Home Is Where the Tax Credits Are


As spokesperson for the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, we commend The Austin Chronicle for contributing to the ongoing dialogue regarding the death of affordable single- and multi-family housing in Austin ["The Rent Rub," Vol.17, No.50]. However, several items of note - especially a more complete description of the federal low-income housing tax credit program (described as "rent control" in the article), and the use of federally authorized mortgage revenue bonds - must be clarified. Both of these programs are administered by our agency.

Your observation that "the reason there aren't more rent-controlled apartments is that the bulk of tax incentives doled out by the state are used to aid potential homebuyers, not low-income renters," fails to tell a complete version of facts. First, Texas, like all states, receives an allocation of federal housing tax credits equal to $1.25 times its per capita population - or approximately $24 million every year. The tax credits are used for the private sector development of affordable multi-family housing. Since 1986, more than 74,000 units of affordable housing have been built in Texas through the housing tax credit. This formula, incidentally, is established by Congress and has not changed since the housing tax credit's inception in 1986.

On the other hand, our department's aid to potential homebuyers is in the form of low interest rate mortgages made possible through the sale of mortgage revenue bonds (MRB). The MRB program receives an allocation through the state's private activity bond cap. States are allowed to sell private activity bonds (for affordable housing, student loans, industrial revenue bonds, etc.) by - you guessed it - a federal allocation. This annual allocation is equal to $50 times each state's per capita income; substantially higher than the $1.25 per capita allowed under the tax credit per capita income; substantially higher than the $1.25 per capita allowed under the tax credit program. In Texas, the total private activity bond cap is approximately $972 million each year.

Your article erroneously reported that our Department issues all private activity bonds. The allocation of the bonds is determined by the state legislature and approved by the state bond review board. Our department has nothing to do with this process. In fact, our Department receives only one-ninth of this allocation - or approximately $100 million. The California Housing Finance Agency, by comparison, is allocated more than $1.2 billion of the state's $1.7 billion private activity bond cap.

I also attempted to make clear to your reporter that Texas (like all states) must follow federal guidelines regarding the applicable income levels and rent ceilings imposed by these programs. The reason we help families at the "higher end of the low income scale" is quite simple: Federal guidelines dictate that we do. Incidentally, the word "low" was not included in the printed version of my quote, an oversight verified by your reporter.

Finally, your observation that our Department "tends to cater to more prosperous renters" is entirely inaccurate. For example, the maximum qualifying annual income for a two-person family seeking to live in a tax credit property in Laredo is only $15,420. In Killeen, it's $17,580. In Dallas, $26,100. Prosperous? Hardly.

Thanks for the opportunity to set the record straight.

Brian D. Montgomery

Communications Director

Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs

Stairway to Kevin

Dear Chronicle:

Thanks for Kevin Fullerton's recent article on the affordable housing crisis ["The Rent Rub," Vol.17, No.50]. We're going to have to jack-hammer this issue on a daily basis into the brains of our governing representatives if we're going to make Austin an affordable city again. There's considerable chatter, but the most enlightened City Council in recent memory has yet to implement a significant policy or program to alleviate the inequity.

The piece on Lisa Robinson and her family conveyed so well the work that the Guadalupe Neighborhood Development Corportation has been doing for nearly 20 years. As a small neighborhood-based nonprofit, we've never spent a penny on self-promotion; so it takes articles like yours to get the word out. It's groups like ours that provide families with low and very low incomes the first major step on what is being called "the stairway to self-sufficiency."

One small correction: I've only been involved with the GNDC for about five years. GNDC's strong foundation was laid long before I arrived by Narciso Gil, Sister Amalia Rios, Mary Helen Lopez, Candelario Hernandez, Bobbie Sparrow, and others who have volunteered time to serve on the board. Amelia Rios worked as GNDC's property manager with meticulous dedication for over a decade. John Henneberger and Karen Paup, now operating Texas Low Income Housing Information Services, provided development and planning expertise in the early years, and Ignacio Trevino, with Legal Aid of Central Texas, has carefully navigated the organization through a maze of thorny contracts with the city, and counseled on other legal matters since its inception.

Keep hammering!


Mark Rogers

ACG Clarifications

Dear Sirs,

Austin Community Gardens (ACG) has been around for a long time, as your article ["Withering on the Vine," Vol.17, No.47] correctly points out. We are also a local nonprofit, but it is hardly fair to describe us as "dying on the vine," just because we have been forced us to lay off our two staff members. In fact, ACG is thriving and continues to be a tremendous asset to Austin.

ACG has taken bold steps in the last few years to step outside of Sunshine Gardens and work with Austin's community, including the purchase of land and the development of gardens at several sites in East Austin. We take in revenues from Sunshine Gardens and could devote all our energies to that site only, but we believe that we best serve Austin by developing gardens in the whole city, including East Austin.

Frank Fuller, our past Executive Director, was a key force in helping bring gardens to the Mosby and St. Johns sites in East Austin, as well as in developing sites and working with schoolchildren at several elementary schools. Along with Erik Peterson (who is going to be in graduate school this fall at U.T.), Frank greatly enhanced the reputation of ACG. He also brought ACG out of financial doldrums in 1995 when he took over the organization; we now have a positive balance sheet and an enhanced reputation in the community. Our recent 2nd Annual Mother's Day Garden Tour was supported by the Austin American-Statesman and many of the largest private employers in Austin, including Motorola and HEB.

What is the problem - or why did we "sink," as Erica Barnett writes? In the first place, we have not "sunk." And secondly, I have spoken with the presidents of several local nonprofits, and they all agree that the hardest money to obtain, especially from foundations, is money for staff support; funding to support existing or ongoing programs is much easier to obtain. The trick is ensuring that there's money to pay your staff, and we just did not get some foundation money that we counted on. However, the Board is currently pursuing several options to obtain funding for staff. All we need is enough funding for one staff member, and our gardens and programs will grow like spring bluebonnets.

If readers would like to support ACG, I urge you to send a tax-deductible check of any size (but the bigger the better) to: ACG, 4814 Sunshine Drive, Austin, TX 78756.


Steve Niemeyer, President Board of Directors

Austin Community Gardens

To Recall or Not to Recall


Your Community Radio Station KOOP 91.7 FM needs your community's participation.

Please attend a vital meeting Sunday, August 30, 2-5pm, at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 4700 Grover.

As part of the Austin communities your participation is vital to assure KOOP remains a community radio station. The Board of Trustees and the Community Board have been working to make KOOP more accountable to the Austin community. Unfortunately, some individuals would not like to have the voices of diverse communities in KOOP. Therefore, it is very important for you to attend this meeting on Sunday, August 30, 2-5pm, at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 4700 Grover. Community organizations and their representatives are urgently asked to attend, since it is your voice that the recall campaign is trying to shut out.

We believe the mission of KOOP is the final target of the campaign to overthrow the board. Even though the recall campaign includes the mission in their publicity, we believe this is part of a deception campaign. If you signed a proxy for the recall campaign thinking you were supporting the mission of KOOP, it is very important for you to be present at the meeting so that your proxy is not used to destroy inclusivity at KOOP. The recall campaign, if successful, would be basically saying to people of color, women, the gay and lesbian communities and other underserved communities that we don't belong in KOOP.

The present Community Board was elected last year by the membership, which includes Latinos/Latinas, Women and members of the gay community. The Community Board members have been attacked as outsiders our members have always been a part of KOOP Radio and we have worked hard to build and fund the station. Some members who resent those communities feel they lost the last elections and now want to remove the Board to reassert their control . The Board has also been attacked for believing in professional and efficient management which is welcoming of new communities at KOOP.

The Board Treasurer, Mac McKaskle, has worked hard to establish professional bookkeeping standards and is currently preparing the organization for an audit. The Board has asked Jose Orta to establish an organized office where there are accurate accounting and management systems implemented. Because of the recall campaign which has included homophobic attacks, Jose has recommended to the board to return the $5,000 grant from the Elton John Foundation that he worked so hard for. Jose sees that the funds would not be used for their intended purposes. Jose believes the recall of the board will result in the removal of his community and other communities from KOOP.


Carol Hayman, Trustee Teresa Taylor,

Trustee Eduardo Vera, Community Board

Far From the Madding Crowd

Dear Mr. Hernandez:

In response to the years of brutal, abusive reviews in your publication:

There has always been a certain amount of pathos within artists who leave their sacred bountiful homes of birth for the benefit of preserving their own belief in their art ... especially in cases such as my own where my native soil that I have so championed around this globe has done its best to choke whatever dignity I carried within me. Each time I've crossed that great Red River and left your big fat hats and your good old boy politics, your self-inflated worth and conceit, and your myopic and self-consumed view of your self-proclaimed importance in the world of art I gave a sigh of thanks for having taken Thomas Wolfe to heart in my youth ... for putting the few dollars in my pocket into the fuel tank of my vehicle instead of drugs and alcohol to mentally escape you.

I've remained your moving target for criticism for 20 years. Though I have truly been wounded many times by your malice, you still couldn't catch me at point blank range. I learned well from another of your native daughters you battered, abused, and terrorized throughout her career ... Katherine Anne Porter. She too had the wisdom to get the hell out of there and you hated her because she wrote of you as you are, not as you so self-indulgently perceive yourselves. That mirror must be incredibly difficult to accept.

I carry with me always the pride and the knowledge that great things have come from my native soil ... very few ever return there. Texas is, after all, the only place on earth that actually eats its young.

Sincerely, your native daughter forever ...
far from your crooked biting teeth ...

Des de lejos,

Nanci Caroline Griffith

abroad from Bountiful August 1998

[Ed Note: A number of Texas publications including XL Ent, Texas Monthly, and the Dallas Morning News received this same letter addressed to their respective music critics and/or editors. For the record, Raoul has never reviewed anything by Nanci Griffith.]

Salsa Semantics


This isn't meant to be a slam. I love the Chron and I think the Hot Sauce Festival is great. But I have the same bitch every year.

Once again, there is no hot sauce category at the Chronicle's Hot Sauce Festival. It's a salsa fest, not a hot sauce fest. The categories again are red, green, and specialty. I make all sorts of salsas, and I may well enter a couple, but it's the hot sauces that are really special.

So what's the difference between a hot sauce and a salsa? Salsas are almost always mostly veggie (tomato or tomatillo, usually) with chiles added for flavor. They can be cooked, but are usually fresh. Hot sauces, like Tabasco or Cholula, are mostly chiles with only seasonings added. They are always cooked and usually aged.

I love salsas and the festival is great, but why no hot sauce category? I make several hot sauces, including a killer wild piquin sauce and a habanero/honey/mango sauce that is unbelievable, especially on roasted meats. These are a-little-dab'll-do-ya genuine hot sauces, not salsas meant to be eaten on chips.

The problem is entering as a specialty puts you up against roasted garlic peach serrano chutney and the like. Besides, a quart is required for entry. A quart? You gotta be kidding me. That's like a lifetime supply of a real hot sauce! Two to four ounces should be plenty.

A quart of one of my hot sauces would cost almost $100 in chilis alone. If I bought the chiles. I don't. I grow the habaneros and pick the piquins wild. But you get the point. Hell, I don't give my parents a quart.

I know there are many people in Austin making their own hot sauces. I've had some pretty good ones. There are also numerous commercial bottlers of hot sauces locally. So how about it, Chron? Can we actually get a hot sauce category next year?


Dusty Rhodes

Thanks for Hep C Coverage

Dear Austin Chronicle,

I'd like to thank The Austin Chronicle, Danny Crooks, Alejandro Escovedo, Tary Owens and all who contributed to this sobering and encouraging article ["The Growing Chorus," Vol.17, No.50]. Thank you for making it the cover story, as it is crucial info. I am grateful to these people for sharing and being candid about the condition that so many of us have.

I found out about four and a half years ago that I have Hepatits C during a routine physical exam. I felt fine. Then the results from the bloodwork came back two days later and what the doctor told me nearly killed me. I can well empathize with Alejandro's depression; I was devastated. I was convinced that the disease would set in immediately since its name had been called. Again, I felt fine physically. I had no symptoms. My enzyme levels were elevated, but not dangerously high enough to warrant a biopsy. Cutting alcohol down (like Alejandro, and that song of his, I can't just put it down completely) and using milk thistle and other herbs, I believe, put my enzyme levels in a safer range. Having a supportive wife and two wonderful kids is surely good medicine too. Four and a half years later and I still feel fine, physically. It is on my mind quite a bit, however.

I like to be open with people (including family and extended family/friends) and tell them where I have been. The stigma associated with this disease sometimes stops me, but here goes: I was busted for three joints (that is pot, folks) when I was 19 and ended up in a halfway house where everyone was shooting dope. I had never done the "evil thing" before, but I learned how. That was 20 years ago and I am pretty sure that is probably when I got my little sleeping disease.

For a long time I thought I was one of the only people in Austin with this disease. Thank you Al, Danny, and Tary and all who made this article possible and for helping to lift the stigma. Everybody who has any blood in them should go get a blood test.


Clayton Kusaj

Expanding a Few Beliefs

Dear Editor:

Tolstoy's comment that "it is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness" expands Michael Ventura's ["Letters at 3AM," Vol.17, No.50] belief that every culture, everywhere, has seen something divine in human beauty. We loved DiCaprio for his beauty, but also for his perceived goodness.

Betty Benton



The recently published article by Jordan Smith about Lacresha Murray's legal case and the subsequent letters to the editor astound me. The skewed reporting and letters barely focus on the victim(s) - a darling baby two-year-old girl and her family.


Laura Lamb

South Congress


South of Congress? It seems that a lot of people have their eyes on my neighborhood. The Lyric Opera just bought the building at the corner of Bouldin and Barton Springs Road for $750,000, a building that is probably worth $150,000. Now that they have thrown their money away on this dilapidated building, it's going to be very difficult to get them to change their plans about taking over Palmer. It seems the green Mayor has his eyes on the parkland on Town Lake, as well as Cap Metro as they finish putting their finishing touches on their new bus terminal illegally in the middle of parkland. City Parks and Recreation understands the word "park" only in context of parking lot, and parks and recreation. The natural conservation aspect of a park is almost completely overlooked. Parks and Recreation thinks their main objective is to mow the grass and put up mercury vapor safety lights. The fiasco related to the fencing of Ellisa Springs is a case in point. Parks and Recreation is clueless as to how to protect a natural wonder with intelligence. I digress, the Mayor has his eyes on Palmer and the surrounding park land, when he should have his eyes over at the convention center. Why isn't it possible to build everything he wants at the convention center site? Opera house, sports arena, more convention space, parking, more retail all in a densely developed project that does what this city council professes to want. What we are going to get is a bunch of sprawled ugly midget buildings. The Mayor says that developing the park land around Palmer would bring in money to buy more park land elsewhere. Bunk. That argument was used to try to develop the shores of Town Lake. Realize that when the Nature Conservancy recommends selling all the land they own near Mount Bonnel and on 360 for development they will use the same argument. If we sell this land because it no longer has ecological value we can buy more land elsewhere. Basically the Nature Conservancy is a very shrewd land developer, buy low, sell high. The Mayor is showing the same shrewdness but is misguided. My final point, why are kids getting arrested and ticketed in our parks late at night for curfew violations? Why are some people randomly getting tickets for having their dogs off leashes below Barton Springs, and why do we need more police to prevent violent crimes? Where is the soul of Austin, I do not know.

Mark Nowacki

Storyville Wins!


I think Mr. Chambers ["Postmarks," Vol.17, No.50] must have recently won top honors at "Most Misinformed." My sister has been living in France for over five years working in a T-shirt store at what here would pay maybe $9 an hour. She has a great apartment, nice car, good medical, damn near six weeks paid vacation and yes, a bike! When she sold software in San Jose, CA, she had less to show for more work. She, like many French, rides her bike to work. Why? Because she wants to. Not because she has to.

Now, on to your other misconceptions. I work as a buyer for a major retail CD chain where I get to track nationwide CD sales. Let's see, Storyville sold 80,000 and counting of their first CD while in the same amount of time the average major label pop band sold less than 8,000. Seems to me Storyville wins! Fastball, also from Austin, Mr. Chambers, has sold over 1,000,000 by the time you read this. There are several other Austin bands I could mention that sell well by today's standards. The reality is that Austin is on the way up, not down, Mr. Chambers, and in 1996 and 1997 the average release sold less than 5,000 copies, sad but true. Austin is holding its own quite well in spite of it all.

Next time you are shopping for a new car, Mr. Chambers, you should spend less on the car and save some for your brain. Or better yet, move! You could always join the countless thousands of unemployed educated workers in Silicon Valley who once thought and were told they had a future.

Bob Johnson,

visiting Austin via San Francisco

SOS for S.O.S.


Austin voters passed a $65 million Bond to purchase land in the Southwest Recharge Zone. New development in Austin's Southeast environment will surely negate this effort. Will Austin S.O.S. supporters help?

I live on Hays County Road 126, only three miles long, with 15 farms and family homes. A subdivision of approximately 100 lots, now ready to sell for $18,952 per acre (without septic systems). In addition, 80 to 90 manufactured homes are scheduled to be installed on the 125-acre ranch next door to me. If my calculations are right, that adds up to at least 480 new families, besides the 15 already here.

On looking out my south view, I see a long, high ridge approximately one mile away that consists of a 1,120 acre ranch that sold about a year and a half ago, now supporting over 100 mobile or manufactured homes. The developer told me he plans to develop the whole ranch. This ranch could easily contain 1,500 to 2,000 more homes, the water for which will have to come out of the Barton Springs Aquifer.

There are three water supply corporations in this general area. All have to cross I-35 to put down wells in the Edwards Barton Springs Aquifer between Kyle and Buda since this area is black clay soil that seems to go down to China, and digging wells here is not an option. The water supply corporation that supplies this road plans to sink four more wells in the aquifer, and build storage tanks to add huge water lines to some of these, at a cost of something like $800,000. State law requires the water corporations to furnish water to anyone in its service area who requests service.

Since water left in the Aquifer after pumping out what's needed for these new homes flows to Barton Springs, these developments should be of interest to Austin's Save Our Springs supporters.


Jack Maxwell

War Stories at AISD

Dear Editor:

Thank you for your mention of two AISD elementary schools' problems with their principals ["Naked City," Vol.17, No.47]. Please be aware that this is a serious problem all over the district. Ineffective, inexperienced principals are being hired who have poor people skills, and teachers all over the district are resigning, asking for transfers, or taking early retirement. This instability and turmoil is very detrimental to the children. As a parent, I am very concerned about the effect all this has on our community.

I know of numerous examples of school with principal problems as do many of my friends and colleagues. The war stories are incredible! Turnover rate are unbelievable. I encourage the Chronicle to investigate the high teacher turnover rate and the number of new principals in this chaotic district.

Please let me know if I can be of any help in bringing this issue to the attention of the community. Remember: unhappy teachers, unhappy kids.


Margaret Hayes

AISD parent and former teacher

We'll Put Bertin on It

Dear Editor:

As a former reviewer for a college paper in England, I know only too well that there is nothing better than a dreadful film or album with which to ridicule with reckless abandon. Indeed, so enthralling is this experience, I have become a part of English folk law as the only male actively campaigning for another Michael Bolton release.

I was therefore astounded by S.D.'s [Steve Davis] review of the Nicholas Cage film Snake Eyes. What more could a reviewer ask for? An awful plot, ridiculous characters, a script so devoid of depth I almost thought the last 30 minutes were improvised, and numerous inconsistencies in both plot and character. Snake Eyes is the cinematic equivalent of a Michael Bolton album.

It is incumbent upon every reviewer to give credit where credit is due - even I had to concede that Mr. Bolton's appearance vastly improved with the loss of his golden locks, although I was mightily relieved to discover that this change still rendered him musically challenged. Equally one should not become starstruck - big names and big budgets do not necessarily equal great films.

So come on, Chronicle reviewers, stop pandering to the bloated wallets of Hollywood hacks who churn out such rubbish as Snake Eyes, and instead tell us what we need to hear: Snake Eyes came up snake eyes.

Yours Sincerely,

Stuart Prestidge



Jim states that using first names only "removes any incentive for a city employees to perform well." That is a pretty sweeping statement based on what? As a city employee I am motivated by my love for this city and the people I serve. It certainly couldn't be the high salary. It's a tradition in this town to bad mouth city employees. There are a few in any company who do not do a very good job. We are people like any other. Cut us some slack.

Alex Fisher

Austin/Travis Co. Health Dept.

[Ed. note: When the Chronicle called the Austin/Travis Co. Health Dept. to confirm this letter, we were told that they didn't know who Alex Fisher is.]

Spare Me Your Fumes

Fellow Austinites:

My apologies for my frequent and blatant disregard for traffic laws while riding my bicycle. I will do better in the future.

Having said that, I don't like to hear complaints void of insight directed at bicycles and bicyclists. I really don't see what insightful complaint can be made. Then again, I'm not trying very hard.

Now, I admit the idea of giving up our cars, even for one day, is a little unrealistic. The buses could never accommodate everyone, and I wouldn't want to ride my bike to work on Ben White or Loop 360 or even Research. Besides, the auto industry owns this nation, and they would never let that happen. Still, we can dream, can't we?

The question I want answered is, how the hell did you drive 15K miles last year? I cannot put 3,000 miles on my car's odometer, and I think I drive too much. If you are driving 15K miles a year, you are killing my world, and I don't appreciate that. If you do not see the hundreds of thousands of automobiles clogging our highways and city streets every day as a problem, then you have obviously never ridden a bike nor taken a walk outside. People, there are options. Spare me your exhaust fumes every now and then, please.

By the way, I was born in this country, and I address my problems directly. I do not intend to move to China or France to avoid getting run over.


Stewart Smith

P.S. In response to Don Cool and his likes, neither omniscience, omnipotence, nor omnipresence occur anywhere in the universe. I checked. You and your brain-dead cousins are the only ones who can administer judgment upon my friends, the homosexuals. And I'm sure you will, you underdeveloped monkeys.

Was He Half Serious?


I wanted to lend a voice to the many outraged Chronicle readers who read Karl Lieck's letter ["Postmarks," Vol.17, No.49] about "stupid" bicyclists. Amy Babich and other bike riders literally risk their lives every day as they ride the streets of Austin. In return, all of us get cleaner air, less auto traffic, and greater quality of life. Mr. Lieck is most likely an overweight, selfish person incapable of riding a bike. He therefore takes out his anger with himself by blaming bicyclists for his own personal problems. All of us, including Mr. Lieck, need to do what we can to make Austin a friendlier and better place to live. We can only hope that he was being only half-serious with his reckless and oblivious viewpoint.

Gunther Goetz

Cars Not Going Away


I just had to respond to Karl J. Lieck's bicycle baiting rant in your last issue ["Postmarks," Vol.17, No.49]. If you cut through both Amy Babich's naiveté and Karl Lieck's hate-filled spewfest you have two very different visions of what urban life in Austin might become over the next 20 years. On the one hand, we can create a city where it is possible and enjoyable to use forms of transportation other than the car (walking, biking, bus, light rail). Having this option can reduce stress, pollution, and sprawl, build community as we actually get out of our cars and onto the sidewalks and streets, and enhance our quality of life. On the other hand, we can invest hundreds of millions of public dollars to facilitate more sprawl, encourage more placeless corporate development, more traffic jams of single-occupant vehicles and abundant stress for all as we fight another rush hour. My vote is for the former. The key is balance. Cars aren't going away any time soon, but the other options can't happen without concerted effort and funding.

Thomas Adams

Fight Back!

Dear Editor:

A professor Herbert Roth of the University of Texas was recently credited with the remark: Milk costs $2.45 a gallon. Gasoline costs $1.60 per gallon. Milk is a readily renewable resource. Gasoline is made from oil, a rapidly diminishing and irreplaceable resource. It's almost as if someone were trying to burn up all the oil.

Clearly someone is intentionally hastening the destruction of the world's oil. The oil companies are doing this. Why? They must have lots of money invested in nuclear power plants.

American oil policy is very strange. No one is trying to conserve oil. Gasoline prices are kept artificially low. Do you know anyone who counts the number of miles they drive and tries to reduce this number? I don't (I do know a few people who don't drive cars at all).

A couple of summers ago, in response to suggestions that he raise the gas tax, Bill Clinton said in a speech: It will be a tragedy if American families can't afford to drive as far on vacation this year as they did last year. At the Kyoto conference on global warming, Clinton said that "the American people" won't stand for any cuts in their ever-growing fuel consumption.

How do you like our government's oil policy? How do you like the role you've been cast in - the insatiable oil addict, for the sake of whose habit the world may go to rack and ruin? If you don't like this role, fight back! Cut down on your car use. Show our government and the car and oil corporations that they've seriously underestimated the American people.

Yours truly,

Amy Babich

Screwing Alaska

Dear Mr. Black:

"The caribou love it. They rub against it and they have babies. There are more caribou in Alaska than you can shake a stick at." - George Bush, on the Alaska pipeline.

Hmm. Just when we thought we'd gotten that kind of mentality out of DC, in comes Bruce Babbit selling off the Alaskan Wilderness, one of the last remaining pristine wildlife areas, for the almighty dollar. And a cheap one, at that. World oil prices are at an all-time low. Demand is down. What is he thinking?

As his own department so eloquently states, "The mission of the Department of the Interior is to protect and provide access to our Nation's natural and cultural heritage and honor our trust responsibilities to tribes." Did he perhaps mistake his own agency's mission with that of Exxon? How is he protecting this land when he is proposing to lease four million acres for oil and gas development? His proposal to "protect" only 600,00 acres out of four million isn't even permanent: It leaves these precious few acres open to future drilling. What is that protecting? His job, maybe. The Arctic wilderness? Sadly, no.

Karen Krueger

Kurt Finds a Friend


Dan Cool's letter ["Postmarks," Vol.17, No.50] serves notice that the victory cries from the homosexual camp were a figment of some warped imagination. To read the local tabloids, you'd think homosexuality was the greatest thing since sliced bread. So once again I ask, why not focus on the positive aspects of sodomy instead of blame-shifting McCarthyism directed at the Christian critics of sodomy?

The spirit of Cool's letter seemed to be "Sodomy is not a family value."

Kurt Standiford

P.S. Has Mac McCaskle had his lobotomy yet?

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