Thanks to the Chronicle for the endorsement of the city bond package, also for the detailed coverage [Vol.18, No.8]. I write to urge all Austin voters to get out and vote in favor of the bonds. The bonds address the basic needs of the city, unmet needs from the past (resulting from the costs of growth, misplaced priorities, and boondoggles), historical inequities, and provide critical infrastructure for smart growth.
There is a significant price tag, but the package is a balanced result from months of scrutiny by a citizens bond committee and the City Council. City financial officials said the city could go for an even bigger bond issue, and still keep a solid financial status, but the council decided it was prudent to keep the package at this level. The committee and council painstakingly went through more than a billion dollars' worth of proposals from city departments, boards and commissions, citizens, and council members. Many worthwhile projects were left out as the advisory committee and council made tough decisions on balance, priorities, and affordability.
The overriding focus of the bonds is basics -- public safety, transportation, flood control, parks, libraries, water, and wastewater. Also, propositions 11&12 would approve the conversion of Palmer Auditorium into a performing arts center with a new community events center to replace Palmer for existing users. The performing arts center will be financed from private funds, the events center and park development of the rest of the 54 acres from rental car taxes -- meaning mostly visitors to town. This is a great opportunity for an Austin central park.
All these projects are important to the future of all Austin citizens. I urge you to get out and vote Tuesday November 3 or vote early through October 30.
Councilmember Daryl Slusher
In the Oct. 23 edition of The Austin Chronicle [Vol.18, No.8], all 12 propositions for Nov. 3 were endorsed. An accompanying article to those endorsements by Mike Clark-Madison, entitled "Bond Election Cliffs Notes," made mention of some projects that "got left out." I believe it is important to clarify some of these issues.
To begin with, the article mentions that Proposition Two would fund buying Seaholm Power Plant from Austin Energy, which is not the case.
Mr. Clark-Madison lists other projects that are, indeed, not on the bond ballot. However, it is important to point out that they have in no way been left out. On Aug. 12, the City Council adopted a resolution that provided a list of projects to be funded by alternate funding sources, including cash reserves. Many of those projects are the same ones mentioned in the article, including extension of South First Street; Mayfield, Davis Hill, and Garrison parks improvements; improvements to Dittmar, Parque Zaragoza, and Northwest recreation centers; Havins Field expansion; construction of an "undesignated" fire station in Southwest Austin; renovations to the Austin Police Department Headquarters and Municipal Court facility; an Emergency Medical Services addition to the Fire Station at 5507 Ranch-to-Market-Road 2222; bank stabilization for the Highland Park Cemetery; and drainage projects for both Scenic Brook and Westover Hills subdivisions.
Again, while it is true these projects are not on the bond ballot, the City Council has indicated its intent to fund them through other means. The timeline and funding for all of these projects will be determined on an annual basis through a process which includes all pertinent boards and commissions, the Planning Commission, and ultimately, by the City Council.
Finally, while discussing Proposition One, Mr. Clark-Madison mentions the Great Streets program. The $152 million in General Obligation Bonds for Proposition One projects would fund $5 million for Great Streets. This program includes projects to enhance the use and appearance of downtown streets and sidewalks, including landscaping, irrigation, pedestrian and other mobility improvements. In addition, the council has committed to paying off the City's new parking meters quickly so that excess revenue generated from the meters may go to the Great Streets program. It is important to note also that the Great Streets program is not synonymous with the conversion of downtown streets from one- way to two-way, but rather focuses more on bicycle and pedestrian improvements for the area.
Public Information Officer
City of Austin
It is hard to overlook the campaign ads of Marion Bloss, who wants to be our district judge. She features a picture of her opponent, Judge Wil Flowers.
There is a very obvious reason for Bloss to include Judge Flowers' picture in her campaign ads: she wants to make sure we voters realize her opponent is a black man.
That is simply a racist tactic. There ought to be no place for racial campaigns in our community. And anyone who would use racist political strategy is unfit to be a judge in Travis County.
Judge Wil Flowers has served us with distinction as prosecutor and trial judge. He deserves our votes just as surely as his opponent deserves our censure.
Same Old Same Old
Thirty years ago, as Lloyd Doggett was embarking on a career in politics, I was on a path that would lead me to a political prison cell. My crime was a resolute refusal to participate, in any way, in the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Southeast Asian peasants.
In recent months Congress has been ramping up the war machine once again. We will soon be sending genetically engineered fungi, we will be spraying a potent herbicide, Tebuthiuron. (The manufacturer has told Congress that Tebuthiuron should not be used in tropical rain forests. Congress ignored the warning.) Another part of the package includes helicopter gunships to deal with recalcitrant natives who resist the destruction of their way of life.
Why would Lloyd Doggett vote for these things? Why did Lloyd vote to give blacks accused of cocaine possesion sentences that are 10 times longer than whites receive? Why did he vote for mandatory minimums and more prisons?
It is difficult for voters to understand what moves Lloyd Doggett. He doesn't respond to candidate questionnaires. The corporate media act as an adjunct to his campaigns. Nevertheless, some patterns are readily apparent.
Members of Congress whose voting records mirror Lloyd's tend to be the recipients of huge donations from PACs. They also tend to secure more pork for their districts. These are the two key ingredients, along with a compliant media, for winning re-election.
The complaint of the editorial board that third party candidates are too ideological is true. Libertarian ideology doesn't permit sending a black man to prison for life in return for a new federally funded tennis court. We will not condone destruction of Indian villages for a large campaign contribution. We cannot deny homosexual couples the right to order their lives according to their own needs in return for a select committee seat.
It is a foregone conclusion that Lloyd will be re-elected. You can send Lloyd back to Washington with a mandate to continue on his path of power and ambition. Or you can inform the voters so that they might weigh the value of pure ideology and vote accordingly.
By the way, did you know that Lloyd voted for Shays-Meehan Amendment? Shays-Meehan would send you and me to political prison for publishing this.
Vincent J. May
Libertarian Candidate for U.S. Rep., Dist. 10
As the Nile overflows its banks in its wonted season, so the one-and-a-half party system is making its biannual inundation of the Republic. But where the Nile rejuvenates the Egyptians' fields, the stale opportunism and mediocrity of the Democratic and Republican parties spread only sterility and rot in the body politic.
Lloyd Doggett is the exemplar of the aimlessness of big government-loving politicians. A self-proclaimed liberal who votes with the right on such issues as extending the drug war and denying recognition to same-sex marriages, he has developed the art of compromise as an end in itself. The endless struggle to reach "bi-partisan solutions" in order to "do the people's business" is a carefully staged drama to convince the voters that government is necessary and, of course, its functionaries are equally necessary. For the likes of Doggett, compromise serves not only to justify the trade of politician but also to promote his own self-advancement.
Fortunately there is a genuine alternative in the Libertarian Party. Vince May has championed individual liberty and defending the rights to life, liberty, and property for 15 years. He will stand like a rock for the principles that made this republic free and great. Vince May opposes the failed policies of the drug war that have left our streets a battlefield no less violent than the jungles of Columbia.
Vince May is not alone. Locally the Libertarian Party is running Gary Johnson for Justice of the Peace and Reggie Turner for Constable. Indeed, in nearly a third of races in this state our much-vaunted "two-party system" incumbents are opposed only by "third party" Libertarian candidates. If you love liberty, give these men your vote and reclaim your birthright of freedom.
I live in the Lake Pointe neighborhood in Travis County Precinct 3 and am the editor of our neighborhood newsletter. After reading an article about the candidates for County Commissioner in the Thursday, October 22 Austin American-Statesman and The Austin Chronicle, I made a couple of phone calls to try to find out more about each candidate for the newsletter. From these phone calls, I was flabbergasted to find out that Todd Baxter claims to be a member of our Lake Pointe Homeowner's Association, the Chairman of the Lake Pointe Environmental Committee, and the Chairman of the Lake Pointe Wildlife Habitat Committee.
Point 1: The Austin American-Statesman states in its article that Mr. Baxter lives in an apartment. There are no apartment complexes in Lake Pointe.
Point 2: The Lake Pointe Environmental and Wildlife Habitat Committees do not yet exist. We have scheduled a homeowner's association meeting in early November that will establish these and other committees with volunteers from our neighborhood. I called our homeowners association management company, Liddiard Management, who verified that currently there are no chairpeople for these committees.
What is going on here? As Baxter said in the American-Statesman, "When someone runs that type of campaign, I think it's indicative of how that person will serve." I agree, Mr. Baxter, and I don't want someone who misrepresents himself representing me.
Lake Pointe resident
Regarding Travis County Commissioners Court Place 3: Travis County leads the country in teenage pregnancy, domestic abuse, child abuse, and school truancy, and Nan Clayton continues her decades of effective personal and public support for social services -- while Todd Baxter would rather cut current funding. So maybe Nan cares about people and Todd, well, cares about running for public office (starting with this one).
Austin has experienced a growth explosion producing traffic gridlock, pollution, and overdevelopment. Place 3 candidate Baxter (a clerk and aide for big-bidness legislators who taught him everything he knows) has raked in a fortune from big-money backers, while Clayton is supported by people who live and work in the country. Speaking of county residence, Baxter's residence for the past year at his fiancée's home in the precinct he hopes to lead sends a slightly suspicious message, no?
And here's a good one: Todd Baxter is good for Austin and Travis County because of his ties to Senator Wentworth's office and the Lege. And a fox makes a great security guard for a chicken house. Senator Wentworth, Baxter's old boss and big supporter, gouged this city and county but good where it counts: HB3193, empowering Circle C and an unelected board with unprecedented environmental regulatory powers; SB421, exempting areas of Austin from health and safety protection; SB1016, allowing water districts to break contracts with Austin in order to provide development interests with water and sewer services; SB757, removing Austin's ability to govern water quality protection zones in Austin's ETJ -- and the list goes on.
Speaking of big money, who do you think is betting a lot of it on Baxter, the Trojan horse they hope will finish first? A vote for Baxter is a vote for the fat cats hoping to ride him into their own well-heeled future in Travis County.
We endorse Democrat Nan Clayton over Austin-bashing Republican Todd Baxter in the critical election for Travis County Commissioner, Precinct 3.
This is a "watershed" election: Precinct 3 is the southwest quadrant of the city and county, the environmental battleground we have struggled for decades to save from suburban sprawl. Nan Clayton understands how to balance these conflicts with input from all citizens, and has committed to managing explosive growth in Travis County more intelligently. Newcomer Todd Baxter champions the developer lobby agenda, against the will of the community.
Nan Clayton's résumé, after four decades in Travis County and two decades of public service, is too lengthy to detail. She served 14 years on the AISD and ACC Boards of Trustees, including three elected terms as boardmember, vice-president, and president. She was appointed to the interim board to reorganize Cap Metro, and the Austin Transportation Study. She has a proven record doing the heavy lifting required of public office: weighing needs of constituents, designing and implementing successful bond elections, supervising professsional administration of important government entities.
She had founding roles in the Barton Hills Neighborhood Assn. and South Austin Community Hospital. She was elected vice president of the League of Women Voters. Her career as a chemist for Texas Dept. of Health addressed water quality, groundwater standards, and public health.
In stark contrast, Todd Baxter has no record of service in this community, partly because he just moved here. He rails against property taxes, yet never owned or paid taxes on a home in this county. As a precocious 29-year-old, he registered to vote in Precinct 3 nine short months before filing deadline for this race, yet retained a Precinct 2 apartment lease.
As legislative aide to Senator Jeff Wentworth and Representative Ron Lewis, Baxter was on the front line of unconstitutional Austin-bashing legislative attacks against our right to protect water quality. No wonder his huge contributions come from a rogues' gallery of developer lobbyists, lawyers, and PACs connected to Jim Bob Moffett and Gary Bradley.
For Barton Springs, Hamilton's Pool, and the threatened Edwards Aquifer and Hill Country of Precinct 3, please vote for Nan Clayton.
Kirk Mitchell, Former candidate for Pct. 3
Founder, S.O.S. PAC*
Chair of Advisory Board, S.O.S. Alliance*
*These organizations made no official endorsements in this election.
Kevin Fullerton's lengthy piece on the Nan Clayton vs. Todd "Jim Bob" Baxter race ["A Conservative Coup?" Vol. 18, No. 8] missed the boat. Chronicle readers, and especially Precinct 3 voters, need to know that Todd Baxter is being financed by the real estate lobby for two reasons: to testify at the Legislature in support of Austin-bashing legislation and to work against any meaningful county actions to regulate development in the Hill Country.
This essential point would have been made had you not ignored a few critical supporting facts. First, Baxter's campaign reports show that virtually every penny he received before the primary came from registered state lobbyists. Never before have I seen a campaign report so completely lacking in contributions from constituents and so overwhelmed by state-level lobbyists.
Second, you failed to mention that Baxter's bosses -- state Rep. Ron Lewis and state Senator Jeff Wentworth -- sponsored more of Gary Bradley's and Freeport McMoRan's unconstitutional Austin-bashing legislation than any other state legislators. How you could write so many words without even asking Baxter about these patently unconstitutional special interest laws that were specifically aimed at reversing the two-thirds majority vote of Austin citizens for the S.O.S. ordinance is hard to fathom.
Nan Clayton is a dedicated civil servant who knows and loves Travis County. Todd Baxter is a mouthpiece for special interests who seek to destroy local control so they can pave the Barton Springs watershed without interference from those pesky Austin voters. The choice is both clear and extremely important. Please vote and make sure your friends vote too.
P.S. Vote for John Sharp too. Rick Perry never met a polluter he didn't like.
[Fullerton responds: I thank Mr. Bunch for using our "Postmarks" section to more fully express the environmental lobby's position in the Pct. 3 county commissioners race. However, I think it is made explicitly clear in my article that Baxter is a friend to developers and legislators who oppose tighter environmental controls on future Travis County growth. If I did not include an extensive rap sheet on Baxter's associations, it was to talk about the candidates' positions on other Travis County issues, such as human services.]
Preserve South Austin
Re: Ms. VanScoy's interview with the mayor ["Saturday Night Live," Vol.18, No.5] celebrating Smart Growth, I wanted to respond to the mayor's statement, directed at South Austinites, "Other than apartments downtown on this [north] side of the river, you've chosen to live in the most urban neighborhood you can live in."
I've lived in the Bouldin Creek neighborhood for 13 years, and in South Austin for almost 30. Most of my neighbors have lived here 5-20 years, some having lived in South Austin their entire lives. A lot of South Austinites put down their roots here when downtown was a sleepy, quiet shopping area. The only reason anyone went south of the river was to have a different cultural experience or to go home. South Austin was and is a laid-back, live-and-let-live kind of place and I love it that way.
Yes, Austin is booming again, but that doesn't mean we should lay waste to what brought many of us here, or push a philosophy of growth that pressures residents to flee in the wake of apartment builders. Paraphrasing Miss Harty in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, "People come here and fall in love with Austin. Then they move here and pretty soon they're telling us how much more lively and prosperous Austin could be if we only knew what we had and how to take advantage of it. I call these people 'Gucci carpetbaggers.' They can be rather insistent. Even rude. We smile pleasantly and we nod, but we don't budge an inch."
We can't stop the flood of folks moving here. But we must move forward thoughtfully and carefully as we try to accommodate them. We should not destroy our old neighborhoods that helped make Austin what it is.
President, Bouldin Creek Neighborhood Association
Re: Torrey Remmert's "Frauds, All of You!" ["Postmarks," Vol.18, No.8]: I don't understand why you (Torrey and folks) are accusing all of Austin of being frauds about recycling! I have been recycling in Austin for over 15 years. If the package can't be recycled, I won't buy the product.
A great number of Austinites recycle every week; drive down residential streets on pickup day and you'd be proud to see all the recycle bins full to the brim.
Before my area had pick-up service I made bi-monthly runs to drop off my recycling at Ecology Action. The are located at 707 E. Ninth. I can't believe you couldn't locate them with all your calling around.
If you do live in apartments, I would think you could get the apartment complex to arrange recycling with whomever picks up your regular trash. Was this not an option?
There used to be a recycle center behind Wheatsville Co-op. You might call them. We used to have the centers all over town, but once curbside pickup took off, they disappeared.
You are right in that apartment dwellers should have better recycling access, but for your parents to call us all frauds is unfair and hurtful to the many of us who have been the grassroots of trying to "save the planet."
P.S. Put me by Amy Babich. She does rule!
Is This Sane?
Smart Growth would be a lot smarter if transportation planning were an essential part of it. But it's not. Transportation is being left as an afterthought, a detail to be settled later.
There are plans to turn Palmer Auditorium into a grand performing arts center. When you plan to attract a lot of people to a location, surely the firstthing to set up is rapid transit to the location. This is not being done at all. The planners are assuming that everyone will get to Palmer by car. That's why the neighborhoods near Palmer are against the project.
In cities that run on transit, it's fun to go to a symphony concert. After the show you get on the tram, and the musicians get on, too, with their tubas and cellos. Here in Austin, after a concert each person will get in a separate car, and the cars will form a big traffic jam. I don't think this is good planning.
We're building a new airport without plans for expanding, in a location hard to reach by bicycle or on foot. There are no plans to make the airport accessible by any means except cars. No bicycle parking or bicycle storage is planned. Is this smart?
Downtown boosters want more people to flock to downtown. But they don't want bicycle lanes or bike paths downtown. And rapid transit is being left for consideration in the future. Meanwhile, the plan is for everyone to come in cars. Is this sane?
Please, Smart Growthers, put rapid transit and non-motorized transportation into your plans at the beginning. Treating transportation as a detail to be settled later may be convenient, but it certainly isn't smart.
Fat, Lazy Car Drivers
I'm with Amy! Her detractors are short-sighted idiots. Cars are dirty, smelly, toxic, and outdated modes of transportation. The reasons we don't have a better mass transit system are because the hugely powerful car makers squashed the idea with lots of PAC money and propaganda, and the average American is lazy and fat.
"Ozone action day" sounds like a celebration. It's Smog Alert, and it comes from cars. Have you looked outside lately? From 360, downtown is starting to disappear behind a brown mass. Anyone who says it's just haze, etc. hasn't been in Austin for more than four or five years 'cause the "haze" did not exist before then. Even with solar or hydrogen-powered cars, traffic jams will only get worse. A mass transit system and bicycles offer the most sensible means of intracity transport.
Bicycles should have special traffic privileges. After all, cyclists are doing us all a giant favor. They help to filter the brown smog with their pink lung material. They also save energy that would otherwise be used to propel another two ton anchor over pavement. I bet that since bicyclists are so fit, they make fewer health claims and save us all on premiums for insurance. ... All you lard-asses in your cars can breathe easier, but maybe people married to their cars don't breath outside air much. If that's the case, why are you in Austin?
If you thought Amy's suggestion(s) got you steamed, try this one: Austin should dedicate a central street or two (Lamar, Sixth ... ) to cyclists and pedestrians only. A city of cyclists would come out of the woodwork that otherwise are afraid of being run over. What a great move away from Austin's present course of becoming just another San Diego, Los Angeles, Denver, or the like. If you think Austin could never be another San Diego, etc., ask a Californian what San Diego was like 10 or so years ago. Then ask them why they left.
The letter from my former co-worker, Bob Crowley, regarding KVET-AM's erstwhile news format was a nice press release ["Postmarks," Vol. 18, No. 8]. It listed all sorts of cool stuff that wheezing format pumped into the airwaves. I find it hard to believe that even a staunch company loyalist like Bob seriously believed that this dog, given enough rabbits, would one day learn to hunt. I'm also grateful to him for going out of his way to keep my name out of his letter. There were some talented, hard-working people on the air at KVET, and Bob gave 'em their props. I appreciate that, and I'm sure they do too. But as I have already said, they were undercut by the Keystone Kops they worked for. My e-mail box and my call notes indicate I was neither the first, nor sole former (or current) KVET employee to understand that. I count about a half dozen so far.
Let's get this straight, Bob. Nobody in that building, nobody, had ever run or even worked at an all-news format before except Suzanne Chapman and myself. KVET hired a know-nothing hayseed news director from Temple who promptly quit three months in because he was homesick. KLBJ, at least, had the good sense to hire a news director from a major market with a substantial history of success. KVET had no money, no experience, and not even the good judgment to hire or defer to someone who had done this successfully in the past. The whole thing sounded and operated like what it was: small-town radio done by the damned Longhorn Club. In the end, it was a disaster both journalistically and financially because you can't buy or fake experience, programming skill, and integrity. Simple as that. Journalism, Bob, is not an assembly line of sleepy press conference dreck, rewritten Statesman stories, and morning show hijinks and you should know better. I'm saddened that after all you've gone through, you've failed to reach that conclusion. Honest, I am. But, it proves my point: Some people learn nothing from abject failure and are thus destined to fail again.
former KVET -AM "news person"
Don't Condone Hatred
Thinking about the death of Mathew Shepard in Wyoming, I am filled with such a profound sense of grief, fear, anger, and (this is difficult to admit) relief that it wasn't me or one of my friends. It easily could have been.
I wonder what he was thinking about during that horrific ordeal. Was he concious? Did he cry for his mother? The media are calling his death a lynching but in reality it was something much worse. Every man and woman in this country who has clucked their tongues at Ellen, participated in a Disney boycott, referred to a homosexual as a fag or sodomite, voted against discrimination laws protecting gays, picketed a pride rally, or disowned a gay child had a hand in that young man's murder. Anyone who has to avert their eyes at the sight of two men holding hands, anyone who thinks gays need to be "cured," anyone who gripes about gays getting "special" rights or opposes the legitimization of gay marriage or adoption unconciously participated in Mathew's beating.
Conciously or not, the abominable hatred and intolerance that killed him has been spread and passed on and nurtured by this country for centuries. I am sickened by those who spread this bile while cowering behind the word God to justify their own ignorance. I don't care what verse you point to to explain your views or how you beautify your message with words like love, compassion, or redemption. You are helping to prolong the persecution of every homosexual in this country and as far as Mathew Shepard is concerned, you might as well have helped tighten the ropes.
The fact that all of this is done under the guise of Christianity is evil and an insult to all of the people in this country who truly walk with God. For God's sake, people are dying and by looking the other way or practicing your "compassionate ministry" you are helping!! There is nothing in the Bible that can justify that. We can argue about hate crime laws or genetics vs. choice but that is missing the point entirely.
Despite my anger and fear I do not hate you. If any gay person allows that emotion to creep in, then we are no better than those who oppose us. We are fighting a battle for our lives and the only weapon we have is our capacity to love each other.
Mathew's face will linger in my mind for long time. I urge everyone who sees this letter to do your best to ensure that what happened to him does not happen again ... ever.