Readers are baffled by the Chronicle's "no endorsement" for the mayoral race.
LCRA Supports Wind Use
Kevin Fullerton's article on the "Winds of Change" [April 21] was a good update on renewable energy in Texas and the potential that particularly wind energy holds. In fact, wind energy is here and now and at a reasonable price. As the largest single producer of renewable energy in Texas, the LCRA is a strong supporter of renewables and is in fact a pioneer among the state's utilities in the commercial development of wind energy. We have been a key player in a 35-megawatt wind plant in West Texas for the past five years. We have been selling 10 of those 35 megawatts to the city of Austin and the rest goes to our 44 wholesale electric customers in 53 counties. We also have been buying 7.5 megawatts from a second wind plant nearby since last year. The LCRA Board has authorized staff eventually to obtain up to 22 megawatts from that second plant as it adds new capacity. Please let us know if you would like to learn more about these ongoing successful wind projects so that you can consider including them in a future article.
Watson 'Yes Endorsement'
Regarding your "no endorsement" of Mayor Kirk Watson for re-election ["Endorsements," April 21]:
On the first day of early voting, I enthusiastically voted for Kirk Watson and silently gave thanks for his energy, vision, and dedication to this city.
Does he move fast? Yes, and when a family is as full of cancer vicitms as his (and mine), you are less likely to feel immortal and more likely to be impatient about achieving goals.
Does some of the city bureacracy need a push? Absolutely, but let me now give thanks to Assistant City Manager Toby Futrell and her unknown-to-me helpers who make things happen.
Did you try to put words in the Mayor's mouth? I sincerely doubt he ever said or implied that he "is responsible for everything good that's happened over the last three years." In my 84 years of living, this is the first time every City Council member was supported by me at the polls.
If your statement that "resolving disagreements is an end in itself" refers to the Gary Bradley deal, please remember that numerous well-informed citizens had honest differences of opinion about possible future court decisions and future Austin-bashing legislation. Personally, I thank the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center for accepting the third-party role to ensure that Bradley lives up to the agreement.
I thank the mayor and council for the bond propositions to purchase $65 million of Barton Springs aquifer land and/or conservation easements. That ultimately is the surest way to protect this aquifer, which provides sole source drinking water for about 45,000 folks. Would that my generation had been wise enough to buy preserve land when it was inhabited mainly by cedar choppers, charcoal burners, stonemasons, and moonshiners, and was selling for only a few dollars per acre. And for those who wish to diffuse Austin's economic boom and return to sleepy college town/state capital days, all you would have to do is make air conditioning illegal.
Acknowledging that there is more than one good candidate in the other council races, I voted also for your three endorsed candidates: Clare Barry, Raul Alvarez, and Willie Lewis.
Public Agenda, Please
Back in the days when Daryl Slusher covered city politics, we used to enjoy thorough coverage of city issues. Now the Chronicle pedals its petty agenda and personality clashes with city officials.
Take, for example, the mayoral race. The Statesman has been publishing the candidates' positions on issues such as crime, transportation, and affordable housing. Now there is a novel idea -- explore the issues!
By contrast, the Chronicle chose to publish endorsements [April 21] and without discussing the candidates' credentials or positions on issues, it took a swipe at Mayor Watson. In your opinion, he gets "too much credit," and therefore you told the public you couldn't endorse him.
Could you be any more petty and irresponsible? Have you been reading the Statesman to see that Mayor Watson is the only one who has substantive positions on any issues? Did you bother to address any of his accomplishments and his opponents' lack of credentials?
The sour grapes attitude expressed in your endorsement column makes it doubtful that you are capable of covering city news without bias and pettiness. In so doing, you have done a real disservice to our community.
Tell your readers the truth: Mayor Watson has worked very hard, accomplished much, and possesses more ability than anyone else running.
Give Mayor His Due
In an era when too many political leaders are ignorant of even basic facts and unwilling to take on tough issues, the Chronicle's failure to endorse Mayor Watson for re-election is baffling ["Endorsements," April 21]. We have a mayor who is honest, smart, and works day and night for us. His record of success on the environment and re-channeling growth away from the aquifer and to preferred zones is amazing. The city has solved many other longstanding problems. He has even made major contributions to improving the Austin schools and confronting the ugly history of racism in this country.
When I read your critique of Watson's style, which you, in essence, complain is too strong, decisive, and impatient, I shook my head wondering what you must think of my heroes like Martin Luther King Jr. and Franklin Roosevelt.
Stop Pollution Upstream
Thanks for your article drawing attention to the algae problems at Barton Springs ["Slimed," April 21].
The persistent algae growth is caused by elevated levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in the aquifer. The source of these nutrients is fertilizers from lawns and golf courses, golf course irrigation of treated wastewater, leaking sewers, and increased sediment loading from construction.
Pool maintenance activities are not causing the problem; the absence of simple maintenance activities is allowing the problem to be much worse than is necessary.
One need only look downstream of the pool to see that the algae growth there is just as bad if not worse to see that pool activities are not the "cause" of the algae.
The real solution is for home and business owners upstream to stop fertilizing and convert to xeriscape and for developers to stop building golf courses and other polluting developments in the Barton Springs Zone.
Love the Watson Way
I was stunned to read your "no endorsement" [April 21] of Kirk Watson in the Austin mayor's race. In my 20 years in Austin I have never seen any elected official devote more time and energy to making our city a better place. Likewise, I have not seen any elected official accomplish more in such a short amount of time. You missed the mark on this one.
Springs Need Innovation
Editors and Robert Bryce,
Thank you for your pertinent report on Barton Springs ["Slimed," April 21]. Some points need reinforcing: Thanks for the information on the well-being of the salamanders. Why didn't the monitor step forward and report his findings to the pool users? We didn't know that wildlife biologist Hansen had taken on the role of salamander monitor.
The city Parks Dept. has several bulletin boards in the immediate vicinity of the BS entrance office. These are full of all sorts of injunctions to the public about how to behave and use BS. It seems reasonable that Robert Hansen and Lechner provide public copies of their reports on these bulletin boards.
As government scientists, they must write on their activities, analysis, and recommendations to their superiors for recording and promotional reasons. Would it be appropriate to contact their immediate superiors. Maybe they, the superiors, have classified their reports? Why should the wildlife biologists take all the heat from the public? Let us step up the administrative ladder. Let us know who the superiors of Lechner and Hansen are.
Several people mentioned the slipperiness of BS pool bottom as a safety problem. This is blamed on the algae. If swimmers will notice that the cement cover of the underground drain is not slippery, at least not much. (I deliberately walk on it to avoid sliding.) The difference in slipperiness between the cement cover and the natural bottom is a matter of texture. If slipperiness is considered a safety hazard, the pool bottom's texture can be changed by a thin veneer of cement or any of many non-slip covers, e.g., epoxy and silicon sand. Or, the surface can be roughed up by some of the scarifying machines used to grind, flatten concrete surfaces.
In our retirement community a local company ground off the uneven surfaces of cement panels when they moved and became a walking hazards. Grinding/roughing limestone is much easier in comparison to grinding cement.
Is it clear that fish eat algae? If so, why not re-seed the pool with fish from our local hatcheries, or simply by capturing small fish from Town Lake with nets? The major predator of BS fish are the cormorants. The dictionary describes cormorants as greedy, rapacious. The cormorants visit BS in the early mornings when there are fish or crawfish. They stay until their plate is clean. They swim faster and better than fish. Fish without cover have no hope.
Some protection for fish can be provided by use of plastic netting anchored to the bottom. Fish growers use screens routinely to protect fry from predators. A little experimental innovation would be fun and just might solve algae problems. A new fish population might clean up some of the algae and survive the predations of the cormorants.
Note: We have sent several letters with proposals and suggestions to the city administration and the commissioners for the Parks board. Virtually none of these has ever been acknowledged. (Is this normal? One suggestion about harvesting water weeds and aeration of Town Lake was tersely acknowledged by a fax. But nothing was done.)
The Meaning of 'Is'
Regarding allegations that high schools are overstating the numbers of students in the "top 10%" for college admission purposes ["Margin of Error," April 21]:
"Designating more than 10% as 'top 10%' is a criminal offense," said David Anderson, legal counsel for the Texas Education Agency. "It's falsifying government documents," he said. "This type of lying is a criminal offense."
Depends of what the meaning of the word "is" is, don't you think? The legislation should have specified and defined the term "10%" -- how are ties counted, and can an average GPA be used, etc.? In the absence of such legislative specification, TEA's David Anderson is just blowing smoke. For instance, was Grover Cleveland one or two presidents? And how do you count ties in the various Austin Chronicle polls? Depends on how you count -- that is, how you define "is" -- doesn't it?
Such inflammatory language from TEA reverberated through the Chronicle doesn't seem the least bit useful. What we don't need is a bunch of TEA-version, Ken Starr-like bureaucrats running around trying to turn jaywalking into federal crimes. The fact is that schools seem to be trying their best to implement the rather nonspecific new law which is a unassailably brilliant replacement for Hopwood-banned affirmative action. So now what? Are we going to abolish the 10% law or start throwing school counselors all over the state into the pokey?
Why not examine AISD's own Mussolini, who is not only trying to get the trains to run on time but to get the trains to all run on the same schedule?
It just makes my stomach turn to see Louis Black's editorial decrying the presence of limousines outside of the recent Springsteen concert ["Page Two," April 21]. As is often the case, the Chronicle wants to have it both ways -- limos are decadent, but what about those wild parties at Lakeway, or holding a grudge against Byron all these years for not letting Margaret backstage to meet the Clash? I seem to recall many a mention of Toxic Shock in her old columns, but never once the realization of the absurdity of people driving home in their Toyotas after punk rock shows given the politics behind punk. Louis' final words in The Daily Texan come to mind, especially the bit regretting missing all those perks. Plus, it's always a surprise to see someone who's not a major advertiser in the Chronicle win a "Best of Austin" award.
If you're going to endorse quasi-left candidates who preach a balance of corporate interests with neighborhood and environmental concerns, how can a bit of conspicuous consumption become a matter of outrage? An advocate of the enfranchised "left" whose lifestyle depends on pleasing his many advertisers cannot with integrity disavow the choices he has made.
As to the transportation angle, while it seems that half the city streets are being worked on at the moment, and bottlenecks like 183 northbound at 71 go unnoticed, the visions for transportation in Austin seem to teeter between the DFW model and Babichian extremes. Part of the blame lies with the lack of coalition building, exacerbated by people like Louis who seem threatened by anyone to their left.
Absurd as it is for Louis to represent himself as an "old lefty," then proceed to tell us how to live our lives, I recall that "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" were declared to be unalienable rights of individual citizens 224 years ago. Suffice it to say that Louis' views are not those of all the left. Many of us would suggest a more effective outlet for Austin Chronicle editorials would be toward reforming the political system (national, state, local) that most of us think needs more attention than the decadence of a few concertgoers.
Hi. You recently received an announcement for a reading and book signing by author Matthew Sharpe. The flier neglected to mention that Matthew is my brother, so I am taking this opportunity to invite you once again to attend Matthew Sharpe's reading from his first novel, Nothing Is Terrible, at BookPeople on Tuesday, May 9, at 7pm.
Matt is a writer of great depth, originality, and humor. He is also a very entertaining reader, and his readings bring to the written words something that only his voice can. I do hope you can join us for this special evening.
Hey, Marc Savlov:
Lighten up a little. It's OK to enjoy a movie every now and then -- even if the screenplay wasn't written by Nietzsche. I attended the regional premiere of U-571 last Thursday night with my 14-year-old son and, after preparing myself for a noisy testosterone-fest, I was pleasantly surprised to find it quite entertaining. Besides, it was an opportunity to contribute to the Austin Film Society's very worthy goal of raising funds for the Texas Filmmakers Production Fund and to support our homeboy, Matthew McConaughey, who's done a lot for film in Austin with SXSW premieres, etc., to say nothing of our music appreciation.
Now it's my turn to be anal: I thought it was pretty flimsy fact-checking to use the wrong name for Matthew's character.
E-mails at 3am
As usual, Michael Ventura expresses my own thoughts much better than I can. I e-mailed a copy of his essay, "Hang Ten, Dude" ["Letters at 3am," April 14] to everyone I know. Thank you and thank him very much.
I am writing to express my support for Monica Loera in the race for Place 7 on the Austin Community College Board of Trustees.
Among the four candidates running for this seat, Loera is the most progressive. She has come out strongly against building a new campus over the aquifer, and she is in favor of social and economic justice for ACC employees.
I ask Chronicle readers to look closely at the candidates in this race, and I feel certain that they will agree with me that Loera merits their vote.
ACC Adjunct Faculty Association
I am writing in support of Monica Loera's campaign for [Austin Community College] Board of Trustees, Seat 7. Monica Loera has served ACC as the SGA vice-president. As the newly elected vice-president, I will find it hard to fill her shoes. She is a very determined person and she doesn't miss a thing. Although she is busy with her campaign, she has never neglected her SGA. She always supported us through our campaign for TJCSGA president and was an integral part of our success. I have and will continue to support Monica in her campaign because I have attended several forums and believe she gives the most articulated and researched answers of all the candidates, including some of the candidates running for City Council. I believe she will be a great asset to the Board of Trustees because she will give a well-informed student perspective and has the ability to represent us, the students, well.
TJCSGA Region IV President 2000-2001
Waco Cover-Up Ludicrous
We are all faced with the proverbial choice of the red pill or the blue pill. The red pill represents waking up to reality and consciously living a responsible and vibrant life. The blue pill represents continuing the zombie-like acceptance of the prevailing paradigm that has been created for us by the self-proclaimed elite who control the economy and media. If by chance you have been ingesting those nasty blue pills, please become aware of the findings of the so-called "independent investigation" of Waco. The investigation was put together by Janet Reno in the attempt to deflect and counter the filmed evidence (as seen in the video, Waco, A New Revelation) that federal forces gassed, asphyxiated, shot, and murdered 79 men, women, and children. The government's findings in connection with this filmed evidence were that all of the light flashes that were shown coming out of federal agents' gun barrels were actually only light reflecting off of glass. If you believe Janet Reno's findings after viewing the evidence then you'll believe pigs can fly! Unless we have an impartial and honest Department of Justice then we will continue the present orchestrated acceleration toward a Federalized police state. The bottom line is that unless we become aware of and break out of this self-imposed matrix of illusion we will continue to be manipulated by the Elite. A good place to start waking up is to become objectively aware of the facts surrounding what happened at Waco and to demand justice.
Commercials for topless clubs air on the radio throughout the day. During these hours of the day, kids under the age of 17 can listen to them. Kids hear stuff like, "Live, nude, girls" if they have access to the radio and listen to virtually any of the FM stations. Some of the schools allow kids to have Walkmans in class and to listen to them during a part of the class when kids do work.
I contend that this is not a good influence to have under the age of 17 and that advertisements for these clubs should be aired after 9pm. Parents can change the radio station if they hear it in time, but if they allow their kids to wear Walkmans at school, they cannot control what their kids listen to when they are at school. I believe it would be unfair to ask the teachers to monitor what the kids are listening to because they have enough responsibilities.
We need to let children keep their innocence and not bombard them with the facts of life too early. Thanks for your time and attention.
Regardless of one's opinion of whether "father" or "freedom" should prevail in the tragedy of Elian Gonzalez, the shameful spectacle of my country's middle-of-the-night commando assault by 131 submachine gun-wielding federal agents to snatch away a little six-year-old boy from his relatives' tiny home with no court order, will live forever in infamy as one of the saddest and most repulsive days in U.S. history.
With Elian in the Miami relatives' home in the first place because of the decision of the INS itself placing him there (see letter from INS of 12/01/99) and with active and increasinly successful negotiations by phone through the night about to be consummated (see comments from the chief negotiator, Reno's friend, the president of the University of Miami. See six-point agreement by Reno herself, agreed to and signed by Elian's great-uncle and already faxed to Reno for her official signature only moments before the precipitous federal government raid) ... where precisely was the "clear and present danger" that necessitated action that tore up the Constitution and exceeded in its massive use of arms, according to experts, that which has been used to capture even known top crime figures???
If, as the federal government now declares, they didn't need a court order, then why did they seek such an order, only to fail to be granted one and, in fact, be rebuked by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals just three days earlier?
The nasty fact is that the Miami relatives were in violation of no law whatever! Clinton and Castro (with their mutual lawyer, Greg Craig) had their private, personally self-serving agreement ... and their puppet, Reno, carried out orders by the aforesaid Clinton, Castro, and Craig.
Why did Craig write the TV networks ahead of the raid to seek no coverage? Why did the federal agents pummel and prevent the NBC cameraman, who was the lone "pool" reporter allowed inside the tiny house, from shooting film of the raid as it occured inside the house?
Obliteration of the constitution and the rule of law, and attempted censorship of a free press ... ! That sounds more like the heinous dictatorial tyranny of Castro's Cuba, Hussein's Iraq, or even Hitler's Nazi Germany than my proud constitutional republic of democracy and freedom!
My heart breaks.
Be a Part of the Millennium
Hello. We are fourth-grade teachers in Rossville, Illinois. Our students are working on a millennium project that we are hoping you can assist us with. We are contacting people and places across the country in hopes of receiving 2,000 responses! Will you please take a moment to respond to us via e-mail or regular mail and tell us a little something about your hometown? This project has been a fantastic way for our students to learn more about our country. We are making scrapbooks of the responses we are receiving. We have even heard from many celebrities! Thank you for your time. We look forward to adding your response to our millennium scrapbooks. Also, if you could please pass our request on to anyone else you may feel would be willing to assist us, we would appreciate it very much!
Debbie Wilson & Karen Stimac
Fourth Grade Teachers
350 N. Chicago St.
Rossville, IL 60963
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.