Our readers talk back.
Memo to Bunch: Lay Off Jackie and Daryl
I write to take exception to my friend Bill Bunch's letter attacking Council members Jackie Goodman and Daryl Slusher ["Postmarks: Bunch a Griffith Backer," Feb. 15]. His letter leaves the impression that they don't support protecting Barton Springs and don't represent the interests of average Austinites. Nothing could be further from the truth. They are both bona fide champions of Barton Springs and have worked the better part of their careers to protect it. Jackie, along with Bill, was among the founders of the original SOS Coalition, and Daryl's coverage in the Chronicle was a critical piece of the success of SOS.
They also both care passionately about protecting and enhancing what we all cherish about Austin: They've led initiatives to support the music community, they've voted for the actual construction of affordable housing -- not just the concept -- and they've worked to improve our streets and offer real transportation alternatives.
In general, Daryl and Jackie have worked hard for the greater good of the community and are a stark contrast to the kind of special-interest deal making that tainted pre-SOS councils. We'll never all agree with our elected officials on every vote they take, but engaging in character assassination over disagreements doesn't serve anyone.
Former Director of SOS
Former Chair of SOS
Jackie and Daryl Are Green, Too
We take strong exception to the implications in Bill Bunch's letter in the February 15 "Postmarks" ["Bunch a Griffith Backer"]. Bill questions the public service and voting records of Council Members Goodman and Slusher. He seems to suggest that Council Member Griffith is a "better" green candidate. He's wrong. To suggest that Jackie and Daryl are not fully supportive on environmental issues is ludicrous.
All three council members continue to be strong advocates for protecting and conserving this community's treasured and storied natural environment. We have worked with Beverly, Daryl and Jackie, and their fine staffs, on countless environmental and other quality-of-life issues for many years. All three are effective, hard-working public servants. Given their dedication to serving this community and their years of experience, Austin especially needs their leadership at City Hall during these challenging budgetary times.
Bill concluded his letter with, "Just one informed voter's personal opinion." Bill may be well informed but he does himself and your readers an injustice by wrongfully condemning Jackie and Daryl. They are devoted public servants. We're blessed to have them as city council members. The city -- and the natural environment -- are much better off because of their service. We urge your readers to sign their petitions for re-election.
Mary Ann Neely
Enviros Not Shortsighted
In Mr. Black's "Page Two" of last week [Feb. 15], he contradicts his general support for managed growth policies supported by the "voting environmental community" by asserting a "certain shortsightedness on the issue of roads and transportation."
To the contrary, the environmental community's transportation policies have been completely ignored. Instead, we have built sprawl and traffic inducing roads faster than any other metropolitan area in the country except Tucson. Our traffic problems were created by the shortsightedness of TxDOT and its developer clients. They will continue to get worse -- along with our air and water pollution -- if these policies continue.
The Chronicle should be dispelling -- not reinforcing -- the false belief that if we only throw more money at more roads traffic will improve.
Save Our Springs Alliance
In Support of Griffith
As one of Beverly Griffith's petitioners I am offended by Louis Black's comments ["Page Two," Feb 8]. I can tell you that it is not Beverly's "deep pockets" that are influencing me, instead, it is her "deep support" for the issues I care about. Beverly's commitment to the environment and quality of life for the people of Austin is what makes me stand in front of grocery stores, UT campus, or on the hike and bike trail collecting signatures on a regular basis. The recent Brackenridge decision also proves that she is one of the fiercest defenders of a woman's right to choose. It is because of her commitment that Austinites are very eager to sign the petition to keep her for another term. I do get paid for my job as a petitioner and let me also say that it is a livable wage. Because of that I am able to work full time on a campaign that I strongly believe in. No one has paid the 20,000-plus voters who have chosen to sign. Beverly is not receiving that kind of support because of her "deep pockets." She is receiving that support because voters agree with her positions on the issues.
Power to the People?
Lauri Apple's article on this year's African-American Legislative Summit ["Building Black Momentum," Feb. 15] was informative and hilarious reading, especially the comments of U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston.
[Lee's] advocacy of "capitalism from the ground up" made me gag on my Met-Rx Chocolate Fudge Bar. Not only was the congresswoman one of the House of Representatives' chief Enron whores, she also has participated in the ongoing ethnic cleansing and gentrification of the Fourth Ward. Regardless of how she spins it, her version of capitalism is the same trickle-down it's always been.
Barbara Jordan and (especially) Mickey Leland must be turning in their graves.
Fred L. McGhee
In Coach's Corner
I couldn't disagree more with Michael Bolduc's ranting assessment of Andy "Coach" Cotton's column ["Postmarks: Coach Hits a New Low," Feb. 15]. If he hates it so much, why does he read it? To get pissed off? From the tone of his scathing letter, he seems plenty pissed already.
I know a lot of people who look forward to "Coach's Corner" every week. Hell, it's the first thing I read in every issue and I think his "meanderings" are refreshing and often hilarious. Certainly nothing to get angry about.
If Mr. Bolduc wants to read a rah-rah sports column that praises Texas teams, there are plenty of sources. Try Kirk Bohls of the Statesman or anything in The Dallas Morning News sports section.
James W. Rohlich
Ignore Coach Hater
Reader and letter column contributor Michael Bolduc is (a putz) mistaken ["Postmarks: Coach Hits a New Low," Feb. 15]. Coach Cotton is one of the most entertaining and incisive writers at the Chronicle and his is one of the few columns I turn to without fail each week, hard though it is to locate quickly. I trust that you will pay no heed to this (snot-nosed loudmouth) obstreperous know-nothing.
Reader Kevin Hendryx
Moser: 'Welfare Michael Musto'
Stephen MacMillan Moser needs to eat a dick straight up!! What kinda horseshit is that "After a Fashion" section anyway? Now not only do I have to be on the lookout for those Chili's swillin' "It's Just Lunch" bitches, I gotta worry about stumbling across some welfare Michael Musto in the weekly rag. Does he not know how to get to L.A.? He can take all three of his names out there and sip lattes with Joan Rivers, but Austin doesn't deserve this shit. I'd rather sniff Amy Babich's bike seat than read another word from that tool. Give us a break. Maybe you can replace it with a Bob Schneider update. He's really dreamy and since your nose is always up his ass I'm sure you're kept abreast of his each and every dreamy move. Just a suggestion.
Justin B. Andrews
'Buffy' Buffs Unite!
Re: "Fandemonium!," Feb. 15
Loved your article. I don't have cable and neither does my office chum. Two of our friends record for us and we watch Buffy each week -- a little late but that's OK. I tell my husband and two teenagers when I'm going to watch it and they usually join me. (My husband moans and groans about Buffy's antics, but he still shows up to watch.) The part I really like is that no one will ever float in and out of walls with a sword in my world; so, there is no fear, just fun. It's really nice to visit a place so bizarre and come home again.
Anyway, we passed the article around, and if you have any more Buffy meetings let us know.
A Bottle Rocket in Our Midst
My name is Robert Kearns, and I play bass with the Bottle Rockets. I just wanted to thank Jerry [Renshaw] and Margaret [Moser] for the kind words in this week's Chronicle ["Be Real," Feb. 15]. I also wanted to let them know that I live in Austin. I moved here a year and a half ago to tour with Chris Duarte while the Bottle Rockets were on hiatus. Thanks for the invite to move here (that was really nice), I'll do my best to talk the other guys into it. I've actually suggested it to them before. Maybe after they read this article they'll seriously consider it. Please come see us at SXSW if you would like.
Comanche Need to Research Claims
Re: ["Who Owns the Ancestors?" Feb. 8]
According to W.W. Newcomb Jr. (The Indians of Texas, 1961) the earliest recognized inhabitants of coastal Texas were either Karankawas or the slightly more inland Coahuiltecans. Both of these are believed to share linguistic and cultural affiliations with the Yuma of California, where they probably emigrated. The other two earliest recognized Indian groups of Texas are the Jumanos, a peripheral member of the Puebloan culture of the Southwest, and the Atakapans-Caddos, both of which are southeastern emigrants. The remains and artifacts recently discovered at the DuPont Corp. site near Victoria are of Archaic hunters and gatherers and predate the Coahuiltecans, Karankawas, Jumanos, and other known early tribes of Texas by thousands of years.
Comanche claims of tribal affiliation with the DuPont site are quite a stretch. Historically, the Comanche are an offshoot of the Northern Shoshones. They did not enter Texas until the 18th century. Apaches, a member of the Athapaskan language group (the bulk of which live in Canada and Alaska and include the Navaho), are very recent arrivals to the Americas -- 15th century by some estimates, only slightly preceding the Spaniards in the Southwest. The Choctaw, Creek, and Alabama-Coushatta are such recent and brief emigrants to Texas that they are hardly mentioned by Newcomb.
At least Jimmy Arterberry acknowledges that "our histories" in Texas are recent; however, his claim of migrations and intermarriages and that "we have relatives all the way up into Canada ... and all the way down to South America" is a broad-based statement that tens of millions can make. Seems everyone is an emigrant. We should be wary of those that claim to speak for such enormous groups of people.
Ventura 'Mails In' Column
Michael Ventura's personal revelations in his Feb. 8 column ["Letters at 3AM"] were deeply moving, but because the introspective read more like an excerpt from a book, I was reminded of a famous actor who from time to time has been accused of "mailing in his performance."
If Ventura really buys into idea that he is "here to serve his gift, writing," then perhaps he should heed the advice of his famous writer friend Carlos Castaneda, who once wrote that the root of all evil was not money, but simply self-reflection; not incessant self-reflection, just plain old SF. I would suggest that one of Ventura's other gifts is for "getting" the big picture relevance of everything from the minutia of life, to its really extraordinary events.
In that vein, I'm disappointed that Ventura's column didn't instead focus on Dick Cheney's recent declaration that the White House doesn't answer to anybody (soon to be backed up the Republican Supreme Court), and eloquently framing its importance for his readers, like only he knows how to do. I get all worked up just thinking about how Ventura would have opined on the Bush Administration's latest salvo in its ongoing efforts to hasten America's devolvement from the democracy it was once envisioned as, to the republic it has become, and the dictatorship the Bush Administration would like it to be.
Hopefully, "mailed" in or not, Michael had his moment and he'll get back to doing what he does best.
Charles Ponzio Jr.
R.I.P. Susan Lee Solar, Activist
Dear Austinites ...
I'm not very good at eulogies, but my main concern here is that the folks that knew Susan Lee Solar, whose passing occurred last Wednesday morning shortly after 10am at the South Austin Medical Center, February 13, Ash Wednesday, and were not reached for some reason or another, will know of this rather sudden death to a much loved and respected social, human rights, and environmental activist; she will be missed.
Yesterday, Wednesday, February 13, about 40 of her friends and colleagues, held a one-and-a-half- to two-hour memorial gathering at the entrance to the Barton Springs Pool and poolside as the sun set, where she loved to swim, and exchanged stories and shed tears tinged with some often hilarious memories; if you knew her you'd probably guess what that was like.
I know you will be reading this in the past tense, since I missed the letters deadline, but there will and would've been an additional service to be held at Stacy Park near Lockhart Drive & Eastside Drive around the corner from her Monroe house, which by the way, will have a growing altar piece that's been started in her honor on the front porch; feel free to drop by and express yourself however you like about her life and your connection to it. A Web site in her name is being planned as well as the completion of her book project that will need support from us all, so stay tuned.
Speed Limit Not the Problem
It looks like Austin is considering following Houston's lead by lowering speed limits. Supposedly this will decrease pollution by a razor thin margin and help us keep our federal funding.
Yeah, right. "The feds are coming, look busy!" Don't get me wrong, I'd love to slow down some of those yahoos on I-35. But this isn't the way to reduce pollution enough to meet the federal standards.
Why don't we do what we should have done before, and switch completely to natural gas buses? Austin almost did so once, but various players messed up the plan by claiming, among other things, that the new buses were too hard to maintain. Well, obviously, if you don't train your mechanics to work on the new vehicles there's going to be problems. By now, having familiarized themselves with the small fleet of natural gas buses currently in use, our city mechanics should have no problem.
If Austin truly wants to improve its air quality, there needs to be some real changes. Natural gas buses (and improved bike access, but that's another letter) will do far more good than the window-dressing approach of lowering speed limits. And besides, isn't it a little nuts to be following the lead of our country's most polluted city, that pestilential bog known as Houston?
Seaholm Project Proposals: Not So Fast
Regarding the new and improved Seaholm Project proposal. I was down at the proposed site today. It was beautiful there. The bridges. The train. Glistening Town Lake. Trees. Blue sky. In every direction it felt like Austin. Real Austin, not corporate Austin, which has devoured our skyline in the name of growth and extreme profits for few.
Then I looked up where the John Holmes Project would plop. I thought "Wow, wouldn't it be nice to allow a few millionaires to take this land and make some profit for themselves!" And I am positive the maniacal capitalists won't stop trying until finally the proposal slips through, after paying off just the right vote.
As I rode up to MoPac by AHS, I smelled the ballpark grass and listened to the trees, I absorbed family, city, community. No signs of corporate oppression. Not even a billboard. Such a beautiful stretch of Austin roadway.
What is it that drives a person to pursue money during their entire existence on Earth? Don't they know it is merely a drug? Don't they know it is deadlier and less promising as doing drugs the day they will die? A drug dealer will succumb, a rich man will claw for his life. The money addicts walk around in a dead shell of a corpse. A proverbial chainsaw idles constantly in their third eye.
I wish developers didn't hate Austin so much. They want to take and devour every undeveloped, unclaimed mound of dirt and mark it with their corporate urine. And they won't look you in the eye, unless it is in the designated looking-you-in-the-eye scheduled and carefully prepared meeting. They believe that should cover their integrity. And if you didn't attend, hey, you've had your chance to voice your opinion, but refused, so it's obvious that everyone agrees that a big development project is what we all want!
That area is the most peaceful, powerful, and hopeful area in Central Austin. Looking at an undeveloped piece of property tells the citizens that their children have room to grow and develop when in time they will encounter their future, based on their own demands and needs.
All of the Seaholm Project proposals have failed. And we Austinites aim to keep it that way until an unpartisan solution is defined.
A Poem for Waylon
On the Death of Waylon Jennings:
He died last night
A man of heart
Big and tough
He stood apart.
He walked his way,
He came so far,
He died last night,
Became a star.
The old green earth
On which he roamed
Was barely touched --
A half-way home.
Made love to rhyme.
The songs he sang
Have marked his time.
Stop Dangerous GMOs
Biotech agriculture was sold to Americans as a way to feed a starving world. So what's the latest innovation to "benefit" mankind? Genetically engineered (GE) tobacco.
The AP reports "government approval would make the tobacco one of the first biotech crops to have a consumer use." Supposedly Vector Group's new cigarettes have much less nicotine and are thus less addictive. "People who have tried the cigarettes say they light, smoke, and taste like ordinary cigarettes." And since nicotine is a natural insecticide, the bugs like the biotech tobacco too.
The Agriculture Department is "poised to remove restrictions on where and how the tobacco can be grown" and "found that the crop poses little risk to the environment." But how can that be so when more pesticides will have to be used on it? "A nicotine-free cigarette could still deliver very high levels of harmful toxic substances," said a tobacco industry critic. I thought people were part of the environment.
And just what is put into the tobacco's DNA? What will be the long-term side effects of smoking it? Will the new cigs be labeled as containing a genetically modified organism (GMO)? Unwitting people may once again be used as guinea pigs to field-test a questionable GE experiment.
This technology is a double-edged sword. Rogue scientists working for drug cartels could possibly genetically engineer powerful alkaloids like cocaine and opium into common crops like tea leaves or coffee trees. Or perhaps an underground genetic engineer could alter garden plants or even weeds like dandelions into secret sources of illegal drugs.
Genetic manipulation of natural flora and fauna for "frankendrugs" could soon become a common biotech venture -- another Pandora's Box -- potentially more dangerous than nuclear fission and its waste products. How do you get rid of unwanted GMOs, superweeds, once they've gotten loose in the environment?
Check out www.saynotogmos.org for what's already happening with GE crops like BT corn and Roundup Ready® soybeans and the corporate thugs manipulating those operations.
We're not alarmists. We're the stop signs at the railroad tracks.