Postmarks

Cars the Issue, Not Parking

To the Editor:

Walter Cole's "Tight Squeeze at UT" [Vol. 17, No. 51] sounds like a piece written in the 1950s. He notes "more students are getting squeezed out of valuable parking spaces" and that there is an "ever-growing population of commuting students." Let's flash forward to the present. What about global warming, ozone alerts, and problems with the road infrastructure to get all those students to the UT campus to search for those scarce parking places?

In the future if there's no more thought going into your assignments, please leave them for the local daily ñ they have space, if not vision. I would hope your transportation commentary would comment on how irrational it is to continue to funnel increasing numbers of cars into a finite downtown area. Then maybe a follow-up on Dallas's light rail or Dutch bike transport. As long as the public is led to believe that more parking garages is a "solution," there will never be a solution.

Philip Russell


Fix Source, Not Symptoms

Dear Chronicle:

I found Jeff Mandell's contrast of central Austin's street parking situation ["The Lords of Parking," Vol. 17, No. 51] with Washington, D.C.'s interesting, but I think a better comparison would be to Portland, Ore., or Vancouver, British Columbia, which are both closer in size and in temperament to Austin. Each of these cities restricts parking in its urban core for many years. Streets with mixed business/residential throughout Vancouver's urban residential areas have "two-hour" parking on one side and "residential permit only" parking on the other. This accommodates business/visitor parking while ensuring enough spaces for residents. Streets with over 90% residential units (mostly condos/duplexes) usually have resident permit parking on both sides, often around the clock, not just from 8am-5pm.

Earlier this year, I circulated a petition to have my street included in the pilot program. Before, our neighborhood streets were clogged with cars due to a decrease in on-campus parking spaces. Residents of garage apartments often could not find parking within two blocks. In gathering signatures from 90% of residents, I met only one who was not eager to have permit parking, and he was undecided. Most of us see the parking restrictions as a flexible solution to what had become a serious problem.

Mandell's suggestion of two-hour parking limits would not significantly reduce the number of would-be parkers cruising up and down the streets hunting for spaces, which many residents felt was at least as big a problem as the near-100% parking space occupancy on school days.

The best solution would be to attack the UT parking shortage at the source, by encouraging students to live closer to, or on, campus and to use public transit or walk/bicycle to class. This article could easily have focused on why 10,000 students have to commute to UT in the first place.

Regards,

Joel Irby

Card-carrying member of the
Eastwoods Neighborhood Association


Tale of Two Cities

Editor:

Kayte VanScoy's article "Pyramid of Dreams" [Vol. 18. No. 1] was concise, yet excellent.

Austin has always been one of the most scenic cities in the United States. In the 1990s it will continue to be one of the fastest-growing. Cultural and recreational activities play a major role in Austin's economy, and various projects are underway in anticipation of a major increase in tourism and business travel, especially with the recent passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Heading the list is a planned Mexican-American Cultural Center in the downtown area, including Plaza Saltillo, for which federal ISTEA (Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act) funding was recently approved. The plaza will be an intermodal transfer station, and will also serve as the hub of Hispanic celebrations, music, art, dancing, and special events.

Saltillo is Austin's "Sister City" in Mexico. Saltillo and Austin share a common and unique history as the "Two Capitals" of Texas (Saltillo was the capital of Texas when its territory was part of the Mexican state of Coahuila). Arts and cultural exchange have long been one of the major means of promoting international understanding and cultural appreciation. With a renewed emphasis on Mexico resulting from NAFTA, it is becoming more important to strengthen our ties with Mexico for future economic opportunities.

Sincerely:

Jimmy Castro

Member

Austin/Travis County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce


Taste of Frustration

Editor:

Though we've attended almost all of the last eight years of [Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce] festivals, I must say that this year's may be our last. I can't argue with the price, giving to the Food Bank is always a good cause. But the heat (temperature, not the food), and the crowds made it worse than the abandoned Aqua Fest. One hundred-degree temperatures, and an hour in line to taste at one table, with too-warm, aired-out hot sauce (could this be a health hazard?), then on to many other long lines to taste at the commercial booths. This has been a great event in the past, and became (as noted in many publications) a local tradition. But it has outgrown its roots. It's become so popular, so overcrowded, that it was not enjoyable. It has become an endurance test, one I gave up up on years ago during the heat, dust, and crowds of Aqua Fest. Please keep this from the same fate as Aqua Fest. Find a date, or location more suitable, a cooler time of year, or an indoor location. Because of the lines, spread it out over two days (including an evening of music). And provide that the enormous number of people who wish to sample the taste of Austin actually get the opportunity to do so. Otherwise, it's just another local publication and radio station doing their thing. And Texas will lose a real taste of what makes Austin unique.

Scott Ogren


Teachers Need Mauro

Dear Editor:

Mauro, TSTA, and the Texas Federation of Teachers are correct. Teachers deserve a $6,000 pay raise. So Texas will have smarter students, better classrooms, and qualified teachers.

Garry Mauro also has said that teachers need scholarships to fill shortages in specific subject areas (math and sciences). I was one who needed one, and other former teachers that could have excelled in the teaching profession.

That honorable Garry Mauro has been Land Commissioner for 16 years and has the experience to calculate what our schools need. It is justified that Mauro's plan to replace temporary school buildings with permanent buildings that will integrate students and teachers to the school facilities. When I have substituted and taught in cramped isolated temporary classrooms without running water or restroom facilities on cold raining days, it was a hardship for students.

Mauro's experience that has kept him in office has made me believe him to keep his promises when he says he will use the Permanent School Fund to build $2 billion worth of new schools and bring new technology to older schools.

So, if Texas wants smarter students, better classrooms, and qualified teachers in the classrooms, Texans need to vote for Garry Mauro for governor of Texas.

M.J. Blumberg


Everybody Out of the Pool

Editor:

In late June, the Capital Metro was closing in on three prospects from Florida, New York, and San Francisco for one of its positions. Now, the board of directors is negotiating to get a woman from Buffalo, N.Y., for the general manager job. There are here at least 30,000 people with good degrees out of a population of 850,000. Tell me, please, how come they cannot find a good prospect among natives? Is this town a pool of pendejos?

Why is it so difficult to find among all of us a police chief, a UT president, a UT football coach, a newspaper editor, an AISD school principal, an ice sport team? Do you all want more crime?

Paul Avina


More Dirty Talk

Editor:

My father ñ who is a Canadian vet of WWII ñ tells me the acronym FUBAR means "fucked up beyond all recognition," not repair ["Mr. Smarty Pants Knows," Vol. 17, No. 51].

Also, the acronym SNAFU means "situation normal ñ all fucked up."

John Broadhead

Canada


Whip In for TLC

Editor:

First off, I want to thank the extraordinary people at the Whip In convenience store at 1950 I-35. I was on my nightly walk when I witnessed a young cat dash onto the frontage road. The cat was hit two times by cars that saw the cat, but made no effort to help. The road was not busy and they could have pulled over, yet they did not. I stopped traffic and retrieved the badly injured animal. I then tried flagging down passing motorists. No one stopped to help. So I walked the cat to the nearest location, the Whip In. The staff was so kind and caring towards the cat and myself. They helped me call for emergency aid (which never came) and assisted my efforts to make the cat comfortable. Thankfully, one of the customers recognized the cat as belonging to a friend of his. I hope and pray that Lily is doing well. However I am quite disappointed in many members of the Austin community. The same people who have S.O.S. bumper stickers and would supposedly stop the world to save a salamander could not stop the car to save someone's feline friend. Had it been your beloved pet, wouldn't you want someone to help? Or do you think prime time television is so important that everyone should be rushing to get home? Next time you see one of God's creatures in pain, remember it is never too late to stop the car and turn around.

Paula Frey


Get Your Rabbit Ears On

Editor:

Shame on TV station KLRU (Channel 18)! In a very hectic week ending last Friday, where the stock market plunged drastically in the U.S. and over the globe, and the Russian government was in a state of imminent collapse, non-commercial station KLRU opted to cancel Friday evening's "Week in Review" and "Wall Street Week," for commercial purposes.

Thank goodness my rabbit-ear indoor antenna is capable of receiving just as good reception from station KNCT (Channel 46), from the Killeen area. I tuned in to "The Lehrer News Hour" at 6pm, "Week in Review" at 7pm, and "Wall Street Week" at 7:30pm, and was very glad I did for the excellent coverage of the shaky world financial situation. Those who watch these three programs every Friday evening, as I do, may do the same whenever KLRU cancels these programs.

Very Truly Yours,

Arthur Schwartz


Baby, Come Back

To My Baby Girl, Brandy:

I think about you every day

and how I lost you along the way

I've retraced my steps, and searched my soul

missing your smile, and watching you grow

I need to hold you in my arms

I need to know you're safe from harm

I'm scared for me, I'm scared for you

I no longer know what to do

You're a part of me, and will always be

To look at you is to look at me

My love, my life, my daughter, my friend

I need you back in my life again.

Love you, baby

Mom (Laynie)


The Bloody Gray Line

Editor:

Blood gushing onto frenzied vampires might at first appear to be entertainment, but this one makes you wonder. Yesterday, as is ritual, I took my 13-year-old son to see Blade, the current box office smash, starring Wesley Snipes. This movie, which I'll admit is about vampires, shed more blood in two hours than the local Red Cross collects in a month. Unrepentant gore, copious violence, and a generous sprinkling of profanity gives us a window into the future imaginings of those kids that witness it. My son said it was one of the best movies he'd seen, which kind of gives me a pause.

Not that those in the business of entertaining us would ever agree, but surely there is a close connection between subconsciously planted images of hate and violence and the demonstrations of such in our schoolyards and on our streets. Everything taken in requires an outlet and we would be foolish to believe that the constant barrage of moral grayness directed at our kids won't at some time lead them to the wrong moral conclusions later in life. As creative as Hollywood is and in the name of one-upmanship and increased revenues, we can only guess what will be thrown at us in the future. It won't be dull stuff.

For all those who say his is just a prime example of free speech and we can always "turn it off" or "not go see it," they miss the broader picture. Like a receding glacier or the slow elimination of a species, this gradual erosion of values cannot be spotted in a day or even a decade, it slithers in and hides its tracks skillfully and without invitation. Its acceptance is immediate and unconditional. Years of repeated intrusion concrete this new set of values in all of us, and unless you just crawled out of the jungles of Borneo you are forever a prisoner to its naked hospitality.

The problem is, there are no alternatives. Every TV show, whether a sitcom or a news magazine, flavors its story with whatever touches the edge of the gray line, and who can blame them in this era of ratings or else? The bolder the better. Who would want less?

The fact that our prisons and jails now house the population of Dallas should give us pause. The justice system can barely stay ahead in its process of the gray line over-steppers. We all pay one way or another. Too bad the kids get mucked into this system, but it is our system.

Then again, offensive Oval Office orgasms seem to be gaining our acceptance. Maybe I'm just old-fashioned.

Sincerely,

Ron Antosko

Corpus Christi


OMNIscient Songwriters

Editor:

I chuckled at Doug LaRue's letter ["Postmarks," Vol.17, No.50] about the press snubbing this year's Austin Songwriters Conference (an Austin Songwriters Group event). Since previous conferences garnered print and broadcast coverage, I too wonder why this year's was ignored.

Maybe it's because the ASG's publication Austin Songwriter no longer interviews personalities like Ian Moore or Hammell on Trial, being limited to promo for ASG members and cronies.

Or it could be because the ASG has tried to hide since 1997. The Web site is gone; Austin Songwriter is no longer publically distributed. Limiting outreach does help current leaders keep membership exclusive. Though the ASG is supposedly a charitable nonprofit, the finances are carefully concealed.

Or the media may dislike the ASG's overwhelming bias toward Nashville country in a rock and blues town. Maybe reporters don't agree that whether to leave Austin for Nashville is the issue of the decade. Perhaps the demographics ñ now lily white, overwhelmingly Anglo, affluent, suburban, straight (or closeted), and over 35 ñ show the ASG's disconnection from a music community that's young, struggling, and diverse. The irrelevance of another Nashville-oriented society when Austin has an NSAI chapter might confuse reporters.

It probably isn't because of last year's ugly schism, beginning when some directors moved to sever community involvement, expelling nonconformists and squelching dissent. I wish the Chronicle had covered the contentious Board recall movement and subsequent litigation as with KOOP-FM. It isn't too late.

So, I'm also unsure why the media dissed this year's conference. There are so many reasons to ignore the ASG, I can't decide which one applies. But creative, diverse, and talented songwriters and composers unwelcome in the ASG have formed O.M.N.I. (the Original Musicians' Network, Inc.). Write us at PO Box 2751, Austin, TX 78768.

Sincerely,

Lindsey Eck


The Rainbow Connection

Editor:

Have you seen the latest bumper sticker that reads "Hate is not a Family value"? You'll usually see it next to the flat rainbow. (How ironic that sodomites would use a perversity of nature as a symbol for their behavior.) But hate is almost a non-issue for those who claim to be hated in order to justify behavior.

Blame-shifting McCarthyism and sodomy are not family values.

Kurt Standiford

P.S. Re: "Page Two" ... that's God with a capital "G," not "god."


Real Friends Play Your Records

Editor:

This is an open letter in praise of Steamboat and KLBJ-FM radio. David Cotton has been nothing but fair and open in his dealings with my band, Oddjob, and has given us and several other bands in this town a chance to showcase themselves. While other clubs jerk us around, David always returns our calls and finds a way to fit us in. And if you think every Steamboat band sounds the same, you need to get out more! In addition to their "typical" bands, I have seen metal, hard rock, straight up funk, rockabilly, pure pop, and even punk. They actually stick to a schedule and you don't have to kiss ass or know the right people. With most of the punk clubs around here, you have to be "in the know." Hmm, isn't that what punk was rebelling against when it started? I would also like to extend my heartfelt appreciation to Loris Lowe of KLBJ-FM for her support and giving us some airplay. The Local Licks Live show is probably the best showcase for local music in the "Live Music Capital of the World". It's actually on at a reasonable time (Sundays at 9:00 pm folks) and is actually long enough to feature several local acts. Our local so-called alternative rock station plays the same damn things everyone else does and their coverage of local music is a joke at best. Instead of having their so-called experts gush about the latest sensation that's here today gone tomorrow they could try spinning some local records. Funny how they never cared about Fastball until they had a hit single. Very alternative. Bottom line, I have found that the so-called mainstream venues and radio stations have done more for local alternative music than the "Alternative Lounges" and "Alternative Radio." Walk the walk, people, don't just talk the talk.

Sincerely,

Scott Carlin


Way to Go Dogg!

To the Editor:

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) applauds the Representative Lloyd Doggett for his recent vote to save $10 million of taxpayers' hard-earned dollars and to protect wildlife in the West. Specifically, he supported the Bass-DeFazio amendment to an annual appropriations bill to cut the budget of a federal predator control program, known by the euphemistic name of Wildlife Services (WS), formerly called Animal Damage Control.

Unfortunately, the House, after approving the Bass-DeFazio amendment, re-voted and reversed itself and rejected this sensible budget cut by a 192-232 vote. The reversal occurred after the powerful livestock industry attacked the House for cutting into its subsidy.

While WS engages in some useful operations that prevents conflicts between people and wildlife, such as preventing bird strikes at airports, the agency spends a large share of its resources on killing predators for the benefit of a small number of wealthy ranchers. In 1996, for instance, WS personnel killed more than 90,000 coyotes, black bears, mountain lions, bobcats, and other mammalian predators. They killed these predators principally by using cruel and indiscriminate steel-jaw leghold traps, snares, and poison, and by shooting them from aircraft.

The program is as inefficient as it is cruel. WS spends $3 for every $1 of livestock damage. If WS simply reimbursed ranchers for their losses, they would save the taxpayers millions of dollars.

The HSUS is grateful for Rep. Doggett's attempt to rein in this wasteful program.

Sincerely,

Wayne Pacelle

Senior V.P., HSUS


Maybe if They Play Louder ...

Dear Editor,

Hello, I just want to say I really like your magazine. I was in Austin in March and found out a lot of music does not reach Europe. But I can read what's going on in Texas. And the quality is excellent!

Thank you very much,

Bart Ebisch

The Netherlands

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Our readers talk back.

July 9, 2004

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A plethora of environmental concerns are argued in this week's letters to the editor.

March 31, 2000

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