We want Gertrude
Welcome back, Mr. Mayor. In the days ahead, you
will appoint the City of Houston's second women's
advocate. By our definition, an advocate is a supporter, a defender, someone who argues for a cause
and for change.
A women's advocate is not a mayor's advocate. She
must have the TOTAL freedom to speak out for ALL
women-and particularly those most excluded from
the favors of society-Black, Brown, poor, old and
young, unemployed and underemployed, and gay
women, women in jail and women out of jail for whom
there is now no direct voice.
She must work closely with "city fathers" to make
them sensitive to the needs of women in the community in decisions they render.
She must be unafraid to confront recalcitrant city
department heads who are content to let the city's
clerical and janitorial workers remain in their "deadend" jobs with no offer of training or hope of advancement.
She must be visible and vocal before the media and
in the community as she exposes evidence of sexism
and racism deeply rooted in city government.
She must be a strong, independent, and courageous
woman, one who commands respect from all
segments of the community by her sensitivity to their
The Honorable Elizabeth Reid of Australia once
said, "We do not want just women in (political institutions). We want devoted feminists...if we are
talking about changing American society...or any
A women's advocate must be a feminist.
Mr. Mayor, there is one clear choice: Gertrude
The Barnstone record has demonstrated to women
of all races that she is an advocate- a defender, a
supporter, a champion of causes for change.
Barnstone defended and fought for the civil rights of
minority children while on the school board in the 60's.
She supports the struggle for women's equal rights
in the 70's.
Gertrude Barnstone is not "just a woman."
She is someone who would meet Elizabeth Reid's
criteria of a feminist devoted to change.
That is the kind of advocate we want for the women
in the city of Houston.
Nurse on Board
In our view, no one understands and ministers to the needs of the patient
more than the members of the nursing profession. How ironic, then, that a
nurse has never been appointed to serve on the Harris County Hospital
District's Board of Managers.
In the administration of health care we feel the Board of Managers has a dual
responsibility: (1) to the community—The hospital district serves not only the
indigent at Jeff Davis and the nine satellite clinics, but the needs of all who come
to Ben Taub as emergency patients or rape victims; (2) to its employees—50%
of the hospital district employees are in the nursing services. The nurse is closer
to the consumer than any other health provider and comes into contact with the
largest number of employees in the hospital district.
This month the posts occupied by Don Horn, Quentin Mease, and Dr. George
Alexander—three of the seven Board of Manager positions—come up for a
two year re-appointment by Commissioners' Court.
This month the names of two nurses, Mary Lee Guidry and Alison Druck, are
being strongly recommended by the Texas Nurses Association, District #9 and
supported by the Houston Inner City NOW for two of these three positions.
Guidry holds an M.S. in medical surgical nursing. She is a former faculty
member of Prairie View School of Nursing and now teaches at the University of
St. Thomas. She is also President of the Texas Nurses Association, District #9.
Druck, an M.S. graduate in psychiatric nursing, is on the faculty of Texas
Women's University's School of Nursing. She has also worked with the
Houston Rape Crisis Coalition.
In the interest of better health care for the community we strongly support
both the concept of a nurse member on the Board of Managers and the
appointments of Mary Lee Guidry and Alison Druck to that board. We just as
strongly urge the community to express that support by letter to each Harris
County Commissioner and the county judge.
The Commissioners are Tom Bass, E. A. "Squatty" Lyons, Jim Fonteno,
and Bob Echels. Jon Lindsav is the county judge. All can be reached at the
Family Law Center, Congress and San Jacinto Streets, Houston 77002.
ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FENCE
Letters to the editor
I would like to commend four of
my sisters from the Inner City
Chapter of the National
Organization for Women-not
only because they are minority,
but also because they are truly
four great women who have done
so much to motivate and encourage women like myself to
reach our greatest potential.
Many thanks to you, Olga Soliz,
Gloria Guardiola, Cilia Estrada
and Brenda Lewis. May all our
sisters everywhere learn the true
meaning of struggle from the
example of these four women.
"To have the courage for
change is to be a true feminist."
I liked what you said when I
called your newspaper and
wanted to know if a feminist
newspaper was "for women
You told me that feminists
were women and men who
supported the concept of
women's equal rights.
I like that and I support your
I am the new Coordinator of the
Criminal Justice Task Force for
Inner City-NOW. I accepted this
position because I had once been
in jail myself for offenses related
to drugs and that experience
convinced me to work in the area
of prison reform.
I now have a responsible job at
a local university and I have
begun working on projects in the
criminal justice area. I have
visited the county jails and talked
with women prisoners but had not
made contact with the city jail-
unul an unexpected visit on
Saturday, December 13.
My roommate and I were
driving home from a wine tasting
party at the home of my supervisor, a Rice University
professor. My gear shift malfunctioned, slipped into neutral
and caused my car to come to a
sudden halt on the S.W. Freeway.
Two police officers behind us
pulled us over. We did not have
identification with us. They took
us downtown, charging us with
obstructing traffic and public
intoxication. (We were never
given any tests to determine the
extent of intoxication.)
After sitting on the bench for an
hour my roommate, Lucy, was
summoned to a small room by a
matron. In less than a minute the
matron emerged and called for
handcuffs. Knowing Lucy had
never been in jail and was very
frightened, I got up to see what
was happening. Two male officers grabbed me and one said
he'd break my arm if I struggled.
I was placed in a holding cell. .
I did not see Lucy until the next
morning when she told me that
she had refused to take off her
pants in the search. She kept
telling them that she had done
nothing wrong. The matron had
her handcuffed to the arms of a
chair she was sitting in and had
ordered two policemen to hold
her while the matron pulled down
her pants. Lucy was
humiliated and resisted and they
jerked her so violently that her
arms were bruised from wrist to
Anyone's car can break down,
anyone can leave ID at home.
Anyone can be arrested, it appears, for "public intoxication"
on leaving a cocktail party or a
All of which means anyone
could go to jail-anytime. Only
then will the public be aware of
the need for jail reform. There is
no consideration given to the fact
that it is your "first" time or that
you are genuinely frightened-
I share this experience with
you because it could happen to
Breakthrough will be sent free
to women in the Houston City Jail
and the Harris County Jail. We
plan to send future copies to
women in other Texas jails and
prisons. We want to begin a
dialogue with our Sisters in
prison so that we might better
understand the conditions they
live in and help change that
A new Women's Advocate for
the City of Houston will be appointed soon and I'm concerned
with the lack of a staff for the new
appointee. Considering the
monumental challenges for one
person as she tries to investigate
the needs, establish priorities,
and undertake programs for the
majority of this city's population,
it is absurd to expect her to answer her own phone (impossible
when she is out of the office),
handle all her correspondence,
maintain records, and carry on
all the research for projects.
As the University of Houston's
Women's Advocate and the past
Director of the Department of
Women's Affairs in the
University of Houston's Students'
Association, I have experienced
full staff support and assistance
which allowed me time to work
on special projects and
carry out goals which I would
not otherwise have been able to
I feel the City of Houston's
Women's Advocate is entitled to
the same support services made
available to all other department
heads in city government.