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on 2/15/01.

When more than $500,000 of state funds were discovered to have been stolen at Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander's office last year, I wondered why no investigation was conducted by appropriate external authorities.

I wondered if an investigation would be made about how a playroom was set up for Rylander's grandchildren in a state government building while other state employees have to pay for child care.

Now I wonder if anyone will investigate the legality of Texas' top tax collector sending a letter from her office soliciting contributions to one of her political support groups. I wonder if voters will stop and think next time the "tough grandma" runs for office.



Privileged treatment

Where is Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander coming from? I don't think we should let her get by with having a playroom in her office for baby-sitting her grandkids. How many state and federal workers would like to have that kind of deal so they could work and baby-sit at the same time? Sounds like a great way of helping out the workers.

But this setup is only for a special group of tough grandmas. Better luck next time.



Mental health woes

Yes, our mental health system in Texas is disturbing. Mental health money is severely insufficient to serve adults and children.

I am a psychotherapist at Bluebonnet Trails Community MHMR in Bastrop. This lack of money also means low salaries, which makes it extremely difficult to retain and recruit employees. I've heard that our agency has a 40 percent turnover rate, and positions remain vacant for many months.

Our direct-care staff members don't make a living wage, and our entry-level social work jobs (which require a bachelor's degree) pay much less than a first-year teacher. I have seen staff members stay a year or less, in large part because of low salaries. Our staff is talented and dedicated, but we have to have a decent salary to live. When will the state and our own agencies finally get it? We're dropping like flies.



Board not the problem

The Feb. 4 editorial, "Education board no longer useful," calling for the abolishing of the State Board of Education is the wrong solution addressing the wrong problems.

Instead, we would be better served to do away with the Texas Education Agency rather than the education board. It appears much of the attack on the education board is precisely about power -- power that some elected officials want to take away from others.

The popular media have taken the position that because the board "doesn't get along" and "disagrees with powerful and popular politicians" that they should be eliminated.

As a parent, I am aware of many of the problems in education. They aren't caused by the board. They are more closely related to bureaucrats making decisions behind closed doors without meaningful input from parents and teachers and students.


Director, Texas Citizens

for a Sound Economy


Wright stood his ground

I disagree with Ben Sargent's assertion in his Feb. 9 editorial notebook, "Seeking a design for the ages," that "the architect's work must be a compromise between fulfilling his own creative vision and meeting the requirements -- both practical and aesthetic -- of the building's owner, of the people who use it and even of the people who see it."

Most Americans would agree Frank Lloyd Wright is the most famous architect of the past century. Wright refused to compromise his creative expression, and for most of his career, customers waited years for Wright to be available to design properties for them.

Today, Wright-designed properties are treasures because they are not only incredibly beautiful, but because they represent a man bigger than life who had a vision and refused to compromise.



Churches, do more

President Bush's proposal to include faith-based organizations in the government's ineffective efforts to aid the less fortunate recognizes that those organizations have been the most successful.

As a Christian, I am both proud and ashamed. Proud that someone recognized that a faith-based approach is superior. Ashamed that we are not doing as Christ taught -- taking care of our family, fellow believers and community.

It is not the governments' responsibility to take care of the needy. Because the Christians abdicated their responsibility, the government stepped in and partially filled the void.

Faith-based organizations should say no to this proposal and acknowledge their responsibility.

Religious leaders should demand that their churches provide for the needs of their own and their community. Then the controversy regarding "separation of church and state" would be no more.


Round Rock

Not a winning idea

As a Christian, I am ashamed and embarrassed by the Jesus Video Project of Texas ("Jesus on video: Mass mailing targets Texans," Feb. 7). Project organizers plan to eventually mail a videocassette chronicling Jesus' life from the Gospel of Luke to 8.4 million homes in Texas, hoping to "win" 4.2 million souls for Jesus.

Win? Don't these project organizers realize that, to the extent they "win" souls, some other religion or belief system will "lose" a corresponding number of souls?

According to the article, the project organizers "are not concerned that the tape might offend non-Christians." Jesus taught me to "love my neighbor," not "offend my neighbor." Will this insane competition for "souls" ever end?

I agree with the Rev. Davidson Loehr, who is quoted in the article as saying, "We are really past the time when any one religion can hope to be the path forward."



Take a sip

Concerning 5-year-old Jenny Richardson's inability to receive the communion wafer of wheat ("Church won't change wafer for child's communion," Jan. 31): According to Roman Catholic teaching, she could instead take a sip of the consecrated wine. This is not something new.

The book, "Catechism of the Catholic Church," says: "Christ is present, whole and entire, in each species (of bread and wine). He is also present . . . in each of their parts."



GRAPHIC: The state comptroller's office says it's helping employees by using this extra office as a playroom. Some of Carole Keeton Rylander's critics question its legality. //

D.E. Kissman