We're sorry you feel that way.
ROAD Just Wrong
We have a great opportunity on November 7. We can vote yes on light rail and give ourselves more choices for getting around Austin, or we can stick with getting stuck in traffic.
Unfortunately, some opponents of light rail are getting a little loose with the facts. Anti-rail hired gun Wendell Cox came to town last week to tell Austinites that he's here to protect us from light rail debt. We appreciate Wendell's concern, but the light rail system is a pay-as-you-go project that will require no new taxes.
Members of the anti-rail group ROAD are claiming that light rail "is the same trolley system that we replaced with buses more than 50 years ago." The reality is that Austin's old trolley cars carried a maximum of 24 people. The proposed light rail system would carry more than 600 people per train. They are reliable, clean, and quiet. These trains are air-conditioned and they would run on dedicated tracks with the right-of-way at traffic lights.
Choosing light rail is the best opportunity we've had in a generation to improve the quality of life in Austin. ROAD and their cronies don't share this vision for a cleaner city with more commuter choices, but they do have an obligation to get their facts straight.
Austin Choices for Transportation
The Real Observer Story
To the editor:
The usually reliable Robert Bryce missed badly with his Sept. 22 item on the turmoil at The Texas Observer ["Naked City: More Turmoil at T.O."]. While I'm sure that all of us Observeristas would like to move on, I'm afraid that Bryce's bloodless, inaccurate depiction of the events surrounding editor Michael King's departure cannot go unaddressed.
It wasn't, as Bryce wrote, that King and the board "disagreed over the board's hiring" of an editor to replace Lou Dubose, it was that the board fired one editorial employee and hired another without so much as consulting the editor. Is this not material to Bryce?
As for the letter of protest Observer contributors wrote when word surfaced that the board had fired assistant editor Mimi Bardagjy, it hardly "attacked" the board, as Bryce characterized it; it stated in heartfelt language the writers' support for Mimi and gratitude for her invaluable work at the Observer for these past five years.
Why didn't my friend Bryce think these matters pertinent? Michael King didn't jump, as Bryce implies, the board shoved him. King's and Bardagjy's departure is every Observer reader's loss. It is every Observer writer's loss. And it is a loss for those many of us who believed The Texas Observer somehow immune from the sort of cruel, antidemocratic acts it has so heroically reported on for the past half-century.
Big Bend Bureau Chief (ret.)
The Company She Keeps
When the next mayoral election comes around, remember that Jackie Goodman (the woman who would be mayor) nominated Betty Baker (the woman who would pave over Austin) to the local planning commission.
Mixing Up the Mandolinists
To the Editor:
As an ex-Lizard, I very much enjoyed your article on the Austin Lounge Lizards ["The Lizards of Aus," Sept. 22]. The piece did contain, however, one bit of erroneous information that I want to correct. It was not me but Tim Wilson who was the band's first mandolin player, and it was Tim who was with the band when they won the Kerrville bluegrass band contest and for the group's first album, Creatures From the Black Saloon. When Tim left in 1985 to join Special Consensus, the esteemed bluegrass band based in Chicago, I replaced him and and stayed through 1990, playing on "Highway Cafe of the Damned" and "Lizard Vision." Thanks.
Paul R. Sweeney
A Puppet Publication
I have read the Chronicle weekly for many years. Like many readers I was originally attracted to the paper based upon your political idealism and the courage exhibited in standing up against the established power to fight fraud and to tell the truth. However, as the years have gone by, the spirit of idealism at the Chronicle has rotted to the point that you have become the apologetic mouthpiece for the Clinton/Gore administration and all of their minions in state and local government. There has been hardly a word of protest concerning: 1. The bombing and quarantine of Iraq which has killed over a hundred thousand Iraqi children; 2. The selling of high-level military secrets to the Communist Chinese; 3. The illegal campaign contributions; 4. The chronic perjury; 5. The creation of the Department of Justice as a political weapon; 6. The movement to create a police state through the passage of the Anti-Terrorist Legislation; 7. The White Water scandal; and 8. The cover-ups of Waco, Vince Foster, TWA, and Oklahoma City, etc. The list goes on and on and history will view this time as one of the most abusive in the history of our culture. It is clear that the leadership of both political parties are corrupt and unless Americans wake up to this reality and have the courage to fight for justice our future will be very sad. We need our old friends at the Chronicle to wake up and help out.
Light Rail Saves
While soul-less, community-destroying corporations are under discussion, let's not forget the car and oil corporations. No company is more deserving of your boycott.
As John Brunner says in The Sheep Look Up, this country's biggest export is noxious gases. Our biggest import is oxygen. U.S. citizens burn more fuel per capita than people anywhere else. And fuel use per capita grows each year.
The car and oil companies get their power from their customers. Without continued support from their customers, they can't dominate and foul the world.
Withdraw your support. Keep track of how much money you give them, and give them less. Exxon wants to run a gasoline pipeline through the Edwards Aquifer and South Austin. Isn't this a good reason to boycott Exxon?
Louis Black says that light rail won't make a difference for 20 years. I guess that means that he's not planning to ride the train or reduce his fuel use. Rail will make a difference to me right away, because I'm going to use both the train and the bicycle path that will adjoin the rail line.
If you don't like government by big oil, then for heaven's sake boycott big oil, or at least give it less support. Vote for light rail; it will help you cut down on your payments to big oil and on your greenhouse gas production.
It Takes a Village
Since your article on the incorporation movement in Volente ("Naked City: Village People," Sept. 22) did not see fit to include statements from pro-incorporation people, I would like to point out that many of the people who are for incorporation, and have been for many years in my case, would like to have more control over development and protection of property values. We would like to set up some regulations for responsible development, not stop it or overregulate. Unincorporated areas, especially in highly sensitive environmental areas, are currently at the mercy of unscrupulous developers. I can assure you we will definitely not be a safe haven for developers if incorporation should pass. We would like to be in a position to prevent further development that degrades property values and indiscriminately destroys environment and endangered wildlife habitat. There are many other advantages of incorporation in the present economic climate. We would greatly appreciate the opportunity to voice our opinions and facts concerning pro-incorporation ideas.
Signs of the Times?
Dear GirlStart and Austin Chronicle:
I'm writing about a GirlStart picture that was published in The Austin Chronicle "Best of Austin" issue [Sept. 15]. In the picture is a girl holding a sign that says "Boys Drool." Another girl is holding a sign that says "Girls rule," or words to that effect. "Boys drool?" I find it distressing that, in order to build up their self-esteem, girls are encouraged to think derogatorily about boys. If it were the other way around -- a picture of a boy holding a sing that says "Girls drool," I daresay you'd be claiming sexism, chauvinism, etc., and you'd be right. How, then, is it any less sexist, chauvinist, etc. to do what you're doing?
It's not necessary to tear down one group in order to give confidence to another. Let's try and help end the battle between the sexes. Thanks.
Starbucks Issue Over
In response to Samantha Noland's letter (printed in the September 22 Chronicle) advising Starbucks employee Jean-Paul Villere to "try volunteer work" rather than derive pride from his "bad-coffee-makin corporation," I offer a few words: free and open expression of opinions: good; assumptions: bad. Making snap judgments about someone you don't know is at least as detrimental to society as being a money-grubbing corporate clone, which Mr. Villere happens not to be, anyway. J.P. is a regular volunteer at the local unit of Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic, where he works with his fellow volunteers and the staff to produce recorded textbooks (K-3 through graduate school and beyond) for individuals with print disabilities. Further, he has recently used his position as a Starbucks managing partner to try to help RFB&D secure much-needed funding to further our mission of creating opportunities for individual success by providing and promoting the effective use of accessible materials. Can anyone who might still be on his or her high horse please get off now, and can we all just let this issue go? An especially important election approaches.
Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic of Texas
[Re: "On the Bus," Sept. 22]
I'm sorry, but I just had to "check in with the group." It came as no surprise to find yet another gushing hagiography-cum-theatre-review in the Chron, a paper that relentlessly wallows in its provincialism, by yet another stage-struck journalist on yet another, "journey to reclaim myself" amidst all the usual suspects of "sistahs and mentors" who obsequiously respond to the director in rehearsal with a reverent "Yes, Mama." Oh. Gag!
Hasn't this finally gotten to be a bit much? Breathless and self-indulgent prose, calculated yet artless and mundane photos, narrative devices that scream clunky (note to self: never use "note to self"), all these conspired against the purpose of informing the public on what was, conceivably, a worthwhile artistic endeavor.
Smoke, Mirrors, & Media
The first time I read a wire story about Bush's pollster Matthew Dowd talking about ethics, I laughed. When I saw his name pop up in the Chronicle's story about Bush's spin crew ["Managing the Media," Sept. 22], I sighed. Let me take you back 10 years to explain why. The city of Temple was following the trend toward regulating cigarette smoking in public places. RJ Reynolds saw potential lost customers, mobilized its mailing list, and "created" a smokers' rights group. As a curious smoker and newspaper reporter I showed up for the first meeting. RJ Reynolds supplied free ashtrays and lighters. Plumes of smoke rose from each table as Matthew Dowd spouted the RJ Reynolds company line. I left with a headache and a bad taste in my mouth. I soon quit smoking and haven't since. Matthew Dowd is still blowing smoke, just for a different corporation, Bush Inc. If you can judge a person by the company they keep, you can certainly judge a candidate by the people he hires. Think about it in November.
To the Editor:
In last week's article "Animation Station," Sarah Hepola wrote "Lipkowitz worked with engineer Charles Campbell until last February, when Lipkowitz left and ADV hired Lowell Bartholomee," which infers that Mr. Bartholomee is now the producer/director. For the record, Lowell did direct two shows as a freelancer for ADV last year, however, I was hired to replace Mr. Lipkowitz as producer/director and continue on as engineer. I recommended Lowell Bartholomee to be hired as the production coordinator and principal writer for ADV Austin.
You'll probably hear this from a lot of other alcoholic cranks, but I feel obliged to point out that what you call "pacheen" in this week's "Mr. Smarty Pants Knows" is a bastardization of the Irish poteen (pronounced po-CHEEN, Gaelic spelling, go figure). Poteen is as often the distillate of fermented potato or molasses products as malt ones.
Indeed, the different commercially available poteens are various vodkas (potato-based, as in http://www.ivodka.com/poteen.html) or whiskeys (malt-based, http://www.irish-poteen.com/main.html), reflecting the drink's imprecise definition. Poteens were malt-based early on because the potato didn't really catch on in Ireland until the mid-18th century (the OED's first listing of the "poteen" is in 1820, but I've seen references back to the 17th century).
Poteen translates to "little pot"; it usually referred to small, clandestine batches hidden away in order to dodge the authorities for prohibition or tax reasons. Indeed, that's how one buys it in Ireland today -- you slip the guy behind the unkempt, disreputable bar on the corner a fiver and find it in the trunk of your car an hour later so they don't get hit with the killer alcohol tax. Such are the wages of living in a country of alcoholics, I guess. Hey, I understand. I'm Irish, too.
You guys got any questions, give me a call.
In view of the already overwhelming traffic problems in downtown Austin, the City Council should be especially loath to approve the Lumbermen's most recent proposal to settle the Sand Beach Reserve boundary dispute litigation. Under the settlement proposal, the Lumbermen's seeks city approval for its construction of multiple high-rise condo units on the shore of Town Lake at the already congested intersection of Lamar and Cesar Chavez. But this is exactly what the City Council is poised to do, without so much as a single traffic study, any detailed site plan or even any explicit mention that the Lumbermen's is proposing to build the equivalent of an 18-story building and two 10-story buildings on this very sensitive area.
No doubt the Lumbermen's is well-aware that a similar proposal to build the 12-story Gotham town homes on Town Lake met with fierce resistance. To avoid public scrutiny for the Lumbermen's 10- and 18-story buildings, it appears that the Lumbermen's is now using stealth tactics to sneak this proposal past the council by having the preliminary terms of its settlement proposal passed in executive session of the council without providing for public comment. Haven't we learned from the city's prior bargaining "successes" with commercial interests (such as CSC and the Gotham developer) that the public should be involved meaningfully in significant city issues? This is especially true for commercial proposals to build over treasured public lands, whether it's the Gotham or the Lumbermen's proposal to build luxury condos on the shore of Town Lake.
Michael Rocco Cannatti
It is 3pm on Thursday and I want to see what bands are playing in town this week and you still do not have the music listings posted for tomorrow! I think that your site [auschron.com] has the potential to be a great resource for everyone in Austin interested in the music and entertainment options around town, but if you do not give anyone lead time as to what is going on, then why the hell should I go there? Austin360.com is your competitor (albeit a weak one when it comes to entertainment options) and they have already sent out their Thursday newsletter with music listings. I know your site is better but when I go there I get last week's listings -- at 3pm on a Thursday! Vallejo is playing at Antone's tomorrow and Saturday but one would never know it by depending on you.
To be constructive, having an advance calendar (even if it is not complete) would be a great addition. Even getting the weekend's shows up on the site on Monday would make it much more useful and would probably increase the number of hits which would increase the ad revenue from the site which would make the paper more money which would get everyone a big, fat juicy raise -- especially in the music department since you can track what is driving the traffic to the site.
Just a suggestion -- I like your site but it is frustrating when the information that should be there -- and I cannot believe it is not -- is not there. It gives me no reason to ever go back unless I want to find out what I missed the last weekend.
A site visitor,
Filled with factual inaccuracies, "Village People," an article in your Sept. 22 edition by Mike Clark-Madison ["Naked City"], gave the impression that the proposed incorporation of the Village of Volente could allow developers to skirt environmental regulations.
In fact, the opposite is the case.
For several years, the Volente residents have watched as development has started to threaten the unique character of an ecologically sensitive community that many of us have called home for many years. We've watched as businesses like the Volente Beach Club (which is within the proposed incorporation boundaries, contrary to what was reported) flaunted environmental regulations with impunity.
And we've watched as, time and again, the city of Austin (COA) proved itself incapable of effectively enforcing even the few ordinances that are in place within the ETJ.
A certain level of development is inevitable, but we believe it should occur responsibly and in compliance with the rules now in place. That is not now happening as development in our community remains under the distant oversight of COA. Incorporation, we believe, will allow more effective local enforcement of regulations on development by an elected, accountable city commission.
Additionally, Madison's article seems to imply that SOV is attempting to force incorporation on the residents of Volente. Again, this is not the case.
Madison writes that SOV petitioners "argue that Austin must respond to their request within 45 days or call an election by default." In fact, there is no threat of an election "by default" -- an election is not even possible without COA permission.
Madison continues, "A new village would have its own half-mile ETJ, so much of old Volente could end up subject to the authority of neighbors for whom they didn't vote." This is patently incorrect -- SOV is not requesting an ETJ.
Whether or not the residents of Volente decide to incorporate, most within the proposed boundaries agree that we all have the right to vote on the future of our community. It is time, if not past time, that the issue of incorporation came to a vote and was decided through the democratic process.
Chair, Save Our Volente
Virus vs. Virus
Treating AIDS with another virus is not a new idea ["About AIDS," Sept. 1]. Dr. Henry Heimlich, inventor of the Heimlich maneuver, was using malaria to treat HIV-positive people as far back as 1998. Beginning in 1918 and continuing for 60 years, doctors used to treat neurosyphilis using malaria. It has even been used to treat cancer patients. According to Dr. Heimlich:
"Interestingly enough, when cancer patients got severe febrile diseases, the cancer, which had otherwise found to be incurable, often disappeared. We collected 700 cases like this in the medical literature going back to the turn of the century. We have treated a few cases of far advanced cancer. We found improvement in a few breast cancer and melanoma patients, and one Kaposi's sarcoma patient, where we had marked improvement."
Dr. Heimlich did find one problem with the malaria therapy:
"Malaria therapy is relatively cost-free and could be done in any country in the world. There's no money to be made in it. So no company is going to push it."
Is this a great country or what?
The full text can be found at http://www.drmc dougall.com/Newsletter/july_aug1.html.
Please get rid of that stupid "Will Work for SUV and Stock Options" ad you've been running for weeks in your job ads. (1) I'm sick of seeing the annoyingly smug-looking woman in the photo. (2) I wonder about the taste of spoofing homeless people with a rich yuppie-looking person holding a "Will Work" sign. (3) Mostly I'm baffled why an environmentally progressive paper in a city struggling with growing traffic and pollution problems would want to propagate the notion that ownership of large gas-guzzling SUVs is cool and appropriate for anyone with an upscale job.