Elitist Vision of South Austin
Regarding the ban of core South Austin businesses on South First and the proposed light rail route on South Congress Ave:
The Austin Elite/cabal at City Hall and in local neighborhood associations want to "railroad" over those who do not agree with the "New Urbanists" that want to control Austin. Re: http://cato.org/dailys/9-30-97.html.
Clearly neighborhood associations do not have memberships which actually represent the total number of residents in any neighborhood. Likewise, in South Austin seldom is there a proportional ethnic or class representation of neighborhood residents reflected by association membership.
Elitist downtown business mentalities now lobby their views on three different fronts. First, the lobby powers that the businesses have in the Austin community by paying taxes to city hall. Second, these "Elitists" support their "preferred" desires at our "Elitist" Chamber of Commerce. Third, the Chamber of Commerce members and wannabe business Elitists in a neighborhood influence their neighborhood association by "donating" costly support services to the association. To keep the free services rolling in, the neighborhood associations then "lean" towards the business community's needs. Can you afford to write a check for a preferred $500 membership fee in your local neighborhood association?
It is truly "Smart" to use City Hall and neighborhood associations to endorse the ban on businesses and their employee/residents that now serve the existing area. City Hall clearly wants to ban those businesses which employ workers/residents/voters in South Austin that disapprove of the downtown Elitist mentality. This technique is called a silent purge.
This proposed business ban is being done legally, in a democratic process, just like fascists have always done. City Hall and the Chamber of Commerce are not Fascists, of course ... they just act like Fascists.
I would like to thank the Chronicle for your two articles last week focusing on labor issues ["What Price Labor?" and "Metropolis Melodrama," Vol.18, No.13]. Few newspapers are willing to devote the space to workers' movements and it speaks well of both the reporters, Erica Barnett and Bryan Mealer, as well as the editors, to carry the articles.
I do have a few corrections though. First, Mealer gets the name of the IWW wrong: the IWW is Industrial Workers of the World, not International Workers of the World. Second, Paul Sherr's program on KOOP is called Talking Union. John Hitzfelder produces Working Stiff Radio. Third, (and most minor) the labor paper of which Paul is a member is called Working Stiff Journal, not Working Stiff News.
Finally, and most important, the article on the Metropolis workers makes Justin Hilton out to be some misunderstood, slightly confused hippie. This man possesses millions of dollars, and in spite of his claiming to want to pay the workers, he waited almost two years to do so. And finally did so only under public humiliation in the pages of Austin newspapers and the threat of pickets outside his all-too-hip complex. It is not generous of Hilton to offer to pay the workers. This is money for work done that he profited off of and never paid. In the future, people like Hilton will be lucky if all they have to do is pay the simple unpaid wages.
Thank you again,
Branch Secretary, Industrial Workers of the World
Recording Secretary, Amalgamated Transit Union,
Campaign Coverage Good; Taxes Bad
I wanted to thank you for your coverage of the recent Travis County elections. Amy Smith and Michael Clark-Madison did a good job from beginning to end covering my race.
We may not always agree on how Austin-Travis County should proceed into the century, but an open dialog will keep this area vibrant and moving forward. My message concerning ever-increasing taxes forcing blue-collar workers and those on fixed incomes out of this area needs to get out.
Every citizen of Travis County deserves the chance to work to succeed or fail without the local bureaucracy draining him or her of every extra penny they make. We have now had three city tax or fee increases in less than a year, and Travis County has passed the largest property tax increase in its history (with hints of additional increases next year). ACC is talking about tripling its tax rate and AISD has all but guaranteed a tax increase next year. Even with the growth in our area, these increases have outpaced inflation and growth.
The question I asked in the campaign and continue to ponder is: How much longer can we sustain this drain on our citizens? I will be back in four years to present these same issues for the voters in Pct. 2. I will continue to sound the clarion call that Travis County must be for all the people, not just a select few!
So Mr. Ventura still thinks he was right in his treatment of Jack Jackson's Lost Cause ["Letters at 3AM," Nov. 27]. He pointed out that none of the letter writers to the Chronicle defended Mr. Jackson's depiction of blacks in the novel. I will. The attitudes of the characters was exactly as it was at the time, as any study of history, especially period documents, will show. As for the appearance of the black characters, I looked closely and each and every one had a distinct look. And the direction Jackson took in the narration was that of using a style reminiscent of journals of the day. It seems Mr. Ventura is unfamiliar with such writings, and unable to draw any conclusion other than the one where Jackson actually holds the feelings and thoughts Ventura ascribes to him. I can assure Chronicle readers and Mr. Ventura that nothing could be further from the truth. Jack Jackson is no racist. But he is an historian. And a writer. I dare say, Ventura's less of either than Jack Jackson. In fact, were it not for the title of the piece containing his defense of his earlier hatchet job, I would not have read it. I have long given up on the disconnected ramblings of the self-styled Mr. Kewl. At least he admits he was wrong about the Henry rifle. BTW, I'm going to buy another copy of Lost Cause -- this time the limited edition hardcover. Then I'm going over to Jack's and have him sign it. Then I'm donating my paperback copy to the Texas History Center at the University of Texas.
Your review observes that Un Air de Famille "plays like Woody Allen's Interiors without the humor." Is this a joke? Interiors has no intentional humor in it, and shouldn't be confused with other Allen films that combine drama and relatively dry comedy.
I was surprised to see Mötley Crüe mentioned in the "Music Listings -- Recommended Events" section of the Chronicle [Vol.18, No.13]. But, of course, some David Letterman wannabe has to write the piece, inserting weak attempts at sarcastic humor while basically insulting fans of the Crüe.
At least Mr. Bertin could have got his facts right. Vince Neil re-joined the Crüe before Generation of Swine was recorded. He sings on it, dude. Guess metalheads aren't the only ones apt to weak intelligence.
P.S. There is also an umlaut over the "o" in "Mötley."
Kudos to Police
On the flip side of stories about Austin police excesses ["Naked City," Nov. 27], I'd like to let readers know that APD officers not only protected me during a recent, very difficult five-month period, but also taught me how to better protect myself in the future.
I'm grateful to them as a group for the innumberable hours they spend helping us all out, and at the same time, try to blame only particular officers when those officers make mistakes.
Legalize It Pt I
I'm responding to "Dope for the Disabled" ["Postmarks," Nov. 20]. Thank you, Mr. Largen! We need more people like you to share stories and support legalization of medicinal marijuana. Marijuana plants can be beneficial in easing the pain/suffering of those afflicted with AIDS, cancer, MS, glaucoma, and more! Unknown to many, this medicinal plant's sibling, hemp, can be grown for many industrial purposes.
More than 25,000 products can be made from industrial hemp. The main difference between marijuana and industrial hemp is that hemp contains almost no T.H.C. (delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol), marijuana's psychoactive chemical. You could smoke industrial hemp all day and never get high, yet it's still illegal to grow for any reason in the U.S.A.
Hemp is used for fiber, food, fuel, paper, and much more! 95% of this plant is usable and can be grown virtually anywhere, without herbicides, pesticides, or fungicides, while simultaneously re-fertilizing the land. Hemp yields four times the amount of cotton and its fiber is softer, stronger, and more durable. Hemp paper doesn't become yellow or brittle with age, and the oil from nutritious hemp seeds can substitute for many petroleum-based products.
Currently hemp is grown in China, Germany, Canada, Hungary, and elsewhere. Previously U.S. farmers were required to grow hemp, until separating hemp from marijuana became difficult to the uninformed lawmaker. Due to budget justifications, the DEA considers hemp a drug, and refuses to license farmers to grow it industrially.
We could be saving our trees, soil, resources, and our future, instead we live wasteful lives. Support hemp, medicinal marijuana, and everything plants naturally offer. Do your part, inform others about the many benefits of these plants. Legalize it! Thanks again, Mr. Largen!
Kristina Diekema and the Grateful Shed Crew
Legalize It Pt. II
I am writing to you from the "underground," as one of millions who are disenfranchised by the current sociopolitical climate in the United States. Although I am not behind bars, I am a political prisoner in my own country, as my private behavior is dictated by laws which I did not participate in creating, and I am governed by officials who were elected in a political process fueled by money and handshakes. My direct democracy is limited to voting on irrelevant local ordinance propositions, and my ideas are not reflected in most corporate-owned media sources. I am grateful for the First Amendment rights I have, and I am morally compelled to exercise them, struggling against apathy, cynicism, and nihilism.
Federal legislators recently decided to subvert democracy by refusing to tally the election results on Initiative 59, after nearly 70% of Washington, D.C., voters decided to allow medical marijuana in their district. By appealing to a constitutionally specious law which forbids them to spend any money on relaxing marijuana policy, our legislators are playing politics while cancer, AIDS, glaucoma, and spinal cord injury patients are suffering. They refer to legalistic obligations, but the past decades have demonstrated that they are willing to break the law when it serves their economic and political interests.
If "conservative" Republicans want to "get government off our backs," they could start by hopping off the back of the quadriplegic spinal cord injury patient I provided personal care to. I personally witnessed the benefits of medical marijuana on this Vietnam veteran. He experienced painful spasms from retracted tendons and atrophied muscles, but after using marijuana the spasms completely subsided for the remainder of his physical therapy. It does not serve the cause of justice to deny relief to the sick, or to deny voters the right to democratic due process. When will our government prioritize compassion and democracy over paternalistic control and arbitrary morality? It seems unreasonable that we throw people in prison, strip them of their right to vote, confiscate their property, destroy their families, allow patients to suffer, and subvert democracy, all because we cannot tolerate a natural herb which has no fatal side effects, was used medically for thousands of years, and is less harmful and addictive than tobacco and alcohol. Our descendents may one day mock our folly.
Christopher Jon Largen
Poem for the Triangle
The Great Winged Water Walkers
and big hulled ducks in migration
will wade and float.
From their webbings, toes, they will release
the egg ribbons of species they've
walked and padded through in other water ways.
This is how fish fly.
First-finned they will be indistinguishable
from each other -- before the colors,
markings, and shaping announces them
darters, bass, perch ...
Dragonflies will marry in flight.
Striders will swirl the surface,
Mayflies have their day.
Crustaceans will come from
their holes of seasonal marshes.
With the rain, they will swim
and walk to the new ponds
of Lamar and Guadalupe.
The Yellow Crowned Night Herons
will crunch them
'til their claws fall off
and then swallow them, otherwise, whole.
The tufted and belted will find
the most advantageous perch,
and some dawn lifting a fingerling,
from these tiny lakes, will cause
a gar to rise for a minnow plucked in flight.
These are two of the other ways fish fly.
I would rather have taken the shuttle
to the moon.
Rather have stood over a crater with a hose
and filling it -- stood Lunar, tapped on the microphone,
and said out into the universal wave,
"Water on the Moon."
For the politics of development
we gain retaining waters.
To name them not by any agent of the market,
not by a public decree, but by what
holds to them naturally.
These are not square, nor in it.
These ponds are what is given back
for all the green that's gone.
There will be more life for them.
They will filter the runoff,
and can gauge the flow
of both branches of the creek.
These waters are not held for the monetary.
These are a remainder of home,
of the wetlands that were seasonally here
and spread out but rarely to a lake.
For all this process, we are sufficed to say,
"These are the little ponds of Lake Lamalupe."
hefner, david r.
In Favor of Bus Advertising
Regarding Travis Metcalfe's rant ["Postmarks," Vol.18, No.13] against the "commercial propaganda" now appearing on Capital Metro buses. It appears Mr. Metcalfe has never given much thought to the price of a bus ticket.
There are three ways to pay for a city bus system: ticket sales, taxes, and advertising. Even when buses are packed to the gills, the farebox revenue rarely covers the cost of running the system. If you don't sell advertising space, the only other options for balancing the company books are to raise ticket rates sky-high (and watch ridership dry up) or raise taxes (and watch the local citizenry rise up in revolt). Given a choice, I'd rather get on a tacky bus for 50 cents than pay $5.00 to ride in aesthetic purity.
I've ridden a lot of buses in a lot of cities. Austin's Capital Metro was the only one I recall that didn't sell advertising space on its buses to keep costs down. I'm glad they finally wised up. If it had happened sooner, maybe they wouldn't have needed the one-cent sales tax hike we got stuck with awhile back.
One more thing. Mr. Travis, if you don't like it, don't look at it. Nobody's forcing you to. Or, better yet, try riding the bus sometime -- being on the inside is the best way to avoid seeing the "visual pollution" on the outside.
Get a Clue!
Regarding Travis Metcalfe's disaffection toward advertising on the Cap Metro buses ["Postscripts," Vol.18, No.13]: Get a clue for Christmas, Metcalfe! I depend heavily on those buses to get to school. The additional routes that connect my neigborhood to the campus need those extra dollars generated by the transit advertising.
P.S. Metcalfe's inane diatribe was brought to you by the six sponsors of the ads on the page where it appeared.
Stop Sniffing Me!
Has the leash law been repealed, or do folks ignore it? I say this because I have encountered several unleashed dogs in the recent past. I was trying to go for a pleasant walk (I'm disabled and need to walk daily) in Stacy Park and my effort was thwarted on three occasions in 20 minutes before I gave up and left. I realize animal owners like to allow their pets to roam free in the park, but I feel I also have the right to not be barked at, sniffed, growled at, and even chased in a public area. It would be a different story if I was in their yard, but I'm in a public park! One of the dogs was nowhere near his owner, who never appeared to call the dog off. They claim the dogs are "friendly" or "harmless," yet I don't feel safe being approached by any unleashed dog.