Letters are posted as we receive them during the week, and before they are printed in the paper, so check back frequently to see new letters. If you'd like to send a letter to the editor, follow this link, or email your letter directly to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for your patience.
RECEIVED Wed., March 23, 2011
Please … please … tell me that team MetroRail learned from last Saturday's experience [March 19], and that they will forthwith offer some variant of evening and weekend rail service (?).
I realize that the final Saturday of South by Southwest is not the ideal time to obtain a representative sample of potential weekend ridership, but come on … the 4pm southbound was full to capacity with enthusiastic passengers wishing they could do this more often! Doesn't this experience spark even a little bit of hope for the idea that offering evening and weekend MetroRail service might result in folks actually using the damn thing?!
RECEIVED Tue., March 22, 2011
As an unemployed teacher who has been receiving unemployment benefits, I am dealing with an injustice that will affect all teachers who are being eliminated by budget cuts. Because of a technicality in the Texas state law, teachers are not eligible for benefits during school breaks.
Teachers work and are paid by their school districts year-round. Why is this law legal? It's a discrimination against teachers! Any other unemployed business person is paid unemployment benefits year-round … why not teachers?
Texas bylaw for payment of unemployment benefits for teachers:
“Individuals employed by any educational institution in any capacity cannot be paid benefits based on such services for any week of unemployment which begins during the period between two regular academic years or terms, if they performed such services in the first of such years or terms and have a contract to perform or there is a reasonable assurance that they will perform such services in the second of such years or terms. With respect to the foregoing services, individuals cannot be paid for any week of unemployment beginning during an established and customary vacation period or holiday recess if such individual performed services in the period immediately before and there is a reasonable assurance that they will perform services in the period immediately after such a vacation period or recess.”
This law needs to be immediately reversed! Facing summer break with no income and being penalized for other times school is not in session, unemployed teachers must still report to the unemployment commission continuing job searches during school breaks even though we do not receive income for those periods!
Granted 20 more weeks of unemployment benefits but because I'm a teacher, I will not receive any payments while school is not in session. Is this not a gross injustice?
RECEIVED Mon., March 21, 2011
After a harrowing hometown week of work, fun, participation, and subversion, I am worried.
I am worried because you are worried. I hear you plan to work with the city of Austin to "limit" the free events due to too much free beer and rowdy behavior. Blah. That's a little wimpy for a strapping young festival of 25 years old.
I hope your work with the city doesn't translate as "How can we charge them more for more stuff?". For the record, I love SXSW. I have worked it in the clubs. I have played fair and bought your credentials many years and spent others cashing in favors and jumping fences.
I'm sure the staff of the Scoot Inn/Mohawk/Beauty Bar or any number of venues where the "saturation point" was reached will survey the damage, see that it is minimal, and quickly add the tale to the larger story of their badass lives. A lot of locals don't want to/can't pay for the grand affair and just wanna get into something free and fun – or maybe they have a break from an insane week of working for you. They are not waiting in line all day to network or get signed or add to their esoteric hipster résumés. They want action and they want free beer. This year was awesome. Is there such a thing as too awesome? I got to see fans brave barbed wire and small cliff jumps to get in. I got to see swag young rappers jump off the damn roof while the fans tore down the gate. Even after this last week, I think we can still handle more awesome. You have created the tension and the anticipation.You have manufactured the exclusivity and upped the ante every year. You have fattened up the 800-pound gorilla and now he needs to go on a diet 'cause he's gotten a little top-heavy. Perhaps you can start by weaning him off of monolithic corporate sponsors and giant stadium-sized pop-up venues. Perhaps you should only let him eat 1,500 bands next year instead of 2,000.
Just relax, get some better fences, and don't mess with my freedom.
Club de Ville
P.S. Is it really illegal to lean on the stone wall at the new C3 party house across from Stubb's? :)
[South by Southwest responds: There have been inaccurate reports that SXSW is planning to work with the city of Austin to limit free events next year. SXSW has long offered a number of fun and exciting free-to-the-public events for the Austin community, and will continue to do so. Other groups will undoubtedly also present free events during SXSW.
The confusion was caused by comments from SXSW regarding the fact that the city of Austin has recently amended the permitting process for all free events. The new sound ordinance will create more scrutiny in the planning stages and place a priority on public safety. That process began in February and was not fully in effect by SXSW 2011. Next year, the process will be more comprehensive and will create safer outdoor events.]
RECEIVED Mon., March 21, 2011
The “City Hall Hustle” columnist should be given another beat. It becomes more and more obvious that he thinks little of the importance of his assigned subject and would be happier guzzling beer and listening to music. Can't say I blame him, if it weren't for his obligation to inform his readers and his obligation to take that charge seriously. He continuously makes light of the possibly criminal actions of city public servants (that's what the staff and council are) and minimizes the importance of their violations of citizens rights and possibly criminal acts against the citizens of Austin. If such issues seem small to Mr. Dunbar, he is obviously a poor choice to represent the investigative interests of your readership and, I would hope, that of The Austin Chronicle. Mr. Dunbar seems to be infected by the same lack of respect for the citizenry as the City Hall he purports to cover.
RECEIVED Mon., March 21, 2011
It has been an absolutely wonderful experience to be allowed to work within the volunteer community at Town Lake Animal Center over the last eight years. I am just afraid once I meet and interact with Abigail Smith, my warning light will come on and I will be forced to cut all ties with the TLAC programs. I will not compromise my ethics and my core beliefs by aiding an organization headed by someone who is educated enough to know better, yet because of political expediency, is a part of the problem. Someone who is actually an obstruction to solutions that embrace not only lowering the euthanasia rate but also public safety and fiscal responsibility. Someone who supports a program that sucks away our tax dollars from programs to benefit at-risk children, the homeless, the mentally ill, and seniors. Someone who is determined to prop up a faulty premise called "no kill" without assigning responsibility to those who create the problem. Someone who thinks spending more and more money and more and more resources is a viable long-term solution. Those are my tax dollars and the tax dollars and resources of my neighbors being slowly siphoned away from much-needed programs for our most vulnerable citizens to prop up a defective but politically expedient solution called "no kill.” I want no part of it!
I hope I'm wrong, I'm praying I am wrong, I'd love to be wrong, but her interviews with the media and her answers in public forums say I'm not. Ms. Smith, please prove me to be wrong. I'm begging you. For the sake of our cats and dogs. For the sake of our most vulnerable citizens. Prove me wrong!
RECEIVED Thu., March 17, 2011
Amazonia Aquariums has had our second live nude fish sign stolen! The first one got swiped, I sent out a press release, and we got some press coverage on that story. A local sign company called BuildASign.com saw our stolen sign story and kindly gave us a free new sign that was hanging for about two weeks. Then, this weekend it was stolen as well. Now exactly who needs all these live nude fish signs anyway? Pray tell, who else has nude fish that need advertising? Exactly how can stuff get stolen right on I-35 with hundreds of cars passing by? Why are live nude fish signs so popular with thieves? I am thinking of putting in a security camera and starting a new reality show called Stupid Thieves With No Life Caught on Camera. The next sign might say, "Smile your on live nude fish cam." In response Amazonia is going to make live nude fish shirts that say "steal this shirt" on the back. Our live nude fish are so popular that now we may have to paint a giant mural that says live nude fish on the side of the building. Let's see them steal that!
RECEIVED Thu., March 17, 2011
Thank you for printing information on the SXSW films, but stories by a certain group are noticeably missing. There seems to be no Mexican-American writers and producers revealing our experiences here in Texas. Considering that Chicanos are almost totally ignored by the film industry, this festival should have tried to remedy this oversight by providing more representation of this native group.