Losing Our Lunch

Dear Chronicle:

To Mayor Watson and your posse -- I hope you all are reading. This is for you.

Raoul Hernandez ["You Do Not Tear Down Landmarks," Vol.18, No.23] hit the nail on the head regarding your plan to tear down Liberty Lunch to build up downtown further and overcrowd that area even more. I'm sure there are other plots of land in this town that can be developed instead of flippantly suggesting the demolition of a beloved local landmark. Liberty Lunch is a landmark. It sickens me that money means that much to you all; money means more than the opinions of the people who elected you. If that is in fact true, then I'm not surprised that you chose to manifest your hatred of all of us by tearing down a place that we all adore. It's apparent that you can't wait to burn Liberty Lunch down. You won't win. There is no way it's going to happen again. I'm 24 years old, and I, unfortunately, did not have the pleasure of ever visiting the Armadillo.
You would not consider destroying O. Henry's home for the sake of progress, right? Liberty Lunch is no different. You will not win. The real Austinites will not let Liberty Lunch go out without a fight, so you might want to stake out a different piece of land. Why don't you start in East Austin? Prove that you care about the citizens on both sides of I-35, both sides of the River.

Think harder, guys; it's not going to happen.

A. Ivy

S. Austin

Downtown Needs Affordable Housing


Smart growth, eh! By whose definition? In "The Lay of the Land" [Vol.18, No.23], writer Mike Clark-Madison reports on the growth activity in downtown Austin. Smart? I don't call failing to provide residential housing for all income levels participating in downtown life "smart." To not see the need and to ignore the justice is not smart; it is plain stupid as well as immoral. Since the last cheap night's lodging in downtown Austin, the Alamo Hotel, was demolished in 1984, people with thin wallets have had to commute to the core of Austin. The Alamo was the last of several small hotels with long-term tenants. Such square footage was "gentrified" or, in the case of the Alamo, laid to waste. All but a very few entry-level workers in low-paying jobs now have to pack themselves into non-central city apartments, cycling or riding Capital Metro to their work sites daily to help make downtown Austin happen. This is wrong! This is no secret to planners and developers. Countless times I have suggested, begged, or verbally lambasted them as well as Austin mayors and councilpersons to factor into their plans downtown housing for low-income workers. I've described to them the concept of large single-room-occupancy (SRO) structures which can be built with available federal dollars. I've shown them examples of such facilities in other cities. All I've gotten: blank stares or nonsensical waffling. SRO facilities exist in other cities, providing living space for entry-level workers. Austin leaders are blind to this reality or they are determined to ignore the need for housing for this income level. Why? Perry Lorenz, a central city developer, who snapped up the Alamo site from the RTC and claims he made a profit on the land in his sale to Extend-a-Stay folk, knows about SROs. He's a major player in what's going on in Austin's core. I challenge him publicly, if he wants to hang on to that gain, to see that Austin builds a downtown SRO for entry-level workers, a facility which would provide the equivalent of housing provided in every city of any size by the YMCA and YWCAs during this nation's urbanization last century until the 1960s when the Ys mysteriously gave up their mission. I further warn Mr. Lorenz as well as others who are guiding our downtown development that if they fail to provide at least one SRO along with their other grandiose projects, they can kiss good-bye their own current good fortune and Austin's fragile economic prosperity. The prophet's curse on the Alamo Hotel site is still operative and the fumes can spread again to sicken the pocketbooks of those who think only of their own well-being with no regard for social ethics. So be it, let it be so, amen and amen
Tony Hearn

Car-Free Visions

Dear Editor:

In your February 5 issue [Vol. 18, No.23], you published several pictures of architects' "visions" of downtown Austin's future. I notice that in these pictures (1) no modes of transportation are shown except cars and walking; and (2) only three or four cars are shown on each street. This is a fundamentally dishonest depiction of Austin's future.

When architects, developers, and city officials dream, why are non-car modes of transportation off limits? Why can they design, plan, and sell bonds for parking garages, but not for tram lines or bike stations?

It seems very odd to me that no one is even considering a car-free downtown area. A good site for a pilot project would be the region bounded by the Dillo Dash route. This area should be car-free. Build your parking garages, if build them you must, outside this area, not in it. Then run electric tram lines criss-crossing the streets of the Dash-bounded area. People would flock to this area and patronize its businesses, simply in order to have a safe, outdoor, interesting place to walk around. The Town Lake hike-and-bike trail has already become unpleasantly overcrowded at peak hours.

If downtown does not become car-free, and if ever more cars move in and out of downtown, downtown is going to smell bad and be very hot, noisy, and unpleasant. In the ubiquitous parking garages, car alarms will go off all day long, combining with the heat and stench to drive formerly reasonable people mad.
Please, dreamers of the future, set your imaginations free enough to picture a car-free downtown Austin. Then imagine, as realistically as possible, a downtown Austin with twice the number of cars downtown has at present. Picture this car-packed downtown on an August afternoon. Then make your plans for downtown Austin's future.

Yours truly,

Amy Babich

Help Catch Assaultors

Dear Editor:

Approximately 2:30am Saturday, January 30, a young girl was assaulted, knocked out, and left unconscious in a ditch on Parmer near Mo-Pac. We are pleading for someone to come forward with information if they may have seen her white Acura Integra with a red or maroon small car parked behind it. The two men that assaulted her and left her for dead were white, young, and well-dressed. One was wearing a white sweater and the other a black T-shirt. One of the items stolen from her was a 1.5-caret diamond solitaire engagement ring. If you have any information, I am offering a reward if it leads to their arrest. This case is being investigated by the Austin Police Dept. Please call if you have any knowledge of this crime.
Thank you,

J. Martin

Chronicle too Violent


For years I have had fantasies about the Chronicle being more than just material suitable for lining a bird cage. I have hoped that the Chronicle might be a beacon of inspiration and insight, but alas ... At one time I read the paper cover to cover, but now I struggle to get beyond page 8 or 10. The last issue certainly highlighted much of what is saddest about the Chronicle, our city and our culture.

Letters to the editor supporting violence; youth boxing (I'm a youth worker in Austin and there is no lack of young people who are well-acquainted with how to be violent), the military and Dr. King, $100 billion dollars for more military.

Finally, there was Mr. Ventura's column with his tragic conclusion that there aren't enough violent people in the world already; we need women to become more violent. What was all that talk about Jesus a few weeks ago?

I couldn't go on. The Chronicle may help to save the salamander, but only if they can do it while promoting sex, drugs, rock & roll, and violence.
How sad.


James E. Burnside

Talk About a Set-Up

Revered Editor,

Regarding Mr. Garvey's letter to "Postmarks" [Vol.18, No.23]: As I am the president of the Bouldin Critique Neighborhood Association, for my membership I must clarify my actions as to what transpired at the public meeting that Garvey loosely refers to.
A simple bulk mailing list permit from the Post Office was not used insuring that all effected residents/property owners in Bouldin and Dawson neighborhoods knew of the meeting -- about 5,000 flyers were left on porches. If you did not get a flyer, you did not know of the meeting. The flyer said Austin WPD "is exploring the possibility of building a greenway ... as a flood control measure. We need your input." Wording on the flyer is misleading. If the words on the flyer matched what actually took place at the meeting it would have read like this. "You don't know it, but the Austin WPD is exploiting the public for the possibility of condemning your home or property for use as a city-sponsored hike-and-bike outdoor/mini-mall. Biased neighborhood association members will show up as shills."

Talk about a set-up.

From the tone of Mr. Garvey's letter to y'all, he and other association members have apparently put a lot of time into this project. Property owners with the most to lose were not at the meeting. Well ... the meeting was sophisticatedly advertised using "high tech," aaah, ... flyers, as a meeting about "greenway and flood control," no mention about condemnation proceedings. At the meeting I did speak of alternative flood control projects to avoid condemnation proceedings and of EPA projects from around the nation featuring such concepts as "restoration and preservation" of the watershed.

Mr. Garvey's guesses as to the methods and costs of doing that are misleading to say the least.

Best regards,

Rick Hall

Lick This, Lieck

Dear Ken Lieck,

Your snide lack of sensitivity to canine rights has really got my tail in knots ["Dancing About Architecture," Vol. 18, No. 23]. Just like that human-centric SPIN magazine, you didn't have the decency to even print my name, though you did think my performance work worthy of a salacious mention in your last column. Do you think I'm just some generic poker-playing dog framed for your bathroom? Oh sure, you want to titillate your readers with descriptions of my act but you also had to demean something which as odd as it may sound is about innocence -- the innocence of desire. A german shepherd friend of mine who works in the porn industry said, "Yeah, welcome to the sex industry. People get hot and bothered using your image but they want to separate themselves from that desire and so they demean and ridicule you."

And despite your patronizing comments about the talents of my mistress Kerthy Fix, we worked hard on that show. I've got a cholesterol count of 560 now after eating all that tuna butter. Over and over and over. (She said she just couldn't seem to get it right and wanted to practice all the time, day and night ... so weird ... ) But anyway, Lieck, Kenneth. I'll tell you the same thing I told that SPIN photoboy, if I find out where your front yard is, I'm going to lay a trail of Hi-Pro Pooch Poop the size of a Great Dane. You got that, Tough Guy??! Why don't you get laid, you insensitive pig, but please, please don't get a dog!

Woof this pal,

Miss Smiley Dawg

(As transcribed by Miss Kerthy Fix and Miss Tara Vamos)

Let's Make This Uneventful


I want to thank The Austin Chronicle for reporting on the confusing and frustrating events at KOOP this past year. I think all at KOOP agree with Lee Nichols' wish for a much less eventful new year ["Media Clips," Vol. 18, No. 20]. Before that can happen, however, KOOP members must vote in the new Community Board Elections.

Friends of KOOP has developed a slate of candidates that represent a diversity of experience in the community and within KOOP itself. If this slate is elected, the Board of Trustees can be recalled and KOOP can begin the process of healing, with a stronger, healthier, and less eventful 1999.
The ballot and election procedures are different for this election, so please read the voting instructions carefully. When voting for write-in candidates (indicated with an asterisk), you must print the name and include the organization the candidate represents, if included. The slate includes the category that each person should be voted in, it is important to vote for the person in the category indicated.

If you have questions, call 792-5395 or read the Save KOOP Web site at

Community Organization:
1. Michael Bluejay, rep. Inter-Cooperative Council
2. Louis Malfaro, rep. Austin Federation of Teachers
3. Jim Ellinger, rep. Austin Music Network*
4. Marion Nickerson, rep. KAZI Radio*
5. Sue Beckwith, rep. Austin Free-Net*
6. Cedar Stevens, rep. Wheatsville Co-op*
7. Robert Singleton, rep. Austin Earth First!*
8. Lanetta Cooper, rep. Gray Panthers*
9. Linda Irizarry Crockett, rep. PuRiCA
(Puerto Rican Assoc.)*
10. Mimi Martinez McKay, rep. National Center for Farmworker Health*

Individual Financial Supporters:
1. Kerthy Fix
2. Alfredo Reza
3. Jenny (Bala) Wong*

Supporting Organizations:
1. Larry Beckham
2. Jerry Chamkis
3. Bob Coleman, 33 Degrees Records*

1. Lupe Cedillos
2. Scott Gardner
3. Ray Shea
4. Noel Waggener


Carol Teixeira

Friends of KOOP



"Dos/two thumbs up" to your Mr. Bryan Mealer for a great story, re: Mr. Joe Vela's Austin Boxing Against Drugs organization (ABAD) ["The Good Fight," Vol.18, No.22].

My amigo Joe was so happy that he went to several businesses, and almost cleaned up the racks containing the Chronicle. Yeah, the li'l guy was going all over east and south distributing them out, mainly to his friends.

As Mr. Guy Le Blanc mentions in his letter to "Postmarks" [Vol.18, No.23], boxing is a great sport -- second to none. I personally (that's when I ran into li'l Joe Vela) having been involved at the amateur level in the Forties and Fifties, along with my late friend, the legendary Oswaldo "Ab" Cantu.
In the Sixties and Seventies, I officiated boxing (mainly refereeing) all over the place -- loved to work especially here in my native Austin -- where we had a wealth of talent; minor gang or drug problems were to be found or seen. I give the wholehearted thanks to the ongoing boxing training sites in and around Austin for that success record.

The caring Joe Vela has a prime training location for any youngster (male or female) who wishes to join the amateur boxing ranks. He's also seeking continuous funds to keep him and his lifelong goal in business -- his 501c nonprofit status qualifies ABAD for tax-exempt donations from generous donors.
His wish list also consists of perhaps recruiting one local roof repairing company to do needed repairs to part of a leaking roof in the gym area. Someone just recently donated the repair materials -- thanks to Mr. Mealer's writings.

The Chronicle is a newspaper that always tells it like it really is. For that, I say ¡gracias!

Semper fidelis,

Moses P. Saldaña Sr.

Menchu Is No Fraud


Regarding the letter you published claiming "Menchu is a Fraud" ["Postmarks," Vol. 18, No. 23], Leavy is misinformed on several points regarding the Nobel Peace Prize winner from Guatemala. Menchu does not claim credit for technically writing I, Rigoberta Menchu. The book was first published in Spanish and credit for authorship was given to Elisabeth Burgos Debray, the anthropologist who transcribed Ms. Menchu's spoken words. However, it was decided that in the English version, Ms. Menchu would be listed as author since her words were transcribed verbatim. As in the case of many people who tell their autobiographies verbally to be set down by another, Ms. Menchu deserves credit as the author.

Regarding challenges to Ms. Menchu's descriptions of atrocities, one must realize that she has risked her life repeatedly by telling what the military did in her country, but others have decided the price is too high. The Guatemalan army went back into villages after committing massacres and told the people that the guerrillas had done the deeds. They employed orejas(spies called "ears") to report when anyone gave statements other than the official version. Activists against the military have been systematically murdered.

It is no wonder that people are still reluctant to speak out. Just last April, Guatemalan Bishop Gerardi was murdered two days after publishing the results of a study he directed on atrocities in Guatemala. In his report, he blamed the Guatemalan army for committing the vast majority of the murders and disappearances that have claimed the lives of at least 140,000 people in recent years. It appears that his reward for stating what he believed to be the truth was that he was bludgeoned to death with a cement block. Imagine what could happen to a villager who corroborated Ms. Menchu's story.

Jill Jarboe

Liberty's Long History

Dear Editor:

Regarding the story on Liberty Lunch ["You Do Not Tear Down Landmarks," Vol.18, No.23], your reporter left out a couple of important facts.

It's true that J'Net Ward and Mark Pratz have been responsible for keeping Liberty Lunch alive in Austin's music scene for the past several years, but other people got Liberty Lunch going before Ward and Pratz were involved.

Charlie Tesar, together with his late wife, Sheila, purchased Liberty Lunch in the late Seventies from Shannon Sedwick and Michael Shelton. Charlie began much of the remodeling that took place in 1979 and into the Eighties and hired the artist who painted the fantastic bird mural on the inside wall.
It was Charlie Tesar who brought Liberty Lunch through the Eighties and into the Nineties, transforming the place from "just another local live music venue into an Austin institution." So let's just give some credit to the Tesars as well as Ward and Pratz.

Also, Liberty Lunch's history goes back to the Thirties and Forties when it operated as a restaurant/cafe.


Ron and Mary Lou Gibson

Crockett Bashing Is a Crock

Dear Editor:

Recently with AISD boundary changes lurking, there has been lots of talk from people afraid of being forced to have their children change schools. In the process, I feel that Crockett High School has been getting "bashed" undeservedly by parents from other schools. This is not new. The media has, for at least two years, fueled the fire reporting about Crockett in only negative ways. Do any of these reports come from direct experience? I doubt it. But if one looks for negative things to say, one will surely find them -- about any school, or anything for that matter.

I currently have two children attending Crockett High School. They are both having a great high school experience. They are involved -- in band, soccer, and choir. They have always had great teachers. They have good friends. They are not on drugs or in gangs. There are hundreds of other kids just like them. They like their school. Of course there are kids in any high school who don't like school in general. They experiment with drugs, sex, and push their limits with people. They are teenagers, after all.

In AISD boundary debates, some people who will possibly be changed into Crockett's boundaries are protesting that Crockett doesn't match up to their standards. Do they mean academic standards? On what do they base their assumptions? Texas State School Report Cards can only show grade averages. In recent years in UIL competitions, Crockett has consistently done better than its neighboring schools in math, science, debate and prompt writing events. The arts department is outstanding with its productions of drama and musicals as well as its choir programs. The band is recognized with awards year after year. The Crockett Cougars football team (not that it should determine where to send your child for educational purposes) had an excellent performance record in the '97-'98 season which went almost completely unrecognized by the local media. There are several courses offered at Crockett that are unavailable elsewhere, including a World Cultures class which combines social studies and english into a format that the kids enjoy. Also available is a hands-on computer rebuilding class thanks to assistance from Motorola, and a creative writing course and an American culture class.

A school is made of individuals. Students, teachers, parents, and staff all play a role. A student will only get out what he or she puts in to their education. Parents play a strong role. The booster clubs at all the different departments at Crockett are very supportive of the students. They are operated by good people who are setting good examples for the students by participating in their own children's education. If you have a child doing well in school and you are afraid of moving him/her to a school with "lower" standards, let me say that the people are the standards, so in being there you are "raising" the standards to your level -- if you are involved.

When I go to a Crockett High School function, I am pleased and proud to see the diversity of its student body and staff and faculty. There are blacks, Hispanics, Asian-Americans and whites, all working together for the common good. That is what American culture is all about. Hopefully it is not our great diversity that some others are worried about.

Jeff Farris

Stop Springs Plan

Dear Chronicle Readers,

Last October the city and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service entered into a pool maintenance agreement they call the Habitat Conservation Plan, whose purpose they claim is to protect the Barton Springs salamander from the public. Unfortunately, the Plan pits salamanders against swimmers and the City Council against an unelected federal bureaucracy to the detriment of the salamander, the pool, and the people who love it.

The Plan has three principal components. The first prevents the city from drawing down the deep end of the main pool, which is necessary to clean the beach and the salamander habitat. Instead, the Plan proposes building a dam across the pool that will allow the staff to drain the shallow end for cleaning, but abandons the deep end to the ravages of silt and algae. Those of you who have visited the pool can see what the consequences of this policy are.

The second component paves part of the beach and digs out the rest of it. In doing so, it decimates an important piece of salamander habitat. Additionally, the engineers estimate this will cost well over half a million dollars and will close the pool during most of the summer.

The third closes Eliza Springs and Sunken Gardens to the public. They justify this by claiming that recreational users could possibly step on salamanders. In short, they assume that salamanders are incompatible with recreational use.
These issues are discussed in detail at

. I urge all those interested in the fate of Barton Springs Pool to visit the site, arm yourselves with the facts, and contact your City Council. Funding for the plan is scheduled to go before the council on February 25 or March 4, so there is not much time to make your views known.

Frank Belanger

Say a Little Prayer


Recently a friend and I were discussing the latest developments concerning President Clinton and the possibility of impeachment. In our conversation my friend mentioned, "Clinton is a symptom of society." I was intrigued by her insight. We are surrounded by the "symptoms" of society. Daily we are bombarded by the images of an insane world.

Children dying of hunger, the senseless slaughter of countless lives lost in endless wars fought. Newborns carelessly abandoned by their parents. Children shooting children. Terrorists disposing of innocent lives all in the name of justice. Battered women, sexually abused children. The homeless discarded like an unwanted dog. The list is endless.

Despite our best intentions, the world continues to disintegrate before our very eyes. Regardless, we persist in our efforts to make sense of this madness. Without seeing the plank in our own eye, we feel authorized to condemn others. We're like children ruthlessly hurling the stones of judgment in every direction, paying no heed to the harm they may inflict. Acting as if our house is the only one not constructed of glass.

For a moment let us transcend beyond the symptoms to contemplate the cause of the current state of affairs. Internally we feel an immense emptiness. We hunger for substance and thirst for nourishment. Externally we seek gratification, but we find ourselves always craving more. Whether our compulsion is drugs, alcohol, food, sex, power, or money, it is never enough. We are like orphans crying out for our parents love. Feeling so alone and scared.

We need help. In our helplessness we will find our greatest strength. This being our total dependence on God. It is only through nurturing an ever deepening relationship with our higher power will humanity attain salvation.

For this I pray; that one day we will realize that we are all children of the same God. In this Source may we find true peace and happiness. May we love freely and judge sparingly. By God's grace may this one day come to pass. Amen.

Jim Coddington

Epiphany at 3AM

Dear Editor,

I am a high-school teacher who was up late one night when I actually had time to think about things amidst all my work. I started thinking about kids today, how society views them, and the problems in modern society. I came up with this: One single, solitary phrase has had the power to set a possibly catastrophic trend. The phrase "it's OK, they're just being teenagers."
If you stop and think about that phrase, it gives kids a natural excuse. Suddenly we have accepted their misbehavior, and the spiral has begun. Misbehavior leads to underachievement.

Underachievement leads to apathy. Society accepts this trend because "they're just being teenagers." Then these kids grow up. Whether or not they squeak through high school, more and more of them fall into an ever-growing percentage of the population termed "unproductive" (for lack of a better term). Then they get on welfare or whatever government assistance they can. What does the government say: "That's OK, we'll take care of you." Now the people who were once "just teenagers" are in a vicious cycle of lifelong underachievement.

I have heard many members of society complain about people not taking responsibility for their own actions. Whether it be a frivolous lawsuit, or an accused criminal claiming mental illness or a "crime of passion," or a student in my class claiming "I didn't say that profanity, It must have been someone around me!," people don't take self-responsibility. So when do we as a society stop complaining about it and start fixing it before the "unproductive" percentage of the population becomes the majority?

Maybe we start (this only a start, mind you) by omitting a simple phrase with so much power: "It's OK, they're just being teenagers."

Joseph Champine

Thanks from DNA


The Dawson Neighborhood Association would like to thank the neighbors and volunteers who participated is last week's clean-up of East Bouldin Creek. Clean creeks help keep Town Lake clean. A special thanks to our neighborhood HEB on South Congress for their continuing support and their furnishing refreshments.

Thanks again,

David Haun,

DNA member

What, Me Cynical?


Our President deceived us, mislead us, and even lied to us. Everyone acknowledges this fact, yet no one seems prepared to move forward. It's as though we are stuck in some perpetual nightmare. Our "compassionate" Governor promised us tax cuts, a solution to our educational woes and a better future for all Texans. He has either retracted most of his promises or conveniently forgotten them, as did his father so long ago. I suppose it's all relative in the scheme of things, though. It's a wonder, however, that we haven't learned by now that politics is merely a game played by a handful of exceedingly overzealous, corrupt, and arrogant individuals. Politics has become a tool used by our leaders to divide this nation. Our political system is so intrusive, vague, and insufferable that no one is truly able to distinguish one party's pious rhetoric from the other, yet we still continue to take sides on most every issue as though our lives depended on it. It's no different than trying to understand religious fanaticism. It doesn't really matter as along as we respect each other. Politicians say things they know they don't mean just to appeal to our most basic instincts. This nation has become so fragmented at times that we have forgotten our sense of purpose and direction. Ultimately it is our responsibility to remind our leaders that it is our interest at stake, not theirs. In the interim, we have neglected the poor, lonely, misguided, illiterate and disenfranchised. The disparity between the haves and have nots has become so omnipresent, conspicuous, and discouraging that we have become jaded and even somewhat cynical. This neurotic propensity of pointing fingers, blaming, and loathing one another for our differences is contentious and indicative of a dismal state. Stop for one moment and think about your priorities. Instead of embracing and idolizing politicians, let's remember that they are no better than we are.

Angus Tilney

You Are My Rushmore

Jason Schwartzman,

On February 5th, opening day, I enjoyed the movie Rushmore so much that I sped over to the yellow Rushmore bus. While there, Wes Anderson, surprised that I had already seen the film, signed my ticket stub. You stood for awhile right in front of me, but it wasn't until I watched the 10:00 news that I recognized you as the star of the film. The very next day I headed over to Waterloo Records to pick up the soundtrack of the film, and was amazed to see you at the register next to me wearing a Hawaiianesque shirt and purchasing, among other things, a Velvet Underground box set. I told you I enjoyed the film and walked out quickly, not wanting to bother you. However, in retrospect, I cannot stop contemplating and calculating the chances of buying a soundtrack while the star of the movie is standing right next to you. Anyhow, if you read or hear about this letter, could you please somehow contact me and sign my receipt, (which includes title of CD, date and time). Otherwise, I fear my credibility will be forever buried beneath the immensity of these odds.


Douglas York

Life Is Enough

Dear Editor:

I understand that George Cordova is scheduled to be executed on February 10. I am very concerned.

The crimes for which George is scheduled to die occurred in 1979. He has been incarcerated for nearly 20 years. He has served those years in the most depressing situation Texas has to offer, certainly one of the most depressing prisons in the country. Imagine living all those years with a death sentence over your head, never knowing for sure when an execution date might be set. Then when it is set, there is a stay, often just days or even hours before the execution is to take place. And this happens again and again. What must be the mental fortitude of someone who can stand such a thing? Friends leave the row, you sadly say goodbye, and wish it could also be you. Friends leave to take that last short walk of their lives, to be killed by the state. George has done a life sentence, and that's the kind of life sentence he has done. To kill him now would be to give him two capital sentences. Is this fair, when the one who actually stabbed the victim to death got a life sentence? And the other two men involved, according to Cynthia West, a victim at the scene, were never arrested.

George was brought up with 12 brothers and experienced extreme neglect and lack of discipline throughout his childhood. Was George singled out for the death penalty because of his negative attitude toward life, rather than for what he did? Certainly the constitution does not want legal action taken on the basis of the attitude of the accused, but only on the facts of the matter.

Governor Bush should give George a 30-day stay of execution. Then other authorities should commute George's sentence to life.


Rev. Jonathan C. Tetherly

Whither Humpus Bumpus?


I just found out by reading The Austin American-Statesman where they come from! I grew up on a heavily trafficked street in a dense urban environment in a Midwest city which, thankfully, had no speed bumps. Since moving to Austin many years ago, I've been under the misconception that speed bumps were a result of an alien virus. I live on Newning Avenue (victim of a soon--to--be--installed series of bumps) and the traffic on this street feels like Taylor, Texas compared to the street I played in when I was a kid. The last place we need to spend money on speed humps is Newning Avenue!

I guess this manual, Guide to Endemic Austin Viruses, is someone's idea of a joke -- one that I fell for hook, line, and bump. But it did make for interesting reading. It lists the virus in various forms: "Speedus bumpus, ugliess chicanus, stickus in airus traffic circulus and pillowus humpus bumpus." Besides the driving pain in the butt we all feel when we encounter these alien growths it lists possible side effects: "higher than normal brake pad replacement, lining the pockets of alignment shops, excess noise from brake squeal and unnecessary acceleration, distraction from normal driving habits, excess fuel use and additional hydrocarbon spew (gosh, even the Sierra Club is against them -- really!), global warming" and so on.

What are we thinking? Three thousand dollars each for pillowus humpus bumpus? What we need on Newning Avenue (and all central city neighborhoods) is a reprioritization of how we spend our tax dollars. Three thousand bucks will buy a lot of sidewalks. That's what we need, folks: sidewalks, not speedus bumpus! Then we could have people on the sidewalks and cars in the street. Duh, this ain't rocket science.

Richard Maier

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