Our readers talk back.
Having read your two recent articles about Georgetown ["Georgetown Smackdown," Aug. 17, and "Something Stinks," Sept. 14], I must make the following comments:
1. Had I known what your reporter had in mind when she requested the opportunity to get a "good" picture of me, I could have saved you the trouble and provided the photo on my driver's license.
2. Your first article, written by Jordan Smith, exhibited a good talent for obtaining, sorting, and presenting some very complicated material in an apparently fair manner. There certainly were inaccuracies -- some of them not minor -- but the article presented an overview that came close enough to the truth that I found myself feeling a sense of relief at the relative paucity of errors.
3. "Something Stinks," the most recent article, is a horse of a different color. Because I have completely recused myself from the material issues (but not the legal machinations involving the lawsuit), I cannot address the factual representations in that area. However, your lead paragraph is so inaccurate and sensationalized that it causes me to question the remainder of the article. Many statements about details relating to those legal procedures and issues (admittedly, not uncomplicated) are grossly misrepresented. I suspect that this story was not given the same authorship or time that the previous one was afforded. Certainly there was no attempt, in this instance, to contact me relative to the disturbing charges you have printed. This is more than a mere lack of courtesy, given that you are making allegations that directly reflect on my character and behavior.
4. I have neither the time nor the patience to attempt to correct the grossly unfair, and seemingly intentional, hatchet job you have perpetrated. This is one of many assaults currently ongoing in Georgetown; you must understand that I ran on the promise to make changes. Many who previously had cozy deals with the former administration (and city manager) have lost those special privileges, and they are most unhappy about it. In the two-plus years since my election, each successive council has continued the actions to bring Georgetown out of a "good-old-boy" system and into a professionally run, openly conducted, and highly responsive organization. Many who had the benefit of direct access to the taxpayers' largess find themselves without that benefit and, given that there was a 10-year history of this style, that group is neither small nor lacking in agenda. It's hard for me to keep up.
5. If you have a desire for the facts, belatedly, I would be happy to devote some time to your edification. And I would ask that future articles on Georgetown and our government include direct contact with those you intend to judge.
6. Lastly, since you seem so intent on making me look so terribly bad, I am forwarding a photo which is unflattering enough that you won't be disappointed, yet does not portray me quite the Miss Piggy you have represented me to be. I would appreciate it if you would kindly use it in any future articles.
Mayor, City of Georgetown
On the Record
While there are a number of facts I would very much like to share with you regarding "Something Stinks" (Sept. 14), I take seriously my sworn obligations to maintain the confidentiality of executive session topics, confidential documents, and to comply with court orders. Apparently the anonymous sources for this article are counting on everyone with knowledge of the facts being so constrained. However, I can offer a few corrections without compromising my legal obligations or my personal integrity.
First, the topic of the "leaking" wastewater plant and what to do about it was first discussed by the council in an executive session on July 27, 1999 (three months after Mayor Kersch and I were elected). Mayor Kersch immediately removed herself from any discussion of the matter to avoid any possible implication of a conflict of interest due to her personal friendship with the design engineer's family. She didn't make any comments, demands, or threats; she simply announced her decision and left the room. Any suggestion to the contrary, including the former city manager's claim in his self-evaluation, is a lie. I was present in the executive session, and I heard and saw what happened.
Second, the city's lawsuit against the Attorney General and the American-Statesman was about upholding governments' rights to withhold attorney work-product and consulting experts reports prepared in connection with litigation. As our then-city attorney stated in a staff memo, "This has tremendous impact not only on the City of Georgetown but the entire State of Texas." Perhaps that is why the Texas Municipal League, the Texas Association of Counties, and the Texas Association of School Boards Legal Assistance Fund all filed briefs in support of Georgetown's position. Perhaps that is why the Texas Supreme Court reviewed the case, and ruled 6-3 in favor of the city.
Third, the city manager attached the October 7, 1999, engineering report to his self-evaluation, not the 1998 report as you reported. I know this because I am in possession of an authorized original of the manager's self-evaluation, not a copy reproduced and released to the press in violation of court order. The October 1999 report was without dispute ordered by the city attorney.
Fourth, since you do apparently have copies of the city's engineering reports, you might note on page 3 of the October, 1999, report that concrete surfaces began to crack and leak "not long after" it was constructed and put into service in 1993, and that an attempt was made to repair the cracks as early as October of 1997. Further, on page 8 you might note the engineer's recommendation that the city not repair the cracks until expansion is necessary at the plant (this is anticipated within the next five years).
Fifth, I will unequivocally state that the wastewater plant issue had absolutely nothing to do with the deterioration of the former city manager's relationship with the council, at least until his decision to attach the October 1999 engineering report to his self-evaluation cost the citizens of Georgetown over $100,000 in legal fees to protect the city's legal rights under the Public Information Act. Further, until the manager resigned in March of 2000, he controlled at least four of seven votes on the council, and could easily have initiated legal action against the design engineer at any time since 1993, had he really thought it necessary and advisable.
Finally, I know that the Georgetown City Council is composed of intelligent people of the highest integrity who are doing the best job they know how. Slanderous personal attacks are not justified. I do ask, if you intend to continue writing stories based on confidential documents and unnamed sources, that you do yourselves the service of verifying the facts you are fed and questioning the political motives of those doing the feeding.
I would like to direct attention to your article, Sept. 7, "Polling the Pollers." It is a shame that you were so misinformed causing your article to contain untruths. I would like to take this opportunity to correct those errors.
There was never a vote last year to reject the union.
The Burke Group has been hired to educate employees of the union. They have only been on sight for a mere two weeks.
This "corporate hit man" did not split the employees. The invasion of union activity has caused the split of employee opinions long before this person has arrived.
The "anti-union or fence sitters" have not started to reconsider their position due to this union constitution. Read the United Steel Workers Constitution, Section II "Objects," number 2, where it states, "adequate pay and fewer hours." Why would we want a union to provide adequate pay when our pay exceeds the standard? Why would we want fewer hours when it's our choice to work overtime?
I support Jane in her comments of Gallup being an outstanding workplace. I would like to add also that I find Gallup to be a very exciting, challenging, and rewarding place to work. I hope for future articles, you search the truth before you print. Than again, I have to remember your source of information and why I will vote "No."
You Wanted More Coverage?
In your issue of Sept. 14, graced on the cover by a smiling Toni Price, how could you so flippantly ignore the monumental tragedy that had so recently taken place? Nothing against Toni, but you folks missed the boat. The issue is an insult to your readers, who mourn for the victims of the terrorist attacks and who mourn for our beautiful and vibrant city of New York. I say "our" New York because it is the most open city on the planet, an emblem of our society, for all its faults the most free and open in the world. Over 5,000 people, of 40 different nationalities, have perished in the terrorist bombings. This tragedy affects Austin profoundly as it does every community in this country, and all you could muster in the entire issue were a few passing references to the week's events. Your editor Louis Black argues in his introduction, apparently in part to explain the paper's business-as-usual appearance, that the most decent and courageous response is to carry on with our daily activities. Maybe so, but to ignore these events is to risk trivializing them. Our collective horror and grief and anger require that we pause, together, to recognize the magnitude of the events we have witnessed, to honor those who have perished, to acknowledge each other's suffering and incomprehension, and to seek wise courses of action. Does the Chronicle's obsession with the minutiae of local politics and music, and devotion to being ironic and hipper-than-thou, leave no room for empathy? It is a shame that you did not do more. The Chronicle is a paper that seems to pride itself on seeking truth, promoting a sense of community, and advocating social responsibility. In this time of darkness and fear, we look to our news media to help shed the light of truth. This time, the Chronicle has failed.
The Price Was Right
In the British newspaper The Guardian on September 15, Mark Lawson said, "Music doesn't seek to explain tragedy but simply to express and absorb it." So when I picked up that week's issue of The Austin Chronicle and saw Toni Price's beautiful, beaming face on the cover, I knew what Lawson said was true. We'd all be better off in the coming weeks if we made a point to go out and listen to live music instead of pumping fists in the air and preparing for war.
Smart Growth and Me
"Smart Growth" means different things to different people. To the SOS Alliance it includes policies that steer new development to the east and downstream of the Barton Springs watershed. At one time this included offering limited incentives in the form of development permit fee waivers and the like. It never included tax abatements or backroom, noncompetitive deals for prime city land.
We worked very hard to get CSC and Motorola to locate outside the Barton Springs watershed. We were and are happy they made these choices. However, we were as surprised and appalled as anyone when Mayor Watson announced the CSC deal, which included city land and tens of millions [of dollars] for CSC without delivering CSC's site on the Barton Creek greenbelt to the city. Like everyone else, we were cut out of the secret negotiations on this deal and all the other ones.
For us, "Smart Growth" is a process that encourages all citizens to contribute their intelligence and creativity to solving interdependent problems and preserving our quality of life. Unfortunately, it became an eco-friendly label to greenwash city deals that ignore citizens, fuel growth we can't manage, and provide enormous welfare payments to giant corporations. As a result, our board voted unanimously to oppose all city subsidies.
Had Mr. Clark-Madison ["Austin@Large," Sept. 14] wanted to know about SOS Alliance positions and actions on Smart Growth instead of only writing about them, he could have easily called or e-mailed me.
Smart Growth Redux
Of course SOS supported Smart Growth ["Austin@Large," Sept. 14] -- the Smart Growth that meant environmental protection, centrally located affordable housing, sidewalks in neighborhoods, and more transportation choices. That is, before Smart Growth was commandeered by developers and the Chamber of Commerce. Smart Growth then very clearly became cover for a new version of subsidized hyper-growth, with the majority slow growth (very slow growth) community left picking up the tab. Smart Folks like Bill Bunch and Beverly Griffith should be commended, not castigated, for having the courage to leap off the Smart Growth subsidy bandwagon when they saw where it was headed.
Mark Tschurr, though, deserves even more credit as one of the first to put it all together and provide the leadership within SOS and the larger community to call the city's Smart Growth policy what it has in large part become: corporate and developer welfare masquerading as environmental policy. The Smart Growth that SOS originally supported bears little resemblance to the subsidized luxury condo and high tech carcass hell we find ourselves mired in today.
I read the article on Accion and CDC ["Economics From the Bottom Up"] in the Aug. 10, 2001 Chronicle with great interest, but was sorry that I did not find any mention about Austin's oldest microlending organization, Businesses Investment Growth, also known as BiG Austin.
BiG Austin originated as a city of Austin project, but was spun off as an independent organization in the mid-1990s. It provides training for aspiring entrepreneurs, as well as loan funds for business start-ups and expansions.
In addition, it is a CDFI and an SBA-certified microlending institution for Travis and 12 other counties in Central Texas, and has a large federal grant (from the JOLI program) to create child care jobs over the next two years.
I am disappointed that Mr. Fullerton did not do his homework well enough to identify BiG Austin and include them in his otherwise very comprehensive story. I know that BiG Austin has a number of success stories that would have been equally of interest to your readers as those included.
Perhaps a story on BiG Austin at some time in the future would correct the erroneous impression that there are but two qualified microlending resources available locally and provide BiG with more well-deserved attention and public exposure.
Greed Wins Again
The scumbag greedy landlords of the now-closed Waterloo Brewing company should be ashamed of themselves. If these folks would kill an Austin landmark like Waterloo to build condos for yuppies, who will be next? These kind of folks would probably sell their Grandma's house and throw her out on the street if they could make a buck off it.
I for one will miss Waterloo. I work downtown as a pedi-cab driver and frequently made pit stops there for a burger when business was slow. I always enjoyed the friendly service, the cool murals on the walls, and the tasty food. On my nights off, Waterloo was my favorite place to go for handcrafted local beer. I'm going to miss O. Henry Porter, the hefe weizen, and most of [all] the exquisitely rich Belgian Strong Ale.
James M. Branum
Refuting Clark-Madison's Defense
Ever since I read Mike Clark-Madison's recent words about former City Council Member Eric Mitchell ["Round Up the Usual Suspects," Aug. 24] and the ensuing letters and commentary, I have been unsettled. Here are some of my thoughts.
I admire journalists who are brave enough to say the unpopular thing -- the stuff that might make others angry -- if this reflects some truth about the world, and if this kind of writing can help to illuminate an issue or an idea. I confess that I personally found it jarring to read the words "self-styled field Negro" in reference to Eric Mitchell, and I didn't understand what Clark-Madison meant. Indeed, he didn't explain what he meant in his initial article.
Clark-Madison defends his characterization of Mitchell saying: "'self-styled field Negro' is a direct reference to ... Mitchell's own description ... of his opponent Willie Lewis as a 'house nigger'" ["Clark-Madison Responds," Aug. 31]. But Clark-Madison is anything but direct in his article, for instead of merely reminding us of the incendiary words Mitchell used against his opponent, he seems to imply that Mitchell actually characterizes himself as a "field Negro." This is a lot to assume, and Clark-Madison's analogy doesn't work for me. I read the words "self-styled field Negro" written of a black man by a white one and red flags start going up all over the place. These red flags should have gone up at the Chronicle, not to censor Clark-Madison, but to encourage him to write about Mitchell in another way. A way that is not demeaning to black people, evocative of slavery, and, well, racist. (e.g., why is it mentioned that Mitchell is a sharp dresser? No one else's mode of dress or race are mentioned in the same article.)
As a journalist, Clark-Madison would have better served his readers (and, ultimately himself) by using his words to illuminate, not obfuscate. Ultimately, I think he failed his readers because he was so unclear. (Or was he being really, really clear?) He didn't elevate the discourse, he went down and mud-wrestled in it, and as a result did more damage than he himself might have imagined.
Turkey Says Thanks
We at Hotel Turkey appreciate the fine article Gerald McLeod wrote about Hotel Turkey and the area["Day Trips," Aug. 24]. My daughter, Montie, was interviewed on the phone by Mr. McLeod. I was hoping that Montie had mentioned the fact that Rosetta Wills, Bob Wills' daughter, and the author of The King of Western Swing. Bob Wills Remembered, now lives in Turkey. We are very happy to have Rosetta living here. Another of Bob's daughters, Cindy, is a resident of Turkey, also. She's a very good artist.
Once again, thank you for running the article. We'd love to have you visit Turkey.
owner, Hotel Turkey
PO Box 37
Turkey, TX 79261
Thanks for Staying Open
Amid talk of war, just an expression of thanks to Steve Wertheimer, owner of the Continental Club, for keeping shop on Tuesday; it is important to stay open, not closed.
When all the analysis about the tactics, strategies, and complete effectiveness of this terrorist acts is finished remember that in the end these people know our art.
Now, we need to talk. About how we do business in foreign relations; about how we disenfranchise them. Then, we should act accordingly. Here and abroad. Otherwise, who can say something like this won't happen again, perpetrated by those of whom we know nothing?
Stephen W. McGuire
First the Frat Rats, Then the Californians
Re: Carl Swanson's letter ["Postmarks: 20-Year-Old Parody Still Stinks," Sept. 14]
Yes, Carl, it is just you. Shooting frat rats is funny. And don't even get me started on Californians, or for that matter, anyone who has moved to Austin in the last five years.
Lighten up, Carl. It's called satire. Where, oh where, has the sense of humor gone?
Keep Communicating, America
Thank you very much for your thoughtful "Page Two" editorial today [Sept. 14]. The broader view you suggest is so important, and we must continue to urge it on our leaders, our neighbors and families, and ourselves. The extremes of emotion, sometimes violent, that all or most of us feel in the face of this horror are real, and must be listened to with understanding and compassion. Then we can base our actions on deliberation, rational thinking, and care for all humanity -- including especially those people who may be of different race, religion, or culture -- and also those people who have difficulty responding in kind. These are necessary, core foundations of the good qualities and good potential of our society. Let's keep learning, communicating, and making the effort.
Bush Will Do the Right Thing
Almost everyone in this country, except you, seems confident that the attack on the U.S. will bring out the best in us, and not the worst ["Page Two," Sept. 14]; and that seems to be exactly what is happening. Is your faith in this country and its citizens so small that your greatest fear that our reaction will be institutionalized racism? Thousands of Americans, of all races and creeds, have been killed and you're expecting the KKK to rise up from its ashes. Happily, except for a miniscule number of vengeful dirtbags, everyone is pulling together as Americans, not "African-Americans" or "Mexican-Americans" or "Native Americans."
And don't worry, our civil liberties will remain intact. That's the value of our solid Constitution. It's not a "living" and "flexible" constitution, as some would say. Especially when it comes to the right to keep and bear arms. I too, have concerns about liberty. It concerns me that polls [say] that so many Americans would be willing to sacrifice a little liberty and a few rights in exchange for perceived security. We seem to have gotten so soft that we've forgotten about Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty or give me death." However, say what you will about the Bush administration, I'm confident that this administration will not try to further abridge our rights.
U.S. Must Accept Blame
The thousands of families worldwide mourning loved ones from the Sept. 11 bombings want justice and peace of mind for their loss, and I have empathy and sympathy for them. That said, I believe the chickens have come home to roost in the Pentagon and World Trade Center; viz., if the Palestinian Holocaust had been stopped and Israel and Palestine had come to a solution that emptied the refugee camps, suicide bombers would be rebels without a cause. For Americans to deny their responsibility for the Palestinian dilemma is simply bad faith.
The U.S. conditions its aid for other regimes. Worse yet, the bombings could be blowback from U.S. intelligence operations in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan. The plane crashes and destruction and deaths are a tragedy, but as long as there are breeding grounds and even a primary and middle school for children suicide bombers, we all remain in a danger that no military or assassination campaign can ever rub out completely. Pray for us all in this future worldwide terrorism campaign that, at present, has an invisible enemy, no clear objective, no exit strategy; and whose biggest victim may be American civil liberties, as Louis Black eloquently expressed in his Sept. 14 column ["Page Two"].
We Must Attack Them
Well, it has happened! A massive blow has been struck against the United States, apparently in the name of Islam. In the past, we have experienced isolated acts of terrorism, but this is a strike at least as significant in its magnitude as the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. That was, at least, an attack on military targets; this was a cowardly, blind attack on civilians. The world nation of Islam must stand up and be counted. If they do not condemn and act against their criminal brethren, then they share the guilt.
How do you respond to an act of war by a hidden enemy? No midnight vigil or expression of support for families has any effect on such attackers. They claim to be engaged in a holy war. If so, it is the obligation of all Muslims to stand for or against these actions. If they offer support or even neutrality, they are our enemies. If they are opposed, then they must take care of their own. I believe that the majority of Muslims are peaceful and law abiding. That is not enough. If they fail to take action because of fear or expediency, then they must bear the consequences.
We have, in the past, identified the bases and support structure of those who commit such terrorist acts. As a nation at war, we must attack them. We cannot afford to counter punch only when we have absolute certainty. When we uncover terrorist preparation, in the future, we must make a preemptive strike regardless of the political or economic consequences. If that strike is in another country, they should be informed that they must clean up their own house within a time frame of days, not years, then we will retaliate as an act of war. Although such strikes will be against military targets, there will be collateral damage. That is their responsibility, not ours.
If they don't wish to be at war with the United States, then they will root out the offenders.
As commander-in-chief, the president is charged with the protection of the citizens of the U.S. When Bush took office, one of the first briefings he received was on the results of the most comprehensive study to date on the threat of terrorism to this country, the bipartisan Hart-Rudman report, 21é2 years in the making. This report was very blunt in its conclusions, that a large-scale terrorist attack on the U.S. was a matter of when, not if, and that more money had to be spent on intelligence and border security. It was also known from numerous governmental studies that airport security in this country was weak to nonexistent. Bush completely ignored these studies, presumably preferring to spend our defense dollars on his tax cut and missile-defense obsession. With his inaction he thus gambled away the lives of more than 5,000 innocent Americans and much of lower Manhattan. I'm sorry, but count me in the minority. After having demonstrated that he was unable to comprehend, let alone prevent, the major threat to our national security, I have no confidence whatsoever that Bush will have the ability to lead us out of this crisis. In my opinion Bush should accept responsibility, admit his gross negligence, apologize, and resign.
OK, there's grief and then there's hokey. Am I the only one who sees the hokiness in all of this tragedy? Suddenly everyone is bleeding red, white, and blue. When the media is in charge 24 hours a day, it's bound to happen sooner or later. It's not that I'm not proud to be an American, I just don't want to sing about it. And I don't want my leaders holding hands like the Whos in Whoville, when they should be out kicking some ass. And, if George W. says, "Make no mistake about it," one more time ...
All I'm saying is that maybe we should try to win this New War with a little class and humor. I think the last thing those terrorist bastards hear should be "You Dropped a Bomb on Me" by the Gap Band. You know, if bin Laden really wanted to make a statement, he would have been on one of those planes.
We've all seen the images of thousands of devoted Americans donating their time and blood to the cause. We need to rejuvenate those exhausted workers. I say we help those brave firefighters and rescue teams by sending a relief unit of fluffers. Hey, Hollywood shut down in the wake of the assault, those actresses need work, let them help out with the cause. I mean really, for the sake of your country, let's show 'em what American spirit is all about. Love us or hate us, at least we take care of our own.
Arm 'Em Then Bomb 'Em?
Since the attack, the media has sounded the drums of war. Many of us in Austin have listened. But there is a consequence of this war few may have realized. A large portion of the Afghani population does not support the Taliban. They are brutally oppressed by this group which spawned Osama bin Laden, and many have given their lives to oppose the Taliban.
The unjust leaders of the Afghanistan rule only because the U.S. gave them money and guns. Killing those who oppose and fight against the ones who directed or allowed the attack would be a terrible way to compound the tragedy. The war that it seems we are about to wage could easily slaughter tens or even many hundreds of times the number of innocents who died in New York and Washington.
When you hear the drum beat, think of them. Please Austin, oppose war.
We Live in the World We Create
I feel moved to respond to the anguish of Tuesday's tragedies with the following heartfelt words. May we all take this opportunity to go deeply inside our own hearts and feel our connection to one another. We are all in this circle of life together, and we are all deeply wounded by this violence. Further, if as a nation we choose to retaliate with yet more violence and murder, we will all only be wounded further and more deeply. Can we not take this horrendous experience and learn that it is time we turn the tide and halt the continuation of the cycle of fear and violence that has gripped this planet for centuries? Is it possible that our leaders might actually resolve to end global fear and violence rather than retaliate with more of the same? Could we not choose to resolve our commitment to world peace and an end to all the senseless violence, oppression, greed, and fear that led up to this tragedy? We could resolve to be a beacon of light for humanity by choosing not to retaliate with more violence and fear, but rather resolve to commit to whatever means is necessary to end the reign of fear and violence that has been the modus operandi of our world leaders for centuries. Everything we do to each other, we do to ourselves. We are all connected in an intricate web that is inescapable regardless of our military might! We must realize that the old way is not working. Our world leaders could actually come together from a place of deep heart and deep wisdom with a new resolve to work to disarm and commit to a world free of violence, greed, and oppression, that all those lives have not been lost in vain. As we stand on this delicate threshold, my prayers are for life and the possibility of peace for all of humanity and all our relations, not more carnage born of fear. The world we create by our response to this morning's events is in our hands.
Think Before Reacting, America
Our nation has been undermined and humiliated by actions too godless to fully comprehend. The watchword is "revenge." The war drum is beating.
Perhaps we cannot yet fathom the full significance of the events of September 11, but we can perceive that it is time for people to open their hearts and learn to respect, understand, and, yes, even love one another. If we do not, and the floodgates are opened to unleash the tide of war, there is enough hatred in the world to propel us quickly to World War III, a conflict that would have no winners and that few would survive. Shouldn't we, then, be more afraid of ourselves than of our enemies?
If most people want war, then it may be inevitable, but we should consider the magnitude of destruction that could actually result. If most people do not want war, but envision nations working cooperatively across the world to overthrow terrorists specifically, then we must speak up. It would be a mistake, for instance, to wage war against all of Afghanistan, or to undertake any action that guarantees the massive loss of innocent civilian lives. We all have the intelligence to recognize that individuals, not nations, are responsible for terrorism; that not religions, but extremists who twist religion for their own loathsome ends, are driving terrorism.
It is easy to remain silent and let the war machine start rolling. It is hard to ask for any peace, mercy, and understanding in light of the devastation in New York and Washington, D.C. But sometimes the hard thing is the necessary thing. We must open our voices and speak.
Lawmakers, you hold in your hands the lives of so many people. Listen to your hearts, and use your minds to find a humane solution.
Signed, an ordinary citizen,
Mid-Eighties 'Live Shots'
Your 20th anniversary issue [Sept. 7] turned the Bittersweet Nostalgia knob way up. Didn't know I had that knob until a few years back, yet lately I'm twisting it daily, which sounds misleadingly kinky.
In the mid-Eighties, when the Chronicle's "Live Shots" weren't only about music, I wrote "Live Shots" about Terra Toys and G/M Steakhouse on the Drag and Electric Ladyland and Publishers Clearinghouse giveaways and Tearjerker Gumballs and rain. For the Chronicle I wrote one of the earliest articles about Daily Texan cartoonist Chris Ware, and in 1986 I wrote about the Austin game company where I worked, Steve Jackson Games. I remember visiting Chronicle Editor Louis Black's office on alternate Fridays to cadge a $6 contributor check, and smiling guiltily as, with sullen resentment, he pulled out the checkbook.
Ah, nostalgia. So many things changed in only semi-predictable ways. Sure, anyone with eyes could recognize Chris Ware's genius; he went on to produce the amazing Acme Novelty Library series and his recent breakthrough graphic novel Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth. But four years after my SJ Games article, the U.S. Secret Service surprised everyone by raiding Steve Jackson's offices and seizing computer equipment as part of the government's ill-advised Operation Sundevil. The Chronicle ran the first important coverage of that raid, Bruce Sterling's "The Cyberpunk Bust," the seed of his 1992 nonfiction book The Hacker Crackdown. (In 1993 Jackson achieved law-book immortality by winning a landmark case against the Secret Service. Read the whole story at www.sjgames.com/SS/.)
The Chronicle has changed the most, and just as unpredictably. In October 1989, the day after busybody Mark Weaver got HEB to stop carrying the Chron, I asked Louis if this would hurt the paper. "The Chronicle is at its best when people are after us," Louis said, tapping his desk, talking fast and grim with a Nixonian shoulder hunch. "When we've got our back to the wall, that's when we fight best." I translated this response as, "Yes." But the aftermath of the Weaver fiasco marked the Chronicle's emergence as a recognized Austin institution and the foundation of its subsequent success. Nowadays it has an accounting department that mails contributor checks unasked.
What makes my nostalgia bittersweet is that I no longer get those contributor checks, because today's young whippersnapper editors don't know me and won't look at my work. But mark me (hunches shoulders), when my back is to the wall, that's when I fight best. (Turns Nostalgia knob) Why, I remember when ...
Here's to many more years,
Help Save Rockport
Rockport, Texas, (Pop. 7,385) is being threatened by Wal-Mart and the H.E. Butt Grocery Co. (HEB). Each of the two corporations has purchased land to build a Superstore adjacent to a cluster of three schools on Business Highway 35, approximately one mile from the center of town. This essentially common location will present our small town with dangerous traffic problems and the replacement of old Live Oak trees and wildlife with buildings and asphalt. Further, it will degrade or destroy the nearby Little Bay/Arkansas Bay wildlife sanctuary and fishing paradise with polluted storm water runoff of immense proportions. Additionally, the construction of Superstores at these sites rather than near the Highway 35 Bypass where they belong will destroy the laid-back and safe-community lifestyle that lures many of you to the area in search of a getaway or retirement haven.
Thus far, widespread public outrage over the dangerous and destructive plans has not caused either of the profit-driven corporate giants or the Rockport City Council to redirect their plans for Superstore location. You and your friends can Help Save Rockport by immediately spreading the word, voicing your objections to HEB and Wal-Mart directly, and sending copies of your objections to us to maintain a unified record of the objections. The addresses and phone numbers (including ours) are as follows:
President & CEO
H.E. Butt Grocery Co.
646 South Main Ave.
San Antonio, TX 78283-999
S. Robson Walton
Chairman of the Board
702 S.W. 8th Street
Bentonville, AR 72716
Larry or Nancy Ellis
Rockport, TX 78382