Our readers talk back.
Another Pro-Heckler Heckle
In 1997, when I turned 18 years old and got my first voter's registration card, my mother told me that during elections to always check The Austin Chronicle because they invariably endorse progressive, environmentally friendly candidates. However, your "close call" endorsement of Karen Sonleitner over Jeff Heckler, after great editorial "deliberations," had more hedges and caveats than praise for the incumbent's voting record. It was not an endorsement that I could trust.
This decision reveals an editorial break with the well-respected, progressive guidelines and moral and political principles that have been the hallmark of the Chronicle's historical stand on local issues. Guidelines that, as a second-generation Chronicle reader, I have followed trustingly since I cast my first ballot five years ago.
One doesn't have to be a political analyst to know about the contributions that Jeff Heckler has made to this community, his work against the Longhorn Pipeline is only one example. I was disappointed when you decided to stray from your time-honored, pro-environment tradition and give your support to the incumbent, thereby de facto endorsing her enthusiasm for highway bonds and other corporate interests. Jeff Heckler is the activist-oriented, pro-environment, people-friendly candidate that my mother assured me the Chronicle always endorses. So much for family traditions!
Krystina S. Siebenaler
[Editor's note: The Chronicle received four other letters similar to this one. Those letters and others not published in the print edition can be read online in the Columns section of austinchronicle.com.]
Victrola Fans v. Hernandez
Did Raoul Hernandez actually listen to Victrola's self-titled CD before writing his review ["Texas Platters," Feb. 22]?! He needs his ears checked, or at least his music judgment. Not only is Victrola one of Austin's best jazz bands, it's also one of today's top bands in general.
Hordes of fans (including me) show up every Monday at talented Victrola's free Empanada Parlour gigs -- heartily disputing Hernandez's assertion that Victrola is not a worthwhile band because "... Austin already has ... Asylum Street Spankers for bawdy laughs and a raunchy good time." Hernandez claims vocalist Alice Spencer's rendition of "I'm Confessing" has "... the conviction of an afternoon sound check." Unplug those ears, Hernandez! Spencer sings on the CD -- and live -- with tenderness and luminous power.
Also, the Spankers and Victrola play different music styles; they're not even comparable. Victrola does everything from torch songs to swingin' originals. Hernandez: The CD "... is asleep somewhere down among the sawdust." On the contrary, it's a call to awaken, beckoning listeners to feel alive and passionate. It's a CD that my friends and I are buying for all our out-of-town friends and family. One featured performer Hernandez doesn't mention is Justin Sherburn, a pinnacle of piano talent who plays exquisitely.
Hernandez advises Spencer to "... belt it out like the bar was made for your high heels or stay at home in your slippers." Spencer doesn't need the trappings of high heels. She's wonderfully down-to-earth and simultaneously in a plane of talent that's so sky-high Hernandez couldn't see it with a telescope.
Lastly, since Hernandez mentions the "warring times" for "local saloons," I encourage Chronicle readers to frequently support the Empanada Parlour, as it continues struggling against the behemoth Sheraton's ridiculous lawsuit!
In support of great local music,
Bush Air Plan 'Disheartening'
Re: Lee Nichols' article "Bush's Dirty Plan for Clean Skies," Feb. 22
Dust off your boots; it's square dance time! Last week's global warming announcement confirmed that the Bush administration's toxic two-step is invading the White House. Apparently, what failed in Texas suffices for America.
Bush's goal is to reduce "emissions intensity" (carbon dioxide pollution relative to economic output) by 18% over the next 10 years. The catch is, economic growth already tends to outpace carbon dioxide increases, and has for several decades. This plan allows unsafe emissions growth to proceed unabated. Bush's fuzzy "reduction" target obviously needs some focus.
The United States leads the world in global-warming gas emissions. Bush's proposal will continue to aggravate the international community already committed to reducing actual emissions. Setting real targets would promote the "cool" technologies that solve global warming, and lessen our dependence on foreign oil.
This plan should evoke serious déja vu from Texans. Not only does Bush's goal assure no actual reductions, it relies on voluntary measures. A national registry for voluntary reductions is as effective as letting students grade their own midterms. Under Bush's plan, companies reporting miniscule energy-saving projects will receive praise regardless of whether emissions increase.
Dismal environmental policies in Texas are disheartening, but inadequate national policies endanger the entire world. Oil conflicts escalate, ecological destruction mounts, and it's time for serious targets. Its time President Bush lived up to his campaign promises by setting a real goal on global warming and taking serious action to achieve it.
Putting a Leash On Dog Owners
There have been several articles in Austin papers lately about the heavy-handed police tactics used on the poor defenseless dog owners who just want to let their friends run free in local public parks ["PARD in Heat Over Dog Park," Feb. 22]. Though I can sympathize with these feelings, and have no wish to see our police use unnecessary force in any situation, I have come to develop a different perspective.
For nearly 20 years, I have lived in South Austin. The trees, birds, and flowing water of Stacy Park in Travis Heights are a source of tremendous healing for me, and I walk there often. The only problem is that there are almost always dogs without leashes -- and sometimes without their owners -- running through the park, which has "pets on leashes" signs posted all over the place. This wouldn't be so bad if the dogs always behaved themselves, but guess what -- they don't! In fact, most of these dogs are so used to running freely through the park that they have come to see this as just their owner's big back yard, which is their territory to protect. Pedestrians such as myself are viewed as trespassers, and must be attacked or at least intimidated. And since I actually have been attacked on a walk, guess what -- I'm scared of dogs on the loose. So now I carry pepper spray and a big stick with me whenever I go for a relaxing walk in the park. I can't tell you how much I resent having to do this, just because dog owners are too inconsiderate to obey the law. I think I'll start carrying my cell phone, too, so that I can call the police when I see a dog without a leash.
Leash Law a Safety Issue
Old West Austin Park has never been leash-free and is not the idyllic dog utopia described in your article ["PARD in Heat Over Dog Park," Feb. 22]. Many neighborhood people are opposed to loose dogs in this small enclave. Why? We are concerned about safety, sanitation, and the availability of the park for kids.
Some dog owners are oblivious to their dogs running through our yards and being a nuisance. Dogs harass us, chase our pets, and growl or snap at us. Our children are reluctant to use the park alone due to the dogs. Why wait until someone is bitten to decide loose dogs can be a danger?
Pease Park is an approved leash-free park located a few blocks away and tailor-made for free-running dogs. This is where dog owners should take their off-leash dogs. Thanks to the city park staff and police officers for enforcing the leash law.
Don't Slam 'Sam'
I saw I Am Sam today. I almost decided not to go after reading your review. My suggestion is next time a movie comes out with the likes of Sean Penn, Dianne Wiest, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Laura Dern in it, and your designated reviewer rates it a bomb, you send another pair of eyes for a second opinion. Why turn thousands of folks away from a fine work simply because it is all too human?
'I Like the Coach'
After reading the Chronicle for 15 years, I must have gotten a little complacent. I just assumed that the Coach would always be there, even as I was playing the confusing "how can I find his column now?" game.
And then here comes Michael Bolduc ["Postmarks: Coach Hits a New Low," Feb. 15] to wake me up to the potential of a mass uprising against that which I hold dear by hordes of "bitter, close-minded" Cowboy fans like him.
So here goes -- I like the Coach. I read the Coach every single week. His column is the first thing I read when I pick up the Chronicle, and it's often the reason I go out of my way to pick it up at all. The guy can write, and if he doesn't always have a magical insight on the football-by-God-Longhorns, at least he's able to give us something unique that's worth reading, instead of a Kirk Bohls space-filler.
As far as "five times as many people" reading the column if Bolduc wrote it, I sure didn't see any reason for that in the letter he wrote.
Without Goodman, City Suffers
If term limits force Jackie Goodman off City Council, we will lose one of the best advocates for people and animals this city has. Neighborhoods, human services, arts, the environment, women, and poor people will lose out also. I hope all voters sign the petition to get her on the ballot.
I am on the Animal Advisory Commission and have observed Jackie Goodman's work on issues that affect animals and people who care about them. I have found her to be intelligent, hard-working, ethical, compassionate, and a very good listener.
When I informed her that poor people could not afford to reclaim their impounded pets because of high fees, she immediately grasped the solution and convinced her colleagues to address the problem. Not only did she do right by low-income people, she did right by animals as well.
I consistently watch City Council meetings on Channel 6. I am always impressed by questions she asks. The recent discussion about women's reproductive rights had me cheering out loud for her.
In last week's letters, Bill Bunch alleged that City Council put "non-developers in the role of second-class citizens." Animal advocates are often treated as "second-class citizens" by those who view animal issues as unimportant. But Jackie Goodman has always understood that animal issues are people issues because many of us care deeply about our companion animals.
I have never seen Jackie Goodman treat anyone, anyone as a second-class citizen. On the contrary, I have seen her be totally attentive to someone testifying about people with disabilities, another issue often relegated second-class status.
If Jackie Goodman is term-limited out of office, we will be deprived of her dedication and advocacy for people who need it most. It will be a sorry day for Austin. I hope your readers sign her petition.
Bunch's Opinion Still Stands
Last week several folks wrote in to dispute my contrasting the records of Council Member Griffith with that of Council Members Slusher and Goodman on environment and neighborhood issues. Interestingly, none of the letter writers disputed or even addressed the facts I presented.
Instead, Brigid Shea and Robin Rather ignored the merits and described my factual letter as "character assassination." Jon Beall et al. adopted a similar "how dare you" approach, claiming that it was "ludicrous" to suggest that Jackie and Daryl "are not fully supportive on environmental issues." These responses seek to divert attention from the record and shut down public debate at precisely the time when citizens need to be asking questions and getting informed.
Unfortunately, the council members' record of siding with developers against neighborhood and environmental organization positions is much longer than I had room to address. And Griffith's record is far from perfect. My hope is that the Chronicle will provide voters with the information they need to evaluate all three incumbents, just as it did when "green" Council Members Sally Shipman, Smoot Carl-Mitchell, and George Humphrey sought re-election.
Most important is the sad fact that the Barton Springs ecosystem is on the brink of extinction. Having been elected with the specific mandate to save the Springs, the council and their staff have spent far more money and effort on promoting growth and pleasing developers. Council Member Griffith tried hard to correct this imbalance but Slusher and Goodman blocked her efforts.
We desperately need real leadership and bold action or Austin will very soon be just another polluted McMetroplex. We won't get either one -- from the incumbents or any challengers -- if we ignore the historic record or fail to ask "where's your plan?"
My personal opinion,
A 'Health'y Alternative
[The "To Your Health" column] is great! Info is very helpful -- authoritative without being too technical. Wish we could get it into the Current here in San Antonio. Keep it coming, please.
From Sea to Sterling Sea
I suggest an art gallery on the moon, fully automated shipping and handling, six-car garages, a computer in every cranium, a precise replica of the great pyramid in Round Rock, free mummification for all, organic gasoline to quench our thirsts, a minority government run by Sir General Ashcroft, and free rides from Amy Babich. Yes, Bruce Sterling ["Information Wants to Be Worthless," March 1]! You have found the path. The future is real.
Baron Bon Savant,
Todd Alan Smith
Dead Horses, Glue, & Mustard
I suggest Amy Babich open a glue factory, she has been beating that dead horse so long it ain't funny. Amy, you're in the vast minority when it comes to transportation issues, but we love you anyway. You give new meaning to the phrase "Rarely correct, but never in doubt." And, for MM Pack, there is another late-night food establishment in the Warehouse District ["Out All Night," March 1]. It is Mustard's Last Stand, a hot dog cart behind Antone's in the alley. It's open Friday and Saturday from 6pm to 2:30am, serving Hebrew National 1/4 pound hot dogs, mustard, and hot relish. Period. If you beg, catsup. Best hot dogs within 30 feet of the back door to Antone's.
Carl T. Swanson
Mustard's Last Stand
A Lawyer's Dream
Re: the "not" Villas on "not" Guadalupe
Why postpone the vote? Because the developers know that they cannot overcome the "valid petition" of neighbors who oppose their elitist student high rise so the call went out ... give us some time to "work" on these people ... or revise the boundaries of the zoning case ... again (to eliminate opposing property owners). And the city staff jumps into action for their masters.
So why be surprised that it is business as usual at the C.O.A.? Why be concerned about preserving a priceless part of our city? Beats me, especially in light of D. Slusher's New standard for acceptance of blight being 1,000 feet away from my house (Chronicle, 3.1.2002 page 16).
You can bet some lawyers have been busy this last week in Austin.
Austin's Big Heart
I had a wonderful, totally "Austin" experience today. A bunch of really nice people got together to help a friend in need, and it gave me such a warm feeling I had to share it.
Sweet little Aimee works at the Continental Club. She broke her leg badly on February 6, and faces time out of work and a bunch of unexpected medical expenses. So a few friends there decided that maybe a little benefit was in order, and some very cool musicians like Toni Price, Chaparral (with little Victor -- a 9-year-old drumming sensation!), the Damnations, James McMurtry, and the Weary Boys agreed to play on Sunday for nothing. And all the money collected at the door, plus the big "Aimee Fund" tip jars on the bar went directly to Aimee to help. A lot of good Austin music fans, friends of Aimee and friends of the Continental Club came down and plunked down some cash to help.
And some great restaurants like Chuy's, Shady Grove, Kenichi, Vespaio, El Sol y la Luna, Güeros, and others donated food gift certificates to feed the nice bands, who were playing gratis, after all.
And me? I got to drink some beer, listen to some great live music, help out a friend, and be reminded that Austin still blows away any place I have ever lived. Wow. I feel so good, and so happy to live here, where people help people who need a hand.
I'm sure if you visit the Continental Club you can still drop some much-needed cash in the jar for Aimee. Or you can just say thanks to the gang there for helping to make Austin what it is -- a small town with a big heart and the best soundtrack life has to offer.
Dear Editor Black,
I am perusing this week's Chronicle, the online, and not coincidentally, the paperless version, which I have to do on Friday, because while I can wipe my ass with this week's edition on Thursday, I cannot see it on my computer until Friday. Please note that I said, "can wipe my ass" because I have never nor do I plan to ever wipe my ass with the Chronicle, but if I am out of toilet paper on Thursday, I have a solution at several locations in my neighborhood. Back to my searching for a movie to see. You see, I noticed that the movie section is quite annoyingly called the "Screens" section. I must respectfully request that you stop calling the movie section "Screens." It implies that there is more than movies going on in the "Screens" section. Will you be listing the filmstrips being viewed in our public school classrooms? Is there a slide show of Aunt Mabelle's daughter's wedding that I can catch down at the Alamo? No and no. The only listings in "Screens" are movies. So please, and I am asking nicely, call the movie section "Movies."
To further my argument, as I was looking for your e-mail address I noticed that on the contact page Marjorie Baumgarten is listed as the Film editor. Since there is no film section, only a "Screens" section, what does Ms. Baumgarten do? Did you know that you are paying an editor for a section that does not exist? I am very happy that I can be of service. I also noticed that the "Screens" section has no editor. Maybe Ms. Baumgarten will not mind a change of duties. It seems only fair since she has been pulling down a salary while she is in charge of a section of the Chronicle that does not exist. I hope this can all get straightened out soon. I am thinking that easiest thing for you to do is merely change Ms. Baumgarten's job title to "Screens" editor. Unless she will be reviewing "Paul Revere: Man of Action, Silversmith to the Stars," the latest filmstrip over at Brentwood Elementary School, please change the masthead. I reference my above comments in that regard.
SWT Deserves Better
Had the powers-that-be been as timid in 1918, 1923, 1959, and 1969 (when other name changes occurred), the university in San Marcos would still be called by its original name, Southwest Texas Normal School. Name changes have become almost a tradition as it evolved from a minor teachers' college into a major university. When Lyndon Johson succeeded John Kennedy as president, snobs snickered at the contrast between presidential alma maters Harvard and Southwest Texas State Teacher's College. Why not something bolder in the 21st century? Southwest Texas deserves a less provincial moniker. Besides, is San Marcos really in Southwest Texas?
Thanks for your consideration.
Peter Flagg Maxson
Austin's Many-Colored Screens
Can we just go ahead and stop calling Austin the "Live Music Capital" and commit to the more accurate "Righteous Film Capital of the World"? You got your Arbor, your Dobie, your Alamo, SXSW, Cinematexas, Austin Film Society, Cinemaker Co-op, the bygone Funhouse Cinema, and now the Blue Screen series at the Blue Theater. (And I'm sure there are 10 more I've forgotten.)
Anyway, just wanted to send along thanks to y'all for the ongoing effort to keep us all informed and excited about this stuff, and especially to Marc Savlov for the article kicking off the Blue Screen series a couple issues ago. Let me also send word back from the front that the series continues to freak and jam. Last night: a bunch of films by Matt McCormick and Johnne Eschelman who came down from Portland to show them in person -- and they were brain-zippers every one. (Unfortunately, very few folks showed up to check them out, so please keep after the shirkers if you can. It's for their own damned good.)
Anyway, keep up the good work, and mas, mas, mas!
Help the Hungry in 2002
Recently, the problem of hunger in America has taken a sharp turn for the worse. Put simply, the number of people who are hungry and need food assistance has dramatically increased as a result of the economic downturn. The supply of food is not keeping up with demand. Many of our neighbors need our help.
On February 27, 2002, the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas joined America's Second Harvest in issuing a national Call to Action to Feed America Now! The primary goal of the Call to Action is food! We hope to bring an additional 365 million pounds of food into the national distribution system. Secondly, we hope to obtain additional funds, because acquiring the food, transporting it, storing and distributing it, all takes money.
Because of the national reputation of the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas and the recognition we have received, I was asked to be the national chair of this important project. I urge all Central Texans to take action by donating money, donating food, volunteering your time.
You can make a difference. Further information on how you can be a part of the solution is available at www.austinfoodbank.org, or call 282-2111.
Executive Director, Capital Area Food Bank of Texas
National chair, Call to Action to Feed America Now!
Time to Hold Gomez Responsible
The Margo Road Saga is a sad feud between Travis County and Mustang Ridge. In 1997, when Mustang Ridge de-annexed Margo Road, it was paved. Travis County immediately came in and started a renovation project. Although them road is less than a mile long, this project is an ongoing project. The original asphalt was removed and the road was graded and oiled. Instead of paving the road, Travis County chose to stop. This left a serious pollution problem. Every time it rains the oil is washed away. When the road gets bad enough, Travis County returns to re-grade and re-oil the road. Calls to Transportation and Natural Resources and to Margaret Gomez's office were answered with a statement that Travis County is going to repave Margo Road, but .... The excuses changed with the seasons and ranged from "we are waiting until we pave an adjacent road" to "next budget cycle."
Wednesday night, Margaret Gomez stated publicly that "100%" of Travis County road projects were finished on time and underbudget. When confronted, Margaret Gomez stated that "Margo Road is a Mustang Ridge problem." She accused me of not "knowing the facts." The fact is that Travis County employees and equipment have been working on Margo Road for the last five years. If this isn't a "Travis County issue," then why has Travis County been using their assets on Margo Road? Does this mean Travis County under her guidance "misappropriated" the funds they have been spending on Margo Road all these years? Should I be calling for her office to be investigated for "misappropriation of funds"?
The county could have saved a lot of money and prevented a lot of damage to our environment by doing the job right the first time or simply [leaving] the road alone. Either one would be preferable to the mess they have made. It is time to hold Margaret Gomez responsible for her actions. Tell your friends and neighbors not to support Margaret Gomez. Elect someone who will care about their constituents and Austin's environment.
I Love 'Buffy'
Kudos to Belinda Acosta for the television fandom story ["Fandemonium!" Feb. 15], and showing that you don't have to be mentally deficient to love a television show. I thought her story missed out on a few key points as to why some shows develop such a following, and so I wanted to add my two cents.
I have a good job and a degree from a top university. I have interviewed rock stars. I have traveled the world. I have a social life. Yet every Tuesday night I set my VCR for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. As a newspaper journalist I love the wordplay. As an aspiring fiction writer I find the plotting and pace of the show something I can only hope to achieve. And as a student of myth, philosophy, and religion, Buffy is the closest thing our modern culture has, aside from Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, to what mythologist extraordinaire Joseph Campbell described as the human need to retell the common myths of quest, love, and responsibility anew for each generation. The Greeks did it their way, with poetic verse about their gods told around the fire. We do it ours, with a super-stylish blonde battling demons on the boob tube, a medium considered the trailer trash of modern entertainment. If creator Joss Whedon had written a bestseller, or created a movie trilogy -- or even one movie -- as good as the television show, Buffy fans would have been proud to be quoted in the Chronicle about their appreciation of the show. Instead, they, like me, probably get funny looks at work when they gush about that week's episode. Too many people can't get past the cultural stumbling block of the words "television show."
It's like being able to afford a McMansion in suburban north San Antonio but instead opting for a quiet cottage near downtown. Many won't understand, but it's their loss.
I consider myself luckier than those whose worlds revolve around, say, Star Wars. Movies are a one- -- or, if you're lucky, three- or four- -- time shot. A television show, if done well, promises more chances to watch and appreciate.
Kill Yer Cell Phone
I wanted to applaud you and your writings in this week's Chronicle regarding today's overuse of cell phones ["After a Fashion," March 1]. Cell phones have become today's pop culture trend that has overtaken America ... where it seems that everyone has one and no one knows the rules of etiquette when using them. Sure, technology is great and all and now you can have your finger on the beating pulse of your Aunt Edna's latest underwear shopping adventure, but really, how necessary is it, I ask! Me personally, I am anti-cell phone and anti-pager ... I like my anonymity (go figure).
Therefore, I have devised a list of no-no's when talking on your cell phone in public:
1) Never, (I repeat) never, interrupt a retail sales clerk/beauty salon stylist/car wash attendant/etc. to answer a call on your cell phone. It's rude and demeaning to the person you were talking to face to face, making them now feel like an ATM machine.
2) If you are in a small clothing boutique shopping or any other "upscale" establishment and you receive a phone call on your cell, please have the common courtesy to take the call outside.
3) If you disregard number 2 and you use a headset, please try to keep your voice down, at least ... so, everyone won't have to hear what dirty things you are going to do with only a Weedwacker, a Big and Sexy hairspray can, and some peanut butter to your boyfriend on Saturday night.
4) Anyone caught talking on their cell phone while driving their car or Texas-sized truck should automatically get side-swiped by any cars driving next to them. No questions asked.
(By the way, I heard that Tabu Lingerie [at Burnet Road & 183] has a sign posted that they are currently charging $5 a minute for cell phone users who rudely chat it up in their store! Hooray for them!)
Thanks again for bringing this annoyance public and hopefully making people think twice next time they hear a ring.
101X Disc Jockey
Coach's Diary Is Boring
How exciting. Two weeks in a row I'm getting angry responses to my denunciation of "Coach's Corner," and this week even the man himself has something to say ["Coach's Corner," March 1]. Sure I'm an "obstreperous loudmouth" ["Postmarks: Ignore Coach Hater," Feb. 22] and I probably "lack ... common sense" ["Postmarks: Don't Like It, Don't Read It," March 1] at times, but that's no reason to overlook the content behind what was, I will admit, angrily and hastily written about Andy Cotton's sports coverage.
No shit I don't have to read "Coach's Corner." I generally regret it when I do. But there is so much fascinating, instructive, poignant, sickening, etc., material in the world of sports that makes better copy than Cotton's dinner plans, political leanings and pet breeding adventures. I know, George Bush is bad, Americans are stupid and self-absorbed, UT is oppressing us with its "Media Machine," underdogs are good, patriotism is dumb, Olympic coverage is biased. We get it. Enough already.
This is a free paper, often the only reading material some people have at breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and for its own good I thought I'd point out that since many of the Chron's readers are sports fans, they might appreciate a sports columnist who doesn't decide to completely ignore a fantastic Super Bowl in favor of midseason basketball, however "redundant" mentioning the football game would seem to him. I guess I'm the only one who thinks midseason NBA action is utterly meaningless in the face of the Patriots' performance in New Orleans. "Important NBA game" my ass. Coach told us he wouldn't watch the Super Bowl, and he probably didn't.
The real shame in all this is not what Cotton writes, it's in what he doesn't bother to acknowledge. "Coach's Corner" is in the Community section. Community. That's why it's important to occasionally cover Austin and Texas teams, and in particular the athletes involved, who sweat, bleed, and break their bones to entertain us. Not "fawningly" (not even sure where that came from), but evenly, reasonably, and as charitably as you can stand to write. Being a constant Dallas Cowboy hater, for example, doesn't make you hip or smart or even anti- anything in particular. It's just silly and petty.
And so is treating a community paper sports column like your diary. You can do much better, Coach, no matter how little you say they pay you.
KUT: Nothing New
The "new" KUT ["KUT and Paste," Jan. 25]: More blues. More jazz. More blahs.
The TexaCali Connection Lives On
To Whom It May Concern:
I am a fifth-grade student attending Red Bank Elementary School. Our class is currently studying the United States. Each person in class has chosen a state to write a report on. I am interested in receiving information about your state to use in writing my report. I especially want to know about the economy, the weather, popular tourist attractions, and the history of your state. I am also interested in knowing about opportunities for recreation. Thank you for considering my request.
1454 Locan Ave.
Clovis, CA 93611
Bush for the Poor
I am writing in support of President Bush's Welfare Reform Agenda. I truly believe that his agenda can best meet the needs of Americans currently receiving welfare benefits, as well as provide some relief for taxpaying Americans like myself.
His agenda will not only help welfare recipients achieve independence through work, but will also empower states to seek new solutions to help individuals achieve that goal. That in turn will help protect children and strengthen the family. His agenda will also provide food assistance to legal immigrants.
I realize that everyone goes through a period in their lives where they fall on bad times and may need assistance. That is nothing to be ashamed of. I'm not writing this letter to point fingers or to place blame. I know that every American deserves a second chance in life, and believe that the best way to give welfare recipients that chance, is to give them a way out of their financial dependence on the government. I believe President Bush's agenda will do that.
No Competition Is No Good
This past year, control on telephone and Internet users throughout our state have been overcome by a classic monopoly. It's our own local phone monopoly. What this means is that prices will stay artificially high on monthly local phone bills and our Internet access. Not good. Also, sad but true, this results in second-rate services. If there are no competitions between phone monopolies, why would they care or worry about consumer complaints?
The future of our phone and Internet services is going down a narrow path, with no choices, and super high prices. Our state regulators and elected officials at home and in Washington, D.C., need to do a better job at promoting competition for our services. Members of Congress have the power to improve these services. Write to them and do something to stop the Tauzin-Dingell Bill. We do not want this to pass. Unless you want to pay high prices and have no choices.
Stop the Whining, South Austin
Jesus ... give it a rest. Old hippies are getting to be a really pissy lot, [and] their latest lament about the "tragic loss of Old South Austin" is a prime example of how out of touch with reality some codgers are getting. "Old South Austin" was never a place, it was the people who went to "those special places." If your connection to the past and your community centers around buildings, I really feel sorry for you. I moved to Austin two years ago, and I spend most of my leisure time in "Old South Austin." Not the places, but with the people. The Continental Club, the Barn Dances ... the people who attend events and patronize certain bars and coffeehouses are the character of Austin, not the physical structures they frequent. It's sad to see the shining promise of the Sixties turn into the fixation on material things we are subjected to today. Lighten up, light up, and give the whine a rest campers. Do try to be smart enough to enjoy the special place we inhabit, please? "It's the people, stupid."
Carl T. Swanson
Embracing Mexicano History
Sharing a bit of history!
My (our) grandparents and other relatives crossed the border, Mexico into United States (Laredo) -- very early 1900s, legally. Other Mexicanos, not so patient, entered the U.S. illegally, either by smuggling themselves across the border(s) or having someone help them. No harsh penalties for illegal entry existed until 1929. A Mexicano caught crossing the border illegally was told that if he wished to enter the U.S., he had to do so at a regular station and pay the fees. The Immigration Act of 19l7 established a literacy test and head tax, but these theoretical restrictions on entry did not apply to Mexican immigration. Upon demand from representatives of growers' associations and industrial companies, the Department of Labor granted exemptions from these regulations to recruits for beet fields, railroad gangs, and other contracted labor. These exemptions, which were granted each year from 1917 to 1920, allowed over 50,000 Mexicanos to enter the United States. Now these Mexicanos -- have left their footprints on this Land! They made America greater and more beautiful.
Moses P. Saldana Sr.
'Depraved Psychotic Moral Rot'
In an attempt to distance themselves from the shame and disgrace of the Clinton Administration, some liberals have taken to calling themselves "progressives," as if calling a pig something other than a pig is a new tactic. In 1912, the Progressive Party rallied around Roosevelt. Robert M. LaFollette led the National Progressive Party in 1924, which was reformed in 1948 by Henry A. Wallace. In short, the tired old flowery euphemism "progressive" just isn't progressive. The medical definition of progressive is very fitting for new age liberalism, to wit: "... becoming more severe or spreading to other parts: said of disease."
Surely liberals have better things to do than dream up new words to describe their depraved psychotic moral rot. No matter how much make-up you put on a pig, you've still got a pig.
P.S. "I can't think of anything more fulfilling than judging people based on their appearance." ["After a Fashion," Feb. 1] ... The homosexual agenda needs Moser like a rabid dog needs a skunk. You go girl!
A Safe and Sober Spring Break
Spring Break is a high risk time for youth who choose to get involved with alcohol. Adolescents under the influence of alcohol are apt to act impulsively. With their inhibitions loosened, they take risks they ordinarily wouldn't consider, often with tragic results. If they cause drunk driving crashes, others may also be killed. One in four seniors said they had driven a car after having a good bit to drink at least once during the past year (Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Statewide School Survey, 2000). Texas leads the nation in the number of youth fatalities in alcohol related crashes (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [NHTSA]).
It takes cooperation to combat underage drinking. Each member of our community must do his/her part to send the message that it is not okay for Travis County youth to drink alcohol. Whether it is a lawmaker prioritizing an underage alcohol bill, a law enforcement officer who doesn't let a minor off with just a warning, a prosecutor who aggressively pursues a case, a judge who holds a young offender accountable according to the law, or a parent who takes the time to communicate a clear message of no use of alcohol; they all send the message that underage drinking is illegal, unhealthy, and unacceptable.
The Travis County Underage Drinking Prevention Program (UDPP) is funded by the NHTSA through a grant administered by the Texas Department of Transportation. The UDPP expects to make a significant contribution in saving the lives of teenagers by discouraging underage alcohol consumption.
Travis County Comprehensive Underage Drinking Prevention Program
Don't Get Mad, Eat Veggies
Remember last year's headlines about a deadly disease with a funny name that killed scores of European beef eaters and devastated the beef industry? The "Mad Cow" disease. Remember how the government assured us that no cases have been reported here and none would, because the U.S. Department of Agriculture has banned beef imports from infected countries and the Food and Drug Administration has banned the feeding of potentially infected cow body parts to other cows?
Well, guess what! The Congressional General Accounting Office just published a scathing report with some very interesting (and very alarming) findings:
One reason USDA hasn't found any cases of Mad Cow disease in the U.S. is because ... it hasn't looked, at least not very well. The department tests 5,000 cows annually out of 40 million killed -- that's one in 10,000! (If we applied such a standard to the human population, we could declare ourselves free of all diseases.)
Despite the alleged beef import ban, the U.S. imported 125 million lbs. of beef from countries with reported cases of Mad Cow disease.
Fully a hundred feed plants have consistently violated the ban on feeding cows to cows.
The human version of Mad Cow disease is acquired by consuming infected beef, takes up to 20 years to exhibit symptoms, and is always fatal. Consumers who continue to purchase hamburger and other beef products in light of these findings are playing Russian roulette with their families' lives.
Give Heckler a Chance
Forget Sonleitner, Go Heckler!
Wow! The Chronicle really missed the boat on the Precinct 2 County Commissioner race. Jeff Heckler is exactly the kind of person we need on the County Commissioners Court. Karen Sonleitner has had her chance and to be honest, has bungled it. Travis County is a mess. Even worse, we're all paying for it. How many chances does one person get before we say it's time for a change? We really can't afford another four years of Karen Sonleitner. Folks, forget what the Chronicle says on this issue, vote for Jeff Heckler.
Go Heckler, Part Deux
Your endorsement of Karen Sonleitner over Jeff Heckler is perplexing. In noting Ms. Sonleitner's recent awakening to neighborhood and environmental concerns, you failed to mention that she voted against providing room for freight rail within the SH 130 corridor so that the MoPac line could be freed up for passenger rail. MoPac corridor voters should remember this before voting.
You also minimized Ms. Sonleitner's recent hardline support for expanding and extending Frate Barker Road across Bear Creek, a road opposed by a unanimous Austin City Council because it crossed both the Barton Springs recharge zone and city preserve land. That's not to mention that it would have cost more than double the cost per mile of any road ever considered by the county. Frate Barker is just one city/county conflict that could have been avoided with even a small amount of leadership.
By contrast, Jeff Heckler has a solid record of action and commitment to protecting our neighborhoods and environment. It certainly won't take two terms and a real challenger for Jeff to remember that we need real citizen leadership.
SOS-Travis County PAC and Austin Sierra Club endorse Jeff Heckler.
SOS-Travis County PAC
Austin Sierra Club
Another Heckler Backer
I always consult the Chronicle to see which candidates you endorse. I depend on your investigative journalism backed by progressive analyses. Because your finger snaps to the cultural heartbeat of the socially conscious readership in the Austin community, we rely on the Chronicle to support "progressive activist" candidates who are "sincerely determined to give a stronger voice to environmentalist, anti-sprawl sentiments." However, when you failed to back Jeff Heckler for County Commissioner, Precinct 2, you betrayed the trust of the vast majority of your readers.
Your endorsement of Karen Sonleitner is based on wishful thinking that ignores the histories of the two candidates. Do you really believe that after two terms, an incumbent with a "go-along-to-get-along drift" is going to turn her back on her corporate sponsors, forsaking her "grin-and-bear-it enthusiasm for highway bonds" in order to uncharacteristically support the concerns of environmentalists, progressives, and others who make up the core readership of The Austin Chronicle?
The incumbent's "votes in the last bond election" that "ran strongly counter [to the] wishes of her newly redistricted Central City constituents" showed your readership, if not your editorial staff, "what she's really made of." The fact that Sonleitner is running a mud-slinging campaign, devoid of issues, is because she cannot possibly beat Jeff Heckler on her record as a county commissioner. I will certainly be more circumspect in the future regarding your political endorsements. I hope you will, too.
Yvette C. Rosser
Is This a Misprint?
As a regular reader of the Chronicle who usually relies on your endorsements when deciding how to vote, I read through your endorsement page very carefully last week. When I got to the Precinct 2 race, I thought there must have been a typo. No way is the Chronicle endorsing Karen Sonleitner, she of Frate Barker Road over environmental preserves, the $25 million over budget criminal justice center, a trouble-plagued jail system, and tax hikes out the wazoo! But there it was. Please tell me it was a trick to see how many people actually read your endorsements.