Our readers talk back.
"Age notwithstanding, two old-guard Davis supporters, former state Rep. Wilhelmina Delco and former Mayor Gus Garcia, point to Precinct 1's traditional identity as an African-American seat. It's true that Hispanics outnumber African-Americans in the precinct, but, as Delco points out, 'This particular precinct has the greatest number of blacks. African-Americans have been a part of the political scene for a long time, and I think we've paid our dues and we should have representation. People say there's already another black on the Commissioners Court (County Judge Sam Biscoe), but he's in an administrative position; he represents the entire county.' Garcia echoed those sentiments: 'I know Celia quite well and I like her and under any other circumstances I'd be supporting her but not for Precinct 1.'" ["Identity Politics Color County's Precinct 1 Race," News, Feb. 13].
I thought the great "civil rights campaign" demanded one person one vote no matter what their ethnicity. And that American law required that the person with the most votes be declared the winner. The principality of Austin seems to have very different rules. "Tradition" was appropriate to Fiddler on the Roof, or perhaps that is what Austin politics is, a musical fairy tale.
It is indeed not an easy decision. Criticizing Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos for his support of Leticia Hinojosa over Rep. Lloyd Doggett ignores the fact that Sen. Barrientos is being consistent with Democratic policies on affirmative action ["Facing the South," News, Feb. 13]. Rep. Doggett is a white male competing for a position with a qualified female minority. Principles of the Democratic Party and progressives dictate that Ms. Hinojosa should get the job, regardless of Rep. Doggett's experience. The greater social good is achieved by increasing the number of women and Latinos in the House. Rep. Doggett himself has voted against a bill (HR 6) that would prohibit post-secondary institutions from providing preferential treatment in admission based on race, sex, or ethnicity. He also voted against HR 2400 which would have repealed advantages for business enterprises that are owned and controlled by racial minorities and women. Sen. Barrientos appears to be furthering Democratic/progressive principles of inclusion. Perhaps the progressives and Democrats who support Doggett over what could be the first Texas Hispanic woman representative need to re-examine their ideology. Otherwise, what do they say to the white males denied entry into post-secondary institutions or denied business contracts for the sake of correcting inequalities associated with racial minorities and women?
Dean Supporter Disagrees With Ventura
I can generally take or leave Michael Ventura's column, but his latest entry begs for a response ["Letters @ 3am," Feb. 6].
First, Howard Dean was governor of Vermont, not New Hampshire, and if Ventura and the copy editors don't know that by now none of you have any business reporting on political affairs.
Second, and more importantly, if anyone wants to see how Ventura's theory that effective presidents by his definition, those who set goals and achieve them have always "had chops" falls apart on its face, they need look no further than the current resident of the White House. George W. Bush lost the popular vote and yet has managed to get supine Democrats to agree to irresponsible tax cuts, a "pre-emptive" war in Iraq, the PATRIOT Act, and the disastrous No Child Left Behind. Bush's previous experience? Mismanaging two companies (Harken and the Rangers) and mismanaging an entire state.
In fact, a cursory look at the current Bush administration reveals exactly what makes for an effective president: willpower. Clinton didn't fail because he lacked the requisite résumé. He failed because as soon as he took office he backed off on nearly every liberal issue, with an eye to future elections. Remember "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in 1993?
Within reason, confidence and resolve put your opponents on the defensive and show the public that you mean business. By that measure, John Kerry is a miserable failure and Howard Dean a man to be reckoned with. Dean may lose the nomination, but that doesn't necessarily mean he would not be a more effective president. Nor does it mean he is the less "electable" candidate in a general election.
[Michael Ventura responds: As readers have reminded me, Howard Dean was governor not of New Hampshire (as I wrote in my last column) but of Vermont. One reader suggested I was thinking of the fictional president Jeb Bartlet, and he might be right, though I prefer to watch Angel in that time slot. So ... oops. Sorry.]
Planned Parenthood Takes Care of the Community
I've been following the ranting over the pros and cons of Planned Parenthood. Particularly, I enjoyed the self-satisfying/tear-jerking editorial last week ["Postmarks," Feb. 6] of the woman who aborted and regretted it years later (now apparently wanting to stop others from doing what she had the right to do?). Well, the bottom line is, this is America, we have the education to prevent unwanted pregnancy. We are still a "First World" nation, right? Last year, I knew I didn't want a baby, I knew condoms don't always cut it, so I wanted to get on the pill, ASAP. My doctor had a 11é2-month wait list. Planned Parenthood took me in that same week, got me on the pill, and perhaps prevented an unwanted pregnancy predicament. Planned Parenthood also helps my low-income abuse-survivor clients get STD tests at very low cost. Planned Parenthood takes care of this community. Pro-lifers, get your Dick and Bush out of my uterus! I don't want babies, I wouldn't raise them in this country anyway. Thank you Planned Parenthood!
Austin Police, Where Are They?
I applaud the Austin NAACP for taking a stance against the police. I am shocked to hear that the killing of the so-called "mental patient" with a knife was justified. Yes, she was a threat, but did the policeman have the right to kill her no. As prior military, he should have "disabled" the victim. Meaning to shoot not for the heart to kill, but disable the victim by shooting at the hands or legs. You are still protecting yourself, and the threat will go away. Let's face it, Austin cops follow the rule to kill or issue a ticket first, and you question it later if you have the time and effort to go to the courthouse or if you are alive. The cops are not protecting the city. They are "killing" our citizens. I have yet to see a cop give a ticket to a driver talking on a cell phone and driving 55 mph on I-35 at 5pm. This is where the focus of the police is. The driver with the cell is a threat to many drivers! Also, why is there no police presence on the bike or running trail, especially on the Eastside of Austin where many female runners are harassed? Or why is there no police presence at all on Sixth Street when you do need it? Just be present or better yet have a temporary police station there. In conclusion, the police chief needs to resign. He is not doing a good job of protecting the citizens of Austin. The cops are out of control. I have yet to see an Austin policeman direct traffic during rush hour. Where are they? Go to NYC, and you will see where they are during rush hour directing traffic.
Angello J. Malefakis
Putting Things in Perspective
In reference to the Feb. 13 edition of the Chronicle "Page Two" by Louis Black and "Unequal Farce" [News] by Michael King.
I have not always agreed with the conclusions of your newspaper over the years, but I do respect your objectivity and thought put into covering multiple viewpoints and information in a majority of your articles.
As stated, "Bad social policies, as well as pressing problems we fail to address through legislation or budgeting, turn into police problems." And later on, "This corrupt view of race relations, as does every societal failure and racial misunderstanding, becomes a police problem."
Finally, you put it into perspective when you say, "The police are us, all of us."
I believe that most of "us" try to do the right thing most of the time, but most of "us" are not omniscient or omnipotent.
Thank you for putting things into perspective.
Robert Gross II
What About Zero Tolerance for Hyperbole?
Another police execution of an unarmed man ["Glasgow's Punishment: A 90-Day Suspension"]?! Another cop felony criminal absolved of all criminal responsibility by using APD's standard practice of "attacking the victim"?!
This kid was guilty of nothing. How can this be a stolen car when the driver had permission to use the car?! Why are cops doing everything they can to escalate a situation into use of deadly force?!
If anybody else shot an unarmed man driving someone else's car when no crime had been committed by the driver ... they would be charged and going to the Texas penitentiary?! Ronnie Earle needs to be disbarred and indicted for obstruction of justice in this case and many other miscarriages of justice.
Frankly, Ronnie Earle has sanctioned a rogue, lawless, totally irresponsible goon squad known as APD, who have total criminal immunity for rape, drug dealing, racketeering, murder, aggravated assault, and perjury. Where is the zero tolerance for cop felony crimes?! Where's the proactive policing of cop felony crimes?!
Thomas S. Bean
Sioux Falls, S.D.
Impressed With Coverage
I'm a bit more on the conservative side than the Chronicle and its readers seem to be, but my level of trust in your reporting just went up about a million percent. The way you straightened out the bad reporting that smeared our police department was first rate. You cleared things up and yet managed to not let APD off the hook on other issues, which is fair. They are not perfect. Part of the secret is that you dedicate as much space as is needed to report the full story and are not afraid to get opposing opinions and debate them. (Especially the letters to the editor.) I was very impressed with your apology and correction on some details of this particular story about the pictures of the police officers ["Austin at Large," News, Feb. 13]. It showed good character and integrity.
I went to the Austin Police Association rally today, and I think you picked up some new fans who will pay more attention to your in-depth reporting on issues, even if your opinion seems disagreeable at first. I'll certainly give your articles a chance at least from here on.
Many people think we need two serious newspapers in this town to balance things out. To be honest, I think we are covered very well. Thank you so much for showing that there just may be some quality and well-researched reporting. I may disagree with you all, but I think I can trust you. I hope that continues. Keep up the good work.
When Is Enough Enough?
While taxation to provide essential infrastructure and order is a necessity, many (myself included) do not see how the benefits outweigh the harm caused by taking money out of the citizenry's pockets, especially in Travis County. I do not see how increasing already-high tax levels will improve social inequity without first reorganizing the structure and culture of government. "Logical consequences of several hundred years of history" do not excuse criminal behavior ["Page Two," Feb. 13]. As a minority, I find it deplorable that anyone would choose to blame this as the root cause of crime or lack of opportunity. A majority of the criminals in the U.S. have options other than crime; they could find work somewhere. The "logical consequences ... of history" of oppressed peoples results in a resilience found in many honest hardworking people who do not commit crimes against society. Wasting taxpayer monies on social welfare programs that are run inefficiently will do little to correct a history of injustice. They are necessary, yet they are mismanaged and shortsighted. You argue that conservatives see the playing field as "level" when it is clearly not. I agree, this problem has been passed along to police and other institutions. However, the police are best suited to provide enforcement when people show a lack of personal responsibility and break the law. I would like you to please explain when, and more importantly how, will the injustices of the past be corrected through government policy without causing more harm to the financial well-being of the community as a whole? When is enough enough? You have presented plenty of sound bites yet no solutions. We are all guilty of this.
Don't Complain, Be Vigilant
Editor, Austin Chronicle:
While I usually concur in broad terms with Ventura's columns that mention the latest federal legislative subversions, I disagree with any writer or talk show host whose method of operation is to complain but then publicly accept the abuse and go on to the next higher level of violations ["Letters @ 3am," Feb. 6]. This is partially aiding the enemies of the republic. We have pretty near reached the historically significant point where the attitude of most members of the Bush regime and the fed in general demonstrate total disrespect for the authority of the body politic and the law. They also spend a ridiculous amount of time sneaking around covering up their traitorous activities. The alternative deception is that a legislative subversive on the other side of the aisle fully connected to the elite is going to change things. The country is in this predicament because of past lack of vigilance and the endless diversions offered up by the globalists to the public to keep them focused away from the real problems. It's one thing for the present regime or generational fed to claim new authority they don't lawfully have, and its another for people to be shepherded in some media venues to accept these abuses and economically support them. Please don't in your articles perpetuate further the notion that the current regime has new expanded authority when there are, historically and constitutionally, finite limits to their reach. The national constitution and bill of rights are nearly fixed documents.
John W. Ely
Instead of Water-Dumb What About Smart Rain Harvesting?
Dear Amy [Smith]:
Regarding your piece on the Cypress development ["Naked City," News, Feb. 6], if indeed the objections to this development are based on questions about water supply, why don't all involved start working on the developer to use rainwater harvesting as the main water supply, with wells just supplying makeup? And to institute measures to assure that all "waste" water is used to defray landscape irrigation demands say by prohibiting any fixed-set irrigation systems supplied by the potable system? And to integrate storm water management so that it can also provide backup supply and can enhance recharge? It would seem to make sense to take measures to minimize its demand upon the aquifer, wouldn't it? Yet it seems that everyone simply accepts that development will be done in the same water-dumb way it always has been. So we put in infrastructure that will be with us for perhaps the next 50 years even though we know that the water resources situation in this region will change dramatically over that time. If you're interested, I've written a paper that discusses this sort of "alternative" integrated water resources management system for the Cypress development.
Civil Rights for All
Forty years have passed since the civil rights movement. More than 60 years have passed since the Holocaust. Yet, we are still oppressing and condemning minority groups. The debate over same-sex marriages is a controversial topic, and I ask myself, why? We learned many years ago that it was unjust to prohibit interracial couples from marrying. Yet, we are doing the same thing today. Why is it our right to judge and evaluate who we think is worthy of getting married? Some argue that homosexuality goes against God and Christianity. Last time I checked there was a clear separation between church and state in the Constitution. Apparently, our prejudiced opinions override the document our country was founded on. Sadly, the leader of our country is on the forefront of this battle. It us up to those of us who believe in human and civil rights to fight for what is right. It is up to us to fight for equality and the pursuit of happiness.
Thanks for the Whimsy
Dear Austin Chronicle:
I would like to extend a laurel and a hearty handshake to thank the individual who decorated my VW Squareback with a little snowman (snowperson?) on Woodrow this morning, Feb. 14.
I understand that lifelong Texans find the idea of snow rather exciting, and my German car was probably pleased to wear a coating much more familiar in its homeland. While I did not drive away till about noon, he/she rode on my hood along the road, all the way up MoPac, though the head fell off near Anderson Lane. At this point it started to more closely resemble a snow tepee or igloo, perhaps. The snowy globule remained on the car all the way to my home on the other side of Leander.
Again, I would like to thank this person for the bit of whimsy they have added to our community.
Joyce Tianello Snodgrass
Sickened by Suspension
Surely, I'm not the only Austinite now afraid of being stopped at night, alone, by Officer Scott Glasgow. And I'm white! In a mere 90 days, a man will be back in uniform, pointing a loaded gun at innocent citizens. It sickens me to read a police chief's reference to Glasgow's misconduct as an incorrect "technique" ["Glasgow's Punishment: A 90-Day Suspension," News, Feb. 13]. Calling his action on that dark night a "technique" somewhat legitimizes his violations of police policies, training, and standards. As a driver of previously owned (i.e., used) vehicles, it never dawned on me that I should check the records for a past theft history until now. I personally don't think any stolen car (even a new Hummer) warrants deadly force being used to retrieve it. Glasgow's first mistake was drawing his gun. The young victim was unarmed, and pulled over voluntarily even though Glasgow did not have his lights on. Who can't imagine the crazy fear that must have arisen with the deadly weapon being pointed inches away? I'm not declaring whether the deceased victim acted rationally or appropriately. But I do empathize with the fear that innocent Owens would reasonably have experienced when faced with being threatened with a loaded gun in his face under the circumstances. Do we really know whether the acceleration occurred before the first shot, or after he was shot? We only know Glasgow's version of the story.
Some people shouldn't be policemen. Scott Glasgow needs a job that prohibits the use of firearms at work.
We Are All Family
If indeed all of humanity shares the same genetic makeup, then difference in race would indicate an adaptation to the environment consistent with climate and available nourishment. The human race, as manifestations of the natural world which we inhabit, would therefore be considered a product of solar; galactic; and by extrapolation, universal ... hence supernatural creation. Meaning, in lay terms, we are all of one God. With this in mind it would seem that a normal, balanced, sentient being would reflect the order within chaos that is the hallmark of nature. In common language, we are all a little bit crazy. It would only seem natural that terms of conflict involving racism, sexism, class, and nationalism are the result of a weakness in the adaptability of our species to the highly mobile world in which we live. In other words, our roots are imaginary, based on ancient tribal lore that preferred warfare to assimilation of cultures. We are not trees. Humanity is and always has been in the process of migration. We travel. We drift. To pump billions of dollars into projects aimed at human migration to Mars while waging war on our neighbors in a hostile environment ... would appear to any student of human affairs to be clinically insane. The kings and queens of this world, regardless of race or nation, have failed to adapt to the natural order. In the end, balance, if not corporate democracy, will prevail.
Todd Alan Smith
Another Urban Legend
With all due respect to Frances R. Badgett ["Postmarks" online, Feb. 6] and with absolutely no respect (or interest) in the Super Bowl regardless of the year or halftime show, I wish to point out that there are, in fact, no statistics proving a rise in domestic violence on Super Bowl Sundays. This is yet another urban legend that gets passed around and around and is generally accepted because it sounds good enough to be true. But the fact is that it isn't. Or, at least, what evidence exists does not support that claim.
I don't write this to support the Super Bowl (which I couldn't really care less about), professional football (which I probably care even less about), nor to downplay the very real and horrific crimes committed against women on an hourly basis. I simply point this out to help shoot down another popular myth that gets bandied about. With so much disinformation clouding the air, a little truth is a nice breath of air.
Hurting Barrio by Trying for
You're not taking us anywhere with your blabbering on the Statesman series about the Austin police ["Austin@Large," News, Feb. 13]. At least they had the dignity to scrape on the surface of this matter, although carefully placing the blame on the regular cops and avoiding interviewing commanders or judges, who are the prime beneficiaries of the police actions. You are hurting this barrio real bad with your desk-hopping journalism. Why don't you come in and tour the barrio? Did you know that in 20 years not one single person here has ever had a chance to lead anything with the "Austin," "Community," "Texas," or "U.S." words in it? Poverty, violence, and prostitution are on the rise among us, a direct consequence of APD's (and the appraisal district) policies. The next 20 look even worse, so I'm sure there will be more confrontations between East Austin residents and gullible cops. Yes, we have called Mr.Wynn, Ms.Futrell, council members, Dawnna Dukes, and Gonzalo Barrientos on the subject. We're still on hold.
Doesn't Trust Bush
While the American media examines the credibility gap surrounding George W. Bush and his false claims of Iraqi WMDs, a new and unsightly image of the Bush White House is emerging.
Let's review the past behavior of this new Bush White House and let's assume that Bush and his boys were lying to us all the time, about everything.
First why rush a war with Iraq?
It's now unarguable that Bush knew Hussein wasn't a nuclear threat. His own intelligence told him so over and over again. The obvious answer is Bush rushed into Iraq so he could win midterm elections for his conservative colleagues in 2002. The chronology of the 2002 midterms coincides perfectly with Bush's rush to war. Coincidence? I don't think so.
Second why pull out of Afghanistan to rush war with Iraq?
Now this is where you have to have faith that the Bush White House is as corrupt as it could possibly be. What follows is only probable if Bush is indeed truly deceitful.
Postponement. Bush rushed into war, thinking he could win the midterms of 2002, wrap up Hussein and Iraq in 2003 while postponing the capture of bin Laden until just in time for the national election in 2004.
If bin Laden is captured before the fall elections, the Bush White House will be guilty of the most un-American activities since Reagan orchestrated the release of the hostages until after the election in 1980.