Our Areas Are Sensitive
I would like to thank you for Nelson England's article of November 15 regarding the Austin Metropolitan Trail Council's plan to establish a 400 mile continuous trail network on all creeks in three counties. As property owners with our backyards backing up to the creeks, we are concerned that our land will be condemned and taken from us to establish these trails. Much denial, however vague, has been made by the AMTC and their governmental supporters regarding condemnation. We simply don't believe them. As a matter of fact, I was standing next to Gus Garcia at the AMTC kick-off celebration at Shoal Creek on September 7. Mr. Garcia told a Daily Texan reporter that those "few" property owners who resisted this project that it may be necessary to condemn their land. At the Austin Transportation Study meeting of October 14, I gave Mr. Garcia an opportunity to refute that he had made this statement to a Daily Texan reporter. He chose not to. I had hoped to give him another opportunity to deny the statement at the ATS meeting of November 18, but he chose not to attend. While everyone denies that they will use condemnation, the fact remains that that will be the only way they can get 100% of the land to make these 400 miles of continuous trails because there will be more than a few property owners who resist this proposal.
If the public is given access to our backyards, we have a strong fear of crime. We wonder just how many of the AMTC members and their political cronies are donating their backyards to establish these trails, or as usual they are asking someone else to make the sacrifice. After they have finished pedaling their bikes on Sunday afternoon, these AMTC yuppies will go back to their condos and apartments and leave us to contend with the criminals at night.
We have been demonized by the local daily as being contentious, uncooperative, resistant, and unwilling to compromise. Why should we be expected to compromise our families' safety so that someone can ride a bicycle on Sunday afternoon? And why is there an assumption that if these are transportation routes the bicyclists have the right to take our backyards and place 10-foot wide concrete slabs in the most sensitive areas in three counties so that they can have a "scenic route" to pedal to work?
I once wrote to one of your earlier reporters who has since gone on to "better things" (?) that I held the Chronicle in almost "reverent regard as a last line of defense for freedoms that all Americans are losing." Thanks to the Chronicle and radio talk-shows, the local daily which at first tried to totally ignore this issue was unsuccessful at dampening this story. They then chose to write an editorial trying to marginalize the home owners and those environmentalists that saw the folly of these concrete trails as contentious and unyielding. The Chronicle in true journalistic tradition gives both sides' views. Not only is the Chronicle to be commended, but Nelson England by his efforts at getting the story out that these trails pose great danger to adjoining property owners may have actually saved lives. The citizens of Austin owe a great debt to Nelson and the Chronicle.
The right to be secure in our homes and possessions was given to us by our Founding Fathers. Why should we surrender these rights that our forefathers fought and died for so that the stretch-pants wearing, $1,000-bike pedaling, exercise-obsessed privileged few can pursue their recreation? I'm sure that King George thought those patriots were contentious, too.
Eric A. Anderson
[Ed. Response: The Chronicle is happy to be recognized for writing fairly and objectively. It should be noted, however, that the jury is still out on whether these trails will pose any danger to property owners.]
Thank you. I found the article "Hitting the Trails" by Nelson England in the November 15 [Vol. 16, No. 11] issue very interesting.
How the ATS allocates federal funds and what it mandates are is a very important issue to the Austin area. It is curious to me that the AMTC's Vision Map proposes 400 miles of interconnected and continuous trails along virtually every creek watershed in the Austin area (three counties altogether). Why continuous? Why watersheds? This plan plays into the hands of developers and gives lip service to the environmentalists while putting the squeeze on individual property owners already living along the creeks. The developers can't really build along the creek watersheds, so why not let the government maintain it and build a park and trail system for them? The environmentalist gets to think the creek is being protected, but how does cutting and grading a 10-foot wide concrete trail along sensitive watersheds and allowing public access on which was once private and secluded land help protect the environment?
For those who are fortunate to live along a creek, I don't think anyone would want to have a public hike-and-bike trail literally in their backyard!
Additionally, the November 18 ATS meeting did not provide a public hearing about the proposed bicycle and pedestrian projects up for funding in Travis County. In fact, when so much opposition was identified to the trails, Representative Maxey proposed the dialogue be continued at the end of the agenda items. Ten minutes before 11 (over four hours later), we were informed the building was to be vacated at 11 and we had 10 minutes to speak. Many people who had signed up to speak about the proposed trail system had already gone home.
December 9, the ATS will vote on almost $1 million in federally channeled funds to build four miles of concrete trail without a public hearing. That's our money, folks. And maybe your backyard.
Dear Mr. Black,
Binge and PIRG
While reading "Naked City" this evening, I was glad to see information about both the "No More Corruption" folks, and about the proposed utilities "break" for the six largest manufacturers in Austin once the power deregulation happens. Smitty was correct in calling it a "greed fee," and these two stories are definitely intertwined. By limiting campaign contributions to our politicians, we are better able to level the playing field between candidates, but also between industries and individuals. Another issue is definitely at play here as well: The community's right to know.
Here at U.S. PIRG (Public Interest Research Group), we are working on a campaign to increase the public's right to know about the toxics being used in the workplace, in the manufacturing of products we buy, and being transported on our roads. Until we get the money out of politics, industries will curry favor with every city council, state legislature, and federal representative in order to get special allowances on regulations, be they relating to utility bills or toxic reporting.
We in Austin must demand of our politicians, that no more loopholes be allowed, that industries are accountable to the citizens in their communities, and they cannot extort these favors from our politicians at the expense of our checkbooks and our families' health.
Austin Campaign Director
Austin has lost another fine musician, songwriter, and friend.
Mr. Jim Montgomery passed away on Saturday, November 23, 1996.
Jim was a fine musician with the most beautiful voice I have ever heard. He brought joy and love to the hearts of all the people he knew and touched. Jim was a friend to us all and true to his music.
Jim, we love you and will miss you dearly.
Come, Spend Your Chips!
Just read Jeff McCord's piece on Ornette Coleman ["Independent Yet Empathic," Vol. 16, No. 12], one of the best accounts of this important artist's work I've read anywhere. Since Ornette is arguably one of Texas' most important cultural contributions to the world, it's fitting it appeared in a Texas paper. Makes me want to visit Austin and spend money!
I enjoyed the article of October 18, 1996 by Lee Nichols about Oldies Country Radio ["Conventional Wisdom," Vol. 16, No. 7]. I have a 16-year-old son, who sings at local functions and rarely sings anything but songs by Hank, Sr., Bob Wills, Merle, and some Marty Brown. We are fortunate to have one of the few original country stations in our hometown of Pleasanton, Texas... south of San Antonio. It's KBOP, (an AM station) which has been around many years and was formerly owned by Dr. Ben Parker, who hired Willie Nelson as a deejay back in the early days before his "fame." (Dr. Parker's wife Mona lives in town, runs an art studio... and our local Longhorn Museum originated in that radio station). We also have KBUC Radio, which is the only FM station I know of within our listening area that plays Hank Williams, Merle, Patsy Cline, etc. The stations are now owned by Bubba Reding, a good friend and a guy who is very active in the community. He has a Western program on Sundays where he plays all Western artists, like Don Edwards, Sons of the San Joaquin, Roy Rogers, and others.
Also, deejay Ron Carter hosts a program where mainly Texas artists visit the station. Recent interviews have been with John Schneider, Augie Meyers, and Michael Martin Murphy. Just thought I would drop you a line about the interesting article and let you know real country is alive and well in South Texas!
Texas' Best Writers in Drag
I was wondering if you might clarify the first part of your second sentence in your November 22, 1996 "Page Two," [Vol. 16, No. 12] where you say "the Texas Book Festival opening dinner and reading at the Marriott found not only an astonishing number of Texas' best writers in formal dress (it may be sexist, but I expected the women to be well-dressed)...." My confusion is this: first you say it was astonishing to see Texas' best writers in formal dress, and then you say you "expected" it. Forgive me if I find this confusing, but which is it? Would you mind clearing for us? Thanks.
[Ed. Response: I was surprised to see so many of Texas' best writers in formal dress (I was surprised to see the male writers in tuxedos), I was not surprised to see the women in dresses, (I was not surprised to see some of Texas' best writers in dresses), sorry if the construction of the sentence or the wording indicated anything else.]
Facts Not in Evidence
"It takes all kinds..." they say. R. Edwards defense of Ms. Winik ("Postmarks," Vol. 16, No. 12) confirms that old saying.
Give up writing R., and stick with "building straw-men."
You're good at it.
I do argue with R. on one point, to wit: "Fuck your critics." But don't make a fool of yourself by comparing your literary mediocrity to the talents and genius of Thompson, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, etc. That was the blasphemy.
As for being uncomfortable with "Ms. Winik's personal disclosures"... You're assuming facts not in evidence R. That is known as "throwing a red herring" and your lack of ability to formulate a coherent debate has been noted and mocked. (Do you work for The Statesman editorial staff?)
If Affirmative Action were in any way, shape, or form a legitimate or fair policy then all professional sports teams would be required to be 60-70% white.
To the Editor:
Stop Cuba Embargo
Because the U.S. media misinformed our people about Vietnam in the Sixties, our representatives in Congress gave full support to the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution for the Vietnam excursion with only Senators Morse and Greuning voting no. Because of similar misinformation today, the American people seem to continue to go along with bad and dangerous policies, such as embargoes.
I just returned from a 10-day visit to Cuba with a group of 13 "Veterans for Peace." We toured and studied trying to get a better understanding of our island neighbor and then joined Cuban veterans of the Bay of Pigs invasion and other wars to observe our Veteran's Day on November 11.
When I returned to the United States and my friends asked me what Cuba was like, I had to say, "It's almost exactly the opposite of what the press, radio, and TV say it is." The people of Cuba are suffering because of our embargo, but the fear of, and anger at the U.S. unites them behind Castro rather than incites them to overthrow him. For example, Fidel was written in blood by a dying soldier at the Bay of Pigs and a cartoon on a wall in Havana showed a person making a Nazi salute and saying, "Heil, Helms."
I observed that the people of Cuba have a number of things going for them in spite of the difficulties brought about by the embargo. They have free health care with an abundance of doctors. They enjoy racial, ethnic, religious, and gender relations that are probably more harmonious than any other country. They seem to be well-educated by a universal education system, a good retirement system and, while they have not resurrected their constitutions in national leadership, they are organized democratically with elected leaders down to neighborhood blocks like our neighborhood watch groups. Their poverty is not as severe as Mexico and India which I have recently visited, and unlike those countries, their poverty is relatively shared by all. There seem to be no rich, snobbish elite.
One purpose of our trip was to protest the embargoes against Cuba, Iraq, and other countries. An agency of the U.N. studied and found that the embargo against Iraq had, at the same time of the study, killed half a million people, mostly children. The people of Cuba suffer too, but not as much as the people of Iraq. One of the Bay of Pigs veterans, choked up and tearful, said his mother had died for lack of medical supplies and equipment. If one of our "enemies" did to any other country what we are doing with our embargoes, our media and our politicians would by crying, Genocide! War Crimes! and Terrorism! It is no wonder to me that the Pope, making a Biblical prophetic witness, speaking the truth to power, condemned in no uncertain terms all embargoes, sanctions, and blockades.
Our isolationism is not only immoral and illegal, but it is also against our own "national interest." It is ridiculed worldwide by other nations which are making huge profits trading and going into partnership to build up Cuba's industrial base, and to discover and exploit Cuba's inland and offshore oil reserves. Italy will soon start docking a luxury cruise ship in Havana every week. Our embargo is not and probably cannot be enforced against other nations. It is not and probably cannot be enforced against our own major industries, all of which profit by trading with Cuba through their foreign subsidiaries in violation of the embargo.
The basic problem is that we the people are told what to think rather than being given facts on which we can make intelligent decisions, and the resolution of this problem is in the hands of our local democratic press. This newspaper, and other newspapers can send journalists to Cuba. There is an agency in California called Global Exchange which can assist them in gaining free access to all parts of Cuba. And when they return and the media tell us the truth about Cuba and the effects of the embargoes, as they finally did about Vietnam, I believe they people will overwhelmingly favor cancelling all of them. So be it!
Jewel R. Johnson
This letter is intended to inform all the people who plan on taking their children to the upcoming movie, 101 Dalmatians, that Dals are cute and fun but there is much more to them than that.
I want to make everyone aware of the responsibility of a Dalmatian so we do not end up with any more unwanted dogs at the shelters and on the side of the road. As a six-year Dalmatian owner, I can tell you that Dalmatians are wonderful dogs but extremely high-maintenance and people are not aware of this. I love my dog like a child but this is a dog that you cannot just buy, put in the backyard and forget about them. They require a lot of attention, just like a child. They are very people-oriented and want your love and attention all the time. They require a beefless and low-protein diet. They can develop crystals, as humans develop kidney stones, from beef and higher protein foods. This can kill them if it is not taken care of quickly. It makes me very angry to see a major dog food company advertises a Dalmatian in all their ads and they are a beef dog food. They are just not aware of what beef can do to these dogs and they are indirectly contributing to the death of Dalmatians. A lamb and rice or chicken-based diet is the best diet for them with low protein. Read the bags. Also, no people food. A piece of a fruit or a vegetable is okay now and again, just no table foods. Not only does it put weight on them quickly, but it's just not healthy for them.
Here is a myth! All Dalmatians are born deaf or go deaf. False. It is more common for Dalmatians to go deaf as they get older. If they are born deaf, which does happen occasionally, the breeder should not be selling deaf Dals unless they are unethical. Deaf Dals are usually kept or unfortunately destroyed. The percentage is a little higher than other dogs, but like any other breed, some dogs just go deaf as they get older. My Dalmatian hears better than I do. Another myth, Dalmatians are dumb! False. Dalmatians are extremely bright dogs and choose to respond or not. They can be very stubborn and have a mind of their own.
I cannot speak for all Dalmatians but mine is very good with children. I do not have any children and my Dal is not around children a lot. But when he is around them, he stands with them, wags his tail, and wants to lick them. He has never growled or snapped at a child. They are also very good protectors and watchdogs.
Lastly, Dalmatians are very high energy dogs. Some people say they are hyper, I like to think of it as high energy. This is true! They have a ton of energy and need more than just playing in the yard. A walk a day is needed to give their energy level a run for the money per se.
When we all go and see 101 Dalmatians, we are all going to want to run out and buy a Dalmatian puppy because they are the cutest. Let's face it, that's why I bought one. But please, please, be prepared to give them the attention, love, and correct diet they need or don't bother. It's not fair to get a dog you are just going to ignore. It's not fair to the dog. And remember, please neuter or spay them. We have enough unwanted dogs in the world that get abandoned or abused.
Please do your homework before buying a Dal and be prepared! They are fun but a lot of work.
Go, Go, Gadget Whatever!
It will be a great step in the right direction if the P.U.C. implements fair competition in the telecommunications industry. Competition will lead us to all kinds of innovative products and services that will be greatly necessary in the 21st century.
Just within the past two years, we have seen a wave of technological and mass-communication advancements. Competition can help to ensure that new developments keep coming and are available as soon as possible. The less competition that exists, the less we benefit from these products and services. Not only will they be slower to come, they will also be more expensive.
Texas needs to be thinking ahead to the future. The telecommunications industry not only has products and services of the future to offer, it will also create jobs of the future. This is an industry that is only just exploding. There is still much development and innovation to come from this market. As Texans, we should seek to be pioneers in this market by encouraging, not stifling, competition.
Jose I. Guerra, P.E.