Post-election political rumblings , and Music Editor Raoul Hernandez takes it on the chin from Nina Simone fans.
Sad (Sunshine) State of Affairs
We have an obvious failure in the democratic process. We should allow democracy to prevail and allow the voters to re-vote in Florida. There has been too much confusion about the ballot. We have seen clear communication over the entire election day regarding this ballot confusion.
In addition to the ballot issue, Florida has missing ballots and missing ballot boxes. I believe that whoever is responsible for the process in Florida needs to be held accountable. The voters of Florida and the rest of America need to be heard in this election. There are too many inconsistencies in this state election to overlook without serious review.
I pray that the will of the people will be final but fear that political corruption and election mismanagement will take away our democracy.
Please take a look at this chart for more information on the Florida erroneous ballots: tropics.eastwindgraphics.com/uploaded/newwinter/bv.gif
Run Out of Rainey
Reading about the plans for a huge redevelopment project along Rainey Street saddens and disgusts me ["Down Came the Rainey," Nov. 3]. I am very unhappy at what Austin has turned into, thanks to large corporations moving here. And now this high-powered real estate deal will just add to an existing urban nightmare. I hope the Rainey neighbors hold out and don't sell, but if they do, I hope they avoid being exploited. They would be wise to get a lawyer and get all their money before moving.
My family was cheated out of our property at 51 Rainey in the mid-Eighties. Our entire block was pressured to sell out. The land developer promised to give my parents the money in three installments. This millionaire filed bankruptcy and got out of paying them the third payment! Now both of my parents are living in near-poverty while plans are being made to turn some outsiders into millionaires on our lost land. This whole scenario is certainly in keeping with Texas' tradition of exploiting Mexicans for their land!
Bush's Bag of Lies
Mr. Bush is now known to have three arrests and convictions. He's lied about it. Three strikes and you're out!
He's lied about being AWOL in the reserves. And, he's the man to restore integrity and dignity to the White House?
He lies about his positions on the issues. He opposed the Texas patients' bill of rights and then claimed that he was responsible for getting it passed.
He's the man who viciously attacks Al Gore for his lack of character? Come on!
Mr. Bush still says "he's made mistakes" without telling us everything. What else is he hiding? Can we afford to wait until after the election to find out the rest of the story?
Are we really going to elect a man who went from reprobate, alcohol-abusing playboy to Republican nominee for president in 14 years?
Give me a break!
Declare Oil Independence
As a nation, the United States continues to be held hostage to the oil cartels of the world. This has involved this country in the political intrigues of the Middle East. We are embroiled in other nations' hate, violence, and fanaticism. We have more crazed enemies than we can count, and they have resources.
The think tanks that shape our strategic planning and President Clinton believe the chances of a national disaster in the form of terrorist action to the level of a major biological or nuclear attack in the U.S. in the next few years are 100%.
A test tube full of toxic biological agents or a brief case nuclear weapon could kill millions. Detonation of a device in New York City could destroy much of our heritage in the museums and the financial institutions supporting our economy.
In 1981, the vice-president and controller of the Senate killed government support of alternative energy resources. If we had continued the support and made stricter requirements for emissions, we might have 25 million non-polluting electrical cars on the roads of America and independence from the oil cartels lowering our high profile to the lunatic factions of the world. Some people can't see this, but some people refuse to fly commercial even though it is several times safer than driving. We have a problem with the environment caused by the pollution of fossil fuels. They are responsible for as much as a trillion dollars in devastation to the agricultural economy and will not go away for years with the most strident reversal of political policies. The costs will continue to multitrillions.
The oil interests are against the interests of the United States. When you can't water your yard, look to your fossil fuel burner in your garage. When agricultural commodities are more expensive due to destruction by drought and floods and farmers are leaving the business in droves, look to the oil interests. Can you eat oil? Some people make changes, others wonder what happened!!!
The aforementioned vice-president was Mr. George Bush. His son owes total allegiance to oil interests. We will pay severely in the future even with some change but to limit the costs, now is the time to think about our country and not our personal pocketbooks. November 7 is the day it counts.
Campaigns Bought and Sold
Why do we see this plethora of political yard signs which mention only the candidate's name and office sought? Are candidates ashamed to admit which party they belong to; or perhaps afraid to mention it for fear they won't be elected if their party affiliation is known? One's party affiliation indicates what one believes politically, and is vital information for an informed electorate. The L.W.V. Voters Guide reveals that most of the early signs belong almost exclusively to candidates from one party. That indicated two things to me: (a) these candidates don't have the "guts" to reveal their party labels; and (b) one party must have nearly all the money and is trying to buy the election of candidates "from the courthouse to the White House," as attested by the unprecedented outlay of over $100,000,000 for the Bush campaign. I say this, to Republicans and Democrats alike: Let the voters judge what you believe!
Robert P. Sindermann Sr.
Security in an Insecure World
Even Al Gore fails to remind voters that Social Security provides survivors and disability insurance, in addition to retirement benefits.
If a young parent dies prematurely, Social Security pays monthly checks to the surviving spouse and pays for each child up to age 18. For an average worker earning about $30,000 a year, Social Security is the equivalent of a $322,000 life insurance policy. For an average disabled worker, the Social Security benefits are the equivalent of a $200,000 disability insurance policy.
George Bush's proposal to divert a portion of Social Security taxes into individual accounts could undermine these valuable insurance benefits.
Gore proposes Social Security-plus, which retains today's benefits plus a government match for savings of married couples earning below $100,000 and singles earning below $50,000.
Gore proposes voluntary prescription drug coverage under Medicare, while Bush proposes coverage under HMOs and insurance companies. Most seniors prefer the certainty of Medicare.
Instead of Bush's large tax cut, Gore pays down the national debt and thereby saves billions of dollars now being wasted for interest payments on the huge Republican debt inherited by the Democrats in 1992.
Old-timers like me remind voters that Social Security and Medicare "never woulda happened" without Democratic presidents and Congressmen.
The Morning After
To the editor:
I have long found the Chronicle's political coverage and endorsements to be invaluable. That is why, of all the sad things in this election, I am most saddened by Louis Black's steadfast shortsightedness on Ralph Nader. Black accuses Nader of running a "spoiler" campaign which will only hurt Gore and falls back on the conventional wisdom that third-party candidates can't win elections. Nader's goal, however, is not to win so much as to get 5% or better of the national vote, thereby getting the Greens matching funds and establishing them as a viable, progressive third party for the future. Black has admitted that, since Texas' electoral votes will go to Bush anyway, Nader votes can't hurt Gore here; why then not support Nader, since every Texas vote for him is one less vote needed in "swing" states where Gore has a chance of winning? When I think of all the progressives out there in Bush states who will vote Gore simply because they're used to thinking that there's no point to voting for a third party, and of what publications like the Chronicle could have done to help convince them not to throw their votes away on Gore, I become very sad indeed. Talk about a missed opportunity.
I write this on the day before the election. My fondest wish is that I will wake up on the day after to find Gore elected and Nader at over 5%, neither of which, alas, is looking likely at the moment. If this doesn't happen, I regret that it will be in part because journalists like Louis Black let their readers down by refusing to subject their assumptions about third-party voting to timely critical scrutiny.
Wow, endorsing Nader and Gore ... talk about spineless. You're the only paper in the country to endorse two candidates (in case you haven't noticed, the ballot allows for only one presidential vote).
Try taking an actual stance next time.
New York City
Give GHB a Chance!
As a libertarian, I expected to disagree with most of your political endorsements, but read them anyway. I am compelled to write the editors, not about the candidates or the issues, but about a serious error in your facts.
This is the second time I've seen the Chronicle print misinformation deliberately concocted by the FDA and the DEA against GHB, the so called "Date Rape Drug" (how's that for a politically loaded label?). I agree with the Chronicle's liberal position on drugs the majority of the time and am compelled to point out that the demonization of GHB is an utterly fabricated campaign of misinformation even more odious than "Reefer Madness."
GHB was once sold in health food stores and was quickly banned for two reasons:
1: The Government presumes it has a right and a duty to prevent you from getting high.
2: Safe, natural medicines are routinely banned by an FDA that is invested and controlled by an unscrupulous and competing pharmaceutical industry.
First off: GHB is not an "Animal Tranquilizer" as you asserted in your "Ecstasy" issue of the Chronicle ["Countdown to Ecstasy," June 9]. It is a naturally occurring cellular nutrient with multiple medicinal uses.
Secondly: GHB is the least harmful of all intoxicants known to mankind. It is non-toxic and is quickly eliminated by the body, has no hangover or "crash." And has only rare and minimal side effects.
The only danger GHB presents is in overdose or in combination with alcohol. Ron Paul, as a physician, knows this and I praise his good sense. I must ask the Chronicle to research any assertion it makes about drugs thoroughly. It ill becomes such a liberal paper to unwittingly further the ends of those who wish to curtail our freedoms and limit our recreational drug use to alcohol and tobacco.
Coz the Shroom
I must congratulate the city of Austin and the state of Texas on their apparent sudden increase in the number of law enforcement officers. I lived in Austin 10 years, and have marched against the death penalty for 14. But I have never seen as many law enforcement officers as when a group of peaceful protesters walked on the sidewalk near the Texas governor's mansion on October 15.
In 1996, I witnessed several persons shoot from a car through a crowd of about 50 picnickers, targeting one of my neighbors in Southeast Austin. Apparently there were not enough officers to follow up the shooting with an investigation. My neighbor got a gun and killed the alleged driver of the car.
If there had been such an excess of police officers in 1996, perhaps they could have arrested the four persons who shot at my neighbor, rather than him being in jail for murder.
If Gov. Bush keeps this up, certainly we will eliminate 'death row.'
Reader Encourages Painful Chron Death, and Rhymes Too!
The Chronicle headline asks, "What happens if Bush goes to Washington?" Well, hopefully Alex Baldwin and Kim Basinger will take a few million of their closest Hollywood ilk with them when they leave the U.S. and you could go with them! Maybe you could try Asia. Maybe you could try euthanasia. So many flaming liberals, so few tall buildings. Does your sexual orientation allow you to fly? We should pass a law that allows you to fly like a bird and outlaw gravity as a hate crime.
Public Utility Problems
The Texas Health Commissioner resigned. Three other resignations are in order. The three Public Utility Commissioners of Texas should be asked to resign for their handling of PUC Docket No. 21741, a 52-mile, double 345 Kv transmission line from Coleto Creek to Pawnee involving over 120 landowners in Goliad and Karnes Counties. Goliad and Karnes County Commissioner Courts and the Farm Bureaus of the counties have passed resolutions opposing the construction. The Administrative Law judge ruled that the line is not needed. No one in Texas will be without electricity if the line is not built. Utility companies will profit if the line is built. The summary of the matter is that "Texans should not treat other Texans the way CPL and the PUC have and are treating us landowners."
Henry A. Miller
Bridge Between Road and Rail
May I point out that a light rail train is essentially a bus whose route one cannot, in practicality, change? If, instead of light rail trains, less money were spent for electric buses, either those of the (new) battery-powered or hybrid variety, or of the older variety powered by overhead wires, many of the disadvantages of light rail, especially those of cost and lack of flexibility with respect to needed changes in (and additions to) the scope of service, could be avoided. Even if special infrastructure, like dedicated roadways, were built, the cost would likely be comparable or less than a light rail system, and the advantages of flexibility in terms of updated equipment and the ability to still run on standard roadways would be gained.
If hybrid or battery buses were used, this rapidly evolving technology would allow rapid advances in updated equipment as buses reached the end of their service life. Investment in this field would also contribute to financing research and advances in that field, one whose advances could be translated directly to the roadways of Austin in the form of hybrid and battery personal transportation vehicles to reduce pollution and energy demand. These are already appearing on the market, and the future looks bright. Investment and research in this new and rapidly advancing technology could also put money back directly into the city of Austin and surroundings, since there are companies which are working in, or could work in, such fields (Electrosource batteries, for instance).
Finally, if the whole project simply did not meet the needs of the city "in the end", we would be left (especially if special roadways or lanes were built as part of the project) with "abandoned" roadways, something we need now and would then, and not abandoned railways. I have not heard of anyone proposing this middle ground as a less expensive, more flexible alternative. It would seem the city, and the voters, should consider it.
Weyrich Wants Rail
Louis Dubose, in his dilettantish dabbling, got his rails crossed in the latest issue of the Chronicle ["Off the Desk," Nov. 3], when he said that Paul Weyrich was part of a vast right-wing conspiracy to dump rail. Weyrich (the man who coined the term "moral majority") is a staunch supporter of rail and the Statesman recently ran a pro-rail article by Weyrich. Pro-rail organizers across the country have used Weyrich in an attempt to attract Republican and conservative voters.
Robert P. Gerstenberg
Hot Words for Hot Pepper Scribe
Sandy Szwarc might know a lot about peppers but she is apparently pretty ignorant when it comes to libraries or encyclopedias ["Encyclopedia of Fire," Nov. 3]. An encyclopedia is just a way to store and present information; what it is used for or how dull or exciting it is up to the reader. I'm willing to bet that Ms. DeWitt did some of her research using encyclopedias, maybe even in libraries. If you didn't have The Chili Pepper Encyclopedia, you might still be able to answer most of Ms. Szwarc's questions using the tools in your local library.
Let's make a deal, Ms. Szwarc; you stop sneering at libraries, and maybe a librarian will help you out the next time you're feeling dull.
Student, Graduate School of Library and Information Science
Make the Most of the Nouveau Austin Set
Austin is changing. It is out of control. People are moving to our liberal, Southern utopia at a head-spinning rate. Light rail or no light rail, this city has an expansion problem. The people are here whether we like it or not. The question is, what can we do about it? What are our methods of growth? Can we as a city control how we grow? Who is the city?
Does the city consist of these newcomers with all of their stocks or is the city the people that have lived in Austin and made the city what it is? I was born in Austin in 1976 and have to take a step back to realize what has really happened to this city. The point is that people are pouring in, and until we can figure out a way to stop them we may as well use them. After all, it is our city that they are moving into, and we need to be strong enough to keep the structure that has made Austin such a unique and wonderful place. Instead of getting pushed around by all of the new money we can use it to benefit Austin, as we know it.
Live (Cheap) Shots
Nina Simone is a raging force of musical ingenuity and a power of soul that will not be compromised.
You seem to be the sad and angry "writer" that wastes his time brutalizing an aging, real musician -- (rare in these times), one who lets herself be who she is, she is!
How you hide behind your hurtful words that only boost; the low self-esteem, ego-bloated critic hoping only to impress the apathetic hip crowd of elitists.
Homeless in Harlem? What are you implying? Is this a racial thing? What the hell happened to you as a little boy? Sad, angry, lonely.
P.S. Why even mention her weight? I guess you are that shallow.
To the Editor:
This letter is regarding Raoul Hernandez's review of the Nina Simone show on Oct. 30 ["Live Shots," Nov. 3]. Raoul, I don't know where the Chronicle plants its fifth-rate scribes these days, but I was in the third row center for Ms. Simone and I believe we attended two different shows. Either that, or your head is a lot farther up your ass than I originally suspected. Coming from a man who once described a Breedlove show as "... a two-hour set that never breaks momentum," no one should be shocked at your ignorance and complete misinterpretation of a performance. Raoul used the words, "out of tune, out of key, out of time," to describe Ms. Simone's performance. Well Raoul, you're "out of your fucking mind." Her voice was the same sultry medicine it has always been. Since I never ask a writer if something is in the right key, I won't even grace that observation with a response. Who we saw bless that stage that night was an institution. Ms. Simone has done more for this world than any hack critic with a penchant for character assassination can dream of. When you're 67 years old, Raoul, I hope you look stunning on stage. Sad thing is, you'll never be on a stage with thousands celebrating your presence because you're a literary thug who dispenses shit under the banner of a weekly rag. I know it's discouraging having no way to move people. I'm sure it's frustrating seeing others do. You have to rise above the numerous shortcomings that plague the critic and recognize a performance like Ms. Simone's for what it is: brilliant, poignant, moving, inspirational, and apparently, beyond your comprehension. Two-hour Breedlove sets are more your speed.
Justin B. Andrews
Opinions Are Good
Every once in a while I read a letter in "Postmarks" that really defies logic. It is the lack of understanding of the word "opinion." We are all allowed to have them. And if two people have differing opinions, so friggin' what? The Chronicle's movie reviewers give their opinions. That's all. And if you people (and you know who you are) are so offended that someone could possibly disagree with your opinion about a movie, try reading the Statesman's reviews. Or perhaps hang out at your local Blockbuster video, ask the kids who work there what they think, and leave the Chronicle's staff alone about it.
And by the way, Brian ["Postmarks," Oct. 20], you think the Chron's reviews are predictable? Every big Hollywood "blockbuster" in the last five years has been just that. Including The Matrix. But that's just my opinion.
Just the Facts, Ma'am
Of the three people who have ever been employed full time at the ADV Austin studio, I'm the only one who hasn't sent in a letter to the editor in reference to the very nice article Sarah Hepola wrote about us several weeks ago ["Animation Station," Sept. 22]. Well, I hate being left out, so here goes ...
I was the fact-checker for the article, so I guess it's my fault that misstatements and misunderstandings made it into the final draft. What can I say? I suck. That's pretty much all I have to say.
I would like to thank Sarah for her terrific reporting and writing and for opening our studio up to a wider group of actors. We will continue to keep Austin's incredibly talented actors employed as often as possible. We are fortunate to be working in this city.
More don't-drive drivel, more light rail fantasy.
When a driver must stop at every signal along a thoroughfare, regardless of the amount of other traffic -- lots or none -- too-menny-cors is not the problem. The problem won't be solved, either, by adding to the streets more poorly tuned buses, and light rail as planned will only make it drastically worse. There is too, too little time in the day and too much plaque in too many arteries for any significant number of commuters to switch to bicycle.
A few Saturdays ago, a gentleman wrote the Statesman that a 1.5-minute traffic signal is nothing. I agree; one 90-second delay is no big deal. So? One encounters enough 90-second and 180-second lights to double the length of most trips. Cars are most efficient when in motion. Waiting at lights, cars very efficiently pollute.
Remember that buses may stop twice as often as other vehicles -- at mid-block as well as at intersections. Consider that the attempt to accelerate underpowered diesels often results in increased pollutant output.
Light rail as planned will, when complete, tie up lanes of existing road, and rather than not helping the current city, make it worse. The argument that light rail will ease problems of future expansion is another way of saying that rail lines outside the current city will be installed as development corridors.
Fixing the signal system won't solve the problem, but it would make a far greater difference than either more buses or a choo-choo will. All it would involve, by the department's own implication, is to go out and adjust each light back to sensible cycling.
So don't urge that the traffic department do the right thing. Vote for more buses, and by all means help the aquifer by voting for light rail and more expansion.