Nobody Can't Beat Him
In an otherwise informative article about the candidates who might challenge Eric Mitchell for Place 6 on the Austin City Council ["Piece of Cake," Vol. 16, No. 23], there is one correction that must be made.
Toward the end of the article a reader would conclude that I describe Willie Lewis as "a nobody" who could not beat Eric Mitchell. I know Willie Lewis. He is well known in Northeast Austin and among people active on behalf of neighborhoods across the city. Willie is a good person who would serve this community well, and I would never describe him as it appears in the Chronicle article, and in fact I did not.
At the time of my being interviewed, it was unclear to me that there was actually a candidate that would be able to run. Therefore, my reference was that "Eric Mitchell is beatable, but nobody can't beat him" -- not "a nobody" as written. A big difference. I would never make such an insulting comment about Mr. Lewis; I would save all my insults for Eric Mitchell.
Eric Mitchell, who is Dennis Rodman without the charm or vertical leap, is a rotten plum waiting to be plucked. Why is it difficult for someone to run against Eric Mitchell? The problem is having to run city-wide. To run a credible race requires a minimal entry fee of $75,000-100,000 to be competitive. Unfortunately, that is what we have to consider when we decide if a candidate can be elected.
Whether Willie Lewis or anyone else can raise this kind of money has no bearing on the value of what they could give to our community, but it certainly does prevent many good people from serving.
To the Editor:
This letter is to correct any misunderstanding resulting from the article entitled "Piece of Cake" [Vol. 16, No. 23], last week's preliminary analysis of the upcoming campaigns for Place 6 on the Austin City Council.
Kayte VanScoy incorrectly reported that I declined to sign on to Willie Lewis's campaign "in the belief that stronger candidates will emerge." On the contrary, as I stated directly to Ms. VanScoy, I am fully supporting Willie Lewis; regardless whether other candidates emerge.
Willie is an honorable man with a long history of involvement in his neighborhood and our city. I strongly believe that Willie's maturity and depth of understanding of our community problems would make him an excellent addition to the council. I urge every reader, whatever their political leaning, who's concerned with returning honesty and integrity to Place 6 on our City Council to seriously consider Willie Lewis.
I Like Max
I take great exception to Alex De Marban's misrepresentation of my relationship with Max Nofziger. As a way of explaining why I am supporting Kirk Watson for Mayor, he writes, in the article entitled "Three's Company" [Vol. 16, No. 23]: "And don't forget, she and Max can't stand each other."
This claim is completely false on two counts. One, I like Max. While he and I have had serious differences, I regard him as a friend and he even attended my son's recent birthday party. Secondly, I'm supporting Kirk Watson on his own merits. I truly believe he has the ability to lead this city on the right path into the next century -- preserving our quality of life and patching up divisions in the community.
This latest misrepresentation by Alex is an unfortunate repetition of his seeming inability to accurately understand the dynamics of councilmember relationships. On more than one occasion Max and I both felt he did our collective work an injustice. I hope the Chronicle corrects this in the future.
Most Candidates Honest
Brent White's letter [Vol. 16, No. 23] contains an interesting statement. He says, "the bottom line for the ordinary pro-environmental voter is that we cannot win environmental reform through a polluted political process."
The real bottom line is this: If a candidate's vote is for sale, limiting the amount of money he can accept changes nothing but the asking price. And if a candidate's vote isn't for sale -- and most aren't -- the amount of the contributions or where they come from doesn't matter.
Most people contribute to a political campaign because they believe in that candidate's ability to effect change. And most candidates accept those contributions as a sign of support, not a payoff. White seems unwilling to acknowledge -- if, in fact, he realizes -- that a councilmember's vote can be at odds with the supporter's views and still not be indicative of corruption.
In response to T. Lacy's comments about light rail in the February 7 "Postmarks": Capital Metro is hosting a demonstration of the RegioSprinter starting February 14.
Call 512/389-7435 for more information.
1. Downtown Corridor: February 14, 20, and 21. Grand Kickoff and News Conference: February 14 at 10:30am. Board Train at East Fourth and I-35. Tour runs from East Fourth/I-35 to Pleasant Valley.
2. Highland Mall Corridor: Feb 15, 16, and 19. Kickoff: February 15 at 10:30am. Board Train at 6200 Airport Blvd. at Denson Drive. Tour runs from 6200 Airport to Ohlen Rd.
3. Cedar Park/Leander Corridor: February 17 and 18. Kickoff: February 17 at 10:30am. Board Train at Cedar Park Park & Ride (Highway 183 at Discovery Blvd.) Tours runs from Cedar Park P&R to Leander.
Free Rides: 11am-3pm daily.
Remember the Veloway
I find it truly amazing that the Austin City Council is considering providing local infamous developer Gary Bradley (Circle C) with a city sewer connection for a new development in southwest Travis County in the environmentally sensitive area. Why do the taxpayers of Austin allow their hard-earned taxes to be spent outside the city to benefit an unscrupulous developer who has sued the city? Do we not recall the monies spent on the Veloway and Austin schools located in these developments? As interesting is the manner in which this proposal has been handled with by the petitioner and the council. No public notice was given for its presentation at last week's council meeting. Fortunately, alert citizens were present to delay the decision until Thursday's council meeting. As troublesome is the Statesman's lack of reporting these facts even after being notified.
I was sitting in Fran's Hamburgers on Cameron sucking on a Dr Pepper and perusing the latest Chronicle when I came across the enclosed ad. Now, having a couple of other Chronicle T-shirts and having seen the Year of the Dog tee, I assumed I could get a Year of the Ox tee. I noticed the address of your office which was just up the street so what the heck. It's a rainy day and I'm bored. So I finished my burger and found your office only to be told the Ox tees haven't even been printed. It's a neat design and I want one, what's the deal?
[Office manager Deborah Wilson responds: In our excitement to publish the ad, we neglected to add an available date. The T-shirts will be available in our office after February 15. Please call our office before coming in. We regret any inconvenience this has caused anyone although we're happy with the many responses to our ad.]
Dear Louis Black:
This is a belated response to the Oppel/Levy letters ["Fighting Words," Vol. 16, No. 20]. Great reading. Thoroughly enjoyed them. I think Mr. Levy has a point about newspapers focusing on sensational news while overlooking astounding, far-reaching screw-ups.
Couple examples: Saddam Hussein. A PBS special reported that the U.S. government supported the career of The Butcher of Baghdad as far back as 1973. This is rarely, if ever, mentioned in current articles about Iraq. We created a butcher and he damn near whacked off our tail.
World Trade Center Bombing. The Wall Street Journal reported in the months following the explosion that the blind, Egyptian cleric who allegedly masterminded the bombing was the spiritual leader of the mujahadeen, the U.S.-supported rebels who fought to oust the Soviet Union from Afghanistan. Furthermore, the article asserted that the cleric, while not an agent of U.S. intelligence, did receive assistance from various agencies, and that's how he was able to travel the globe and enter the United States, even though he is a well-known terrorist. This is never mentioned in current articles about the cleric or the bombing.
Not relevant, ancient history, Mr. Oppel and his fellow editors might say. However, since our government carries out much of its foreign policy in secret, we never know what it's doing presently overseas. Therefore, if newspapers don't delve into the past, they may never widely publish information about our government's foreign policy blunders.
So, it's not just a matter of having excellent investigative journalists, Mr. Oppel. It's a matter of having editors who remind journalists to include documented historical facts in their articles. Check. Your move.
Who's Heckling Now?
Demagogue (noun): a person who tries to stir up the people by appeals to emotion or prejudice in order to win them over quickly and so gain power.
Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, Bruce Todd, and Ronney Reynolds. What do these people have in common? They are demagogues.
After the hearing in Oak Hill concerning Daryl Slusher's proposal to close a portion of the Southwest Parkway, I have a whole new understanding of what a demagogue is. At this hearing I saw the Mayor and Ronney Reynolds deliberately provoke citizens into a highly destructive form of interaction. I have been observing public hearings in Austin for the past 10 years, and this was the worst I've ever seen. What happened in Oak Hill was not an impartial forum for the debate of an issue. It was an anti-environmental pep rally with Bruce and Ronney as the cheerleaders.
The Mayor alternately used and failed to use his powers as chair of the meeting to create conditions hostile to environmentalists and central city advocates. In a total failure of his duty to be an impartial mediator of the meeting, the Mayor allowed repeated heckling. If the hecklers had been environmentalists, he would have cleared the room. He even made the audience engage in a City Council version of a football stadium "wave" by asking the opposing sides to stand to be recognized. Is this the same Mayor that has been preaching to us about the importance of decorum at City Council?
Ronney let the Mayor do most of the dirty work, but he did provide the audience with hundreds of signs declaring opposition to Daryl's proposal. How do we know this was Ronney's work? The signs had fine print at the bottom informing us that the signs were actually a "paid political ad paid for by Ronney Reynolds for Austin."
Over the past year, Bruce and Ronney have had a lot to say about the way City Council meetings should be run. Their behavior at the hearing stands in stark contradiction to everything they have said. They said that they wanted to make the meetings more orderly and less threatening for citizens. Ha! I don't think I will be able to contain my laughter if I hear either of them say anything about fairness or decorum again.
Although I was deeply dismayed by the intensity of the anti-environmental rhetoric I heard at the meeting, I would like to try to move beyond that and begin a rational debate of the social, environmental, and economic issues related to the rapid expansion of our city.
To any working class people who live in the rural areas surrounding Austin, I am truly sorry that you and people like me have to stand in opposition to each other. I do not wish to threaten your existence any more than I wish to see myself or those I love threatened. It is the power brokers who are depriving all of us of viable and honorable options in our lives that I oppose. I cannot stand by and let them destroy our land and steal our future.
In 1993, a group of nearly 1,700 scientists, including over 100 Nobel Prize winners, stated: "A great change in our stewardship of the earth and the life on it is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated." I truly believe that the decisions we make in the next few years will determine whether our children will look upon us with love or scorn. Please. Let's make some good decisions in 1997, and not let the powerful divide us.
Austin Earth First!
Dear Louis Black:
Angels in the 'Hood
I like to eat with the hungry. I don't have to wash off the sex or the smoke or abandon the threadbare red leggings I favor in winter. I don't have to comb my hair. I don't have to pay and I get about-to-expire 7-Eleven sandwiches and burritos and chocolate cupcakes (and powdery donuts I trade away). But it's the soup that sustains and I am in a soupline.
It's scary how much I fit in. I was brought here first about three weeks ago by a friend who is homeless and running for mayor. I have known Kirk Becker for about two years because he helps out with the computers at the library. One day he said I'll buy you lunch and it turned out to be Angel House. Where Baptists and maybe others hand you a loaded tray in return for the ticket that David has given you at the door. David, I hear, used to be homeless but now works at Angel House. This was told to me by my ex-husband who was homeless for a year, one of every season, getting tickets for sleeping on park benches because homelessness is a crime and enduring the cold like an animal in the woods. I was totally free then, he said, I was totally free when I was on the streets and I wouldn't trade that experience for anything, he said, reminding me of what Gandhi said, that we should go among the poor not to help them but to learn from them. Only I am here because I am hungry, not an underemployed writer in the soupline, because it's only beans at home and I just can't eat anymore beans.
They had a bunch of juices that were really healthy that restored me and made
me strong. I took some home in a bag as is the custom of the place. Home, or
just with you. I like eating with the homeless, the
T-shirts entertain me and break my heart. I can't type, so... and I'm an idiot and don't touch me, I'm crabby (illustrated).
There is conversation, there is style, there is lust and there is paranoia, the imagined knife, the chair held before as a shield for the knife no one else sees. There are faces of every hue and there are children. Beautiful children stocking up on cupcakes for their weekend at Sally. The Salvation Army is supposed to be very bad food.
The personal remarks of the men standing on the street corner made me yell at them one day, you aren't supposed to talk to women like that! So that David gave me a red silk rose to cheer me as I took my place in line but know I swing by them easy, belly full.
They want to close Angel House, which is run out of the goodness of people's hearts in this age of no government help for the hungry. The people who live in the neighborhood don't want it there. No one wants to help the hungry, except this beautiful Asian woman offering me a tray of cranberry and chocolate, beaming at me all the goodwill and bounty of the universe, her dark-haired daughter beside her. I wonder what the people who live in the houses will do if they need help some day. They will have kicked the freely donated food out of the neighborhood and everybody needs a little help now and then.
Letter to the Editor,
The City of Austin Electric Utility is in great danger of being destroyed and sold down the river. Though not perfect, our Electric Utility, which is owned by the people of Austin, provides: electric rates that are relatively low compared to other utilities; a top-rate conservation program; local jobs and management for and by Austinites; property tax relief through a transfer to the general fund. If we lose our Utility every resident and business in Austin will suffer higher electric rates, higher property taxes, and a lack of service.
The decision of the City Council two years ago to close the Holly Street Power Plant is playing directly into the hands of those who want to destabilize our Utility so that we will be forced to sell. The Holly Street plant represents 23% of the total generating capacity of our city. Presently, our city is able to produce about 2,100 megawatts of capacity and with the growth that our city has experienced we now are looking at approximately 1,850 megawatts of peak load during the summer. It does not take a Ph.D in math to figure our that if we take away the 540 megawatts of Holly Production we will not be able to provide full service. Closing Holly will also create significant distribution and environmental problems and cause our bond ratings to go down!
The City Council elections are upon us and again we have many candidates who either are misinformed, don't care, or are being paid off by competing utility lobbyists who want to see our utility go belly up. Please call Citizens Against Shutting Holly at 458-4141 for more information. It is still not too late to turn this bad decision around -- demand to know the candidates' positions about our Utility and the decision to close Holly.
The Statesman's article on Sen. Zaffarini's "bill" greatly upset, but I'm glad to know the Chronicle is getting the real facts out ["Where There's a Bill," Vol. 16, No. 23], which upset me even more. As an 18 year-old native Austinite who regularly supports live music in clubs that sell alcohol, I feel qualified to let Rep. Alvarado know that if he wants to keep minors out of nightclubs that serve alcohol (through H.B. 599), he should focus his efforts elsewhere simply because minors do not go to clubs to drink, for a variety of reasons. Minors, like most music fans, go to clubs primarily to listen to music. Minors who want to drink do not often go to nightclubs because the cost of alcohol at live music venues is about 600% more than the cost of alcohol at a convenience store, where I would say the majority of minors purchase alcohol. Yet another factor is that music venues are rigid about ID. I have never not been carded at a club in Austin, but I can't count on my fingers how many times I've not been asked for ID at convenience stores when I brought alcohol to the counter. The problem of underage drinking, and drinking and driving, begins where the alcohol is bought, and the fact is that not much alcohol is sold to minors in nightclubs. Rep. Alvarado should concentrate his heroic lawmaking tactics on convenience stores, grocery stores, and bars, where fake IDs or no IDs are more likely to work and where more minors attempt to purchase or consume alcohol. On another note, depriving minors of the wonderful experiences that come from hearing live music would be tragic, as would the loss of revenue the clubs and (especially) the musicians would incur. Rep. Alvarado is trying to solve a problem in places the problem does not exist. In doing so he would take away one of my greatest sources of joy, force me into depression, possibly alcoholism. Where would I buy my booze to drown away my sorrows? Not at Antone's, Liberty Lunch, Emo's, Flamingo Cantina, Steamboat, Black Cat, Electric Lounge, La Zona Rosa, etc....
Peace through music,
Diamond in the Rough
Just saw a clipping of Greg Beets' 12/13/96 review of Neil Diamond's "In My Lifetime" box set [Vol. 16, no. 15], which I produced for Sony.
Mr. Beets' was one of the only reviews I've read that fathomed this package's intent and commented on it with wit and intelligence. Please pass this note along to him, and ask him if he has any interest in writing the occasional liner notes.
Glad to find your publication on the Internet. I used to write for Metroland in Albany, NY, and grabbed the exchange copy of the Chronicle every week, but haven't seen a copy for two years now. I'll be checking in often. And what's Ed Ward up to these days?
Best regards from a cold and slushy NY,
Dear South by So-fucking-What,
We're Wounded. No, Really
You're most likely going to dismiss this letter as the ramblings of a disgruntled musician whose band got turned down for SXSW. Well, yes, my band did get turned down by you, again... but that news only disappointed me. What really pissed me off was seeing the 1997 SXSW Alpha List!!! A question: Are you going to keep pushing the same 10 local bands until they finally get a huge major label contract? I'm just curious, because, tell me if I'm wrong, but didn't a great number of this year's bands also play last year? Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to slight any of these acts, well, except for the Fuckemo's: They truly fucking blow and had no business playing SXSW in the first place... but, my point is that Spoon, cling, Stretford, Fastball, Sincola, et al. don't need the boost in exposure from SXSW. They all already have the Chronicle (especially that ass that writes "Dancing About Architecture"), Andy Langer, and the local scene pushing them at everybody without you fuckheads constantly showcasing them every goddamn year just to keep up some certain appearance to the industry crowd. I hope you're happy; my band will no longer waste our time or money applying for your conference. Also, we won't attend a single show and we're going to tell everyone with an open ear to also avoid SXSW. You've taken an event that was once a step for unsigned bands to get some exposure, while simultaneously giving the public a great show, and turned it into this big, hairy, overblown industry suck-fest. I hope that you got what you wanted, you whores!!!
May you, the Chronicle, Andy Langer, and everyone else like you who are responsible for Austin's music scene always staying subservient to every other market in the country get rectal cancer and die!!!!
Hey! Tommy Elskes!
Would someone get a message to Tommy Elskes for me? I met him once in Telluride, Colorado, and I want to see what's up with his career. His CD is one of the prizes of my collection. I work a PBS radio station in the NYC/Phila area and want to know if he ever comes up this way. I'd love to have him on. I regularly called when I play his stuff of people wanting to know "Who the hell was that guy? He's great!"
P.O. Box 100
Rosemont, NJ 08556
Having been one of the avid, solid supporters of the S.O.S. ordinance, I've become concerned by the recent letter to you from Brigid Shea in the January 31, 1997 Chronicle.
Most of my support for S.O.S. was spiritual, rather than material. I've had much respect for Ms. Shea's leadership with that ordinance. The difficulties some councilmembers provoked on S.O.S.'s petition drive and ordinance is the same as that provoked by the public misuse and unethical behavior of some politicians locally to nationally. It is of the most ridiculous and is necessary. Nondemocracy is what it is.
Recently, the council has taken a nondemocracy approach with the petition drive done last year to give Austin citizens a vote on a most important issue -- campaign finance reform.
Now -- what I'm, frankly, shocked about in Ms. Shea's letter in your January 31, 1997 issue is two points. Personally, I appreciate Ms. Shea and her family -- that's none of my business anyway. These points I'm making are in the public arena. The two concerns are:
1) Having experienced difficulties, attributed to the corrupt political environment of the past 20-30 years, during and since the S.O.S. petition drive, why didn't Ms. Shea mention the "No More Corruption (aka Austinites for a Little Less Corruption)!" petition drive -- a current effort/movement? She gave no support, made no mention in her letter. Surprising!
2) I understand the notion of cooperation/trade-offs/compromise in the political arena -- and honest loyalty can be good. Maybe Ms. Shea's support for Kirk Watson's candidacy is okay. However, Mr. Max Nofziger deserves her support, attention, and respect as well (if not more so) -- let alone freedom -- to enter the mayoral race '97. He has familiarity with the council, but is not spoiled, nor sold-out.
Ms. Brigid Shea: Having met you recently, you seem like a special person. Public offices are a more serious matter, however, besides being "public office." Mr. Nofziger is, to me, one of the better political leaders we've had in this country the past couple of decades. Some reasons are his honesty, his public ethics, and the fact that he can admit his mistakes. Some politicians don't or can't do that -- they play dirty, beyond unethical, and ignorant of the people's directions. The U.S.A., now, has enough spiritual enlightenment to do away with things in politics that most of us are fed-up with. You were a good politician, too. Please don't taint that by ignoring another leader who is as close of a mirror (politically) to you as anyone is. Campaign finance reform is of major fundamental importance. Max for Mayor is a golden opportunity for this town -- Austin, Texas.
Eric Fortmeyer, Sr.
Next Exit, Please
Clinton gives his State of Disunion address last Tuesday. Once again Clinton mentions his bridge to the future and this time he promises he will not let Ted Kennedy drive on it. Then J.C. Watts from Oklahoma gives the Republican rebuttal. Watts said good old (really old) Strom Thurmond will be leading the pack on their bridge to the future. I can imagine this scene. Good old Strom driving across the bridge at 30mph, in a 1930s Packard, with his blinker on, and no sign of a turn for 20 miles.
O.J. also loses his civil suit and has to pay $8.5 million. Hey, maybe O.J. could rent out the Lincoln bedroom to raise some cash.
Connally Was Evil
On February 7, there was news that ultimately effects Pflugerville's school district adversely: confirmation, based on Nixon's White House tapes, that Nixon was the mastermind behind illegal spying that led to Watergate. It will not be long before Nixon-confidant John B. Connally, honored with a high school named for him, becomes a shameful role model for our school children.
In the November 30 Austin American-Statesman, Howard Kleinberg wrote about Nixon ordering a break-in and theft of documents from the Brookings Institution. He said, "Evil and authoritarian leadership is remembered in newly emancipated countries by the toppling of monuments to the venal leader. In the United States, we authorize presidential libraries in his name. It makes you wonder."
That should have raised red flags in our school district, with its monument to Nixon's Treasury Secretary, friend, and closest advisor during those dark days. Connally was Nixon's personal choice to succeed him as president. Nixon's closest confidants envied Connally's access to and influence over him. When knowledge of the Watergate Tapes became public, Connally immediately told Nixon to burn them. Thinking no one would ever hear the tapes, Nixon declined.
Those tapes reveal whether Connally accepted bribes in exchange for arranging profits for dairy industry lobbyists. They were subpoenaed "...to resolve by direct evidence fundamental, factual questions relating to presidential direction, knowledge or approval of actions demonstrated... to be substantial grounds for impeachment of the President." But "The failure of the President to produce the recordings of these conversations -- or even a listing of Presidential meetings and telephone calls between March 19 and March 25, 1971 -- seriously frustrated this area of the [Judiciary] Committee's inquiry."
When the contents of those tapes are revealed, it will be impossible for Pflugerville's school district, and supporters of their shortsightedness, to continue to "hear no evil."