Our readers talk back.
Rich Oppel's Response
Michael King's essays on journalism and governance often entertain, no more so than in his Oct. 11 article headlined "Oppel's Memory Hole," which critiqued my column in the Statesman on Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos. A highlight was King's quotation of Glen Maxey, who complained that the Statesman didn't sufficiently cover his and his House colleague's activities in the Legislature. Maxey's remark recalls the early struggles of H.L. Mencken. In 1936, the critic had asked Theodore Dreiser for a publishable blurb of kind words for the magazine Smart Set, which Mencken and George Nathan co-edited. Dreiser responded, "I think you are sound as a critic of books, and that the magazine as you are doing has some interest, but not enough to call forth from me the praise that you want."
King's gullibility overtakes his capacity for accurate reporting: I am not a "former chair" of the American Society of Newspaper Editors. I served as ASNE president in 2000-2001. King would do well not to rely on a fuzzy memory, but check facts readily available at numerous sources, including the Web site www.asne.org.
I am not a "Pulitzer Prize winner." I am a member of the Pulitzer Prize Board, a panel of 19 academics and journalists who award the 21 Pulitzers in letters, drama, music, and journalism each April. As editor of The Charlotte Observer, I supervised coverage and commentary that won Pulitzer Prize gold medals for meritorious public service in 1981 and 1988. Mr. King could have checked the facts (www.pulitzer.org) before wading into journalistic waters so mysterious to him.
Gulled again, Mr. King also wrote in response to my statement that Senate leaders steered chairmanships around Barrientos: "Before telling his readers that Barrientos' relative lack of committee chairmanships suggests Senate leaders don't respect him, Oppel might have noted that, with rare exceptions, it's standard Senate practice that those who serve on the demanding Finance Committee (as does Barrientos) do not also hold chairs." Let us note, then, the "rare exceptions" to which Mr. King refers. During the last session, the Senate Finance Committee had 13 members. One, Carlos Truan, was a chair of a full Senate committee. Two, Robert Duncan and Eddie Lucio, were chairs of Senate subcommittees. Nine (Duncan, Troy Fraser, Chris Harris, Mike Jackson, Jon Lindsay, Steve Ogden, Truan, John Whitmire, and Judith Zaffirini) were vice-chairs of committees. This list doesn't include Finance chair Rodney Ellis. Of the 13 Finance members, only two -- Barrientos and freshman Todd Staples -- were chairless. Documentation is readily available in the Texas State Directory.
Listing all errors and misrepresentations in Mr. King's article would require more space than Mr. King's original article, but if Mr. King or his editor are interested in knowing the others, they need only call me.
[Michael King replies: We're delighted to apologize that, due to an editing error, we described Rich Oppel as a "Pulitzer Prize winner." As for his catalog of Senate subcommittee chairs and vice-chairs, it confirms what we reported: That with the exception of Carlos Truan's exceptional appointment as a committee chair (after a very public protest from Hispanic Senators), it is rare for a Finance committee member to chair committees.]
Tired of Paying for Bradley
Can Gary "Bankrupt" Bradley ["Can Lazarus Rise Again?" Oct. 11] put the pieces together again?
Lets hope not! I and other Austin citizens are tired of paying for his reckless financial behavior. He can take his act somewhere else, please!
Don't Bail out Bradley
Thank you for bringing to light some of Gary Bradley's efforts to avoid paying back the $73 million he owes the federal government on defaulted loans he obtained in 1985 to develop Circle C on the Barton Springs Recharge Zone ["Can Lazurus Rise Again?" Oct. 11]. The past failure to collect this debt by the responsible federal agency, the FDIC, has been inexplicable. While this $73 million judgment remained uncollected, Bradley won development and subsidy approvals from the city of Austin, promoted highway projects, recruited high-dollar investors, lobbied the state Legislature for more Austin-bashing laws, transferred property that ended up in the hands of Rick Perry, and bragged about his closeness to Governor Perry, who ushered in HB 1704 to prevent water quality regulation of his and Bradley's lands as lieutenant governor.
Since Bradley filed for bankruptcy, SOS Alliance has urged the FDIC to fully explore allegations of fraud and take appropriate action, before an Oct. 15 deadline, to prevent Bradley from using bankruptcy to discharge all or most of his debt to the nation's taxpayers. Austin and Hays County citizens have also written to FDIC to pressure them into making a better effort. On Friday, Oct. 11, the FDIC finally filed a motion asking the Court to extend the Oct. 15 deadline so it could have additional time to evaluate whether Bradley "made false representations" and "submitted materially false financial statements to secure the underlying loans."
The FDIC should be applauded for taking this initial action. If the bankruptcy judge grants the FDIC's motion, the possibility will remain open for the FDIC to force Gary Bradley to repay the taxpayers. On the other hand, should the feds ultimately give Bradley yet another bailout, it will only be easier for Bradley to build out his massive development plans for the Barton Springs Recharge Zone.
Save Our Springs Alliance
As a supporter of Senator Gonzalo Barrientos, I offer some reasons to re-elect him:
1. Chronicle readers voted Barrientos Best State Legislator in the new "Best of Austin" poll.
2. The Texas League of Conservation voters recently named Barrientos as one of only three state senators with a 100% score on votes for clean water, clean air, and a safe environment.
3. Barrientos has 27 years' service in the Texas Legislature, whereas his Republican opponent, wealthy Ben Bentzin, worked for Dell and moved to Travis County four years ago.
4. Right-wing extremists control the Texas Republican Party organization, and Bentzin seems to agree on their issues. Bentzin financially supports an organization dedicated to opposing abortion, even in cases of rape and incest.
Please vote to reelect Senator Barrientos so he can continue the fight to improve schools, health care, environmental protection, and other causes that affect all Texans.
With Friends Like These --
Rick Perry said he was gratified and honored by the support from Morales -- the man that [allegedly] used fraudulent contracts to try and rip off over $200 million from Texas. Well, if Texas Dems cared what Dan Morales said, he would have won the March primary. I recall him backstabbing "his people" (i.e., Hopwood) and his own colleague Harry Potter ["Dan Morales v. Harry Potter," March 8, austinchronicle.com/issues/dispatch/2002-03-08/pols_feature3.html ]. Is it any surprise he did the same to "his party"? As far as this voter goes, those elephants can have him.
Crystal A. Viagran
Griffin School Rebuttal
To all, a response to Rebecca Beall's letter ["Postmarks," Oct. 11],
My name is Mary Froeba, aka Frog, and I am a senior at the Griffin School, enrolled since the fall of 1999. I, too, agree with Becca, as a former fellow student of two years, that the public should have a "realistic" view of the Griffin School. It is a shame that Becca so poorly gave that representation.
Anyone who is making himself or herself a representative of any community should have a large amount of time and effort placed into the environment. As a student with more experience in the school itself, including student government, I would like the public to know that Rebecca's letter should not affect any person's idea of our leaders.
Firstly, Becca wrote of a dream of how the school should be. The information of diverting from our dream is inaccurate. Simple.
Secondly, writing [to] a local paper does not help improve the school but harms it. She clearly does not care about the school, but is troubled by personal problems. This letter seems to be more of an attack (after expressing how she is grateful) than anything, especially towards one of our founders, Adam Wilson.
Last, to say that "Back to Cool," printed on Aug. 2, is affected by any administrator is flat-out wrong. The students who wrote the articles claim that nothing was changed and they, alone, were paid for their efforts.
It is very important the community surrounding Griffin should know that Becca represents a very small group if any group at all. Those enrolled are constantly trying to improve the school. I have been here for a long time and will always give to the school, as I know it will never lose its true goal, because the students are never ignored.
Griffin's Vision Still Intact
Chill. I'm really sorry that you feel you had what you perceive to be a bad experience at the Griffin School ["Postmarks," Oct. 11], but I don't think that you speak for the majority of students, faculty, and parents that make up the Griffin community.
A few minor adjustments enabled the Griffin School to achieve accreditation -- a qualification that is of major concern to parents (who usually pay the tuition). Parents should absolutely consider sending their kids to the Griffin School, particularly if they're not happy with a public school system that has some pretty screwy ideas about how kids should be treated. (Can you say "middle school sucked -- big time?")
Griffin is different, and the kids are happy (well, most of the time) and are respected for their individuality and creativity. The school is still filled with diversity, students still call their teachers by their first names, and everybody can be themselves. Nobody is turning their backs on anybody.
I feel that you misrepresented any changes and did the school a great disservice because of your personal sour grapes.
The Griffin School community and Adam Wilson in particular deserve applause and admiration for what they have accomplished in embracing the individual and allowing them to be all they can be.
I love Griffin ... so much that I actually look forward to getting up early in the mornings to go there. Now that's high praise!
Griffin School Librarian
(among other things)
[Editor's note: The Chronicle received three other letters regarding Griffin School. All may be read online at austinchronicle.com.]
Keep It Up, KOOP
Re: The recent article about KOOP Radio 91.7FM ["KAOS at KOOP," Oct. 11] -- why is the Chronicle so quick to write about controversy, but so slow to recognize all the great programming on 91.7FM? I listen to KOOP every day and always hear something that makes me think, dance, laugh, or sing! Of course KOOP has problems. Come on -- maintaining a radio station run by volunteers, funded by donations, open to the public, programmed for community benefit, and managed democratically is really hard and messy! KOOP is trying to do something that very few other stations even attempt. But despite the difficulties, there is no doubt that KOOP provides Austin a great service. To the KOOP programmers, I say keep up the good work!
Review Misses the Point
Though it's obvious (and appreciated) that Margaret Moser listened closely to the new Spankers album, her review ["Texas Platters," Oct. 11], like nearly every commentary on their work published in the Chronicle, misses the point of the band.
Those who have carefully followed both their live and recorded work know that musicianship has always come before humor and that each Spankers album contains songs of all sorts -- funny, sad, angry, wistful, even sincere.
Silliness and pathos can be part of the same musical statement. Nobody calls the Beatles clowns for putting "Rocky Raccoon" on the same record as "Julia." As Beck recently said, "I've always challenged the idea that serious material is more indicative of who a person is. I don't think the laughing side of a human being is any less them than the side where they're depressed." I hope someday the band's hometown paper will judge the Spankers' work on its own terms; critics everywhere but Austin manage it album after album.
Perhaps if the editor had assigned a writer who was both a close friend and ardent fan of the band (as he did with Chris Hess on the Gourds' new album), the Spankers' deep history, singular musical point of view, and particular vision for the album in question would have been more seriously considered.
John Riedie, Manager
King Is an Excellent Editor
Thanks to all the people who voted me "Best Photographer." Most of the people and causes I work for can pay little or nothing, so the recognition of the community means a lot to me. I was the Rag photographer for seven years, until it decided to close. I worked with the Austin Sun and then the Chronicle. My first photograph appeared in The Texas Observer in 1972. I have been working with The Texas Observer ever since. Which leads me to say that anyone who claims that Michael King was "cashiered" from the Observer ["Postmarks," Sept. 20] either is not very well informed or is simply searching for an insult. Michael King is one of the best editors The Texas Observer ever had. Everyone who has anything to do with The Texas Observer thinks very highly of him for his hard work and his political analysis. The Chronicle is blessed with his presence.
Texas Center for Documentary Photography
Protect Our Right to Choose
I can't understand how anyone could argue that a woman's right to choose isn't a significant issue in this year's Senate campaign.
The Supreme Court is just one vote away from eliminating the freedom to choose. The Senate is just one vote shy of an anti-choice majority. If a single justice retires -- and that's almost certain to happen soon -- an anti-choice Senate would easily confirm an anti-choice nominee from President Bush.
Ignoring this simple fact is all it would take to roll back the clock, put politicians in charge of the most personal decision a woman should make with her doctor alone, and send thousands of American woman to the shameful dangers of back alleys.
For all of these reasons, I am supporting Ron Kirk in the U.S. Senate race.
Air and Water
Thank you for the recent green building article by Dan Oko ["Naked City: When Green Is Gold," Oct. 4]. With the leadership role that Austin had in creating the first green building program in the country and its importance at reducing the degradation of our natural world, I believe a feature article is long overdue.
If new residents rely on the Chronicle as much as I do for regional environmental news, then many would be much more knowledgeable about water quality in the southwest part of Travis County than about air quality. Even though the two topics are very interrelated with regard to growth management, many folks do not know, for example, that fertilizers, pesticides, and other lawn chemicals are a substantial source of air pollution as well as a major water pollution source.
Regional and national air quality issues are well covered in the October edition of the local Good Life magazine.
The Revitalization of Patterson Park
I was delighted to see that Patterson Park was picked ['Best of Austin," Sept. 27] as Best Park for the Family That Does Everything. Patterson is indeed a remarkable neighborhood and city resource. Despite deterioration of many of its facilities over time, it continues to be a vibrant and lovely space in our community. Currently, Patterson is undergoing revitalization: We have a new shade over the baby pool, the City Council has allocated money for the playground to be renovated, and we are working on designing a system of trails and erosion control. This process has been truly inspiring and is a testament to the generosity of corporate donors such as HEB, the strong support of the good people at the Austin Parks Foundation, and the responsiveness of city of Austin Parks and Recreation Department staff to the community in advocating for the park. Most of all, it is a testament to the spirited and dedicated people of Wilshire Woods, Schieffer, and Cherrywood -- they are a pleasure to work with and plain-old fun to be around.
Don't Wait for War
Thirty years ago, demonized by the government and media, the persistent voice of Americans shouting "Make love, not war!" was decisive in stopping the organized killing in Vietnam. Would that an American anti-war movement arise again, this time to prevent the slaughter before it starts.
Bikes Aren't Practical
I hate to break it to Ms. Babich ["Postmarks," Oct. 11], but individually owned, fuel-burning vehicles (i.e. cars) will always be the primary method of choice for moving the populace about. Cars and our car culture are here to stay. I think our only hope lies in the use of so-called "hybrid" vehicles (gasoline/electric engine) or fuel cells (hydrogen-powered). I personally prefer the move toward hydrogen power because its only emission is water. As for hydrogen's extremely combustible nature (think: the Hindenburg), it seems that designers have worked around that. Honda has contracted with the city of Los Angeles to deliver five of these vehicles by year's end. Also, DaimlerChrysler is working on building a fleet of 60 fuel cell cars. Once these vehicles become mainstream, it will benefit everyone concerned. Bicycles are nice, but are impractical when it comes to traversing long distances (Austin to El Paso, for example). Amy's pie-in-the-sky idea of slowing down human activity (definition 2 of "Velorution") is laughable at best. The solution has to be changing what a car is to what a car will become.
Thanks From Deep Eddy
As president of Friends of Deep Eddy, I want to express our thanks for the "Best of Austin" award and recognition in the paper.
Leon J. Barish
Rootin' for Richey
I think that your piece on Kim Richey ["Immigrant Song," Oct. 4] was interesting, but understated. In my humble opinion she is one of the best songwriters to come along since John Hiatt.
Like the day JFK was shot, I recall where I was the first time that I heard her sing. KGSR was on the car radio when the intro to "Every River" made me think "Wow! Tight band! Who is this?" When the vocals started I was so impressed that I had to pull over and park to listen without the distraction of traffic. When the deejay announced it was Kim Richey from the Bitter Sweet CD, I went directly to Waterloo to get it.
While waiting for Emmylou Harris, I was talking with a guy from California that apparently had the disposable income and spare time to come to Austin just for the ACL Music Festival. Emmylou's ability to give us both goose bumps with her singing came up in conversation. When I asked, he said that he was not familiar with Kim Richey. (Shame on her record company's marketing department.) I told him if he liked music so much that it gave him goose bumps, he'd love Kim Richey.
Letter at 5am
Catching up online with several of Michael Ventura's columns, I was compelled to condense his piece of Sept. 20 and add some points in conclusion.
Mr. Ventura notes:
"The contract [that Halliburton] recently won from the Army is for 10 years and has no lid on costs, the only logistical arrangement by the Army without an estimated cost."
"On July 13 (2002) John Ashcroft's Justice Department resisted any oversight by both House and Senate judiciary committees regarding new powers given Ashcroft by last October's passage of the USA PATRIOT Act. (Many Congressmen who voted for it now admit they never read it!)"
"Bush ... insisted that Homeland Security have broad powers to 'redirect' millions of dollars to projects 'without Congressional approval' -- a proposal that flatly contradicts the intent and letter of the Constitution, which gives Congress sole control of the government's purse-strings."
"... a few courageous federal judges questioned the White House's unconstitutional arrests and detentions since the September 11 attacks. Judge Gladys Kessler bravely stated what should be obvious to all: 'Secret arrests are a concept odious to a democratic society.' In an astonishing defiance of law, the Justice Department (which is supposed to enforce our laws) refused to abide by the judge's orders."
Mr Ventura concludes: "The public has nothing but nonsense to go on."
When developing suspects for a crime, the first thing investigators look for is who stands to benefit from the crime.
It is clear that the terrorist attack on 9/11 has abetted an illegitimately elected administration to enact laws which have eliminated key rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, which rights our president swore to protect in his inauguration.
It is time to acknowledge that we have a government which is following in Hitler's footsteps to create a totalitarian state, and this "shadow government" should be the prime suspect in the 9/11 terrorist attack.
Kenney C. Kennedy
'Morning Edition' Hijacked
The Chronicle has been silent on what's happened at KUT radio in the last 18 months, but many Chron readers are also KUT listeners and must have noticed that Morning Edition, KUT's morning news program, has been hijacked by new management.
Coverage on Sept. 13 provides a perfect example. On a morning when there was a lot of national news to cover, relevant coverage was sharply curtailed. KUT has decided it's good for us to know what the editor of Texas Monthly thinks about state elections, what plans the Texas Education Agency has for the forthcoming year, and what those Longhorns are up to. Of course, we know that the changes at KUT are not good for us particularly, but they're darn good for local careerists in the journalism field (is that why the Chron has been so silent?).
Once upon a time, KUT appealed to contributors by acknowledging them as "members." That language was tellingly dropped for the last fund drive, when we were all demoted to being "listeners." Those listeners who once felt connected to a global and national dialogue and who now feel like they have been hauled back to the backwater, can send a message to the current management in the next KUT fund drive. Give directly to NPR or give a nominal, protest contribution to KUT.
At War With the Sea
In the year 40AD, the Roman Emperor Caligula declared war on the sea, because he was angry with Poseidon. According to legend, he ordered his soldiers to wade into the surf and flay the water with whips.
Now a different emperor has declared a much deadlier war on the sea. Bush has given the Navy the go-ahead to use a type of sonar that blasts the ocean with a noise level of over 230 decibels. This device has killed whales, dolphins, and other species in previous tests. Even much lower decibel levels can cause ruptured lungs, deafness, and death. Naturally, when it was discovered that the sonar was at fault, there was an immediate outcry calling for it to be banned from the world's oceans. But Bush ignored this and granted the Navy an exemption from the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
If this sonar is deployed, as early as Nov. 1 it will begin killing thousands of whales, dolphins, and other innocent ocean dwellers who are utterly defenseless to its power. Already there have been dead whales from at least three different species found near previous tests of this sonar. They were bleeding from their inner ears.
Gandhi said you can judge a nation by the way it treats its animals. If we continue with this pointless butchery, we will show ourselves to be nothing more than high-tech barbarians.
Kirk for Senator
In a nation that's re-dedicated itself to protect its freedoms, voters, and our elected leaders must also protect the freedom of a woman to make her own choice about reproductive issues.
If women don't stand up and speak up for their right to choose, and elect someone who'll defend that right in the Senate, then they will just let the anti-choice extremists eliminate their most fundamental freedom. Remember: The Senate approves Supreme Court justices, and the right to choose is protected today by a mere 5-4 majority.
For all of theses reasons, I am supporting Ron Kirk in the U.S. Senate race.
Overwhelmed by Society
The price of crude. The cost of a vote cast. Millions of obese or physically dysfunctional professionals racing to get to work on time. Poison in the air, the earth, the water ... it wants fire! I wonder if the voting machines are still functional? What about that phone line that gives us so much trouble? Just the hassle of translating from English to Hebrew is enough to make me want to cry. Maybe King George is right. Maybe a democracy gets what it deserves.
Todd Alan Smith
Keep Religion Out of It
I recently saw a letter to the editor which read, "Bush is a good Christian and if he says we should fight Iraq, then I support him ..." How do we know he is a Christian? Because he said so? Does that justify sending our men and women to war? H. L. Mencken said, "The trouble with Communism is the Communists, just as the trouble with Christianity is the Christians." We should never let religion dominate political policy. The Iraqi threat seems too contrived, fed to the public via manufactured leaks and unverified suspicions. Our own intelligence and former UN inspectors disagree with the administration's claims.
Recently, a colleague, a Republican, said he was glad Clinton was not in the White House during these "troubling times." When you ask a Republican about Clinton, it is always "Monica," and nothing else. Yet, under Clinton, the economy was good, the stock market set records, people had jobs they liked, there were more police on the streets, the environment was protected, our allies liked us, peace came to Bosnia, trade flourished with Mexico, etc. Since Dubya took office, unemployment is up, the stock market is tanking, the environment is getting the shaft (or drill bit), health care is ignored (remember the elderly prescription plan?), our allies are suspicious of our intentions, and people are not happy. Dubya is hoping Iraq will help keep his ineptness beneath the public's radar.
Former President (and peanut farmer) Jimmy Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this weekend. I guarantee Dubya will never be considered for such an honor. While Republicans join corporate boards when they leave the White House, Carter has vested his time promoting peace, democracy, and humanity. I doubt that Dubya can even pronounce those words. I think Dubya will go down in history as one of our worst presidents. Another pearl from Mencken: "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for. As for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican."
Frank E. Mott
Seat Belt Law Must Go
Here's an idea ...
The country's largest health insurance companies ban together and lobby the Texas Legislature to pass laws making it illegal to consume foods high in fat, cholesterol, or sodium. Then the police patrol all neighborhoods and restaurants and write tickets for every person who violates the "deadly digestion laws." The income from ticket fines could then be used to buy the police new cell phones, laptops, radar-guns, mountain bikes, and other such gadgets that they desire.
That sounds a bit absurd and paternalistic, doesn't it? But, how is this scenario any different from the current taxpayer-funded seat-belt campaign that our legislature and police waste untold resources and time promoting? Insurance companies provide all of the push, and receive all of the benefit, from seat belt laws. Our legislators simply do as they are told in exchange for campaign contributions. Our police also do as they are told in exchange for discretionary fine income, and the rest of us commute around town in daily fear that there is a police car in our rear-view mirror or around the next corner.
A recent KVUE news broadcast showed a local sheriff insisting that seat belt laws were not about money. Wrong! Seat belt laws are all about money and only about money. If our legislators were as concerned about our safety and welfare as they are about our driving habits, then perhaps more enforcement resources would be deployed toward preventing violent crimes instead of sitting idly beside our roadways like snakes waiting to strike. Unfortunately, there is just no income in preventing violent crime, but there is certainly a boatload of cash to be made with ticket quotas.
I have nothing against those who work to make our world a safer and better place to live. But, am I the only who has had enough of Big Brother's "Click-it or Ticket?" Am I the only one who is sick and tired of being squeezed in the middle? Am I the only one who is fed up with our Legislature doing more to protect private corporate interests than public good? Am I the only one angry at paying too many taxes to live in as much fear of the police as I do of the criminals? Can't our Legislature and police turn their attention to doing some real good for all us and not just for themselves?
Remember Free Concerts?
Call me a dreamer, but would it kill anyone at City Hall to actually give something back to the people of Austin without charging the shit out of them? Why not make the Austin City Limits Music Festival a free event? I mean absolutely free. No $2 parking, no $2,800 charge for food vendors licensed to do business in the city of Austin. No anal-retentive "two-bottle limit" on water in a venue without shade in a lot of places, in 90 degree heat. What moron came up with that crap anyway? People are supposed to drink six pints of water a day minimum, why limit the amount of water people can bring into a city park anyway?
Cool, so it went well, which is important. Cool, it's going to be an annual event. It would be cooler still if 50,000 people who just wanted to hear excellent music could come to Austin, the Live Music Capital of the World, for a two-day free concert. Free as in being able to leave the park and come back in whenever you wanted to. Free as in being allowed to bring in as much drinking water as you feel like. Free concert ... remember them, my fellow old hippies? So what if it costs the city a million or two? They spend that much in six months on "consultants." Golly, can you imagine, the Austin City Council holding a free event, something for the citizens of Austin and music fans from all over the world to attend and enjoy? Me either. Wonder why that is?
Carl T. Swanson
Daughter Thriving at Griffin
In response to Ms. Beal's letter regarding Griffin School ["Postmarks," Oct. 11], I have the opposite feeling about the school, its programs, students, and staff. Apparently, she had a bad experience, but she can't put that on everyone. Plenty of students have had bad experiences at public schools, my daughter included. Griffin was recommended to me by a friend and it has been a true godsend. My daughter's grades improved, her general attitude improved, she is having a great time with life. I truly don't think she would have had these same experiences and changes had she remained at her "exemplary" public school. Her first year there as a sophomore included taking Latin. She was a little nervous at first about this class but thoroughly enjoyed it. She hopes to take more Latin classes in the future. Some people have made comments about Griffin School being "easy" on the students. But I don't think it is, they have to study, they have to take personal responsibility for themselves, and they are encouraged to learn. The classes are small, so no student gets lost in the shuffle. There are incentives to excel and my daughter has. I am sorry Ms Beal feels compelled to beat the school up with her personal issues, but I think Griffin is great! Maybe someday she will find the perfect school for herself.
Griffin School Is Great
I'm sorry that Becca Beal had a dissatisfying experience at the Griffin School ["Postmarks," Oct. 11], but I would be much sorrier if her perspective colored your readership's general impression of the school. My daughter is a junior at Griffin, so I can speak only from my experience as a new Griffin parent. I attended my first parent meeting two weeks ago, and was struck by the fact that 100% (that's right, every parent in the room) took the opportunity in the process of introducing themselves to say something positive about the Griffin School and the beneficial impact it has on their children's lives. My daughter happens to serve on the steering committee at Griffin, and for the first time in her high school career, feels that she is a part of her own educational process. She has friends at Griffin whose morale, self-confidence, grades, motivation, and general joi de vivre have taken dramatic upswings after traditional educational methods and techniques had left them behind. My daughter Shelley is creative, intelligent, fair-minded, and determined to make a positive contribution in the world. I believe that at Griffin, she is finally in a place where she can realize her goals and actualize her potential.
Give Griffin a Fair Shake
[Re: "Postmarks," Oct. 11] Please consider coming to the Griffin School to do an article that presents the whole story concerning the school, its students, and staff. The Griffin School is the only school of its kind in Austin. It represents our best alternative to the massive and impersonal institutions in the public education system. I challenge The Austin Chronicle to offer this alternative high school the chance to be represented fairly and accurately to your readers. After all, we that value the alternative press read the Chronicle because we see that through your own commitment to the truth, fairness still exists in the media.
From Coach's Team
Having an open mind, I read the first few installments of "After a Fashion" before forming a lasting opinion. Now that that's done, I can react: You dumped "Coach's Corner" for this??? No doubt the worst editorial decision in the history of the universe! And if you further drop (as threatened ["Page Two," Aug. 30]) "News of the Weird" and "The Straight Dope," the Chron will no longer be worth the effort to bend over and pick up. Please reconsider.
[Ed. note: "Coach's Corner" was not discontinued to make room for "After a Fashion" -- the decisions to drop the former and add the latter were unrelated to one another. Also, the Chronicle has never considered dropping "News of the Weird."]