Cap Metro wants to hear your complaints; a reader asks whether the Summer Smut issue was worth the offense it generated; a radio fan finds sustenance in a substitute; and more letters to the editor.
Where Cap Met's Headed
Melissa Dotson's letter in "Postmarks" (August 11) upset all of us here at Capital Metro who are working hard to improve customer service and on-time performance of our bus service, while continuing to earn the public's trust.
Ms. Dotson wrote about her experience with a bus driver who she described as having "road rage" and her frustration with buses that don't run on time.
First, our ultimate goal is for all of our buses to run on time, all the time. The reality is some buses run late due to circumstances out of our control, like road construction (have you driven downtown lately?), traffic accidents, or mechanical problems. The goal we've set for on-time performance is 87.5%.
Capital Metro has a zero tolerance for buses leaving early. Bus operators have embraced the policy and are working hard to reach that goal. We realize nothing could be more frustrating than to get to a bus stop only to see the operator pull away early, leaving you behind. We are working to make sure that never happens. As for angry bus operators with behavior problems, they simply won't be tolerated. Period.
We know our service isn't perfect, but we're getting better each day and we have the statistics, and the customers, to prove it. Ms. Dotson, on behalf of Capital Metro, I apologize for your unpleasant experience and promise this agency will work to do better.
Anyone who has comments, complaints, or suggestions, should call us at 474-1200. We log a million calls a year and our goal is to resolve each and every one of them.
Karen J. Rae
Dear Ms. Feit:
After reading your review of Jalisco Bar printed in The Austin Chronicle on August 18, 2000, I decided to write you a letter. I believe some incorrect aspects of the article, due probably to lack of knowledge or simply to dubious intentions, need to be clarified.
As an example of the lack of knowledge, the sauce that comes with the tacos is not made with tomatillos. The green color comes from the cilantro and the high quantity of Serrano peppers (salsas are one of the most important ingredients in the Mexican cuisine). There are other instances where the comments lack fundamental knowledge. This situation leads me to question the validity of the comments expressed in the article.
The logical process in arriving at the conclusion is alarmingly poor. It is presumptuous to say that the tortillas were greasy because the "comal" was not clean when you do not have information where the tortillas are warmed up. Preconceived ideas, without research, are normally wrong.
Lack of knowledge and lack of research capabilities wouldn't be so wrong if not for the malicious sarcastic tone throughout the entire article. I do not appreciate you insulting our customers as those "who do not consider a taco worth eating unless it shimmers with oil." It is a shame that you can write your opinion to the public with that kind of knowledge and intention.
Miguel G. Stoupignan
Taking Care of East Austin
Regarding the August 25 "Change of Plans" ["Naked City"] article: PODER has chosen to align itself with the much-neglected East Austin community. PODER works with many councils, groups, and neighborhood associations that are working to achieve justice for our neighborhoods.
My parents always taught us that "la familia es la riqueza." The Cesar Chavez Plan is not legally binding; the love my brother and I have is legally binding. No council ordinance or resolution can change that!
My work on the Planning Commission included amending the East Austin Overlay, re-zoning numerous houses that were zoned industrial (LI) but used for single family (SF), and refusing to rubber-stamp money in the form of incentives to transnational million-dollar corporations. It was my opposition to double standards, inequity, and injustice that caused me not to get reappointed to the Planning Commission.
I will continue to appear before the Planning Commission in support of my community and issues to safeguard the environment.
How Many Roads ... ?
Thank you for your "Naked City" coverage on the city's new unbalanced bond package [Aug. 25]. I hope you will do more to focus attention on the fact that Austin and the Austin metro area has been on a road-building orgy for the last 15 years at enormous cost to taxpayers and damage to our environment, and congestion has only gotten worse. Contrary to the City Hall/Chamber message that we have neglected paving Austin and must "catch up," we have built roads faster than any other major metropolitan area in the country except Tucson. Yet we have more congestion than ever. The simple reason is that most roads don't relieve congestion, they increase it. (Not to mention how all those roads in Houston and Los Angeles have helped clean the air!!)
It seems odd that the Green Council can invent a "top priority" for $150 million more (on top of billions in the past two decades) for urgent but unidentified roads yet we need a "process" for finding out if citizens would like to vote on whether they would agree to spend $40 million to help save Barton Springs or $25 million for affordable housing.
And please do as much as you can to inform your readers and balance the sales pitch from the local daily and our new road warriors.
Save Our Springs Alliance
The Fight of Austin's Life
Thanks Mr. Bryce and Austin Chronicle for some skinny on a scary Dallas-based power-monger who wants to join another Dallas-based power-monger and go to Washington to run our Earth into extinction ["The Candidate from Brown & Root,"Aug.25].
Up until last year, Halliburton was owned by Harold Simmons under his Valhi umbrella. Simmons is a scary Dallas billionaire power-monger who was the biggest fundraiser our governor had when he first campaigned for the office. Simmons was the No.2 individual donor (after Pilgrim, the dead bird purveyor).
Simmons sold Halliburton off, keeping National Lead Industries (a heavy that pollutes extremely -- including depleted uranium) and Waste Control Specialists which has a private nuclear waste dump way out west on the Texas/New Mexico state line.
What are the chances that 100 decommissioned reactors from all across the U.S. will end up buried upstream from Austin? It was Bill Clements (another Dallas right-wing power-monger) who, decades ago, said that all the nation's rad/waste should be concentrated in a "sacrifice zone" in southeast New Mexico/far west Texas. Check out the website: www.andrewsnuclearwastedump.org. For more details on what could become a way hot issue once the legislative comes together in January. If the WCS site in Andrews Co. is chosen as the Texas-Vermont-Maine compact site, Austin has a fight on its hands. This thing is upstream from us. Paul Mendoza did the masterful Web work, Jerry and Frieda Hendicks paid for domain name and a year online while I and others did extensive research.
P.S. In construction contracts to U.S. military in Vietnam War, Brown and Root was No.2, Bechtel No.3 and the Freeport Co. No.1!
Was It Worth It?
The Austin Chronicle is one of the things that I love about living in Austin. Regarding the August 11 issue ("issue" also means "emission," by the way), many points have already been made in the August 19 issue's "Postmarks," but I would like to add one point.
Surely the people who control The Austin Chronicle (assuming that there are such people) knew that a significant portion of the readership of the Chronicle would be offended by the August 11 issue, and, surely, the Chronicle knew that children's easy access to the publication would be invoked. One person's beautiful public display of sexual liberation is another person's secondhand smoke.
Regarding children who live in a stable home environment and have been assimilated into a conventional moral structure of some kind, I don't think that it's harmful for them to be exposed to sexually explicit material. However, I don't believe that it is harmful not to expose such children to sexually explicit material, either. Further, I believe that I have a duty to respect the opinions of those parents who disagree with me about what their children should see. Surely, there are many places where adults can communicate about sex that would be more respectful of the opinions of said parents. Even within the pages of the Chronicle, sexual material can be, and has been, included with much less offense to those parents.
There will be situations, such as in debate over laws that criminalize private sexual behavior, where public presentation of sexual material will serve a social good, and some people will be offended. However, I don't see where the public good of the August 11 issue of The Austin Chronicle was worth the offense to such people in our community.
James C. Schneider
Doing His Duty
I didn't plan on doing this today. But usually, I find that (sic) it's the interruptions to my plans that are the "real job" that God has (sic) asked me to do. Three things -- short list.
1. Whoever this person is that dropped everything, including their workout, in an attempt to pull every issue of The Austin Chronicle's Smut Edition off the shelves of Austin one afternoon ["Postmarks," Aug. 18] -- I want them! I want them now! Their talents are going to waste. I'm ready to fire half my staff and hire him/her to replace them -- what energy, what drive! BTW ... isn't it illegal to take the entire stack of AC off the shelf? Isn't that stealing?
2. How many Austin cops does it take to change a traffic light on the corner of Slaughter and Brodie? Recently the city was repairing the lights at this intersection. There were no less than four police cars and one police SUV scattered around the intersection. Here's the twist, none of them were directing traffic, they were all over watching the repairs. Please tell me this isn't why Al Gore thinks we need another 50K police on the streets? To learn signal repair? What a waste of tax money!
3. I recently read that Living.com was filing for bankruptcy. One of the reasons cited for this $40 million venture loss was overhead. What overhead? How can a factory-to-consumer dot com have $40 million of overhead? Isn't that the whole idea -- no overhead? Was it that killer website? Personally, I think it was those open-bar pasta parties at the Copper Tank every Friday. (note: While attending -- as a guest -- one of those pasta parties, I asked the office manager -- a very nice Hispanic woman -- what was Living.com's game plan? She scoffed, game plan? They didn't need a game plan, they had $40 million backing them up! They didn't operate like regular companies did.)
Break the Mold
I was interested in the recent article ("Classical Revival at the Blanton," Aug. 25) where Mike Clark-Madison writes, "Yet it's hard to imagine anything worse to build on this site than a faithful re-creation of Battle Hall or the Texas Union, which seems to be what the UT powers were looking for." For some people, those two buildings are examples of UT architecture at its finest, built in the days when UT employed talented men like Paul Cret and Cass Gilbert. But we know those people are Philistines, with no real understanding of the last 50 or 60 years of international architectural history and the theories that have accompanied its development.
Certainly it would be wrong to attempt to build anything in the Spanish/Italianate Revival "red tile and limestone" style of Cret's Master Plan on the corner of MLK and Speedway. Such a building would clash with the boxy monoliths that would be its neighbors, the products of the more sophisticated post-Cret days. Such a building might express in stone the heights of Man's artistic and academic aspirations, as opposed to his trendy theories, latest fads, and elitist egotism, and that would never do. Such a building would require a level of craftsmanship that certainly couldn't be found anymore, and might minimize the amount of construction shortcuts the builders could take and the number of substandard materials they could slip in.
No, if the Blanton is to blend in with its site, let them design it to resemble a parking garage and hope the public eventually figures out it houses a museum.
James Scott Bankston
The Wolf Who Cried Police Brutality
I read Scott Henson's attack on Daryl Slusher and Mr. Slusher's reply about the Cedar Avenue incident and the settlement ["Postmarks," Aug.18]. I applaud Mr. Slusher's position, especially after what I witnessed on August 3. I happened to be at the City Council meeting on August 3 on a zoning matter. I was standing out in the lobby with a group of people when I heard a lot of shouting and screaming coming from within the meeting room. I went in to see what was going on. Standing just inside the door, I watched these people, all on their feet, yelling, threatening, and gesturing threateningly as they disrupted the meeting and seemed to be on the verge of rioting. As they began stomping around and gathering near the door, the man with me questioned their manner of doing business. He was thereupon called a KKK member by one lady, and told that they "don't do business with whitey."
Judging from their behavior in this situation, coupled with the facts of the case brought out during litigation, as well as the verdict of the jury prior to the settlement, I would say this case was a matter of a bunch of hooligans who injured a police officer, received an appropriate police response, and then cried police brutality to get money. I'm sorry the city of Austin caved in to them.
A Groupie Kind of Love
I've never met you but thank you for one of the most entertaining Chronicle articles I've read in my 17 years in Austin! ["Lust for Life," Aug. 11]
I know your type, sweetie. And I never gave your type enough credit. Suddenly, I felt the burning passion of Iggy as he stared at your 42-Ds. Instantaneously, I knew the hunger of John Cale and the heartbreak of you who had fed his hunger. Yes, I know your type.
No doubt you have received tons of messages accusing you of being what all those stars wanted you to be. Fuck them. I know your type and you are blameless. Floating on the highway towards redemption. God bless you.
Typing No More,
Give My Regards to Broadway
In the morning Austin traffic, I avoid drivetime radio and usually listen to KUT. Admittedly, I don't come in to the office when most of the Yankees are clogging things up on the highway, but I digress. So anyway, since Uncle John was on vacation this week, the crew at KUT stepped up to bat and pitched a week's worth of fantastic tunes. Ranging from songs from Gene Kelly, on his birthday, and playing "I've Got Rhythm" from An American in Paris to the version of the same song by The Residents. I listened to fantastic blues and world music. Oh, and the song about not throwing Barbie into the ocean that was played this morning because of the 1950's ooze was a pinnacle of KUT.
I don't mean to dis John, but we can handle [only] so many showtunes, dude!
Bicycler in Awe
Last Thursday, while cycling in the middle of the night on the service road of I-35 (I never claimed to be a genius), I was pulled over by the police. The officer, Robert Killian, badge No. 3561, was concerned that my bicycle did not have a blinking red light in back. Mr. Killian informed me that bikes are required to have a blinking (i.e. battery-operated) red light in back while riding at night. I had no idea that this was a requirement (as I thought my white light in front was sufficient). Mr Killian gave me a ride to a place off the highway where I could continue my journey in a safer manner.
During the entire time, Mr. Killian did not lecture, condescend, or use any type of derogatory tone with me. He was truly concerned with my safety, and wanted to see that I did not end up in pieces on the highway. That he took time out of his busy schedule is to be commended. It is nice to know that officers like Mr. Killian are out "serving and protecting" our community. Kudos to Mr. Robert Killian. And yes, I have since purchased a blinking red light for the back of my bike.
More Bump Backlash
Rick Hall's letter in the August 25 issue may have missed an important point. Mr. Hall cites a study by an assistant chief at AFD that claims that so-called "traffic calming" devices (speed bumps and traffic circles, mostly) could cost as many as 37 lives in Austin yearly. I haven't seen this study in full (it may be something assistant chief Bunte wrote for course credit), but Mr. Hall's quote from it seems to indicate that the basis for its conclusion is the fact that pedestrian injuries caused by motor vehicles ("auto/peds," as they are known in the trade) occur with a lower frequency in residential neighborhoods than do cardiac emergencies.
Don't traffic-calming devices also reduce traffic accidents in which no pedestrians are involved? Those kind of accidents outnumber both auto/peds and cardiacs combined. I know that emergency personnel are rightly concerned about minimizing response times to all incidents, and have long been opposed to speed bumps, as these can slow responses (not to mention the wear and tear they can cause on ambulances and fire trucks).
This "cost/benefit" study, however, seems to ignore an important benefit, was written by a non-neutral party, and Mr. Hall's letter, with its whiff of conspiracy theory (public safety personnel love that) may be as "dogmatic" as he accuses speed-bump enthusiasts of being.
Henry V. Fitzgerald, Jr.
On Roads and Rail
In your latest issue, August 25, "Postmarks" featured a letter by Amy Babich, [titled] "Cap Met in Wrong Direction," in which she made various complaints about poor bus service "due to lack of attention to quality." She suggested this be remedied by using the money that Cap Metro is now "giving away to build roads for private cars."
Which roads are these? I know of no roads built for "private cars." Our roads are open to everyone. On the roads I travel, I see cars, Cap Metro buses, police cars, fire trucks, ambulances, postal trucks, emergency vehicles, military vehicles, school buses. I see delivery trucks that bring food, clothes, building materials, TVs and computers, newspapers, and all the other necessities of modern life. I see service trucks carrying plumbers, roofers, painters, TV technicians, computer technicians. Sometimes I see bicycles.
In the last paragraph of her letter Ms. Babich said: "If Capital Metro can afford to throw away $100 million on roads for cars, it can afford to fix the bus system."
I would say that the money being spent on roads is not wasted, thrown away. These roads are our lifelines, a very real and critical part of our transportation system, whether Ms. Babich wants to admit it or not. The bus system should have been fixed (we were promised this by bus company management) before the quest for rail started. Money to fix the system, now, should come from excess funds that are being wasted, by Cap Metro, in the study of rail systems that are not a part of basic transport and may never materialize.
Robert P. Gerstenberg