Emory & Young Not Conservative
"The most relaxed person at Palmer Saturday night may have been Bruce Todd, ...hung out at the table reserved for conservative consultants Emory & Young to leisurely watch the returns come in."
Well, I saw this line, and I had to comment.
Ms. Duff, have you been in Austin long? The conservative consultants Emory & Young? Where Mayor Todd watched returns is unimportant, but attaching the label "conservative" to Emory & Young is like attaching the label "stagnant" to Barton Creek. Both labels are incorrect.
West Austin types have hated Peck since his civil rights work to integrate the High School Prom. Now they will open their arms to him, Voila! He is a conservative. Bringing his liberal attitude to UT Student government was only a learning experience on his path to building a liberal consulting firm that has helped some of Texas' best modern Democratic leaders into office. Mr. Young has been a longtime supporter of freedom and liberalism not only in our town, but around the state.
Ms. Duff, have you been in Austin long? How could you possibly interpret Emory & Young as a conservative firm? There are probably fingerprints on Peck's hat that have been in Austin longer than you. I am proud to say, I carried that hat a few times while Peck was working to get people elected to better our state.
There are many labels that could be attached to that firm; conservative is not one of them. Maybe it's all those starched Land's End shirts Bill Emory wears; was it the clothes that threw you?
To the Chronicle:
Enviros, Unite With Hispanics
I was impressed with your detailed account of the council election results, especially the number crunching. I certainly hope that more than 17% of the people take the time to vote in the runoff.
The council runoff election presents a unique challenge to those voters that call themselves progressives. Do you support Manuel Zuniga and rejoice at the historical election of two Hispanics to city council or do you go with Bill Spelman, the UT professor who moved here from Los Angeles and wants to teach Austin how to avoid becoming another L.A.? (I keep wondering if the S.O.S. sign declaring "Austin or L.A." is just coincidence.) Zuniga easily won in all parts of the city carrying 43% of the vote. This paper has devoted a lot of ink to painting Zuniga as some clumsy rich guy who can't talk the talk but who is buying his way into public office. That's garbage! Why don't you write about how Zuniga grew up the son of poor Mexican immigrants and worked his way through school? Write about how he chose to work as a low-paid teacher and school principal for many years before going into business. Why not write about how he shows his compassion for people by giving his time and money to the schools and so many worthy causes? True, he has made money in business and he is unrefined in the art of "political speak." I see his homespun humor and straight-talk as a refreshing change from the normal political scum that come asking for our vote. He has never advocated selling off city park land and Spelman's camp should be ashamed that they resort to such outright lies to salvage their desperate campaign.
Zuniga is going to make history winning this runoff with a big turnout of Hispanics. I have a simple request to make of the environmental community -- don't fight us, show unity with the Hispanic community in this important milestone. To do otherwise is to create an unnecessary rift for years to come. Given the rapid growth and political strength of the Hispanic community, that's a rift that we will all live to regret.
Dennis Garza, President
South Austin Tejano Democrats
To the Editor:
Mitchell Didn't Appoint Us
We wish to make it clear to your readers that we were not appointed by councilmember Eric Mitchell to our positions as commissioners on the Austin Human Rights Commission, nor was our permission given for the use of our names in his paid advertisement. We were, in fact, appointed to the commission in 1993, prior to the time Mitchell assumed his seat on the city council, by Mayor Bruce Todd, councilmember Gus Garcia, and councilmember Jackie Goodman, respectively. While we are certainly active in the name of equal civil rights for the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered community, it has been our pleasure to serve all Austin citizens during our tenures. We are dismayed that Mitchell's use of our names may have created the mistaken impression that we endorsed his bid for re-election. That certainly was not the case. It is unfortunate the ad was timed to run so that we were unable to place a correction before the election.
Very truly yours,
Rich Bailey, Commissioner
Saul Gonzalez, Commissioner
Sally Rau McIntosh, Commissioner
Vote or Lose
I'd like to extend a special thanks to all the losers who have time to read "Postmarks" letters and yet didn't have time to vote in the city council election last Saturday. Thanks to you, the nature-haters division of the Christian Coalition once again had an inordinate influence on this election. There may very well only be 24,915 such people in this city of 550,000, but these people have the political clout of 150,000 (i.e. 40% of the electorate) because they all vote, and less than 17% of the rest of us bothered to make the effort.
Members of the Christian Coalition and groups like Take Back Austin are very good at doing what they are told without question -- why, after all, do you think they have the beliefs that they do? Prior to the '93-'94 elections, helpful ballot facsimiles with the "correct" names already marked were passed out in participating churches. The idea was that members of these churches could take the faux ballots with them to the election booths so that they wouldn't accidentally vote for the wrong candidates. This is the level of intellect we are dealing with here, and these are the people responsible for selecting our public officials. This is how Ronney Reynolds got elected in the first place.
Fortunately, there is some good news: Those of you who didn't vote in the May 3 election can redeem yourselves by voting in the runoff on May 31. All you have to do is simply perform what really is your duty as a citizen of this community; namely, find out who's who and what's what and then get out and vote.
All or Nothing
Last Thursday, at the May 8 city council meeting, Eric Mitchell and Ronney Reynolds showed us once again how hypocritical and divisive they have been on the council dais. These supposedly safety-concerned councilmembers sponsored a police walking beat proposal for high crime areas. The catch is they wanted the city manager to raid other city departments to pay for it. Already facing an estimated budget shortfall this fiscal year of $2.9 million, two more responsible councilmembers made a substitute motion to support the walking beats but to instruct the Police Department to find the money in their current budget. City Manager Jesus Garza concurred that some of the beats could indeed be funded from within the department's $80 million budget as there were numerous job vacancies.
The vote on the substitute motion was 4-3 with Reynolds, Todd, and Mitchell voting no. In other words, Eric and Ronney didn't get everything they wanted so they wouldn't compromise. They would rather not have any walking beats at all, because they couldn't get their way. Oh, Eric put on his dog and pony show (free campaign time), to try to convince us that he couldn't support the substitute because the city wasn't willing to prove it was serious about safety. So his fine-tuned logic convinced him it was an all or nothing situation.
You just don't get it Eric, do you? Three years on the council and here's another vote you might just as well add to your hundreds of other no-votes, for all the good it did. The only clear message I got from your vote that day is that you can't work with other councilmembers. Luckily, we won't have Ronney's ego to contend with anymore and I feel Austin should send you back to your insurance job full time as well.
To the Chronicle powers that be --
Beautiful: Yes. Loser: No.
It is not generally in my nature to write letters to people I don't know -- or to make my very personal feelings public; but I feel strongly about this, and after Keith Ferguson's memorial on Saturday, I can safely say that there are many others who do also. The subject of "losers" came up in one of the many amazing eulogies. We beg to differ with the Chronicle headline. Losers are those poor people of this earth who have never known love or beauty -- Keith had been around an abundance of both. Losers are shallow, selfish people -- Keith was a man filled with generosity of spirit, and an absolute loyalty to his friends, and the underdogs of the world. Losers scurry about, hoping to be noticed -- I never met anyone who could forget Keith once he had spoken to him.
Last Saturday, I heard great love being expressed. I heard indignance at those who didn't "get it." I heard fierce protection of this exceptional man's reputation. I heard laughter -- because it was such a huge part of Keith. I heard grief that will stay with us forever, even as we go on with our lives.
We will keep Keith alive with the memories -- with our own personal anecdotes shared with another long-time friend of his -- with our postcards (works of art, really) that he sent with great regularity from all over the world (he even sent one to my cat) -- with the pictures we treasure (he was exquisitely photographable) -- with the many things he taught us, for he was a born teacher.
Men, women, children, and animals shared equally in the experience of Keith's love and friendship -- that is what we take with us -- no apologies, no excuses.
Beautiful... yes; loser... no.
Leola L. Pérez
Turn the Clock Back
All over town -- and actually all over the country -- old friends of Keith Ferguson are regretting not being connected to him in his last years. Although I'll never stop wishing I could turn back the clock and spend some time with him in these recent, harder, and more confusing times, Margaret's, Dan's, and Keith's own words in Josh Friedman's story ("Beautiful Loser," Vol. 16, No. 36) help put it all in perspective. I'll remember the years I knew him well and love him that way, and hope I continue to learn about how precious people are. Especially the brilliant weirdos.
Just One Old Friend
I recently attended Keith Ferguson's memorial this past Saturday. I also read all the articles that appeared in the Chronicle [Vol. 16, No. 36]. On the way home I read a quote John Lennon once wrote:
"Blues is a chair, not a design for a chair, or a better chair, or a bigger chair. It is the first chair. It is a chair for sitting on, not for looking at or being appreciated. You sit on that music."
I guess this would make Keith a Laz-E-Boy. It would also make Josh Alan Friedman and Dan Forte cheap, plastic, folding chairs.
Goodbye Keith, God bless.
No Luxuries at KVRX
In your May 9 issue, an article entitled "Alternative Signals" by Kayte VanScoy reported that, "unlike their fellow student media counterparts at KVRX-FM radio and The Daily Texan, the KVR-TV crew pulls off this feat without the luxury of a paid, professional staff." The assertion that 91.7FM KVRX has the "luxury of a paid" staff was news to our 200 volunteers. KVRX has always been, and will always be, a student-run, volunteer station. The only person who receives a real salary is our Broadcast Advisor who advises us on FCC and UT issues. Note that KVRX shares this advisor with KVR-TV. As for KVRX having a "professional staff," I would like to say thank you. It is nice to know that our 200 volunteers sound professional to you. All of us at KVRX work hard to sound professional on-air while providing Austin with great underexposed music and news. If you would like to hear professional volunteer radio, tune in to 91.7FM. Both KVRX and our sibling station KOOP (with whom we share the 91.7FM frequency) fit this description. You can also hear KVRX 24 hours a day on 99.5 Cable FM. If you would like any further information (such as our underwriting rates or how to get cable radio), please call KVRX at 471-5106.
Thank you and goodnight,
Michael Heidenreich KVRX Station Manager
Dear Louis Black:
Chewy Politics Stories
Get more noses-up-the-butts quotes. I gobble up your political articles on a weekly basis, chewing the gristle in your longer articles and bolting down the sweet tarts in your "Naked City" column. This week I prticularly enjoyed Lee Nichols' skewering and grilling of K-EYE ["Media Clips," Vol. 16, No. 35]. Shish-kabobs. YuEm. I love 'em. Delicious. The icing on the cake, though, was Alex de Marban's quote of Rick Abraham ["Mayor: Watson's Plastic Past"]. Let's get this right. Abraham said: "We do not have our noses up the butt of the Democratic Party politicians like the mainstream groups in Austin do." Now that's a tangy quote.
Keep dishing up that fine home cooking.
Turn Off Your TV
Lee Nichols' "TV News Revealed" ["Media Clips," Vol. 16, No. 35] didn't go far enough. In my opinion, many local and national news organizations have soured their credibility by focusing on personalities rather than issues and over-emphasizing entertainment news.
I would be happy to provide your readers with a schedule of international shortwave broadcasters such as the BBC, Radio Deutchewelle, and Radio Bejing. To prevent interference with their shortwave news broadcasts, however, they will have to turn off their television sets.
Michael M. Shimp
Comin' Down the Tracks
Commuter trains are coming soon to Capitol Metro if Texas Senate Bill 657 is approved by the legislature! Currently Bill 657 is before the House Committee for Urban Affairs. This bill, if enacted, will empower the state to set up "Intermunicipal Commuter Districts." This means that the counties in the rail corridor between Austin and San Antonio will be included in an dual track upgrade to provide a "system" where "System means all of the commuter rail and intermodial facilities leased or owned or operated on behalf of a district created by this article." Also, "The following political subdivisions may become a part of a district, a county located adjacent to a county in which a creating municipality is located," those counties would have to qualify under the terms of Bill 657. As an example, the City of Seguin can and will qualify as part of the Austin to San Antonio Commuter District which could be formed. Capital Metro can become the northern hub of this Commuter District under this provision of Bill 657: "A district may make agreements with any other public utility, private utility, communications system, common carrier, state agency or transportation system for the joint use of facilities, installations, or properties within or outside the district and establish through routes, joint fares, and subject to approval of any tariff-regulating body having jurisdiction, division of tariffs." This Austinite is not looking forward to seeing tourists and commuters in trains restricting "above ground" traffic flow all around Austin.
Dumping Nukes in Texas
No sooner does the Texas Legislature decide to restore funding to the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Authority than the Texas-Maine-Vermont radwaste disposal compact is magically scheduled for committee hearing in the House in Washington. You'd almost think the two events were related. Heavy lobbying and vote-counting by Maine and Vermont and the nuclear industry, not to mention the strong support of our own Gov. Bush and Lt. Gov. Bullock, has created, to many eyes, a lopsided playing field. While dump opponents have been bogged down in a paperwork jungle in the contested case hearing opposing the licensing of the Sierra Blanca site, the bill that could fund the construction of the dump and provide an economic basis for dump operation by opening the facility to waste from the rest of the nation. The planned dump is designed to accept over four times the amount of waste that Texas currently generates, which should provide some insight into governmental and industry plans for our very own nuclear dump.
A tidbit from the recent Austin hearings in which the TLLRWDA was refunded: a liaison for state-federal governmental relations for Gov. Bush said in testimony that if an enterprising congressman were able to link the Sierra Blanca site to the compact, the compact may fail because of concerns in Washington of environmental racism, proximity to river, and earthquakes. To which a committee member responded that one would have to be an idiot to not know that the Sierra Blanca site is the compact facility and a done deal. Of course, Washington is a long way from Hudspeth County, and all those well-compensated lobbyists currently telling Representatives that the compact is not site-specific might, in their haste, forget to mention the Texas law that establishes, by longitude and latitude, the only legal place in Texas to site a state nuke dump. In a zone around Sierra Blanca.
In a rules committee hearing after the compact's defeat in September, 1995, Rep. Bryant offered to drop his opposition to the compact if the committee would tack on a simple amendment, stating that only waste from Texas, Maine, and Vermont would be allowed in the Texas nuke dump. They turned him down.
Rep. Doggett, a crusader in 1995 against the compact, appears this time to have forgotten to set his snooze alarm. Henry B., where is your voice on this issue? If you'd care to talk to them or to another representative about working to kill this bill (H.R. 629), the number is 800/962-3524 (then ask for the rep. by name). The environment you save could be your own.
I think that Jerry Chamkis' anger at AT&T is misdirected ("Postmarks," Vol. 16, No. 36). Some, if not all, of the telemarketing calls that I have received ("May I speak to the person in charge of the AT&T long distance account?") are from other companies trying to sell their long distance service. I have gotten several calls from GLD Rate Reduction Company, which I learned after asking to speak to the supervisor of the telemarketer. He gave me the number to call to have my name removed from their calling list (800/622-0538). Though she took her time answering the phone, a woman took my name and promised to remove it from their list, then tried to sell me their long distance service! Since then (April 24) I have received only one of these calls, and when I asked if she were calling from GLD Rate Reduction Company, the caller hung up.
So far so good, but what about the "silent hang-up" calls we've all been getting? When you answer no one is there, and after a few seconds the line disconnects. I received 11 on a recent Saturday; two within three minutes of each other! The *69 and *57 commands to call back or trace these calls don't work. The patient people at Southwestern Bell tell me that these are computer-dialed calls and there's nothing they can do to stop them, though they've been getting complaints since January 1996. It feels like electronic harassment to me. Anybody else think that a legal remedy of some kind is in order here?
Robert W. Baumgardner, Jr.
Regarding your replacement for Coach Cotton, Taylor Holland wrote a very provocative and thoughtful piece in Coach's stead. He showed the true writing skill that is taught at OU by gracefully using the word "suck" no less than a half dozen times. He must make the family back home proud (all 13 of them living in the back of the Monte Carlo).
Why does the Chronicle insist on having sports columnists who taunt the local teams? I guess the idea is that sports are beneath the caliber of Chronicle readers and writers, so why not delegate the task to a couple of rabblerousing schmucks? In that case, you are right on the ball.
Chris Carter UT Grad. 1989
No Refund, No Business
As Austin grows, an increasing number of national retail chain stores are sprouting up along our crowded main highways. These stores may have local management, but their corporate policies are set by suits in distant cities.
Sometimes they just don't get it.... For example, a particularly unethical corporate policy that often comes with the national stores is the policy of "no refunds -- exchange or in-store credit only." If the product purchased turns out to be defective, and you return it only to discover that the store is now out of that particular product -- too bad... you'll just have to select something you don't want, or wait 3-6 weeks for it to be re-ordered. It seems giving money back is usually against corporate policy.
Boycott the "no refund" stores until their corporate policies are transformed into enlightened customer policies.
Undue TAAS Influence
We are concerned with the effect the TAAS Test is having upon our children and school system. Undue emphasis has been placed upon this test for several reasons: 1) School districts are rated and money allocated to them based on their TAAS results, 2) Teachers are evaluated based on the TAAS scores and, 3) students, regardless of grades, must pass this test in order to graduate. This situation has created unhealthy competition among school districts. Teachers are being forced to lose sight of their primary goal, which we believe is to motivate their students to learn. We feel that we and our children have been exploited by the TAAS testing system. We believe that it is not feasible to evaluate a teacher based on a student's scores, and that the state of Texas is being biased in rating our school districts. While we may agree that the state should have an accountability system for education, we do not agree that is should be based on the TAAS test. We have written a letter to our representative asking that the following changes be made: 1) The school districts are no longer rated or money allocated to them based on TAAS test results. 2) Teachers are no longer evaluated based on TAAS test results. 3) No student should be prevented from graduating based on their TAAS test performance, and 4) School curriculum should not include special preparation, as we believe this test was originally designed to assess a student's mastery of their knowledge gained during the appropriate grade-level. We urge everyone to pay attention to this matter, as it will take all of us to get this system changed. Copies of this letter are available at the address below by sending a SASE. Please obtain one and send it to your state representative.
Citizens Against the TAAS System (CATTS)
PO Box 150904
Longview, TX 75615
Share the Trail
Recently I changed sides on the hike-`n'-bike trail. I went from a runner/walker (for 20 years) to a biker. I am training for an upcoming triathlon and have started commuting to work via "put your bike on the bus" and the trail. I have noticed immediately that walkers/runners are not fond of bicycles. Yesterday I had three walkers abreast refuse to move an inch to let me get by. I almost hit a woman. This doesn't make any sense. We are like starving dogs turning on each other over a bone. If we don't treat each other with respect, our exercise/commuting becomes a nightmare for everyone. Please folks, I'm sure lots of people have their stories about the crazy bikers on the trail. I, for one, do not have an all-terrain bike. There are places where the trail is washed out and there are sharp corners. I need room to maneuver. So when you hear, "bike, on your left" please give me some room to get by and I will do my best to give you the same respect.