Page Two

Page Two
Two things are clear from the recent election. First is that the old-line environmental organizations (including the Chronicle) have lost their clout. This is not due to a dramatic shift in the voting population but because the issues they've championed have so completely passed into the mainstream. Where only a few seriously advocate "No Growth," unlimited development also has only a smattering of proponents (mostly developers). Most voices fall in between. Whether this is a significant shift in community sensibility or just a shift in lip service is debatable. So, the gloatings of the daily to the contrary, I think this election was more in keeping with the past few, rather than a departure. The second obvious fact to learn from this election is that Austin's campaign finance reform ordinance sucks. Even one of the ordinance's proponents, Linda Curtis, admitted this. In arguing against it, Chronicle publisher Nick Barbaro and I thought up a number of worst-case scenarios. In this campaign, two of those scenarios happened -- a candidate financing his own campaign (Will Wynn) and a deep-pocketed friend running a support campaign (Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson supporting Danny Thomas). The ordinance also discourages candidates from running. We urge Linda Curtis and her compatriots to get a repeal of the ordinance on the ballots. The Chronicle pledges advertising space to support this campaign.

John Sayles faxed us a story detailing his visit to East Timor. He sent the same story to another friend, Michael Hollett at NOW, Toronto's alternative weekly. The piece made total sense to us because we had been offering ongoing coverage of Indonesia, mostly by Robert Bryce, because of Freeport-McMoRan's ventures there. If you're wondering how the cover story came about, that's how. Sayles is a novelist, short-story writer, filmmaker, and ferocious basketball competitor. I still think that Passion Fish was shot in Louisiana at least somewhat because on the scouting trip, the mayor had a pick-up basketball game waiting for John. Anyway, we're hoping that John gets inspired and sends us more.

We saw The Music Man the other night, presented by the Austin Musical Theatre at Palmer Auditorium. I was struck by its terrific performances as well as what a great town we live in to produce theatre like this. I'm not just talking about the talented people who produced and performed the play but also the ongoing contribution to the community from stars like Larry Gatlin (and Willie Nelson, Rick Linklater, Molly Ivins, Ray Benson, and on and on). Certainly, considering how much time and energy he must have put into this show, Gatlin could have made a small fortune from a two-week run in Branson, Missouri. Instead he chose to become Dr. Henry Hill and let a local production shine.

The Chronicle's short story contest is off and running with an ad elsewhere in this issue. Now is the time for anyone who has ever thought of trying their hand at fiction to take a shot.

On a personal note, Ted Whatley, a dear friend, has retired from the school board after valiant service. Having no agenda except what was best for the students and the usefulness and health of the school system, Ted was the best kind of public servant. His knowledge and commitment should be honored. The school board and school children of Austin will miss his contributions. end story

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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