Our readers talk back.
Safe Homes for Kids
In response to your December 28 article titled "CPS: Protecting Children or Destroying Families" by Jordan Smith, I would like to outline the process by which Child Protective Services fulfills its responsibility for the protection of children of Texas. I believe it will demonstrate that the charge of "doing more harm than good to Texas families" is unfounded and that the process tries to ensure that permanently removing children from their parents is only a last resort.
When CPS first receives a report of child abuse, specific criteria must be met before an investigator is assigned to the case. If these criteria are met, an investigation is conducted and, if evidence exists that the child is at risk of harm, then the family is assigned a caseworker.
1. A caseworker's initial objective is to resolve problem issues with the family so that children can remain at home. If those issues involve drug or alcohol abuse, then that parent is presented with opportunities to receive treatment and counseling. Training on parenting skills, disciplinary techniques, or anger and stress management is also made available to parents needing help with these issues.
2. The CPS case worker's primary objective is to determine whether a child's environment is safe. If not, it is critical that the child be removed from that environment. If parental behavior improves, then children are returned home.
3. When it becomes clear that a parent is unable to change their behavior and provide a safe environment for the child, then a lengthy court process is begun. A team is assigned to the case and each family member receives their own attorney while a guardian ad litem is appointed for the child.
4. At the very least, three separate hearings are held before the family court-at-law judge. The CPS caseworker serves as an advocate for the child throughout the court process.
5. At the first hearing, the judge meets the family and mandates that the parents participate in appropriate treatment plans.
6. At the second hearing, the judge determines whether parental behavior has improved and the home environment is now safe. If so, the children are gradually moved back home with their family under the supervision of their CPS caseworker. If behavior has not improved, the judge warns that parental rights will be terminated if they do not participate in their treatment plans, and the final court date is set.
7. If, by the final hearing, conditions for the child remain unchanged and the judge or jury believes it to be in the child's best interest, the parental rights are terminated.
In FY 2000, there were 8,647 alleged victims of child abuse/neglect in Travis County alone. Of the 1,653 who were confirmed victims of abuse or neglect, approximately 15% were removed from their homes and about 10% of these children were reunited with their families.
Caseworkers carry very heavy caseloads and clearly have little incentive or time to waste on cases without merit. Their dedication to the protection of our community's children deserves our support and any reform should be reflected through an increase in human and material resources for the agency.
DeWayne Lofton, Chairman
Travis County Children's Protective Services Board
As for Louis Black's comment about why do we need campaign finance reform since there has been no corruption or special influence in Austin politics ["Page Two," Feb. 8], he must have forgotten the Chronicle's political coverage of Austin in the Seventies, Eighties, and Nineties.
[Ed. note: Fred Lewis is an attorney for Clean Campaigns for Austin, which is promoting the Austin Fair Elections Act currently being considered for the May ballot. The Austin Chronicle began publishing in 1981.]
Listings Help Artists
The Chronicle has just done a disservice to a number of Austin artists. Over the years, the Austin community has come to depend on the Chronicle's listing of art events. Last night (Feb. 7) there was an opening at the ACA Gallery of "Go Figure 7" in which over a dozen local artists participated. This show has become an annual event and the openings have always been well attended. Because there was no listing in the Feb. 7 issue of the Chronicle for this event, a handful of people (a mere fraction of the usual attendance) were at the opening.
As the Chronicle cuts back on its art listings, it will be joining the developers and corporations in the mentality which will serve to fracture and aid in the decline of the vitality of the arts in Austin.
[Calendar/Listings Editor Kate Messer replies: The Austin Chronicle has made no decision to "cut back" any of our free listings, which are, however, subject to deadline and available space. While we are tickled that Chronicle listings increase attendance, we remind readers that advertising does too, and is always an option. Unfortunately, in this case, we never received notice of this particular event.]
Our Apologies to Alaska
I enjoyed Jim Hightower's article of Jan. 25 re: Enron and Boeing ["The Hightower Lowdown"]. However, someone should point out to him that Senator Ted Stevens is a Repub from Alaska and not Arkansas. We do have one (a Republican senator), but his name is Hutchinson, often confused with your own Hutchison.
Little Rock, Ark.
Thanks for the Memories
I started my long-term relationship with Mexican food in the fall of 1959 when I began attending the Rice Institute in Houston. I moved to Austin in the summer of 1968 and continued to search out the best Tex-Mex restaurants. I didn't know what I was missing until 1970 when I traveled to the interior of Mexico and experienced some of the "real" food of Mexico. Upon one of my trips back to Houston in the early Seventies, I stumbled upon San Angel and Tom Gilliland ["Miguel and the Miracles," Feb. 8]. I went back as often as I was in town.
Much to my astonishment, Gilliland moved his restaurant to Austin and I have been a regular patron ever since. The Austin Mexican food scene has come a long way since those days in 1968. I want to thank you for allowing me to reminisce and appreciate all the behind-the-scenes activity and personnel.
Coach Hits a New Low
Just when I thought I couldn't think any less of Andy "Coach" Cotton's writing or understanding of sports, he proclaims with pride that he can't be bothered to watch what was the best Super Bowl I've ever seen ["Coach's Corner," Feb. 1]. Seems he can only enjoy games in which one of his favorite teams is playing.
What a whiny jackass. Is there anything more pathetic than a frothing Cowboy-hater who rarely has anything positive to say about sports? Am I the only one who's had enough of Cotton's pointless meanderings and unbelievably boring personal anecdotes? For a journalist, having a favorite team is fine. Losing one's objectivity is not.
I'm sickened by the idea that press credentials to professional sporting events are wasted on a bitter, close-minded moron like Cotton. If you're going to allow pissy bias in your paper, at least find someone who roots for Texas teams. For that matter, just find a real sports connoisseur for your sports column, or get someone funny and/or interesting to fill the space.
Louis, I know he's your buddy, but this is getting ridiculous. There are enough sports fans in this town to make that column something lots of people would look forward to every week if it were any good. You could have something really good in there. Think about it.
P.S. Shit, I'd do it for half of what Cotton makes, and five times as many people would read it.
Bunch a Griffith Backer
Now that three council members are seeking to avoid term limits, it seems appropriate that we should review the voting records of the three council members to better understand what they have and have not offered Austin voters.
Council Member Griffith has worked very hard to empower citizens and neighborhoods in the process of city decision-making. By contrast, Council members Slusher and Goodman usually supported the concentration of power in the hands of Mayor Watson and the city manager.
Council member Griffith sought bond funding for affordable housing. Council members Slusher and Goodman opposed.
Council member Griffith sought $33 million for additional preserve acquisition in the drinking water watersheds. Council members Slusher and Goodman opposed while supporting an extra $150 million for roads.
Council member Griffith requested a plan to save Barton Springs. Council members Slusher and Goodman opposed. Austin still has no plan to save Barton Springs.
Council Member Griffith had an agenda that was blocked by the council majority, led by Mayor Watson. Slusher and Goodman had a clear shot to advance their own agendas on the coattails of the mayor.
Perhaps there is a reason why Council Member Griffith's petition drive is succeeding while Council Member Slusher's and Goodman's petition drives are lagging behind.
The top-down approach of the Watson-era council puts all of us nondevelopers in the role of second-class citizens. This approach must be changed or smart growth will never succeed.
Now the Police Association is seeking a court ruling stating that Austin's charter provision for term limits conflicts with state law. This is an attack on our home rule powers no different from the developer court challenge to the SOS ordinance.
That council members who claim to support home rule would support this challenge is rather disturbing.
Just one informed voter's personal opinion.
A Destructive 'Economic Imperative'
Maybe Nick Barbaro is right about the Villas on Guadalupe development ["Page Two," Jan. 18] -- it really is an issue of neighborhood planning, or rather the lack of it. It even involves two associations representing the same property: the merchant-led University Area Partners (UAP) supporting an MF-6 high-rise; and the North University Neighborhood Association (NUNA) favoring more compatible MF-4 zoning. MF-4 still allows hundreds of additional students to live near UT without threatening existing affordable student housing.
In an earlier letter, Cathy Norman, UAP president, asserts: "This development within our borders is consistent with all the neighborhood planning we have done" ["Postmarks: More to the Villas Story," Feb. 8]. Mike McHone, the developer's agent, happens to be the UAP vice-president and board member. If this group really represents neighborhood interests and neighborhood planning:
In fact, almost all student apartments in West Campus are zoned MF-4, very dense student housing. This project, however, crosses the West Campus line (Guadalupe) and moves into the diverse North University/Hemphill Park Area. The "Villas on Guadalupe" are not "Villas" and they are not "on" Guadalupe. The proposed MF-6 zoning is more than three times larger than MF-4! The plan is to warehouse students in 348 bedrooms with a massive six-story parking garage fronting on Hemphill Park.
There is no MF-6 zoning in this area. And no MF-6 has been built anywhere in Austin, yet. MF-6 zoning inflates land value. It creates an economic imperative that destroys historic buildings and small, affordable apartments. Meaningful planning can enhance neighborhoods and prevent the net loss of affordable housing.
Throughout the city, residents deserve better than this designless development approach. We need to make compatible development a reality -- through a planning process that invites residents to the table rather than leaving them out in the cold.
Jerry Roemisch, President
Protect the Crescent Area
This Thursday the Austin City Council has the opportunity to prevent what could be an accident waiting to happen. Stratus Properties will come before the council and ask that they be permitted to build 200 units on their Bear Lake properties, in the area known as the Crescent. With this number of units in this area it will increase the number of trips on an old farm to market (unimproved) road, to the point that accidents are bound to happen. Even with the TXDOT's line of site approval, it is still an unsafe location, with the increase in trips. We ask that all of the traffic be required to exit from the area onto the internal road and then on the larger State Highway 45. State Highway 45 can handle the increase in traffic. Along with the exit requirements we also ask [to] limit the number and height of the units to be built. The area around this development is a rural area with houses built on large one- to two-acre lots. In keeping with this theme we ask that the council only permit RR 1 in the Crescent area.
Charles A. Wall
Bogotá Clears the Air
Thursday, February 7, was Bogotá's annual Car-Free Day. Of course, this wasn't mentioned in the Austin American-Statesman, or even in The New York Times. I guess it's not the Chronicle's business to report news from other cities, but it would be good if someone took up the slack.
The biggest mainstream U.S. paper that has covered Enriques Peñalosa's remarkable successes in transportation reform is, as far as I know, Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, a trade publication. When a city succeeds in cleaning its air and clearing its streets, we don't hear about it. We just hear the old tired roads-or-rail talk.
The most interesting and exportable thing Peñalosa has done is to create Bogotá's Ciclovia. Every Sunday and every holiday in Bogotá, more than 75 miles of city streets are closed to motor vehicles for public recreational walking, cycling, and skating. This turns the whole city into a park every Sunday.
This is a really great idea, and one that can be used by any city in the U.S. Isn't it a shame that we never hear of such things?
After reading the article on Peñalosa in Bicycle Retailer, I told several people about it. In turn, they told me several things I didn't know. New Orleans, Washington D.C., New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and other cities in this country close major freeways every single Sunday for public recreation. None of them close 75 miles of street, but at least they've made a start. Usually they close big car roads that go through parks.
In the last four years, the number of people who bicycle for transportation in Bogotá has grown by a factor of nine. A Ciclovia in Austin would be fun and popular, and would also lead to changes in transportation habits. Let's do it!
Griffith's Rotten Platform
I agree with Louis Black ["Page Two," Feb. 8] that Beverly Griffith is the least capable of the city council members running for a third term. It is about time that someone started pointing out the problems with this wealthy West Austin council member. Last year Griffith unnecessarily delayed implementation of our long-overdue Dawson Neighborhood Plan. She was blatantly pandering to both sides while ignoring the hard-fought-for compromises that other council members had reached.
Mr. Black pointed out the irony that Griffith hired Linda Curtis to obtain signatures for her campaign. Curtis pushed through the law that requires the signatures. Curtis is not the only one working for Griffith that has a conflict of interest. Jeff Jacks, past president of the Austin Neighborhood Council, is currently Griffith's assistant. Yet Griffith had Jacks lobby to further water down the already diluted Conditional Overlay that was designed to protect Dawson's homes and school from more high traffic development. Fortunately our overlay passed 6-1 without Griffith's support.
I find Griffith to be unnecessarily obstructionist. She was not out in the trenches working for compromises to get things done, yet she was willing to slow things down to get attention for herself. I'm hoping for a competent alternative candidate.
Donald Jay Dodson
Ventura 'Courageous & Seminal'
Dear Mr. Ventura,
Your exposé of the administration's use of the "war on terrorism" to make war on U.S. democracy ["Letters @ 3AM," Jan. 25] is courageous and seminal. Would love to see you address the new Jingoism in similar fashion. Even The West Wing is telling us: "They hate us because we love freedom and they don't."
Maybe "they" don't, I don't really know, but what all of my ACC students know (many of whom did poorly in high school history courses) is that they wear tennis shoes manufactured by slaves as a direct result of U.S. success at utterly suppressing the growth of freedom abroad. And that this is not an isolated example.
Save the Neighborhood
Watch out neighborhoods! The recent vote by city council in support of high-density development over the objections of neighboring property owners should make us stand up and take notice. The proposed "Villas on Guadalupe" (actually on Hemphill Park) has requested the highest residential zoning allowed. Zoning of this intensity currently doesn't exist in our city.
This zoning is inappropriate on this site because it fails to address many issues of responsible development. The density and inadequate parking will most certainly negatively affect existing businesses in need of proper traffic flow and parking to sustain their economic viability. The project essentially adds about 700 residents in a land area of just over one acre, but only provides parking for 395. The additional off-site parking needed for residents would stretch the length of at least 10 football fields and this doesn't include their visitors! The developer assumes that students will not have cars because they will be "on campus," but they will need their cars to go to work to pay their rent and to buy their groceries. Where will their cars be absorbed?
For months, attempts have been made to work out a compatible and responsible solution with the developer. But the developer says "the numbers" just don't work for him. When a developer does a poor job of understanding thoughtful planning and vision for a city, it works in his favor.
It is time to understand the long-term economic benefits of preserving the historic character of our city. We have lost sight of the consequences that poor planning will have on our city. What does everyone think we are talking about when we say, "quality of life" and "sense of place?"
This site is a prime location for a responsible, creative and sensitive multi-use development. If this developer walks, another will come along ... perhaps one who actually is willing to work with the neighborhood to provide a mixed-use development that will house hundreds of students. Even better, one who understands that thoughtful development can result in a city that is rich in character and is economically viable.
It's outrageous that the Austin Police Association sued their employers (Austin voters) in a pitiful attempt to overturn term limits. This blunder by Austin's finest has begged the question of whether this was APA's payback to Council Members Slusher and Goodman, who helped them pull off their big pay raise last year, while gutting citizen's police review. And now we hear that former mayor, now lobbyist, Bruce Todd, is setting up a political action committee to rescue Council Members Slusher and Goodman. That's the same developer-friendly Todd, who was mayor when the city clerk tried to invalidate 14,000 of the 29,000 signatures gathered by Austinites for a Little Less Corruption! Following the APA's loss, the Statesman printed a sympathy piece with APA President, Sheffield, bemoaning that "money is going to decide who we get to vote for." Now, let me get this straight. Don't the council members usually spend about $100,000 on their campaigns? And, didn't Slusher say that it costs about $25,000 for a 20,000-signature petition drive? And, didn't the Statesman print that those 20,000 signatures virtually guarantee incumbents re-election? Something doesn't add up here as to why Slusher and Goodman can't seem to get their signatures. Here's my theory. Perhaps they never planned on getting them in the first place because they thought that their friends downtown were going to get rid of our term limits law for them. Now the same downtown crowd is ragging on Griffith (who did not support the police) for out-fundraising Slusher and Goodman under the same $100 limits they all have to live by. Please do everyone a big favor -- make sure that Bruce (and city attorney John Steiner) have learned how to count.
Gov't. Takes a Cue From Enron
I feel your pain as I write you this note before leaving my office for the day to go get drunk with my nubile young intern in the Clintonesque reality of which I am prisoner. I'm not sure where the Marvin Olasky spiel ["Page Two," Feb. 8] came from or what prompted it other than that it was justified by his very existence on this planet, but I agree with you completely and you are right on the mark. Mr. Olasky needs psychiatric help or at least some counseling. Rarely has a public spokesperson for such an assbackwards social and economic agenda allowed his own festering psycho-emotional sores to become daily infotainment fodder for the newspaper-reading public. It is bizarre and surreal.
Also, though you know I have sounded off on this before and basically agree with you concerning that well-meaning egomaniac known as Ralph Nader and his cult of self-styled "progressives" who wear their brand of politics as though they were designer clothes meant to separate them from the mindless masses, I must say John O' Neill's recent letter was well-taken. American political culture is badly in need of reform. It is hard to regard our government as anything but an extension of a multi-national corporation's governing board. President Bush's fiscal and economic policies seem designed to run according to the Enron model in which we, the average American taxpayer, are going to get reamed so that those at the top of the food chain may remain comfortably ensconced in their luxurious lifestyles even while the ship goes down. Let's see if the Democrats in Congress have the guts to stand up to Bush's proposed budget and its unprecedented increase in military spending as we enter a state of undeclared perpetual war.
'Chron' Supports the Status Quo
You have obviously avoided my e-mails regarding the scandalous pay raise for Mack Brown, the subtle moves of Ms. Karen Rae and her strategies towards the implementation of light rail in Austin, and also the increase in fees for students to the University of Texas, affecting the east half of this city, and since I'm sure this one won't be printed either, I'll tell you clearly, that you, jijos de la chingada at the Chronicle, have succeeded in smothering our little minds by manipulating your news into happitty-clappitty ironing, and avoiding crucial focus on the actions of these privileged bastards that have damaged this land and its people for so long. Several world leaders are now working to avoid conflicts, poverty, ignorance, and racism, and you, cabrones, in unison with the stupid politicians, seem to be committed to preserve them in embarrassing stubbornness. You want us to be as pendejos as your own president? I don't think so. Sue me.
Get Rid of Hightower
I musta done too much LSD when I was younger, because I am confused. I can't figure out what your staff is so angry about, all of their writings seem to either be full-of-shit crap about "comedy stylings" or just plain old name-calling. You carry Jim Hightower's weekly whinefest ["The Hightower Lowdown"], always slamming Republicans but never speaking ill of Democrats. In his Enron rant, poor little Jimmy claims the Democrat Congress passed laws that allowed Enron to scam millions, but never once remarks on the political affiliation of that Congress as he goes on to slam Republicans. Little Jimmy best stick to what he is apparently good at, boring old people ô la his latest appearance on Public Access TV. You all come across as mean, angry, intolerant people who believe anyone who does not agree with your opinion does so out of evil intent, you never, ever suggest anyone who does not agree with you has an honest difference of opinion. One thing you might want to consider as you rant and rage against anyone to the right of Marx is the old homily that "Great minds discuss ideas, lesser minds discuss events, small minds discuss people." You might want to chill a bit, relax, and be open-minded enough to consider that everyone who does not agree with you is not an evil, disgusting person. Little Jimmy Hightower is a negative, hypocritical partisan hack who has spent his entire adult life apparently thinking of clever insults and names to call people he hates, which includes apparently almost everyone. His column does not make your paper look tolerant, open-minded, or compassionate, which I thought were the linchpins of liberalism. Dump the Chump, get rid of Jim.
Carl T. Swanson
Let me see if I have this right. Bush proposes to cut job training and education funding after Republicans promised this support when pushing for welfare reform. Rumsfeld cannot account for $38 billion of Pentagon funding, yet they will possibly receive the largest increase of military spending in a generation. We no longer have a surplus and will dip into Social Security, but six months ago sent tax refunds to the wealthier half of America. The administration re-declares the War on Drugs where dollar-for-dollar spending has only generated income for the prison system and violent criminals are released because of overcrowding. The attorney general spends four times my monthly income draping a statue because justice in all her glory makes him "uncomfortable." All this under the leadership of the first president with an MBA and a GPA of less than exceptional stature. I have to wonder if his thesis was on creative funding practices ô la Enron. Clearly, America is the next business of his doomed to fail.
Nader's Twisted Logic
Re: John O'Neill's somewhat hysterical response [Postmarks: "Who Are You Calling Self-Righteous?" Feb. 8] to Louis Black calling Naderites "ridiculously self-righteous"; well, what else are we to label the attitude of the people that siphoned off enough votes in Florida to put George W. into the White House? Please do not tell me that Al Gore would not have been any different. Sure, he would have been bought and sold by the plutocrats, but at least we wouldn't have had John Ashcroft and his fear of calico cats, Gale Norton (who never met a strip mine she didn't like), and the rest of the Cabinet flacks (including the one who cited the collapse of Enron as an example of the "genius of capitalism"). Ralph Nader himself said that he hoped a Bush victory would make things so bad that people would turn to him for redress. Thanks all the same, Ralph, but it won't happen.
Nader reminds me of the pre-Hitler head of the German Communist Party, whose main strategy was to stab the Social Democrats in the back while they were trying to neutralize the Nazis. Once the Social Democrats were made irrelevant, he reasoned, the Communists would be the only alternative to the fascists. And we all know what came of that piece of logic.
The body politic of the United States has become, with this group of Republicans in power, a rotting corpse, thanks in no small part to zealots like Nader. And maggots like Lay and Cheney are crawling all over it. To the Naderites: Just own up to your part in Bush II. Keep stabbing the Democrats in the back, since doctrinal purity is your only mantra, but stop equating Democrats with Republicans, and try to remain calm as the vice-president and his cronies loot and pillage our poor country. Thanks again, Ralph.
Osama, Drugs, & the CIA
Everyone seems to think that the White House's Super Bowl ads equating drugs with terrorists and terrorism are erroneous -- nothing could be further from the truth! It is a matter of Congressional Record that our intelligence agencies smuggle drugs to raise huge sums of money for their worldwide programs of government destabilizing activities, also known as terrorism. In fact ol' Osama is a creation of our very own CIA. So, in fact when people buy these products, they are supporting terrorists. But this should be seen as patriotic, since the terrorists and drug smugglers are ultimately U.S. government-sanctioned employees. There are numerous DEA and U.S. Customs Agents who have testified for the record that this is an accurate description of the situation.
So be patriotic, buy drugs, and support our boys who work hard to bring us a better way of life! Try not to think about the rest of the world -- I mean, they hardly matter in the "Grand Scheme of Things" -- right?
Olympics Are Sport, Not Drama
Herewith a heartfelt plea to the networks and Olympic athletes, before the events even start:
Networks: do not show clips of athletes standing on high cliffs, facing the setting sun, the breeze swirling a gossamer garment; save it for the perfume ads. Neither show them playing with puppies -- I don't care.
Do not serve up collagen-lipped, Botox-injected, blow-dried "commentators" (of either sex) interviewing athletes: "So, like, how are you feeling, as we speak? And, I mean, you know, what are your plans for the future?" -- I don't care about that, either.
Athletes: Do not allow yourselves to be packaged, shrink-wrapped, and served up as the victim of your parents' divorce, caused by your father's alcoholism, mother's schizophrenia, and baby sister blowing up the high school -- have some dignity and keep your private lives to yourselves.
Enjoy your triumphs, if they happen, but cut out the showtime; if you're good enough, your performance will get you on the Wheaties box.
World-class athletics has a voice of its own; it is the triumph of genetic gifts, plus will and self-discipline. The sight of the best athletes operating at their peak lifts the spirit and stirs the blood like few other things in life -- it doesn't need to be spiffed up.
So show the sports and let the events speak for themselves; otherwise, kindly cut the [barnyard epithet].
Huh? Separation of What?
I am a Conservative Republican, but I smell a rat. A return to deficit spending is a big mistake. We don't need to increase our military budget when all it is being used for is to be the biggest bully on the block. We can't even take care of those in need here at home. We certainly didn't need the homeland security whose purpose it is to keep our citizens in line who would object to the New World Order. Wake up, people. We gladly give our rights over to an anti-Christ system in hopes we can keep what we have earned over the years. When our President shuts the mouths of Christians and will not allow the name of Jesus to be spoken of in his administration, but yet praises the name of Allah and falsely recognizes his deity, and says the Islamic faith is a good and peaceable one, wake up. Ben Franklin was right when he said we gave you a republic, now see if you can keep it. But I'm sorry to say we lost it.
KUT Doesn't Listen
I am not renewing my membership in KUT this time around.
The reason is that I object to the station's reducing the number of hours of jazz programming, both in the afternoon and in the evening.
Even more, I object to their changing the programming without consulting the people who pay for it, their listeners. Had they done so, and had a majority of listeners wanted to reduce the hours of jazz programming, I would be unhappy, but not enough to cancel my membership. As it is, I am refusing to respond to the latest renewal notice I got in the mail.
This would be a good story for the Chronicle to cover. Who makes the decisions over there, and why don't they consult the listeners?
Evil Happy Hour
Friday at an upscale happy-hour downtown, I happened to observe an apparent Jenna wannabe as she stepped up to the bar. With just a bit of a giggle, she ordered something called a "Dos Equis of Evil." She and her companion were joined by a few conservative-looking twentysomethings, who seemed to get a big kick out of being something they called "Texas-Exes of Evil." A table of cigar-smoking attorneys joined the brouhaha, reveling in passing around papers that they gleefully referred to as "Faxes of Evil." A crew of self-identifying lobbyists started babbling excitedly about pushing through the "Taxes of Evil." Republican Party pins, button-down collars, and blonde bobs aside, it was all looking a bit sketchy and unsafe. I figured that I must be in the wrong bar, so I headed toward the door. On my way out, I glimpsed a fortyish fraternity boy groping a waitress while drooling something about letting him "access her evils." Free of the impending orgy, I chose another establishment down the street. The clientele was distinctly less well-scrubbed, but no one there seemed to be as conspicuously concerned about manifesting an excess of anything.
The tabescent of The Austin Chronicle is epitomized by the no-talent gossip of S.M. Moser. Moser's "After a Fashion" column is about as interesting as bleeding piles. Are Liz Smith and S.M. Moser long lost sisters, or does Moser write like a batty old hen because (s)he doesn't have a life? It must be tough being a homosexual in Austin and not having a life of your own; or does being a gossip monger just come with the orientation? Maybe it runs in the family ... (see K.X. Moser)
Waste Land in West Texas
I have had the pleasure of knowing the "rad-waste four," and find that the words courageous, concerned, and compassionate come quickly to mind.
These two women and two men, young and knowledgeable (in a way few Texans are) of the ongoing privatization of our nations atomic waste-stream, the unique lobbyists-driven state legislative situation, and the unique geo-hydrology of Harold Simmons' private WCS (Waste Control Special) dump site in Andrews County, Texas, were horrified at the senates' wham-bam vote in favor of bad science, big money and clear danger to the health and welfare of Texans, future and present concerned. They acted.
I'm proud of them and believe they should be awarded, rewarded, emulated, thanked, and all that good stuff. Where are the radiation rangers when you need 'em?
Come see four real authentic verdadero Texas radiation rangers Wednesday morning at 9am in Judge Triana's court 5 on the fifth floor of the Blackwell-Thurman Justice Complex at 10th and San Antonio on Feb. 27, and be sure to visit the extensive Web site on the WCS dump in far West Texas (it's on the Texas-New Mexico state line, 40 miles east of the DOE's underground plutonium waste-dump -- the Waste Isolation Pilot Project, or WIPP), www.andrewsnuclearwastedump.org.