Readers hash over the war on drugs in response to an AISD principal's being busted for marijuana possession.
Your article on the election to choose my successor on the Austin Community College Board of Trustees ["Naked City," April 14] contains several errors. Taking them in order:
 I have served eight years, not six. I admit it was easy to miss my re-election, since no one ran against any of us (just as no one is running against the incumbents this year, a compliment we all appreciate).
 You have things exactly backward on the budget overruns. These occurred under the previous president, who was let go in part because he refused to implement a balanced-budget directive adopted by the Board in 1995. In each year of his tenure, Dr. Fonte has produced budget surpluses (usually close to a million dollars), which have then been spent on additional instructional equipment.
 The "notorious micromanagement" you attribute to the current ACC Board is a myth. On the contrary, ACC is a national leader in the restrained "policy governance" style of oversight. In the last five years, it has shrunk the size of the Board policy manual from 320 pages to less than 30, raised the threshold for Board approval of purchasing decisions from $10,000 to $100,000, removed Board approval requirements for almost all personnel decisions, and shrunk its total meeting time to two three-hour meetings per month. The source of these accusations (which are strikingly vague on details) is best summarized in a faculty-member letter you published on 6/20/97: "Those in charge of that area [planning and evaluation] tried to blame the Board, but the accreditation team that visited this spring went out of their way to make clear that there was no problem about the Board."
Even those who oppose the policies we adopted to reduce the number of administrative positions, prevent the expulsion of students with remedial math problems, increase the pay and status of part-time faculty, ensure adequate investment in equipment, keep new facilities off the aquifers, and ensure that resources are divided fairly among campuses (each of which has been strongly criticized by some employees) should agree that dealing with such strategic policies is precisely the job of a Board of Trustees.
I invite you and your readers to examine the reality of ACC Board activities by looking at our Web site (http://www2.austin.cc.tx.us/board/main/), which lists all Board agenda materials, minutes, and policies, and provides full audio recordings of recent meetings.
Trustee, Austin Community College
Change Pot Policy
Thanks to Louis Black in his "Page Two" column for publicly voicing his positive stance on the ridiculous issue of marijuana prohibition. If the public would just speak up and let our elected officials know that we don't support these laws, things can change. There is nothing wrong with adults responsibly enjoying this plant that grows naturally on our earth.
And if you all really want to support the cause, then show up and march May 6 on the Capitol with thousands of other supporters. Keep fighting.
Pot & Principles
Dear Mr Black:
Regarding the portion of your April 14 "Page Two" on the AISD principal busted for pot: Perhaps the most succinct (which I am never) observation on the drug war was made by Carroll O'Connor on Politically Incorrect several days ago: Americans love to punish. To paraphrase again: We are a Christian nation which loves to judge. I happened to catch Roseanne's late late show last night and she sure seemed high on something and less funny than usual. Talking to Monkees drummer Micky Dolenz (the funny one), she made the point, quite disconnectedly from whatever they were discussing, that there was going to be a war in America -- not between the classes or the races, but between the users of prescription drugs and users of street drugs, whom Quick Wit Micky tagged "the 'Scripts' and the 'Streets.'"
I would never advocate recreational drug use or engaging in prostitution, particularly by teenagers, nor would I ever participate in these practices myself. I did read a library book recently titled Ain't Nobody's Business if You Do ..., which labels these crimes "consensual" rather than "victimless," and makes the argument they should be decriminalized based on about 15 points, each of which has a chapter of documentation. Among the reasons given for not prosecuting consensual crimes are: because it is un-American, un-Constitutional, hypocritical, arbitrary, incredibly expensive, corrupting of law enforcement, religiously based (therefore violating church-state separation). That's about half the reasons; the list goes on. It has always been my opinion that marijuana remains illegal despite any compelling logic because it was so blatantly used by most of the anti-war protesters of the Vietnam era (whom history has vindicated as being right and moral in their cause), and because the establishment associates this leaf with a large group of citizens whose minds and actions it could not control, therefore has deemed as dangerous. So, the U.S. government wages war on its populace by jailing as many drug users as it can, thereby disenfranchising them from the vote, the most meaningful voice they have to effect change. Just some food for thought.
Skating on Thin Ice
In response to a letter to the Chronicle from the proprietors of Intellect Rollers ["Postmarks," April 14], I wanted to clarify a few items and correct several non-factual statements.
We have advertised with the Chronicle since the early Nineties, and have always been thrilled when our business was mentioned outside of our paid advertisement. It has never been our agenda to "buy" favor from the press.
As a local Travis County taxpayer, unlike the Rollers, who do business in Williamson County not Austin, we support and give back to our community. While located downtown, not only did we provide a place for kids to skate and hang out, but we also offered a free venue for bands, poets, filmmakers, and other local Austin talent to perform. Never once did we charge a cover. Of course we hoped people would shop in our store. I mean, that's why we're in business, right? But the Rollers' self-proclaimed knowledge of the profitability of my business, I find absurd. Who knew that I hired them as my bookkeepers?
The Chronicle's "love affair" with us, as stated by the Rollers, makes me laugh. Why be angry about an old article on Mayor Watson visiting Austin music venues that included us and not them? It was a story on downtown Austin music, not rollerblading.
And finally, the Rollers' complaint about not wanting "my tax dollars spent" on an Austin park makes no sense. They're in Georgetown. For them to be angry at PARD and against a public park is pointless. We applaud Cindy Wade at PARD for pushing for a park and would be ignorant not to support her efforts under a tight budget to help grow our sport.
To Intellect Rollers: Leave sweet John Newberry at Calvary Church alone. Along with his partner, Bunjee, that gentle soul has done so much for kids and skateboarding in our local Austin community. And by the way, my name is spelled PEVEY.
It isn't often that I feel compelled to write a letter to the editor about a restaurant review. However, as a frequent visitor and always-satisfied customer of Gilligan's restaurant and someone who has a great respect for Rina de Guzman, manager of Gilligan's since the beginning, I felt a need to say something about Wes Marshall's depiction of Ms. de Guzman in his review "Imperfect Alloy" [April 14].
By the tone of the review, Mr. Marshall would have you believe that Ms. de Guzman does not know her wines and how to pair them with the food she knows and loves. However, in the five years that I've known her, she has been my personal wine consultant. Rina is all about the wining and dining experience. She knows her stuff better than almost anyone in town. This is why companies such as AMD, Trilogy, and Ernst and Young keep coming back to Gilligan's when entertaining prospects and high-profile clients.
Rina takes her job very seriously, yet has a great time as a self-proclaimed "wine geek." She always puts her customers' needs first and trains her staff to give 110% to their guests. Although Mr. Marshall generalizes about waitstaff turnover, Gilligan's probably has one of the most dedicated staffs around. Because Rina's love of the hospitality business is infectious, her staff takes pride in providing customers with informed, interesting recommendations for both food and wine.
Next time, instead of taking every opportunity to knock down Ms. de Guzman, Wes Marshall should sit back and actually listen to what she has to say and respect her well-qualified opinions. As Rina often says, there is no right or wrong in wine. That is outdated thinking. Anyone can be a wine snob. Just keep your mind closed and order the most expensive bottle on the menu. However, it takes creativity, enthusiasm, and passion to be a wine geek. I prefer the latter.
After extensive discussions with the candidates for Place 7 on the ACC Board and hearing them at candidate forums, I have decided to endorse Monica Loera. All of the candidates in this race are intelligent, capable people. Three of them, Ms. Loera, Barbara Mink, and Shaune Haas, have taken positions on the issues quite close to mine. However, Ms. Loera is the only candidate to commit without reservation to buying land for a new ACC campus in far south-central to southeast Austin, inside the ACC district (contrary to what the ACC administration is proposing) but outside the Barton Springs watershed. I agree with Ms. Loera's proposal, which will address the pressing educational and workforce needs that exist now in South Austin without jeopardizing our environment. I also think that Ms. Loera, who works full time but is a part-time ACC student, will bring to the board a much-needed but often ignored perspective -- that of ACC's students, the people whom ACC is obliged to serve. I strongly recommend her to Chronicle readers.
ACC Trustee, Place 8
Would like to say a big thanks to the staffers at the SXSW office in Austin. I was, quite frankly, ripped off by one of the venues staging an event on 17/3, I will keep quiet about which one (you know who you are!); after bringing this to the attention of the SXSW office they were very keen to see the problem rectified, which they have managed to do, in fact they went well beyond the call of duty. Thanks heaps, guys (and gals!) You have done yourselves proud! We will be back!
a concerned but now relieved punter
All About Austin
I am an eighth grade student at Washington Manor Middle School in San Leandro, California. We are working on a project planning a vacation in another state and I have chosen Texas. I was wondering if your readers could send postcards, pictures, brochures, or any other information about places to visit and things to do in your area.
Thank you for your help.
P.S. This project is due about the middle of May!
On behalf of Saint Andrew's Presbyterian Church, I'd like to thank the Chronicle for helping to publicize our Field of Hope. Saint Andrew's has dedicated the Field each April for eight years to illustrate the scope of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Crosses and Stars of David represent those who have died of AIDS, and rainbows symbolize hope for an end to the epidemic and our support for all those affected.
Unfortunately the time and date of the dedication ceremony were inadvertently misprinted in the "Public Notice" column in the April 14 Chronicle. The Field of Hope was dedicated to nondenominational service on Sunday, April 16. We apologize to anyone who was inconvenienced or who missed the ceremony. We'd also like to remind everyone that the Field will stand as a memorial through Friday, April 28. Anyone who would like to visit the field at 14311 Wells Port Drive is welcome and may, if they wish, personalize a Cross or a Star of David in memory of a loved one.
Again, thanks for the help getting the message out!
Listen to Him
About "Hang Ten, Dude" by Michael Ventura ["Letters at 3AM," April 14] in this article he went to a great deal of trouble to criticize each of the Ten Commandments. However, the problem here is really deeper than those criticisms. His appeals for the rare Hindu, American Indian, or Yoruban student are diametrically opposed to the Holy Bible. Therefore, it is a question of "what is truth?" that is at issue here.
So, which is right? Is it the Biblical or the pluralistic view? Can all views be right? In my humble opinion, the answer to the problem is in the origin of life. The Bible makes it clear that there is but one God and He created the world and all the peoples of the world (which includes those Hindus, American Indians, and Yorubans). If God created the world then it leaves people with a perplexing problem. They are faced with the realization that there is a Maker who controls everything and frankly, gets to make the rules. The Ten Commandments, then, are relative because God, Creator of all that is, gave them to us as rules to follow. End of story.
Finally, it is important to note that both creation and evolution use the same data and cannot be an issue of one having more data then the other. Make no mistake, though, that data is overwhelmingly in favor of a Creator.
If God didn't create the world then we can indeed have truth du jour. But what if the Bible is true and God did create everything? Heaven help those who don't believe.
Don't Alien-ate Kids
It's really a sad, sad day when a white man blames illegal and innocent children for the cost of education's rise ["Postmarks," April 14]. I hate to be cliched and repeat what many have already stated, but the truth is that this country once belonged to some of those illegal aliens who are in the public school system in Austin. I'd like to remind Mr. Toney that if it weren't for some of the parents of those illegal alien children, he might not be able to dine in one of his favorite restaurants that these illegal aliens might be employed at, houses wouldn't be coming up by the thousands in this ever-growing city (I don't see too many white men out in the blistering sun laying brick, pouring cement, cooking in hot kitchens -- for a mere wage). It's funny that Mr. Toney has this idea that illegal aliens don't pay any tax dollars. Go to a grocery store and stand behind a family purchasing hundreds of dollars worth groceries, to the gas station, department store, etc. Mr. Toney seems to forget that even though these people have no Social Security number, birth certificates, or immigration documents, they are still paying taxes every time they make a purchase that is taxed, and that they are contributing to society and to the economy.
Instead of blaming illegal aliens for the rising cost of education and asking school officials to waste time and money investigating who's legal and who's not, take some time to see what can be done to really solve it without depriving young and innocent children of a right that they are entitled to in this free country that we live in.
L. Gina Ochoa
The Austin City Council has made the disappointing decision to build a scaled-back version of the Lamar Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge. On the north side, the bridge will end at the hike and bike trail, instead of extending to Fifth and Lamar. It will help joggers avoid the narrow sidewalk on the existing Lamar Bridge.
Unfortunately, the scaled-back bridge won't serve pedestrians or bicyclists going from South to North Lamar or vice versa. People who are walking across the river to go somewhere will continue to use the old bridge. People have been killed on this bridge; it is dangerous. And nothing is being done to make it safer.
This decision is illustrative of how our elected officials view walking. They consider it good exercise, but not a way to get anywhere. Their idea of a "pedestrian-friendly" area is a place you drive to in your car. Once there, you walk around a pretty plaza. Then you drive your car home.
The full-length Lamar Bridge was scuttled for want of $2 million. No car project is ever scrapped for such a shortfall. The car project just gets built without sidewalks and bike lanes. For years, money for sidewalks has been diverted to car projects. Why can't some money be diverted in the opposite direction?
The city is building parking garages that cost more than the full-scale bridge. No one has ever died for lack of a parking space. But people have died and will die for lack of a better footbridge.
Since the full-scale bridge will not be built and the current bridge is dangerous, why not close a lane of car traffic on Lamar Bridge to provide buffer zones for pedestrians on the narrow sidewalks? It would be great if, just for once, city government would put pedestrian safety ahead of motorist convenience.