The union's due, the boys in blue, The Sopranos' view, and Miracle Mike takes it on the, um, chin.
Vouching for Van Os
I was flabbergasted to read "Union's Due," Kevin Fullerton's article on labor lawyer David Van Os in the April 6 issue of the Chronicle. The David Van Os I have known for more than 20 years is profoundly not the David Van Os depicted in the article. The two images simply do not fit. His integrity, dedication to the labor movement and commitment to human justice is unquestioned by hundreds of thousands of working people in our ultimate right-to-work state of Texas. For those who have worked with him in numerous political campaigns, the charge that he stymied a union in his workplace is absurd.
Van Os Not a Union Buster
This is in response to the article you recently ran concerning labor lawyer David Van Os ["Union's Due," April 6]. My name is Andy Milburn, and I am the vice-president of communications for worker district 6, representing 82,000 CWA members in Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Kansas. I have known and worked with David Van Os since 1982, when I was elected Chief Steward of the CWA Local 6132 in Austin.
It is most unfortunate that you have chosen to run what appears to me to be a slanderous article against a man who has dedicated his life to representing working men and women. It appears Kevin Fullerton was only interested in gathering facts or accusations that would smear David Van Os. As for Mr. Fullerton's comment that labor has formed a united, if silent, front in support of Van Os, that is only partly correct. No doubt organized labor will and should stand by David, who has been an advocate for working people for over 20 years. But organized labor has not been silent. I personally called Mr. Fullerton to discuss the article he was writing about Van Os. Apparently my discussion with Mr. Fullerton was not newsworthy because I did not provide any dirt on Van Os, only praise for the job he has performed for our CWA members for the past 19 years.
If you are truly interested in the facts, contact OPEIU and ask them if the employees at Van Os' law firm ever contacted OPEIU and asked to be represented. When you talk with OPEIU ask them if they now represent these workers with the NLRB or intend to represent these workers in the future. I can tell you that CWA represents workers at the NLRB when they are terminated for organizing to join CWA. As a matter of fact, David Van Os has handled many cases for CWA before the NLRB representing workers who want to organize. To accuse him of union-busting is absurd.
I hope that when Van Os is cleared of all the NLRB charges, you will also find that newsworthy. If you really knew how to investigate a story you may find who is really behind all these accusations and advising these former employees.
The Communications Workers of America also represents the Newspaper Guild/CWA and the International Typographical Union/CWA. We would be pleased to meet with your employees to discuss organizing. It is refreshing to see a newspaper supporting working men and women's right to organize.
vice-president CWA district 6, AFL-CIO
'Cop' Not an Epithet
The latest articles on the city's law enforcement agency have been thought-providing and tragic.
Having had the privilege to work for APD for 12 short years now, I can probably vouch that the boys in blue do not object to the term "cop" ["Postmarks: Police Not Cops," April 6]; they call themselves that, with all due respect. They probably do mind but are trained not to react to epithets toward their wives or girlfriends, ill-founded accusations of racism and brutality, etc. They do not tolerate being given a false identity, or when they cannot see someone's hands. The most dangerous calls they can take involve family violence with alcohol, and often involve hostility and non-cooperation from the victim.
There were some errors or misstatements by one of the critics of police conduct, namely that Internal Affairs is soft on cops ["Postmarks: Staking Out the APD," same issue]. IA is duly feared by all, I assure you. The same critic's non-cooperation with the media he had contacted seemed contradictory, as well. However, another letter writer ["Postmarks: The Police & the Middle Class,"] made the point that the police made the middle class' existence possible, and I found that thoughtful. Free enterprise and money also caused the middle class' rise and longevity, after kings and priests had robbed the people of their bodies and souls for a millennium, and then communism and fascism did the same to hundreds of millions in the last half century.
Back to the police for a moment. It is in the court system that one is presumed innocent until proven guilty. To the police there is a broad profile of people in situations in which they are suspected guilty until the cop is convinced otherwise. APD is initiating a self-monitoring program on racial profiling.
A word on hate crimes: The APD report system has a multitude of categories to include all races, genders, and gays and lesbians, in an assault or vandalism. The only category missing in the hate crimes list is "offense was anti-cop."
One last word on another subject of equal importance: Margaret Moser's review of Laura Nyro's posthumous new album Angel in the Dark ["Angel in the Dark," same issue], was of utmost interest and satisfaction to me. All of Nyro's songs and stylings succeed, and express deepest soul. Very enthused about this new release.
SOS Clears Misunderstandings
Last week's "Naked City" column on the "Gary Bradley partners'" recent violation of their development deal with the City Council ["Bradley Mistaken," April 6] has two glaring errors and a significant omission which result in misunderstandings by your readers.
The SOS Alliance Board did not support the Bradley deal. To the contrary, our Board voted unanimously to oppose the agreement. The board resolution went further and set out six fatal flaws in the agreement which would have to be fixed before we would reconsider our position. The final agreement did not fix any of them. A copy of that resolution is posted on our Web site at www.sosalliance.com.
Second, the Bradley deal does not require the developers to comply with the SOS ordinance, and I certainly never said that it did. Under the deal, the proposed mega-hotel/resort/golf course/conference center proposed by Bradley partner Lowe Enterprises would be allowed to build in excess of SOS impervious cover limits and would be allowed to intrude on the critical water quality zone and water quality transition zones along Bear Creek and its tributaries. Both of these violate the SOS ordinance. Other land in the Bradley deal is also exempted from these and other SOS provisions. Since the entire council voted for the deal, the "no special deals" provision of the voter-approved SOS ordinance was also set aside.
Your story did explain that the legislation was a wolf in sheep's clothing, pretending to be a vehicle for environmental protection and education when the real purpose is to enrich developers who are polluting the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer. However, you failed to make clear that the hotel developer, California-based Lowe Enterprises, would benefit as much or more than Bradley by the proposed legislation. Similarly, as a "Bradley partner," Lowe Enterprises is equally accountable for the violation of the deal with the city.
Considering that golfers don't know or care if they are playing on top of the recharge zone for Barton Springs, that Barton Springs is already suffering from too much pollution, including pesticides and fertilizers, and that there are plenty of sites downstream of the Aquifer for a hotel/golf course center, it is time for the citizens of Austin to insist that Lowe find a new site. You can find out how to reach them and their hotel project leader, Andrew Norris, at www.loweenterprises.com.
'Chick Flick' Story for the Birds
Your decapitated rooster photo promoting the "Chick Flick" documentary (April 6) was offensive, violent, and vulgar for a publication that pretends to be caring and sensitive to the natural, non-human environment. Keep this up and it might rank right up there with the crucifix in urine and the elephant dung on the Virgin Mary.
Anne and Mark Lewis (relatives?) in their strategy on "how to entertain an audience," with animals that make "a great vehicle for finding funny, entertaining comedic stories" add their "art" to this new New Sewer Society.
Such exploitation also shows that the Chronicle is not really an alternative to the commercial press, witness such animal porno, your cigarette ads, your pro-car, smart (?) growth advocacy; and your racist/sexist personal ads.
In making fun of "mouth-to-beak resuscitation," why not entertain readers with Chronicle photos of human sex with animals or the intimate sex practices that spread HIV?
As one of "some out there who take their chickens very seriously," I ask you who else in the animal kingdom has given as much to humankind with their eggs, feathers, flesh, and symbols for art and character, as witness my collection of chicken stamps. I hesitated to write you this because you probably will find this letter also funny, which tells readers a lot about the Chronicle. The rooster crows thrice on your betrayal of sensitivity.
[Ed. note: Mark and Anne S. Lewis are not related.]
Battered Women & Headless Chickens
I really appreciated your column in the April 6 Chronicle, telling about the public viewing of an episode of The Sopranos that was filled with anti-woman violence. It reminds me that once during the 1970s I got a call from a publicist asking me to round up some feminists to preview a new movie -- A Boy and His Dog. Luckily, I didn't (turned off by the title), as I later heard that at the end the hungry boy and dog eat the woman. The publicists were trying to get negative reaction from feminists, I presume. And presumably they thought our horror and disgust would increase the popularity of the movie with their target audience.
Why was an episode of The Sopranos that was specially selected for a public viewing focused on extreme anti-woman violence -- so revolting that, by your report, other women, who didn't have to stay and write a review, "stomped out of the SoHo Lounge" before the end? Anti-femaleness doesn't disappear, but its popularity goes in cycles, and the cycles seem to be both heralded and pushed by the media. The information in your column strikes me as emblematic of an increasingly anti-female time. It's not unpredictable: When an economic system takes a downturn, more people start looking for who they can take something away from. When a politico-social system gets more repressive anywhere in the world, it typically delivers the vulnerable for repression purposes, relieving the desire to strike at those above. Men usually get additional permission to repress the women around them. And I believe pleasure in hatred and cruelty generally increases, from Jew-baiting to Barney jokes.
It's only my hypothesis, of course, based on about a half century of observing life and history. But I do wonder if the Chronicle would have printed the picture of the living headless chicken ["Chick Flick," same issue] a year ago. I'm no vegan, but even before I turned the page to your column, I felt assaulted by the mixture of "horror, disgust, and fear" you then aptly described in relation to human and female conditions.
Keep telling. It matters.
Frieda Werden, Producer
WINGS: Women's International News Gathering Service
Stephen MacMillan Poseur
A simple note to Stephen MacMillan Moser ["After a Fashion," April 6]: People who live in glass houses ...
I for one am exhausted with said "avatar's" sycophantic slobberings. While W and Vogue are certainly bibles of the institution, fashion is no longer a monolithic pedant to follow. Personal style surely beats out a label any day. Someone who can pick and mix with an eye for his or her own pleasure is infinitely more artful than the victim who buys that last Prada purse at Last Call. And let's face it, your column is nothing more than a lame advertising space (gratis, no less!) for the above-mentioned and the "SoCo" strip, easily the most poseured piece of real estate. Try picking up the pen when you've found your own inspiration.
Oh, and by the by: 1) nothing at L.C. is "couture," a term you repeatedly bastardize, and 2) Madonna wore Stella to the Snatch premiere, not Jolie's tux. Perhaps those fashion mags didn't do enough brainwashing after all?
Non-Polluting Incentives Unfair
Buster Brown isn't the first to suggest giving cash rewards to companies who comply with anti-pollution laws ["Capitol Chronicle," April 6]. I, for one, don't think his bill goes far enough. There are lots of laws with which I comply on a daily basis, yet I receive no "incentive" payments, tax breaks, or other encouragement from the state. Furthermore, were I to break the law, I would be subject to prosecution, rather than a mere reduction in subsidies. Is there some way SB5 could be broadened a bit to include regular folks like me, or are immunity to enforcement and legislated embezzlement from the people the exclusive privileges of companies capable of destroying our environment? I mean, nobody ever suggested running the War on Drugs by paying dealers not to sell drugs. Why not? Maybe because the dealers didn't have a PAC or a good congressional lobby. Or maybe we only pay off those who pose a real threat to our health and safety. At any rate, hundreds of thousands of people are in prison on drug charges, and hundreds of thousands of dollars are being earmarked for our grandfathered polluters. Go figure.
Paying industry not to poison us is tantamount to sanctioning a hostage model of business practice. While this view of our economic system may be realistic, it is certainly not one the legislature should enshrine in state law.
Use Some Common Sense
Yes I am an Austin resident, South resident that is, and my comment to the highway department/City Council is: Why do you allow road construction during rush hour traffic? We as city residents need to get to work and we all know the hours of rush hour. It would be well welcomed if you would not allow this to be going on during rush hour. Come on -- common sense.
Christina L. Pino
Used & Abused
I just finished reading Belinda Acosta's "TV Eye" column "A Public Viewing" in the April 6 issue of the Chronicle. I missed my normal Sunday viewing of The Sopranos, so I just caught it last night. In other words, it's all still very fresh and bloody in my mind.
I agree with all Ms. Acosta's points, and am glad this piece made it in to the paper. I've been a faithful watcher of The Sopranos since season one and, even prior to this most recent episode, I've been calling this season the "Violence Against Women" season. The brutal rape of Dr. Melfi, the murder of Tracee, and let's not forget the whole leg-stealing and subsequent beating thing with Janice and the Russian woman -- that's a lot to stomach in one season, much less in just three episodes of that season.
I'm glad to see that some of The Sopranos' women characters are having their roles "expanded," but do we really need to have them lose their virginity to a pompous jerk, raped by a fast-food "Employee of the Month," or beaten by Russian flunkies so badly they end up in the hospital in order to add complexity to their characters? It just seems like the ultimate cop-out for the writers/producers. Last season, when Carmela flirted and struggled with the idea of having an affair, that was complex. Did we need to see her brutalized in order to learn more about her and give Edie Falco the opportunity to flex her substantial acting muscle? No. Granted, the world of the Sopranos is sexist and violent -- it is inherent in the culture that is being portrayed. However, when it comes to violence and women characters, it seems there's a thin line between story/character development (the chilling final scene of the Dr. Melfi rape episode) and gratuitous exploitation (the one-episode appearance, abuse, and eventual murder of Tracee in order to set up further intrigue for the Ralphie character; not only did Ralph think she was disposable, but it appears that the show's writers did too).
It's too bad that a revered and clever show such as The Sopranos -- which is viewed by millions of people every week -- sees this line, but chooses to step over it anyway. Just proves women in television and film still have a very long way to go ...
My two cents,