It's hard to tell if the general public will be able to handle this kind of layered, orchestrated music, but with the resurgence in popularity of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," courtesy of <i>Wayne's World<p>, anything is possible.

Maybe, for a change, Top 40 fans will turn the tide with <i>Spilt Milk<p> and set music back on a course away from the boring schlock prevalent in the '80s, or maybe not. Either way, <i>Spilt Milk <p> is a great album and worth a listen, or two, or a thousand.

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