Don't Dissolve District
I appreciate the coverage of the referendum to abolish the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District, the only local government with the authority to regulate pumping and prevent pollution in the entire recharge zone of the Barton Springs Aquifer. The City of Austin's rules, including the S.O.S. ordinance, apply in only about one-third of it. The Aquifer District was created in 1987 and ratified by an 80% majority of the voters in southern Travis and northern Hays counties, where 40,000 people depend on the Aquifer as their only source of drinking water. Since its creation, the District has been on the front line of environmental protection: addressing construction projects, new subdivisions, industrial uses, agriculture needs, residential wells, and other demands on and potential threats to the aquifer. Outside of Austin's jurisdiction, it has nearly always been the only agency making an effort to do so.
Now the very existence of the Aquifer District is under attack. A small group of people associated with a water supply company that has a financial stake in selling water from the Aquifer has gathered petitions to force a referendum on abolition of the District onto the May 2, 1998 ballot. The vote will be held at the same time as the election of two members of the District's board and the vote on a city bond proposition (Proposition 2) that would fund the purchase of about 15,000 acres of land in the watersheds that contribute to the Aquifer.
The need for water and the risks of pollution in southern Travis and northern Hays Counties have never been greater. If the Aquifer District were dissolved, the law of the Aquifer would revert to the "rule of capture," the century-old doctrine followed in no other state but Texas that gives every landowner the right to pump as much water from under his land as he is able, even if it dries up springs and neighboring wells. It would be a giant step backward, away from our responsibility to leave the blessing that was given to us undepleted and unspoiled for the next generation.
I hope all of your readers who live in the Aquifer District - roughly south of Town Lake and west of South First St. - will vote against the referendum to dissolve the District. I am.
I'd like to clear up my friend Bill Bunch's misreading ("Postmarks," Vol. 17, No. 33) of your reporting the previous week. I never said, nor was it reported, that Jeff Jack was an instigator of the suit against the school district. But he was its key witness. Jeff Jack wanted the board to choose a site for a middle school much farther south and a little east of the site chosen. Mr. Jack received reams of information and spoke in public hearings; he met repeatedly with board members and district staff; we looked at his numbers and he looked at the district's.
But when the Board decided on a site other than the one favored by Mr. Jack, he became the plaintiff's chief witness concerning open meetings and public access. Both Judge Jeanne Meurer and the appellate court found no basis for the lawsuit.
There were good reasons to be unhappy about the site selected, but the process wasn't one of them. Attacking a clean process because you didn't like the results only serves to undermine public confidence in public schools and feeds the erosion of public support for public education begun by right-wing vouchermongers.
But that's not why I'm supporting Pat Whiteside in this race. Like her opponent, she's an environmentalist and a neighborhood association leader. But, unlike him, she's also been very active in South, East, and Central Austin schools for more than a decade. She knows what children, teachers, and schools need to be successful. When I talked to Mr. Jack recently for more than an hour, he never once mentioned schools or children and only talked about teachers when I asked about funding their salaries.
That difference may not mean much to Bill Bunch or Jeff Jack, neither of whom have kids in Austin schools, but it does to me.
AISD Trustee, District 6
Don't Attack Jack
Even to imply that Mr. Jack was biased in the case of the Dell Jewish Campus ["Naked City," Vol.17, No.33] is to misunderstand the facts surrounding that case and the role he played in the eventual compromise. The dispute concerned the impact of traffic and intensity on the neighborhood, and not the use of the site by the Jewish Federation of Austin. This fact was affirmed by Congregation members on both sides of the issue. The board of the Austin Neighborhoods Council recognized that the zoning ordinances - the main protection for our neighborhoods - were being bypassed, and felt compelled to bring this to the attention of the JFA and the City Council. Neighborhood associations all over Austin rallied to support this position, recognizing the precedent that was about to be set. Mr Jack, as president, eloquently took on this arguably controversial role as spokesman, and in doing so demonstrated the bold leadership we should all be proud to have in any representative, especially on the AISD Board of Trustees.
"Political action can be a very effective way of controlling your environment."
- Hunter S. Thompson
Air we breathe water we drink and swim in
Things we must have Don't poison us
Free to choose Vote
Support Prop 2
Dear Austin Chronicle:
Everyone who loves Austin should know about the city bond proposal to acquire 15,000 acres of land in the Barton Springs zone. The bond election is on Saturday, May 2, and the outcome will affect us all for years to come.
The first reason to vote for Proposition 2 is to save water and land in the Hill Country from pollution and overdevelopment.
The second reason is to save money. Permanent greenbelt buffers along creeks save money by preventing pollution, flooding, erosion, and water treatment costs. City taxpayers avoid costs of extending utility lines and roads out into the Hill Country. Growth can instead go to the places in town where there is already infrastructure to handle it.
The third reason is to make money. The value of properties located near accessible recreation and permanently protected open space will go up. Far from robbing us of a tax base, these land acquisitions will surely enhance it. New residents and tourists are attracted by our natural amenities, and this land puchase secures these amenities and makes them accessible.
Fourthly, if this land is not saved forever, it will be paved and lost forever.
The last reason, perhaps the best, is the positive effect of community unity. Austin has been paralyzed far too long with the endless arguments over growth. Even the Chamber of Commerce now admits we need to preserve our natural amenities to attract the new residents and business they seek. Some say we can't afford an extra $1.20 a month on our water bills to buy this land. I believe we can't afford not to.
Stephen K. Beers
former Austin Sierra Club chair (1996) and
Conservation Chair (1997)
Austin Bullies Hays
How dare you think that it is okay to just go around buying land that doesn't belong to you, isn't even in your county, and the citizens of the county that the land is in don't even have any say (vote)?! The arrogance that the city and citizens of Austin and this paper display makes me sick. Who the hell do you think you are, thinking that we - the people of Hays county - need taking care of and protecting from big, bad developers? We can, and do, take care of ourselves and our water and our air very well, thank you. There is a word for people who behave and think in the way that you do, Nick, Louis, et al. and that word is bully! Every time I drive into Austin via MoPac, all I see is apartment building upon apartment building upon apartment building upon office buildings, etc.... and you think you are going to protect us from that? What about all those ozone days that you have? Yeah, it really seems to me that y'all are really good at protecting the quality of your environment. Contrary to what you guys think - the citizenry of Hays county is not a child that needs protecting from anything except you and your long, ugly, tentacles that reach out and suck up everything in their way. Leave Hays County alone - we don't want you here, and we don't need you here and we sure don't want your bully attitude. If I had wanted to live in Austin when I moved here six years ago, I would have moved there.
Francie Meaux Jeaux White
Put Voters in Driver's Seat
Some people believe that power corrupts. I happen to believe that powerful people are corrupting the political process.
A case in point is the current bond package on the May 2 ballot. Austinites just passed a very strict campaign finance law last November (à la Austinites for a Little Less Corruption) for $100 contribution limits. I understand various interested parties are adhering to these limits, for which I congratulate them. However, I've also never believed that laws would fix everything, much laws attempting to get politicians to be honest.
In my opinion, the various parties in this bond election on May 2 continue to trample on the spirits of those who care about democracy and who voted for campaign finance reform last November. These voters, and tens of thousands more who would have voted for it had they known it was on the ballot, actually believe in the weird concept that the voters should be in the driver's seat rather than special interests. In my book, all too many of our politicians represent the worst form of special interests out there on the political scene. I am referring to certain members of the Austin City Council who did such a fantastic job of sneaking the current bond proposals on the the ballot that we now have the Travis County Judge Bill Aleshire screaming foul! Last time I checked, Aleshire was a reasonable sort of guy who was part of the club. But sorry, Bill, I suppose you weren't informed that the club here in Austin is getting smaller and smaller these days. Not even the insiders are members anymore!
I'm sure many Chronicle readers will find some attractive items in this bond package, and are vulnerable to being seduced to slit the throat of democracy for something that sounds good, looks good, but doesn't quite pass the smell test. I feel the same way! And, I was actually planning on voting for the entire package. However, in my heart of hearts I'm just one of those sticks in the mud who happens to believe that you can't win any true reforms (environmental or otherwise) through a seriously polluted political process.
Now, far be it from me to tell anyone how to vote. I just hope that those few of us who are going to vote in this election do so considering whether democracy means anything to us anymore, or whether the ends now completely justify the means.
Last, Chronicle readers need to know that their most likely choice for AISD School Board President is the S.O.S.- and SANE-endored candidate Diana Casteñeda, not the incumbent Kathy Rider. Unfortunately, Ms. Rider suffers from the same insiderism that is plaguing basically good people in a rotting electoral system.
Give democracy a chance, folks, before no one is voting for none of the above.
Prop 2 Helps Downtown
I would like to encourage everyone to take the time to vote and approve all three propositions in the City of Austin Bond Election May 2,1998.
Austin is a place where people want to live and do business. Keeping it thriving is a matter of addressing a broad spectrum of economic and social issues.
Downtown must become everyone's neighborhood. Small businesses are the backbone of local economies and Austin must make it attractive for these businesses to locate downtown. Now is the time for the downtown community to unite in commitment to a revitalized downtown.
As stewards of our complex environment, we must make quality decisions about how to use and protect our natural resources. Not long ago our natural resources could be managed in isolation from one another. Today, our population continues to grow and the demand for our Earth's wealth increases. Natural resource information must be integrated, managed, and analyzed to ensure responsible conservation of our Earth's limited riches. This will guarantee future generations the enjoyment of such amenities as Barton Springs and Zilker Park. Actions taken today will frame the city for the 21st century and dictate the quality of life for future generations and this sustains our economic prosperity and quality of life Austin has treasured.
Motorola Still in Aquifer
I have been following with great interest your coverage of Bond Proposition 2 which is intimately linked to Austin's proposed Smart Growth Initiative(SGI). The goal is to divert development into the desired development zone boundary mostly east of Mopac , away from the drinking water protection zone. One of the main concerns is to remove additional sources of pollution in the drinking water zone, attributed to buildings, roads, and people. A recent excellent example of smart development in the desired development zone is the relocation of the proposed Motorola offices from Circle C to the preferred corridor. The original site met with a flurry of protests from environmentalists. The City itself said that it was a wasteful contributor to urban sprawl. In the end, Motorola supported Austin's SGI by relocating its offices to the preferred growth corridor.
I wonder why the announcement of the massive expansion of the Oak Hill semiconductor manufacturing facility is not meeting with a flurry of protests from environmentalists and our city officials. I also wonder why this announcement was buried in the business section of the Statesman and not the front page section like the office complex announcement. Why were people so concerned about the environmental impact of an office complex and not concerned about the environmental impact of the massive expansion of this toxic chemical-emitting semiconductor-manufacturing facility which sits on the edge of the Aquifer Contributing Zone and is in the city's Drinking Water Protection Zone? The 1/12/98 issue of USA Today named both of Motorola's Austin plants to its published list of the 10 biggest polluters in the U.S. chip industry based on their massive amounts of toxic chemical releases.
It is not too late to stop this expansion in the protection zone and require that it too be built in the preferred growth corridor. It would set the perfect example for Smart Growth Initiative. I urge all of Austin's environmental groups to do the right thing and get involved and make sure that the right thing happens!
We have lived in Austin a long time, and one of the advantages of living here is the cultural climate provided by the University. In addition to the quality of life enhanced by concerts and art exhibits, we also benefit enormously as a small business. We own a small independent publishing company serving a niche market. Writing and publishing our books requires an enormous amount of research, and were it not for the University's outstanding library system, I doubt that we could function or even exist.
The many contacts we have had with University library personnel have been helpful beyond the call of duty. We have found them knowledgeable, courteous, and friendly. It is appalling that any University employee is paid the current wages, and in the library system's case it is exceptionally so. The prevailing imbalance between athletics and academics is turning the concept of a university into a sick joke. Although it is good that the new president plans to address the problem in the future, pie in the sky is not bread on the table!
If reason does not prevail and there is a resulting UT staff strike, I will respect the picket lines.
If You Want to Be Specific...
I was shocked, deeply hurt, and possibly defamed by Michael Ventura's article ["Letters at 3AM," Vol.17, No.28] about Carl Perkins' famous gig at Soap Creek Saloon. In his article Mr. Ventura claimed that I drank 20 tequilas and danced on stage with a napkin on my head. First of all, I bought 20 tequilas, but at least two of them were consumed by a woman who calls herself Cadillac Bustemente. Mr. Ventura went on to ask "why a napkin, Biggie?" Well, that's simple: I didn't have a lampshade.
Oh to once again dance with tequila-inspired abandon without worrying about my bad knee, a potential hangover, or appearances. These days the wildest item on my agenda is eating frozen yogurt after nine o'clock at night.
My lawyer will be in touch as soon as his license is reinstated.
James Bigboy Medlin
Los Angeles, California
Did I miss something? After conversing with Chronicle staff, I was certain that you would dedicate a short column inch or so in your last issue to AISD's behind-closed-doors dismantling of the free summer lunch program for low-income kids. Around 2,000 low-income families in East, Northeast, and Southeast Austin will be affected by AISD's decision, but I saw no mention of the matter.
If the plight of hungry kids is not enought to catch your attention, how about the fact that AISD appears to have adopted a "Just Act, Don't Tell" policy on matters affecting minority families? Gutting the free-lunch program one week, closing Ridgetop Elementary the next, with no public notice - not a word to parents, teachers, or neighborhood agencies who work with the kids being affected. Regrettably, AISD appears quite comfortable with backroom policymaking when it comes to matters touching the lives of low-income and minority kids.
Public pressure is the only tool we as parents have and taxpayers have for holding AISD accountable for their decisions. For better or worse, this means we depend on local media to focus and keep attention on significant community issues. I believe the prospect of kids going hungry simply because AISD finds it easier to eliminate services than to work out prickly details deserves attention, for reasons both of policy-making substance and style. I trust that the Chronicle will help us keep an eye on AISD and other public entities which believe they can slip something past us.
El Buen Samaritano
Not Proponents of Death
We were stung recently by a comment regarding DVDs and our views on them and carrying them ["Whither DVD?" Vol.17, No.32]. In your article you (after misquoting an employee, oops) refer to Faces of Death as if this would be a concern of ours. That really smarts. We are not big proponents of death, as a matter of fact, death just makes us downright sick! It's so easy to assume that since we do cater to individuals whose tastes run the gamut of perversity, that we the employees are equally as morally decrepit. Not so. We want to see The Sound of Music DVD and Old Yeller DVD. These releases would fulfill our wants, not Faces of Death.
Besides, everyone knows our specialty is really porn.
I Luv Video staff
Clark Deserves Privacy
Dear Chronicle Editorial Staff:
I am irate over the fact that Ken Lieck chose to write about Carrie Clark's personal problems in his column. I understand his right to publish this information, but I'm really wondering who will benefit from reading about this. Maybe he felt good about printing this info after putting in a gratuitous plug for the worthy Sims Foundation, but I hardly think this justifies the invasion of privacy. I believe in free speech, but I also believe in using that right with careful judgment. It's doubtful that Mr. Lieck saw a potentially harmful statement, just a juicy gossip tidbit. This is hardly the kind of attention Carrie and the band need right now.
Inspiring & Lovely Cover
Just wanted to comment on the cover of the Vol.17, No.32 issue. Most inspiring, simply lovely. Wish everything printed could reflect such good karma.
Not Everyone Can Be As Smart As You
If Jay Hardwig is such a Red Sox fan, how come he doesn't know it was Tony Conigliaro who took a high and inside fastball to the eye, not Rico Petrocelli? With all the money the Chronicle rakes in, you can't hire a fact-checker?
Bonigliaro, Not Petrocelli
E-6, sir. Rico Petrocelli was not the victim of a terrible beaning in 1967. You are thinking of the very sad story of Tony Conigliaro, then rookie-sensation right fielder for what Bostonians refer to as the Olde Towne Team. Petrocelli was the shortstop (and he also wore the uniform number 6) who caught the final, pennant-clinching out of that amazing season.
Conigliaro was beaned in August by a pitcher for the Angels named Hamilton. (I think it was on the 17th, if I remember correctly.) The ball completely shattered the orbit of his left eye, and while he attempted a comeback, he never regained his stroke, and eventually left the game. He was replaced in right by Ken "Hawk" Harrelson, who now calls play by play on WGN's White Sox broadcasts. Sadder still, on his way back from an audition for a similar broadcasting job, "Tony C.," being driven by his brother Billy (who also played for the Sox), had a devastating stroke in the passenger seat, from which he never recovered, and he died in the hospital some months later.
To this day, denizens of the Fens call the triangular seating area in the dead-center field bleachers, which is usually kept free of fans to help batters see the pitcher's release better, "Conig's corner." Thought you might want to know.
From the only known member of the Benevolent and Loyal Order of Honorable, yet Addicted Red Sox Diehards (BLOHARDS), Austin Chapter,
Henry V. Fitzgerald, Jr.
Prop 2 Benefits Precinct 3
As a citizen of Austin and candidate for Travis County Commissioner for Precinct 3, I am very interested in the outcome of the City of Austin bond election this Saturday, May 2, particularly Proposition 2.
Prop 2 seeks voter approval for financing the purchase of preserves in the environmentally sensitive Edwards Aquifer region in Precinct 3 southwest of the city, and also in nearby northern Hays County. I urge citizens of Austin to wholeheartedly approve this long-overdue effort to preserve what remains of Austin and Travis County's natural and rural character. We still have an opportunity to make a prudent investment in preserving water quality in the Hill Country and Barton Springs for generations to come, but at the pace that sprawl is devouring the countryside, the hour is late and we must act with deliberate speed. This is the most important election for protecting the environment since the S.O.S. Ordinace landslide in 1992.
Proposition 2 will also save taxpayers money, a critically important benefit that deserves more attention. A $65 million preservation investment now can avert the several hundred million dollar cost of city and county infrastructure that will inevitably devour the Hill Country if we fail to act. Infrastructure costs per capita in low-density sprawl over environmentally sensitive watersheds are astronomically high.
It is ironic that Travis County Judge Aleshire has been critical of the process leading to this election. Prop. 2 is being subjected to a very public debate and election; in contrast, during Judge Aleshire's 12 year tenure, he has presided over the issuance of $150 million of Travis County debt without voter approval, much of it to subsidize the infrastructure of suburban sprawl. As a candidate for County Commissioner, I pledge to never support any county debt issuance without voter approval. The Aleshire Court is responsible for the most explosive accumulation of debt in Travis County history. Travis' debt load per capita ranks among the worst 10% of all Texas counties, exceeding the county's own policy limit.
Sprawl is expensive, as I have been saying in my campaign. Travis County needs a Smart Growth plan, and Prop 2 is a concept that Travis County needs to support, not obstruct. Where are the other county candidates on this crucial issue?
Independent Candidate for
Travis County Commissioner, Precinct 3
Maxey Has Attitude
One point of contention I have with the article, "Class Struggle" [Vol.17, No.33] (not the Chronicle's fault) is with Glen Maxey's comments and apparent attitude towards the University. The article mentioned that he wanted to prevent state-supported schools from using funds to pay for the club memberships. 1) As pointed out in the article, the money used for those memberships doesn't come from the state; it comes from donations, TV monies, ticket revenues, etc. 2) UT can hardly be considered a state-supported school when the state only provides 25% of the funds necessary to run the University. State-assisted would be a better term.
Therein lies the problem for the staff. Top professors and their research projects are well-funded, which help to make UT a highly ranked school. However, their salaries are augmented with endowments from alumni and industry. Staff and non-top 10% professors' salaries are paid with state funds almost solely.
One source of income that should stay at the University is student's tuition. For an undergraduate the tuition for next fall is $72/semester credit hour (in-state) as found in the Fall 1998 course schedule. Using this number for all 48,000 students, disregarding higher costs for out-of-state and graduate students, the cost per student for a 13-hour course load is $936. For all 48,000 students, this comes out to be ~$45 million. I could not find the actual figure. Using this money would be a nice place to start if you were interested in raising staff salaries. Glen Maxey, if you are truly serious about helping the UT staff, which is a worthwhile goal, do something really useful and let UT keep the money that students pay for their own education.
Speaking Their Language
Dear Robert Bryce, media, and UT staff,
I marched with you carrying a sign that read "thou shall not oppress the hired employee...." Since Dean Shamp and Gov. Bush claim to be "Christians," I thought this might work. Surely, Clinton missed this "Christian" concept.
I have never heard this preached in an Austin church, although such sermons are common in England, France, and democratic Germany. Perhaps that is part of the reason they have more job security, less crime, and less expensive colleges. Oh, the Socialists, some union members, people for living wage, students, all marched - yet, the TV media ignored those non-UT staff people. UT students, unless you start to protest, you will find yourself in shock over the low wages employers in Austin offer you with a degree.
I am writing to you in support of the Greater Austin Performing Arts Center's (GAPAC) proposal that would grant GAPAC a long-term lease to operate Palmer Auditorium as a performing arts center.
The citizens of the greater Austin metropolitan area, as well as surrounding communities, are acutely aware of the need for this venue to come to fruition. Funding, being a key issue, has been expertly addressed by GAPAC which has committed to raising all of the funding privately.
Sadly, Austin is the largest American city without a civic performing arts facility. The redesign of Palmer could become a source of pride and bring new life and tourism to the greater Austin metropolitan area. Location and parking are ideal. It is very unlikely that a comparable site is available in Austin. What more could you ask for?
Austin is blessed with having a great symphony orchestra, ballet, and other perfoming arts organizations. We need an established performing arts space for these and other art groups; a venue that the citizens of Austin can be proud of.
I urge the City Council to find a solution to the space needs of existing exhibitors, and to provide them with a facility that truly serves their needs.
The city leaders need to look to the 21st century and help place Austin at the forefront of American cities that value art and are willing to preserve its very important place.
Chair, Music Advisory Panel
Austin Arts Commission
Nothing But the Best
The Statesman reports that Austin "has about $8.4 million available" for a Lamar Boulevard pedestrian bridge across Town Lake, and that the City Council is considering a separate bridge for joggers and bicyclists estimated to cost $2.4 million if cantilevered and $2.8 million if not. These are the kinds of numbers that make us taxpayers proud that Austin always goes first-class.
The actual problem is that each of the two sidewalks over the bridge is narrow and unprotected. So pedestrians are justly nervous about crossing the bridge, fearing for their elbows if not their lives from the cars whizzing past inches away; and this dangerous proximity makes the motorists nervous, too.
I proposed this solution to the problem:
1) Move the narrow sidewalk on the east side of the bridge over to double the width of the narrow west side sidewalk.
2) Separate pedestrians and cars by erecting, at the outer edge of the newly doubled sidewalk, a formidable black metal picket fence six feet high.
3) Paint a stripe down the middle of the sidewalk and put PLEASE KEEP TO THE RIGHT signs at each end.
I realize how shabby and inadequate this solution is. There won't be room on the sidewalk for wheelchair and chariot races. Bicyclists might have to walk their bicycles. The approaches on each side of the bridge to and from the sidewalk will remain their imperfect selves. The four-lane roadway on and approaching the bridge must be shifted eastward two feet to accommodate the east sidewalk's relocation.
Moreover, this solution is so cheap that the City Council would be ashamed to even contemplate it. Of course the cost might be increased to acceptable levels by plating the enlarged sidewalk with gold and hiring a consultant for $300,000 to work out the details.
Where Is the Living Wage?
The dialogue on wages in Austin is timely and your article "Out of Reach" complemented this neglected topic well. Real wages have stagnated for more than 20 years in the U.S. and have been held artificially low in Austin by the presence of the state government and University of Texas. The jubilant announcements of the low local unemployment rate are misleading when the "underemployment" rate is so high. Great increases in the employment figures for service industries take into account massive turnover for retail business, such as fast food restaurants, and seasonal employment of construction workers. These types of job do not routinely pay a living wage over a 12-month period. Job seekers would be more accurately informed about the local job market if state and local agencies disseminated an "underemployment rate" along with the standard unemployment rate.
Two to three years ago a study concluded that the living wage in Austin was about $11.60/per hour. I would like to know if this information has been substantiated by other studies and also if there is more current information available.
Mr. Cryer of Samsung Semiconductor stated that even with benefits their entry-level specialist earns only $10.40/per hour. This is certainly not a living wage in a city with a high cost of living. Why could they not use the savings from their generous tax abatements to supplement their employees earnings? He also neglects to mention that they pay school taxes to Manor ISD and not AISD. Why did we lure a major company here without getting the benefit of their school taxes?
Mr. Todd asserts that Samsung's deal "produced property taxes far greater than their demand on city services." This statement is misleading because infrastructure costs are subsidized, particularly in more remote areas like far Northeast Austin, and the City does not know all the true present/future costs of providing service to the plant. The training component that Samsung agreed to and Mr. Todd touts has had mixed results. It appears from The Austin Chronicle article on this training program that it is not serving the target community that was envisioned. In addition, semiconductor plants consume large amounts of water and create reactive hydrocarbon air emissions whose local effect on human health and ozone formation is not well understood.
Sweep Your Own Doorstep
We, who attend the monthly station meetings, are familiar with Eduardo Vera's obsession with the Chiapas situation. He often speaks on that subject and on the racism of anyone who may disagree with him. These plaints are punctuated with cries for "respect," to which he is peculiarly undeserving. There is a certain twistedness in Mr. Vera's quixotic crusade. From the relative safety of Austin, Texas, he berates us with his passion and sends radio equipment to Chiapas, while KOOP, the station he and his comrades have hijacked here, goes to ruin for lack of useable equipment. We need some compassionate people in a far off land to take us as a project and send to KOOP new tape and CD players, microphones, a control board, maybe a phone interface so we can do remote interviews.
I do not know if Vera is a Mexican citizen - if so he needs to be there with his brothers fighting in the jungle. (Although the Zapatistas have been a peculiar insurgency since the beginning, more active on the Internet than on the battlefield, content to posture while the government kills their potential subjects.) If he is a United States citizen, there is plenty to do here to help liberate this state, and this people. Like the Mexican government, our government massacres our people, e.g. the Branch Davidians and the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City. As in Chiapas, people are in prison now in Texas for attempting to set up alternative governments (Republic of Texas).
Without looking too far, each of us can find a local outlet for our energy. If everyone will sweep in front of his own door, soon the whole world will be clean.
I have to heartily disagree with the "Ab Fab"-pseudonymed letter writer of last week ["Postmarks," Vol.17, No.32]. I personally needed Gretchen Phillips' blast of call-'em-as-she-sees-'em reflections on art and life. Since Gretchen came back to town she's been an optimistic booster for furniture refinishing, making music in homes, DIY zinedom, and the communal spirit of collaboration. And every so often I need these reminders from people I respect to shoo away self-doubts about why I make art outside the margins of normal-pathic society.
That letter sounded so cynical and sour - frustration gone awry. Why is Gretchen the focus of someone's sour grapes? Perhaps because her enthusiasm for music - making it connected to her internal experience rather than the famous 15 minutes - is happening despite the fact that she has clearly not gotten what she deserves as an artist. Most of us don't reap the creative rewards we deserve. I imagine it must be infuriating if you've allowed your self-doubt and bitterness to cave you in; infuriating to see Gretchen continue to hold her head up when less talented musicians, much less "lesbian musicians" are so willing to make the concessions to wider success. This is someone who has continued to do what she does - funny, insightful, fully human in her irascibility and passion - even though the combinations of luck and fashion have not always played out for her. How infuriating to see her love herself and be loved while she blithely follows her own muses at her own pace.
To see the Gretchens leave is hard. To welcome them back is easy. So in defense of a woman who needs no defending, Here! Here! "Gretchen Phillips says Yes!" Let's all keep making art with our friends and loving ourselves. It's all we've got. Sign me up to the Phillips' army.
Love and kisses,
DeLoss' Third Strike
The job of Athletic Director is rewarding in some respects, but also a tough, demanding position; particularly at a university where one is buffeted by the forces of Regents Board, Athletic Council, Administration, Texas Exes, and student body, in making coaching decisions. Those pressures are very present here, but the A.D. must be able to rise above them, for the responsibility for hiring or firing rests on his shoulders alone.
If the A.D. is pressured to fire a coach wrongly or unjustly he must have the courage of his convictions to stand up in support of that coach, even at the risk of his own job. Since the A.D. is the one who actually hires and fires, he must be assured his conscience will let him live with his actions. Otherwise, as it is written, "He who lives by the sword shall perish by it."
John Silber described to me his defeat and dismissal as Dean here at the hands of Frank Erwin thusly, "I axed a group of Frank's friends on the faculty, and they ganged up on me with Frank's help to cut me down, just as I had cut them down. So, I literally slipped in their blood, and gave Frank the opportunity to oust me."
I feel that if Frank were here today, DeLoss would not be. In the past two years, his "questionable calls" have cost this university the winningest baseball coach in college history, the best football coach available when he was hired, and now the winningest basketball coach in UT history! No A.D. should hire a coach, knowing that he will have to fire him in four or five years if that coach is either: a) too successful, or b) too unsuccessful.
In sports management, as in baseball, three strikes is out, and DeLoss has just taken his third strike, with the wrongful dismissal of Tom Penders. It's time to wrap up a long and largely successful career as A.D., and to return to Kansas for a well-earned retirement. "What goes around comes around," as most of who have been involved in sports have observed and experienced.
Robert P. Sindermann
Retired Goverment Professor, S.A.C,
Odessa College and UT
Austin! We Have a Problem!
Planners said, Austinite's are "dumb," do not understand rail, we will be "educated" before the rail vote. Austinites "negative" about rail, we are "blind."
The Chairman of Capital Metro said he was appointed because he represents the "public." Even a blind Austinite can see through that statement.
How many Austinites have the chairman's PC/cellphone/e-mail device the size of a wallet and could instantly e-mail the mayor's office from their pocket? Would the mayor send his representative as leverage to a workshop for us? The Chairman and the Triangle Park, isn't that a developer issue?
Chop! The "beheaded" CM board had planned a Cedar Park rail to East Austin then downtown. What a huge coincidence, now all tracks are in West Austin, Triangle Park, the Drag, to downtown. The Engineers said plainly... "then South on Congress to Ben White." They said "tell 'em" $520 million, might cost $420 million.
When the Chairman saw the resulting starter rail line he told the engineers, make rails to the airport, and actually snapped his fingers. So much for "no politics."
There were protests, the first plan was best! But the Chairman, a transportation non-expert, insisted.
Only $520 million found to use the first time. In slithered one "out of town" bean pusher, he ignored the local bean pushers' protest for "ethics." The "extra" funding appeared out of "executive decisions" and "assumptions."
Again a bloody chop of Cap Metro staff, perhaps Special Transit Services too?
The Chairman gives us diesel-powered busses. Now downtown will get "non-polluting" electric trains.
Hey! These new rail transportation plans all run to downtown... again!
Same old Austin dance, different conductor, same tune. The now "estimated" $861 million price is for a starter rail system with airport rails. "Houston! We have a problem!"
Ode to TNRCC
(To the tune of "My Grandfather's Clock" ...)
Our grandfathered plants got a real sweetheart deal
So they've belched 30 years in our air.
More polluting by half are these old guys themselves,
Though the TNRCC* doesn't CARE**.
The deal was bought and paid for by lobbyists galore
And was always industry's good luck.
Must we stop short, never to breathe again
For the almighty buck?
Thirty years of pampering (Hack-cough, hack-cough)
Our life's breath hampering (Hack-cough, hack-cough).
Think they'll stop short poisoning the air
* TNRCC - Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, the official promoter of polluting industry for the state of Texas.
** CARE - Acronym for a TNRCC-appointed committee that doesn't.
The Bush TNRCC is one reason why I'll be voting for Garry Mauro.
Robert L. Blau