We're Not Naive


We thank you for your mention of South Congress Avenue improvements in your "Naked City" column [Vol.18, No.11]. However, we must correct several factual errors and misleading impressions:

1) Road construction is on S. Congress Avenue, not Oltorf.

2) A new Twin Oaks library was recently approved by voters; it is not a "recent improvement."

3) The generous HEB gift is to replace the gazebo, not the statue of Stephen F. Austin.

4) The HEB gift is from HEB food stores in general, not "the chain's Oltorf store."

5) There is no "naive sense" that because of Cinema West's closure, "all the neighborhood's problems would soon disappear."

6) My name is spelled "Behr," not "Beher."

7) No one at the press conference used the dehumanizing term "vermin." That was your reporter's word choice. In fact, in years of meetings and discussions with people about the Avenue's issues, I have never heard anyone use that word. If I had, I would have corrected them for using an objectionable and completely inappropriate term.

I have 30 years of police experience. People I work with on the Avenue have decades of experience as business operators, policy makers, property owners, and residents. None of us could accurately be described as "naive" about the issues in our neighborhood.


Ofc. Roger L Behr

KOOP Deserves Better

Dear Editor:

I am a volunteer at KOOP Radio and have been for almost four years. Although I go about my work quietly, I have been accused of all sorts of things by a group of volunteers who now call themselves "Friends of KOOP." Mostly, I have been branded "guilty" by association. Lee Nichols does not report these accusations against me and other individuals for what they are, but he assumes them as facts.

Over the past several months, I have been waiting and hoping for the dust to settle so that Mr. Nichols will have nothing more to drag onto the pages of the Chronicle. To my dismay, that hasn't happened. So, I cannot continue to keep silent. Having read Mr. Nichols' latest article "Ballot Box Battle" [Vol.18, No.11], there are some facts which I would like to point out:

1) Nichols is not an unbiased reporter but a former programmer who is not far removed from the personal dynamics which now seem to define communications between volunteers at the station.

2) This Board of Trustees did not determine that community organizations would seat 10 seats on the Community Board. The number was set long ago. As far as the Trustees' determining which organizations can vote, I have yet to hear of their refusing any organization. So, accusations that they are stacking the vote are nothing more than preposterous claims.

3) The Board of Trustees and the Community Board expanded the mission statement to make it more inclusive. A comparison to the former mission statement will demonstrate that the current statement is more inclusive. We posted the proposed change for 30 days before the Trustees voted on it, and the responses we received at that time were overwhelmingly positive. Besides, which would you rather have at a community radio station -- a few programmers feeling "uncomfortable" that the two boards are trying to make the station more inclusive and accessible to people of underserved communities or people from our underserved communities feeling unwelcome at the station altogether?

4) There was no campaign against Pacifica. The Trustees in 1996 (made up of a completely different group of people) wanted to approve C.P. Odekirk's proposal to run an informational disclaimer for the Pacifica news show. Odekirk wanted to take it to the programmers instead, and he did. There were two written votes, and over 75% voted for the disclaimer.

5) The Trustees did not fire Jenny Wong as general manager. They voted not to renew the contract with her. There is a big difference.

6) I am not an "ally" of Eduardo Vera. Before working on the Community Board, I did not even know a face to match that name. Now, I am proud to say that I work with Mr. Vera at KOOP, and I would say the same about Teresa Taylor. That is not to say, though, that I am an "ally" of Mr. Vera's or that I am "allied with the Board." We do not meet outside of KOOP to discuss what actions to take or how to vote on things. We are all, C.P. Odekirk and Raul Alvarez included, independent persons who sometimes happen to agree on certain issues.

7) Finally, I was elected onto the Community Board in the membership-wide election of June of 1997. I was one of the Community Board members seated by KOOP's listeners-sponsors. I was not brought in by E. Vera or anyone else to fill a vacated seat. It is not hard for Mr. Nichols to verify this fact. I suggest that Mr. Nichols double-checks his information before printing it even though (or perhaps precisely because) his sources may be "friends."

If Mr. Nichols continues to write about KOOP Radio in the Chronicle, I ask that he base his articles on facts. Innuendos and conjectures only add fuel to the fire. KOOP deserves better, and so do the readers!


Tony Truong

Silly PUDdies

Dear Editor:

Please allow me to briefly inform your readers why the S.O.S. Alliance strongly opposes the proposed Forum PUD.

Under current zoning, the S.O.S. ordinance, and other current city ordinances, the three separate parcels that make up the "Forum PUD" would be considered separately with each tract limited to a maximum of 15% impervious cover. Current single family zoning on two of the tracts and rural residential zoning on the "cave tract" would limit total development on the three tracts to no more than 500 or 600 homes and traffic generation of no more than 6,000 vehicle trips per day. Since two of the tracts have limited access and no current development proposals, even this level of development is not guaranteed.

Last Thursday City Council gave tentative approval to set aside S.O.S. and current zoning, ignore several other land development code provisions, and grant PUD zoning that would allow the construction of 478,000 square feet of office space, 300,000 square feet of retail space, 26,000 square feet of restaurants, 420 units of assisted living , and more at the corner of William Cannon and Mopac. The other two parcels would be set aside as private preserve. If given final approval, the Forum PUD would create a major urban growth center on the recharge zone which would generate 28,000 vehicle trips per day. The project would also spur additional growth in the Barton Springs Zone (e.g. housing for the 2,000-plus people employed there) and directly compete with office and retail projects in the Desired Development Zone.

In granting initial approval, the Council was clearly enticed by the proposed "cave preserve" while seeming to ignore how such a large project directly conflicts with the Council's own Smart Growth program. Some councilmembers seemed to agree with the developer's claim that there would be less impervious cover than under S.O.S., an argument that ignores the secondary growth and the fact that the cave tract, with rural residential zoning of a one acre lot minimum, required cave setbacks, and three pipeline easements, could not be built at anywhere near 15% impervious cover. Approving a development generating at least four times as much traffic -- and establishing a precedent for similar large projects along MoPac -- appeared to be of little or no concern.

Equally disturbing was Council's apparent willingness to throw out the S.O.S. citizens' ordinance mandate that there be one predictable rule "uniformly" and "consistently" applied to all landowners, big and small, in favor of a return to pre-S.O.S. PUD dealmaking, where there are no rules and the developer with the best lobbyist wins.

While a cave preserve would be nice, saving Barton Springs, redirecting urban growth into the Desired Development Zone rather than rearranging and increasing it within the Barton Springs Zone, and honoring the citizens' ordinance mandate of a rule of law (instead of a lawlessness of endless deals) would be even better.


Bill Bunch
S.O.S. Alliance

Sans O'Hair


Robert Bryce did a great job on the story about the disappearance of Madalyn, Jon, and Robin Murray-O'Hair ["Abducted by Aliens?" Vol. 18, No. 12]; except for one thing. On page 28, in the "Techno Atheists" column of the story, the fourth paragraph contained a rather glaring error.

It describes the Web site for The Atheist Community of Austin, and gives the Web address. But it's not "Murray's Atheist Community of Austin." The Atheist Community of Austin is not associated with American Atheists, nor are they associated with the Murray-O'Hairs, nor have they ever been.

In fact, I find it unfortunate that so many journalists continue to refer to various Atheist organizations as "the O'Hairs' groups." The Murray-O'Hairs are gone, and Atheists have moved on without them.

It's a beautiful day for Atheism!

Joe Zamecki

Board Member, Atheist Community of Austin

Co-Host, The Atheist Experience

This Ride Brought to You by the Gap


Has anyone noticed the commercial propaganda emblazoned on the sides of some Cap Metro busses? I have, and it makes me sick. The fact that our public transportation system needs to prostitute itself for advertising dollars, and in effect become mobile visual pollution -- only to provide the substandard service that bus patrons have come to expect -- is a testament to the dismal state of social conscience that apparently exists among the majority of Austin taxpayers. Is this the price we must pay to have a decent alternative to incremental degradation of the environment?

Travis Metcalfe

No Genocide for Oil I


Many thanks to the Chronicle for its coverage of our demonstration at President Bush's speech ["Naked City," Vol.18, No.12]. The horrendous toll on the Iraq people due to the sanctions isn't being covered in U.S. media. The Chronicle has broken the silence in Austin.

The UN reports that around 1.5 million people in Iraq have died as a direct result of the sanctions and that every month over 5,000 children under the age of five die as a direct result of these sanctions. These figures aren't disputed by our government as the U.N. is the agency that is charged with overseeing the sanctions. This sort of carnage brings to mind terms such as genocide and mass murder.

Some justify the continuation of the sanctions saying that the Oil for Food program takes care of the humanitarian concerns. However, this fall, Denis Halliday, the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, resigned in protest over the completely inadequate level of this program.

The sanctions are a direct violation of international laws including the Geneva Convention, Nuremberg Principles, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which outlaw the intentional targeting of civilians. Many religious leaders, including Bishop McCarthy of Austin and 53 other Catholic bishops and 44 congresspeople have signed letters asking that the sanctions be lifted.

The sanction's carnage in Iraq is similar to the horrors of Vietnam except that there are no bombs, no blood, no nightly news reports and no U.S. casualties, yet this toll is being perpetrated in our names.

Again, thanks to the Chronicle.

Jere Locke

No Genocide for Oil II


The United States is imposing a ruthless blockade on Iraq which, according to U.N. figures, has killed more than a million Iraqis, mostly children. This blockade is a weapon of mass destruction and violates the Geneva Convention. According to a Nov.16 Newsweek article, the current administration strategy is to cripple Iraq with sanctions and, when Clinton is not isolated, use military attacks; U.S. policy is not to complete the inspections. This is just a smokescreen for an immoral policy. In fact, the U.S. tolerates the sort of offenses Iraq has committed when made by its allies; Turkey attacks the Kurds in Iraq and Turkey. Israel has attacked and occupies Lebanese, Syrian, and Palestinian territory. It has legalized torture, violated dozens of U.N. resolutions for 50 years, and, like the U.S., has nuclear bombs. According to the Jerusalem Post, Israel has developed an "ethnic bullet" disease which targets Arabs without harming Jewish ethnic groups.

The Pentagon has plans for a massive, extended attack they say will "degrade" Iraq's military capability and weaken its government. This attack has been postponed for now but will happen sooner or later unless U.S. policy changes; the blockade is strangling Iraq and eventually, without any relief, Iraq will stop cooperating. The military expects to kill 10,000 people immediately in an attack. However, in addition, any bombing of Iraq's infrastrucure will make a disastrous humanitarian crisis even worse. An attack will probably end any inspections.

All of this is done in the name of U.S. prestige and U.S. "national interests" (i.e. controlling the oil), as our officials occasionally admit. So Americans today have a choice; they can oppose this genocide for oil, or they can be "good Germans" and pretend nothing wrong is happening.


Edward Qubain

Death From Behind


It is very interesting that all other cities say that speed is the biggest cause of fatalities, but for some bizarre reason Austin police claim that people going too slow is the main cause of accidents. The truth is that Austin is the rear-end fatality capital of Texas and our police department does not hand out tickets to people who follow too close to other people even when they hit them. People going too slow!!! Last time I checked the person hitting the person from behind is the one responsible and this usually occurs because of speed and aggressive driving. This is obviously costing lives. What is up with the police department? Can you say denial?

Fawn McDonald

Twinkle in Your TV Eye


Thank you so much for finding Twinkles ["TV Eye," Vol.18, No.10]. When I read the "Twinkle in your eye" teaser, it all came flooding back. I know exactly how you felt when you found him. I actually had a chill run up my back when I saw the picture!

Craig Chambers

Can't Vouch for Vouchers

Dear Editor:

The introduction of school voucher bills in the Texas legislature has prompted some very emotional and wrong-headed statements in the media recently. Proponents of school vouchers like to say "It's my money," thinking they should have the right to take the equivalent of their property taxes and use it to send their children to private schools. If significant numbers of parents were to do this, the students remaining in the public school system could not be educated with the revenues left over. Proponents need to take a hard look at the numbers and make their case very cautiously before they start getting people all riled up about "their money."

For years taxpayers without children have made similar complaints about being taxed for the education of other people's children, yet they have benefited from living in a society where education is available for all children. Today similar complaints come from parents who want an education tailor-made for their child: "I want my child's education to be heavy on math and science; don't spend my money on music." "My child walks to school; don't spend my money on school buses." "My child is sound in mind and body; don't spend my money on accommodations for handicapped children." In order to educate all the children of Texas, we have to spend money on a lot of different things, and there may not always be a one-to-one correspondence between what one parent pays in taxes and what one child uses.

The very real problems in the public schools will only be solved by cooperative effort. To label such efforts "socialist" is pure laziness, and to approach a complicated issue with the simplistic cry "It's my money" is self-centered and unhelpful.

Robert Wilks

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