Capital Metro Responds
Regarding the letter from Mr. Glenn Gavin
["Postmarks," Vol.16, No.51] about the UT Shuttle and Capital Metro:
With hyperbole and emotional rhetoric, Mr. Gavin makes a series of unsubstantiated charges against Capital Metro. Gavin is irresponsibly wrong. The sole purpose of his inflammatory diatribe is to put fear into the hearts of the students riding the UT shuttle.
I believe the UT students are smarter than that. They've stood waiting at crowded bus stops and on crowded buses during rush hour while the shuttle drivers took 10-minute breaks, making them late for class. They've been left waiting at the bus stops while packed buses passed them by, because shuttle drivers were taking breaks. UT students know that this particular issue is about what the drivers think are their rights. It is not an issue of safety, as Gavin claims. Our safety statistics for third quarter -- FY 97 show preventable accidents were down from the previous quarter.
The students know the real issue is the drivers' concern for the extra breaks they've taken during four -- not eight or 10 -- hour work shifts, breaks taken on their dollars while they miss or are late for class. UT students and the UT administration pay for efficient service. They want to get what they pay for. DAVE Transportation Services, Inc., which operates the shuttle for Capital Metro, is responding to that request.
Here are the facts Gavin so carefully avoids:
* The shuttle drivers work for DAVE, not Capital Metro.
* The drivers bid on shifts according to seniority, usually four hours each, which they can arrange in combinations. No one is forced to drive 12 hours at a stretch.
* The bus routes and schedules are determined by Capital Metro with recommendations from the UT administration and students. Each route has approximately 10% layover time -- three to five minutes -- built into it at the end, before the driver repeats the route.
* Historically, the shuttle drivers, unlike Capital Metro drivers or bus drivers industry-wide, have taken additional 10-minute breaks during peak hours, three different times during the day -- between 8:00-9:30am, around noon, and 4:30-5:30pm.
* This costs UT approximately $166,725 a year and is money out of the students' pockets.
Five years ago an independent study, which was incorporated in the UT/Capital Metro Interlocal Agreement, recommended the breaks be eliminated.
DAVE made several unsuccessful attempts to ease the situation without discontinuing the extra breaks. This Spring, the Student Advisory Committee and the UT-Austin Administration again recommended that they be eliminated.
Capital Metro endorsed the recommendation and our operations team reviewed and revised many of the bus schedules for the Fall Semester. The revised schedules allow more time for the buses to complete route laps so there should be additional layover time.
When DAVE notified the drivers, the union filed a grievance. In addition, some of the drivers asked to be heard as private citizens at the Board of Directors' meeting in July. Because the issue is a labor/management issue between DAVE Transportation and the shuttle drivers' union, the Capital Metro Board of Directors could not legally address their concerns.
These are the facts, Mr. Gavin. The issue isn't safety. It is efficiency and value, providing the UT students with what they pay for. They pay to get to class on time.
Justin Augustine III
General Manager, CMTA
Good Education Coverage
Subject: Story of Transfer of AISD principal Amy Kincade ["Postmarks," Vol.16, No.51]
A very well done story. Generally speaking, you cover education in considerable depth, at the same time showing that either your readers are already quite attentive to the local education scene or they can't blame your paper if they are not. Thank you!
Mansfield Challenges Cooper to One-On-One
Certainly it is a good thing that women basketball players -- who work every bit as hard as their male counterparts -- finally have an opportunity in the U.S. to make a living playing the game they love. WNBA players also can provide positive role models to young girls, encouraging them to play competitive team sports and to learn lessons in teamwork and discipline that will serve them well in the working world. That being said, I, as a male who has played a lot of quality basketball over the years, am sick of what seems to be the attitude that it is politically incorrect to criticize the caliber of basketball played in the WNBA.
Quite bluntly, very few, if any, of the WNBA's players could start for a playoff-level boys' 4A or 5A team. Why? The disparity in height, quickness, and leaping ability between men and women, are just too great. To some degree, the WNBA acknowledges womens' lesser physical attributes by using a smaller ball (which also inflates shooting percentages) and by allowing zone defenses. As fine an athlete and human being that Cynthia Cooper is, she would have extreme difficulty getting her shot off against a good high-school or college level male guard who, at 6'2" or 6'3", would be able to block just about everything she threw up, assuming he played her man to woman. Imagine Lisa Leslie trying to box out under the boards a male player who is several inches taller, 70 pounds or more heavier, and whose vertical leap is 15-25 inches greater.
Having watched parts of several WNBA games on television, it is my opinion that the level of play is somewhere between 3A and 4A boys' basketball. The effort is there: The execution is simply lacking solely due to womens' physical limitations. Paying major-league prices to watch high-school-level ball is not my cup of tea, and is the reason why many men, especially those of us who play basketball, do not go to WNBA games. After all, who wants to pay to see players that one can beat, one-on-one? Let me emphasize again; my criticism of the WNBA is directed against the misleading and excessive hype that implies it is as good as the men's game and the vitriol directed against those who disagree. Attend WNBA games to support women's sports or to have a good time; just understand that the basketball you will see is not major-league.
S. W. Mansfield
Smoking Butt Crack
The cigarette ad which appeared in the August 22, 1997 issue of the Chronicle [Vol.16, No.51] is particularly disgusting. Why can't cigarette ads be for real? Why don't they show someone dying of emphysema or perhaps lung cancer. Having witnessed the death of an uncle of lung cancer who smoked all of his life, I have a pretty good idea just how bad that looks. Guess they wouldn't sell too many cigarettes if they showed that in their ad. Maybe a jeans manufacturer will feel obliged to retaliate since they seem to have been attacked in this ad.
That's What You Think
In last week's issue, you guys left out a little detail in your Personal Call house ad, at the bottom left corner of page 99. Under the picture of the model, you should've added the disclaimer: "Women who place personal ads never look like this!"
Governor Bush and his wife Laura billed their recent trip to the Trans-Pecos and El Paso as a "working vacation" to promote tourist destinations in West Texas. As long as the Governor is promoting this part of the state as a final destination for nuclear waste from Texas and other states, he is just blowing smoke and chirping pleasantries at the people he plans to poison for his own advancement. The compact to import radioactive waste from Maine and Vermont and all the states that will follow is likely to come up on the House floor in Washington after the August recess, and the Governor has been lobbying for its passage. It's easy to understand how politicians in all those other states are going to feel indebted to Gov. Bush for saving them from having to dump nuclear waste on their own constituents by giving them Sierra Blanca as an alternative; maybe it'll persuade some of them to support him for President a few years hence. The nuclear industry is certain to remember him in their prayers and in their campaign contributions. Those of us who are dumped on will not feel so grateful, but it would appear that our long-term goodwill is not high on the Governor's list of priorities. George W. Bush is building a stairway to the White House on the misery of future generations of Far West Texans, meanwhile glad-handing us and praising our tourism potential as he scurries through. A radwaste dump in our midst will not adversely affect tourism, he stated at his reception in Marathon. Right, Governor. All those other states that are fighting like the dickens to avoid situating an n-dump in their own populations must be real dummies to be passing up this opportunity. Once the Big Bend has a nuke dump upstream and upwind, everyone is sure to ask how we ever got along without one.
Let's Hear It for Tommy
Dear Louis Black,
That Tommy X Hancock should be feeling under-appreciated really got to me ["Postmarks," Vol.16, No.51]. His psychedelic Karaoke with the Phantom Dance Band was truly one of the more magical evenings we've had at Alternate Current, and we've had quite a few. Tommy's whole life is an inspiration, worthy of a whole bio, let alone an interview or review. Any person who has managed to be an artist for 50 years deserves laurels for that alone. Maybe you should have more respect for your elders.
Alternative Current Art Space
To the Editor:
For many years the Chron has voiced what corporately dominated media won't hardly touch. Protection of aquifers, real protection for habitats of endangered species (I'm not fond of the dominant paradigms' BCCP fraud/giveaway), pro-bicycle voices, pro-vegetarian lifestyles, anti-corporate music and more. To call the editors "right wing" is nuts. The Atomic Priesthood has given the Chronicle many "Fs" for failure to toe the "New World Order's" radioactive line. The folks in West Texas suffering (!) from New York's sewage-sludge spreading, the Sierra Blanca and Andrews nuke dumps now coming on line, the El Carbon I and II's poisoning of the Big Bend's once pristine air, etc., have a voice in The Austin Chronicle.
I can only (as one concerned very much with our dissolving ozone-layer and disappearing oxygen layer) encourage the editors of the Chron to step up the pace of their environmental and humanitarian concerns. Make it really hot for them.
Our planet is becoming rapidly infirm and many voices are needed to heal her. Voices like Amy Babich, Bill Bunch, Roger Baker are more than welcome in this town.
P.S. Them=Global Patriarchy=New World Order= Dominant Paradigm=Global Fascism=4th Reich=Neo-liberalism=Organized (!) Crime Inc.=death-head capitalism (the last tuna fish, redwood, breath of air, etc., will be worth a capitalist "fortune")=Military-Industrial Complex="666/Satan"=Nuclear Priesthood! (Our moon is composed totally of radioactive elements including 10% pure uranium -- so these boys will not give up punching holes our ozone layer or give up world atomic poisoning without a struggle.) Struggle on!
We Need N.E.A.
As a community-based dance company, Ballet East Dance Theatre has been the recipient of grants from the N.E.A. for many years. Without the funding of national and state agencies who target the growth of small companies and individuals, we will cease to exist. The N.E.A. focuses on funding organizations and individuals that demonstrate artistic merit without regard to religious or political affiliations, ethnic grouping, geographical locale, or economic group; how many agencies can make that statement and prove it? Ballet East Dance Theatre was funded because of our consistent artistic merit and commitment to community programming not because we are a minority company with an equal division of Democrats and Republicans. It is this fear by a minority of special interest groups that is the driving force of the block grant system.
Block grants empower and give credence to a system of funding those art groups that are in balance with established community norms. This is a system that maintains that only certain annointed artists and art forms are suitable for funding. When a community has limited understanding of the arts and an elitist mentality it cannot support the development of artists outside of this norm. Moreover, with groups, the Ballet East which are established in under-served areas, community support, in terms of donations, is negligible.
Critics do not recognize that many areas and seats of artist development, especially in rural areas where support for the arts is even more limited than we in urban areas, would not exist without the continuing support of the N.E.A. If an organization such as Ballet East that has a 20 year track record cannot generate funding through its own community, what do we expect to happen in rural areas who depend solely on N.E.A. funding? The N.E.A. -- who loves you, baby? We do.
Rodolfo Mendez, Artistic Director
Ballet East Dance Theatre
The New Sodom Chronicle
Call me a tree-hugger if you want, but it hurts my soul to know that beautiful trees unwillingly give up their lives to make the paper that The Chronicle and the Statesman use to spread their brainwashing, neferious rot. And you dare to lable yourselves as "mainstream." New Sodom (Austin) newspapers are about as "mainstream" as hemmoroids and head-lice.
Thank God editors and publishers no longer sway public opinion with the daily (or weekly) stroke of the pen. Too bad your motley minority of supporters haven't figured that out yet.
In closing, it has been noted how the local press tends to "build their straw-man," then proceed to "hang him." This tactic is most notable in the letters to the editor that are published, or not published as the case may be.
Ya know, if New Age Sodomites had the courage of their convictions, we could have another civil war.
There was great irony in Monday's press conference about the Texas Secretary of State using technology to let astronauts vote in Texas from space (Aug. 25). Secretary Tony Garza has steadfastly opposed taking steps to help assure that voters with visual impairments can cast a secret ballot in the Lone Star State. He vehemently opposed the nation's first class action suit under the Americans with the Disabilities Act to let blind voters ballot secretly without having to reveal to a third party how to mark their ballot. The technology exists to let thousands of citizens with visual impairments (and reading difficulties) vote in secrecy, yet Mr. Garza argued he did not even have a duty to make sure that the voting machines he certified for use in Texas allowed blind voters to mark their ballots secretly, or were accessible to people with physical disabilities for that matter.
When he lost at trial in a federal court in El Paso, and a nationwide momentum developed to make polling machines adaptable to blind voters, Mr. Garza appealed to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, a court known for its hostility to civil rights, and suceeded in convincing the court he had no ADA responsibilities.
The article quotes Mr. Garza as hoping that publicity about voting through e-mail from space will encourage others not in orbit to vote. The anomaly is that he has contributed more than any other official in the United States to dashing the hopes of blind voters to finally exercise the secret ballot like other Americans -- and further discourage their participation in polling.
Mr. Garza described himself as "the jerk who wouldn't let the astronaut vote last November." Common courtesy compels me to resist drawing the parallel. Perhaps it is more polite to say that Mr. Garza has forgotten that, before we had the bilingual ballot, Mexican Americans who didn't read English well had to tell others how to mark their ballots for them. That was unacceptable to Mexican Americans, just as it is unacceptable to voters with visual impairments.
James C. Harrington
Legal Director, Texas Civil Rights Project
Please Spay or Neuter
He was my best friend. He did not deserve to be brutally murdered. He was my 7 month old Labrador, "Moose." On Wednesday August 20 at 8:30pm, I left home for the store. Moose was in the yard when I left. When I returned at 9pm, he was gone. I called for him and looked for him until 10:30pm. He never leaves me. He is by nature man's best friend and never leaves my side. I knew something was wrong. In the morning, I went out looking for him. I live out by Lake Travis. There are many dogs and I have heard of wild dogs killing neighborhood pets. I searched for him all day. I called the vet, pound, animal shelter, sheriff's office, Lakeway police and the APD. No one had called me all day. He had tags. Was he stolen? Dead? Lost?
Finally, at 5:30pm Thursday, I found my dog in the brush at the edge of my yard. He had been dead all day. He had been torn up pretty badly all over. He had wounds around his throat. Obviously, stray dogs came into my yard and killed him. I hope for his sake he was dead when I had gotten home the night before and not been suffering throughout the night.
The pain involved is the not knowing. Could he have been saved if I found him sooner?
This letter is a plea to all who own dogs or ever have and have given them up to the wild. My dog was brutally murdered by rogue males who were not neutered and who thought they were protecting their territory. It is not the dog's fault. It is the human's fault for letting their dogs roam free or for releasing them into the wild to spawn packs of wild roaming dogs.
Please spay or neuter you pet. If you do not want them anymore, take them to the pound. If you are too lazy to do that, call animal control to pick them up. Don't let your irresponsibility ruin other people's lives.
I Love Sambaxé
To the Editor:
I would assume that there are a handful of very polished, unique, well-rehearsed bands in Austin that deserve attention from the print media. But due to a variety of circumstances, they never get recognized for their efforts. One band in particular who could very well fit the above description is a group called Sambaxé (samba-shay) who I have seen several times now, at Waterloo Icehouse, La Zona Rosa, Carnival Brazileiro, and most recently the Mercury. Each time walking away with an incredible feeling of euphoria. Believe me, these guys are awesome. Their energy is intense and uplifting, the rhythms are irresistable, their dances (from Brazil) are visually stunning. Together they seem to weave you into their magical web, entranced by their spell!
Check these guys out!!
A devoted fan