Casting Votes Against Development


I just want to ask what is it that we can do ["Patching Things Up," Vol. 16, No. 24]. I live in the 78751 zip code and would like to cast a vote against this development. The latest was Central Market, the adjacent condominiums and their success. Now greed is driving the rest.

We need a policy for public space that has some semblance of integrity. We need those spaces, which have been kept with our tax dollars for many years to remain community spaces. Any development should be for the public good since it is the public (state and city taxpayers) who actually own the space and not the specific people who happen to be in power right now. We have had these spaces for many years and it is deplorable to see rushed development take over to create more infrastructure that is not conducive to community recreation and enhancement.

Look where the city decided to place a museum, practically where no one can park. Museums and open spaces like that for the public do not seem to be high priority in the administrator's eyes, but these are what attract people to the inner city area.

This will also affect Waller Creek tremendously, and this is the end of a green trail that has been part of Lamar forever. Do we want another Burnet looking avenue in our city? We have a chance to define this city better than this. It should also be clear that keeping this space for community activities and as a green area is not exclusively biasing the interest of Hyde Park and surrounding neighborhoods. This is for all of Austin's inhabitants who have seen an encroachment on the areas for ecological, recreational, and community bonding purposes slowly being effaced. If we "mallify" these areas, it will just look like anywhere else, and thus it becomes the story of the farmer with the golden eggs' goose, who killed his goose in the end. Decisions with integrity will be noted hereafter by Austinites. We have been let down too many times....

If growth is bound to take place, the more important for the future that it is to keep areas like this for the community and not more parking lots and retail. I live here because it is not Houston or Dallas, please do not follow those urban development models.

Martha Perez

File In for Infill

Dear Editor:

I read with interest your cover story on downtown infill growth ["Infill on Trial," Vol. 16, No. 24]. New downtown residential and commercial development (such as the Brown building and the ArtPlex), the planned New Urban redevelopment of the Mueller Airport land, and Capitol Metro's excellent light rail proposal are three steps toward making our great city even better. Let's all work together to make these ideas a reality!

Yours truly,

Paul K. Smith

A Pang of Loss

To the Editor:

Regarding Austin infill ("Filling in the Blanks," Vol. 16, No. 24), who living in neighborhoods adjacent to the state properties doesn't feel a pang of loss at seeing the park-like setting, a peaceful hiatus in the midst of a busy and growing city, erased (including the death of several Post Oak trees), by retail business, an enormous apartment complex, parking garages, and impervious cover. Of some concern to me is the traffic light I understand will go in at 38th and West Avenue, which will funnel some of the traffic to 34th, already busy at rush hour, and no doubt cause more short-cutting through the neighborhood directly to the south, where I live. Yes, much of the Central Park and proposed Triangle development is of a more tasteful nature than the typical strip mall, and I'm grateful for that, but I feel the neighborhoods are part of some experiment: How much development and traffic can they sustain before they crash? It would be of some relief to know there was a city agency intelligently and sensitively planning infill including a careful consideration of neighborhoods, increased traffic, strongly espousing public transportation to service these areas, instead of leaving so much to chance. Nor is Mr. Heimsath's (chair of the Citizens Planning Committee) remark reassuring: "We still have no idea whether these projects are repairing neighborhoods, or harming neighborhoods that need to be protected." If the latter, does the city and state plan to reimburse us for loss of quality of life and devaluation of property, or do we become victims in the game of growth?


Sally Saul

Naked Carols

Dear Editors,

There is much in the February 7 "Naked City" column [Vol. 16, No. 23] attributed to me that I did not say. I did not claim to be justified in scheduling clips of the holiday songs performed by the City Council Choir because no justification was needed. I was asked what the rule was concerning candidates appearing on Austin Music Network, Channel 15; and I said that I was using the same rule Channel 6 uses for councilmembers' shows. For 90 days before the election, Channel 6 gives equal time to all candidates. AMN is candidate free as of mid January.

I said that I felt that the budget for AMN is politically delicate, not this clip show or the time that it played on Channel 15.

"Naked City" makes much of our editing backlog, but we did not edit the Council Choir footage. It was a single camera shoot. We dubbed two songs of the choir onto a tape that contained other Armadillo Christmas Bazaar performances to create this clip show. We have 10 new clip shows each week that we produce this way. It was a topical show, only good at Christmas. We thought it was amusing, as did the audience who saw it live. It's good to know that someone saw it as it only played a few times during the holidays.

Unlike a clip show, concert shows take many hours to edit.

We have no shows waiting as long as a year for air time except for the footage that we have decided not to edit because of its poor quality. If there is a band out there who thinks they have been slighted by our editing process, please call me. I will be happy to help.

AMN hears from many musicians that wish to be taped, but we have a limited budget and staff. We do use footage from independent video producers, and bands are welcome to submit videos to us on 3/4-inch tape.

Thanks for watching Channel 15.

Ester Matthews

Some Revenge...

Dear Chronicle:

The environmental cause can be defended on its own merits, so why rely on prejudicial age and class stereotypes to report the debate on closing part of the Southwest Parkway ("Revenge Is Sweet," Vol. 16, No. 23)?

How useful were your references to "a geriatric lynch mob" in a "seething sea of silver-haired retirees" who are wealthy, "well-heeled," "well-dressed and perfumed," and "foaming at the mouth"? Are you sure that the mean-spirited, cranky, grouchy Bob Dole was not also there?

Why stoke the fires for generational wars and euthanasia for the aged? Young, debt-riddled, virile hedonists responding to your sex ads (p.92) may meet their own HIV revenge if "bisexual couple seek curious studs for hot fun" and "share my wife" with "safe sex toys." Both old and young actions are not safe from consequences, whether personal or planetary destruction.

Gene Burd

Is This a Trick Question?

Dear Editor:

Play "Find the Oxymoron" with this Chronicle headline: "LCRA Plans Threaten Austin's Control Over Development" (Vol. 16, No. 24).


Jim Robertson

Graying Elvis


Re: Michael Ventura's "Grey Rain at Graceland." "Grey" is the British spelling of "gray." Proof your copy, please.

I am a musician and a native Mississippian. I'm particularly offended by this writer's assumption that we are relieved Mr. Presley is dead, thus sparing us the sight of a 62-year-old Elvis.

I wish he were still with us, if for no other reason than I would never have to see tired, ridiculously self-important commentary like Mr. Ventura's in print. For those who are genuinely interested in the Presley story, I recommend Peter Guralnick's Last Train to Memphis, an indispensable look at the culture which produced such a remarkable man.

Chet Hicks

Campaign Director, U.S. PIRG

I Am Pilot, Hear Me Roar


Your article reference [to] pilots being rich, spoiled, crybabies couldn't be farther from the truth ["Billy Clayton's Flying Circus," Vol.16, No.20].

The average private pilot cannot afford to own his or her own plane, although the average plane in service today is 20 years [old] and costs less than a late model car. They have sacrificed greatly to obtain their private pilot license and have spent an average of $5,000 they have scraped up from years of saving. They realize they must be able to give up something they would have liked to have in order to obtain the training required to pass all the tests for licensure.

Your article demonstrates a total lack of knowledge of the subject matter and should be a total embarrassment for your paper.

Robert Mueller Field provides a stopover for pilots such as I who travel for business and pleasure. My patronage of this airport, although sparingly since I am based out of the Ft. Worth area, is only a fraction of the patronage your supporters would be denying to hundreds of pilots. The flying club from UT depends upon this field for a training base to support their pursuit of licensures of various types.

For the sake of your readers I implore you to look into usage and services provided by this airport before you exhibit your lack of knowledge to be taken by the uninitiated as gospel.

Irresponsible reporting has not been the mainstay of your paper and I truly hope this does not herald a beginning of unsupported conjecture.

I am

Gerald A. Leonard

It's the Economy, Stupid!

It Is About...

Re: "Billy Clayton's Flying Circus," Vol. 16, No.20??

It's not about people who own their own planes -- very few pilots actually own a plane. Many more eat peanut butter sandwiches saving up to buy flight time.

It's not about political hijinks - after all, the City's sweetheart offer to the Pooling Board is unethical, possibly illegal, unless offered to ALL operators at Mueller.

It's not about "demographics" -- a sanitized reference to race, income, and other divisive issues.

It's not about noise and quality of life - the noise is moving to Bergstrom regardless of where General Aviation is.

And it's not about the probability of a plane landing on your house - unless, of course, you play the lottery thinking you'll actually win.

It is about Austin losing an industry that generates $150 million in annual revenues -- 100 times the estimated budget to run a downsized Mueller, according to a former FAA official.

It is about a lot of operators leaving the area because it's not feasible to relocate to Bergstrom -- and what do you think all those employees are going to do for jobs? Them's workin' folks, Mike!

It is about several hundred planes currently at Mueller leaving the area and paying their taxes to neighboring counties.

It is about losing a powerful "drawing card" for businesses choosing a city to relocate to -- the "demographically incorrect" do drop a lot of money on our local economy.

In other words, to quote our President, "It's the economy, stupid!" In closing, Robert Mueller Airport is a precious economic jewel, soon to lie in the dust along with the other assets Austin has discarded over the last 20 years of development. If the State saves it, Austin will be the greatest benefactor.

J.D. Dyess

Somebody's Angry...


Any real Christian can tell you what the rules are concerning heterosexual behavior. The Bible outlines many dos and don'ts and often tells the story of non-compliance of these Rules of God. And there are rules for just about every form of heterosexual behavior.

So here's the question; if homosexuality were an acceptable Christian norm, where are the rules to govern such behavior? If even monogamous homosexuality were allowed by Christian belief, the rules would be outlined (other than Leviticus 18 and 20). Even my Pagan friends admit that the Bible has laws for almost all sexual behavior. Homosexuality was categorically denounced not once but twice in the same book of the Bible, so there's no need to ask if some forms of homosexuality are condoned by the Bible, because there are no rules. Show me the rules! (Let's see the pro-homosexual pseudo-Christian heretics weasel their way out of this one!) Jesus is not as tolerant as some blasphemers would have you believe. Even Jesus would have had a tough time walking around with "Chapel Hands" while chasing people off of church property, flogging the wicked with a homemade whip (probably an illegal whip) and trashing booths of small business owners. Luke 19:45.

A stunt like that will get you a room without a view PDQ! A room with padded walls or iron bars... or both. So much for tolerance. And so much for the acceptance of nefarious non-repentant behavior as being a Christian norm, now or ever.

Kurt Standiford

P.S. I wonder if Jesus had a permit for that whip?

D)All of the Below?

Dear Editors,

Is Kurt Standiford:

A) In the closet

B) A "reformed homosexual"

C) A simple jackass

The ceaseless diatribes against homosexuality are tiresome. Kurt: if you are reading this, and I know you are, please, please find something new to bitch about.

Monica Griffin

Mathematics, Not Meanness


I've substituted hundreds of days in AISD over the past 16 years, and would like to offer a few observations on the "50" policy.

Either you trust teachers to look out for their students' longterm interests, or you don't. I have never -- not once -- encountered a teacher I thought would give a failing grade to students who consistently make their best effort. Virtually all teachers have in place a system of academic charity beside which a "50" policy has minimal effect. Teachers remain teachers largely because of natural sympathy for children/adolescents.

Because both students and subjects are different, I believe each teacher needs the freedom to tune his/her grading policy to balance compassion and incentive. If a "50" policy helps a kid, the teacher probably applies it without coercion.

If you're a student reading this, consider what a "50" policy means to you. For every 50 you're given, you must earn a 90 to offset it. If you get a 50 for one six weeks' grade, you have to make 20 points above 70 at other times. This isn't meanness, it's mathematics. If you work hard, you may recover from one bad six weeks. But you're better off coming to class every day and doing a fair amount of work all along.

Finally, if you're an administrator reading this, consider the effect, mathematical and psychological, of the following policy. I heard it years ago from the teacher of an alternate-diploma program: "The first six weeks, I don't give 'em below a 60. The second six weeks, 50, The last six weeks, they get what they earn."


David Campbell

Lege, Stop Praying

Dear Members of the Legislature:

Regarding the saying of a prayer to open meetings of the Legislature, I would like to say that, as a Christian gentleman, I pray a lot, but I find the use of prayer to open the legislative sessions to be inappropriate. To invoke God's name is to imply some sort of link between the divine and the work you have been convened to do. It implies that, since God has been consulted on it, all legislation passed is, in some sense, divinely inspired, and therefore good. But that is not the case. It is we, the taxpayers, not God, who have "anointed" you. It is we who have mandated you to critically examine the issues laid before you. That is your job and that is what we expect you to do, regardless of whether you believe in a deity. Praying to God has nothing to do with what you were elected to do. The only appropriate action for you is to stop the use of prayer in public and get down to the business you were elected to do.


John Taylor

Council, Keep Praying

Dear Editor,

Permit me just a few lines to clear up a misunderstanding about religion's role in the formation of our country. The Constitution is a blueprint for our government. It specifies how long political terms shall be, who can vote or own a gun, etc. - your basic assembly instructions. The document that outlined our Founding Fathers' vision for America's destiny was their all-important declaration, The Declaration of Independence! It is replete with references to God and this country's reliance on Him. It is true that the assembly instructions don't include a position for God in our government or limit His term in office. Although, the very first amendment does say that no law will prohibit the free exercise of one's religion. This should quell all the fuss about our godless City Council's prayers before sessions. They have every right to do so even if they are insincere. Their unanimous votes to fund abortion with Austin's tax dollars clearly shows that their prayers are no more than a flimsy facade anyway.

On behalf of the preborn,

George Wooley

Et Tu, Babich

Dear Chronicle Folks,

I am responding briefly to Amy Babich's letter from February 7 ("Not Easy Being Green," Vol. 16, No. 24). I am not sure I qualify as an environmental leader, but I can verify that shortly after moving to Austin, I got a membership to Wheatsville, sold my car, got a bike, and am no longer a member of the car polluting community.

Unfortunately, automobiles are not the only polluters; we must also watchdog local industries. To that end, we at U.S. PIRG are calling on Rep. Doggett to champion the fight to expand the community's right to know currently going on in Congress. As the prime environmentalist in the Texas Federal delegation, it is important for Rep. Doggett to also lead by example.


Daniel Stafford

But... It Could Be Fun!


I keep reading that Austin needs to scramble to get ready for possible electric utility deregulation within the next few years. But I never read anything about scrambling to get ready for the new, stricter air standards proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency. Apparently, we need to charge private citizens more and big corporations less for electricity, to prepare for the future. But we don't seem to need to start finding ways to drive less, to prepare for the new air quality standards. I can't understand it.

I do have a strategy for revitalizing downtown. Kick all the cars out of downtown. We can build big parking garages at the periphery of downtown, and people can leave their cars here. Delivery vehicles would be unloaded at the edge of downtown, and the loads would be carried to their downtown destinations on human-powered vehicles (HPVs). We could have public, city-owned, human-powered load carriers, but more likely each downtown business would wind up buying its own. HPVs are very cheap, in comparison with cars. They're also quiet and clean, and they don't break down. They do get flat tires occasionally, but these are easy to fix.

If downtown went human-powered, plenty of people would want to live there. Downtown would be a place where old people, people in wheelchairs, people who are slightly blind or slightly deaf, and people averse to mortal danger would be able to get around, get exercise, and have fun. It would also be a very entertaining place, because it would contain such interesting vehicles. There are plenty of HPVs other than bicycles. There are three-wheelers and four-wheelers with great gears for hills. These don't tip over, and are good for carrying loads. There are tandems. There are hand-cranked HPVs for people who can't use their legs. There are passenger carriers, beer-barrel carriers, ice cream pedal-carts, and amphibious bicycles. Downtown would be a vastly amusing place if it were full of cool HPVs.

There would be room to build houses for people to live in, once there were no cars downtown to use the parking lots and parking garages. We could have electric trolleys for people who wanted to get in and out of downtown fast. Wouldn't it be great if Capitol Metro replaced the Dillos with real trolleys that didn't blow exhaust in your face.

We could revitalize downtown and start getting ready for the new air quality standards at the same time. It could turn out to be a lot of fun.

Yours truly,

Amy Babich

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