This letter is written in response to the article by Kayte VanScoy ["Council Watch," Vol.17, No.20] which chronicles the tensions that have arisen over the funding options for the proposed Waller Creek tunnel. Beverly Griffith and I certainly are not "arch-enemies." In fact, we have agreed to work towards a mutual goal, the building of the Waller Creek tunnel with funding acceptable to the citizens of Austin. My statement "...so naïve that it's ridiculous" had to do with a point of view on public projects in terms of whether or not they are appropriate, and how those who benefit pay for them. The statement was not aimed at Beverly.
I think the important questions to be answered before a decision is made to spend money on public projects are: Does the project promote or incorporate community values and ideals? Is the project accessible and useful to large segments of the population? From a cost-benefit point of view, does it make economic sense? Is it good for the city?
The tunnel, if completed, will eliminate the threat of flooding in the southeast quadrant of Austin's central business district. According to the Loomis Study commissioned by the city, more than 40 buildings will be inundated with water and 12 of the 15 bridges south of 15th Street will be dangerously overtopped with water in the event of a 100-year flood of Waller Creek. The annualized cost of the 100-year flood is estimated to be $300,000. While we have had multiple 100-year floods on Shoal Creek since 1981, not one has occurred on Waller Creek for more than 50 years. There is no doubt that one will eventually occur.
The tunnel is the single most significant thing the city can do to clean up the runoff flowing into Town Lake from the central business district. According to the Loomis Study, post-tunnel runoff into the lake will contain between 30-40% less suspended pollutants. Biodiversity in Waller Creek would be very positively impacted.
The completion of the pedestrian thoroughfare from the University of Texas, the Frank Erwin Center, Sixth Street, the Convention Center, and Town Lake, made possible by the tunnel, gets us closer to a pedestrian-friendly and accessible downtown and is a R/UDAT priority. Conservative estimates of the ad-valorem tax increase associated with increasing land values and inevitable development far outpace the revenue necessary to amortize the debt incurred to build the tunnel. The current financing scheme proposed by the city manager provides for the "bed tax" to pay for the tunnel, meaning that there will be no additional burden to the Austin taxpayer. Most importantly, there is the possibility that an open sewer can be transformed into a wonderful water amenity, creating a pedestrian-oriented people place that we can all enjoy.
P.S. Incidentally, the "land being eyeballed for a luxury convention center at the foot of Waller" which I own is entirely out of the 100-year flood plain, its flood status unaffected by the proposed tunnel.
Another One Bites the Dust
While I'm a strong first amendment supporter, the two page Winston ad across pages 52 and 53 (1/9/98) offended me. I hope you got lots of money for that.
Not only is the product known to be bad for one's health, but the ad itself is pretty offensive. Winston just stopped putting in additives. The product is still addictive, and no one disagrees that the habit is often fatal. I know that you have the right to take anyone's money, and that advertising dollars are what keeps the paper coming out week after week. But you need to keep in mind that if there is enough of this garbage in the paper that it will drive away even the staunchest readers.
I have loved the Chronicle for years, partially because it provides an opposing view to the big money special interests, such as Freeport-McMoRan. I had assumed that you would draw the line somewhere. Or would you take their money too?
I can really only speak for myself, but I didn't like seeing that ad. If I continue to see big cigarette ads in your otherwise wonderful paper, I will stop reading the Chronicle.
(A mostly live-and-let-live kind of person,
but one has to draw the line somewhere.)
There was one very important change made at the TNRCC under McBee that wasn't mentioned in your article ["God's Steward at the TNRCC, Vol.17, No.19]. The TNRCC mission statement changed. The words "to protect human health and the environment" do not appear anywhere in the mission statement. What the TNRCC protects now are "precious human and natural resources." Kind of makes you wonder, doesn't it?
Thanks to Ventura
In his article ["Letters at 3AM," Vol.17, No.20], Michael Ventura has captured better than anyone I have ever read the beauty of becoming lost in a movie on a big screen -- "to surrender to being immersed in the imagination of others." I agree that this experience is something that cannot be found anywhere else, and is what I have been trying to explain to my husband for years as to why "We'll see it later on video" does not cut it for me. Thank you, Michael, for a great article!
Monica C. Solomon
Suffer the Smokers
Contrary to Dan Morales' pompous statement that his suit against tobacco companies is "what Texans want," I condemn the action that led to the recent $15 billion settlement. Mr. Morales' action would have received the contemptuous dismissal it deserves, by both the tobacco industry and the court system, were it not for the culture in which it was instituted -- a culture in which individual choice is frequently lauded but individual responsibility is dodged, with court approval. Faced with this no-win situation, the tobacco companies may well have chosen their cheapest alternative in settling out of court, but this in no way exonerates Mr. Morales for his part in this shameful legalized extortion.
Mr. Morales' case was based on reimbursement for money the state spends on tobacco-related health problems, but he never sued until the political climate was favorable to his self-serving argument. The cure for the situation is not the slow destruction of an industry, but rather eliminating the socialized aspects of health care; in plain words, to get the state out of the business of providing health care, so that if smoking causes health problems, no one but smokers suffer the consequences of their actions.
Wants to Glow
Why do your T-shirts only have the glow-in-the-dark feature in kids sizes? That hardly seems fair.
Glowingly yours in adulthood,
P.S. Chronicle man rules! He knows who he is.
The Country of...
Now is the time to let our members of Congress know that there would be no IMF bailout of the Indonesian dictator and his family. This in the country of Timorese massacres, unbridled deforestation, Lippo group, the Riaddys, and internal oppression of minorities. The money would never reach the Indonesian people, anyway. It's about time some foolish investors took a haircut on speculations based on fairytale accounting. Markets will be all the stronger after a good high colonic.
Given the degenerate tabloid mentality of American news consumers and journalists, there can be only one logical outcome to the current Clinton sex scandal. Kenneth Starr's political butt-sniffing will reveal that, in new videotaped depositions, Jennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, and Monica Lewinski will confirm that the President has a green penis, thus confirming his sexual impropriety and his true lineage: Bill Clinton is a horny Martian brought to Earth in a UFO. After his inevitable impeachment the National Conspyrer predicts that Bill and Hillary will retire to Roswell, New Mexico.
I'm saddened that the "Green Weenie" scandal has shifted the media focus away from the Pope's visit, the Middle East negotiations, and related global trivialities, but a week of coverage without the perennial whining of the "Rightniks" and "Newt-baughs" about the "liberal media bias" has been refreshing.
Craig D. Hillis
High Price of Murder
Letter to the Editor:
First she's guilty, then she's innocent. The case of Susie Mowbray, who was convicted of murder in 1987 and later acquitted of the same crime in a second trial, clearly illustrates the fallibility of our legal system. Had Ms. Mowbray been sentenced to death after the first trial, she would have joined the ranks of Randall Adams, Henry Drake, James Adams, and many other innocent people who have been sentenced to death in this country.
We have granted our government the awesome power to execute citizens. Those people who believe that capital punishment makes the world a better place cannot ignore this fact: Sometimes innocent people are executed. As long as our society allows capital punishment, mistakes will be made, and the killing of innocent citizens will be part of the price we pay. If an affluent white woman like Susie Mowbray can be wrongly convicted of murder, who among us is safe?
I believe that I now have an obsession about I-35. Because while lying down trying to sleep I believe that I've come up with a good idea with bridging the separation that the downtown has with East Austin. The city can build over I-35!
Some of the ideas that I have come up with can be connecting the park area South of the river over I-35, a Convention Center or visitors center over 1-35 near Cesar Chavez (or two separate buildings on each side connected with enclosed see-thru walkways) There can also be some type of connections near the University, and the proposed city buildings at Mueller Airport.
Chicago is a city that has built over a freeway with a new Convention Center. Chicago also has a McDonald's and a hotel built over one of their freeways in a Western suburb. Seattle is another city that has built over their freeway with a park and Convention Center.
Besides the social separation, I also have a lot of concern about the poverty of East Austin and connecting downtown over I-35 would bring a lot of the people from downtown and the Waller creek plans to East Austin's Hispanic businesses.
Some other things that we can build over the freeway are a City Hall, a luxury hotel with restaurants, a transit center, and a sports stadium (or something connected to it like parking). We would also have large walkways and bicycle trails connecting East Austin with the rest of the city. The park area over the freeway south of the river can be some type of gateway to South Texas! We can have a giant water fountain directly over the freeway with the water pumped from the river. We can also have tubes in the park to create a sound garden. One concern that I realized after thinking about all this is the bats that might gather under the park area created over I-35, but we can always build a giant mobile in the park to honor the bats and make a connection with the vehicles traveling under this area by referring to the new area as "Bat-Mobile Park"!!!
Dana Andrew Kiger
Those Lusty Europeans
Thank heavens for the Europeans! This morning on NPR, I finally heard a report that made sense regarding this whole "White House scandal." Europe seems to be of a mind in wondering what in the world we're making such a big deal about. I must agree with them. Both this investigation and the coverage of it have gone too far. It is just unbelievable that anyone should even mention impeachment or resignation over something so asinine. I cannot understand why more people haven't stood up against this revolting tide, but I can't keep quiet any longer. Paula Jones is just a money grubber and Kenneth Starr a glory hound. Let us please start dealing with substantive issues and move forward beyond this ugly mess.
First Junior Wells. Then Carl Perkins. Then... Jack Lord? I just can't shake this nagging feeling that a cosmic accounting error has occurred here -- that God intended to take Don Ho and got McGarret by mistake. Maybe this is the evidence the supermarket tabloids have been searching for; that death isn't random, but that God's just a lousy shot.
On the other hand, maybe He just couldn't picture that big Muddy Waters band in the sky wailing on "Tiny Bubbles."
Austin (via Honolulu)
Fire `n' Brimstone
The year 2000 A.D. approaches with the predictable peddling of apocalyptic hysteria. Christian books, newsletters, and radio talk shows are announcing the fulfillment of Biblical prophesies with the return of Jesus and the bloody judgments on those who refuse his authority.
The torment and destruction by God described in Revelations is nothing short of demonic. If the judgments were to happen today, 67% of the world's population which are not Christians (almost four billion people) would be tortured and killed. Some of God's judgments are: plagues, starvation, globally turning water to blood, slaying one-third of mankind with demons, then the war of Armageddon -- where the massive slaughter will create a blood lake 200 miles long and 4.5 feet deep. If you still don't accept Jesus as your savior, the Lord will cast you into the lake of fire with Satan, demons, Buddhists, Hindus, Taoists, Pagans, Atheists, and other "sinners."
While the "judgments" are happening on earth, the righteous Christians will be in Heaven, singing praise songs to their vengeful savior who has purified the world by exterminating all non-believers.
Yes, clearly we have inherited one of the most brutal religious mythologies of all times. Intolerance and cruelty are falsely viewed as God's will.
As we march toward the 21st century and beyond, will the members of Christianity embrace the gruesome biblical prophesies? Maybe not. Many ministers assert we live in a post-Christian era. They claim pagan forces have crept into our Christian communities. Interesting a root word for "pagan" is "peace."