Postmarks

Bush League lambasting, locally-grown concerns, and a side of jazz.


Correcting Kevin

Editor:

Kevin Fullerton recently interviewed me for his article "University High," [June 8] and I believe I was misquoted and quoted out of context. In addition to stating my name as "Tim" Fons, not Jim Fons, information was skewed and did not represent my beliefs.

In Dual Credit classes, work is more difficult than in other classes in high school, and in content the classes are very similar to college classes. When students enter my Dual Credit class, they are expected to do college level work.

Located in a high school building, the class at times does not feel like college -- but the class teaches college-level skills and prepares students for the college environment, guaranteeing that a certain amount of learning has taken place and does not need to be duplicated in the college environment.

Some students take Dual Credit classes and, like many college freshmen, are not emotionally ready for college and do poorly in the Dual Credit classroom. They do not receive college credit because they either do not meet college entrance criteria and are not allowed to receive college credit or they end up failing the class. The percentage of success and failure in the Dual Credit class is very similar to the rate of success and failure at NHMCCD and many colleges and universities in Texas. Dual Credit classes do not "tend to function as remedial courses for kids with marginal college skills." The majority of the students who have taken and passed Dual Credit classes are not remedial and definitely have better than marginal college skills.

Sincerely,

James S. Fons

[Kevin Fullerton responds: I sincerely apologize to Mr. Fons for mistyping his name in my article. And I agree with Fons' assertion that very good students pass through his class, are academically challenged, and do well in college, as stated in the article. The point my story made, however, was that dual credit classes are also populated with students who are not prepared for college work, which casts doubt on how collegiate the classes really are. In that, Fons and I are not in disagreement, and I do not agree that he was misquoted or quoted out of context.]


Don't Trust Everything You Read

Editor:

I have just read your comments about the Statesman's coverage of Bush in Europe ["Page Two," June 15], and I am somewhat surprised at your reaction.

When you and I were youngsters, they didn't give us one book and say "here's everything you'll ever need to know." No, they gave us a lot of books and reading lists, and that's how we learned to learn. Now, I don't expect the Statesman to lie to me, but I'm sure they are only going to give me the story they want me to have. That's why I read several different papers and listen to several different news shows. Somewhere in there is the truth. As to your comment about Marvin Olasky, may I first say "Amy Babich."

Larry Gaston

Cedar Park


Bush's European Hypocrisy

Editor:

Hypocrisy is such an ugly word, but sometimes you have to call a spade a spade. President Bush's current trip to Europe has been characterized by -- well, let's call them inconsistencies. Departing for Europe, President Bush proclaimed that he was determined to "take a leadership role on the issue of climate change." Moments later, out of the other side of his mouth, Bush offered his most detailed explanation yet of his doubts about studies and impacts of global warming. His policy prescription: more studies. More than 10 years of research and mounting evidence supporting global warming has the rest of the world rightly skeptical of the new president's agenda. Meanwhile, Europeans should be further confused on President Bush's national security policy. One side of the president's mouth speaks of dismantling the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty as banishing one of the last vestiges of the Cold War. Out of the other side, an impassioned plea for the expansion of a Cold War defense alliance -- NATO. President Bush claims that the European dismay with his policies are, "beginning to be allayed when they hear the logic behind the rationale." Somebody needs to remind him that the key to logic is consistency.

Tim Morstad


Bush Should Jettison Plans for Arms Race

Editor:

Just a few comments on Bush's plan to ignite another arms race.

As recently as last Friday, two Republicans have hinted they will jump ship -- in large part due to Bush's defense agenda.

With a Democratic congress, Bush knows he will never get his missile plan into orbit (pardon the pun) but he still insists on proliferating a global nuclear arms race, a race that Russia doesn't want, China doesn't want, Israel doesn't want, Europe doesn't want, over half of America doesn't want ... the Republican party isn't even sold on this plan!!!

During his last trip to Russia in 2000 Clinton should have planned for a "worst case" scenario, (read: a Bush White House), and ratified an acceptable arms agreement with Russia, but he didn't, and he left the door open for the guy who came in second in the 2000 presidential race to "go global" with the fear mongering that Bush obviously hopes will empower his Cold War buddies with renewed defense contract monies.

It wouldn't surprise me if everyone who voted for Bush and his Star Wars II agenda feels the shame and humility that comes with making the deadliest decision one could ever make.

Thanks for voting a nuclear arms race back into play!!!

Richard Harvey


Perry's Veto Inexcusable

Editor:

In the aftermath of Gov. Rick Perry's veto of 78 legislative bills on "Bloody Sunday" lies his inexplicable veto of Texas' Public Accommodation Act. That law would have prevented discrimination by public businesses against persons because of race, color, national origin, religion, and sex.

What possible justification is there, in the 21st century, to allow businesses to discriminate against minority persons and women? More to the point, why does the governor not see fit to help eradicate this vestige of the state's sordid history of racism?

The ironic part of this legislation is that the minority communities agreed to cap any punitive damages against errant businesses at $500. As he did with other pieces of legislation that he vetoed, the governor said not a word during the legislative session as to any problems he had with the bill. He simply killed it.

Vetoing a law that prevents discrimination in public accommodations is a pathetic commentary on the governor's commitment to equal rights. Indeed, his veto encourages discrimination by sending a message that business establishments which discriminate will face no penalty under Texas law. So much for being the governor of all the people.

James C. Harrington

Director

Texas Civil Rights Project


Kids Need Health Care Too

Editor:

Texas' shame: 25% of its children do not have any health insurance compared to 15% nationwide, and when it comes to insuring its children Texas ranks 49th.

Due to extreme pressure from Texas' teachers, this recent Legislature provided them with health insurance. However, as Texas' uninsured children cannot apply any pressure, this Legislature opted to leave them uninsured.

Parents and teachers know that healthy children learn much faster and much better, and quality health care early in life prevents more expensive health care later in life. Thus, health insurance for children is a win-win situation in all respects.

Gov. Perry, who has excellent health insurance -- all of the cost of which is being paid for by the taxpayers -- should call a special legislative session whose sole purpose should be to provide all of Texas' uninsured children with health insurance.

Texas has an opportunity of becoming the first state to provide all of its uninsured children with health insurance. If Texas will do this, all of the other states will soon follow suit. Then this shame that hangs over Texas would come to an end.

Milton A. Braun


Boards Are Good for Austin

Editor:

Mike Clark-Madison's piece on City Boards & Commissions ["Boards! ... and Commissions," May 18], allowed the opportunity to have respected B/C members speak "in their own words" about the system and it appears from them that the system works. This is not to say that the system cannot be improved and that B/C members should not strive to listen to the community more or be better prepared. All parties: the city council, city staff, and B/C members can help each other by showing mutual respect, listening effectively, and following through with their agreements/work plans.

The Board/Commission appreciation event was meant, in part, to highlight the significant achievement of members and their respective B/Cs. These members as a group affect so many positive aspects of our quality life that it is bewildering why they do not get more community recognition. It should be noted that 44 currently serving individuals have served for 10 years or more in the system, including seven with more than 20 years service.

Sincerely,

Scott Johnson

Chair, Planning Committee, Board & Commission Appreciation Event

Former Board Member, Urban Forestry Board


Seaholm Plan Will Clog Streets

Editor:

The Seaholm Master Plan is a plan to move 500 single-occupant motorcars to the vicinity of Lamar and Cesar Chavez, and park them there, so that a crowd of 500 people may attend a public attraction, the nature of which will be determined later. The plan would extend Third Street westward across Shoal Creek to Lamar for cars, and West Avenue southward to Cesar Chavez for cars. Some of the new West Avenue would be considered part of the Lance Armstrong Bikeway, but it would have cars and traffic jams on it.

Extending the Lamar Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge to Fifth and Lamar, so that it connects North and South Lamar safely and directly for pedestrians, has been put on indefinite hold for the Seaholm plan. The planners think the pedestrian bridge is ugly and don't want it extended. On the other hand, they call their parking lots "visual green space."

Trails and bike paths in the Seaholm plan are tentative; roads and parking lots are solid. The plan costs $30 million at least. There is no public attraction at Seaholm now, and perhaps there never will be.

If only they would just construct the bicycle and pedestrian trails, finish the Lamar pedestrian bridge, and limit motor traffic to one lane in each direction (with a crash fence) where Cesar Chavez cuts dangerously close to the hike-and-bike trail. (This is right where the completed portion of the pedestrian bridge ends.)

This alternative would be much cheaper, and much better in terms of making the Seaholm area a pleasant place to be.

Single-occupant cars are passé. Let's move on.

Yours truly,

Amy Babich


Pekar Wins Over Past Critics

Editor:

I just wanted to drop a line and say thanks to Harvey Pekar for his article on avant-garde jazz innovators ["The Innovators," June 15]. I'm sorry if I was out of line for my previous criticism ["Postmarks: Down With Jazz Snobbery," Jan. 19] of his initial reaction to the Ken Burns' Jazz documentary series which was broadcast on PBS, but I do think the series had its merits and served a constructive purpose for the mainstream audience. I agree, though, that it was pretty lame for Burns to implicitly suggest that jazz died sometime in the 1960s. There may be some credence to the argument that time must elapse in order for a historical perspective to develop in jazz criticism and scholarship, but Burns' apparent assertion that traditionalists such as Wynton Marsalis constitute the future of jazz was/is a tremendous mistake and violation of artistic common sense.

Anyhoo, I was educated and elevated by Pekar's recent article and would enjoy seeing more like it. I don't know if Mr. Pekar lives here in town or is based elsewhere; however, I think it would be great if he would perhaps grace us with an article (or someone else could write it too, I guess) on the European jazz improvisers. As you may well be aware, we are lucky enough in Austin to have some fantastic folks working to bring this music to us. Especially Mr. P.G. Moreno, who has brought Evan Parker and Peter Brötzmann to Austin recently and who brought us Paul Lovens and Mats Gustafsson last week.

Your buddy for life,

Jon Pearson

(Ed Note: Pekar Lives in Cleveland.)


Chron Part of Jazz Problem

Editor:

I appreciated the recent article concerning the lack of support for creative music in Austin, but the writer, Christopher Hess, neglected to mention that the Chronicle itself has been a part of the problem (and is potentially, part of the solution). Past coverage of this type of music has been spotty, at best.

It is indeed a shame that Carl Smith left Austin ["The Inexpressible," June 15], but how many articles has the Chronicle published to inform readers of his upcoming events? None that I can remember. How many reviews has the Chronicle published of his performances? Again -- the answer is none.

I'd guess the reason for this lack of coverage is that musicians like Carl, Alex Coke, and Tina Marsh, and an organization like Epistrophy Arts, will never have the thousands of dollars (or tens of thousands) to spend on advertising in the Chronicle. Consequently, readers are subjected to weekly stories about one forgettable garage band after the next, and the Sixth Street club owners get an extra bang for their advertising bucks.

Loud, obnoxious punk or rock music is "not exactly the type of background music that encourages socializing over a few martinis" either, but media coverage has helped to create and sustain a market for it. I strongly urge the editor and staff of the Chronicle to do the same for the essential music presented by those mentioned above, as well as for others who take those daunting steps into the creation of something fresh and new.

Looking forward to more coverage of innovative music in The Austin Chronicle,

Rick Kendrick

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Our readers talk back.

July 9, 2004

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A plethora of environmental concerns are argued in this week's letters to the editor.

March 31, 2000

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