Lewis Rebuts Ads
Fri., May 30, 1997
Recently my opponent, Eric Mitchell, has attacked me on TV and in the mail, falsely portraying me as a "slumlord" and as someone who tolerates crime at my rental properties.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
For the record, I'm a 25-year veteran with no criminal record of any kind. I've served as the president of my neighborhood association, where most of my rental properties are located.
Far from tolerating crime, a number of the police calls to my properties occurred because I called the police myself. And I have evicted or refused to renew leases on a half-dozen tenants when I suspected them of drug use or other criminal activity.
Eric Mitchell knows that my record refutes his allegations. I've served as a neighborhood representative to the Austin Police Department's Lieutenant's Forum, and I've put in more than 300 hours as a Volunteer Adult Probation Counselor.
If all this sounds familiar, it should. Three years ago Mr. Mitchell made similar last-minute charges against his council opponent. It is the same old stuff -- this time with my name on it. Recently, his campaign's closest supporters labeled Austin city council members "racist," and called me an "Uncle Tom."
Mr. Mitchell is trying to hide his own record by attacking me personally, and shamelessly trying to link me to criminal acts. As Lincoln said, you can't fool all the people all the time. I hope the voters will see through theses tactics and send Mr. Mitchell a message on election day.
It has been an unshakable principle of environmentalists, progressives, and others familiar with Austin, that growth should be channeled away from the environmentally sensitive southwest quadrant, and toward the I-35 corridor. Everyone acknowledges that this would provide jobs, housing, and business opportunities to East as well as central Austin, and that it is a win-win situation for all. Yet Eric Mitchell's supporters continue to characterize environmentalists as racists and elitists, while offering no evidence whatsoever to support their McCarthyist charges.
George Wallace used similar tactics 35 years ago in his efforts to retain political office. After he left politics, he admitted that although he didn't dislike black people, he needed the race issue to further his political career. Everyone recognized that for exactly what it was. It was racism, just as it is racism today, coming from the mouths of Mitchell and his crew.
I urge all Austin voters to reject these divisive appeals. Racism corrodes whatever vessel that tries to contain it, regardless of color.
Choose the Best Candidate
Letter to the Editor:
I agree with one point on Dennis Garza's letter ["Postmarks," Vol.16, No.37] -- Hispanics and the environmental community should show unity. I disagree with him on his choice of candidates, however. I'm Hispanic, I care about the environment and this city, and I'm supporting Bill Spelman. Dennis, the days of self-appointed patrones are over -- welcome to the Nineties. Gus Garcia said it best: "Latinos want the best candidate, and they want you to prove that you're the best candidate."
Dennis, your candidate is not the man I want to break the historical milestone of two Hispanics on the council. You shouldn't have rushed to support Zuniga just because he has a Spanish surname. What counts is what the candidate can do for us. I believe that Bill Spelman has the skills to deal with the issues that impact us the most -- safe neighborhoods and economic opportunity. Zuniga voted to raise our electric rates and to keep the Holly Power Plant open against the wishes of East Austin neighborhoods. That's not the kind of track record I can support even if he wasn't Hispanic.
Candidates, Not Color
In his May 23 "Postmarks" letter, John Villarreal admonishes Hispanic activists and defeated candidates for not rallying behind Place 5 city council candidate Manuel Zuniga. He then urges all Hispanics to vote for Zuniga in order to accomplish the "goal" of electing another Hispanic to the city council.
This is the most blatant example of racism I've seen in print for quite some time. Why in the hell should I or anyone else care if someone's skin color is more or less brown or their surname is of a particular ethnic origin when considering whom to elect to city council? How exactly is this data relevant? Gus Garcia didn't run for Place 2 in order to "clear the way for another Hispanic," he did it because setting aside particular city council seats for minorities is a custom much like having separate seats on buses for whites and "coloreds"; i.e., one which should have been abandoned long ago. Gus Garcia represents everyone who lives in this city -- that's why we voted for him. Let me state the obvious: one should vote for the most qualified candidate, regardless of skin color or ethnic origin. Unlike Villarreal, most Hispanics have enough common sense to understand this, which is precisely why they are not rallying behind Manuel Zuniga.
Villarreal goes on to tell us that Hispanics should support Zuniga because -- being himself a Hispanic -- surely he will listen to them more than some "academic from another culture," and if not, they can simply vote for someone else in three years. Most of his letter is racist; this part is just plain stupid.
What burns me up the most is I've had several "Postmarks" letters rejected because they went over the 300-word limit. I counted, and Villarreal's letter is over 720 words. The message from the Chronicle is that if you write about issues like police brutality or voter apathy, then you must stay within the 300 word limit, but when someone sends in a blatant piece of racist crap and that someone happens to be a minority, well, then, by all means, the word limit must be waived.
Since Louis Black is personally responsible for deciding which letters get printed, I have something I'd like to say to him (and it's been apropos for quite some time): Louis, why don't you stick to polishing your golf clubs and regaling us with stories about what a radical you were in the Sixties, leaving the actual editorial work to your more-than-capable staff -- your readers will thank you for it.
Voter Apathy Inexcusable
Dear Editor and progressive citizens of Austin:
The run-off election is the deciding factor for several very important issues: Environmental stewardship, true representation of East Austin, energy-efficient transportation choices, urban sprawl vs. compact city planning, campaign finance reform, and bicycling freedom!
If we are to believe that 100 people move to this city on a daily basis, 17% of the electorate voting is more than dismal, more than abysmal -- it is inexcusable! If you do only one thing to change the direction in which this city is heading, it should be to vote: It is your right (one you can still exercise freely without harassment, campaign literature notwithstanding), it takes 10 minutes of your time, and if every one of the apathetic progressives out there devoted this amount of time to change this city... things could be different in Austin.
Liberals, progressives, and last but not least, college students: In the last eight months of spare time political work, I have noted a large percentage of you who feel that because the system is not working in your favor, you will refuse to participate. I'll respect this position up to a point: The point being, that as long as this system is in effect, when you refuse to exercise your right to vote, you are voting -- you are throwing your vote (and your rights) to the opposite camp -- the developers and power-hungry folks that will carve this city up into bite-size Housonian blocks, and under the ever-popular guise of "safety measures," slice into your personal freedom, such that you will not be lawfully able to enjoy every indigenous and intrinsically wonderful thing Austin has to offer.
College students... and "cool": I have news for you -- it is not an original concept. The I'm-apathetic-and-cool stance has been done before (I didn't vote when I was in school -- it wasn't cool to participate), and unfortunately, will probably be a recurring generational theme. Why don't y'all do something really original? Vote. Casting your vote for Willie Lewis and Bill Spelman could keep Austin from becoming a miniature Houston... and, besides taking a few minutes of your time, you have nothing to lose by exercising your right to vote.
Vote to keep the aquifer clean, Barton Springs safe for humans and salamanders, equal representation throughout Austin, less divisive and combative city council meetings, campaign finance reform, and freedom of choice for bike riders.
Do something original, Austin: Vote.
The Anti-Sediment Vote
Enclosed is a sample of the sediment coming through the aquifer which now covers the bottom of Barton Springs. I was covered with this when I exited the pool this morning after my swim. It is nasty, and smells vile. Barton Springs has flooded five times in April and May, including twice last week. The fecal coliform count was up to 680 two days last week. The visibility levels have been poor. Five days last week, visibility was two to three feet. It will always be an ongoing battle to save Barton Springs. Please vote for S.O.S. candidates on Saturday; not Freeport McMoRan candidates. We do not want our jewel to ever become permanently polluted, which is still very possible. I have been swimming there daily for 20 years. Please don't forget to vote on Saturday.
From one Barton Springer but speaking for many,
Dear Chronicle Editors,
The article "Neon Austin" [Vol.16, no.38] was very enjoyable but did contain one error. The "curious display lights,... with an Elvis cutout on the roof" is at 5011 E. Cesar Chavez, not E. Sixth, and it is a neon company called Classical Glass Neon. If Ms. Messer had been curious enough to go by and talk to the owner, Jim Austin, she would have found out that the neon on the building and fence change every month. Mr. Austin also made the following signs listed in the article; Discoteca Sanchez, Juan in a Million, Pato's Tacos, Pay & Takit, Church of New Life, Good Eats Cafe, Mangia Pizza, Palmeras, and Saturday Midnight Bingo. There are alot of wonderful neon artists in Austin but your article only mentioned two. You did not even mention that your own Austin Chronicle sign was made by Ion Art. Neon designed and made well is an art, we should also recognize the artists!
Editor's response: In last week's "Neon Austin" (Vol. 16, No. 38), page 56, we erroneously reported that the Saturday Night Bingo sign was created by Dinosaur Outdoors. They erected the sign; Classical Glass created the neon. We apologize for the error. The Austin Chronicle sign was credited to Ion Art in the accompanying arts feature "Agency of Light" on page 34.
Musicians Beware Equipment Stolen
I am a keyboard player in Austin. After a gig at the Saloon on Friday night my equipment was stolen from my truck. It will be easy to identify, as it is high quality and unusual. The equipment taken includes:
* Ensoniq TS-12 synthesizer (keyboard) in a blue Anvil-like flight case. The case has "Grace Note Music" stenciled on the side;
* Roland Axis portable keyboard (worn on a strap like a guitar), bright red in a bass guitar case;
* Large, blue shock mounted Anvil-like rack flight case that contains an Ashley MOS-fet stereo amplifier, a Yamaha 6-channel stereo mixer, and a Furman power conditioner and light module.
* Two containers of mikes, cords, straps, accessories for the keyboards, and other miscellaneous items. One container is a RubberMaid tub and the other is a tool-box/step stool.
In spite of the fact that I have a full-time job in addition to my musical endeavors, this theft completely puts me out of work with two bands and has me most distressed. I have spent my entire adult life (I am 48) accumulating this equipment so that I could perform on the gear that I like. I am a poor person and not in a position to replace this equipment for quite a long time. Please help me to recover it.
Also, fellow musicians, please be extra vigilant about your own equipment, and please be on the look-out for the gear listed above.
Thanks, Ken Cottrell
M.B. Gets 11/2 Stars
We want you to know that we are going to see "Fathers' Day" because M.B. gave it 1.5 stars.We think that if she hates it, it must be good.
Do Not Pogue Gently...
Re: "Do Not (Po)Go Gently into the Night," Vol.16, No.38:
After years of government office work and motherhood, I can now pass for normal for up to three minutes at a time. I just don't feel like it.
formerly of 1979 Delinquents
Re: The Robert Bryce article ["Environs," Vol.16, No. 37] "According to the World Watch Institute, of the 100 largest economic entities in the world, 51 of them are corporations."
When you think about it, that is really scary. That probably means that of the 49 left, most are governments. I hate to think of that much money in the hands of governments. Money should be in private hands so it can be used to good effect. Governments nearly always make silly, inefficient, highly political use of their funds.
Hopefully, the next report from the World Watch Institute is show increased percentages in private hands.
Thanks for Bike Coverage
Kudos to The Austin Chronicle for its two articles on cycling in Austin! Bicycle Austin Week and in particular the May 9 ride with our new mayor and city council members and candidates appear to have generated the best publicity for bicycle transportation in recent memory. But I would like to correct some important omissions and clear up some possible misunderstandings in Lee Simmons' otherwise excellent piece "Activism on Wheels" [Vol.16, No.38]. First of all, the participation of so many prominent local politicos bodes well for the future of cycling in this town, and they should all be thanked by name. Mayor-Elect Kirk Watson, Council members Gus Garcia, Daryl Slusher, Beverly Griffith, and Jackie Goodman, and council candidates Willie Lewis and Bill Spelman joined some 60 other cyclists in a short ride up and down Congress Avenue. The ride was non-partisan and Bruce Todd, Ronnie Reynolds, Eric Mitchell and Manuel Zuniga were also invited, but did not ride. Secondly, the May 9 bike ride was not about the helmet ordinance, as a careless reader might conclude; otherwise how many council members would have come? The ride was designed to celebrate bicycle transportation and send a message to Austinites that they need to respect our right to the road when they drive and protect violations of this right when they serve on juries. The Chron is right to remind readers of the miscarriage of justice in the Tom Churchill case, which has deeply alarmed the cycling community. Thirdly, many of the council members rode yellow bikes newly released by Bikes Not Bombs, which deserves a special word of thanks for its efforts. And finally, a few of the council members joined us at the Bicycle Happy Hour at Ruta Maya and listened to our concerns about a number of issues, including of course the helmet ordinance.
Kayte VanScoy's fine article on the joys of cycling ["Life on Two Wheels"] will surely encourage many hitherto reluctant folks to pull their bikes out of their garages and ride. But as she says, and as my experience talking to cyclists on Bike to Work Day attests, too many are still unaware that there are beautiful and efficient routes on side streets, notwithstanding the availability in area bike shops of a map depicting them. Can the Chronicle be persuaded to reproduce this map? This would be yet another contribution to cycling in Austin.
I'll see you on the ride,
Bikers Settle for Too Little
Austin, home to Lance Armstrong, has installed six miles of new or re-established bike lanes and five miles of new wide outside lanes. Eleven miles combined and this is supposed to be great news? Oh, and let's not forget the $2,300,000 in grants for bike projects. Compare these figures to those in a recent VeloNews article about Congress authorizing $155.3 billion distributed through the Intermodal Surface Transportation and Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991. As the article notes, "In Houston, for example, the city has spent $30 million on the first third of a planned 1,000-mile bike network in the city." Houston? Come on... it can't be true! Austin, home of the almighty automobile.
20 mile round-trip daily bicycle commuter,
Keep Holly Open
To: The Mayor, Members of the Council, and the People of Austin:
We the undersigned respectfully ask that the Austin Mayor and city council reconsider an earlier decision to close the Holly Street Power Plant.
The City of Austin Electric Utility is an extremely important part of our "quality of life" here in Austin. Decisions regarding this utility need to be made with objective consideration for what is best for the whole community.
We believe that the decision to close the Holly Street Power Plant will have a very negative effect on our community for the following reasons:
1) Closing Holly will mean higher electric rates for everyone!
2) Closing Holly will create significant transmission and technical problems for our utility!
3) Closing Holly could mean that many of the men and women who now work at the facility would lose their jobs!
4) Closing Holly will necessitate the building of new generation facilities and transmission lines causing environmental concerns!
5) Closing Holly could affect our bond ratings!
6) Closing Holly will de-stablize our Utility!
For the good of all of Austin we ask to keep Holly open and operating.
Betty Himmelblau, Peter von Wupperfeld, Lee Cooke, Ron Mullen, George Humphrey, Bob Larson
I was appalled and insulted by the letter entitled "Termagant Homosexuals" ["Postmarks, Vol.16, No.38]. I do not understand how a religion that is based on love and acceptance of the differences in others can have "Christian critics." Perhaps if a few of these "real Christians" would take the time to get to know someone who was homosexual, they would feel differently. Homosexuality is not a disease. It is not a choice that one makes. You either are or you aren't. Anyone who believes differently needs to put theirselves into our shoes. Why would anyone "choose" to be persecuted? Why would anyone "choose" to live a life that seperates them from from the rest of society? It just doesn't make sense. Let us take a look at some of these "Christians," shall we? The March Against Hate Crimes. At the Capitol complex, there were Christian groups with signs depicting sex acts, with slurs like "fag" and "God hates queers!" There were children all throughout this march. The "Christians" did not seem to mind exposing these children to their posters. But I am assuming that there must be a passage in the Bible somewhere that says in a situation like this, one must choose the lesser of two evils. I guess homosexuality was the greater, while exposing children to soft-core porn was the lesser. These people are not falsely accused of hate, fear, and bigotry. Why oppose us at every turn? Why try and keep us from getting rights for ourselves? Why do we have to fight for rights that everyone else takes for granted? Hate, fear, and bigotry. That is exactly why. Jesus said to love all and judge none. He also said that he had two laws to live by. Love each other and love God, and these laws replaced all others before him. But I'm sure that some person will be able to find another passage that disavows those words. Stop using the Bible as a shield, and try making some decisions based on your own perceptions. Do not judge, lest ye be judged.
To the Editor:
This is John Q. "Chron-readin' public" here, to address the grief+dismay in yer recent "Letters" section about old bass-playin' junkie Keith's demise: Enough Already! R.I.P., no? If these folks might've paid heed to the lad's long, slow suicide instead of coddling the pathetic fool's monkey, perhaps he'd still be upright, perhaps gardening in the familial compound, but no, he'll live on in the memories of a very few family and friends, on a handful of platters and CDs, and as late, not-so-great cover boy, bloated, bleary-eyed, and definitely playing in a minor key.
In future, please save the cover for a more "up-full" subject. You provided his smack suppliers with full-color memento mori. Finito!
Send Back the Clowns
The circus is coming to town. Advertised in the Statesman, promoted on billboards, and hyped by local TV and radio, the deluge is difficult to miss. I urge Austinites to resist the media barrage and help make this stop the circus' last to our city. Circuses, like Ringling, that use animals (and not all of them do) must, as a matter of institutionalized practice, abuse them. Putting to the side the punishment that is routinely used in their training, one need only reflect upon the conditions under which the large animals such as elephants, lions, and tigers are transported. Elephants are hauled around the country in poorly ventilated boxcars, unable to walk their naturally mandated 400 weekly miles. This inhumane containment is just one reason why these elephants frequently rock back and forth, a behavior symptomatic of serious mental distress. Large cats are placed in tiny compartments where not only are they denied their freedom to run and play, but are left barely capable of simply turning around. These deplorable conditions are exacerbated by the Texan heat in June, where, as we all know, temperatures close to 100 are not uncommon. While in boxcars or walking to the Erwin center, sand baths which would naturally help to cool the elephants are unavailable. Additionally, we tend not to focus on the fact that families are destroyed when these animals are used in circuses. Elephants have a strong sense of familial and communal loyalty. Thus, it is not just the one individual circus elephant whose life is denigrated. Ask yourself how you would feel were your children taken from you. If you wish to instill in your sons and daughters the virtues of caring, compassion, and fairness, and also want to promote a world with less gratuitous cruelty, explain to your children why any circus that uses animals should not be patronized. You, your children, and society at large, will all be better off.
Dr. Mark Bernstein
Babich's Bike Heaven
I thoroughly enjoyed "Life on Two Wheels," by Kayte VanScoy, in the May 23 Chronicle. My riding style is different from Ms. VanScoy's (she is more of a "lawless" cyclist whereas I am more of a "law-abiding" one), but I have no problem (or very occasionally only the tiniest of problems) with people who bicycle "lawlessly." This is because they are not endangering my life. I have been annoyed by other cyclists veering too close to me or passing me on the right, but I have never collided with another bicyclist, because bicycles are so manueverable. The sanest car driver is more of a threat to me than the craziest bicyclist. So I don't get all worked up about crazy bicyclists. And anyway, I am quite sure that Ms. VanScoy is not crazy; she is merely "lawless."
I used to ride "lawlessly" myself. This means that I would go through a red light if it was clearly the safest thing to do, and that I would creep up on the right beside a line of stopped cars. I stopped doing these things because I wanted motorists to listen to me when I talked about traffic issues. I started a policy of obeying all traffic laws, even when doing so seemed to me to my own disadvantage. I thought that it would be no fun to ride this way (as Ms. VanScoy says).
Actually, though, it is fun. I ride a decorated recumbent bicycle, which children love and even many motorists like. I don't ride very fast and I obey traffic laws, except in emergencies. And I love riding my bicycle. I usually ride more than 10 miles a day, just going about my business. I don't have a car and I don't want a car. Riding a bicycle everywhere I go is just a little bit of heaven in my life every day.
Wow, You're Smart
Most of the time, I ignore your paper, and silliness of its editorial positions. However, as an environmentalist newspaper, I think that you might want to add the following to your list of `things to ban': breathing.
Breathing, it turns out, emits carbon-dioxide into the atmosphere, which is the global-warming gas. I would like to therefore propose, that in the interest of preserving the earth for future generations, that liberals, car-haters, animal-rights compassion-fascists, gun grabbers, and other assorted wackos stop breathing.
This should be seen as a small sacrifice when weighed against the monumental work of saving the world, and one which members of the above-mentioned groups should eagerly embrace as `fulfillment of their mission in life.'
It's that time of year again -- time to piss off Christians, who just had their wonderful "March for Jesus." Of course, it's doubtful how much one can piss off a bunch of brain-dead morons...
"For God so loved the world that he tortured and killed his only begotten son so that he wouldn't have to destroy it..." Yeah, one hell of a loving God. Pretty logical,too -- the idea that torture and death leads to redemption. But then, in addition to being idiots, Christians are a bunch of sickos, too.
Well, I'm so glad they had their march though! Good for them! Jesus saves!