Fri., June 6, 1997
Another election has passed and Austin's Hispanic community, once again, comes out the loser. There was a time when "the liberal coalition" very much included Hispanics and Blacks. In Austin, Texas, the liberal coalition is dead. Now, you have the environmental political machine deciding when, how many, and which minorities will be elected. That political machine, armed with a single agenda focused on Barton Springs and stopping growth in the western parts of the city, has chosen to abandon East Austin and the concerns of people of color. Power and greed dictated that the political machine control all seven seats on the City Council. Rest easy, because the salamander is safe, the springs will flow clean, natural habitats will flourish, and developers like Moffett and Bradley will be forced to run for cover!
While you will find Hispanics on both sides of the development vs. environment debate, you will find almost every Hispanic believing other issues deserve equal attention. I read that the "Council Enviro Seven" now claim that their agenda will be broader than people think. Oh yeah? Broad enough to include jobs and housing for East Austin? Inclusive enough to include ridding East Austin of polluting industrial users? What about economic revitalization of those areas east of the interstate? What about crime prevention and youth activities in minority neighborhoods? Will all these issues take their traditional back seat to protecting the environment of West Austin?
Then there's the hollow promise of single-member districts to secure fairer representation in the future. I read with disgust in the Statesman our council leaders already backpeddling, expressing caution that this fall is too soon for another charter election. Could it be that these environmental politicians are more concerned with holding on to all seven seats than with ensuring fairer, cheaper elections? In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., "Justice delayed is justice denied."
Not to leave anyone out, Hispanics have themselves to blame, too, for their plight. Voting in pitiful numbers, our voices are easily ignored by politicians. When will we ever learn to take matters into our own hands by delivering a potent blow of our own by stampeding to the polls like the environmentalists? If there ever was a time for a wake-up call for minorities, God help us - this is it!
President, South Austin Tejano Democrats
"Where are my environmental friends who said they would come and support me?" asks Joe Quintero ["Council Watch," Vol.16, No.39]. Joe, you don't know me, but I'll share with you what I have tried to do the past few years.
Today, I wrote a nasty letter to Representative Jerry Patterson, who killed HB 2103, a bill which would have set up a state-wide process to prevent solid waste facilities from continually locating in low income, minority neighborhoods. I also supported this bill since its introduction.
I attended the public hearing regarding the BFI zoning at Zavalla Elementary school last fall. I was the one asked to sit down during my attempt to
support the residents of East Austin.
I pushed for the $1,000 allocated by the local Sierra Club Group to assist the residents of SE Austin to fight the Ben White Tunnel, to protect McKinney Falls from degradation.
I attended a neighborhood meeting in the Dove Springs area to find out their opinion on the Stassney Lane extension and its affect on their neighborhood. I tried to attend a Patton Avenue Neighborhood Association meeting, but wrecked my car on the way to the meeting.
I tried phoning an East Austin activist asking if he needed volunteers to help with his creek cleanup project. I guess not, as this person never even acknowledged my messages.
I participate in an Adopt-a-Highway cleanup organized over 2-1/2 years ago in SE Travis County. I organized for the Sierra Club a trash pickup at Mabel Davis Park back in December. I am supposed to help out next month to clean up a neglected African-American cemetary in East Austin.
I was one of the 10 percent who voted for Bobbie Enriquez, because her message of remembering the forgotten issues was very important to me. I also help with the local Sierra Club-Inner City Outings program, which works with various school organizations and youth from East Austin. The children are wonderful, and they make it all worthwhile to me.
Not About Race
I was pondering over the "house nigger" thing and I realized that I never really consider race when I vote, and why would one?
Then I realized it's a sad and desperate man that would - and did. And I thought, it's not about race, it's about how you treat your fellow human being, about respect for another individual, about doing the right thing for the people you represent.
And I said, "Hey Eric, grab some bench."
with a big, wide smile
Why Mitchell Lost
Re: Eric Mitchell's Loss:
I think the reason Eric Mitchell lost is because Austin doesn't like a racist; no matter what color he is.
Councilman From Nantucket
To the Editor:
In Austin, a councilman Eric
(His mood most often choleric)
Said "You'll rue the day
You sent me away
And left me a foul-mouthed dyspeptic!"
Endangered East Austin
To the Editors:
While reading Kayte VanScoy's article "Eastsiders Decry BFI" ["Council Watch," Vol.16, No.39] a thought occurred to me, which I would like to express. To all of the "endangered species" of the East Austin resident community, take heart!
It has occurred to me that a certain "push" occurs in "distressed areas" of urban centers. The area of East Austin, namely around the campus of the University of Texas, will one day be a developer's paradise. Residents will sell their houses to other groups of people, once they are fed up with what can be considered apathy, to put the term mildly. The apathy they feel might just be what residents of Clarksville felt just before they were "pushed" out of the Sixth and Lamar area so many years ago.
I rented an apartment in Clarksville just before all of the new (and if you will pardon the phrase) yuppie boutiques and "ultra mod" expensive shops popped up like a mushroom ring on a rotted field of cow doo doo.
I hope you understand and don't get me wrong East Austiners & Southwest Austiners around Blue Bonnet Street, but any time the poor and downtrodden sell out, for whatever reason, somebody is always there to pick up the pieces.
Ms. Almanza struck the (developers') nail on the head when she said "We, too, are an endangered species." I haven't seen East Austin or any of Austin lately, because I moved out of Clarksville when the cost of living skyrocketed.
And yet no one, except apathy, is to blame.
I wish I were able to wave a wand and make everything okay, but the answers, I think, lay within communities making themselves organized in other respects if their present situation is not acceptable (duh).
Apathy, thy way leads to development.
I am not a city planner and I have what education life have given me.
There is, I fear, no solace in thinking that perhaps the council's interest in these "distressed areas" will only change when the present occupants have vacated and some money can be made from the deal.
Perhaps in the future, these developers will even build a suitable grocery store for the aspiring upwardly mobile next generation of "yippies" who will inadvertently, though eventually, come of age, and make what those who came before them never did.
How 'Bout the Enfield Plant?
To: Betty Himmelblau, Peter von Wupperfeld, Lee Cooke, Ron Mullen, George Humphrey, Bob Larson
Re: Open letter to keep Holly Open.
In appealing to maintaining the "Quality of Life" and the public utility, the above-signed called on the new City Council to reconsider the closing of the Holly Power Plant with a logical, nonsensical appeal which totally ignores the "Quality of Life" of the East Austin families and school children forced to contend with a polluting, dangerous, and noisy neighbor ["Postmarks," Vol.16, No.39]. I respectfully suggest that if the above-signed were willing to have the Holly plant physically moved into their neighborhoods, then the traditionally disenfranchised, tax-paying residents east of I-35 - whose concerns were blatantly ignored throughout the 1950s-1970s concerning the public utility forced upon them - would be more than willing to keep a re-located Holly Plant open.
To: The Austin Chronicle Editor, the people of Austin, Members of the City Council:
Regarding the letter published in the May 30, 1997 Austin Chronicle entitled "Keep Holly Open," I would like for you to ask just one two-part question of each of the "famous six:"
(a). How many of you actually live right next door to the Holly Street Power Plant?
(b). Have any of you six actually become personally touched with disease or faced potential danger because of the toxicity levels or the unsafe environment around the plant?
A "no" or silent answer from any of them will speak volumes about their lack of compassion, understanding, and concern for those who have been affected and live in harm's way.
All we hear mention from their side is about money. Fine, but let's talk about real money. How about the cost to the city in potential lawsuits from nearby residents becoming ill or in danger with Holly Street Power Plant remaining open! Or is it that they see the minorities who reside in this dangerous area who are calling for a shutdown of the plant as a disempowered people? Would this justify keeping Holly open just to save a few bucks for ratepayers but at the expense of the nearby residents' health and safety? I would like to understand that.
For the good of Austin, we ask council to close Holly down and demonstrate that even one life affected by this potential danger, as has been demonstrated in the past from this plant, is one too many. In the "six-pointed sword" presented by the "famous six"... not once were human lives or their safety mentioned. How's that for neighborly concern and compassion for the nearby residents from these six!
Dear Mr. Black:
You have been described to me as "Actually he is a very nice man." How is it that you, as editor, allowed yellow journalism in your May 9 issue about Keith Ferguson?
The Forte and Friedman articles did not just state the facts. They gave their opinion of his life and it was mean, i.e., "Liver failure was the cause of death in name only because for 30 of his 50 years Ferguson shot heroin." Forte in effect says, "Disregard the doctor's reason for death and accept this journalist's idea that drugs did him in."
Mr. Black, everyone knew there was emnity between these two. Why would you permit someone with a grudge to write an article about a dead man? Forte was shooting a dead man over and over again. After all that, he not only had the audacity to attend Keith's memorial, he introduced himself and his wife to me.
Usually Keith was a good judge of people. But he thought Friedman was his friend.
Thank you for your time in reading this. Tell me, Mr. Black, why does a nice editor let contemptuous and disdainful articles be printed about someone who cannot respond?
We Sent Her to
I don't mean to sound captious, but Jen Scoville wrote one of the most inaccurate and careless movie reviews I have ever read["Scanlines," Vol.16, No24]. Her review of the movie Loaded is simply abominable. Ms. Scoville describes the stars of the film as "sporting cool, down-under accents." Actually, the accents are patently British. How can the two be confused?
Even if the accents seemed nebulous to Scoville, references are made throughout Loaded to various English institutions. One character mentions that he bought the acid (which Scoville writes about) in Oxford. When money is discussed, it is in pounds and pence (New Zealand and Australia use dollars). Further, if your reviewer was actually watching the film she would have seen the characters drive under a street sign directing traffic to Heathrow Airport - Heathrow is outside of London, not Auckland.
Scoville writes, "Still, Loaded's eerie little unencumbered plot makes a nice backdrop for the genuineness existing all around it." Arriving at this sentence, I knew that I was reading a review by someone who is not qualified to review movies. The glib concluding sentence of Scoville's is utterly ridiculous. I encourage you to rent Loaded and then read Scoville's review. I think you will agree that there is a great disparity between what happens in the film and what Scoville claims to have happened in the film.
Jordan S. Penn
We're Not Pavement
I would like to thank you for printing a review of my band's latest record, bo bud greene's The Same But Different ["Texas Platters," Vol.16, No.38]. Although I always enjoy seeing your reviewer's interpretation of our music, I felt I must come to the band's defense on this one. The reviewer's premise was that we are trying to be the band Pavement (sloppy arrangements, guitar tones, the half-assed DIY-sounding production, pseudo poetry). Although I think Pavement is a fine rock & roll band, we are hardly trying to be anybody but ourselves (considering we did do it all ourselves). I feel if he would have listened closer to the music and the lyrics, this point might have become clearer to him. I feel this reviewer's obsession with Pavement clouded his thoughts. Maybe if he would have listened with his heart instead of his head he might have thought otherwise. Although in his defense he theorized that we might have come to our sound without ever hearing Pavement, but our first record sounded different than our latest, so that is evidence enough to support his claim. Maybe he did not know we are now a three-piece with a different player in the band, or maybe he doesn't think bands should grow? Blah, blah, blah? Who really cares anyway? I mean honestly, it's only rock & roll. We did agree on one thing though, if we were trying to be Pavement we would have failed miserably. Just had to get it out.
P.S. I put Borderson B'rock on this record so I could laugh at it if it was ever put in print.
I think Pableaux Johnson did your readers a disservice lumping in Jim Jim's Water Ice in his round-up on sno-cones ["Let it Sno, Let it Sno," Vol.16, No.38]. Good, homemade water ice, of which Jim Jim's certainly qualifies, is more like sorbet than a sno-cone. It's creamier, fruitier, healthier and, uh, less luminescent.
Nothing against an artificially flavored day-glo sno-cone in a pinch, you understand, it's just that comparing water ice with sno-cones is like saying you can get a decent margarita from a mix.
Yours in fine dining,
Flying Rib Ranch
Smoothie King Is Back
I just read Rebecca Chastenet de Géry's article on Smoothies on your website ["Smoothie Operator," Vol.16, No.38]. She was lamenting the loss of Smoothie King on the Drag. She'll be glad to know Smoothie King is back in Austin. My friend, Stuart Tucker, just opened his first of many new Smoothie Kings to the Austin area. His first location is open and operating at the corner of Braker and 183. Their number is 342-9800.
I am the owner of six Smoothie Kings in Dallas, with 24 more on the way. Our concept is growing rapidly and all of the franchisees are very excited!
Your website is beautiful. Keep up the great work.
Chief Operating Officer
Lopez Family Smoothie Kings
Dear "Letters to the Editor":
I know "Helmet Law" letters have been done to death, but I feel there is an especially relevant point which I have not yet seen addressed and which I have at last been provoked enough to concern myself with. I felt quite incensed by Gus Garcia's quip in your recent helmet law article regarding his opinion that he could find no doctor that would argue that "helmets save lives."
No, I am not a doctor, but I'd be quite willing to wager that if Mr. Garcia were to speak to a neurologist, he might find that medical science has suggested that it is a very bad idea to cover your brain with styrofoam in 100 degree Texas heat while strenuously pedaling a bicycle up and down all those nice big hills.
Doesn't the National Weather Service issue frequent heat advisories, in which people are advised to avoid going out and exercising on hot days?
Does Mr. Garcia have no awareness of such conditions as heat stroke, dehydration, and my own personal favorite, heat induced psychosis? Perhaps Mr. Garcia will contend that bicycle helmets have all been "tested" to assure that they are "adequately vented."
People who buy that line have never had to wear one of the miserable things. I can assure you that in the summer heat I feel 100% safer without one! (Also, helmets don't let your sweat evaporate and this tends to make your sweat drip into your eyes so you can't see oncoming traffic.)
Well, if the makers of public policy are of a mind to "play doctor" then that's alright by me! Go on, Mr. Garcia, and find out the statistics and let's see if there are more cases of brain damage and paralysis due to head trauma or due to heat exhaustion.
Regardless of whether or not medical statistics will back what common sense and experience have taught me, I'll thank him to be advised: I'll decide for myself which method of mental disability or paralysis I am comfortable in risking in my daily commute from my un-air conditioned house to the 120 degree kitchen where I work!
S.D.B. Hawley, a.k.a. Coz the Shroom
Dear Chronicle staff and readers,
While driving home Friday, approaching the intersection of 360 and Loop 1, I happened to pass a bicyclist... I thought to myself, "I bet he's in good shape," smiled, and continued to the stoplight. I just happened to glance in my rearview mirror in time to witness a car full of morons throw a full water bottle at the rider, who was in no way impeding traffic, and was easy to see. The car swerved behind me unsteadily, right on my tail, before passing into the left lane and racing on through the intersection. This was during rush hour.
Caught up in the flow of traffic, I couldn't slow enough to make sure the rider was okay, but if you are reading this, I hope you are. I do not bike often, but I believe that as a driver of a bigger and more potentially dangerous vehicle it is my duty to help keep the road safe for all, not more hazardous. A license does not buy you the road, only the right to share it. Period.
So, let me share this with you, dear readers... to the blue Volvo station wagon, I got your plate number... I called the cops on you, I'd like to wring your moronic, infantile, little necks, and you suck. I love this city because people like you are refreshingly rare, even in these troubled times. I only hope you are incapable of reproduction, since natural selection obviously failed us in your case.
(A driver who gives a shit)
Help Church Rebuild
My name is Mark Chadwick. I am the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Lueders, Texas. On December 26, 1996 our church building burned to the ground. We are asking members of the media to help us get out the word of our plight. We have raised the money to begin the reconstruction, but we cannot afford pews, tables, chairs, office equipment, sound equipment, or classroom supplies. All of this information can be verified through the Double Mountain Baptist Association at 915/773-2462. Any person(s) interested in assisting us to restore the church can contact us at:
PO Box 155, Lueders, Texas 79533, 915/228-4622, or e-mail me at email@example.com. Thank you and God Bless You!!
Mark D. Chadwick
Pastor, FBC Lueders
It is a sad day for all Texans when a Representative of the House uses a legal "point of order" to further her own personal agenda. The hours wasted setting up the bills for the House to vote and the waste of taxpayers' money. Halting the works of the government of Texas to this extent should be grounds for immediate dismissal.
For Arlene Wohlgemuth (R-Burleson) to be so narrow minded to act in this way shows a total lack of respect for each and every taxpayer in her district, and throughout Texas!
Circumcision Is Immoral
To the Editor:
The Japanese word for "culture" is bunka. Here in the United States, we belong to a culture that allows for the ritual mutilation of newborn male infants. That such a custom could evolve in the midst of a nation that is supposed to be well-educated and civilized is indeed ironic.
According to USA Today (March 1996), only 20% of the world's male population is "circumcised." We know that most of the Asian and European cultures do not recognize a need for this procedure, and tend to regard circumcision as a relic of the primitive and savage past. But as we get closer to home, it becomes apparent that our very own culture is lagging far behind. Evidence to support this view is here for all to see, and it comes to us by way of examining the most common, most prevailing attitudes, and by way of the routine actions of a medical profession that doesn't seem to know - or doesn't want to know - that when a circumcision is done to someone who has not given permission, it must be defined as a sex crime.
Involuntary sexual mutilation needs to be outlawed, and it needs to be understood that whenever the healthy body parts of an infant are removed, a criminal act has been committed.
Sexual assault is not a trivial issue. Circumcision leaves an indelible scar on the victim, and results in sexual impairment. Although most of the victims claim to be "happy" about this violation, many are not happy about it. But I must add that even if the victims were to give their unanimous approval, and were to profess, in unison, that they are "happy" about this forced amputation of healthy nerves, blood vessels, and protective tissue, it would still be grossly immoral to circumcise a new generation of infants. Would it be acceptable to commit rape on the condition that most or all of the victims never seem to complain?
How unfortunate that we live in a culture that turns a blind eye to this abuse. We cannot blame the common people who are just plain ignorant, but physicians are different. They should know better. They should be constrained by professional medical ethics, and by the Latin motto primum non nocere ("first do no harm"). Physicians have to realize that when they perform this atrocity that we call circumcision - when they alter the genitals of unconsenting infants - they are in violation of the Nuremburg Code, and should come forward so as to be prosecuted as sex criminals.
Little boys have a basic right to be left alone and not be mutilated.
Rev. Kennneth M. Avery
Please note: I am a legally ordained minister. Peace and love to all and may God bless you.
THIS LAST LETTER GOES ONLY ON THE WEB
Poem for Tornado Victims
My heart really goes out to the people that were hit by the tragic tornadoes this week in Texas (I am in Dallas).
Since your paper probably reaches the areas that were hit by the tornadoes, I thought that I would send this to you.
This is dedicated to the victims of the devastating tornadoes that hit Texas May 27, 1997.
Just Another Day?
by Melodie Fahrenthold
Peace surrounds the little town
as life goes on its way
people live their normal lives
...It is just another day.
The TV beeps a warning sound...
a storm is on its way:
Thunder, Lightning, Wind and Hail
...It is just another day.
The sky grows dark, the storm rolls in
and across the land it lays.
Silence submits as the heavens roar...
...But it is just another day.
Suddenly amidst the storm
a monster joins the fray
a deadly twister has just been born...
...But it is just another day.
Its fury and strength wreak havoc,
terror strikes as it hunts for prey.
Nothing is safe from its iron clutch...
...Is it still just another day?
And when its wrath is fully spent
it simply goes away,
leaving victims in its wake.
...It is not just another day.
So many dead and more are missing,
survivors search and pray
belongings scattered here and there...
...Oh, what a fateful day.
Torrential tears fall with silent screams
filled with sorrow, shock and dismay
as reality slowly soaks in...
...This is not just another day.
The storm moves on and in its place
the sun sends down its rays
to fill with light and beckon hope...
...With the thoughts of another day.
The resiliance of the human heart
is made clear to us this day.
Our thoughts go out to the lives destroyed...
...On this "just another day."
And bit by bit and piece by piece
with help along the way,
lives will be rebuilt again...
...Day by precious day.
Hope surrounds the little town
as life goes on its way
But have we learned there's no such thing...
...As "just another day"?
( © Melodie Fahrenthold 1997)