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Monahan's Well

By Jerry Curry
We have it on good authority that the nation is floundering
in economic good fortune. Jobs are everywhere. Federal
Reserve notes actually are worth something. Despite the
obvious moral degradation of Washington D.C., it is all okay
because we haven't had times as good as this since Dwight
Eisenhower was in the White House and absolutely no one was
worrying about paying their bills or being nuked by some
wandering expatriate from India or Pakistan.

All of this must be true because Bill Clinton says it is so.
And he is the president of the United States and we must
believe him. On the outside chance that someone thinks I
believe the statement just written, I meant it in jest. It
was a wry comment. No way do I believe that. I was joking.

You see I am suspect of our much ballyhooed economic good

There are two reasons for this.

1. First the Congress of these United States is seriously
considering legislation that will make it harder for
individuals and businesses to declare bankruptcy. The
reason is that personal and business bankruptcies are
approaching a high that has not been equalled since the Oil
Patch busted in the 1980s. Too many creditors are being
stiffed because of the rise in bankruptcies which threaten
to send many of these creditors into bankruptcy. This is why
there needs to be a tightening of the federal bankruptcy
laws, the congressionals say.

Now if it is true, we are wallowing in the hog heaven of the
good times why are so many declaring bankruptcy, declaring
bankruptcy in numbers that are even beginning to scare
congressionals, both Republican and Democrat, who keep
telling us times are so good.

2. Credit cards.

I don't know about you but I suddenly have started receiving
lots and lots of credit card applications in the mail. It
is obvious they do not know that I consider credit cards
the symbol of The Great Satan and I would sooner vote for a
Republican (which I have done. I'm sorry, Mom) than I would
apply for a credit card.

Credit cards, I am convinced, probably are outlined
somewhere in the Book of Revelation (Apocalypse to we
secular Catholics) although I have not yet been able to
find the reference.

Credit cards scare me.

Credit cards scare me even more than bureaucrats in Austin
and Washington who have decided they're going to help me
become healthier, wealthier and wiser in these economic
good times just as long as I do what they tell me to do.

If times are so good, why are these credit companies trying
to get my business? There is another strange point. At least
two of these credit card applications are for so-called
secure cards. In essence, a secure card means you send
these people $2,500 and they will issue you a card which
allows you to borrow your own money back from them and pay
interest. These guys also sell bridges in Corpus Christi.

Let the good times roll.

Herd journalism hurts city

Now that the City Council of Monahans has voted unanimously
to give meteorite Monahans '98-I back to the kids who found
it, is possible that we can begin to repair the damage
done to the community's image by the current scourge of the
Western World. We call this scourge herd journalism.

Here is how it works. A reporter reports something and gets
it almost right. An editor on the largest daily close to
the scene of the action decides it would sound better if it
were written another way and changes what the reporter on
the scene has written. This altered version makes it into
print and on to the Associated Press wires. Once it is on
the AP, it is fact at least in perception. Absolutely no
media outlet, with the possible exceptions of the New York
Times, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the London Times or the
Monahans News ever would challenge the veracity of an AP

Two weeks ago, it was said from Hong Kong to London, from
London to Moscow, from Moscow to Bangkok and from Bangkok
to Dallas that the mean, stingy and rascally officials of
Monahans had stolen a meteorite from seven little kids and
were not going to give it back.

That was balderdash then. It is balderdash underlined now.

The City Council never said it was not going to return the
meteorite to the kids.

And, in fact, after a few well chosen words from assorted
city officials about the modern phenomenon of mass media and
how it can be manipulated by amateurs, the Council voted
unanimously to give the kids their space rock. It was.

E-mail flooded our offices attacking the city. We fielded
telephone calls in French, Spanish, English, Vietnamese and
two or three languages we didn't recognize all attacking
the city for something it didn't do.

Council Member Curtis Howard said it best and forcefully.

Howard said City Council speaks for the City Council - no
one else and the City Council is the elected representative
of all of the citizens of Monahans - no one else. Council
Member Jeppie Wilson said, "Amen."

So do we.

And we are glad the Meteorite 7 has their space rock back.

We also are glad the city retains Monahans 98-II for future
display in an appropriate place to mark the Spring
meteorites and heard journalists rained on Monahans.

We survived both.

Councilman speaks his mind

Verbatim remarks of Curtis Howard, Monahans City Council, on day council voted to return a meteorite to seven Monahans Children.

(Editor's Note: The following opinion is not necessarily
representative of the opinion of the City of Monahans, any
of its employees, nor is it necessarily representative of
the opinions of any other member of the City Council of

I wish to direct the following remarks to one, Mr. Steve
Arnold, International Meteorite Brokerage of Tulsa, Okla.

Mr. Arnold, I too wish to make reference to the "Personal
Manifesto" which you posted via the Meteorite Central Chat
room on May 26, 1998, titled "The Fight for Truth, Justice
and the American Way."

The first quote that I would like to make reference to
states: "The parents of these seven boys hired me to assist
them with the selling of their meteorite. There is just one
little problem. The City of Monahans will not return it to
them. I have been in Monahans today fighting for 'truth,
justice and the American way.' "

There are two problems I personally have with this first

One, this City Council NEVER said that we would NOT return
it to them; and second, for you to state that you are
fighting for truth while writing this manifesto is
oxymoronic at best. It is loaded to the gills with
conjecture and sensationalism.

The second quote from your free-wheeling post to the chat
group states:

"If the rock is proven to have been found on city property,
it looks like we will have to file a law suit (sic).

(Oh, and by the way, lawsuit is one word not two.)

"against the city and have a judge decide who the legal
owners are. We were hoping that the city would have been
willing to do the right thing and give the rock to the boys
without a legal fight, but in the end, taking it to court
may generate enough publicity to increase the collectibility
of the rock, and it will be worth it."

Again, sir, conjecture and sensationalism and may I
inquire, sir, as to how taking this thing to court is in the
best interest of these children? Going to court would result
in a wide array of court and legal costs for these families
that would substantially reduce any monetary benefit that
they would derive from the commercial sale of the meteorite.
I would offer in my own display of personal conjecture that
YOU might benefit but I fail to see how these kids would. I
humbly ask the question since I think I remember you saying
something about having the kids' best interests at heart

Just pointing that out.

I understand that you might garner these misconceptions by
having read a letter dated May 15, 1998, from our City
Manager, David Mills, to Orlando Lyles, stating his
"interpretation" of the City Council's position concerning
this matter. For future reference, Mr. Arnold, an
interpretation is precisely that. It is neither factual nor
is it final policy and seeing how you and I have never
personally visited, although you have tried, it cannot be
interpreted as a stipulation or policy in place from action
actually taken by this City Council.

I also would like to make reference to the personal letter
from you to me dated June 4, 1998, received at my residence
via certified mail and signed for by my wife. There never
has been, nor is there now, a gag order in place by Mr.
Mills on this City Council. Mr. Mills cannot place a gag
order on the Council, by law. Speaking for myself, I have,
on my own accord, merely chosen not to talk to you because
I really didn't want too.

Also in the above referenced letter, you state: "Dr. Gibson
is a respected scientist, who went on to conduct a more
detailed study of the Monahans meteorite, and no personal
criticism of his work is intended."

However, sir, in your manifesto on the web you state: "It
seems a PERSON from NASA's Johnson Space Center come (came)
to Monahans and told both the City Council and the Media
that the meteorite was very common, that it was not worth
much financially and that the city owned it since it
(supposedly) was found on city property. Well, this man was
wrong on all three counts." Mr. Arnold, Dr. Everett Gibson
is not simply a PERSON from NASA, he is a reputable and
respected NASA scientist.

You have continually made reference in your letter and your
manifesto as to what this City Council thinks and what this
City Council's position is. You, sir, have not even had the
slightest idea as to what the City Council's position is or
what it thinks. You have your wild ideas but you, in fact,
are grossly misinformed and have misrepresented us to the
Media and your cronies on the internet in an attempt to
create a feeding frenzy of public opinion in which to best
serve YOUR interest. You have created an atmosphere that
makes it very difficult for this Council to make a final
decision that will benefit all parties involved. If we
decide to keep the meteorite based on the results of the
survey, this town will be crucified. Yet, if we hand the
rock over to these seven young men, we will have bowed to
the pressure of the Media and some used rock salesman from
Tulsa, Okla. Shame on you, Mr. Arnold. In no way do I
believe that you have the best interest of these young men
at heart. Your actins over the last mo
nth are indicative of one individual who firmly believes in
his own mind that he is SOMEBODY and is leading some great
crusade.This City Council is a representative government
body devised and in place under the laws and constitution of
the State of Texas. We represent all of the citizens of
Monahans and not just these seven young men and their
parents. We have procedures that we must follow, sir;
procedures that you most likely wouldn't recognize or
understand if they bit you on the nose. We must and will
follow these procedures to the letter of the law and will,
in the end, make a decision that WE, as a governing body,
feel is in the best interest of this city and its
inhabitants. Your personal feelings, your personal opinions
or desires, are of no interest to me.

I was going to make a motion asking that the rock be
returned to these young men. However, Mrs. Garcia beat me to
it. If we pass this action, Mr. Arnold, YOU will be on the
hot seat and all eyes will be on YOU. This City Council
member for one, will be watching you, Mr. Arnold, watching
you to see if you are what you say you are, watching to see
if these young men get $31,000 or more for their rock, minus
your fee, of course, which leads me to an interesting

What is your fee, Mr. Arnold?I look forward to following
your progress in this endeavor. Don't let these young men

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Copyright 1998 by Ward Newspapers, Inc.
Joe Warren, Publisher
107 W. Second St., Monahans TX 79756
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