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Who has the ego problem?


The LCRA Story

To the Editor:

While we could argue with some details, the story by Rob D'Amico (Oct. 15) on the controversy involving LCRA's water line to Hays County was comprehensive and fair.

D'Amico correctly points out the challenge that the LCRA faces in carrying out its responsibility to provide water, while meeting its mission of protecting the environment. We believe LCRA's history shows that it has done a good job of meeting the public's needs for basic utility services while caring for the environment.

For example, the LCRA:

  • Led an effort to get the state to set the highest water-quality standard possible for the Colorado River below Austin to help protect the river as Austin continues to grow.

  • Has acquired sewage treatment plants that were pollution problems and is turning them around.

  • Was the first electric utility in the state to participate in a commercial wind-power project in Texas, and continues to be by far the state's largest producer of clean renewable energy.

  • Was the first electric utility in Texas to take part in a voluntary state program to reduce wastes dramatically from its power plants.

  • Received a $90,000 grant from the U.S. EPA to study ways to reduce chemical emissions from its coal-fired power plant to provide a model for others nationally.

    Also, LCRA's affiliate GenTex Power Corp. and a private company, Calpine, have begun building in nearby Bastrop County a state-of-the-art, gas-fired power plant that will provide needed power to the area while keeping nitrogen-oxide emissions well below state standards. At the same time, the LCRA has agreed to reduce nitrogen-oxide emissions at its existing plant at the Bastrop site to more than offset emissions from the new plant. The state's major environmental groups, including the Environmental Defense Fund and the Sierra Club, have praised the effort as a model for other utilities to follow.

    We're still waiting for the Chronicle to write that story.

    Sincerely,

    Bill McCann

    LCRA Manager of Corporate Communications


    Back to Basics

    Editor:

    Ask yourself this simple but important question, "Is Austin as nice a city to live in today as it was 10 years ago?" There will be many different responses to this question; however, I believe that a majority of Austinites will say that they are frustrated by the incrementally increasing: traffic congestion; urban sprawl; crime; taxes and prices; pressure on our school system; and environmental degradation. Clearly, economic opportunity and prosperity is important; yet, the very essence of what makes Austin a special place to live and raise a family is being strangled by this malignant growth. Today, I read that the mayor and some council members are traveling to Japan, Korea, and Communist China to "promote Austin as a growing technology center," which if their mission is successful will continue to fuel the hyper growth that we are experiencing. This unbridled growth does not pay for itself and will destroy what makes Austin Austin. Mayor and council members, the people of Austin want you to stay home and focus on the basics: cutting our taxes; making our streets safe and the bureaucracy more efficient; protecting our utility; keeping our environment clean; etc. These are not very sexy issues in comparison to globetrotting around but you need to get the message: Enough is enough!

    Sincerely,

    George Humphrey


    Lickona's Lament

    Editor:

    In the Oct. 15 edition of The Austin Chronicle's "Dancing About Architecture," the public has gotten an earful of Mr. Lickona's take on Linda Ronstadt's cancellation of her performance on Austin City Limits. Mr. Lickona's mild excoriation of Ms. Ronstadt manifested a side of his personality that was akin to that of a spoiled child that didn't get his way. Given Austin City Limits' legendary stature in the context of Austin's musical landscape, I think Lickona could have backed off a bit on his disappointment of Ronstadt's cancellation without being so berating to the artist. Without the musicians, there would be no Austin City Limits, right Terry? Your remarks in the final analysis exemplified bad public relations for Austin City Limits. Don't beat up on the artist, regardless of your own egotistical needs to make a statement.

    Sincerely,

    Francis X. McCauley

    Taylor


    Cruel Intentions

    Dear Editor:

    I was sadly disappointed by Terry Lickona's remarks about Linda Ronstadt, and equally disappointed that Ken Lieck felt it necessary to repeat them ["Dancing About Architecture," Oct. 15]. I understand that Lickona was disgruntled about Ronstadt's cancellation, but his remarks (if reported accurately) were out of line. Probably Ronstadt was afraid that viewers and critics would focus more on her weight than on the music; Lickona simply proved her right.

    As for Ronstadt's ego, Lickona appears to be her equal in that category. If he is like most people, he wouldn't dream of making such degrading remarks about a person's large nose, missing limb, or bald head. Why is it that we are mature enough to criticize an artist on artistic merits and celebrate differences in looks -- except when it comes to weight? Both Ann Wilson of Heart and Carnie Wilson have suffered similar unkind comparisons -- entirely undeserved, whatever you may think of their music.

    I wonder, too, if Lickona would have found it necessary to take a jab at a male performer's girth if he had cancelled at the last moment, for whatever reason.

    I, too, was disappointed that Ronstadt chose not to appear on ACL, because I missed the concert and I like what I've heard of the record. Lickona's remarks, however, were unnecessarily cruel, and Lieck was irresponsible to have repeated them. As I said, the two of them simply proved that Ronstadt was right to cancel the show.

    Cynthia Miller


    Adios, Austin

    Dear Editor,

    I was born in the old St. David's Hospital in December of 1966. I have lived in South Austin all of my life, as did my father, his father and his father's father. Kinney Avenue was named after my family, and my father grew up on top of the Kinney Avenue Hill. Austin is my hometown, I am moving and I want to say goodbye.

    I remember when there were pony rides for a quarter on Saturdays at the corner of Barton Springs and Lamar, when the only Schlotzsky's was on South Congress, and when Whole Foods was at 10th and Lamar and did not have a Web site.

    I bought my first fancy dress at Scarbrough's downtown and then went to the Picadilly Cafeteria for lunch and I never had to get off Congress Avenue to do it all. I remember when Barton Springs didn't have a fence all the way around it and MoPac didn't cut West Austin in half. I took my first dive off a diving board at Deep Eddy.

    In college, I drank coffee and ate black beans at Les Amis and would sometimes catch a Saturday Matinee at the Varsity Theatre around the corner.

    I got my first job at Sandy's Hamburgers when I was 16 and my funnest job at La Zona Rosa when I was 25, where I got to serve lunch to Molly Ivins on the very afternoon she got her first box of copies of Molly Ivins Can't Say That, Can She?

    I remember this town -- and I have seen it change, a lot. Some of the changes are good and some I could certainly do without but this will always be my hometown and I would like to say goodbye.

    I would like to thank some people for all that they have done to help maintain the integrity of the city and who will continue to do so in my absence: Girard Kinney, my uncle; Mayor Kirk Watson; Brigid Shea; Ann Richards; Texas Folklife Resources; The Continental Club; Ted's Greek Restaurant; Twin Oaks Hardware; Heart of Texas Motel; Slack's Menswear; Threadgill's; The Hoffbrau; and lastly, the determined shopping cart lady of South Congress -- Goodbye.

    Lenicia Kinney Gordon


    Grow Up, Austin!

    Dear Editor,

    I am continually amused by the folks who seem to think that they will be the last person to move to Austin, Texas, and that the city will remain exactly the same as the day they moved in. I moved here in 1968, and since then, the city's growth rate rivals that of Bangladesh, because I was not the only person to notice that this was an attractive place to live. Hello!! You moved here for the same reason, so quit your bitching!

    Yes traffic is bad. In 1968, MoPac did not exist, so every afternoon the five o'clock rush on Lamar made MoPac look like a picnic. I-35 was bad then and still sucks.

    Texas law does not allow cities or counties to control growth like California or the Northwest States (for good reasons), so the "last person to move to the city" theory doesn't work in here.

    Smart Growth equals gentrification. If it didn't, it wouldn't work! The idea is that we make an area more attractive, property values rise, more people move in and pay more money for the property. Difficult concept, but if you try real hard, you'll get it. Property owners really like it and renters really hate it.

    The main reason that Austin isn't growing even faster and the suburbs are is that the Austin Independent School District has a lot of crummy schools and the suburbs do not. Smart Growth will work, but people with kids (the majority of first-time home buyers) will continue to buy homes in traditional suburbs outside Austin's ETJ to send their kids to good schools. They cannot afford the gentrified prices and won't send their kids to AISD if they can help it.

    Everyone in Austin wants mass transit, Smart Growth, no new taxes, and no new high-density growth near their house (although it is highly desirable in other people's neighborhoods). Get a life! It isn't going to happen. If you believe in Smart Growth (high-density infill development), you cannot believe that it will not happen near your house. However, you can sleep easy, since the city's subdivision and site development regulations are designed to prohibit Smart Growth.

    Sincerely,

    David Smith


    Town Lake Travesty

    Editor:

    Last week when I read the articles about the two new condo projects on Town Lake I felt like crying. This week I read the City Council passed the first step toward one of the condos being built and I felt like throwing up. For me, it is not its architectural style or the Smart Growth philosophy that are issues -- for me the issue is the rich and powerful always being able to buy things that nobody has a right to "own."

    There are far too few places that the un-rich person can easily get to and enjoy a sense of freedom and ease with nature, and for many Austinites -- Town Lake is that place. Now with all the accelerated building going on, more and more encroachments to these sacred areas will happen. Pretty soon the only view of the lake the average person will have will be when they drive over the bridge.

    This architect wants to leave his mark on Austin -- like he did in Houston. Well, Houston was a piece of shit, and it's a lot easier to improve on a piece of shit -- Austin is only now in danger of becoming a piece of shit and with his help it will move closer to being a shitty place.

    So, the rich will have their way -- they always do -- and the architect will bask in his glory for this wonderful piece of architectural plunder. I wonder if some years later people will look at his building and marvel, "What great deity made this?" or do you think they will look at the sky or the lake or the trees and marvel, "What great deity made this?" I sort of think it will be nature -- not the building. What do you think?

    Tammy Sajak


    G We're Sorry

    Editor:

    Thanks for voting me Best Local Character Without a G-String. It's enough to make me want to get in shape and wear a G-string.

    The whole issue was great except for the misquote of my book as the first line on the Tommy X piece. I'm nonsensical enough without you adding to it.

    Please clear me of this stupid line.

    Tommy X


    Nuclear Naivete

    Editor:

    Re: "Nuclear Reaction" ["Postmarks," Oct. 15]

    Mr. Harvey is the most ignorant reader you have. The NTBT was nothing more than a worthless piece of paper. It was not binding and was unenforceable. Honoring it while other nations did not would be a serious risk to our national security, as the efficacy of our nuclear weapons and their deteriorating components could not be tested outside of a computer. Keep in mind that North Korea continues to develop strategic nuclear weapons despite pledging to stop in exchange for millions of dollars annually in aid from the United States. Mr. Harvey asks the readers if we are "going to vote for the party (GOP) that obviously wants to arm the world with nuclear weapons." I wish to remind him that the Clinton administration changed oversight for export control of materials that could be used to develop nuclear weapons from the Department of Defense to the Commerce Department. During his administration, China obtained nearly all top-secret U.S. nuclear technologies, including long-range missile and warhead miniaturization designs from Energy Department research labs and companies like Loral Space and Communications under these relaxed export controls and poor lab security. This intelligence allowed them to effectively modernize their nuclear weapons program by 30 years in only five. In addition, China has assisted India, Iran, and North Korea with their nuclear weapons development programs and continues to share intelligence with Russia. This all occurred while the DNC was accepting campaign contributions from People's Republic of China military generals and front businesses in the United States. So far, Clinton appointees in the Justice Department have discontinued or refused to investigate these occurrences. So ask yourself, Mr. Harvey, which party "obviously" wants to arm the world with nuclear weapons? Do some investigating for yourself, and stop regurgitating the nightly news.

    Pat Crews


    Petty Politics

    Editor:

    So the United States Senate, in an attempt to embarrass and revoke any possible historical legacy for Bill Clinton, killed the nuclear test ban treaty. The treaty, ratified by nearly half of the other participating countries, suffered the unfortunate consequence of being ill-timed for U.S. politics. The only remaining superpower won't accept a moratorium on the most destructive and heinous weapon this side of the 20th century. The country that overwhelmingly consumes and destroys the environment in ratio of its population has once again proved itself to be arrogant and still in love with isolationism. People of the USA, your government has embarrassed and disgraced you and made the world a increasingly scary place to be. Your "democratic" government killed a treaty Americans support by a ratio of 10 to one. Our allies are balking, our enemies intrigued, and the Republican-led Congress has just given all of them the proverbial finger. All of this to embarrass one man. Write your congressman, organize rallies, start the revolution, but whatever you do -- never, ever vote Republican again.

    Sincerely,

    Sherri Steele

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