Saturday, May 31, 2008

My Birdseye View of Baytown

Last Monday my brother TJ Bustem and I drove down to the Memorial Day service at Bicentennial Park and listened to Army veteran George Rincon and others as they honored our fallen military brothers. PFC Wesley Riggs was left off the list by accident, but was remembered and honored. TJ Bustem and I attended the dedication of the memorial to him where it resides in Beach City. My hat is still off to this soldier hero and his family.

This was my first attendance at our Memorial Day service, but not my last and I talked with a number of folks and photographed the event and later published the photos on We were moved to tears as we sang about our freedom and once again pledged allegiance to the flag of our great country. One young MROTC member in particular cried and I told them it was perfectly fine and to let the tears flow. As the photographs show, everyone was visibly moved and solemn and all should attend this memorial service in the future. It is another fine example of good things to do in our city.

Well, we Chaparral Village folks, although abnormally above average in intelligence (just ask anyone over here) set our recyclables on the curb last Thursday as instructed by the label on the side of the blue recycle bin and fully expected someone to pick them up by 7am. We are all about recycling and dang-nabit, we didn’t particularly care if the program hadn’t started yet. After 2 days I put mine back in the garage till next Thursday so I wouldn’t appear to be one of the “Village People”.

They’ve finally striped McKinney Road! Hooray! The road was resurfaced a couple of months ago and instead of stripes, there were yellow reflective tabs sticking up in the middle of the road. Seeing those tabs on the solid black surface was hardly comforting at night and since there is no shoulder – read none – the road appeared less than safe to travel on, especially at night or in the rain. I’ve asked the city to install culverts and at least one sidewalk on this stretch of road because there is always foot or bike traffic and folks are forced to walk in the road. I was told there is no money available for this project.

Here’s one for consideration: Try riding a bicycle on our streets and you will know how Bear Grylls feels when he free-falls out of a hot air balloon over a remote part of the world. It’s the same experience and I promise you will feel the same sense of dying that this man feels in every episode of Born Survivor. Our roads have no shoulder or bike lane for the most part and every trek on a bicycle may be your last. Welcome to Baytown bike riders!

I don’t like to air Baytown’s dirty laundry on Houston television, but it was time to drop a line to Andy Cerota - the ABC13 crime reporter and someone well versed with our past crime problems. He called yesterday and I spilled the beans.

The Houston Speedway is evidentially inspiring Street Racing in Baytown, or maybe it’s the video game Grand Theft Auto – one way or another organized groups of racers blast down Chaparral Drive every weekend, flying through 4-ways stops, skidding around corners, music blaring and with bottles in hand they dash them against the road surface and brick homes and taunt homeowners. The incidents usually start just after dark and continue until about 3am.

As if on cell phone cue the bombardment begins and ends only to repeat 45 minutes later. This Friday night, one alert homeowner recorded the action. The vehicles involved are as follows: Motorcycles (2), Silver Van, Silver Extended cab Truck, Red 4-door sedan, White 2-door economy car, Silver Single-Cab Truck, Beige Malibu, Burgundy Acura, Burgundy Ford Explorer, Dark Green Ford Explorer and a Red 2-door sports car.

This is no small incident folks and we here are all afraid someone will be killed in a terrible collision.

I like to walk the trail system at Walter Jenkins Memorial Park. I like it so much that I’ve asked the City Manager to let me in on planning the trail when the new section is developed. The beautiful path meanders past the new Skate Park and until recently, it was unmarked with graffiti (which was removed yesterday). Graffiti is not art - period. It is defacing public or private property by outlaw idiots posing as respectable artists who have no regard for the law or social propriety. Graffiti sprayers should be beaten with a rattan cane by a bona fide Singapore caning expert, kept on retainer by the City.

If a person were caught spraying graffiti and caned, they would assuredly retire from tagging for the rest of their natural born life, as one Texas boy used to say. Severe? Heck yes it’s severe, but isn’t that the idea? You do the crime – you pay the fine and we Americans need to demand pain as punishment and forget making the parents fork over dollars for crimes their teenagers commit.

I recommend this course of action for criminal mischief convictions. Cane them and then force them to make civil restitution. If a child, teen or adult makes the ridiculous claim that they did not know right from wrong, then after their caning - cane the parents too...

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