VanScoy's Agenda Part 2
Despite my many years of loyalty to The Austin Chronicle, I'm finding it hard to have faith in your editorial anymore since you've taken on Kayte VanScoy. I know some of the background in her continued hounding of Ginger Eways, first at the Austin Rape Crisis Center (ARCC) ["Crisis at the Rape Crisis Center," Vol.16, No.16], and now at CEACO ["CEACO Sinking," Vol.18, No.27]. What I know leads me to believe that VanScoy is clueless about what objective reporting even means, writes with a preset agenda, and has the depth and insight of a piece of paper. And you, the editor, let her get away with four pages of her biased crap on CEACO and never second-guessed her for a second? Why didn't bells go off when you read that VanScoy could find no executive-level people willing to criticize Eways, but all her comments -- mostly uncredited, like a "community feeling of resentment" -- were from disgruntled employees or contacts those disgruntled employees set up for her? And when you read that Eways has already increased the revenues of CEACO by 300% in her fairly short tenure, how did you still approve an article title like "CEACO Sinking"?
My mom, Charlotte Wheeler, was the bookkeeper for ARCC. She's stayed friends with Ginger Eways since then, and was recently brought in to CEACO to help get their accounting practices in better order. Through her I've heard these stories from the other side. For instance, did VanScoy tell you that her contacts on both of these "ground-breaking" stories were drama-seeking, audience-loving, authority-averse personal friends of hers? Both had their own programs to which they were committed, and saw differently than Eways about where those programs fell in the big picture of managing a not-for-profit. Paul Garlinghouse at ARCC, an extreme animal-rights activist, was incensed that the ARCC accepted a dove hunt from a supporter during a fundraising auction. This during a time of a critical budget shortfall (that began before Eways was hired). Before Boyd Vance's unhappiness at CEACO, Mom attended fundraisers and saw how he was coddled, indulged, and given every chance at the limelight. And according to my mom, in the last three months of his tenure there, Ginger was often exhausted and ill, mostly from trying to manage Boyd's shenanigans. Turns out he had not gotten staffing for one of his projects, was acting out, and Ginger had too much loyalty to him to cut him loose.
The fact that does show up in VanScoy's article is that Boyd called a local judge to make accusations against Ginger Eways, which were audited and found without merit. Then in your article you print the unverified TDH preaudit, which is not even supposed to be released until CEACO has the chance to answer it line-by-line. The staff at CEACO is only following regulations by refusing to discuss the details of the TDH audit until the full paperwork is filed, but VanScoy made their following of the rules sound like evasion.
What both these stories seem to be about to me is that employees often hate their bosses (go figure!), but more particularly, the staff and the directors of a not-for-profit can easily run afoul of each other. Sometimes short-term goals have to be dropped to create long-term success. It's sad, but labor and management have a history of problems like this.
Why can't VanScoy get a clue? Very probably because writing for a high-profile publication like the Chronicle gives her some measure of power that she's willing to exploit in vindictive "investigations" for her friends. She writes from her ego too often, which is why I avoid all stories with the Kayte VanScoy byline. Rein her in, Louis, or give her another beat. She's hurting the newspaper.
[Ed. note: Staff writer Kayte VanScoy did not generate the idea for the story on CEACO, published in last week's issue. The Chronicle assigned VanScoy to the CEACO story after the Chronicle was contacted. VanScoy relied on a variety of sources -- not "personal friends" -- for the story. Additionally, VanScoy obtained a copy of the Texas Department of Health audit findings directly from TDH. The Chronicle is awaiting CEACO's response to the TDH findings and intends to report on the response once it is available.]
I'm glad to see some positive media attention on the Mueller Airport redevelopment. Surprisingly, I do not have much to object to in Mike Clark-Madison's two part series ["Corner to Corner," Vol.18, Nos.25 & 26]; it is an accurate portrayal of the process to date, although perhaps still underplaying the "Aghast-o-Meter" potential to this "extremely civil and quiet" process. Not that the final master plan is a mess to be cleaned up, but that the general Austin population is still underestimating or unaware of the impact of the Mueller Airport redevelopment.
Point of correction: the map in the 2/26/99 issue incorrectly portrayed some neighborhood boundaries; the Blackland Neighborhood Association and Chestnut Neighborhood Association are both active within the area of what is labeled the MLK/Airport Neighborhood, and the southern Delwood is actually the Wilshire Wood Neighborhood.
On the issue of financing the redevelopment, let me make an open appeal to Council. Please reserve the funds received from the State for 282 acres of the Mueller site for redevelopment purposes. Please do not put us and the city in a bind by "commingling" this sole source of capital funds with other, however worthy, city projects.
Also, now available, for a fee, is the three-volume State "Master Plan Status Report," including TIA. And we're organizing a City Council Candidates Public Forum on Mueller redevelopment on Monday, March 22, 6-8pm at Ridgetop Elementary.
Everyone has high hopes for this site and project. The next couple months and year will set the tone for the next 20 years it takes to complete the redevelopment. The neighborhoods have been involved for a long time and we'll stay involved, hopefully continuing the positive relationship we've established with city staff. We're willing to sit down with anyone or group to share what we know, what we don't, and what we're hoping for; to borrow the Austin Neighborhoods Council motto, "Strength Through Unity."
Cherrywood Neighborhood Association
P.S. For more information on Mueller Redevelopment call the Mueller Hotline, 499-RMMA (7662) or visit
Dear Lee Nichols,
Give a girl a chance, fer Pete's sake! Just three days after being elected to the Board of Trustees of KOOP, I find myself instantly vilified in your column ["Media Clips," Vol.18, No.27] by virtue of having been elected. Do we know each other? Have we met before? Were you at the Community Board meeting that Sunday afternoon? Let me repeat for you what I said then:
I placed my name in the hat very reluctantly, and at the behest of friends on both sides of the argument. I have no axes to grind, have not been involved in any of the infighting that has been going on, can't even explain to an outsider what the battle is about (this despite your numerous lengthy, biased writings). Those of us who are new on the Board hope to bring some neutrality and civility to the issues at hand, ending up hopefully with some peace and resolution so that we can all fulfill the ideals which gave birth to the station, and proceed with changing the world. Ask around; you'll find combatants in opposing camps who are thrilled that I was selected -- more thrilled than I am, let me tell you!
Surely you don't claim to hold a neutral position. What I have noticed during my brief, week-long tenure is that folks from both sides use a lot of hidden, attacking language. Grudges have been held for so long now that I have no idea whether anyone will be able to get past it. We have to find a way to be able to disagree honestly without becoming mortal enemies. Are you willing to let the station shut down for the sake of proving how right you are? You might get some satisfaction from that, but as a loyal listener I would be devastated. That's the old "I'll take my bat and ball and go home" theory of conflict resolution.
I have successfully raised two teenagers. It seems this experience will be of some use in attempting to restore the progressive voice of Austin. I'm not a miracle worker, but at least I'm willing to try.
President, Austin NOW
Fanning KOOP's Flames
Dear Mr. Black:
I don't object very often to the Chronicle's biased reporting because I usually share that bias. However, Lee Nichols' article "The End Is Near" about KOOP radio ["Media Clips," Vol.18, No.27] strikes me as more in the nature of a smear campaign. I am especially offended by the picture of Eduardo Vera with the caption "much-vilified member of the 'Cadre.'" I know Eduardo, and while he seems like a strong man with very strong opinions, he also seems like a man with a big heart.
I am not involved with KOOP radio. My observation from the outside is that it is a microcosm of the macrocosm that is our messy world: a fight over race, class, and philosophy. I suspect both sides are going to have to open their understanding. All Lee Nichols is doing is fanning the flames that threaten to engulf us.
Who's the Cadre?
To Lee "The End Is Near" Nichols ["Media Clips," Vol.18, No.27]: Look Lee, one side won, the other lost. This is not that unusual a situation among human beings. The fact that you were on the losing side does not elevate this dreary little turf battle to the level of high tragedy or mean that the KOOP Board's supporters are fiends from hell. It does not justify this level of partisan vituperation by the Chronicle against the voting members of a fellow (possibly rival?) media organization. It most definitely does not justify an excursion into red-baiting by a hitherto progressive publication like The Austin Chronicle. Cadre indeed!
Contrary to your implications, until Michael Zakes and Jerry Chamkis went puling to the courts, "the financial viability" of KOOP was better than at any time during its previous fitful management. In spite of the tone of her letter of resignation, under the "management of this bunch of demagogues and flat out liars," Ellen Stader has never missed a paycheck.
Actually, your slate didn't do so badly, Lee. Six of the 20 nominees backed by your friends won seats on the new Community Board. This includes the above-mentioned Jerry Chamkis, who is still suing the station.
Save the Empanada Parlour
Ash Corea and her Empanada Parlour generously contributed to the support of the ACLU's defense of civil liberties in Texas through many lean years. If the City of Austin permits this small minority woman-owned business to strangle to death in downtown development ["The Price of Progress," Vol.18, No.26], Central Texas will lose much more than a great place to eat with friends and family. We will all lose a precious institutional link in the chain of defenders of free speech and civil liberties.
Missing Moser Already
Many thanks for all your TV columns, it has made interesting reading. I saw Joe Ely years ago in Bristol and it changed my life. As soon as I got the Internet I read the Chronicle. Good to see Jesse Taylor is still making records, and I saw Angela Strehli on German TV couple of years back with Marcia Ball and Derek O'Brien. Hell of a band/singer. I wonder what happened to her; last I read she was in California. So all the best, Margaret, from a devoted Chronicle fan in England.
Music Workers Can Help
I read Kayte VanScoy's "Girls Don't Play Lead" [Vol.18, No.27] story with interest, and while I sympathize with her travails, as a guitarist who's spent the last three years working in a guitar shop, I had to get my two cents in. I strongly object to her characterization of us as hacks who "hide their lack of native talent behind a flawless knowledge of instruments." Many fine players work in music stores, and most of their "flawless knowledge" was earned over many years of making music. And that know-how is made available for your benefit.
I'm also bothered by her view of guitar shops as an "exclusionary world" that destroys "any hint of collaboration or experimentation." I agree that many stores have a long way to go in regard to making female customers comfortable (partly because male customers outnumber them 20 to one), but as for guitar shops stifling musical creativity, please cut us some slack! When it comes right down to it, a good music store should be like a good hardware store.
Unfortunately, for most folks, buying a musical instrument is more of an emotional investment than any other purchase. Whether male or female, many customers bring so many hang-ups and insecurities in with them (witness VanScoy's story!) that they're often intimidated before they even get to us. Remember that even the finest instrument is just a tool. So relax, have some faith in yourself, and you'll find one you like. I'm glad Kayte found her '75 Telecaster.
We "waterboys of the music world" just have a job to do. We're here to help, educate, and make the Great Guitar Hunt as fun and painless as possible.
Keep on pickin' an grinnin',
Smart Growth Studies
Ideas and concerns regarding Austin's growth, including the recent Smart Growth conference, have generated a lot of letters and articles about these issues lately. Some of this material has been excellent, some not so good, and some profoundly misguided or poorly informed. I would like to offer everyone two reading recommendations that I consider to be important for any meaningful discussion of this topic. They can both be found at the same Internet site: Reflections on Sustainability, Population Growth, and the Environment-Revisited by Albert A. Bartlett (http://dieoff.org/page146.htm) and The Collected Papers of Jay Forrester (http://188.8.131.52/page23.htm). I believe that until these concepts are fully understood, any well-meaning attempt to design, maintain, or envision a sustainable quality of life for this city will be essentially futile over the long run. Thanks!
Sorry About That
I'm terribly sorry that Paul Babich has been inconvenienced because of me ["Postmarks," Vol.18, No.27]. If anyone wants to call me, my telephone number is listed in the business pages under Easy Street Recumbents, not in the residential pages under Babich.
When you get a business listing, the phone company automatically drops your name from the residential pages.
I hope that this helps.
Biking Is Fun!
After reading her letter in the March 5 issue of the Chronicle ["Postmarks," Vol.18, No.27], I don't know whether to be saddened or annoyed by Amy Babich's grim, narrow attitude towards cycling, especially considering her now-publicized status as a bike shop proprietor. She takes a snide attitude towards recreational cycling, and only sees utility cycling as valuable to the extent that it removes cars from the road.
The secret that most drivers, and evidently Amy Babich, all need to be clued in on is that cycling is fun, and fun is good. I don't commute by bike out of some sense of environmentally correct self-sacrifice. I do so because I like to. The fact that compared to driving it is cheaper, more healthful, usually more convenient, and yes, environmentally correct, are all contributing factors, but the fun aspect is important. I'll be the first to admit that bikes aren't fun or practical in every situation, and I'm not above borrowing or renting a car for those occasions when I really need one. The virtues of cycling, both recreational and utilitarian, are numerous. Amy Babich should get hip to that.
Sorry About That, Pt. II
We had a disaster Wednesday night and I would like to apologize to our audience and the Alamo Drafthouse. The Golden Arm Film Project was presented in an extremely poor fashion and I can only thank everyone for being patient with us. I hope this unprofessionalism is not seen as a reflection on the Alamo. When I asked Tim to have our show there, he trusted me to deliver and it is my fault that I did not, not his or the theatre's. This is not to say that the films were bad, I am proud of what we had to show, the problem was how we showed it. When the sold out audience paid for their tickets, they expected and deserved better. This project was based in a field I am not knowledgeable in: film. My lack of experience left me not knowing what had to be done when, and the result was an almost but not quite finished product (though all the films were eventually shown that night). The only thing that we can do is to learn from these mistakes, fix the problems, and try again. So, at 5pm on March 21, we will represent the Golden Arm Film Project. Those who persevered the first screening were given passes to come back, and there are tickets on sale for those who didn't come but would like to see it. Again, I am proud of the films and hope to have an audience see them properly presented. I am sorry for what happened and hope you give us a chance to make up for it on the 21st.
Golden Arm Trio
Hang Up and Drive
I'm usually not one for more legislation, but I think the time has come for something to be done about all these folks Driving While On the Phone (DWOP). They are just as dangerous as those Driving Under the Influence (DUI). The same penalties and fines should be assessed to the DWOPs as the DUIs if they cause a wreck. I have had three near head-on collisions in the parking garage where I work because these yahoos don't know their ups from their downs as they are too busy gabbing on the phone. In addition I've almost had two other wrecks with people who didn't make complete stops because they were gabbing on the phone. And this has all been just this year. I have never had this many encounters with drunks on the road. At least you can pretty much predict on when the drunks are going to be on the road, whereas the phone abusers are around the clock. These phones are great for emergencies, but clearly the majority are not using them for emergencies. Please, just hang up and drive.
When I was a student, I would frequently grouse to friends that Austin stunk -- but I didn't mean it literally, only angstfully. Now that I've moved away, found a job, and moved back, the grass generally appears greener. But there's one particular part of Austin that really and truly stinks, and no amount of positive imagery will hide the stench: it's the corner of 24th and Guadalupe, outside Tower Records, and it's never worse than on an humid, overcast day like today.
Is there a sewer leak? Or is this where Austin's baaaad feng shui collects? This odor has been there since at least 1993, so if there's a leak, I'd sure hate to see where the juice is collecting.
When You Pry My Cold, Dead Hands ...
I returned last Thursday to Village Cinema to see Hilary and Jackie again. Being frugal, I hid a bottle of A&W under my shirt before paying my $4 matinee fee. At five minutes before showtime, I was the second person in the theatre. As I was escorted by the police from the theatre at 15 minutes after showtime, I counted six people.
Yes, the management held up the show, gave everyone else two free passes for the delay, and called in the troops because I refused to relinquish my root beer. Ignore me, and they have $28 for the screening. Make a scene and lose $24 and my business. And gain only bad press. PR worthy of Dilbert.
At a time when theatres are threatened by VCRs, when you can get a 32oz. Coke at 7-11 for 59¢, when "arthouse" cinema complains of a lack of male viewers, I find such strict adherence to policy to be pathetically amusing. Theatres no doubt would counter that if I am allowed to break the rule, then everyone will break the rule. To which I can only reply, fine. I am not going to pay $3 for a Coke regardless. You can have my $4 ticket price or nothing. And I am not alone. Or how about this novel idea: charge a competitive price for a drink or candy and more people will buy it. And while you're at it, can the opening jingles and FX, and don't even think about advertisements. You don't sell a product by annoying your customer.
A former regular customer,
As noted in a recent column by Molly Ivins, the Texas Chemical Council is pushing a bill at the Texas Legislature this spring that claims to promote "enhanced public participation" in the state's pollution control permitting process. In reality, however, this bill attempts to eliminate one of the basic rights that people have in Texas to try to protect their communities from pollution: the opportunity for a contested case proceeding on a proposed pollution control permit before an independent hearing examiner.
The bill is HB 801 by Rep. Tom Uher. It is a major assault on citizen rights. Moreover, it is a cynical piece of legislation that retains the rights of industrial polluters to have a contested case on a proposed enforcement action against them while denying citizens the right to a contested case on a proposed source of pollution. That is patently unfair, and it demonstrates the arrogance of the chemical industry polluters. I urge all of the people in our community who want to protect their health and their quality of life to communicate their opposition to HB 801 (and its Senate counterpart, SB 402) to the state legislators from our area. It's high time that the public's rights are protected over the wishes of polluting industries.
The Right-Wing Shuffle
I am totally exhausted by the daily pounding of our president by the right-wing fanatics and the conservative media. Their attempt to oust our president has failed. Now they need to direct their abundant energy into more productive endeavors for the community and nation. As a loyal taxpaying American I find the scandal of our president insulting, embarrassing, and traitorous. These right-wing zealots have attempted, with some success, to create an image of a monster and evildoer of the most successful president in this generation, including ex-president Reagan. This image they created has only confused the public and polarized the nation. When an individual attempts to analyze this horrendous image created by the media and the right-wing conspirators, we discover that these are the same people that have spearheaded the scandal financially from day one. After six years of accusations, innuendos, and allegations, and the kangaroo trail of the impeachment, the finale is an unproven rape charge of 21 years, from a woman that cannot be believed because of her connections to the same right-wing conspirators that spearheaded and financed the exhausting Monica Lewinsky soap opera. As a choreographer and as a self-proclaimed expert of human nature, I have come to the conclusion that this scandal is extremely well-choreographed and staged by individuals that have studied, planned, and blocked this choreography to the last detail.