Our readers talk back.
'Chronicle' Got It Wrong on Ace!
We were elated to see that Ace Custom Tailors had again won the Chronicle's "Best of Austin" Readers Poll [Sept. 26] for Best Tailor/Garment Repair. That's 11 years in a row for us!
However, we were sorely disappointed in the information printed about Ace Custom Tailors in both the Chronicle's print edition and on your Web site. The name listed was a combination of our name and that of a competitor. To make matters worse, you listed that competitor's phone number and address instead of information about our four locations! Your fact checkers are about as good as those guys who rebuilt Barton Springs Road. Couldn't you just copy the information from last year?
At least we know our customers read the "BOA" issue, since we have been getting many calls from them asking about that "new location" they read about in the Chronicle. Any help you can provide to reduce the created confusion would be greatly appreciated.
Ace Custom Tailors
BOA Winner 1993-2003
[Editor's Note: Our faces are more than red. Exactly the kind of mistake we hope never to make we made completely -- getting everything wrong. We salute Ace Tailors and apologize for our mistake.]
Wants Better Schools but Lower Taxes
So Molly Ivins and Louis Dubose think taxes are "low" in Texas ["Leave No Child Behind," Oct. 3]? Tell that to the homeowners, many of them young working people with average incomes, who are confronted with property tax bills equivalent to 6-9 months of additional mortgage payments each year. (I personally know many average Austin residents with modest homes who are getting property tax bills of $4,000, $5,000, even $6,000.) And tell that to the people of limited means who face an 8.25% sales tax as they struggle to pay for daily necessities and keep themselves and their kids clothed and shod.
The authors have certainly got it right when they say the schools are underfunded. But the conclusion we need to reach is not that taxes are too low, but that criminal amounts of money are being squandered. Students (and teachers too, by the way) are getting a raw deal while bean-counting education bureaucrats with no actual classroom duties are feeding at the trough of steady, fat paychecks and cash bonuses. (Cash bonuses, at a time that students are seeing their after-school programs and music and art classes cut for lack of funds! How do these "education professionals" face themselves in the mirror?) Rather than raise taxes, we need a loud public outcry to make better use of the money we're bleeding from the citizens already.
[Louis Dubose responds: I have no argument with Ms. Nazak. And it could be that she has no argument with me. (I pay $8,000 in property taxes on a 900-square-foot bungalow in what, for marketing purposes, I would like to call the Lower East Side of Tarrytown.) Property taxes are high in Texas because we are one of very few states without an income tax. So more and more of our tax revenue comes from property taxes and sales taxes. Sales taxes place an unfair burden on people with the lowest income, who spend most of their income on taxable items. As burdensome as they are, property taxes are at least progressive. People who can afford expensive homes pay higher taxes. As contradictory as it seems, high property taxes do not make Texas a high-tax state. A progressive income tax would lower everyone's property-tax bills.
As for waste in public schools: I attended public schools in Texas. And graduated from a state college. I then taught in Texas public schools for 14 years, in East Texas, Houston, and finally Austin. I saw very little waste. Performance bonuses for administrators are to me, a former teacher and spouse of an AISD campus administrator, odious. (Except, perhaps, as they might pertain to my wife.) The career-ladder pay increases, a successful but discarded Ross Perot reform that recognized exceptional teachers by increasing their pay, made far more sense.
But bonuses for administrators fit hand-and-glove with the Bushies' and the corporate community's program to impose a corporate model on our public schools. At least a personal income tax would allow us to capture part of the millions Dallas Superintendent Mike Moses will have added to his pay when he single-handedly saves the Dallas Independent School District. According to our number-crunching friends at the Texas Center for Public Policy Prioritiies, Texas ranks 46 of 50 in the percentage of personal income paid in taxes.]
What's up with the Chronicle's short-story contest for 2003? I can't find any mention of it.
[Editor's Note: Check next week's issue.]
Not a 'Madhouse'
Someone seems to be confused about the history and function of the Travis State School described in the Oct. 3 "Short Cuts" column as "the Travis State School for the Criminally Insane." Travis State School was a training and educational facility for the mentally retarded. It was never a "madhouse" (sic) nor were its residents insane or criminals. This might be an insignificant detail to the promoters of the film and the Alamo Drafthouse, but the former school residents and their families might disagree.
School Management at Fault
[Re: "Leave No Child Behind," Oct. 3]
It is obvious they have never taught school. The culprits, in my humble opinion, are the leadership at the Texas Education Agency and in each and every school in Texas, from the superintendent down to the principal. Everybody knows "that management sets the tone and theme of the business/school, etc."
This is nonsense typical of Edward Lear.
[Editor's Note: Lou Dubose taught school for 14 years. See the Jenny Nazak letter.]
Sept. 22 was an international car-free day, celebrated by over a hundred cities in Europe, South America, and now Canada. This is an annual event.
Unfortunately, news services in the USA do not cover this annual international event. Hundreds of cities worldwide devote one day per year to thinking about car use in the city and how to reduce it. And the USA, the most car-addicted nation in the world, pretends that it isn't happening.
Why is this event never covered by the U.S. press? It's not because city car-free days aren't interesting. They're terribly interesting, and they address problems which American planners are supposedly interested in solving. But car manufacturers do not want Americans to question their dependence on cars. As long as they don't read or hear any news to the contrary, Americans can go right on telling themselves that they need cars, are forced to drive cars, can't live without them. American newspapers present fuel efficiency as the main problem associated with cars, just as they present obesity as the main problem in the lives of modern children.
Austin will not solve its transportation problems while we don't even know what hundreds of cities worldwide are doing. Why are they holding an annual car-free day? Would there be any benefit in our holding one ourselves? U.S. car manufacturers don't want you to ask these questions.
Next year, Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2004, will be an international car-free day. Look for it in the news.
My old friend John Henry Faulk used to jokingly say, "I may not know everything, but I do know the difference between a warm rain and a dog pissin' on my leg." What is there not to figure out about what is happening to our nation and our community? The neo-con warlords who run our administration have lied to us about 9/11; they have initiated and carried out unconcealed imperialistic attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq to steal their oil; our national budget is being ransacked; and they have passed the blatantly unconstitutional Homeland Security and PATRIOT Act legislation. On a local level, we have full-time armed police in our schools, we have armed police at Whole Foods, helicopters are constantly monitoring us and there have been over 300 surveillance cameras put up around Austin in the last two years (don't you feel safer?). Friends, it is important to understand that it is more than just a "warm rain" that is deluging our nation -- wake up!
Agrees With S. Moser on Hip-Hop
To be painfully honest, I must say I am not totally a fan of your column, as I could care less for "hoity-toity" fashion and all its vain trappings. That said, however, I did catch your sidebar concerning Mega 93 and the venerable Miss Kitty ["After a Fashion," Oct. 3]. I completely agree. I absolutely cannot stand rap/hip-hop music (and to a lesser degree, pop music) and I fight its scourge every chance I get. I used to listen to the station religiously when it first hit the airwaves, especially during the overnight hours and on Saturday nights when they would feature commercial-free sets of trance music. It was my constant companion when I'd spend every Saturday night at work, with the boom box in the corner of the room, the volume turned up high. Since having moved to a primarily hip-hop format roughly a year ago, I have quit listening. The point of all this is I have now discovered Internet radio and I listen with a vengeance. If you have been seeking to fill the electronica void in your life, I would like to suggest Digitally Imported Radio (www.di.fm). They are based in New York and have 11 music channels, each spotlighting a different genre of electronic music, in addition to a jazz, salsa, and classical channel. Just thought I'd let you know.
Fans Rip Off Artists, Too
I read your piece about trading music in cyberspace ["The Trees," Oct. 3]. Concerning this Texas Psych group, they claim to take a $3 donation that goes to the Roky Trust for the music they pass around. Maybe they do, but what about money for the remaining members of the Elevators, the Aliens, and my old group the Explosives, who are also on these recordings they are trading around without our permission? What about writers' and publishers' royalties? I suppose it's fine for groups like Golden Dawn and Sweettarts, who are unable to get their music out in any legitimate way, to agree to let their work go out for free in cyberspace. The problem I have with this is we never gave permission for them to offer the three Roky & the Explosives live recordings. They even created cover art by taking our images from our album cover, which they also never asked permission to do! Their argument is that the major labels never did a good and fair job with these recordings. Well, two wrongs don't make a right. They invited the labels to take the stuff and do a better job than they've done. The reality is the market for this music is not a huge one. After this music has been passed around like a sorority girl at a frat party, how many want it anymore? At present, Roky & the Explosives' former manager and I are working on "Best of" Roky & the Explosives releases. The best we can do is offer some cuts nobody has ever heard (which we have) and photos and memorabilia that nobody has ever seen. That guy at Texas Psych represents himself to be "in the loop" and privy to all things Roky, but believe me, he is not. These people who claim to be the ultimate fans don't seem to realize they are ultimately hurting their musical heroes. Even creepier than a music label ripping off artists for money are fans doing it to aggrandize themselves.
Freddie Steady Krc
Please Add 'Print This Article'
I like the new Web format, but I think there's still one thing missing that you should have added: Most similar Web-based e-papers/webzines have a "print this article" feature, which removes the sidebars and reformats the text to completely fill a standard 8.5-by-11-inch page from left to right, so readers don't waste so much paper when printing articles they are interested in saving in hard copy. It would be great if you could add this feature and save even more trees than you already are by making this publication available on the Web!
[Ed. note: Ask and ye shall receive: This feature has been added.]
Wes Courageous, Then Hypocritical
I was at the SRCC meeting described by Wes Benedict in last week's "Postmarks" [Oct. 3]. Though I voted to oppose the zoning change requested by Wal-Mart at Ben White and I-35, I thought Wes made a number of valid points at the meeting and presented them in a reasoned manner. You'll remember me, Wes, as the person who mentioned to you that it took guts to stand up for your opinions, even when it was clear most of the room already disagreed. By contrast, your letter to the Chronicle was an act of pure cowardice.
To claim that there was a racist subtext to your neighbors' opposition is not just inaccurate but a cynical misrepresentation. As I recall, not once did an opponent bring up race or, for that matter, indicate that his or her position was based on a dislike for those who work at or patronize Wal-Mart. Indeed, I know that one reason I "hate Wal-Mart" is because they have a record of exploiting their employees. I also don't like their callous disregard for the concerns of neighbors and predatory business practices, but like you, I believe people have a right to shop where they want (and have defended Wal-Mart to friends on those grounds before). That does not mean, however, that I have to facilitate the construction of a store that threatens to degrade Blunn Creek and shutter a perfectly good facility in use less than a mile away.
Also, you pretty much lose me when you denigrate Wal-Mart's opponents as "white boutique bitches." Wow, Wes, you managed in just three words to be racist, misogynistic, and hypocritical. Nice going.
And by the way, "Oriental" went out with "nigger." Those people you saw in Wal-Mart were Asian.
Why Crazy Carl Is Called Crazy
Contrary to what you may have heard, I did not swim nude with a bowie knife in my teeth to cut the lights during the boat races.
The least of the reasons for breaking those three lights was that they kept me from sleeping late every Saturday and Sunday at New de Ville up on Manor Road.
I'm sure your readers understand that it's not safe to swim in Town Lake because it's not crowded with outboard motors. It's probably not clean enough with all that Barton Creek water mixed with it.
They call me crazy because I think Green Shores is a better place for boat races and MoPac would make a great double as a fuel drag strip and Hippie Hollow would bring more people to Town Lake.
Crazy Carl Hickerson
Record holder, Town Lake 2-mile lake swim, 1962,
40 minutes flat (there was a current on the first mile)
Hippie Hollow Belongs to the People
LCRA is now charging $2 extra admission to Hippie Hollow for individuals who already have paid for annual passes. The latter are mutually agreed-to legal contracts. The extra charge is only at Hippie Hollow (not at the other LCRA parks) and is obviously harassment. It is also extortion because the park rangers threaten to tow away the cars of those who refuse to pay the extra fee.
I go to HH about two times a week to walk for exercise on the paved road. I go there because there are no restrooms in my neighborhood which are open year-round. I have already paid my $50 for the annual LCRA pass. It is criminal for them to charge me another $300 (i.e., $6 times 50) when we have already agreed on the price.
Dr. Steven G. Bratsch
What Is 'Bashing' Anyway ?
Regarding the last bit in Louis Black's "Page Two" (Oct. 3):
In response to the quoted letter-writer's complaint that Mr. Bush is being bashed with a higher level of venom than Clinton and other U.S. presidents: Clinton was indeed viciously criticized and impeached, as Black clearly stated. Furthermore, "bashing" is, to some degree, part of people's disagreement with Bush's policies. Some Americans think that such disagreement is justified, vitally important, and a helluvalot better than many Americans' apathy toward politics!
And my question is, where exactly does one draw the line between healthy criticism and "bashing"? After all, where important issues are involved, passionate opinions are bound to follow. For every person, there is a line somewhere between right and wrong, and if Dubya has crossed that line in whatever policy domain in some critics' eyes, should such critics politely accept his disagreeable policies, thinly disguised lies, and manipulations of power anyway? How can they do so without violating their own honesty and integrity? Words can hurt but they are the best and most socially acceptable weapon many critics have, especially in these times of mainstream media manipulation.
Thanks From KOOP 91.7FM
On behalf of the programmers, volunteers, board, and staff, I simply wanted to thank you for recognizing the Saturday morning lineup at KOOP 91.7FM as the Best Weekend Radio Programming in the "Best of Austin" 2003 edition [Sept. 26]. It means a lot to us.
I have been a volunteer radio programmer with KOOP since February 2000, and it has been an uphill battle getting our community station up and running after the near meltdown that took place in the late Nineties. This year has been a great one for KOOP: We are broadcasting in stereo, we are now web-streaming, we have some paid office staff and, in general, it has been a scandal-free year. Thank you for adding one more thing for us to be proud of in 2003.
Expect things to keep on getting better from here!
Outspoken -- Friday nights at 6
91.7FM -- KOOP Radio