Our readers talk back.
Conscientious Endorsement Process, Please
Dear Mr. Black,
It is unfortunate that your paper endorsed a candidate for the ACC board race without having spoken, interviewed, or even met with all of the candidates in this race. You state in the "Page Two" article dated April 28 that you (the endorsement committee) "take this process very seriously," but your handling of this particular race is irresponsible. How can you endorse anyone -- in good conscience -- without considering all candidates first?
I do agree with you that the Chronicle should re-think its endorsement process and do a more thorough research on all candidates, not just on those candidates whose endorsements were "preordained."
The Chronicle is a highly esteemed publication and in all fairness, I am sure that your readers would appreciate knowing that you did not contact all of the candidates before making the endorsement for the ACC race.
ACC Board of Trustees - Seat 7
Chart Candidates Views
Reading the election coverage and endorsements on this, the night before the election, we realized that there is a glaring omission in not only your coverage, but the election coverage of most papers. While extensive, detailed coverage of candidates and their views, together with editorial endorsements, is generally provided, would it be too much trouble to compile a chart with a summary of each candidate's views on a list of the most important topics the office-holder will have to face during his or her term?
This would serve the vast population of the middle-interested, such as ourselves: those who want more information than is provided with just an endorsement, but less information than is provided in the full coverage. We can't understand why newspapers, in their capacity as a public trust, don't provide this basic information in advance of every election. Perhaps the Chronicle will take the lead on this for the next election.
David Hirsch and Heather Good
Cap Metro Info, Please
Dear Sir or Madam,
First, let me applaud The Austin Chronicle. I have traveled to other American cities that have similar weekly independent papers, and the Chronicle is by far the best. My favorite features are "Letters at 3AM," "Mr. Smarty Pants," Movie Reviews, and "Day Trips" -- but I read every issue from front to back!
May I suggest adding the Cap Metro bus route number(s) to the addresses of the event locales that y'all list: cinemas, theatres, clubs, restaurants, public buildings, etc.? This would encourage more bus usage, as on Dallas' mass transit Web site (www.dart.org). Generally speaking, this would be just a one-time addition, seeing that new events are held at the static locations. Yes, the specified routes would have to be checked twice a year to coincide with Cap Metro's new schedule.
I have also sent a suggestion to Cap Metro advising them of a similar addition to the Cap Metro Web site.
An avid Chronicle reader
Help Out Helping Hands
We applaud The Austin Chronicle for bringing to light the issue of hunger in Austin. The Capital Area Food Bank has been instrumental in the fight against hunger. They have enabled the Helping Hands Food Pantry at AIDS Services of Austin (ASA) and other food pantries to provide much needed food and nutrition to our clients and people in our communities. We hope that this article will encourage your readers to get involved by donating food or volunteering at a local food bank.
The Helping Hands Food Pantry supplies groceries to over 260 individuals and their families weekly. The food pantry is meant to supplement the nutritional needs of our clients in conjunction with food stamps and other purchased foods. However, it is apparent that some of ASA's clients depend on the food pantry as their only source of food.
Food pantries depend on the generosity of their community. Therefore we actively seek assistance in acquiring more food donations through food drives and special events.
Food Pantry Coordinator
Helping Hands Food Pantry
AIDS Services of Austin
War on War on Drugs
The Louis Black editorial about the arbitrariness of the drug laws and the untoward consequences of them ["Page Two," April 14] was timely but timid. The principal who was fired for marijuana possession will have no problem finding another job in a private school. The true victims are the tens of thousands of Texans doing time in Texas prisons for drug offenses.
Louis observes that the political will for legalization is lacking. This is an indication that leadership is needed. The Austin Chronicle can help fill this void by never again endorsing any candidate for public office who supports the drug war. That would include 90% or more of all the Democrat and Republican candidates on the ballot.
No candidate will completely match your political views. It comes down to deciding what is most important. Is the promise of a new public park worth another thousand young black males in prison?
One happy result of taking a principled stand on issues of importance is that politicians, venal creatures that they are, will adopt your views. You create the political will.
Vincent J. May
Libertarian for State Rep,
Pass the Gravy
Thanks to Virginia B. Wood for her article on hunger in Texas ["Carrying the Burden," April 28]. I do, however, feel compelled to point out the most disturbing thing about hungry children is how fat their parents are. There's politics, there's work ethics, and then there is barbed satire.
T. Alan Smith
Immorality at 3am
Once again, Michael Ventura ["Letters at 3AM," April 28] gave us his ritualistic spewing of wishy-washy, relativistic propaganda. It attempts to characterize people who oppose homosexual unions as being in faulty marriages themselves and being overly fearful. But in truth, these accusations simply don't wash. I am amazed that people don't see the problems attached to this decision. If the definition of marriage is altered from one man and one woman, where do we stop? Is "looking deeply your partner's eyes" going to keep, say, pedophilia from becoming legal unions? Think that that is ludicrous? Well, just what is to stop all kinds of unions from becoming possible? What moral standard will keep polygamy and even bestiality from becoming possible?
The truth is, as morality in this country becomes fuzzier and fuzzier, all kinds of evil are becoming more and more "tolerated." Like it or not, there is a God and an absolute moral standard that He has put forth. No, Mr. Ventura, I am not "scared," but I am concerned. Concerned for this country and concerned for all of the many, many deceived people who don't see a problem with this. Isaiah 5:20 puts this point into perspective when it says (NIV): "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil. ..."
Mr. Ventura would have you believe that there is a condition of chaos that is somehow inevitable. We need to wake up from this evolutionistically inspired self-destruction. There is still hope. The solution for our problem is found in Jesus Christ. It's time that we turn our hearts back to God.
Bring the Slack Back
I have lived in Austin for six years. Transplanted from the north, I knew home when I found it. I love this town and the vital spirit that has drawn me in and kept me, and it saddens me to see the spirit of slack retreating on so many fronts. I mean, they tore down Les Amis and put up a Starbucks. If that's not a sign of the end I don' know what is. My mission is to fight this monstrous impending corporate death by finding and nurturing the finest aspects of Austin culture. If we don't appreciate them now, they won't be around to enjoy later.
I think that Eeyore's birthday party is an event that symbolizes almost all of what is so special about Austin. I had the privilege of meeting a few people visiting from other states and countries who were absolutely blown away by this past Saturday's event. They had never seen anything like it before. I haven't always lived here and I know that life can be a lot duller in other parts. That's why I want to save Austin for slackers before it turns into Los Angeles all over again.
My means of doing so is a multidisciplinary conceptual and performance art project that I call The Church of the Great Juggle. Its tenets are simple: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, peacefulness, and goodwill. I have looked hard my whole life for a way to simply describe my role in the world, and have recently found it. I am a performance philosopher, and I'm taking it to the streets. Please feel free to stop and chat with me any time you see me out and about, which will be more and more often as I begin my slack crusade.
Austin has of course been identified with "slack" to a large extent, and there is a lot of confusion regarding what exactly slack is. The most common misunderstanding is to equate slack with laziness, but this is far from the truth. Slack is the Tao, the perfect balance of being and becoming. When we become our true selves, great works flow out effortlessly, and that is the real spirit of slack. It's about personal empowerment, relaxation, mental health, and a lack of hurry that allows the legendary Austin friendliness to manifest. Don't let it die. Keep slack alive in Austin.
In Slack and Truth,
Beware of Watson
Mayor Kirk Watson is a quadruple threat -- he is intelligent, educated, articulate, and worst of all, very likable. His regime has created problems that then must be solved at considerable cost to the taxpayer.
We lure businesses here, supposedly to create jobs, with millions in tax abatements over many years. We then offer hundreds of thousands more to get them to locate their businesses in undesirable places. Since no one wants to live nearby, people buy homes clear across town. Then they have to drive back and forth across town in order to go to work, which creates traffic congestion. Now he has a $200 million dollar program to build more roads. Jobs were not needed, and in fact cannot be filled by qualified people, so then they must spend more money for job-training programs, etc.
These things are better served by the free enterprise system. Property taxes are often more than mortgage payments, which creates unaffordable housing, another problem that must be micro-managed at our expense.
Delusions of Relevance
Is Louis Black scrimping on medication or had a virulent case of 24-hour idiocy? Income disparity isn't ideal, but "defining Springsteen as merely entertainment to be enjoyed ..." via limos at the curb ["Page Two," April 21] is the sort of presumptive, taste-police, brain-dead, non-thought that lets conservatives paint liberals as out of touch.
For some people, he is entertainment. Whether "merely" so is their business, like whatever significance you recognize is yours. The presumption of painting this sincere, good-hearted millionaire musician as a spiritually T-shirted symbol whose significance is circumscribed by you is more of an insult than any damn car.
"Most were either black or white" -- horrifying! Brown limos are much less fascistic. And green ones ... oooh! To paraphrase -- "cats meow, dogs bark, and limos are just big cars" -- you big dummy! If I've just perverted Fred Sanford's cosmic significance, I'll face God, St. Peter, and Norman Lear at the Pearlies.
"... the artifice of a cultural experience ... torn away before the intoxication had settled in ..."? Lost your dictionary and common sense? Artifice applies -- but you missed how. If whatever hold you had could be torn away by big rental cars, then über-autos aren't the problem.
If SOS board members shared a limo that'd be different, right? Is it hypocritical for limo drivers to play Springsteen while curbside or only Sinatra and Wagner while wiping down fenders?
Keep watching the tabloids, Lou -- maybe Bruce'll fly first class or order up a limo to the airport and you'll rip the lid off the whole sordid mess. Thanks for keeping your eye on the ball so we can keep our strength up for the Good Fight. The phrases in the last paragraph sound like accurate self-appraisal -- "My point may be pointless ... I may be missing the point ... This might be an old lefty's hysterical reaction."
Jesus Homer Christmas, boy! I'll "liberate" some Prozac or Shiner Bock if it'll help, but get a grip and lose your delusions of relevance. It's enough to drive me to eating meat again just to have something to spit.
Missing the Mark
Dear Louis Black,
Your editorial ["Page Two"] of April 21 was ridiculous. Think of limos as fancy, expensive taxis. If you can't afford one by yourself, share it with 7-8 friends, or didn't you buy some Dell stock several splits back? Babbling Babich would probably approve, as limos displace two extra cars that would otherwise be on the road. Also, did it occur to you that 98.9% of the people who go to live concerts (Springsteen included) go for the "mere" entertainment value?? Only Chron writers would ponder the philosophical vision of lyrics and cultural mores in the middle of a live show. It's about get out of the house, out on the town, see and be seen, feel the vibrations from a zillion watts of power, visual trip of the light show, see the band live! Tell your friends & descendants that you were there! (You can contemplate the lyrics listening to the CD in the comfort of your home, reading the jewel-box insert). You're right, your point is totally pointless, and you missed it. (PS: If you can afford a limo, or even tix to Springsteen, you can still probably afford to donate to CAFB.)
In the Same Boat
What an arrogant country we've become. By the way, Bill [Toney, "Postmarks," April 14], you know, it's funny, I think our great-grandparents were on the same boat back in 1893.
L. Elizabeth Pecorino
Lake Charles, La.
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
We are told that there is an epidemic of drug use in this country. Certainly this is true -- from aspirin to Prozac, Valium to Viagra, alcohol to nicotine -- everyone uses drugs. We use drugs to modify our state of mind and improve our health. We use them to feel better and to help us enjoy life. We as a species have been using herbs and their derivatives since the dawn of history. This is natural, and can be seen in many other animal species.
In this country, certain drugs are illegal. Many people go to jail for doing what comes natural to them. Is the answer simply to build more prisons? Obviously not, because even in prisons there is still abuse of illegal drugs. If we cannot eliminate drugs from prisons, how can we expect to eliminate them in an otherwise free society?
The real threat from illegal drugs comes from the criminal culture which has been created by the black market. It is common knowledge that drugs are more available now than ever before despite the best efforts of law enforcement. This is because of the enormous profits to be had and the fact the people will use drugs regardless of the law. It doesn't matter if you arrest a drug dealer, because there will always be someone willing to take his place and make that money.
There is only one solution -- legalize drugs. In this way we can eliminate the profits to be had and so eliminate the black market. We would be able to have more control over drug use -- and some control is better than no control. We could then tax drugs like alcohol and tobacco and use the money to fund prevention programs. We could save the money we would have needed for new prisons and use it to educate people instead of imprison them. We should treat individual drug abuse as a sickness, not a criminal offense.
If this sounds radical it is only because we have strayed so far from the ideals on which this country was founded. Our forefathers gave us the ideal of a right to the pursuit of happiness. Many of them grew and used plants which are now outlawed. Would we imprison George Washington because he smoked a joint to ease the pain of having wooden teeth?
Rev. H.W. Skipper
I saw in the Chronicle that Agillion is sponsoring the Earth Day festival. Is that some kind of joke? I live in the vicinity of their new building site at Duval and Mopac and was appalled at the thousand trees that they mass-cleared for what looks to be a office site with no environmental or aesthetic forethought at all. Maybe they could have driven around the corner to look at the Milwood Public Library on Amherst Drive to see what an environmentally compatible and natural site looks like. Putting themselves out to the public as another green high-tech firm is good PR, but it's all too obvious that they are just "corporate hype" tech hypocrites.
Sunday, May 14th, is Mother's Day, a day to celebrate the cherished bond between mother and child. Throughout the world, the dairy cow, noted for her superb nurturing qualities, has been recognized as the symbol of motherhood.
Unfortunately, American dairy cows are cruelly denied the opportunity to nurture their babies. Baby calves are torn from their mothers at birth and chained by the neck in tiny wood crates, where they can only stand or lie on hard wood slats that are covered with their excrement. They are force-fed a synthetic liquid formula that is deficient in iron and fiber to render their flesh pale and anemic to the delight of veal gourmets. They are denied natural food, water, bedding, exercise, fresh air, sunshine, and mother's love.
Ironically, the high-priced product of this misery is very unhealthy. The animals suffer from chronic anemia, diarrhea, and respiratory disorders, and their exposed excrement promotes infections. They are kept alive with antibiotics, which handicap the consumers' ability to protect against infectious diseases. Their flesh is loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol, which have been linked conclusively with chronic diseases that kill 1.5 million Americans annually.
The European Union now requires that the calves be treated more humanely, and Great Britain has banned the veal crate altogether. But the U.S. veal industry has resisted all efforts at reform, despite widespread consumer revulsion that has led to a steep drop in sales.
Clearly, one way to honor mothers on May 14 and every other day is to protest the veal industry's defilement of motherhood by boycotting veal.
I think the U.S. government's resort to force, violence, and the threat of violence as well as the hundreds of arrests and abuse of people in the communities of Little Havana on Saturday, April 22, is undoubtedly what many people expected would happen, yet the same people were praying and hoping that it would not.
The scenario presented to us by the media, if accurate and truthful, certainly shows that the nightmare came true: Elián was taken at gunpoint from his extended family in Florida by armed agents of the U.S. government's INS bureau, other members of the house where Elián was living were also held at gunpoint and feared for their lives, and members of the community surrounding Elián's residence were tear-gassed and beaten and otherwise abused by the same federal agents.
During this terrifying event, which supposedly lasted three minutes, Elián was captured and removed from his residence in tears, if the photos are truthful.
The New York Times of April 24 reported that all this activity took place while Janet Reno was on the phone with negotiators in Florida, even in the house itself, and that, in effect, Janet Reno betrayed the negotiators, apparently intentionally using the distraction of the false phone negotiations to set a stage for the surprise raid by the INS agents.
I don't believe that the U.S. government had legal authority to carry out this raid and capture of Elián. I think that Janet Reno, the director of the INS, and perhaps President Clinton will be held legally liable for this travesty and tragic act. President Clinton may again be impeached and this time indicted along with Janet Reno and the director of the INS.
I hope that this incident is not whitewashed by the media, nor covered up by any other means.