In your May 30, 1997 edition an article by Louisa C. Brinsmade was printed about Capitol Metro which gives prominent attention to a fax which came out of the offices of Capitol Metro. The fax contained very odd spelling and grammar, which should have clued your reporter that it should be ignored. Instead she gave it credence with the following paragraph.
"The fax also notes, with accuracy, that Barrientos helped approve funding for a $500,000 consulting contract on the project for (Lowell) Lebermann - the senator's employer at Miller Distributors."
This is a bald faced lie. I demand that The Austin Chronicle retract it and apologize to its readers for reprinting an accusation of this magnitude about me and Mr. Lebermann without succesfully contacting either of us personally to ask us about it.
Since the contract in question has been the subject of several articles in the daily newspaper, I consider its distortion by your paper with no comment from either Mr. Lebermann or myself to be reckless in its disregard for the truth.
Here is the truth. The Greater Austin-San Antonio Corridor Council has for months been trying to get the Capitol Metro Board of Directors to fund a project to come up with sound cost estimates for regional transportation infrastructure improvements for which funds are being sought from Congress. Instead of funding the project directly, after much stalling the Capitol Metro Board voted to give $500,000 to the Austin Transportation Study, which I chair. ATS promptly asked for proposals and voted to award the contract to the Austin-San Antonio Corridor Council.
The Austin-San Antonio Corridor Council is a non-profit research group made up of cities, counties, and chambers of commerce in the region. Lowell Lebermann is the Vice Chair of the Board. He serves as a volunteer and without compensation. Neither of us have a financial interest in the contract as the article implied.
It is sad that this letter asking for a retraction and apology had to be written. An effort was made by my staff to reach Ms. Brinsmade, but the call was not returned as of the date your next issue hit the street. However, since Mr. Black was informed of the error by phone by staff of the Corridor Council the day after it was published, you could have corrected the error without my having asked. I think your failure to do so shows malice.
[Ed. note: In the "On The Lege" column published on May 30, the Chronicle wrote that Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos helped approve funding for a "$500,000 consulting contract for Lowell Lebermann, Barrientos' employer at Miller Distributors." In fact, the money was awarded to the non-profit Austin-San Antonio Corridor Council, on which Lebermann sits as vice-chair. The Chronicle did not intend to imply any wrongdoing on Barrientos' part with reference to his support of the Corridor Council, and the paper did not intend to imply that Lebermann would personally benefit from the allocation, which was granted to fund a study on the project. The Chronicle sincerely apologizes for any mischaracterization that the reporter's choice of words may have imparted to readers.]
That tears it! I've absolutely had it! I'm sick and tired of Hispanics writing in and telling everyone what's good and bad for the so called "Hispanic Community." Dennis Garza's letter ["Postmarks," Vol.16, No.40] is just the latest in an attempt to play the race card in an inappropriate situation.
Like any other cultural group, the needs and aspirations of Hispanics are varied. I voted for Bobbie Enriquez on the first ballot, but she didn't make the cut. In the runoff, I did what any right-thinking voter would do. I voted for the candidate whose platform and record was closest to my own way of thinking. That happened to be Bill Spelman. He meets my criteria. I think he can do the job for all of Austin, including the Eastside. A candidate doesn't have to be Hispanic. If he is not doing a good job, in three years, he's out (sooner, if he's really bad).
Mr. Garza, if you are so concerned about the Eastside, and political representation, and if you are concerned that the current city council will drag their feet on the single member district issue, then get off your lazy, fat, political butt, get your people together, get in the council's face at every meeting, and say to them, and to the voters of Austin, that the South Austin Democrats are a voting force to be dealt with. Then you can get your candidates and your issues through.
That's how the environmentalists do it.
The bottom line is that if you want me to vote for your candidate, you'll have to give me a better reason than "he's Hispanic."
The "wake-up call" is that there are still a bunch of tiny minded, backward thinking people that still feel that certain jobs can only be held by people of certain cultures. We are this close to the 21st century. It simply doesn't play any more.
I am really, really, sick of all this whining.
I work at an East Austin elementary school to which Manuel Zuniga has donated possibly thousands of dollars over the three years that I have worked there. Although Mr. Zuniga's compassion for those less fortunate than himself is beyond question, I chose not to vote for him because I disagree with his politics. As a liberal white environmentalist, I would not dream of impugning Mr. Zuniga's morals or character simply because I disagree with him politically. Mr. Zuniga's assertion that "environmentalists really believe the only good Mexican is a poor Mexican," offends me to my core. It is sad to see someone whom I formerly respected displaying the partisan mentality that casts such an uncivil shadow over national politics. Whatever happened to amicable disagreements among mature adults? Mr. Zuniga's divisive and self-aggrandizing rhetoric only goes to show how far out of touch he is with the Austin electorate. I can only congratulate Mr. Zuniga on making Ronney Reynolds look like a class act.
New Council Will Succeed
Eric Mitchell and Manuel Zuniga have shown their true colors. It's no surprise to those of us who worked hard for the victories of Willie Lewis and Bill Spelman. We knew what Mitchell and Zuniga were all along and the voters were not fooled either. Using their heavily financed war chests and cheap character assassination attempts against their opponents, these two losers tried desperate tactics to divert the voters' attention from their own dismal track records.
Mitchell's record was sleazy and easily recognized for what it was - an egotistical tyrant's control. His statement "I can get along and I can love any man" from his defeatist speech is just the latest of his bold-faced lies. Besides his own self love, Eric doesn't know the meaning of the word.
Let's not forget to give equal time to the "unpolished politician," however, because he begs for it. Manuel claimed to only have the community's best interests at heart. Yet when it came time to accept defeat and to recognize that the destiny of the people he claimed to defend lay in the hands of his opponent, what did he do? He, too, cut a wide path of egotistical ranting, lashing out at the very people who are the champions of East Austin. If Manuel were truly interested in the plight of minorities, then you think he'd have enough sense to work with those already in power. Instead, in his gutless concession letter, he points his accusatory finger of failure at Gus Garcia. Why? Because like Eric Mitchell, Manual Zuniga lives in a reality far from the one that most of us do. In their paranoid tunnel vision world, they actually believe that only they can provide leadership and representation for the minority people of this community.
How many times do we have to keep dispelling the myth that the environment and the economic prosperity of East Austin are not mutually exclusive? We have the same goals, and the wedge that is being driven between us was forged by the development community. For the first time in two decades we finally can put that lie to rest. I have great hope for the new city council. This is a city council of inclusion for all races and areas of Austin without the egotistical and self-aggrandizing underpinnings. I believe that this new council will lead the community with justice, respect, dignity, and equal access for all. Give peace a chance.
An Open Letter
to Manuel Zuniga
Dear Mr. Zuniga,
I am so incredibly offended by your "open letter to the Hispanic community of Austin, Texas." Yes, I am a politically liberal Caucasian woman. So what? That makes me a racist? How dare you.
Many of my co-workers and colleagues are Latino. After your letter appeared in the Chronicle, I asked them if they had voted on May 31; most I asked had. I asked if they had voted for you or for Spelman; each said (rather emphatically) that they could not vote for you. Latino or not, they had philosophical disagreements with your politics and your alignment to the developer community. That, if you can remember the principals of democracy, is their right.
My co-workers, many of our Latino colleagues, and I attended the "Mariachi Espectacular" at the Paramount last month. We were a bit uncomfortable with the fact that you were introduced as the Hispanic candidate, as if we were expected to vote for you just because of your race. We vote for the candidate, not the skin color - that, sir, would be racist. Gus Garcia has our vote, because he conducts himself like a gentleman, agrees with our political views, and is active in his Latin community. What Mr. Garcia did was create the potential for two Hispanic city council members. He can't guarantee how many voters will go to the polls, or how they will vote. Get real, Mr. Zuniga. The people who give a damn about this city (there seem to be too few) voted. If we didn't vote for you, take it like a gentleman.
Dust yourself off and run again someday. In the meantime, may I ask that you work to better things in your city, between races as well as within the races.
And where does Eric Mitchell get off saying that because I voted for one African-American man instead of him that I'm a racist? Where's the logic in that one? I'm so relieved that the citizens of Austin did not put you two true racists on the City Council!
Chronicle Ads Offensive
It is with great sorrow that I refrain from renewing my first class subscription to the Chronicle. For the past 10 years, The Austin Chronicle has brightened my Saturday afternoons when it arrived in the mail. I have enjoyed the articles on music, politics, and city news in general. I have relied on the club listings and ads in order to plan frequent trips to Austin, to participate in your music scene.
However, I can no longer tolerate the sexist nudie shots of female anatomy that are placed next to articles and music schedules that I want to read.
This has bothered me for a long time. Awhile back, some other people complained, and your temporary change was welcome and refreshing. But after a couple of weeks, the nudie shots were back, worse than before.
Adding "insult to injury" is that, along with the obvious sexism and sadism of the ads, the women depicted are dehumanized through the headless torsos shown. While I wouldn't want my face in an ad like that either if I were a model, still the message of "woman as sub-human" comes across loud and clear.
I realize that the revenue from such ads can support the publication, so please consider grouping all the sadistic, sexist nude pictures in the back, so that those of us who find the photos repulsive, for whatever reason, are not forced to look at them.
I look forward to resubscribing after you change your policy.
Dotti "Ranger Rita" Webb
Nanci's No Scab
Re: the "Live Shots" review of Nanci Griffith in the April 24 issue. It was unfortunate for the writer B. Watts that (s)he traveled all the way from NYC to New Haven to see Ms. Griffith, only to find the show was canceled. Watts couldn't find out why, but writes: "I hope the pickets didn't provoke it."
I hope they did. I hope Ms. Griffith refused to cross the picket line, choosing instead to stand in solidarity with the "striking, eternally picketing Palace Theatre's stagehands," as Watts so cavalierly dismisses them. Maybe Watts doesn't need a union like many of us do; doesn't recognize the right to strike, the right to bargain collectively, the right to a decent wage and health care. Open your ears and eyes, B. Watts. There are other voices, other rooms.
Letter to the Editor:
I have been watching the debate concerning the Holly Street Power Plant. Indeed, money is a big issue in this debate because the cost of closing Holly has been estimated to be anywhere between $90 to $400 million, not including soft cost, interest, and decommissioning. By any perspective, this would create a tremendous amount of long-term debt and would raise everyone's utility bills. However, there are other issues which deserve just as much attention. Closing Holly will mean that a new plant will have to be built at some unknown "somewhere" which will cause significant environmental damage at that new location, plus put the utility in the position of being forced to build large new transmission lines to distribute the energy. These lines are not only extremely expensive and intrusive, but can cause real medical problems. Another extremely important issue is that our utility has 2400 megawatts of generation capacity and a current peak load of 1850 (and growing). If you take out the 546 megawatts of Holly generation we (the people of Austin) no longer have an independent utility. All the citizens of Austin need to wake up to this reality!
Personally, I believe in conservation and renewable energy. However, until the council and utility department go solar and use wind power, we are going to generate electricity using traditional methods. The simple facts are that the Holly Plant has been safe, efficient, and an integral part of our utility for many years. My suggestion is to create a win-win by creating a large park around the plant. This would make the neighborhood a nicer place to live and protect our utility.
Give Atheists Space
Dear Louis Black,
I don't believe it. You're donating Chronicle space for religious fundraising appeals from some church up north of Abilene ["Postmarks" Vol.16, No.40]? Well, then, let's have equal time. I know an atheist group right here in Austin that is scouting around for a building and furniture, and could use similar donations. At least the Atheist Community of Austin would have sense enough to insure its building, rather than depend on some nonexistent deity, which if it existed, would let you down every time. Booksellers are notorious for surreptitiously burning their inventory periodically for the insurance benefits. I do not suggest that Rev. Chadwick has in this instance followed their example, but let us keep our hearts in the right place. Better a donation to the folks in Jarrell than to the Rev. Chadwick's pie-in-the-sky-by-and-by-when-you-die program.
David L. Kent
To the Chronicle and its readers,
Since the helmet ordinance was passed last May, I have been involved with repeal the helmet law organizations, working on the petition drive (over 20,000 total signatures were collected, amazing considering only 40,000 people bothered voting in the run-offs), going on protest rides, etc. I feel that continuing to ride to work daily and chosing not to wear a helmet is important to demonstrate that simply because the city council has passed this ordinance doesn't mean I have lost my freedom of choice.
I went to trial today for one of the five no-helmet tickets I have received since December. The hearing ended in a mistrial because six jurors, who felt that when given the facts could find me guilty, could not be selected out of the 16 members in the jury pool. The prevailing opinion of the jury pool was that the helmet law ordinance was a silly, unconstitutional violation of a person's liberty. Although only two of the 16 potential jurors claimed to bike on a regular basis, the majority felt that adults in our city should have a choice as to whether or not they should wear a helmet.
I urge readers of the Chronicle, who feel that they should have a choice, to write or visit our new city council, tell them how you feel about the helmet ordinance, and urge them to repeal the harshest bicycle helmet law on the planet.
Ride without if you want,
Save Canadian's Life
I am writing with urgent concern for the life of a fellow Canadian, Mr. Joseph Faulder. On June 13, 1997, the State of Texas plans to execute Mr. Faulder, becoming the first state to execute a Canadian since the capital punishment was reintroduced in America.
Canada is a nation which does not practice capital punishment and also has a much lower crime rate than the United States. As a nation we support our fellow citizens in crisis, no matter who they are or where they are; much the same as your country protects its citizens. As a matter of policy, the Canadian government has appealed to the State of Texas on his behalf.
Important in this appeal is the breach of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Mr. Faulder was not informed of his right to seek assistance from the Canadian government nor was the Canadian Consulate informed of his situation. As a result, the Canadian government was unaware of the case for fifteen years. During this time Mr. Faulder became a prison Chaplain while the psychiatrist who played a key role in obtaining the death sentence was expelled from the American Psychiatric Association for his unethical practice of "grossly unscientific testimony in death penalty trails."
I am asking all Texans to contact Governor Bush to request he grant a reprieve. I would like to deeply thank the many Texans who have already done so and who continue to fight for basic human rights for everyone, everywhere.
Speak Up About Censorship
In case any of you haven't heard, the Texas Legislature attached a section to HR-1, which I believe is the '98-'99 budget bill, which prevents funds controlled by state agencies (such as retirement funds for its employees) from being invested in businesses which are associated with music that has objectionable lyrics.
Though I do not believe that this constitutes "pure" censorship, or that it is unconstitutional (but consider my lack of legal expertise), this law would certainly be using political power, if not taxpayer dollars, to impose a moral standard, which I believe is beyond the scope of our government's purpose. In addition, it doesn't make good business sense (again, layman's opinion) to base economic decisions on this moral standard.
I am certain that my own lyrics are highly objectionable to many people. This is intentional. And if these people individually choose not to buy a recording or attend a performance of it, I certainly cannot blame them. However, if my own government's actions prevent me from performing or recording this material simply because the business involved has taken state pension funds for capital and is unwilling to risk losing that capital, my government is at fault, and I am at fault for electing that government.
HR-1 has yet to be signed by Governor Bush. You can call his office at 512/463-2000 to express your concern in any way you choose, whether you support the Music Section or not. I have already made it known to the governor's office that my vote depends on his veto of this bill. Your vote is a weapon... use it, and use it well.
Re: your article on abstinence based "sex education" ["No Sex, No Moms," Vol.16, No.39]: Why is it that almost always the proponents of anti-freedom, anti-passion public policies such as abstinence "sex education," the "pro-life" movement, anti-gay rights, and anti-pornography/prostitution activists are fundamentalist Christians (or fundamentalists of some other religious stripe)? Is this just sheer coincidence or what?
To be sure, there are a few supposedly secular individuals who will side with the Christians on some or all of the above issues. People who will claim that homosexuality violates "natural law," or that condoms are not really effective in preventing disease/pregnancy, or that pornography causes rape. These people are influenced by the same puritanical mentality (pleasure=sin, suffering/denial is ennobling) as are Christians. They are cultural Christians.
It's time for somebody to start saying flat-out that Christians and people who support their ideas belong in mental institutions, not making public policy. Taking into account that's probably more than half the population, institutionalizing them all would be impractical: For most, therapy would have to suffice. It's time to end once and for all the primitive idea that a bloodthirsty, vengeful, judgemental tyrant-in-the-sky exists who we must pay homage to and whose "laws" must be obeyed.
Get Thee to a Bathhouse
In response to Mr. Standiford's drivel, "Me thinks the lady doth protest too much." Why would any well-adjusted straight man be so fixated on homosexuality?
It seems to me that the only justification for blathering on incoherently about an imagined threat is if one's own self-delusion of heterosexuality were at risk - a defense in order to maintain one's own self-hatred.
Mr. Standiford, I advise you to find a well-endowed man and submit to his services. And if, by the off chance, you have already done so, then may I suggest that you deal with it! Whichever the case may be, however, do the rest of us a favor, and keep your paranoid gay boogie man tripe to yourself. Might I be so bold as to suggest you keep that baggage locked away securely in your closet, provided of course that that much baggage would still leave you some breathing room.
Acceptance is Conditioning
Mr. Richard Gullikson writes that the Christian religion is based on unconditional acceptance ["Postmarks," Vol.16, No.39]. This is not true. You are accepted if you repent your sins, and all behavior is not accepted.
Mr. Gullikson also states, "You either are or aren't [homosexual]." Oh, really? What about bi-sexuals? What about people who have renounced their sexual behavior and are no longer homosexual? Were they never really homosexuals even though they engaged in homosexual behavior? If so, then just what is a homosexual?
Homosexuality is a disease, just like alcoholism or any other dis-ease you're born with that manifests later in life. Being born does not justify any and all behavior.
(As for some "Christians" who do "hate" you, maybe they are just sick of hearing your aphasic bullshit or maybe they are tired of tax dollars earmarked to try to cure sexually transmitted diseases. Christians aren't perfect (and saying you're a Christian doesn't make you one).)
The end of Gullikson's letter reads: "Judge not, lest ye be judged." I fully expect to be judged, now and later. I am not the judge, but I am a witness. The Bible says homosexuality is wrong and I did not write the Bible. You confessed to being a homosexual, and I witnessed what the Bible says about your behavior, so let's lay aside the tired old argument about "Judge not lest ye be judged." The folks who do not repent their sins are the ones who need to worry. Not the witnesses who watch in shame as our brothers and sisters flaunt their sins and attempt to mock God's laws.
By the way, Richard, I know and have known several homosexuals. Some are problematic scatter-brains, and some are the best people to work with, very intelligent and articulate. As to the latter group, we've agreed to disagree, and agree on many subjects.