The Austin Chronicle


Nichols Is Biased

January 15, 1999, Columns

Dear Editor:

Under "News at Nine" ["Media Clips," Vol.18, No.19], Lee Nichols has the KOOP Radio Board of Trustees "claiming that some ballots were missing and probably stolen" in the Community Board election last November. Make no mistake about it: The votes of the Dougherty Art Center, LACA, Comité en Solidaridad con Chiapas y Mexico, Jump Start, Grassroots News Network, Coordinadora 2000, Nahualli, LULAC, Sones y Cantos, Tejano Museum, and Ser-Jobs for Progress went missing. In nearly every case these ballots were hand-carried to the KOOP office. The people who brought them in were accompanied in 10 out of the 11 cases by friends or witnesses who saw the delivery of the ballots. Who knows how many others are missing? Thanks to the hard work of the KOOP Community Board Election Committee and the stringent listing procedures suggested a few days prior to the count by Ricardo Guerrero, their absence was noted. So just what part of "stolen" do you not understand, Mr. Nichols? Does the fact that you are an ex-programmer with strong ties to the "friends" of KOOP affect the way you report on the issue?

Bob White

No Respect


It's funny that KOOP Board of Trustees President Teresa Taylor rejected a Friends of KOOP proposal because it supposedly violated KOOP's bylaws ["Naked City," Vol.18, No.19]. Was the board showing respect for the bylaws when two trustees pushed have all Community Organizations grouped together in the recent Community Board election, when the bylaws actually call for five different classes of Community Orgs to elect Community Board members? Did the board show respect for the bylaws by changing them without getting input from KOOP's membership? Is President Taylor showing respect for the bylaws by keeping them a secret -- ignoring my two written requests last summer (one by certified mail) to provide a current copy of the bylaws?

Bylaws aside, the trustees' lack of respect for KOOP itself is evident from the fact that they refuse to step down even though KOOP's membership has overwhelmingly voted to voice its disapproval of them. Who exactly do they think they're leading?

Readers who want the full story can visit

Michael Bluejay

KOOP Radio Webmaster

Save KOOP Radio Webmaster

P.S. The reason KOOP's official site (not the Save KOOP site) hasn't been updated in a while is not because I've been delinquent, but because my password no longer works. I don't know for certain that the trustees were involved, but I do know that the trustees had KOOP's lawyer contact our ISP, and now our ISP no longer returns my phone calls, e-mails, or pages. And you all remember reading in the Chronicle how the board threatened to kick me out of KOOP for publicizing the Save KOOP site ["Naked City," Vol.18, No.10] ...

Drug War Too Costly


Monte Paulsen's well-done article ["Fatal Error," Vol.18, No.17] reminded me of a June day along the Southwest Texas desert border in 1997.

I was visiting a friend in Redford not long after Esequiel Hernandez was murdered by Marine Corporal Manuel Banuelos, and the air there was tense with grief, confusion, and further contempt for a schizophrenic nation once strengthened by the diversity of poor, eager immigrants whom it now seems to revile. The local talk centered not only on the tragic waste of an innocent human life but on the futile squandering of resources on a war against drugs that claims far more victims than the pittance their use does.

"Why? Why?" a local shopowner pleaded, looking past me, knowing that no answer would replace the ache in his heart for his government's betrayal which was finally so near to him. His helplessness resolved into a sigh, and he rang up my small purchase. Impotence reveals itself through violent expressions of domination, and no matter which "public good" justification that politicians throw at us, we know, all of us, that this drug war game is done with. The only dignified way out of it is to stop the war cold, teach the facts about all drugs, and get personal about our stewardship of one another, knowing that, no matter what, people young and old will find a way to become a statistic through self-destructive means. We just don't need any government programs to help it along.

Spider Johnson


Blues for Clifford

Dear Mr. Black:

Clifford Antone should be released from jail and all charges against him dropped. No one has shown how Mr. Antone's actions have harmed anyone; in fact, a more rational society would consider his actions the normal course of business. But this is not that society, not that city, not even that community which this paper serves.

Certainly, the readers of these pages didn't write the repressive drug laws with their fetish for pain. Nor did we as a community elect the vicious cabal in Congress and numerous legislatures who can't seem to satisfy an endless hate-on over anything culturally deviant. But we have stayed silent -- that condition which so embodies a bully. We are a community that has made political impotency sexy; that has made conformity avant; that has studied inaction so long as to create a new aesthetic: militant apathy, to be relishly wielded against anyone expressing a serious statement, let alone a saccharine sentiment. So we are primed, nay prepped, for any government enforcer who wants to cook our wordly tough-talking gooses.

We have pointedly refused to talk about the vastly destructive WOD which has laid the foundation for future federal and state tyrannies should the mythical "more important issues" come to pass. But under our public silence we have privately murmured ourselves out of defending "our own" -- our own! I have seen this expression in these pages! When Mr. Antone's scarlet fate is paraded on a complicit media, we are content with sterile drivel as "oh, they worked out a shorter sentence," or "I didn't really like his (choose 'em) club, personality, music tastes," or "it was a ton! What did he expect?" As if a shorter time in a gulag makes it all better. As if Antone's tastes are now sufficient reason for a government blowout. As if any of us who have bought a Q-Z or can of beer can morally insulate ourselves from the distributor. Such speciousness! Such attenuated logic! Such cultural submissiveness in a town once known for much better.

Ours is a society riven by "message sending" (bureaucratese for ultimatum backed by force) and the prohibitionist is sending us one: We got one of your icons and we're gonna take him down. And y'all ain't sayin' nothin'.

Stephen W. McGuire

Public Input Welcome

Dear Mr. Black:

We have noted the concern expressed in your "Page Two" editorial [Vol. 18, No. 16] about the lack of planning and coordination that is going on in downtown. Please be assured that with respect to the area around Waller Creek, at least, there is lots of planning going on with the benefit of a large amount of public input through the Waller Creek charrette, the Convention Center Expansion Study, the Lower Waller Creek neighborhood's development guidelines, and other forums.

We would once again like to offer you an opportunity to hear firsthand what is being planned and to give any input you may have. As private-sector developers, we try to pay attention both to the concerns of citizens as well as the dictates of the market. By inviting input now, we hope to avoid criticism for not being inclusive later. Now is the time for planning. Once specific projects are on the table and the market is reacting to what it is told are the goals of the community, most of the opportunity for planning will be gone.

Please call any time if you would like to hear more about the Waller Creek area.

Sincerely yours,

Robert Knight

Perry Lorenz

T.D. Will Be Missed


Our neighborhood lost a great and friendly neighbor on January 9. T.D. Bell, renowned blues musician and all-around good guy, died over the weekend. He and his wife Vergie (aka Bell) have been a fixture on the 2900 block of Lafayette for quite a long time; you may have seen him tending their lawn and garden or chomping on a fat cigar while tinkering with his car engine on the street. He will be missed.

Rick McNulty

Scorn for Porn


Come on! Is this type of advertisement [Tabu Tattoo] necessary? I am not some right-wing conservative Christian or some prude. I believe in free expression and wince at censorship. I do, however, believe in the right of your news magazine to say no to such a distasteful ad. Is the Chronicle so in need of money it must take an ad like this? Even if it is computer-generated, a very young girl's face, really a childlike face, with a dildo in her mouth and her legs spread with the caption "Cum Get Poked" is just disgusting. Pedophilia is not a laughing matter and shouldn't be advertised. Please, I've always looked to the Chronicle for entertainment, information, and good reporting, but this just makes me sick. What gives with your advertising staff? Do they have a bag over their heads or what? Surely, this tattoo business can come up with a better ad than this. This is not exotic, this is just trash.

Kitty Kirkpatrick-Page

Rodriguez Helps Austin

To the editors:

It's not a shame that you printed the letters submitted by Jeff Fischer and Daniel Rodriguez (luckily no relation) ["Postmarks," Vol.18, No.19]. It is only a shame that the letters they wrote were so short-sighted.

The Faculty may not have been Robert Rodriguez's most artistic endeavor. From Dusk Till Dawn and Desperado may not have been epic blockbusters such as Titanic or similar Oscar-worthy features. All this aside, Fischer and the minor Rodriguez miss out on many aspects of Robert's appeal.

First and foremost, Robert Rodriguez supports Austin's burgeoning film scene, not only with activities like the Faculty premiere and activities at the venerable Drafthouse, but also by including Austin crew and talent in his productions.

Perhaps even more important is a quality that anyone who has met Mr. Rodriguez or worked on one of his sets can describe to you. From El Mariachi through his present projects, Robert brings fun and excitement back to the silver screen. After all, isn't that what we go to the movies for? In person, Robert Rodriguez seems like a kid in a candy store, both amazed and grateful to be where he is.

And I for one say more power to him.

Jon Cohorn

Captain Sensitive

Dear Mr. McLeod:

Mike and I would like to commend you on the article you wrote for The Austin Chronicle December 11 featuring Evergreen Farms ["Day Trips," Vol.18, No.15]. We have been in the Christmas tree business for 16 years and have had numerous articles featuring our farm in the Bryan/College Station area. They have all been very well-written and informative, but your article stands out as identifying the atmosphere Mike and I are trying to create at our Elgin farm. You must be a very sensitive and insightful journalist and we thank you for choosing us.

With your permission we would like to nominate the article for the Texas Christmas Tree Growers Association Media Award for weekly newspapers. They usually announce the winners in late spring and present them at our annual meeting which will be in Athens, Texas the last week of September. I will send the article in by mid-January.

Again, thank you for all your work. If we can assist you in any other articles we will be glad to help. Our farm is of historical value to the Elgin area, as it is the site of the old stagecoach stop for the community of Hogeye which dates pre-Elgin and railroad.

We hope your holiday season was full of joy and cheer, and you and your family have a happy New Year.


Beth Walterscheidt

Evergreen Farms

Kisses at Midnight


Reading about New Year's Eve in Scotland ["Toasting Hogmany," Vol. 18, No. 18] brought it all back to me. I, a 21-year-old exchange student, couldn't understand why no one drank as the evening passed. We sat and chatted, until the bells of midnight rang. Then we hit the streets of Ayr. With bottle of whiskey in hand, our gang came upon other roving gangs and exchanged said bottles, along with hugs, kisses, and best wishes. This in a city of 100,000; this all among strangers, this with love and trust and open hearts. This went on til 6am. Thereafter, upon seeing anyone for the first time that year, more hugs, kisses, and well wishing were in order. It was a great way to start the year and I try to keep the feeling in my heart.

Laurel Freeman

Riddles at 1AD

Dear Louis,

I just read the Bible Lesson story about Jesus and found it full of errors ["Letters at 3AM," Vol.18, No.17].

There is no justification to say that Jesus had any brothers. The original word that was used to describe James as a brother also could be translated to be a cousin.

Jesus did reject some people. He forcefully removed the "Money Changers" from the Temple and said that they have no place in God's Temple. I could go into a long story about who the "Money Changers" are and what they are doing at the UN but that is not the issue here.

The author, Michael Ventura, does not understand the first thing about the sayings of Jesus. There is a scientific and mathematical reason why Jesus always spoke to the people in riddles. This is because Jesus understood that all words are untrue. A word is nothing but a symbol that tries to represent something that it is not. Being that a word is not the actual object that it tries to represent it must be untrue. Knowing that all words are "riddles," Jesus tries to make this plain to the people by only speaking in obvious riddles. Jesus knew about the lies that are contained in all words and how people would try to twist the meaning of his words. Moses said that one would come after him to give the people a new law that was to be written in the heart, not in stone.

There are more problems with the story but I will end this letter by stating that Michael Ventura appears to be clueless about this subject.


Stephen K. Cunningham

Thanks for 360.Alpha


I would like to take this opportunity to thank Peter Zandan and Steve Papermaster for organizing this year's 360.Alpha Summit. Their time and hard work is appreciated by the entire Austin area.

From the earliest days of our country, pioneer families extended a helping hand to help their neighbors. They did so without expecting compensation or recognition. They knew that helping their neighbors ultimately would help them. This is what the 360.Alpha Summit is all about. This is what the Austin community is all about.

Jimmy Castro

Carte Blanche Construction


Since one quarter of the entire world's trade traffic from all of the South and Central Americas is coming through our puny three lanes of I-35, vast and extraordinary, if not mind-boggling measures and powers will be needed to correct this, as well as calls for the federal government to cover 100% of all costs related to these mandated costs and requirements in conveying this 700% increase in traffic as federally mandated by NAFTA (This 700% figure was provided by Lt. Calvin Smith, APD).

Would a massive "write-in" campaign to various agencies or even the president be helpful to get these extraordinary efforts authorized and going?

Additional ideas for alleviating congestion on I-35 that are more long-term:

The legislature should provide "carte blanche" powers for the construction, land acquisition, and anything else the project needs to expeditiously go forward at "state-legislature levels" in this particular case.

Streamline the construction process by contracting to many, many construction companies based on reputation of quality, and how expeditiously they can construct assigned segments of the highway, even if it is only a fraction of a mile at a time, like the Japanese expeditiously did it, in a year, for the 1976 World's Fair in Okinawa.

Remember, we are talking about conveying one quarter of the world's truck trade as a direct and sole result of the enactment of federally mandated NAFTA. Uncle Sam needs to be right in here to help us in any way possible.

It would be less stressful to all of us if the media could help out, too, by relentlessly giving us daily progress reports and telling us which agencies and parties are doing their best to be expeditious, and where the snags are. Properly directing public pressure daily would be a highly constructive and very proper thing for the media to do.

Thank you for your interest.

Dan Petit

RR1431 Unsafe

Dear Editor:

On Thursday, 7 January 1999, I was eyewitness to what has become a daily occurrence on RR1431 west of Cedar Park. I was going home from work when an automobile rear-ended a front end loader directly in front of me. Quick reflexes is all that kept me from hitting the car. After calling 911, I went to render first aid while awaiting for EMS technicians to arrive. While the injured loader operator was able to get his machine off the road, an elderly gentleman in the automobile was in serious condition. I did everything I could to help him. One of the EMS technicians told me a couple of minutes after they arrived that he had died. Even though I did not know the gentleman (and have so far not been able to find out his name), I was devastated. This was the second accident in 22 days on 1431 to directly affect me. On 16 December 1998, my best friend at work was seriously injured in a four-car pile-up in front of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church where we work caring for children in the church's childhood center. Her six-year-old son miraculously escaped with only minor cuts and bruises. I do not know the status of the people in the other vehicles.

I hear the sirens every day. I see the ambulances and fire trucks drive past the church. My guess is that 75% of the time they are responding to an accident between Cedar Park and Jonestown. While most of these are probably fender benders, at least once a week there is a serious accident. Most are rear-end collisions because there is no center turn lane.

Texas prides itself on having the best and safest roads in the USA. The state needs to literally put its money where its mouth is. The addition of a center turn lane seems like a simple solution. Perhaps adding more traffic signals and reducing the speed limit would help.

Cedar Park, Travis and Williamson Counties, and the Texas Highway Department must do something to make this stretch of highway safer. Or are they going to wait until a mom and her kids leaving our childhood center are killed before they do anything about it?


Darrell W. Isenberg


The Meek Shall Pay Rent

Well Readers,

Since the Chronicle has the virgin Mary on the front cover [Vol.18, No.17] could we logically discuss who she really was?

The sociologists and the politicians are now certain that a child born with the wrong "color" and in poverty will amount to nothing -- or become a criminal. Yet most Americans celebrate this season the birth of a child so poor, he was surrounded by stinking cows. Jesus. Perhaps the original Jesus was a lot more attractive than the revised version. I mean this Jesus made wine for a party. The original Jesus never "passed the plate," required expensive clothing for his followers to wear to hear him on Sunday, and never preached a sermon. He made statements like, "Come, enter the kingdom that has been made ready for you ... for I was hungry, you gave me food; when thirsty, drink; when I was a stranger you took me into your home. ... I tell you anything you did to my brothers ... you did for me." (Mt. 25:34-35) Do these words make any sense? Yes, for wouldn't you rather live in a family and neighborhood where if you're thirsty, your neighbor offers you a drink or a stranger someone makes sure you have an apartment? If you watch the city council in person, you realize neighborhoods try to keep out the violents and invite in the friendly. Does one condemn God for setting the same standards neighborhoods do? Could this "heaven" exist in Austin -- if we returned ideals of affordable apartments rather than expecting waitresses to pay $600 a month for an apartment on tips? Has Jesus been totally distorted?

Frank Bartlett

Uncap Social Security


There are no guarantees in life. That's what my generation, so-called Generation X, has been told. After all, during commercials on MTV, we watched our parents face the realities of divorce, downsizing, and disco.

Now, we hear social security won't be around by the time we need its benefits. But I'm one of the few people in their 20s who believes it will -- without privatization. The key is to step back from the media hype and its corporate spin.

Social security is not a retirement investment strategy. It is a safety net. Right now, every dollar we pay into social security and medicare taxes goes into a trust fund or is invested in government bonds -- generally considered the safest of all investments.

Do we really want our benefits used in political games on Capitol Hill? The only positive outcome of privatization -- no matter how limited -- would be increased profits for Wall Street and increased power for a handful of politicians.

The Gray Panthers, one of the nation's most active nonprofit organizations, has defended social security for more than 25 years. Their answer is quite simple.

Right now, there is a cap on the amount of FICA taxes wealthy Americans pay. Any worker who earns more than $68,400 a year does not pay FICA taxes on wages earned above that amount, meaning they pay social security taxes on less than 100% of their wage income, while the rest of us pay on every dollar we earn. The "rest of us" is approximately 95% of working Americans.

Yes, we need to strengthen social security to ensure its survival. But privatization only stands to weaken it more. Lifting the cap on the amount of taxes wealthy Americans pay would solve the problem -- in a way that demands social fairness.

The ceiling on Medicare taxes was already lifted several years ago and was successful. Don't let politics of the day lead you to believe we can't do the same thing for social security.

Isn't it about time we demand at least one guarantee?

Kathy L. Harris

William Jefferson Nixon

Dearest Mr. President,

Oh please, sir, count me a fool! For I am not serious enough to trust your intentions in the Gulf. In fact, one can't help but wonder if there ever has been a legitimate call to arms. Thank God for WWII, eh?

You know, sir, your sexual escapades were not a problem. Sad as it may be, you put your pants on and take 'em off just like the rest of us. From the start, I believed your impeachment was nothing more than revenge for your predecessor, Mr. Nixon. Yet you know, sir, there is a common trait between the two of you: 20 years from now people will say the reason they no longer vote is that 20 years ago, they voted for you!

And your actions against Iraq settles another burning question, sir. You did not dodge Vietnam for ethical reasons. You are just a coward.

Coward enough to shield your much-publicized and very sorry political ass with the still-warm but dead bodies of the innocent people you have just murdered.

You didn't inhale, you didn't ejaculate, and now, just maybe, you might not pass GO either.

So let me be the first, sir, to wish you a wonderful voyage on your journey to hell!

Til Chamkis

R.U. Trustworthy?

Dear Mr. Smarty Pants:

According to "Mr. Smarty Pants Knows" [Vol.18, No.16], you said that reindeer are crazy for human urine. But in a little movie called Doc Hollywood starring Michael J. Fox, they said just the opposite. There is a scene where M.J. Fox and the girl (I can't remember her name) go through the woods peeing everywhere because she says that it scares off the deer. So, now I'm left with uncertainty. Should I believe the guy that writes for one of the best newspapers in Austin, or some bigshot movie producer?


Where to Pee & Why

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