CAMPO Embraces Air Quality

Dear Editor,

I'd like to correct and expand on Lauri Apple's article last week titled "Cyclists Chastise CAMPO" ["Naked City," June 13]. The article refers to "the CAMPO staff proposal to open up funding that it gets annually from the feds and currently reserves for bikes and peds to car-centric congestion-reduction programs ... and to widen intersections and enhance highways." This is a mischaracterization of the type of transportation projects that can improve air quality and will [be] considered for funding by CAMPO.

For the next 10 years special efforts are needed to reduce the impact of motor-vehicle air-pollutant emissions. The five-county Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area has violated the EPA health standards for ozone air pollution for several years. These levels adversely affect the health of the 1.25 million people living in those five counties. According to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, high levels of ozone can cause health problems such as shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, headaches, nausea, and throat and lung irritation. Those most likely to be affected include children, people with lung diseases, and active adults who work or exercise outside.

Over the next 10-20 years, newer, cleaner vehicles will replace existing older, highly polluting vehicles and motor-vehicle emissions will be reduced. But for the next several years it is important to reduce vehicle pollution as much as possible. Building bicycle lanes is one way to do this, but other projects are just as effective, or more so.

CAMPO asked for project applications, to be selected at the end of 2003, in two categories. Category A is for air-quality congestion-management (AQCM) projects, including bike/ped, transit, van and carpool, park-and-ride lots, trip-reduction programs, alternative fuels, vehicle retrofits, HOV lanes, traffic signal and intersection improvements (left- and right-turn lanes), traffic-flow improvements (bottleneck removals and ramp/merge projects), grade separations, incident management, and intelligent transportation systems. Category B is for roadway capacity-expansion projects. Projects will be evaluated and the results presented to the CAMPO board this fall.

There are many needs for transportation funding, and air quality is now of prime importance.


Michael R. Aulick

Executive Director


[Lauri Apple responds: While Aulick is right in saying that his letter expands upon my article, technically it doesn't "correct" anything written therein. I reported that CAMPO is considering opening up funding normally reserved for bicycle and pedestrian projects to intersection widening, light synchronization, and other transportation enhancements that are obviously planned for cars. Aulick's letter seems to reiterate that point, not refute it.]

'Best of Austin,' not Hyde Park

Dear Editors:

Please allow me to offer a brief, and I hope not pointless, plea for you to broaden your point of view in writing up this year's critics picks for the "Best of Austin" awards.

Let your decisions match the lofty ambitions of actually making selections which are the "Best of Austin" and not just the "Best of Hyde Park."

For at least four years running, you have selected Hyde Park, your own neighborhood (and one in which your publisher's family has vested interest) as the best neighborhood in Austin.

For a paper with truly citywide ambitions, could you break with the parochialism this year and choose a neighborhood that regular working people (those without inherited wealth) can actually afford to live in?

Joe Hootman

["Best of Austin" Editor Kate X Messer replies: That would be an interesting observation, Joe, were it true. Fortunately, it is not. The "Best Neighborhood" category has never appeared as a Critics Pick. It has been a category in the Readers Poll for readers to vote on and only since 2001. But your point was compelling, so just for grins, I went back and tallied all of the Critics Picks for the past two years. More than 400 Critics Picks appeared in "Best of Austin" 2001 and 2002. Out of those, 23 were given to winners that reside in or concern Hyde Park (boundaries considered from UT to 2222/290, between I-35 and Lamar). The rest broke down like this: 52 for the Eastside, 46 for South Austin, 95 for Downtown, 39 for UT proper, 55 for citywide (like Web sites, radio, TV, etc., accessible by all at all times), 98 for "other" which encompasses West and North neighborhoods, plus far East and out of town. Hope that clarifies things.]

HB 1606


Major props to Michael King for his coverage of the ethics and disclosure bill (HB 1606) ["Capitol Chronicle," June 6]. Mike captured well the high drama from which actually emerged a good disclosure bill -- one which still awaits Gov. Perry's signature. (Readers may call 463-1782 and urge the Guv to sign HB 1606).

But as always with us scolds in the good government community, two caveats: One, I would respectfully disagree with Michael's characterization of our attitude as an "obsession with campaign finance reform and ethics legislation as magic wands for popular democracy." Most folks in our camp don't attribute such talismanic power to campaign finance reform. Rather, given the general, visceral disgust with money in politics, we see taming money's influence as a necessary, but insufficient, condition for revitalizing our democracy.

Two, at the risk of misinterpreting him, Michael seems to imply that the trade-off for getting the ethics bill passed was approval of legislation harmful to the neediest, least-protected segments of Texas society. Our contention is precisely the opposite: Legislation favorable to powerful, wealthy interests is a reflection of the access money buys those interests -- to the exclusion of the rest of us.

Thanks again,

David Crow

Community Organizer

Campaigns for People

I Don't Mind Criticism But --


While I'm reluctant to object to criticism, I feel the need to say a few things in response to Jim Caligiuri's review of my new CD ["Texas Platters," May 16] and Matt Hoggle's attack ["Postmarks," June 6]. First, I find it interesting that the Chronicle would publish the initial responses to the review (defending me and my CD) only on the Web, then publish the response to the response (attacking me) in the paper version. I made Peace of My Mind at the request of members of the activist community. It was partly financed by the American Friends Service Committee, a branch of the Quakers. It is meant to be a tool and a source of inspiration for people who are engaged in activism. It features songs by some of the classic protest songwriters and also includes songs written and co-written by me. While the production values on this recording were not as high as past albums, that is a reflection of budget and function. I've gotten so many letters of enthusiastic support that I'm comfortable dismissing such venomous criticism as political. Ralph Nader described "Inside Trade," the song that Matt Hoggle described as "insipid" (it's the only song with the lyrics printed on my Web site), by saying, "That's a great song. Can I get a copy of that?" I've been favorably reviewed in six languages and received airplay around the world. Also, five songs that I've co-written have been recorded by other touring artists so far this year. And none of that means I'm good, just as a wannabe hipster review of my album doesn't mean that I'm bad. So I would encourage the readers to explore the albums and the music for themselves.

Thank you,

Bill Passalacqua

I Don't Like the 'Chronicle' Anymore


It used to be that the weekly distribution of the Chronicle was awaited, hope and excitement for the next new issue, new ideas and news about our community. 2003: The new millennium Chronicle -- fat with advertisement. Presumably this indicates fat wallets in areas like Hyde Park, Travis Heights, West Lake Hills, and other phat neighborhoods where Chron writers probably live off the profit of the "journalistic" Chron-Farm (what do ya pay the minion drudge worker over there?). It is evident that the purpose of the "Rag" is to sell stuff. A vagrant newspaper dedicated to the common cause? Okee dokey, so it's free. However, it is a bit difficult to read, literally. The font size has been reduced to such a fraction to accommodate the large advertisements load readers must endure. And there are the English major hacks, especially Michael King, that populate the pages of the Dead Austin Chronicle(s). Highbrow ex-potheads that have a thesaurus and a copy of the American Heritage Dictionary in the "favorites" pocket of their Macs or PCs, whatever. Must be nice to sit around just to create new and wonderful word plays. English major wet dream. Understood that there is a lot of work to analyze and digest data before presenting, but the writing style must be readable. Some, most, Chron writers paralyze as opposed to analyze. Such a waste of resources. Go back to school you fools (actually probably a bad idea, since that's where you came from). I suggest the Chronicle just do this: sell itself to the Greensheet and be done with it. It's over. Or: reinvent. Let's see what ya come up with next time.

Wish you the best, I aren't pickin' on ya

Robert Shumaker

aka Beto Zapata, Y'all

Shoal Creek vs. Capital Metro


Your recent article about Charlie Gandy ["On Sidewalks, Cap Metro Speeds Past City Hall," June 13] made it sound as if the city's only objection vis-a-vis Shoal Creek Boulevard was money. In fact, the original plans (the 10-4-6 design) proposed by Mr. Gandy were so ridiculously dangerous from an engineering perspective that no credible engineer would sign on to them. This was underscored by some helpful diagrams with cutouts of various vehicle sizes indicating that under some circumstances, cyclists legally traveling within the bike lane would have less than one foot of width in which to operate.

It's not easy to buck a neighborhood position, especially with the City Council we had at the time, but city staff took a courageous position based on cyclist safety, and that's why I backed them up by rejecting Gandy's original Shoal Creek plan when it was brought before the Urban Transportation Commission.


Mike Dahmus

'Gringo' Isn't That Bad

Re: "Postmarks," June 13, "'Gringo' Demeans White People":

Joe, lighten up! The term "gringo" isn't even in the same class of racial epithets you listed in your letter.

Gerald Thomason

Radiohead Review Really Wrong


Evidently Matt Dentler couldn't wait to do a review of Radiohead's new release, Hail to the Thief, considering that its official release was June 10, and his review made the June 13 Chron release. Anyone who really knows Radiohead knows that their albums require more than one listen to digest everything there is to offer. That being said, if Matt decides to listen to Hail to the Thief again, he should find himself really embarrassed by the shoddy and unintelligent review he offered up. After four listens, I consider this a masterpiece work by musicians who are nowhere near being stagnant. Four stars -- easily.

John Paris

[Ed Note: As with many releases, the Chronicle was serviced with an advance of Hail to the Thief almost a month before its release date.]

I Hate Theatre Critics

Ladies and gentlemen,

The time has arrived once again that the lackluster reviewing of a play by Barry Pineo has graced the pages of The Austin Chronicle. Thank you, Mr. Pineo, for your ability to see right through the heart of another play as you did with tempOdyssey in last week's edition of the AC ["Exhibitionism," June 13]. It must be a difficult job watching talented people parade across a stage inspired and inspiring others, being fully aware of the fact that your own attempts at reviewing theatre, while distributed across the city, will in fact never do the same. Let me give credit where credit is due; you may be right, "I Hate Theatre" may be the wrong anthem to proclaim; perhaps a better one would be "I Hate Theatre Critics." As a long-time patron of the Salvage Vanguard Theatre, there have been few better things done in a season than the work of SVT. They have been long overlooked by critics for the incredible quality of work they deliver on every stage they breathe life into. We are all better for having seen such artists at work. On the other hand ... critics, well, they're a dime a dozen. Please, last of all, Barry, review the play, don't attack the artist. Most of all calling them pretentious is just bad journalism and a little pretentious.

Thank you and good night

Lights down

Ryan Harper Gray

Is Austin Turning Into Dallas?


I recently read where Sam Archer from Cap Metro said that Austin should only pursue existing technologies for transit improvements, and not even pay attention to anything not established. At least spend some money researching a better idea like the one on KXAN recently ( If we keep thinking light rail is the answer, then our city's transportation is only going to get worse, and soon I-35 here will be like I-35 in Dallas! Rail was not meant to cope with the current work/living locations that Austinites frequent today!

Mason Schoolfield

Use Tulia as an Example


The American Civil Liberties Union, Drug Policy Forum of Texas, NAACP, and numerous other parties deserve a great round of applause for helping to free 38 people wrongly sentenced to prison in Tulia, Texas, on drug charges. Rep. Terry Keel and Sen. John Whitmire should be thanked for speeding their release.

There are thousands more innocent people wasting away in our prisons for political charges of drug use or possession. The Chronicle should lend its voice to the fight to free them.

Vincent J. May


Safe Music for Safe Venues

Dear Chronicle:

Thanks to our City Council we are now the "safe" music capital of the world. Now that live music venues will be "smoke free" and "not so loud" because of city ordinances, we can perhaps look forward to safer, vanilla live music. "Golly gee, Muffy, they're doing covers of our favorite Barry Manilow and Carpenters tunes, gee that's swell!"

One doesn't need to be a genius to know that rhythm and blues, country & western, and rock 'n' roll did not originate in "safe" environments, that musicians and songwriters who kick ass tend to live on an edge and don't think in terms of "safety" and "acceptability" when they do their best creative work.

Thanks again you sanctimonious safety nazis for legislating the guts out of what was once a vibrant music scene. Who knows, maybe in the near future instead of serving alcohol the bars will be serving juice and pink tofu while we listen to "yawn" more mellow "safe" music.


Gregory J. Gauntner

Smoke-Free Environment Is Necessary

Dear Mr. Black,

I share your concern with the self-righteousness of many in the anti-smoking ordinance campaign ["Page Two," June 13]. Such a tone skews the issue to a matter of personal preference or even health faddism, and makes it easy for others to forget that, for some of us, a smoke-free environment is a necessity if a place of public accommodation is to be accessible.

When I first moved to Austin, I enjoyed hearing live music in many clubs. All that came to an end in late 1991, when a bout with pneumonia left my lungs extremely sensitive to irritants of all kinds, but especially cigarette smoke. Since 1991, I have gone to hear live music in clubs four times. Inevitably, I have to weigh the pleasure of hearing the music against the price I must pay: immediate shortness of breath followed by several days of painful, hacking coughing. The last trip was especially unpleasant. My husband and I went to hear his favorite band. When we arrived, we discovered that the "nonsmoking" section really wasn't (no separate ventilation), and it had no view of the band. While the music was great, I had to spend most of the last set wheezing in the parking lot.

I'd like to be able to enjoy live music again, but I've long since concluded that those clubs really don't want my business. They probably figure that they'd lose more money if they required smokers to take five-minute breaks outdoors than they'd gain by making their club accessible to people like me. And self-righteousness on the part of nonsmokers, and specious "smoker's rights" arguments on the part of smokers discourage owners from seeing the problem as an issue of accessibility, and seeking reasonable solutions.


Elizabeth Wheeler

Raise the Dickinson Roof


I visited your fair city of Austin this weekend and enjoyed the hospitality. My friend and I were walking down Trinity Street downtown and inquired of the black-tarped structure behind the fire station on Fifth Street. I was told the history of Susanna Dickinson being the sole Anglo survivor of the Alamo and this was her home, the oldest structure in downtown Austin. It was sad to hear that the Austin city fathers have allowed this fine historic home to fall to the prey of weeds and the homeless. As a visitor it struck me that Austin city fathers do not have much memory for their own history, unlike the citizens of the city who speak of the Alamo story as a treasured piece of history not to be forgotten. I would encourage the Austin citizens to rally to save this historic Dickinson home from disintegrating before their very eyes by insisting that the city government take immediate action to restore this historic artifact so that Austinites and visitors may appreciate and celebrate your unique history.

Jackie Compton

Seattle, Wash.

[Ed. note: Actually, the city is working to preserve the Dickinson home and has encountered difficulty in finding a relocation site for it. Further city action is expected soon; we last reported on the story in 2001: House Sitting ]

Red Hot Rebuttal

Chris [Gray]:

Shit. Just when I thought I didn't give a damn about the Red Hot Chili Peppers anymore -- they changed my life at the Ritz just shy of 20 years ago -- Gray reviews the latest reissues ["Phases and Stages," June 13]. Between our differences of opinion and some inaccuracies on his part, I'm compelled to offer some friendly rebuttal and correction.

First -- one star for RHCP? I'm surprised by the downplay of the first recording. Taking into context the popular and not-so-popular music in the early Eighties, Red Hot Chili Peppers is an undoubtedly groundbreaking and influential recording. I would equate it, in some ways, with Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica, for its freak-flag-flying-proudly element. The historical context of the debut makes them deserving of more than one star, surely. The band sucks serious wind with one-star power on every track of One Hot Minute.

Cliff Martinez is the original drummer, not Jack Irons.

Jack Sherman is the original guitarist, as Hillel wasn't in the band during RHCP. And "assured yet easy touch to punk chargers" to describe Hillel? That sounds like Pat Metheny playing Black Flag. I'm getting mixed messages here.

Michael Beinhorn produced The Uplift Mofo Party Plan, not George Clinton, who produced Freaky Styley.

Ritual de lo Habitual wasn't released in the late Eighties. It was released in 1990.

Can a "first true classic" be a cover song? "First true radio hit"? There's a big difference. "Higher Ground" is the latter.

And last, By the Way is a "latter day masterpiece"? Man, what other records do you consider "masterpieces"? That's like Exile on Main Street, Back in Black, It Takes a Nation of Millions, Revolver, Nevermind kinda talk. Masterpiece? You really think so? Wow. The saying "one man's meat is another man's poison" has been personified, ladies and gents.

Better off before Anthony decided he could and would, arguably, sing,

Christopher Grady

[Music Editor Raoul Hernandez replies: Neither Cliff Martinez nor Jack Sherman were original members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Rather they were scabs, filling in for founding member Hillel Slovak, who the review acknowledges "sat out RHCP," and drummer Jack Irons, both of whom returned for Freaky Styley. And why can't a cover qualify as a "first true classic"? It's worked for countless acts from the Rolling Stones ("Not Fade Away") and Aretha Franklin ("Respect") to Van Halen ("You Really Got Me") and even Austin's Gourds ("Gin & Juice").]

Secondhand Smoke a Joke


Well, the Chronicle's Village Idiots, aka City Council, passed a no-smoking ordinance because of "the dangers of secondhand smoke." Only problem is, the reports claiming the horrible dangers of secondhand smoke came from the World Health Organization about eight years ago when they were, guess what, seeking funding, and the Clinton EPA swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. Create a catastrophe, tell people you have a solution, get the money. Assholes fall for this crap all the time and the City Council proves it, along with other knee-jerk states and municipalities who apparently get all their information on everything from a 10-second soundbite on CNN.

Here's a list of links that prove that secondhand smoke is a joke:

There are more. So, once again, let's do something about nothing. And the question nobody at the Chron seems to have the brains to ask is this ... if, as the Village Idiots claim, secondhand smoke is so dangerous, why the fuck do they allow cigarettes to be sold in Austin to begin with? Simple answer. Taxes. They make money off of cigarettes, just like the Chronicle does when it takes ad revenues from Big Tobacco. And hey, Michael King ... Chomsky is a fucking moron, period. And so is Jim Hightower, both are full of shit.

Carl T. Swanson

Don't Ruin a Good Time

Dear concertgoers,

It's time for a little live music viewing 101:

1) If you wish to make it to the front of the stage when the band starts playing, try getting to the show earlier. Or, God forbid, say, "Excuse me," if you run into people with your Neanderthal shoulders.

2) Flinging beer on people around you in a show impresses no one. You will not get laid by doing this, but hopefully one day you will get your ass kicked.

3) One person alone cannot start a mosh pit. If you run into a crowd of music fans and start shoving them as you bounce around, they are not moshing back. They're shoving you away from them to avoid smashing their beer bottle on your head in anger.

4) The only time you should make a request to the band to play a certain song is if they have a tip jar and you just tipped them. Even then there should be no yelling. You should be close enough to ask for a song. When you're watching a big show, yelling out titles of songs doesn't do anything but irritate the band and the people around you. You're irritating because you are more than likely screaming out the band's most popular song, which they're going to play eventually. The Supersuckers are going to play "Born With a Tail" ... they're just not going to play it in the first half of the show. And please stop requesting "Gin and Juice" at the Gourds shows. They've actually written songs, did you know that? They have several albums of original material. Just shut up and enjoy the preplanned show, or instead, stay home and play the one song you want to hear over and over while thinking to yourself, "Hey, it's too bad that I have to ruin the show for people around me because I'm a thoughtless knob."

Thank you,

John Rabon

Smokers Deserve a Vote


I'd like to echo Louis Black's sentiments against the current anti-smoking ordinance. Quick points: Most fellow food service (and bar) employees smoke; most in favor of this ordinance rarely patronize bars that would be driven out of business by the ordinance -- when was the last time you saw a yuppie at Emo's, Nasty's, or Lovejoy's? Also galling is we helped these council members get elected in the first place. I sure don't remember Daryl et al. mentioning this when running for office. Wouldn't it be better to foster an atmosphere of tolerance?


George Leake

Exhausted With Auto Exhaust

Dear Chronicle:

Now that our noble City Council has voted to protect us from the perils of voluntarily inhaled secondhand smoke, (nobody's ever been forced to go to a nightclub at gunpoint, that I know of), it's now time for the next step.

I'm talking about secondhand auto exhaust. Unlike cigarette smoke, the car, bus, and truck fumes are everywhere, in every home, school, and office, whether you own a skunk-wagon or not. We're all breathing it, and it's shortening our lives. Our kids are getting asthma riding toxic school buses, and our air is so bad we're set to lose federal highway funding.

This is a joke. How can Austin claim to be a progressive, health-conscious city while ignoring some of the worst air in the country? Year after year, for decades now, the City Council has done next to nothing to fix this problem (and no, tweaking the speed limit doesn't count, dipshits).

At the very least we should have emissions inspections for all vehicles. And all those filthy diesel buses need to be replaced by natural gas or hybrids, not the current plan of "not quite as filthy" diesels.

These are the real air-quality issues in Austin. When are we going to face them? Are we going to wait until our kids have to carry oxygen tanks around?


Chris Jones

Republicans Abused Power


Please keep the inquiry going into how the federal government was involved in a civil and partisan political dispute ["DPS Documents: More Questions About the Killer-D Manhunt," June 13]. The type of behavior exhibited by the Republican Party in Texas (help from Tom DeLay?) is what occurs in places like Venezuela and Zimbabwe. It should not be allowed to go unpunished. What the Republicans did was an unforgivable abuse of power.

Ross Beyer

America Misled About WMDs

Attention all patriots:

There is a chance the George W. Bush administration may have lied to the American people about the "Weapons of Mass Destruction" evidence justifying war on Iraq, resulting in the unnecessary deaths of many Iraqi citizens and U.S. soldiers and causing serious damage to U.S. international relations. Please contact your senators and representatives right away and request an independent investigation into the possibility that the administration misled the nation for political gain.

We should insist that this investigation be at least as thorough as the recent inquiry into whether or not President Clinton lied to the American people about his sex life.

The integrity of the nation depends on it.

Erik Viker

Secondhand Whining Is Bad for Your Health


I have to question the wisdom of those who would ban smoking in public places on the basis of health concerns. It's not that I doubt that smoking is unhealthy, but I've seen Austin's roads.

Consider that a person left in a garage with cartons and cartons of cigarettes could smoke almost endlessly: The consequence is that they are likely to get lung cancer or some other form -- in 10 or 20 years, maybe longer. Put them in that same garage with an SUV (or any gas-powered vehicle) and they will be dead in a very brief period.

To condemn smoking as a health hazard while tolerating current road and travel conditions seems a bit akin to not worrying that the knife stabbing you in the heart has rust on it and might therefore cause gangrene.

If you're concerned about your health, worry about what's really dangerous. If you just don't like smoke, get together with a bunch of other nonsmokers who want to go to clubs and pool your money and open your own bar, smoke-free, where you can all gather and whine away. I'm sick of secondhand whining.

Max Farr

(a nonsmoking former Austin resident)

Wake Up, America!

Hooray for Flag Day!

Bush's invasion brought "democracy" to Iraq -- but none of the Iraqis are allowed to vote. It brought our "free market" system to Iraq -- but Cheney's Halliburton is the only company to get all the oil business in a no-bid contract worth billions. It brought "justice" to the wrongdoers -- but now the suspects are held indefinitely without public trial in Cuba. It "separated" Saddam from the nerve gas and anthrax we sold him in the Nineties -- but now it's in the hands of who-knows-who-or-where. We're told all this takes time -- just like they're still waiting for it in Afghanistan.

Yes, we got "our" oil out from under Iraq's sand, but ... is that "victory"? Why are our soldiers still dying? Where is the democracy? Where is Saddam? Where are the WMDs? Where is Osama? The rest of the world isn't fooled by the broken promises and incompetence, why does anyone in the U.S. still believe a word they say anymore? Self-delusion, hero worship, and knee-jerk patriotism.

Hooray for Flag Day!

Andy Mitchell

The Evils of Cigarette Smoking


I love the new smoking ban, and my wife and I truly hope that it sticks. Why do I love the smoking ban? Cigarettes are evil, and their smoking is quite literally radioactive. Very few people know this but cigarette smoke contains extremely high levels of polonium-210; this is the reason for lung cancer. A person that smokes a pack and a half of cigarettes every day gets eight times the radiation dose, that I, as a radiation worker in the state of Texas, am allowed to get (BEIR III report). This translates to, if you go out to a bar and inhale cigarette smoke, you are getting a high radiation dose, and if you go out several times a week, you are seriously increasing your chances of having lung cancer.

I am sure that smokers will still try to use the argument, "It will hurt business." That is so ridiculous; you really believe that people will quit going out? What are they going to do, sit at home? Vancouver, British Columbia, has a smoking ban in place, and as a person who has visited there several times, I can tell you that their nightlife is not dead by a long shot and in actuality is thriving. So quit your whining; go outside and smoke, or stay at home and realize that that smelly, disgusting cigarette is not only slowly killing you while making a few people very rich, but is now isolating you from society.

Oded Doron

Smoking and Drinking Goes Together


Well, well, so the City Council has decided that all bars and restaurants will be nonsmoking. Personally, I don't mind restaurants being forced to go nonsmoking, but bars? Don't these folks realize that bars (unlike restaurants that are about eating) have primarily, traditionally been about smoking and drinking? These aren't guns we're talking about, so the notion that they must be sanitized and "healthy" for all is absurd.

Anyway, what's wrong with everyone having places to go? Why not issue licenses for both? People who prefer to smoke can then can own, hire, and cater to smokers while those who prefer not could do otherwise. Why do we have to sideline anyone?

Remember a couple of things here -- smoking is legal and until it becomes otherwise it ought to be somehow accommodated. Also, whether one likes it or not, a large percentage of the bread-and-butter folks -- those that drink more regularly, buy more drinks, and tip big -- are smokers. Might I suggest to all Austin smokers that in order to force the council to compromise, that as soon as this law goes into effect you collectively withhold your dollars and boycott all nonsmoking establishments. Have people over: It's cheaper and more intimate. Otherwise, your interests will go the way of California where Puritanism and intrusive government rule the day.


Thomas Boggs

Open Up to AFS Exchange

Dear Editor,

I am writing to entreat Austinites to open their homes to the experience of a lifetime and host an AFS exchange student. After the September 11 attacks and the war in Iraq, it is important, now more than ever, to participate in foreign exchange.

Foreign exchange involvement has given me a global perspective and reiterated what I have always known is true. The world desperately needs peacemakers. The first step toward peace is understanding. Some Americans feel apprehensive and alone concerning the war on terrorism, but despite recent disagreements between the U.S. and other allies, I know that for me the avenue of communication is always open.

I have an open dialogue with other nations because my family was willing to share our home with a foreign exchange student. Thanks to the American Field Service (AFS) Intercultural Exchange Programs, I have a German sister and a Swiss brother.

Students arriving in August for the 2003-2004 school year need host families and schools now, in order to be issued visas. Make a real contribution toward world peace. Open your home to an AFS exchange student.

Call our area coordinator, Diane Laumer, toll-free at 866/472-0934 for more information about AFS and foreign exchange.


Sarah Lohn

Host sister and AFS Volunteer

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