It's unfortunate that you apparently allowed the opinion of one reviewer, Lee Simmons, to determine the Chronicle's endorsement for the Precinct 5 J.P. race. If that reviewer thinks J.P.#5 race is contentious, then she/he hasn't seen or heard very many political races.
I am a member of the executive board of the Travis County Democratic Women's Committee. We interviewed 23 candidates, allowing each candidate 30-40 minutes; we also did background checks on some candidates. After all that effort, we still have to make dual endorsements in a few cases. However, we unanimously endorsed Herb Evans for J.P.5. The J.P. court is the lowest court in the county court system. It is often the first, and only, time that many people encounter the court system. It is important that the judge have "people skills" - the knowledge and experience to deal with many kinds of people. Herb Evans talked about helping people. He has a long history of community and civic service. He is a trained mediator and one of the founders of Austin Family Mediation Association.
Since many people who appear in J.P. court have little or no money, mediation is an important tool for this court. While no fees are charged in J.P. court, attorneys are being used in this court. Gisela Triana, on the other hand, talked mostly about her desire to be a judge and her personal life. It's too bad that she couldn't run for one of the two higher courts she first considered. She is bright and will probably make a good judge in the higher court.
Herb Evans is endorsed by the West Austin Democrats, the Central Austin Democrats, the University Democrats, and the Travis County Democratic Women - all key clubs in Precinct 5. He was also endorsed by APD, CLEAT, and the Sheriff's Department. He also won the Bar Poll.
By the way, there are three candidates in the County Court at Law #6 - Jade Meeker, Jan Breland, and Russell Ramirez. We knew Meeker's and Breland's records and were prepared to make a dual endorsement, but then we talked to Richard Ramirez, and for the first time in our history we made a triple endorsement. Ramirez was a former assistant attorney general for consumer protection. He is licensed to practice at the state and federal levels. He made administrative recommendations to improve the efficiency of the court, particularly in docket scheduling.
Democratic Precinct Chair, Precinct 346
No Peace for Justice
To The Austin Chronicle staff and readers:
The Chronicle's endorsement of the Justice of the Peace, Place 5, reflects a lack of research of the candidates and gullible endorsements board. Pointing out that Ms. Triana has routinely overstated her qualifications is not being contentious. The facts are:
1. She claims to be Associate Judge. In fact the title is "Relief Judge," a part-time job.
2. She claims "extensive" civil and criminal trial experience. Yet she admits to only 10 jury trials as an attorney.
3. She claims thousands of cases decided and never reversed. Give me a break, she is only a part-time traffic judge.
I do not think highlighting fantasy with civility is being contentious.
She contentiously smears Herb Evans as being "the candidate of the criminal lawyers and bail bondsmen" despite knowing that he, not she, is endorsed by all local law enforcement groups and all of the endorsing groups in the Place 5 district. One might note that her endorsements are mostly from outside the district.
Ann vs. Nan
I was shocked when you refused to endorse for the Travis County Commissioner Precinct 3 race, contending there's not a nickel's worth of difference between Nan Clayton and Ann Graham. Where have you been since the early Seventies?
Ms. Clayton's critical advantage is public service experience. While Ann Graham was studying for undergraduate finals, Nan Clayton was running the campaign that stopped a proposed Barton Skyway bridge over Barton Creek. And the creek bed wouldn't be in one piece for the later-formed Barton Creek Association to preserve if not for Ms. Clayton's work to help stop the City's dynamiting to run a wastewater line through the creek. After those environmental successes Nan Clayton co-founded the Barton Hills/Horseshoe Bend Neighborhood Association, and she was off and running. For school board, that is, serving three terms - two years as president.
While Ann Graham was learning to be a lawyer and represent bankers, Nan Clayton was managing a $3 million budget for AISD; managing grants for ACC; and acquiring approval for the hospital that now serves south Austin. And the Texas Legislature chose her to help rescue floundering Capital Metro, as interim board member. Her 18 years of professional chemistry experience prepared her for the 290 W. Task Force, planning the road and voluntarily sitting in on water quality assessment meetings.
While Ann Graham has volunteered for local good causes, Ms. Clayton has volunteered also, and she has sat in the board rooms, organizing efforts like Community Action Network and the Pebble Project, which provided counseling and other direct services to victims of child sexual assault.
I put three children through Austin schools during Nan Clayton's tenure on the school board, and for 20 years my family has enjoyed many concrete benefits of her superior and committed public leadership.
Vote for Nan, Already
Dear concerned Austinites,
We are writing you today to urge every one who supports environmental protection and growth management to support Nan Clayton in her bid for County Commissioner, Precinct 3.
Because many have found it difficult to take a position, we believe there is a critical need to step forward and help with the community decision.
The key to long-term protection of the Barton Springs watershed rests with creating regional solutions. We strongly believe that Nan Clayton has the background, understanding, and experience to help create that.
While Nan didn't support the S.O.S. ordinance in 1992, she does now. It's clear she understands the need for long-term protection. And we trust her to work with all parts of the community to reach this goal, by bringing together the County, City and School board, as she's done in the past. If we who were so closely involved in passing S.O.S. can support her, we hope that conveys our confidence in her.
Another strong concern is that losing the Precinct 3 commissioner seat to anti-S.O.S. Republicans would be a disaster to protecting our water and our natural treasures, so important to our economic well-being.
In closing, we urge every voter in Precinct 3 that cares about protecting our environment and quality of life to join us in supporting Nan Clayton.
Mitchell Endorses Mitchell
To the Editor:
As an independent candidate for Pct. 3 County Commissioner, I will not appear on either the Democratic or Republican ballot, but I would like to comment on the primary election next Tuesday and the general election in November.
As many of your readers know, I have been active for years in environmental protection, open government, fiscal responsibility, and campaign finance reform. I served four years as Chair of Save Our Springs Alliance, a charity, and was also the founder of S.O.S. Political Action Committee, which supported all seven members of the current city council. I was a board member and spokesman for Priorities First!, which reversed the city council's attempt to subsidize "emergency" baseball without voter approval. I stood with Austinites for a Little Less Corruption for campaign finance reform, and was a co-plaintiff in the successful lawsuit to let the voters decide.
The Democratic primary offers a disheartening choice. Nan Clayton served with Gary Bradley as a board member and spokesperson for the developer-funded campaign against the S.O.S. Ordinance. Ann Graham simply has not been a factor in the civic affairs this community finds important. Due to these inadequacies, and because of my independent candidacy which will be a factor in November, Sierra Club, SANE (Save Austin Neighborhoods and Environment), and S.O.S. PAC issued "No Endorsement" recommendations for the primary. I also note that The Austin Chronicle refrained from endorsing as well.
The Republican primary is even worse, led by Todd Baxter, legislative aide to Senator Wentworth, leading the pack of developer-corrupted legislators that passed the unconstitutional bill establishing the "Sovereign State of Circle C," yet another gift to Gary Bradley.
Subsidizing sprawl is ruining our environment. Travis County debt has exploded to nearly $400 million, a gain of several thousand percent since the 1970s, the highest per capita debt of the 100 most populous Texas counties.
Sprawl is expensive. Get the county out of the sprawl business.
Travis County Commissioner
Elias Registers Complaint
To the Editor:
I am curious to know how you compile your listings for your annual Musicians Register. Every year, I elect to submit nothing to you but every year, strangely enough, I end up in your Register represented by one Charlie Hatchett. Hatchett Talent does not represent me in any way and if folks want to book the Elias Haslanger group they can contact me via e-mail at email@example.com or they can call me at 512/474-8520. Doesn't it seem a bit inappropriate for an agency to claim representation without approval from the artist? Is this the only way they get any business? Doesn't it seem obvious to the people compiling the Register that Hatchett Talent is using different artists to promote their agency? I've called Hatchett Talent for the past three years to protest and I've e-mailed and called the Chronicle for the past two but I can't seem to get my name with Hatchett's phone number out of the Register. Perhaps you guys could verify these listings instead of allowing folks like Hatchett Talent to continue to misrepresent Austin Musicians.
[Kate Messer, Features Editor and Special Issues Coordinator responds: This year, we received over 1,100 entries for our Musicians Register - hundreds of which came from booking agencies. Most of these were legitimate entries, with bands more than happy to have booking agents do this additional work on their behalf. In some cases, musicians felt misrepresented. We regret that this happened to Mr. Haslanger. Regarding complaints and clarifications lodged last year, due to personal and directional changes, we began with a fresh database this year. We don't keep a running roster of who "not" to insert under whom.]
Respect the Dean
Regarding Adrienne Martini's self-serving "critic test" in 2/2/98 Austin Chronicle ["The Great Critic Test," Vol.17, No.25]:
In listing the Austin critics pp. 28 & 30, how could she possibly have failed to mention "the dean of Austin critics," John Bustin??
Bustin was honored about a year ago for 50 (that's 50) years as a drama critic in Austin and Austin area. And despite certain physical limitations, his reviews continue in West Austin News and other area publications.
It is hard to understand how such a shocking oversight could happen. If Martini is trying to foster the impression, as she states, that she is "a little bit odd" - I think she may have succeeded. And "unprofessional" definitely comes to mind.
Bob J. Keller
TVEye Do, Too!
I really enjoy your "TVEye" column. It is refreshing to read an article that doesn't apologize for loving mass culture and television. You don't write as if you are above mass culture, either - so many people have to have an excuse for watching 90210, like they enjoy making fun of it or trying to guess how many ounces of product are on Brandon's hair. I'm a student at UT, and I'm writing my senior thesis on Baywatch. My parents don't understand.
A Tale of Two Hoots
Regarding Tim Stegall's "recent" (I've no idea how recent; such are the hazards of websurfing) article on the "Completely Indigenous" Hoot Night. Let it be known that the next time you ask a Chicagoan when they last saw a Hoot Night, they'll probably tell you tonight, February 25. Alejandro Escovedo may not know how Michael Hall's Hoot Nights "went over" when he moved to Chicago, but as one of the two hosts who replaced Hall and Susan Voelz, I'm proud to say that it's still around and going strong in its fourth year. I won't presume to say it's anywhere near the Hoots you Austinites have enjoyed (if Tim hated "Jesus Christ Superhoot," God only knows what he'd have made of our "U2 vs. R.E.M." Hoot), but we do our best to keep things eclectic every two months or so and we usually play to a good-sized house at Schuba's. One thing I think does come through is the sense of adventure. When the Hoots are on, that's a sense that's shared by everyone, audience and performers alike.
Thanks, Austin. Maybe someday we can share something nice with you.
[Ed. note: "Sloppy, Glorious, and Completely Indigenous" was printed in Vol. 16, No. 20 (January 17, 1997). It can still be read at http://www.auschron.com/issues/vol16/issue20/music.hootnight.html. For a complete archive of issues dating back to March 17, 1995 (as well as the September 4, 1981 debut of The Austin Chronicle), go to http://www.auschron.com/issues/.]
Working for a Living
As one who was born and raised in Austin, and can barely afford to live here now thanks to the rapid rise in the cost of living, I throw my support behind the living wage campaign. A living wage, unlike the minimum wage, is one that will cover the basic costs of housing, food, clothes, and the occasional luxury, like health care. I am a bus driver, and there is a union where I work, but in part because of the depressed wages in this otherwise booming economy, many of my co-workers have to work two or three jobs to get by. A person who works full time should be able to make a comfortable living. If they can't, the blame falls not on the individual, but an economic system that is geared toward profit rather than humanity. But economics does not exist in a vacuum - by political struggle, we can raise the bottom in Austin and bring all of us up with it. That is why my union local supports the idea of a living wage, and I ask that the Chronicle do so as well.
Amalgamate Transit Union 1549
UT Shuttle Drivers, Mechanics, and Service Workers
Come On Down!
It strikes me as passing strange, what has been taking place in Texas political and governmental circles in the last several years, all calculated, apparently, to bring political control of this state's government to the Republicans. Back when I was teaching Texas Government, I interviewed a top Republican official who outlined to me what seemed like "Mission Impossible." The ambitious goal they set for themselves was capturing majority control of the Texas House and Senate. I saw no way it could be done, at the time.
Now, a pattern has emerged to effect that aim, or so it would seem. Out of a clear blue, job opportunities of a lifetime are offered to longtime highly placed Democratic officials, who then resign or retire from their top political offices, leaving vacancies by governor's appointment or election. Numerous Democratic candidates for House and Senate seats have suddenly "turned in their badges," as Ralph Yarborough would have called it, when confronted with job offers paying far above their state salaries, while others have switched parties without giving their constituents a chance to accept or reject them as Republicans.
The strategy has become clear, that most of us Texans can be "bought" if the price is right. I had thought the Republicans were above that; apparently it's "any means to a right end": namely, the political control of this state. All of this is pure coincidence and conjecture, I'm sure, with "good" Democrats suddenly going for the golden chance at security, offered by someone, for some reason.
Clerics Keep Silent
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
The reason that the Catholic clerics are silent with regard to the alleged problems at the White House is that unfortunately, Catholic theology prohibits the mixing of religion and politics, keeping Catholic clerics silent.
This is a political issue, and not a moral issue, brought on by those who utilize the narcissistic political method. The "holier than thou" method (e.g. Limbaugh, Fallwell, O'Chester) predominantly impacts those with a dominant emotional hemisphere of the brain, instead of the logical. Fundamentalist followers are all emotionally suggestive, as an absolute component and requirement of complete trust, which forms the core of fundamentalist practice, as "accepting Jesus as your personal saviour," as the minister's personal interpretation sees fit. This places an obscene level of unbridled interpersonal power into the hands of these church leaders, because of the following reason:
In other churches that have a theological hierarchy, even a natural personal accumulation of referent power, even simply from a cleric doing a job very well, is closely monitored by a Bishop. This is necessary because of the ever-present danger of other types of power to be compulsively put into the hands of any religious leader by followers, or, other type of power may be usurped, all as a failing of human nature.
These include personal power, coercive power, legitimate power, and political power. The exercise of these often leads to moral conflicts of interest, which we see all over the place with Fundamentalism. Certainly, most Fundamentalist leaders are good Christians. However, clearly also there are those whom have become drunk with the exercise of the wrong kinds of power.
Sadly, many in the press may not realize these sins of the clergy.
Thank you so much for your valuable time to consider my letter.
BA Psychology, Theology
Doggett Dodging Calls
Congressman Lloyd Doggett apparently is embarrassed by his part in taking healthcare freedom away from Americans over age 64. His written response to letters asking for this freedom to be restored is evasive.
Telephone calls to his office are even less satisfactory. Nine separate calls over a period of three months have gone unanswered. Neither Congressman Doggett, nor any of the 40 people we pay to work for him, chose to return a single call.
Congressman Doggett, like all incumbents, has access to some of the pork our $1.5 trillion in taxes buys for members of Congress to disburse. In addition, he has about $1,000,000 in his political war-chest. No Democrat is willing to oppose him; neither is any Republican. As with most incumbents, there is miniscule chance he can be defeated for re-election. Therefore he does not have to be straightforward in answer to constituent letters. Nor does he have to trouble himself (or his staff) to discuss matters on the phone that he doesn't want to.
There are 434 other members of the House of Representatives who can vote to restore healthcare freedom to Americans over age 64. But those of us living in Travis County, Texas, can not vote for these 434 House members. Americans over age 64 living in Travis County are disenfranchised on the subject of healthcare choice. This is a gift from Congressman Doggett, a gift he does not want to talk about.