Fri., Jan. 9, 1998
Dear Jon Garrett@ Chronicle,
Your piece in Dec.26th issue ["Small Texas Tolerance," Vol.17, No.17] was very poignant and touching because it was authentic and straight from the heart. It does more for human relations and dare I say "race" relations than all the hot air being blown about by Clinton's faux "race commission." Keep up the great work! You look like you have a bright future after football, as a writer.
P.S. To Chronicle editors, You might be smart to keep J.G. as a stringer to keep his hand in and to lend some quality to publication that, other than Michael Ventura, is a little thin in that department.
Oh No! Amoral!
Louis Black, you have hit a new level of absurdity. Comparing Tarantino to Peckinpah is like comparing a comic strip to the Mona Lisa. The idea that Tarantino's movies are about religious redemption is the biggest sack of horseshit I have heard in months. They are about amoral violence and "hip" dialogue, nothing more. Your pretentious comments are the sad attempt of an aging hippie to try to prove himself in touch with today's youth culture. Please give the "Page Two" space to someone, anyone, who has something to say, and do your ass-kissing on your own time.
After hearing two comments about the viciousness of the restaurant review of the Pacific Moon [Vol.17, No.15], I decided to read it for myself.
I strongly disagree with the writer's assessment of this restaurant!
I do not approve of this type of journalism, particularly when applied to a new restaurant reeling from the glowing review published in XL. I am very disappointed that you would allow this review to be published.
Helen Curtis Crozier
In Our Face Forever
I wanted to thank the Chronicle for Audrey Duff's both very complimentary and very critical cover story on me and my work in the reform movement ["Inside Agitator," Vol.17, No.15].
Also thanks to those who have written in defending my role as an "agitator," and, in some cases, an "irritator" in Austin politics. I wish to confess that I lack the social etiquette that some of my opponents may claim. My father was a hillbilly and proud of it. This pride he instilled in me and I admit that it sometimes gets in my way. So, to the extent that my "style" has hurt anyone's feelings or made them feel personally attacked, including Mayor Watson, I offer my sincere apologies.
Truth be told, I was reluctant to do the interview for fear Audrey would make the critical mistake I believe she made. As pointed out by Mike Castro (Green Party leader) in his letter, reformers (the messenger) have historically been attacked rather than their message. But more important, Duff is herself a forthright woman, so I cannot resist pointing out the irony of her attempt to make me "act right," whatever that is.
The issue, dear editor, is no one's "style." If style were the issue, we could make some serious hay out of the dictatorial style of the mayor, or the sheepish style of the Watson council. No, the issue, thank goodness, is that there are genuine political disagreements that have come to light in this town, that reflect the emergence of a realignment of political forces. What are they? I belive the Watson council, representing the best there is in this town of the traditional liberal Democratic coalition, believes that because the "good guys" are in, we don't have to worry about things like open government, democracy and inclusion, campaign finance reform nor fiscal responsiblity. They're the good guys, right? Wrong. Been there, done that.
Duff gets it right that there is something to the notion that populists and progressives have a basis to work together for reform. Her pointing to my failure to build Priorities First! (the coalition that helped defeat the taxpayer-subsidized baseball stadium a few years back) is right on. I have failed! But that failure, I believe, goes far beyond my "rude or obnoxious" behavior. The failure of Priorities First!, in my opinion, has to do much more with my failure (so far) to convince my progressive, liberal, and conservative cohorts to go beyond their labels to building an independent electoral base, a political party if you will, that can do more than support issues, but get reformers elected.
I also wanted to lend a friendly critique to the Chronicle's "style." Don't you think it at all "rude" or "obnoxious" (at the least) to use statements of someone's political opponents as statements of fact rather than identifying the source of the statements? I refer to the diatribe about Max Nofziger. Duff has, I suspect, gotten her "review" of Max and I on KVET's Sammy and Bob show during last year's mayoral campaign, from a Kirk Watson supporter, my guess is one or more of his campaign consultants. She goes on to attack Max for "in nine years never so much as brought up the issue of campaign finance reform." Fact is, Max has been doing campaign finance reform throughout his political career, never having spent more than $50,000 on a campain.
The true icing on the cake, however, was the slightly sexist accusation that Max had "turned his entire campaign over" to Austinites for A Little Less Coruption, and that I "wore the pants." If that had been true, Max would have made the central issue in his campaign finding out who ordered the city clerk to invalidate 14,000 of the 29,000 signatures on the campaign finance reform petitions, keeping it off the May ballot. I believe that one of the reasons for this skullduggery was to hurt Max's mayoral chances. So, Max lost this recent election. What do the campaign consultants want? Blood? To stop Max from running again for mayor? To overturn Prop 1, our new campaign finance law? Or is it to stop a real reform movement from taking shape in this dear town of ours? I suspect it is all of the above and then some.
One last note to the editor, Louis Black. Since when do you tune in to Sammy and Bob for political facts? Don't you think Max and I should be applauded for getting out any facts on their show about Prop 1, since Sammy said at the start of the show that he was "agin it." Then, for you, Louis, to complain that we didn't tell what the Statesman's objections were to Prop 1, was too much for me in one day! Oh well, I guess I'm just gonna have to remain in your face (with tongue in cheek) forever.
Your taxpaying readers should know that the U.S. Army fed about 500 of the 600 arrested trespassers at the School of the Americas in Ft. Benning, November 16.
How's that for public relations?
Future on Web
To see one possible vision of our town's transit future, visit the online slide show at http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/CPSRTA. It's an implementation report on Seattle's new multi-modal transit program -- light rail, express bus, HOV lanes, commuter rail.
I shouldn't have used Escovedo's name as an example of electric bands that I don't get. I haven't heard his newer stuff, which I hear is pretty good. This correction is coming from a friend whose musical tastes I trust.
Sorry about that -- so much for my brief stint as a rock critic ["Postmarks," Vol.17, No.16]. I'll go back to my Bill Monroe and B.B. King now.
Silence Not Golden
To the Editor:
So, Marvin Olasky is surprised by the level of "intolerance" toward his views in "liberal" Austin ["Media Clips," Vol.17, No.16]. Leaving aside the tired rap against Austin as a liberal bastion, what does he expect? After years of tossing rhetorical bombs at the poor and pro-choice advocates, among others, he waxes hurt and bewildered when called to logic and true tolerance by his critics. And by the way, as a Burkean conservative myself, I would like to point out that not all of Olasky's critics are liberals. A crucial issue for those who oppose Olasky's world view is silence in the face of ideology and the extremes proceeding from that ideology. His critics cannot hope to dissuade Olasky from his dogma. Instead, their purpose often is to serve notice that they will not be silent when he unleashes yet another attack on those who do not fit his ideas of rectitude.
With few exceptions, the institutions representing the dogma he so perfervidly espouses remained silent as six million Jews were consigned to oblivion in the concentration camps. From the time of Constantine, the history of the world has been replete with atrocities instigated or abetted by intolerant Christianity (the Inquisition springs to mind, and try reading Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire). Silence in the face of these blasphemies was and is itself a crime against humanity.
If Olasky wishes to circumscribe his life with superstition and cant, he has every right to do so. When he steps outside that circle and attempts to foist his intolerant beliefs on the body politic, however, he must expect resistance. The Constitution has survived many threats. My bet is that if Olasky and his fellow ideologues were to achieve power, the American people could kiss the Constitution goodbye. One wonders how long dissent would be tolerated in a Christian polity achieved by a minority takeover. Hitler, after all, dispensed with Weimar after peaking at only 34% of the vote. Remember, too, the regrettable Clinton is a minority president.
Sorry, Marvin, but you must not confuse intolerance with a refusal to bend to a frightenly narrow ideology. And under no circumstances will you be allowed to construe silence as acquiescence.
Recently a select group of Austin's business community (along with others) took a bus trip up to Dallas to see the different rail projects there. The bus tour got stuck in traffic gridlock on the Dallas central expressway. Later, after a 15-minute commuter rail ride to Irving, the rail tour continued as the group got back in the bus and endured almost an hour more of being stuck in traffic gridlock. Apparently expensive rail projects in Dallas are not the cure to traffic congestion or pollution; gridlock is still a problem there.
For Austin why not consider an alternative "Network" transportation system? You will not find a "Network" transportation plan for Austin on the mayor's desktop, just plans that serve downtown Austin. You will not find a "Network" transportation plan for Austin at Cap Metro either. The current Board of Director's goal at Cap Metro is "saving money" on bus spending. Somehow while "saving money" Cap Metro is simultaneously looking to provide funding for the Light Rail, the Commuter Rail District, Trolley plans, as well as the new toll roads like the proposed SH-130.
Why does the local media clamor "doom and gloom," for downtown Austin should anyone mention other transportation alternatives? By following the existing railroad right of ways for Light Rail, are we not continuing to separate East Austin from West Austin? Could it be that there are alternative transportation systems that could be developed, systems that would not have to serve the downtown exclusively?
There will always be far more people in Austin who cannot, or will not live downtown. What would be wrong with providing all of Central Austin (not just the downtown) with a modern rapid transit?
Oust the Interstate
In your last issue ["Postmarks," Vol.17, No.17] you published a letter from Dana Andrew Kiger, stating the well-known belief that building SH-130 is necessary to relieve motor traffic congestion on I-35 and high-speed traffic from I-35 on neighborhood roads in Austin.
Everyone wants to relieve traffic congestion, but building new roads doesn't do the trick. Several recent traffic studies (e.g., Hansen and Huang, Transportation Research A, Vol.31, No.3) have reached the unsurprising conclusion that increasing road space actually increases motor traffic. We need to decrease, not increase, motor traffic volume in Austin.
Here's a suggestion for relieving traffic problems in Austin caused by I-35. Close all or most of the exits and entrances to the highway within the city. That way the highway will still go through our city, but highway traffic will not interact with city traffic. Austinites will no longer drive on I-35 to get from place to place in town. The highway will be used for intercity and interstate traffic, as it was built to be used. We'll still have problems with I-35 cutting through our city, but once we stop using I-35 as a city street, we'll be in a better position to pressure the federal government to move the highway out of our town altogether.
Highways were never meant to be city streets. They make very bad city streets. Let's stop using them that way. Then maybe we will stop hearing that we must build SH-130 or SH-45 in order to protect innocent children from huge, death-dealing trucks. Everyone wants to protect children, but building more highways is not going to do it.
Wooley's Plain Wrong
In his response to my letter linking population and global warming, the writer states that the world has the resources to feed many more people than its present size. There are numerous predictions about food production in the future and the big question is, at what cost to the planet? There are also many more issues here -- water, pollution, jobs, housing, bio-diversity, and general quality of life, to name a few. If population growth continues as it is today, the estimate for the population in 50 years is double what it is today which would be just under 12 billion people -- in my mind, that's a lot to think about. Mr. Wooley states that "the global warming scare is pure rubbish." He should share the facts that lead him to make this statement with the 20,000 scientists that studied the issue for the UN -- they don't agree with him.
Mr. Wooley's assessment of the amount of trees on the planet doesn't appear to be supported by fact. According to "State of the World Forests" published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN: "Between 1990 and 1995, the was an estimated net loss of 56.3 million hectares of forest worldwide." The UN states that this trend is expected to continue: "In the coming decades, pressures for increased food production are expected to lead to continued conversion of forest land to agriculture in many developing countries."
Mr. Wooley states that worry about population growth and global warming are just lies used by "the babykillers to substantiate their lust for abortion." It's absurd to imagine that anyone would look to abortion as a means for stabilizing population. What the groups that are involved in population issues do is to promote education and access to contraception. These things not only allow people to have families of a size that makes sense for them, it also reduces the amount of abortions.
I would wish for all of the "baby humans" a clean, diverse, very habitable world where his or her predecessors had put some thought into the quality of future lives and had taken steps to shape a more sustainable society.
District Rep., ZPG
Considering the source, your piece on Austin megachurces (and some not-so-mega) wasn't half bad ["Megachurch Miracle," Vol.17, No.16]. I laughed 'til I pissed reading about the woes of pro-homosexual heretic Larry Bethume and his University Baptist Church. Bethume is quoted as saying "Jesus stood with the despised and rejected." Yeah Larry, but Jesus does not stand with non-repenting sinners who are proud of their sins, and your ever-shrinking congregation should be proof that heresy doesn't sell, even in Austin.
Thanks, too, for the enlightening (albeit yellow) article on Marvin Olasky ["Media Clips," same issue]. Olasky shows that the whole point of being open minded is to find the truth of any situation and not to espouse any and every lunatic screed that mankind can fabricate. Tolerance seems to be a one-way street here in Austin, and those who clamor in vain for tolerance are in fact the least tolerant, much to their demise. People who are offended by the truth are the most pitiful of all, except for people who actually believe their own bullshit.
What Does a Regressive Tax Have to Do with Reform?
Reference the article on "Reform or Bust," Linda Curtis, I must say you are doing a public service letting Austin know how lucky we are with a dedicated grass-roots organizer and S*** disturber. We need more like Linda Curtis because there is lot of excrement that badly needs disturbing in our corrupt body politic.
From my involvement with income tax reform, I must say it was refreshing to come across someone so open-minded. Someone who didn't take a knee-jerk reaction to the National Retail Sales Tax bill but took a closer look. (From the left or the right, the closer you look at the National Retail Sales Tax bill the better it gets -- see http://www.NRST.org). In my humble opinion, the article could have been more balanced. She may be confrontational in style -- but balance that with all the good she is doing: getting Austin citizens out of apathy and into action. It takes people like Linda Curtis to disturb a corrupt status quo. More power to her.
Clinton Backpedals Again
Claiming that it was in the interest of "national security," President Clinton has recently opted to spend American taxpayers' money to bail out the troubled South Korean economy and the bankers who made a mistake in sinking their cash into a bad market. Just a few weeks ago, the president and the Secretary of the Treasury announced that no taxpayer cash would go to the bailout, except as a last resort. Backing off from another promise, though, the Clinton Administration announced on Christmas Eve that it would go ahead and send almost $2 billion from the Treasury's Emergency Stabilization Fund.
By giving away almost $2 billion at a time when we face a continually growing national debt, a continually shrinking military, and new threats from terrorists around the globe, it seems our national security and well-being is weakened by this maneuver, not mystically increased as the President would have us all believe.
A segment on the television news tonight highlighted an incident of vandalism at Lanier High School. Someone broke into the animal pens of the FFA program and killed some sheep and goats being raised by FFA members. One young FFA member called it "wrong" to kill "poor defenseless animals." I must agree completely that it is wrong to destroy the property of another. It is a criminal act and should be punished accordingly; however, the perspective of the young member's comment makes me wonder if she understands the ultimate fate of the animals raised through FFA.