Our readers talk back.
My friend, Mike Clark-Madison, buried me in his piece on the council, claiming that I have no real differences with Jackie Goodman ["Governing Post-Boom Austin," April 12]. Jackie Goodman is a good woman, who has lost her way. She voted for $80 million in corporate welfare under the guise of Smart Growth. Jackie didn't listen to her friend, whistleblower Richard White, who fought to expose the Vision Village rip-off of the poor. Did you know the council took $750,000 out of the meager $1 million Housing Trust fund for low-income housing to cover up the city's malfeasance on Vision Village? Jackie has allowed the city attorney's office to lobby the secretary of state to help her and Daryl overturn term limits. When that didn't work, she allowed the Austin Police union, I believe on her behalf, to try to overturn term limits. When that didn't work, contributions showed up in the Bruce Todd PAC from city lobbyists to help fund her petitions. I still believe her petitions got close, but no cigar, and had Clean Campaigns (Prop. 1) been that close, it would have never made the ballot. These actions have seriously compromised her ability to be the Jackie Goodman we all supported when she first ran three terms ago.
When I talk about the democratic process, I'm not talking about the right of citizens to simply sound off. I'm talking about the citizens of Austin having the right to vote on Intel and other corporate giveaways, and the right to vote on that $1.3 billion, 50-year deal for water that Watson and Garza secretly negotiated in 1999. I'm talking about open government. Just last week the council voted in secret for a $36 million deal involving Austin Energy, minus any other bids!
Jackie Goodman, and those on the council who don't have the guts to stand up to the Democratic political machine, the Real Estate Council, and corporate America are responsible for this budget crisis. Throw the hypocritical rascals out, pass Prop. 1, and help me build the independent movement.
Council Candidate, Place 3
Slusher a Boon to the Eastside
Most African-Americans I know are voting for Daryl Slusher. One reason is that he will be much better for East Austin than Kirk Mitchell, because Slusher knows where East Austin is.
Since coming to Austin in 1956, as a member of UT's first black undergraduate class, I have never seen a non-black Council Member with as solid a relationship with the black community as Slusher. He's gotten things done for our community (ask residents of Stonegate, the East 11th and 12th street corridors, St. John's and University Hills).
Slusher was instrumental in getting environmentalists to understand that the priorities of communities of color were different than theirs, effectively improving communication between the two groups. Slusher can work on the revitalization of East 11th, win approval for a recreation center, health clinic, and library in St. John's -- and still be an effective environmentalist.
We understand the importance of Barton Springs, but the springs aren't the only issue. Nothing in Mitchell's real complaint is that Slusher didn't do everything exactly how Mitchell wanted.
Slusher is an independent thinker who isn't controlled by anyone. We need people like that in public office.
Another reason I support Slusher is that he and I have disagreed a few times but he doesn't label people who disagree with him ignorant.
Kirk, in case you don't remember, I am your ignorant friend who has the same degrees from the same university as you.
Black Voters Action Project
Mitchell a 'Breath of Fresh Air'
The "Kirk Mitchell for City Council" ad that you ran last week was a breath of fresh air -- a candidate who offers promising solutions to the problems that have plagued Austin for the last decade. Mitchell's outstanding performance in last night's televised candidate debate confirmed even further that he is the best candidate for Place 1. His track record in business and community work has shown that he is deeply committed to "keeping Austin Austin," which means being an unrelenting steward of the beautiful and precious things -- such as Barton Springs -- that brought many of us here in the first place and that many businesses are quick to use as a recruiting tool.
Mitchell understands the importance of using our financial resources wisely -- i.e., not subsidizing huge corporate boondoggles but, instead, helping our small businesses thrive and ensuring economic equity across the city. He is also committed to finding green transportation solutions that work for everyone. These are just a few of the reasons I'm pleased to add my support of Mitchell's candidacy to the endorsements of the Austin Sierra Club, the Texas Environmental Democrats, the Save Our Springs PAC, and the Travis County Green Party.
About Mitchell, Intel, Etc.
In last week's Chronicle, Clint Smith tells us that Kirk Mitchell is more than a "single-issue" candidate, and then backs this up by pointing out that Mitchell is an urban developer specializing in historic restoration projects ["Postmarks: Not a 'Single-Issue' Candidate," April 26]. Actually, this makes Mitchell a zero-issue candidate, unless the issue is preserving low-density, inner-city sprawl. "Historical preservation" is one of the standard tricks invoked by no-growthers to prevent reasonable infill development projects from taking place in their neighborhoods.
As much as I admire their integrity, what many old-school environmentalists in Austin don't seem to understand is that you can't prevent development in environmentally sensitive areas at the same time that you restrict and prevent more efficient land-use policies in the inner city. The system is like a balloon: Squeeze it in one place and it will bulge out in another. Every housing unit built in the inner city is one fewer in the urban sprawl or over the Edwards Aquifer. By not allowing these inner city housing units to be built, these so-called environmentalists are creating development pressure which spills out onto environmentally sensitive areas. It's just that simple.
Another point I take issue with is the slamming that Daryl Slusher has been taking for the failed Intel project. Intel was going to build an office building over the aquifer, so the city government gave them incentives to build downtown instead. An economic downturn resulted in nothing useful being built -- is that Slusher's fault? Should City Council have gone ahead and just let Intel build over the aquifer? We keep talking about spending money to save our environmentally sensitive areas -- this seems like a perfect example of someone doing just that and then getting criticized for it by the very people promoting environmental preservation in the first place. So very Austin, so very wrong.
Clearing the Air of Prop. 1
The Travis County Democratic Women's longstanding support for public financing of political campaigns has erroneously been interpreted to mean that we support Prop. 1, the Austin Fair Elections charter amendment.
In fact, because of the board's concerns about possible unintended consequences of the proposal, we voted not to support Prop. 1. However, it is fair to say that we have mixed feelings about our decision.
Anne C. McAfee
Travis County Democratic Women
Prop. 1 Has a Track Record
I find the Chronicle's position on Proposition 1 incomprehensible. All of the Chronicle editorial board members favor public financing and agree it's fair to require candidates who chose to participate in these voluntary programs to accept contribution limits. The split occurs over whether contributions limits should apply to candidates who choose not to participate in the public financing program. The fact is that Proposition 1, like every viable public financing system in the United States, has contribution limits that apply to non-participating candidates. The reason is that if candidates could choose not to participate and were allowed to raise unlimited sums from special interests, then the participating publicly financed candidates would be grossly outspent. For example, if Austin candidates had the choice between partial public financing with $100,000 spending limits (Proposition 1) and no spending limits and no contribution limits (in which candidates could take $25,000 checks from developers), few candidates would chose public financing. This would undermine completely the purposes of the public financing program. Please vote for Proposition 1. It has worked well in Arizona, Maine, Tucson, New York City, Los Angeles, and a number of other places.
[Ed. note: Fred Lewis is an attorney for Clean Campaigns for Austin, the group that wrote the Austin Fair Elections Act, which will become law if Prop. 1 passes.]
Dawson No Problem
At several candidate forums, candidate Mitchell and surrogate O'Donnaghue on behalf of candidate Curtis have each stated the neighborhood planning process should be amended to avoid "problems like Dawson." To the best of our knowledge no member of the planning team except one outspoken critic who dropped out of the process until the very end and who has been recently referred to in InFactDaily as a certain "e-mailing lunatic" and ex-presidents of the Dawson NA, who were involved in the process over many years, were contacted by either campaign so the candidates could get a balanced presentation before making such pronouncements.
Such one-sided opinion formation based solely upon "squeaky wheel" research does not bode well for future policy development should either candidate prevail. On the other hand Council Members Goodman and Slusher diligently listened to all sides throughout the process, with Slusher hosting a forum for businesses to air their complaints about the proposed overlay. Eventually a compromise was crafted and since the December 6, 2001, final vote, only the critic with the ear of Mitchell and Curtis has publicly complained, though at the council meeting she publicly stated she supported the compromise.
All parts of the compromise passed 7-0, with the exception of part of the conditional overlay on South First. Purported neighborhood savior Griffith voted against our very limited overlay on 11 properties on South First, apparently supporting warehouses, pawnshops, and adult-oriented businesses for Dawson. (See item 10 December 6, 2001, council minutes on the city Web site.)
former DNA President
former DNA President
former DNA President and original Planning Team Chair
final Planning Team Chair
Taking Account of ACC Board
I normally agree with most of the Chronicle's endorsements, but I have to question your recent recommendation for Place 2 on the ACC Board. The most important issues in the race seem to be financial accountability and confidence in the administration. The ACC board currently lacks the expertise to really evaluate, from a financial standpoint, what the administration is doing. Unlike any board I've ever served on, they don't even have a treasurer or a financial chair! How could they possibly inspire confidence if no one knows if the numbers they're being given are real? Sure, you could "outsource" the expertise from someone like Arthur Andersen (they could use the work right now), but you need someone on the board who can see through the smoke and mirrors. John Hernandez is, in my opinion, the best candidate for that job. He has 17 years of experience as an auditor, extensive community involvement on boards like Zachary Scott, the Austin YMCA, and Leadership Austin, and an ongoing commitment to underserved parts of our community and educational excellence.
It's a great idea to have a teacher on the board, but not at the expense of financial expertise and oversight.
P.S. You also noted that Hernandez, Geary, and Sherr were the only candidates in any of the races that had financial experience. Nan McRaven, as you noted elsewhere in last week's issue, served as Travis County personnel and budget director. Incidentally, Nan and John, like practically all of the other candidates support shared governance. Your summary on p. 24 made it seem like only Caleb Buckley and Paul Geary endorse the concept.
ACC Split Opinion
I was extremely surprised by the Chronicle's choice of endorsement for Place 1 in the ACC race.
Raising salaries for professors and reducing tuition for students is a lofty goal, but I don't see that happening on the national front or even at UT, which has much deeper financial support from the state. And, until the taxpayers in this area are ready to shoulder more of the cost for this grand beneficence, it is anything but realistic for operating ACC within a balance budget. I am dismayed and surprised that your editorial staff didn't do a little more research before jumping on the "feel good" bandwagon.
The current board has faced some difficult decisions during the last six years. During the two years Lillian Davis has served as chair, the college has moved forward to serve more students that at any other time in its history. It has offered more classes at flexible times to serve working students and expanded significantly offerings in East Austin.
I support Lillian because she tackled the difficult financial issues at ACC head-on. The budget is now balanced. Moreover the budget shortfalls were addressed in a manner that affected administrative operations, rather than salaries and classes, something that seems to have gotten lost in all the recent news stories. A truly responsible board member looks to the future and represents all the community, not just those that are politically expedient and convenient in the short term. That board member is Dr. Lillian Davis.
ACC Endorsement Flawed
To the Editor:
While I share your dissatisfaction with the performance of the current ACC academic administration, I differ with your ACC election recommendations and do not find them well supported by the reasons you give.
Your choice of the vote for a modest tuition increase by Place 1 incumbent Lillian Davis as the leading example of why you endorsed her opponent is an indication of the confusion of your argument. It might be reasonable for conservatives to object to the fact that during her tenure ACC has substantially increased salaries for ACC faculty and was the first local entity to adopt a "living wage" policy for its staff, but she should not be attacked by progressives for being willing to face up to the unavoidable consequence of paying college employees fairly even if Austin voters won't approve tax support as high as that in other Texas cities.
An increase in that tax support, whose low level underlies many ACC problems, should be the top issue on any progressive's agenda for ACC, since nothing else will help students more. This will require trustees with broad community ties and solid experience in budget analysis and communication. Place 2 candidate John Hernandez and Place 3 candidate Nan McRaven far exceed their opponents in these qualities, and also have a much longer history of progressive community work on educational, minority, and environmental issues.
Thus I recommend Lillian Davis, John Hernandez, and Nan McRaven as the candidates in this election who will contribute most to improving ACC's services to its students.
Ms. Lori Apple,
My name is Craig Koon, the manager of Sound Exchange; I wanted to elucidate a few things about the "tension" on the Drag if I could ["Naked City: Signs of Tension," April 26].
First, I should apologize to the Diesel folks: To the best of Lance's knowledge, the people who came in to our store, becursed our employees, and apparently ripped down an anti-Diesel flier didn't specifically identify themselves as Diesel staffers -- he merely got that impression. Truth to tell, he was basically ignoring them and what they said, as he was with a customer. So to inculpate Diesel with the dastardly deed was perhaps disingenuous.
Second, when we erected the second, more notorious sign, it was bootless of me not to place a disclaimer that it reflected my opinions and those of many of our staff and customers; this allowed some people to infer that the owner of Sound Exchange felt that way. Which he doesn't; in fact, he vends Diesel at his other store, Emeralds.
A misapprehension coupled with an oversight. I am positively piacular.
Eppure si muove,
ACC's Geary Has Right Idea
To the editor:
In Cathy Vaughan's article on the ACC Board of Trustees race, she writes that "most of the six incumbent board members, and all but one of the candidates for the three open places, support some kind of tax increase" ["Austin Community College: Who Will Pass the College Board Exam?" April 26].
According to the Chronicle, the lone dissenter regarding tax rate increases is Paul Geary, a financial journalist and adjunct teacher at ACC.
In looking at the numbers provided by the ACC's Web site, I think Geary's right about not raising the tax rate.
Since 1995, the number of students taking courses for credit at ACC has increased by about 8%, while enrollment in continuing education courses has increased by 6% since 1998 (no figures back to 1995 are available). Yet, since 1995 overall spending by ACC has increased by 40%, with property taxes for ACC funding increasing by over 100% during the same period (41% since 1998).
Haven't property taxes gone up enough already?
In addressing some of the financial problems occurring at ACC, the article quotes one of the other candidates in the race as saying that, regarding private contributors, "no one in their right mind would give money to ACC when it's so obvious they can't keep track of what they already have."
Shouldn't that hold for the taxpayers, as well?
I'm voting for Paul Geary for ACC board and I urge others to do the same.
Dear Austin Chronicle Readers:
Many conservationists are torn between support for incumbent Daryl Slusher and challenger Kirk Mitchell in the Place 1 City Council race. Daryl Slusher has a proven track record of protecting the environment in the face of the overwhelming crush of growth (which, by the way, is roughly three times the national growth rate and 50% higher than the rest of Texas) by helping get suburban counties to join in the new ozone control strategy plan, by helping campaign for light rail and by helping to run Cap Metro, by supporting Smart Growth efforts to direct growth away from sensitive areas, by supporting neighborhood plans, by supporting city budgets that include the state's best environmental program, by helping to pass bonds and then using bond sales money to buy important properties for watershed protection and new destination parks, by helping disarm anti-Austin elements in the Legislature, and by appointing pro-environmental and pro-neighborhood folks to boards and commissions. The fact that he has compromised on some items to get others on the council to support him on other issues is simply the way our democratic system works. Zealots who are unwilling to compromise and thus lose on 1-6 or 2-5 votes are admirable but do not gain much for the community.
To me, Kirk, as fine an individual as he is, has not contributed on as many environmental fronts as Daryl, let alone on the other important fronts in our society such as in helping poorer parts of town with public works, libraries, and parks, promoting affordable housing, and overall trying to keep Austin weird (i.e., unique). I support Slusher and encourage others to do so also.
Loving Austin since 1981
Austin's Killer Klown Ramps
Thanks to Michael King for the article on the 51st Street overpass ["The Gridlock at TxDOT and 51st Street," April 26"]. But even though it's a waste of time, I'll still complain about this completed project!
TxDOT's/John Hurt's "public, shmublic" responses certainly explain why we have so many crazy intersections. The whole 51st Street/Cameron/I-35 area had to be designed by killer klowns. Going east on 51st from Cameron requires two left turns against traffic with no signals and poor visibility -- they need a study to know that's unsafe?
I'm sure many recent accidents were caused by "driver error." Such errors become much more likely (and much more costly), however, when drivers are forced to cross three lanes of traffic in 20 yards. Course, this must seem normal to the folks who created the I-35 access roads, where god forbid someone exit the freeway and plan to make a right turn at the next intersection.
Do Hurt and his colleagues ever just go out and, like, drive around? Many local highway and street designs seem to assume everyone drives 10mph at all times, every turn clearly signaled. Please, build a system that allows for terrible drivers and trained stuntmen.
If TxDOT expects drivers to "alter their habits" and go an additional mile or two just to enter the freeway without needing a Xanax, I'm going to be just as naive and optimistic and expect TxDOT and Austin to build roads and intersections that are consistent ("Okay, I want to go north on MoPac -- should I turn left or right?"), easy to navigate (love that South Lamar/290/360 freak-out! Keep Austin Weird!), efficient (I-35 and Stassney, anyone?), and safe (uh ... ).
Of course I do agree with Hurt that "Safety must always trump convenience." Too bad right now we don't have much of either; shame we can't have both.
Co-op Deserves Support
Thanks to Louis Black for championing Austin Cinemaker Co-op's value to the local filmmaking community in his "Page 2" column (April 26), regarding the news that Cinemaker's application for funding was rejected after the first round of Austin Arts Commission screenings.
Many local filmmakers and artists are aware of the service provided by this local grassroots filmmaking organization. In brief, Cinemaker makes filmmaking accessible to Austinites through relatively inexpensive Super 8 rental equipment as well as Super 8 filmmaking workshops. In addition, Cinemaker holds four mini-festivals each year, open to anyone with an idea and hosts visiting filmmakers from throughout the United States.
Any filmmaker can attest to the difficulty of breaking into filmmaking. There are too many discouraging factors that keep would-be filmmakers from pursuing their talents: the costs of instruction and equipment and/or selective windows which allow only a few independently produced films, out of the many, to be screened. Cinemaker makes it easy and enjoyable to experiment with film without the fear of having a sub-masterpiece that will never be screened.
Despite providing an educational center for filmmakers, in a town which has gained a reputation as an important film center, the Austin Cinemaker Co-op was recently rejected for a grant from the Austin Arts Commission on a minor technicality. Cinemaker is an almost entirely volunteer-run organization and depends on funding from the Arts Commission for its survival. Space rental (for the Cinemaker office) in addition to the costs of rental equipment upkeep, just to name a few costs, requires considerable financial backing. I encourage anyone who wishes to keep the vibrant Austin film scene alive, in its many colors, to sign a petition, located right outside the Austin Cinemaker Co-op office (Suite 201, in the Guadalupe Studios complex, 1705 Guadalupe) and/or write your City Council members urging the city to reconsider its decision not to fund the Austin Cinemaker Co-op.
Keep on filmin',
Slusher, Goodman: Cultural Commitment
I'm not buying Kirk Mitchell's line. He claimed he was only running in case Daryl Slusher didn't make the ballot. Then he sued Slusher claiming fraudulent petitions. Two courts threw out his case. He claimed that Slusher was wrong to allow Bruce Todd to mount an independent effort but made no protest when Mark Tschurr ran a full-page pro-Mitchell ad. Mitchell to keep Austin Austin? I don't think so.
Keeping Austin Austin takes more than Mitchell's rhetoric. It requires vision and commitment to protect and nurture our cultural environment. Our music, arts, and film scenes attract tourism, provide economic impact, enhance the enjoyment and quality of life for our citizens, and give Austin its unique cultural identity.
Since I started working with Daryl Slusher on Austin cultural issues in 1985, I haven't seen Kirk Mitchell anywhere in the process. Slusher raised the Cultural Arts Fund to the maximum allowed, got the Music Industry Loan Program going again, pushed the Austin Nature and Character enhancements at ABIA through council, saved the free Wednesday night music concert series and convinced Kirk Watson to drop the Ice Bats from the Town Lake Park plan. Slusher called for music industry input of the proposed noise ordinance.
Slusher and Goodman's efforts kept Eeyore's Birthday in Pease Park. When construction threatened to close off the Warehouse District most evenings and weekends, their efforts kept access open to venues from La Zona Rosa to Alamo Drafthouse, Antone's to the Austin Music Hall. Their commitment to cultural issues earned the support of many musicians including Joe Ely, Ray Benson, Patrice Pike, Jerry Jeff Walker, Jo Carol Pierce, Jimmy LaFave, Austin Lounge Lizards, and Shandon Sahm.
I believe Circle C PAC only endorsed Slusher because a loose cannon is running against him.
Armadillo Christmas Bazaar
Parks Are for People
To the Editor:
News flash! This just in! "Austin Chronicle slams citizens for participating in public meetings."
Reference the piece by Dan Oko under the banner "News" on page 28 of the April 26 issue ["Common Ground on the Colorado"]. According to Mr. Oko, "... planners set to work to address the city's vision of what the Colorado River Park might look like. ... But as they did so, kayakers demanded ... Little League coaches complained ... bicycle advocates argued ... environmentalists and NIMBY-minded neighbors urged. ... Even today [so and so] of the local Sierra Club maintains. ..."
This writing makes it seem like the citizens are getting in the way. Kudos go to the Austin Parks Foundation for seeking direct public input. Perhaps Mr. Oko is uncomfortable with the public or with public meetings?
I attended at least two of the public meetings put on to seek citizen input way back when. I proudly witnessed my fellow Austinites take time out of their lives to share opinions of what the CRP should look like when it's done. I saw no demanding, complaining or arguing. People with different points of view spoke with each other. Many listened and some learned. Given that Mr. Oko actually attended the meetings, I can only wonder how he would describe any ordinary family gathering.
Note to Mr. Black: Put Mr. Oko on sports.
Note to Mr. Oko: Parks can do a lot to make up for our alienation from each other because the public meets in them. Ask Ted Siff for further information.
Kayaker, ballplayer, bicyclist, environmentalist,
Sierra Club member and 78702 neighbor
I.T. & the First Amendment
Dear Chronicle Editor:
"Independent Texans" has been brought up in recent articles in the dispute with HEB. We wish to clarify a few things.
1. The ACLU represented Independent Texans in the suit. I.T. is not a business; we are a political reform organization. Linda Curtis serves on our board, and, although a professional organizer, she donates her services to I.T.
2. This dispute is really about freedom of speech and the right to organize. In 1985, the Farm Workers won an initial ruling against Albertson's for the right to organize workers in front of their store. Shopping centers, like Hancock, have become our modern-day town squares. I.T. believes that ordinary citizens should be able to come there to learn about issues affecting their lives and to affect change in their community.
We too are concerned about Eastside voting. However, let's face it, turnout is poor even with early voting. Voters are choosing to stay home. I.T. interprets their no-vote as a mandate for change. Voters believe politicians are untrustworthy; that they bow to corporate special interests, making it impossible to fairly represent their electorate. With respect to early voting, the county clerk and mayor appear to be taking a partisan position under the guise of "voting rights," but this does nothing to change the turnout. The problems are bigger, our officials must empower the people with leadership and projects that accurately reflect the citizenry. In this situation, they should mediate the situation, join in our First Amendment struggle, or remain neutral (as did Beverly Griffith).
John S. Petersen
Co-founder of Independent Texans, www.independenttexans.org
and Green Party Candidate
for U.S. House of Representatives, District 31
Just wanted to write and tell you how much I enjoyed the article on the Reivers ["Pop Beloved," April 26]. What a great Austin band, and it is great that they have re-released their two Capitol CDs, as I have the vinyl copies but was not going to pay the $30-plus the original issued CDs are bringing on eBay.
I never got to see the band live, but recall in 1989 going to the old Sound Warehouse on 49th and Burnet, and even though I did not have enough money to purchase their new CD, End Of the Day, the band still signed a promo sheet for me. I talked a bit to Cindy Toth about her bass playing, as I play as well. A great group that I still listen to often.
Thanks again for the great article.
Robert De La Cruz
Slusher Walks the Walk
One measure of a leader's record on protection of Barton Springs is, "how many acres has he preserved in the watershed?" Daryl Slusher has proactively conserved and protected a great many acres while serving as your City Council member.
Here's Daryl's record:
While claiming that Daryl has betrayed his environmental principles, his "environmentalist" opponent has done little if anything in terms of actually conserving acres in the Barton Springs Zone. The Austin Chronicle has called this opponent a "showboater" -- a diplomatic way of saying he talks a good game but has nothing of substance to show. There's a good reason nearly all of the major environmental leaders and SOS activists are supporting Daryl. He has earned it the hard way -- acre by acre.
While others only talk the talk, Daryl Slusher walks the walk. He continues to work effectively for environmental protection. He gets the job done. If you want good governance at city hall and a strong effective advocate for your natural environment, vote for Daryl on May 4.
A 'Streetcar' Named Defiled
To Whom It May Concern:
Re: Review of Doghouse's production of A Streetcar Named Desire ["Exhibitionism," April 26].
Your reviewer was late and missed the pre-show music the orchestra played.
Oh yeah, there was an orchestra.
Your reviewer was offered alternate seating, front row, away from the neighbor's AC. He declined.
Your reviewer failed to notice the usage of a Greek-like chorus ...
As well as actors playing multiple parts ... it's a cast of seven ... there are 12 characters.
The play is Expressionistic and Surreal. Your reviewer may look these terms up himself.
Oh yeah, there was an orchestra that played during both intermissions.
The actors consistently compensated for ambient noise, i.e. airplanes, frat parties, sirens.
Andre Carriere does feel that the play is a canvas upon which he can paint whatever he likes ...
Remember there was a Streetcar opera in town recently ... now there's a canvas!
Oh yeah, and a Streetcar movie ... with an ending 180 degrees different from play.
There was an orchestra that played after the show, too.
The kitten appreciates being mentioned. By the way, there were actors playing Blanche, Stella, and Pablo.
Oh yeah ... there was an orchestra.
Doghouse Theatre: Too Weird for Austin
Cindy Toth on the Scene, Still
In his article in the April 26 issue ["Pop Beloved," April 26], Michael Bertin is so busy telling us everything the Reivers weren't that he barely has the space or inclination to concede anything they were. Yes, they never achieved mega-fame and yes, after a brief backing by Capitol Records, the band was sent back home. But, as the liner notes to both of their re-released albums, Saturday and End of the Day, strongly attest, the Reivers were a much beloved local band. All of their albums (yes, vinyl) still do brisk sales in secondhand stores and in online auctions; and 10 years after their breakup, fan-built Web sites abound.
Bertin was similarly intent in suggesting that music was mostly a thing of the past for the Reivers, so much so that he neglected his homework. Yes, Kim Longacre and Garrett Williams have largely moved on to other things, and yes, John Croslin has produced more bands than he ever played with -- but Cindy Toth can be seen in Austin pretty much weekly, bass in hand, with either of her major current bands and in an assortment of stand-in roles and special projects. Violet Crown plays every Monday at the Hole in the Wall and Trigger Happy has a regular Tuesday night show at the Parlor. Both bands, by the way, were favorably reviewed in the pages of The Austin Chronicle for their SXSW showcases for the past two years and any fan wanting more "Toth-for-the-dollar" can see both bands this Thursday, May 2, at the Hole in the Wall.
TMI From a SWM
In the last edition of the Chronicle, my Personals ad was placed in Variations and not Men Seeking Women. Let me refresh your memory: "SWM, 25, seeks 18-year-old wet nurse. No weirdos." Now, I'm just a regular guy with a steady 9-to-5 job, a closet full of golf shirts, and dreams of some day owning a minivan with the woman of my dreams. I'm not some "variant" weirdo who role-plays with a Sears catalog and a pocket full of French jelly. What do you think "No weirdos" meant? Chinese emperors were traditionally breastfed until the ripe old age of 25, and that, sir, is as right as rain.
Defending Rahul Mahajan
Is it true? Did Rahul Mahajan completely reverse his political and personal orientation to become what Mr. John Wielmaker described in the April 19 Chronicle "Postmarks" ["Mahajan: Not a Jolly Green Guv"]? How tragic! He used to be a democratic champion, a peaceful protester, an informed, engaged, and concerned citizen ... how sad that Wielmaker has somehow uncovered that he's instantly and inexplicably been transformed into a totalitarian Pol Pot sequel.
It's one thing to be wrong, but Mr. Wielmaker was downright libelous. I have never heard or read any statement from Mahajan suggesting, as was printed, that "America deserved September 11" (perhaps Mr. Wielmaker has Rahul confused with Jerry Falwell). Nor can Mahajan be considered to be "against democratic tolerance" or totalitarian. Although his peaceful stances don't sit well with some, it's insulting to accuse someone who engages in civil debate, questions policies, and peacefully protests injustices as undemocratic ... once upon a time that was known as patriotism.
Ad hominem attacks such as these are usually reserved as a last resort for a losing argument. I would encourage the curious and concerned alike to look into all candidates' positions personally and make an informed choice.
Cinemaker Co-op Overrated
In your "Page Two" column last week, you took time out -- as the Chron usually does -- to plug the "too-often-unsung heroes" of Austin filmmaking, the Cinemaker Co-op.
Ordinarily, I'd mourn their inability to properly complete an application for funding from the Austin Arts Commission. Unfortunately, I believe the Cinemaker Co-op deserves squat ... nothing. Not a fucking dime. "This is an extraordinary group with an amazingly far-reaching impact," you write. I'm guessing, though, They Do Not Have Any Impact Whatsoever -- except on the Chronicle writers they put on their bar tab each night.
The Co-op makes Super 8 films. It is not an art; it's a hobby. The films are unimpressive, as anyone who's rented their showcases at Vulcan knows. There are unsung kids editing digital work of far more personal, social significance than a group of high-profile thirtysomething barrel-chested whitebread hacks projecting two- to four-minute sketches in the Way It Used to Be.
Perhaps Mr. Black would like to tell us how much it takes to produce 2-3 minute black & white or color silent films and project them onto a wall? How much money do these Artists require to continue their contribution to your "unique film environment"?
Your wife and son may use the facilities twice a year (which does make your plea, Louis, a conflict of interest -- which is what keeps the theatre community filled with their own thirtysomething hacks) but who cares, right? Anything for the next gen of Rodriguezes, Linklaters and anyone else who may become profitable in the course of your Cheap Talent Sales Pitches. Fortunately, not every up-and-coming filmmaker is a doe-eyed blowjobber ready for the Big Sell-Out.
Why should AAC'S money go to lame fuckarounds with junk cameras despite the Chronicle's saga of cheerleading the biggest time-waster in town?
The Reivers Are Rock Stars!
Reading Michael Bertin's piece on the Reivers ["Pop Beloved," April 26] was like feeling a warm, summery breeze rush in through the screen door. A lot of my favorite memories of Austin have to do with this group, both collectively and individually, as I'm sure is true about countless other people.
I had only been in town from California a few months, back in 1989, when I went to catch the band at the late, great Liberty Lunch and became an instant, devoted fan of theirs. I liked their songs, I loved them as people and as performers, and I was astounded by how diverse their audience was: skinheads, cowboys, yuppies, rastas -- and not one fight or problem in sight! I thought, If this is what this city is like, I am never going to leave! (Alas, I eventually did, more's the pity.)
Through them, I discovered the Austin music/arts scene, for which I'm completely grateful; even better, I was privileged to meet them all in person and enjoy their off-stage companionship. To me, John, Kim, Cindy, and Garrett -- under any name -- are rock stars, and always will be!
Enduring Respect for Reivers
I frequently ponder vexing questions like: 1) If the Reivers ["Pop Beloved," April 26] had "made it"-- as a just world would have ensured -- would they still be the Reivers? and 2) How can I get my buddy to give up his obviously underappreciated Reivers T-shirt? John Croslin, et al., can take this much to the bank: In my nearly 16 years in Austin, no band has ever meant as much to me and in my remaining time here, no band ever will. I'd kill for that T-shirt.
Toth Still Kickin' It
"Pop Beloved" was an interesting piece [April 26], but I'm compelled to correct one jarring error. Cindy is currently playing bass with Trigger Happy every Tuesday night at the Parlor, so let's not place them in the past tense. She also plays in Violet Crown (led by another Austin veteran, Larry Seaman), every Monday night at the Hole in the Wall.
There are still plenty of opportunities to hear your favorites of yesteryear in their current incarnations, so overcome inertia and get out to support them and the clubs that book them. Please. You won't regret it.
P.S. There's a chance to hear Cindy play a doubleheader, as both bands play Thursday, May 2 at the Hole.
We're Electing Too Many People
While I often find the "Page Two" analysis and answers gravely mistaken, I have to give it to you for asking the right questions with regard to the Austin Fair Elections Act (Prop. 1):
"Given the current high level of dissatisfaction with local government, why are there only a handful of legitimate candidates running against the incumbents?" [April 19]
A key reason is that almost nobody likes fundraising. Who in their right mind wants to dedicate the hundreds of hours it takes to raise the $100,000-plus it takes to win an election (even without $100 limits)? Is that how we want our politicians spending their time?
Similar laws in Maine, Arizona, and elsewhere have done a great job of getting qualified, legitimate candidates elected who otherwise would never have run.
With the current system we have in Austin and around the country, we're electing too many people because of their fundraising skills, not their qualifications.
That's what's broke, and that's what we're trying to fix.
Michael Ventura expresses his alarm over the vulnerability of U.S. nuclear reactor sites, and lists four possible scenarios as to why they have not been made more secure ["Letters at 3AM," April 19].
A year or two ago, there was an airplane in which the pilot had died at the controls from a heart attack. I don't remember the outcome of that situation, but I remember the plane being escorted by USAF jets.
I have later learned that any time a plane breaks communication with its control tower, that the protocol is that the USAF automatically dispatches to the plane. No order is given or necessary for the escort to commence.
So what happened on Sept. 11? The pilots of the four planes which were hijacked had certainly had communication with the control towers interrupted. Why were USAF jets not dispatched to those planes?
The answer is quite disturbing. It would have taken a presidential order for the escorts not to be dispatched.
So, Mr. Ventura, the answer to your question is not incompetence or corruption (on the order you described at least).
What I want to know is why the Chronicle is not reporting on the concentration camps which are already up and running and foreign troops already training on U.S. soil, to engage U.S. citizens. The pretense for a major assault on the middle class will be a catastrophic smallpox outbreak, which will occur with full knowledge of our "shadow government."
Appraising the Appraisal Process
Here are a few insights for those who may be unhappy with their "notice of appraised value" from the Travis County Appraisal District (TCAD). Property owners should check their notices carefully, as TCAD can and will raise the value by more than 10% per year. This shouldn't happen unless improvements have been made to the house, and it is up to the owner to point that out. This can be done without formally protesting the appraisal.
If the problem is more than a simple error, it is not likely to solved informally or even through the formal hearing. The Appraisal Review Board (ARB) is presented as an objective group of citizens that listens to all arguments to resolve disputes between TCAD and the taxpayer. In reality, the ARB is a group of appointed puppets that pretends to listen to both sides, then turns a blind eye to the taxpayer's position and sides with the county. This "group of citizens" uses the exact same data and appraisal methods as TCAD, so their conclusions are just as absurd. In my case, the land value was raised by 92% for 2001. I don't particularly recall 2001 being a banner year.
I have found it a waste of time to prepare a presentation for people who dogmatically stick to a flawed process. It was no use trying to argue that overall values were about the same as the previous year, or that a property value should be somewhere near the amount a person recently paid for it. The ARB/TCAD is far more interested in anecdotal evidence (a neighbor's property of they are trying to appraise. My arguments were rated as "very good" before being completely disregarded.
The good news is that you don't have to talk to them. You can simply outline your arguments in an affidavit, notarize it, and send it in. If your arguments are valid but rejected, you should appeal the case, hopefully to a judge who puts reason before procedure.
Bike Route Basics
I'm shocked by the Sierra Club's endorsement of the two-way streets proposal, "you can make things better for cars or better for pedestrians, but you can't do both at once." How is this plan superior to adding sidewalks and bicycle lanes?
Pedestrian and bicycle traffic happen when effective sidewalks and bike lanes are available. The current lack of bike paths is what's keeping people from riding bicycles underneath or above major thoroughfares (i.e. Lamar, I-35, 290, 183). Pedestrians and bicyclists respond to infrastructure, not the number of directions on a street. For example, there's heavy pedestrian and bicycle traffic on Guadalupe (a two-way street), but not much on Lamar (another two-way street). There's pedestrian and bicycle traffic on Congress, but not Riverside, on Barton Springs, but not North Loop. In these cases, pedestrians and bicyclists are encouraged by ample sidewalks and designated bicycle lanes.
Simply making two-way streets doesn't produce more pedestrians and bicyclists. While Congress is traveled by both cars and alternative commuters, that street is unique in that it's wide enough for bicycle and pedestrian provisions. Fifth Street doesn't have any infrastructure in place now; will allowing two-way traffic make more room for sidewalks and bicycle lanes? The "pedestrian consumer" effect becomes hazy.
One of the roads proposed for a two-way change is San Jacinto. Chronicle readers awarded San Jacinto as "Best Route for Bicyclists." Why? The road is wide, leaving generous room for bicycle traffic and sidewalks, and its one-way traffic translates into fewer idling cars and left turns.
Will making bidirectional traffic improve the situation for bicyclists, or is this a scheme to court more shops into downtown? This plan encourages air pollution for theoretical increases in window-shopping. Let's clear the air (literally) and pass on the two-way street plan.
Lonny A. Stern
McCracken & a Potential Conflict
San Antonio Express-News columnist Rick Casey recently wrote about San Antonio City Council Member Julian Castro, who resigned from the Akin, Gump law firm to avoid conflicts of interests with the firm's clients who had business before the City Council, including Lumberman's Investment Corp. Akin, Gump lobbied for special legislation to remove Lumberman's from San Antonio's environmental and development regulations so they could build a mini-city on top of the Edwards Aquifer.
Brewster McCracken is an Akin, Gump lawyer who is running in the Place 4 race for the Austin City Council, and the question naturally arises as to whether he will follow the example set by Julian Castro in San Antonio by resigning from his law firm in order to avoid conflicts of interests. Are we to believe that someone can vote independently on issues affecting the Edwards Aquifer while working in a law firm which represents Lumberman's Investment Corporation?
Lawyers who are partners or associates in the big establishment law firms like Akin, Gump have a built-in conflict of interest. The clients of those firms typically include major financial institutions, land developers, insurance companies, utilities, and industrial polluters. Lawyers who do not share establishment values do not sign up to work in establishment law firms which represent establishment interests. Voters who don't want the establishment running their government at any level will vote against lawyers from firms which include among its clients such worthies as Enron, ExxonMobil, and Phillip Morris, all of whom are represented by Akin, Gump. It is the third largest firm of lawyers and lobbyists in the U.S., and has offices everywhere from Los Angeles and Washington to Austin, Dallas, San Antonio and Moscow.
Beverly Griffith has my vote in Place 4 because she can be counted on to continue as a fiercely independent voice on the Austin City Council who never fears to oppose the special interests.
David L. Shapiro
Not to Be Alarmist, but --
Not to be an alarmist, but there is a crisis in education. A serious crisis. In the past two months, in three separate conversations with self-described "Educators," I learned that the air in America is much worse than it was 30 years ago. I learned that our rivers were more polluted than they were 30 years ago. I learned that "Big Oil" wants to "rape the Arctic for six months' worth of oil" and were going to "destroy ANWR." I learned that "Big Oil" makes 500% profits year after year. Wow. Course, all this is absolutely untrue. The profit margin of "Big Oil Companies" is less than 6% return on investment; McDonald's posts about a 21% return on investment. Look it up if you don't believe me. By any standard applied, air pollution in America is a fraction of what it was prior to 1970. American rivers are much cleaner than they were then, they are not more polluted. "Big Oil" has been producing oil from the North Slope of Alaska for almost 35 years, and the caribou herds in the areas developed have increased in size, not been "wiped out" as some claim will happen in ANWR. Nobody is going to invest the time and effort it would take to develop the tiny area of ANWR that has been proposed for "six months worth of oil" and to suggest someone would shows nothing less than stupidity. As for "Destroying ANWR," the area they are considering developing is half the size of Dulles Airport. As to ANWR being "pristine," my ass. There are military installations, former DEW Line emplacements and hundreds of miles of roads.
Listening to someone sitting in a coffeehouse spouting untrue platitudes against "Big Oil" and "Corporate Polluters" is one thing, but hearing them parroted by "educators" scares the crap out of me. If our children are being taught the lies I heard from teachers, we got problems.
Carl T. Swanson
Standiford's Sodomite Doctrine
What is it about Michael Bolton, Lionel Ritchie, Kenny Rogers, Richard Marx, Steven Tyler, David Crosby, Stevie Nicks, Eminem, Tommy Lee, Pamela Anderson, Britney Spears, and Mariah Carey that S.M. Moser ["After a Fashion," April 19, 2002] would load them all on a bus and drive it over a cliff?! Is it because they have talent and a life and Moser has neither? Is it because Moser is a despicably pitiful paparazzo butt-ranger and they aren't? The next time I hear some Sodomite preach "diversity and tolerance," I'll show them Moser's hypocritical, hateful screed.