Rape saga redux and other local imbroglios.
Austin does not have five low-performing high schools, as News Editor Michael King attributes to former City Council member and mayoral candidate Gus Garcia in the October 19 issue of The Austin Chronicle ["Naked City: Garcia Rates AISD 'Unacceptable'"]. If you check the Web site for the Texas Education Agency, you'll see that Austin has two low-performing high schools in 2001, Johnston and Reagan.
In the 2001 Accountability Ratings released by TEA last August, Austin does have a total of five low-performing campuses. In addition to the three high schools listed above, Blackshear and Oak Springs elementary schools and Dobie Middle School were also categorized as low-performing.
It is important to note that all five low-performing campuses have new principals.
I don't know whether Mr. Garcia or Mr. King is responsible for the error, and obviously this data changes from year-to-year, but I do believe a correction/clarification is in order.
Director of Communications Services
Austin Independent School District
Garcia's Cheap Shots
Gus Garcia's recent cheap shots at AISD superintendent Pat Forgione ["Naked City: Garcia Rates AISD 'Unacceptable,'" Oct. 19] are highly irresponsible. Garcia, who is facing four unknowns, two kooks, and a race-baiting blowhard in the mayor's race, must see no issues in his own race worth addressing, so he swats at Forgione in a divisive and mean-spirited attack.
I have taught in AISD for almost 20 years, and I have never seen a superintendent who is as effective, dynamic, intelligent, clearly committed to learning and teaching, honest, approachable, and amazingly hard-working as Dr. Forgione. This district had no focus under previous superintendents, being led by a series of place-holders and a couple of real losers. Under Forgione, AISD has tightened its internal accountability, participated in the Institute for Learning to give teachers a common vision and vocabulary in teaching, supported staff development and numerous projects, including the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, which promise to keep committed teachers in the classroom for the benefit of our children.
Anyone who has seen Dr. Forgione keep up his grueling pace, working with the schools and community to inspire children and adults alike, will see that we have leadership, at long last, in AISD. Far from being merely a "statistician," Forgione is an effective spokesperson for the application of pedagogical principles that are based on research into best teaching practices. I am sure that it is frustrating to Dr. Forgione that we don't have some examples of high-poverty, high-performance schools in our district, but I do know that not an hour goes by when he is not devoting himself to that and many other problems.
Garcia should stick to city of Austin issues. He's a grandstanding interloper trying to whip up division through an appeal to changing demographics. He would rather work with the Mexican consul than the superintendent of schools in planning education for our children, a thoroughly wacky and irresponsible suggestion. I had planned to vote for Mr. Garcia, but he has shown himself undignified, unstable, and unworthy of that office.
As both a woman and a resident of Austin, I was shocked to read the article on the case surrounding Virginia Glore and Charlotte Hughes ["Raped Twice?" Oct. 12]. Although I was glad to see that you brought this case to exposure, I was also very disheartened by the APD's handling of Glore's charges that she may have been raped. Is this the kind of treatment all women in Austin can expect when they think they've been raped? Regardless of whether Glore was raped or not, she certainly deserved a rape kit -- especially when she volunteered to pay for it. What is the APD afraid of? If Glore had been raped, the test would show it. If she hadn't been raped, the test would show that, too. Being a UT student, I am a frequent patron of both the Sixth Street and Warehouse District bars. If nothing else, this article has served to convince me that I am now going to have to exercise even more caution when I venture downtown (or anywhere else, for that matter) to have a few drinks. Women of Austin, beware. Watch your drink, and take care of yourself. The APD isn't likely to do it for you.
Don't Dismiss the DWI Idea
Having read Jordan Smith's article "Raped Twice" [Oct. 12], and the letters in response to the article, I could not help sharing my thoughts. While I find the denial of the rape test by APD amazing, a careful reading of the facts as presented in the article leads me to think that a charge of DWI is justified.
The fact that a rape may or may not have occurred and the fact that the women may or may not have been drugged should be irrelevant. Virginia Glore chose to drive her car when she was clearly not capable. She put others at risk and is lucky that the seven children mentioned in the article still have mothers. Smith wants us to second-guess the motives of the police, but I think the police concern over the motives of Glore and Hughes has credibility. Unfortunately, Smith, who takes APD to task for their shoddy work, is not always clear on the facts in her article.
She also seems to discount the fact that the women were drunk. Let's see, the ladies were on Sixth Street at around 5pm. They usually drank Bermuda Triangles, with three shots of rum. Smith says the women had two drinks: between them or apiece? Were these Bermuda Triangles or something else? The article is not clear. This could be anywhere between 2 to 6 ounces of alcohol each. Then they went over to Aquarium Bar where they ordered two rum runners. They were given Vodka Shooters as well.
How much alcohol was consumed here? Again the article is unclear as to whether the women got the rum runners. After this Glore admits, "Here I get a little fuzzy." Not surprising for someone who the article describes as a "slight woman." After this they went into the Daiquiri Factory and had another drink! All of this seems to take place in a very short period of time. After crashing the car and kicking out the window in the police car I think the police can be excused for thinking the ladies' story about rape might be to a ruse. Even if everything Glore says is true, should the DWI be forgotten? Should an alleged rape and drugging render the DWI null and void? I certainly hope not. Those facts would not have mattered much to someone who was unlucky enough to be on the wrong part of Congress Avenue that night.
Covering Up the Glore Case?
I am writing to express my views on the recent article about the Glore case ["Raped Twice?" Oct. 12]. I commend you on bringing such events to light. It seems that this country, and the world for that matter, are more concerned about drug violations and lesser crimes than the truly harmful act of rape. The fact that less than 25% of rapes are reported is not surprising considering that the legal process is so difficult. I find it disgusting that our police and city attorneys are so unwilling to help the innocent. And furthermore, I find it astonishing and criminal that the APD refused to allow Ms. Glore a rape kit, even when she offered to pay for it. Do they have that right, legally?!! It appears that they were almost trying to cover something up did not want to have to admit that they were wrong later. What could be the harm in finding out the truth either way? I hope that those that violated her are brought to justice and that she is able to sue the APD for damages. Thanks again, and keep up the good work.
Get It Straight
There are a couple of goofs in the bios for your short story contest winners [Oct. 19]. The biography of fifth place winner Steve White says that he's adapting a screenplay for the Judy Alter book After Paul Was Shot -- this should be After Pa Was Shot. Also, the author of The Bridge on the Drina is Ivo, not Ibo, Andric.
Pamela C. Patterson
Da Grammar Cop
Best Automated Response
Thanks for the invitation to participate in the "Best of Austin" Awards Party on Wednesday. Unfortunately with football practice we won't be able to attend.
We appreciate your support though, and for everything you do for our program!
UT football coach
Sowing Wild Seeds of Discontent
Was mightily pleased to see the action shot of the reunited Wild Seeds at the Hole in the Wall in the last issue ["Dancing About Architecture," Oct. 12]. But why no proper review, when a "one time" event of this magnitude occurs? I was writing almost daily updates of the Wild Seeds' week on the Web.
Someone should have at least mentioned the soaring harmonies on "Like a Fall," or the rock & roll ferocity of "Love Will Make You Weak," or the always transcendent "After All This Time." What about the Neil Young covers? What about the radio hit, "I'm Sorry, I Can't Rock You All Night Long," which my 11-year-old son described as "almost like metal ..." Just what are you people doin' over there, sitting under a big mimosa sky when you should be covering the beat?
Louis Black wrongly couched a comment with "I say this not as a peacenik" ["Page Two," Oct. 19]. There's no need to defend being anti-war. No American needs to defend their opinions because they are pro-peace or chose not to volunteer for the military. Richard Gere was booed when he suggested redirecting the war hysteria to a compassion for others in the last benefit concert for NYC. Let's not lose our First Amendment freedom in this "campaign" against "terror."
Please allow me to share some comments. "Attack to win but don't attack if there is nothing to gain. If winning is impossible, don't send troops. Unless the situation is desperate, don't go to war. Politicians must not declare war out of anger and commanders must not fight out of spite. Fight only when there is something to be gained. A destroyed country can't be restored and the dead can't be resurrected. Politicians must be cautious to declare war and commanders must be vigilant in warfare." These comments are from the 2,300-year-old military classic The Art of War by Sun Tzu and they are even more applicable today.
Those With the Most to Gain
Who could possibly ever benefit from the brutal attack on 9/11? Let's see: 1. The international bankers will be making hundreds of billions in new loans; 2. The arms dealers are going to have a field day; 3. Ariel Sharon and friends are jumping for joy because anyone who does not blindly support Israel will be targeted by America; 4. The CIA, FBI, NSA, and Delta Force are all going to have significantly increased budgets and authority, and; 5. The mega-corporations are going to gain further access to the huge oil and gas reserves of the Caspian Sea. Friends, we are being "strummed" like a guitar, and the tune that is being played sounds like more power for the Elite and a loss of rights for American citizens. Wake up, America!
The British Are Coming!
How ironic that the British, led by Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones, etc., etc. put on the display at Madison Square Garden to benefit victims of the recent terrorist attack. While I applaud their motivation, it occurs to me that the present troubles in the Middle East, Afghanistan, and elsewhere across the world (Ireland for example) are a direct result of failed British colonialism, borders drawn by British military officers with little thought to the reality of the land and its peoples, and massive human rights violations on the part of the British that have lasted for decades and in some cases, hundreds of years.
It is also interesting to me that our staunchest ally in the war against terrorism is the British. The same British that we fought to gain our independence. It sure seems to me that not much has changed -- except for the fact that the United States is taking the brunt of world hate for failed British policies, and the British are taking advantage of America's military might to implement the foreign policies they so cleverly desire. It's like the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain.
But what can we expect when men such as Henry Kissinger and George Bush Sr. have been knighted by the Queen of England? Wake up, America, it is time for Americans to make American foreign policy.
The APD's Grand Farce
I read with great interest Jordan Smith's piece concerning Virginia Glore ["Raped Twice?" Oct. 12]. Fascinating. I was unaware that the Austin Police Department carried the authority to deny medical testing. According to the article, status with the APD can influence one's ability to seek medical attention! So ... if I have a parking ticket, and go in for a CAT scan, and the APD can connect my test with my tickets, they can deny me the scan and the hospital will comply. That strikes me as more than a little scary. Commander McNeill's contradictory statements concerning their "evidence" that Ms. Glore was not drugged, but "blitzed" (except they never administered any tests concerning her sobriety) definitely bolstered my faith in the APD. Not to mention his feeling that what they did they did not do this callously.
Wow. How sweet. So they treated her like that kindly? Sensitively? And Detective Beth Young's statement that it is part of her job to discern whether a person is lying about having been sexually assaulted before allowing them a rape test kit was truly enlightening. I wasn't aware that the APD had been trained in such lie detection. I sort of thought the tests helped them to weed out all of those wily folks who use rape as an excuse for DUI.
Comforting to know that should such an awful thing happen to me, there are "medical professionals" out there who check with the police before they will agree to take my money in exchange for treatment. Comforting, as well, that the APD will take the word of an escaped convict over my own. And that APD Internal Affairs will do their job if they are forced to -- with the warning that, should they do their job and find nothing warranted the effort, they will charge me with perjury for the waste.
The Ultimate Blame Game
Wade Wilson's "Postmarks" letter ["Food Not Bombs," Oct. 19] blaming the terrorists' attacks on what terrorists view as America's "immoral lifestyle" makes about as much sense as telling a rape victim her actions invited her attacker to rape her. Criminals choose to commit crimes. They are not the victims except to the shallow-end-of-the-gene-pool types who believe in criminals as victims of society. America is not to blame for terrorism, nor is Israel. As Hitler unified his followers behind a hatred for a perceived enemy, the Jews, the terrorists unify behind a hatred for America. According to them, America is to blame for all their problems (it is easier than blaming yourself for your problems), just as the Nazis blamed the Jews.
Nobody is forced to adopt America's "immoral lifestyle," except maybe in America where the Political Correctness Gestapo mandates acceptance lest you be labeled as a religious right-wing extremist. The Islamic extremists, however, do not even want to allow people the option of choosing our lifestyle.
The Islamic world should be thankful for Israel. Without Israel there would be no Islamic unity. Without their hatred of Israel they would be trying to kill each other even harder than they do now. Iraq and Iran, Iraq and Kuwait. Jordan and the Palestinians, Syria and the Palestinians, Egypt and Libya, Libya and Chad, Shia and Sunni provide the proof.
The poverty in the Islamic world is not because of Americanization. They had a lock on poverty and oppression long before we became a country. Just as Africa had the slave trade and tribal genocide routine down pat before we declared independence. We are merely the convenient place to blame. It is not Americanization that is to blame for this. If anything it is a lack of Americanization.
From the Desk of bin Laden
I wonder how many of our political leaders have read bin Laden's Declaration of War, written in 1996 and 1998? Do you think Bush has read it? I sent a copy of bin Laden's speech to the FBI and asked them if there is any truth in the following accusations?:
"It should not be hidden from you that the people of Islam had suffered from aggression, iniquity and injustice imposed on them by the Zionist-Crusaders alliance and their collaborators; to the extent that the Muslims' blood became the cheapest and their wealth as loot in the hands of the enemies. Their blood was spilled in Palestine and Iraq. The horrifying pictures of the massacre of Qana, in Lebanon are still fresh in our memory. Massacres in Tajakestan, Burma, Cashmere, Assam, Philippine, Fatani, Ogadin, Somalia, Erithria, Chechnia, and in Bosnia-Herzegovina took place, massacres that send shivers in the body and shake the conscience. All of this and the world watch and hear, and not only didn't respond to these atrocities, but also with a clear conspiracy between the USA and its allies and under the cover of the iniquitous United Nations, the dispossessed people were even prevented from obtaining arms to defend themselves."
John Elton Bills
Bikes vs. Cars: The Never-Ending Story
I just wanted to correct some inaccuracies in the article about the Critical Mass/Jeep incident ["Statesman Falls Off Its Bike," Oct. 5]. I was the driver of the car that got hit. Now, I dislike aggressive drivers as much as the rest of us, but I also know the law. Much as I would love to forcibly stop someone after they cut me off and beat the crap out of them, guess what? I don't have the right to.
Yes, when the cyclists stopped traffic on Congress when the cyclists illegally ran a red light, Mike Henderson probably should have just sat on his horn like the rest of the drivers and just tolerated the delay. But he didn't. He went around the traffic and stopped at the next intersection. Too aggressive? Maybe. But we as Austin drivers all know how many aggressive offenses we witness a day that go unpunished. If a police officer doesn't witness it, basically it didn't happen.
Henderson then came to the next intersection and stopped at the traffic light -- which is where all this mess begins. The cyclists, apparently quite like Gomer Pyle, decided they had the authority to make a citizen's arrest for Henderson's aggressive driving. Now, even if they did actually believe that they had the authority to detain Henderson, I ask you, did any single person in the group actually make a call or seek out police so that the proper authorities could intervene? I'll answer this one for you -- no. Absolutely not. There is no record of a report of an aggressive driver at First and Congress, and even if there were a call -- the cyclists absolutely still did not have the authority to detain Henderson. By the way, the cyclists also harassed the passenger. "Accomplice to the crime" -- is that his charge, Gomer?
When the light turned green, Henderson asked the cyclists to please leave him alone because he was going forward. He then inched forward cautiously. When the cyclists still did not heed his warning, he proceeded. Contrary to the Chronicle's report, there were at most two cyclists still in Henderson's path when he went forward. After Henderson landed, the cyclists proceeded to slash his tires (note, this means they were armed with knives) because they decided he was a flight risk and then they keyed his car and spit into it (because as well all know, keying a car and spitting into it greatly increases the chances that it won't move).
And you know, if I were Henderson, I would have done exactly the same thing and sped off. I would have felt as threatened as he did and feel the need to remove myself from the situation. "Fight or flight" -- it's human instinct. And Henderson didn't want a fight -- would you take on 20 angry, armed cyclists?
To Critical Mass, if you want to promote your cause, taking a day every month to break the law in groups is not the way. If you're just a bunch of cyclists who decide to get back at all the drivers who cut you off all month, then call yourselves that. You're promoting a cause. You're just a pain in the ass.
And to the Chronicle: You criticize the Statesman for only getting half of the story. I guess I must have missed the part in your article where you managed to get the other half of the story (the non-cyclist perspective) -- both my and Henderson's contact information are on the police report. I object to the Statesman version as well, but on the grounds that it is biased toward Critical Mass. Henderson did not get "frustrated by the delay" and speed off. He had a green light and the right to proceed, but the cyclists would not allow him to do so. I guess the only agreement we can all come to here is that the Statesman can't ever seem to get the story right.
Saskatchewan Jones v. Monsanto
I don't read the paper cover to cover every week, but recently I have looked in vain for any reporting of the visit to Austin of Gandhi award-winning Canadian farmer, Percy Schmeiser. He gave a talk at the LBJ School on October 10, and I have seen nothing in the media about his vitally important information.
He is a canola farmer from Saskatchewan, Canada, who was sued by Monsanto Corporation for growing their genetically modified seed without purchasing it directly from them. The Canadian court has found that whether the seed was stolen by Mr. Schmeiser, or whether the wind, or an animal or a human or a truck caused genetically modified seed to sprout in his fields, that he is liable to Monsanto for stealing their seed.
Mr. Schmeiser so far has spent his wife's and his retirement funds on battling this lawsuit. He needs to raise another $100,000 for the appeal. Interestingly, an American soybean farmer from North Dakota, Rodney Nelson, sent a videotape about his plight with a similar lawsuit by Monsanto against his farm for stealing soybean seed.
With Monsanto, we're not talking about nice-guy white-collar corporate types but sneaky undercover snitches who hired ex-Mounties in Canada to snitch on Mr. Schmeiser and even got farmers snitching on other farmers elsewhere. As Mr. Hightower so kindly put it in introducing Percy that night: "When they put a price on ignorance, I want drilling rights on [Monsanto's] heads ..." Consider what it might be like when there is worldwide monopoly on the food supply and farmers who have worked the earth for generations are no longer able to save seeds because it has become illegal.
It's time for folks to get active on this issue. Write to your representative about HR 3005, which would make it illegal for Europe to object to U.S. genetically modified grains. Support Percy Schmeiser (www.percyschmeiser.com) and Rodney Nelson (www.nelsonfarm.net). For more information about genetically engineered food, see Sister Vimala's astonishing Web site at www.saynotogmos.org. Please consider letting your wide readership know, by reporting on these events, that you don't all have your heads buried in the sands of movies, music, and restaurants.