Our readers talk back.
Taking the High and Low Road
I am so disappointed with the Chronicle for Friday's article about the unsubstantiated rumors about Gov. Perry's marital problems. "Naked City" [News, Feb. 27] stated that several weeks ago they "looked into the Perry rumors and found no evidence of any truth to any of them." So why, with no subsequent proof, did you decide to print them now? You can't take the high and the low road! Just couldn't help yourself, I guess.
More Support for Libraries
A hearty "amen" to Mike Clark-Madison's article in support of the Austin Public Libraries ["Reading the Riot Act," News, Feb. 27]. I keep hearing that in this age of discount bookstores and Web surfing, libraries are less and less relevant. The reality is that the "digital divide" is as real as I-35.
While City Hall endorses seemingly endless subsidies for various developers in its pursuit of minute increases in sales-tax revenue, it's worth recalling Economy 101: supply and demand. A (computer-)literate workforce is capable by itself of attracting new employers, creating new jobs, and thus creating demand for the very products these shopping malls peddle. Fund the APL with even a fraction of the proposed subsidies, and pretty soon you won't need to offer them anymore.
The APL's per capita budget lags behind both Dallas and Houston. We not only lack an adequate central library, but the mayor has gone so far as to question the need for so many branches. As Mike points out, these things should not be placed in opposition; but it's simply absurd to oppose them both.
Austin Energy's renewable energy plan, Save Our Springs, and the Long Center are great examples of what Austin is capable of when we put our minds to it. Sustainable and healthy growth emphasis on "healthy" can help fund all these things and more. That is why the APL is "far more important to the future of Austin" than any of these projects, no matter how worthy.
Dismissing libraries as irrelevant is a self-fulfilling prophecy and completely wrongheaded. Austin, we deserve a library that is among America's best. Why are we settling for so much less?
First I would like to thank you, The Austin Chronicle, for endorsing me for sheriff in the Democratic primary ["Endorsements," News, Feb. 27]. I would also like to address two issues raised in the Statesman endorsement of me. The people deserve to know what happened.
Twenty-three years ago I briefly dated a woman. We split up and went our separate ways. Thirteen years later I discovered we had had a child. I was shocked. Upon confirmation of paternity, I immediately took responsibility for my daughter. She is now a 22-year-old graduate of the University of North Texas. I want to assure voters that I have fulfilled my responsibility to my daughter. We have a good relationship, and I am proud of her.
I would not be asking for voter support for such an important role in law enforcement if I had not met my own responsibilities. Nor would I have been able to hold the position of chief of enforcement for Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission for 10 years if I had not accepted and met my responsibilities.
The needs of my extended family (parents, brothers, and cousins) and my immediate family, including my new daughter, put me in a financial situation that was unsustainable. In January of 1997, my wife and I filed for bankruptcy. We maintained most of our obligations and have re-established our creditworthiness since then. To be open, I presented the Statesman editorial board with the final documents.
While at TABC I managed a $15 million budget. In my 10 years I did not go over budget. I will take the same care with the tax dollars of Travis County residents if you give me the opportunity to be your next sheriff. I felt it was necessary to explain and clarify the issues brought up in the Austin American-Statesman's endorsement article.
Slusher Supports Doggett
Next Tuesday, March 9, is the Democratic primary, and I urge all Democrats to please turn out to vote for Rep. Lloyd Doggett. If ever there was a time when it is critically important to vote, it is Tuesday. This is not a time when Austin can afford voter turnout in the teens or low 20% range.
As many of you know, the Texas Legislature carved Austin into three congressional districts. One of the main goals of this travesty was to run Lloyd Doggett out of Congress. Doggett is running in a district that stretches to the Rio Grande Valley and the Mexican border. Some of us live in that district (District 25). The district is too jagged to describe here, but it includes most of East Austin, parts of South Austin east of the railroad tracks, Hancock, and half of Travis Heights.
A huge turnout in Austin is essential to a Doggett victory. Your vote can keep an Austin voice in Washington as well as frustrate one of Tom DeLay's main goals. It will also keep one of our country's hardest working and most humane public servants in office.
Doggett's Democratic opponent has a good record of service, but there is little doubt that Doggett would be the most effective representative for citizens in every part of the new district.
Doggett is an incredibly dedicated, tireless, and effective public servant. Not only will his victory keep representation for Austin in Washington, but it will be wonderful to see Doggett put his energy, commitment, and experience to work on behalf of the Rio Grande Valley. For example last week he was visiting colonias, and I am certain he will work incredibly hard to bring a better life to those areas.
Please turn out and vote.
Electronic Voting Issues
It was refreshing to read Lee Nichols' excellent article explaining the perils of electronic voting ["How Safe Is Your E-Vote?," News, Feb. 20]. Even Hart InterCivic has its problems. Hundreds of Houston area voters didn't get to cast votes.
There are many electronic voting companies out there, but they seem to balk at providing a voter-verified paper trail for their equipment. I guess they don't want anyone to be able to prove how inaccurate or fallible their machines are. Ironically, such companies as Diebold also manufacture ATMs, and would not think of omitting the paper trail there.
Makes you wonder why they omit that for something as important as the equipment that we cast our vote on.
One also must wonder why the government wants to ignore the thousands of computer experts that are practically screaming the dangers of electronic voting.
Thank you for the excellent article.
Winston-Salem, N.C., Coordinator
North Carolina Coalition for Verified Voting
[Lee Nichols replies: I'm not sure to what you refer when you say, "Hundreds of Houston area voters didn't get to cast votes." After the 2002 general election, the Houston Chronicle and Austin American-Statesman reported that ballot-counting went slowly in Houston, and a few polling places were temporarily immobilized when poll workers mistakenly activated the Hart InterCivic machines' shutdown sequence. But overall, media accounts described problems as minor and due to human error.]
Though I do respect Louis Black for his reluctance to engage in speculation over Rick Perry's alleged hypocrisy ["Page Two," Feb. 27], I have to wonder whether Mr. Black has not indulged in a bit of hypocrisy of his own. Toward the end of his very colorful attack on those of us who perpetuated the Perry sex scandal rumors based on secondhand reports, Mr. Black suddenly mentions in all seriousness that his secondhand reports indicate that the rumor was actually part of a conspiracy on behalf of the Republican establishment to discredit Perry and replace him with Hutchison. Does Mr. Black have any evidence of this? If not, why does he repeat this particularly explosive rumor in the midst of his editorial, the purpose of which is to denounce those who engage in rumormongering?
Support for Ronnie Earle
I'd like Mr. Earle to know that even outside of Texas, some of us are supporting him. The investigation into financial wrongdoing involving PAC money by Rep. Tom DeLay is necessary, and we look forward to a conclusion of guilty for Mr. DeLay. The outrageous power grab of unnecessary redistricting enabled Mr. DeLay to proceed with impunity toward his goal of complete control. I do, however, take umbrage with Mr. Earle's comment that being hit with DeLay's mudslinging is akin to "being called ugly by a frog." I believe a lizard would be more accurately ugly.
No Politics in Food Section
I read Rachel Feit's review of Zax Pints & Plates ["Comfort, Upgraded," Food, Feb. 27], and couldn't help but notice her "Dubya" dig halfway through the review. I know the Capitol cafeterias all changed french fries to freedom fries on the menu, but I couldn't find anything about the White House doing the same. I'm just curious where she read this. In the future can't we at least keep the Food section politics-free?