Our readers talk back.

Signatures, Signatures, Signatures


In response to Clark-Madison's April 5 column "Searching for Candidates" ["Austin @ Large"], I would like to offer some observations. I don't run campaigns for either Linda Curtis or Kirk Mitchell, and I signed petitions of Griffith and Goodman, but not for Slusher. The notion that by taking the election to court, Curtis and Mitchell have made it easy for anyone to claim that Slusher and Goodman are such excellent office holders that the only way to defeat them is to throw them off the ballot is completely missing the point. I don't think most voters are that easily led.

They challenged signatures which seemed to be skewed by disregard of Campaign Finance Reform laws approved by Austin citizens. From a neutral party vantage point these new campaigns of Curtis and Mitchell are about fairness and representation. I mean, why is Daryl Slusher teaming up with former nemesis Bruce Todd anyway? Many people are asking that question. On the other hand, any statistician can tell you that Goodman didn't meet the minimum legal ballot count requirements.

Taking the election to court was a strong signal to anyone that you can't bend the rules just because you want to remain on the council -- yet another term.

By the way, I was approached only once for Griffith's petition drive and at least five times for that of Slusher and Goodman. So the theory that Beverly attained her numbers because of money is completely misleading in my opinion. Obviously, most citizens feel that Beverly is far more in tune with them than Goodman or Slusher. Look no further than the last Police Oversight vote to support that.

You have to earn the right to be on the council ... not just fix it so you can be.

Giovanni Angello

An 'Amusing' 'Page Two'

Dear Chron:

I read with amusement Mr. Black's eloquent homage to the wisdom of the common voter ["Page Two," April 12]. Fellow Nader voters: Do not think this includes you or garners any apologies from Louis for his previous rants on your irresponsible idiocy!

Sincerely, smiling,

Nancy Weaver


Close Riverside on Sundays

Dear Editor,

It's no surprise that the Austin Transportation Department's Downtown Access and Mobility Plan (D.A.M.P.) study shows that closing Riverside Drive from South First to Lamar would create "unacceptable" traffic congestion and delays. That's what happens when you do a computer simulation instead of a real-life experiment. You feed your assumptions into a computer, and it spits them back out in a slightly altered form.

The Thames Bridge in London was closed to motor traffic a few years ago, because the bridge could not support the weight of the traffic being driven across it. Traffic engineers predicted how much delay and congestion would result from the bridge closure. And, as it turned out, they and their computers were wrong. A lot of the motor traffic simply disappeared.

Why not try closing Riverside Drive on Sundays, at least for this summer? This isn't exactly a revolutionary proposal. Plenty of U.S. cities, including New Orleans, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, San Diego, New York, and Philadelphia, close busy streets that cut through city parks on Sundays, so that people can use the streets for walking or bicycling. Why can't we try this here?

Austin planners and transportation engineers never want to restrict car access, anywhere. Wherever people are, there cars must be. This plays havoc with air quality, freedom of movement, and public safety, but no one cares, as long as the cars can keep moving. Why not try one street without cars just on Sundays for one summer?

I'm sure that many reasons will be adduced why this can't possibly be done in Austin, even though several other cities have been doing it for years. Maybe we should just give it a try and see what happens.

Yours truly,

Amy Babich

Justice Not Retired

Dear Editor:

Whenever people like Clay Smith, who should know better, refer to the Honorable William Wayne Justice as retired ["Notes of an Old Leftist," April 12], it always makes me laugh. The man is a force of nature. You might as well expect the Mississippi River to retire.

Judge is, technically, a Senior United States District Judge. A federal judge over 70 years of age can, if he wishes, elect senior status, allowing him some control over how full a docket he has. Judge, in fact, didn't take senior status until he moved here to Austin from Tyler five years ago, and his docket remains a quite full one.

We may owe Judge's continued service, at least in part, to his remarkable wife, Sue. I have heard him say, "Sue wouldn't let me retire if I wanted to. She says I'd just get underfoot." That's Wayne Justice. He's not under Sue's feet, but by God he's still dogging the heels of the malefactors and oppressors. Retired, hell.


James Tourtelott

(former law clerk to the Hon. William Wayne Justice, and damn proud of it)

The SIMS 'Selective Nature'


Recent letters to the Chronicle, regarding the SIMS Foundation's inquiry response time, indirectly asks the question: "Is the SIMS Foundation a dependable organization providing acceptable health care services to the community of arts?" From my experience with the Foundation, the answer is: "No." The Foundation does not, as originally intended, provide timely response to those in immediate need of assistance, nor does the Foundation provide information about mental health issues including cause, effect, physicians, and treatments. All this was part of the original Charter and Mission Statement of the Foundation.

Some readers point out that they have received help from the Foundation, while others have had a negative experience. It is this selective nature of the Foundation that should concern everyone. Mental health problems including clinical depression, the disease that took Sims Ellison's life, are serious matters. Inaction on the part of the Foundation, either by ignorance or apathy, only adds to any public perception of ineffectiveness on the part of the Foundation, if they give a "sometimes" performance.

The original mission that the Foundation was founded upon is of utmost importance. The arts community will be better served if that mission is effectively carried out. The community should demand that. But until that day comes, for now if you need help, I recommend, as does the Foundation's Executive Director Peyton Wimmer, that you call MHMR at 472-4357 or Capital Area Mental Health at 302-1000.


Don Ellison

SIMS Foundation founder, ex-board member & father of Sims Ellison

If SIMS Can't Help, Someone Can


I would hope Mr. Shawn Sanders is being facetious when he implies emergency help lines should not return phone calls if the prospective client is too "whiny" (that most horrible of sins) ["Postmarks: In Defense of the SIMS Foundation," April 5]. If not, he has some empathy problems and is an asswipe to boot. I have been helped by SIMS in the past; I was one of the first to take advantage of its services when it first opened. Recently a close friend of mine has had zero luck getting phone calls returned after calling several times. I question whether Peyton is overextended right now and if getting into medical issues is a good idea. I do know Mr. Grady isn't alone in not getting calls returned. Mr. Grady should look into Capital Area Mental Health and call MHMR and keep calling SIMS. Between all of them one will call him back.

Tom Cuddy

And Now, the 'Real Talent' --


To whom it may concern:

In last week's issue there was a write-up on Coco Candissi's record Bricks Have Eyes written by Greg Beets. Just wanted to let you know that the keyboards and female vocals are Lely's (Leslie Pettit), not Melissa Tucker's. Who the hell is Melissa Tucker? How can this happen? Do you guys not pay attention to these kind of things? And also, what about the rest of the band? What about the drummer, "Cristobal" (Chris Azios)? He has an incredible style of drumming, which in my opinion should have been mentioned. You should probably fix this, the "real talent" of this record deserves this credit.

Sincerely yours,

Trent Johnson


More Great Gimble


I enjoyed the Gimble article ["King of the Swing Fiddle," April 5] very much and wanted to add to the list of fine performances he's contributed through the years. Some months after Dan Del Santo's Austin City Limits show, during which Johnny played marvelously on a variety of material that Dan presented that evening, Dan told me that Johnny's "boys" -- perhaps referring to Dick, as memory serves me, told Dan that Johnny's playing was some of the best they'd heard him play -- and, I agree! (Also, John Treanor was the drummer that night.) I have a cassette of that performance and treasure it -- and, if Johnny's family doesn't have it, I am at 452-8160 here in Austin.

Best Regards,

David F. Montgomery

'Vote No on Proposition 1'


What's worse than a political candidate who thinks he knows what's best for you and who can't wait to spend your tax money? One who gets to spend your tax money even before he gets elected! Please join the Travis County Libertarian Party and many other organizations in saying no to taxpayer-subsidized political campaigns. Vote No on Proposition 1 on Austin's May 4 election ballot.


Robert Hansen

Shane, Not Wayne

Dear Mr. Black,

I am writing to you in regard to Jerry Renshaw's "review" of Tommy Shane Steiner's new release Then Came the Night ["Texas Platters," April 12]. Yes, I did say Shane, and not Wayne, as printed in the article. Is Jerry really trying to convince us that this publication is not proofread before going to press? Please, some readers of the chronic are intelligent, and able to recognize a low blow when we see it.

I was born and raised here in Austin, but ended up in Nashville for a few years. While in Nashville, I was involved in the country music "business." So, I can see the valid areas of Jerry's perception of the "business," but I disagree completely with his perception of the record. Pity he didn't make it to the last song, he could use some healthy release.

In my CD player right now, I have Ben Harper, Tommy Shane Steiner, and Snoop Dogg. Which one do I have on replay? Tommy Shane Steiner. Do I listen to country music on a regular basis? No, and I absolutely love this record! Yeah, so maybe I fell for the bait Jerry, but God's honest truth, I loved every bite of it!!

Karen Haffelfinger

South Austin, USA

Let's Help Out the Teachers

Dear Editor:

This is a follow up to a letter from a teacher about TAAS preparations ["Postmarks: TAAS and Teaching Don't Mix," March 29]. She spoke of teachers being stressed due to the pressures of high TAAS scores being the primary evaluation system of their performance as teachers. It is frustrating to hear news reports about poor perfoming schools being "held accountable." The problem is that teachers have too much responsibility in their day-to-day workload. I'm sure someone will respond with comments about teachers having the summer off, etc., but in reality the time spent in the classroom with students is only a small part of their job. Other requirements include lesson planning, meetings, parent conferences, workshops, report cards, progress reports, extra-curricular activities, campus improvement plans, to name a few. Especially in the primary grades, there is practically no lunch break or time for collaboration with co-workers, not to mention time for personal needs, like the bathroom, or any breaks. Most of the time, a teacher works alone, handling 20-some-odd sets of problems at a time. In low-performing schools, it is usually without much parental help and often with neglected or abused kids. What other profession would require this kind of environment for such little pay?

In wealthy schools there is often much more support from parents who planned to have their children and who have time to volunteer on campus. In addition, their PTAs have more resources to make teachers' jobs a little easier. Instead of moving students out of low ranking schools, let's give those teachers a qualified aide in the classroom, a person who could help out with the endless paperwork and who could assist with behavior problems. This would give the teacher more time to do what he/she has been trained to do: teach. An assistant in each classroom would take the edge off the hectic schedule, and would allow the teacher to have another adult around for support. The end result is that the child's needs could be more easily met, allowing them to score higher on standardized tests.


Jeff Farris

A teacher's husband

The Military Is a 'Good Neighbor'

Dear Editor:

Dr. Bellingrath ["Military Out of Mabry?" April 12] and the other folks who live across the fence from Camp Mabry enjoyed their personal green belts until last September, and on his Web site he admits he considered Mabry to be a historic park. However, he apparently didn't call them to find out. The military for years has gone to great lengths to be a good neighbor by adding the features which make it so like a park. Since the initial flurry of security activity, they have also made adjustments to mitigate the changes including, as Lee Nichols notes, allowing public access to the track, museum, and credit union via a picture ID.

I have lived about a quarter of a mile from Mabry for over 40 years; I belong to the neighborhood association and support its position. Bellingrath says "Back when it [Mabry] was founded, it was out of town." Mabry didn't sneak into town -- it's in the middle of town now because people such as he and I moved nearby. I find considerable irony in helping cause a problem and then complaining about it.

The MoPac and 35th interchange is already one of the slowest in the city, and adding a major park a block away would likely require a new interchange to avoid gridlock. Also, remember how hard it was to get the state to give up its stake in the Mueller airport? I seriously doubt the city could get Mabry and its amenities free.

I suspect the whole park movement is in hopes of restoring the greenbelt. Certainly the park proponents would have less privacy if the general public were allowed to picnic and bike along the fence, so I assume that buffering is expected. Our City Council is always sympathetic to pressure from various voter groups which invoke the environment. I suggest an appeal to the city to buy a narrow buffer strip at the perimeter would be endorsed by the neighborhood association and more likely to succeed than the park proposal. In retrospect, if speed had not been a priority, a buffer could have been left by putting the perimeter road inside the new fence rather than next to the original fence.


John Westkaemper

'Yuppie Twat' Customers & Cells

Dear Editor,

Your "Dining Out Etiquette" pop quiz ["Minding Your Manners," April 12] was doing fine until question number seven: "the waitress takes your drinks order, all while talking on her cell phone." Yeah right. Like this ever happens. Sure, maybe it happened to one guy, one day, one minute before the manager fired the waitress, but it seems once again, when it comes to cell phone use, we are skirting our own rudeness for the sake of cute irony. I've never seen this happen. But I can't count the number of times I've seen some yuppie twat, too self-absorbed to hang up their cell phone and actually talk to the clerk at the Fresh Plus, Randalls, Cippollina, et al. when paying for their croissant and coffee. Of course we think it appalling when the waitress is on the phone, but it couldn't possibly be rude when we're on the phone, pointing and grunting at the menu as if communicating this way will still achieve our desired results without insult. People in service jobs -- except for some reason the Post Office, god bless 'em -- are just expected to tend to people who have a cell phone attached to their ear as if they're just some sort of insignificant step in the process. I say fuck 'em. Make 'em wait. You deal with them when they get off the goddamn phone and give you their attention. They'd have you fired for much less.

Heather Kafka

Reviews Longer Than Movies


I know in the ultimate scheme of things this is not a biggie, but how about breaking up some of your longer movie reviews into paragraphs. I get a headache reading a paragraph that is several hundred words long.

Thanks in advance,

Marilyn Plummer

Misheard, Misquoted, Mistaken


In Michael Chamy's review of Fugazi's performance on March 31 ["Phases and Stages," May 5], he quotes Ian MacKaye as saying "punk rockers are the stormtroopers of justification." This is incorrect. What MacKaye actually said was "punk rockers are the stormtroopers of gentrification," which makes perfect sense in the context of a rant about people being priced out of their homes. What Mr. Chamy quoted him as saying makes him look like an ass.

Hector Montes

[Ed. note: What happened in this case was a misheard word, and then a misquote, certainly not an attempt to make Mr. MacKaye look like an ass. The Chronicle regrets the error.]

Sadness With SIMS, Not 'Self-Pity'


Regarding the recent debate over whether the SIMS Foundation returns calls: I don't know how good they are about returning calls in general, but I do know that when I was suicidal they didn't get back to me.

About a year and a half ago when I was down, a friend tried desperately to get me to call SIMS, but I felt so hopeless and that no one could help me that I didn't have any motivation to call. So she picked up the phone herself and left a message at SIMS, describing the situation and leaving my number. A few days later she called me to make sure SIMS had followed up, and I told her they hadn't, and she was very angry about that, and then insisted that I call them myself. It took a lot of pressure on her part, because it was hard for me to ask for help, but eventually I relented and called. I left a message with a description, just as my friend had done, but nobody ever got back to me, either.

I was saddened by Shawn Sanders' reaction to Mr. Grady's complaint that his calls also weren't returned ("Perhaps if he were to fire up his own ass and stop pitying himself, he might find the help he seeks ... Frankly, if Mr. Grady is the whiner that he presents himself to be, I certainly wouldn't want to return his phone calls." ["Postmarks: In Defense of the SIMS Foundation," April 5]). To say that this is insensitive is an understatement. The last thing someone seeking help wants to hear is that they're a self-pitying whiner. And when you're suicidal and perhaps feeling that no one cares, it doesn't help your outlook when the group whose mission is to help you won't even return your calls.

I suppose Shawn Sanders will now declare me to be a self-pitying whiner as well, simply because my calls weren't returned by SIMS when I needed help. That's fine, I guess, because at least I'm alive -- but no thanks to SIMS.

Michael Bluejay

(former King Cheese)

SIMS' Callback Issues


In light of the recent discussion on the merits/weaknesses of the SIMS Foundation, I feel compelled to share my experiences. I concur 100% with Mr. Grady's remarks ["Postmarks: SIMS Doesn't Earn Paycheck," March 29] that phone calls are almost never returned by the organization. My first contact with the SIMS Foundation was during a time of deep emotional distress and desperation, and I called their office (i.e. Peyton Wimmer's voicemail) for help. I left several messages, almost daily, over the course of about two weeks, begging for someone to call me back. I never received a call. With the help of good friends and some herbal anti-depressants, I worked my way back to a healthier state of mind. Several months later, I sought help again. As happened the first time, I did not receive any response. I made repeated phone calls and finally, after about two weeks, I received a message from Mr. Wimmer. In the interest of fairness, I can say that once Mr. Wimmer contacted me, we were able to move forward and since then, the SIMS Foundation has been a source of tremendous help. However, had I not been persistent (something that many sufferers of depression cannot be -- oftentimes they turn to suicide if they reach out for help and are ignored), I would not have been able to utilize the resources available. The SIMS Foundation can be a wonderful resource and has the potential to make a huge positive impact on the emotional lives of musicians in Texas. But I challenge the director and the board to take an honest look at the workings of the organization and its responsibility to serve persons in crisis -- that is something that requires improved efficiency and timeliness of response as it carries out its mission.



Campaign Finance Reform


Linda Curtis was called by some a "Political Gadfly," which is a polite way of calling someone a pain in the ass. "A self described in-your-face-activist" is a polite way of saying someone is an intolerant absolutist who will accept no other opinion than her own on an issue. She brags about "campaign finance reform." Dipshit. All any candidate needs to do is post all contributions to a campaign and who made them. Informed, engaged voters can then decide to support a candidate knowing exactly where he or she gets his money from. 'Course, for people like Linda, that's not good enough because like most liberals she feels people are just too stupid to make an informed choice, "so we need to pass a law." Here's a note for all the assholes with their jockey riding up around their necks about campaign contributions. If you don't like where someone is getting his money from, don't vote for him. If he sells out, don't re-elect him. Pretty simple, but people like Linda want to pretend it's some huge nefarious conspiracy. In closing, if HEB closes its voting places because this pain in the ass can't tell the difference between solicitation and people having a place to vote, she's too stupid to be elected to anything.

Carl T. Swanson

Mahajan: Not a Jolly Green Guv

Dear Austin Chronicle:

The Green Party's gubernatorial nomination of the seething, intemperate America-hater Rahul Mahajan does the party a severe disservice: The party chose a gubernatorial candidate whose political platform distills down to "America deserved to be attacked on September 11th because America is evil." Mahajan's categorical animus against all things American made him into the marginal and virulent political crank he is.

If the Green Party's goal was to inject neglected issues into the larger political discourse, which was certainly possible, it is now fielding a gubernatorial candidate who will succeed only in turning people off to politics. Alas, if politics is the art of the possible, then the Green Party of Texas has artlessly made the possible impossible.

In fact, Mahajan's outspoken disrespect for democratic tolerance makes him an odd choice to run for a democratically elected office. It seems he wants to apply his background in theoretical physics to transform autocratically the messy real world into his highly skewed vision of The Way Things Should Be. In this sense, he reminds me of Pol Pot, another manic dreamer infused with that Hitlerian mix of supreme righteousness and disregard for democratic diversity and dissent.

Mahajan is to the Progressive Left what the Taliban was to Islam -- extreme, intolerant, and dogmatic, with totalitarian tendencies.

Rahul should create something useful with his clearly abundant intellect (maybe focus on finishing his Ph.D.?). After all, the totalitarian impulse is rooted not in the evil of this world, but in the various neuroses found within the minds of men -- the bigger the mind, the bigger the neuroses, I guess.

John A. Wielmaker

Beaten Bikers, 'Loving Bands'


I wanted to let Austin know of the big ass pawty they missed (or came to) the other night put on by Pete Wall of Yellow Bike Project, Woody (Room 710), and all the loving bands that stomped out all their rockin' li'l songs that continue to resonate in me tender, busted, but jolly body. With folks like this around, I actually get renewed faith in the selfless act-shuns of these funky human and other sorts of beings.

Many folks showed up, got up and down quite often for many moments at a time. Then they made us leave 'cause everyone was having to much fun on a Sunday night. Thank you all the weirdoz!

John McCollum

One of the broken guys

No Smoking in Bars


Wouldn't it be nicer if Austin's bars and nightclubs weren't filled with cigarette smoke?

Your readers might be surprised to hear this sentiment coming from a smoker. The problem I have with smoking in bars and nightclubs is simply that too many people do it. Like many smokers, I enjoy the smoke from my own cigarette, but not from everyone else's. If bars and nightclubs could enforce a limit, of say, 10 people smoking at a time, that would solve the problem. But such a limit couldn't really be enforced.

California prohibited smoking in bars and nightclubs in 1998. When I first heard about this regulation, I was skeptical. I didn't think smokers would agree to follow it. However I recently went to California, and I found the law works. The state regulation prohibits smoking in enclosed spaces, but sensibly permits smoking on outdoor patios. Smokers by and large have accepted it.

I love Austin, but going out at night is now a more pleasant experience in California than it is here. Austin City Council Member Beverly Griffith says she supports a smoking ban in this city's bars and nightclubs. If there is one council member who can get a law like that passed in Austin, it's Beverly. Unfortunately, she believes bar owners would fight such a change tooth and nail.

Bar owners in Austin should take a close look at what has happened in California. A year after the smoking ban took effect, the California Department of Health Services collected revenue data from businesses affected by the ban. The department found there was a greater percentage increase in taxable sales for bars and restaurants from Jan. 1, 1998 through Dec. 31, 1998 than in either of the two preceding years.

I am not going to take a side in the longstanding debate about whether or not second-hand smoke can cause lung cancer. I don't know the answer to that question, so I'll stay out of it. It's enough to know that too many people smoking cigarettes in an enclosed space is irritating. Isn't that enough reason for a ban in this city? I hope so.


Dave Wasser

Notes From a Traveler

Dear Chronicle:

I just visited what is called the most beautiful and hippest city in Texas -- Austin. While I found great beauty there, I also found it after navigating through incredible corridors of sprawl wielding out of control in all directions. Now that the city is overpopulated, state and local officials are trying to decide how to construct roads fast enough to keep up with all the traffic and congestion.

As for Texas' famed Hill Country, I found a beautiful Nature Conservancy Preserve near Dripping Springs. It was great, except another new development next to it called the "Preserve" threatens to destroy it. Wimberley was cool, with all its pseudo-hippies, wannabes, and SUVs.

The I-35 corridor from Dallas to San Antonio is choked with sprawl, and little of the once-beautiful Texas landscape remains. Is there anyone interested in land preservation and managed growth down there?

Greg Reisig

Elk Rapids, Mich.

Ventura Fan Speaks


I really enjoyed this piece ["Letters at 3AM," March 22]. Extremely well written and researched. Free of hyperbole. Ventura is brilliant. Thanks as well for the archive of his writings []. I will be going back through them for more of his excellent writing.

Brent Beach,

Victoria, British Columbia

Now That's Real Progress


I was just settling in with my carrot cake at a local bakery when, while perusing the "Postmarks" section of this weekly, I came across the words "Hightower" and "bitching" ["What's in a Name," April 5], which must have resonated with me on some level since I stopped to read the letter containing them. The first sentence set up what I thought was the premise, then two short paragraphs later I sat there thinking, "Is this guy for real?" Whoa, Kurt, you're funnier than a bag of adolescent boys -- and one of best advertisements for progressives I've ever seen. Keep up the good work.

David Burks

US & Only Us


I think the government's information siege is a great idea -- why bother our heads about things that would embarrass US?

I love the way they make up our minds for US so we don't have to think. Fortunately, it is forbidden to discuss the fact that our trigger-happy, oil-based government is fumigating US. How embarrassing it would be for US if our neurological systems were functional and we were allowed the opportunity to think.

I am so happy that Bush let US know that people who blow themselves up with bombs are Faceless Cowards. I thought we had something to fear -- but -- who's afraid of cowards? I thought cowards are people who strike behind your back and run, big people that pick on little people, rich people that pick on poor people -- you know -- that kind of person. But no -- this is not the case. Cowards are people who stick around and blow themselves up. How fortunate that we have nothing to fear of the ones who might fumigate the air even more or lace our water with more chemicals -- I am fortunate that the people who stole my spin machines were not cowards -- they would have stuck around and blown themselves up! Then I would have to hate all of their friends and relatives -- their country! It is very fortunate that Bush has set US straight on this issue.

As you all know, if your government says something, it must be true.

John Elton Bills

Bring Back 'Behind the Screens'

Dear Mr. Black:

I am writing this letter to you in hopes that you might be able to help us get Behind the Screens back on the air. KNVA canceled the show. It was a very good show. It not only gave us good movie reviews, it also gave away free movie passes to upcoming new movies. The only other place to get free movie passes is The Austin Chronicle. I always get this magazine also. To us moviegoers, it is an Austin legend.

I stated a petition going around, and as of now I have thirteen (13) pages of signatures from moviegoers who would like to see their show back on the air. If there is any way that you could help us with this project, it will be greatly appreciated. I have been enjoying movies for a long time now.

I enjoyed the program with Cory, Martin, and Jana. They did a good job. They discussed the pros and cons of all the movies that they reviewed. That helped us to decide which would be a better movie for us to go see.

If you could give us any kind of help to get our program back on KNVA that would be just great. Again, thank you for the wonderful shows that KNVA already has. I am one of your regular viewers. You are my favorite station. I enjoy all your shows.


Mary G. Espinoza

'3AM' Wake-Up Call

Dear Mr. Black,

Since Michael Ventura ["Letters at 3AM"] does not have an e-mail address, I'm sending this to you, both to thank you for publishing his work, and in the hopes you will pass it on to him.

His column "The Shadow of Totalitarianism," published on March 22, was e-mailed to me by a friend. I've sent it on to a number of people, most of whom have also passed it on to at least several more people. Clichéd though the phrase is, "a wake-up call" is the best way to describe this extremely powerful piece of writing. Of course I haven't liked what's been going on, but I've been averting my eyes, and thinking, basically, "It couldn't happen here." It can, it is, but maybe if enough of us wake up it can be stopped, and be reversed.

So, thanks, and I'd like Mr. Ventura to know that there are a lot more people reading his thoughts, and talking about them, than he was perhaps aware of.

Nancy Duncan

Bellingham, Wash.

Cheating Death & Beating Taxes

Dear Editor:

During this tax season, everyone's attention turns to the tax burden that weighs heavily on us all. Republicans promise tax cuts, but run up the defense budget and the national debt for our children. Democrats oppose tax cuts and favor funding social services and reducing the national debt.

But here are ways to reduce the income tax burden that both Democrats and Republicans can support:

1.) Reduce federal subsidies for meat and dairy products that contribute to the deaths of 1.3 million Americans annually.

2.) Tax these products to compensate federal and state governments for their costs of treating the victims under the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

Last December, U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher estimated that diseases associated with obesity alone were accountable for 300,000 deaths annually and a national cost of $117 billion. Extrapolating this equation to heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and other diseases, which have been linked conclusively with consumption of animal fat and meat, brings the annual number of American deaths to 1.3 million and the associated national cost to around $500 billion. That works out to roughly $5,000 annually per household.

The concept of taxing animal fat and meat may sound radical today, but so did the idea of taxing alcohol and tobacco products at one time. At least 17 states plus the district of Columbia have enacted taxes on soft drinks and other junk foods. Taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for consumers who choose to harm their and their family's health.

Mark Twain said that nothing is certain except death and taxes. However, one can be delayed and the other reduced by avoiding the consumption of recognized health hazards like animal fat and meat. Taxing these products would encourage consumers to make informed purchasing decisions.


Kim Lewis

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