Our readers talk back.
Dear Mr. Black,
I'm writing to correct an error in Amy Smith's Aug. 13 report on the celebration of Community Health Center Week at the Rosewood-Zaragosa CHC ["No Criticism at Clinic Event," News]. Amy reported that "County Commissioner Margaret Gomez was invited to the celebration at the Rosewood-Zaragoza clinic, while other commissioners who have been more critical of the city in the funding flap were not."
Actually, every member of the Commissioners Court was mailed an invitation, as was every City Council member, every member of the Travis County state legislative delegation, and every member of the Travis County Hospital District Board of Managers.
To our knowledge, Amy did not ask anyone associated with the Community Health Center system about who was invited and who was not.
Thank you for the opportunity to clear up any misunderstanding the report may have caused.
Senior Management Analyst and Public Information Officer
City of Austin Community Care Services Department
[Amy Smith responds: According to our sources, not everyone received their invitations perhaps it was the post office that was remiss, or the invitation was overlooked in a stack of mail. Even so, a poor choice of wording on my part suggested that CHC officials deliberately slighted certain commissioners. The tone of Gilvar's letter suggests that there remain plenty of bruised feelings to go around among local officials, whatever the state of their party invitations. We certainly apologize if we inadvertently added fuel to the fire.]
Get Facts Straight
Sometimes the ignorance of some reporters just gets under my skin. Your article today ["No Mercy," News, Aug. 20] about this murder trial says that Jehovah's Witnesses forbid association with anyone who is not a member of the faith why do reporters get facts about these people wrong 90% of the time? Because they don't make sure they know what they are writing about! Isn't that rule No. 1?
[Jordan Smith responds: According to information provided to the defense by James Allridge's family, he and Ronald were forbidden to socialize with anyone who was not a Jehovah's Witness, unless the nonbeliever agreed to receive religious education provided by Mrs. Allridge. While the enforcement of the prohibition certainly varies among believers, other Jehovah's Witnesses confirm that they are officially discouraged from socializing with people outside the faith, in order to help avoid sin.]
I enjoyed the article on the "other Elevators" ["High Baptismal Flow, Part 2," Music, Aug. 20]. But I am embarrassed by some of my remarks.
True, my brother [Danny Galindo] was not a peace and love hippie; he was into fuckin' and fightin'. True, he was a drug addict methamphetamines to be exact. He was also impatient and temperamental. But he had a strong sense of justice. He stood up for little guys. He built his badass reputation beating up thugs (his victims were never innocent).
He was not an acid-tripping stereotype. He loved contact sports hardball catcher, offensive guard (played ball with the legendary Tommy Nobis), judo, and karate. He hated to lose. He also played the saxophone and trombone. He was a registered nurse and active in Alcoholics Anonymous.
I regret that I could not share golden memories of Danny's tenure with the Elevators. Danny and I were not very close. Thus, we were not as intimate as most brothers. But he did share his frustrations as an Elevator. Danny loved rhythm and blues. He swooned over James Brown, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Booker T, Gene Chandler, early Stevie Wonder (the 12-year-old genius), etc. He worshipped the big sound and tight arrangements of R&B. He confided to me that the Elevators were not disciplined and could not play a tune the same way twice.
I did not know many of his friends. I invite them to respond and share with us some of their positive experiences. I, too, would like to know my brother better.
I have known the Erickson family since 1969, and I am very pleased about Roky's recovery. I wish him the best, and I hope my comments have not caused any discomfort to him, his family, and his fans.
As a newcomer to Austin, your paper has been very useful to me in planning my evenings and getting to know what the city offers, so I was very excited to hear that you were doing an article on our new newspaper ["New Rival for 'Daily Texas,'" News, Aug. 20].
However when I read the article, I thought it gave an unfair view of what we are doing here at The Austin Student. While technically correct with his facts the author chose to play down the fact that we are a more features-based, rather than political, publication, and instead made it sound as if we are a mouthpiece of the GOP with the description of our paper as the "new choice for this underserved legion of Bush-loving free thinkers."
The idea behind the newspaper that was not emphasized is that political news and issues of national interest are already old news by the time they hit print, especially in a weekly publication. The best that a weekly publication can do then is focus on human interest and feature stories and to provide an open forum for debate of any issues that are important to the readers.
The Austin Student plans to do this. We have a very diverse staff with very different ideas, lifestyles, and political views, and our editorial page will not be closed to liberal views, but neither will it be closed to conservative views. It is my conviction that the true beauty of the First Amendment is that even those we don't agree with still have a forum. We might not like what someone says, but at least then we know where they are coming from, we know what kinds of ideas are circulating and threatening ideas and institutions we hold dear, and we can then better prepare ourselves to counter those arguments we don't agree with.
I think this is the true spirit of The Austin Student, one of open debate for those interested in debate and interesting stories for those who couldn't care less, and not the "new choice ... of Bush-loving free thinkers" Mr. Brass characterized our publication as.
Other than this one small disagreement, I loved the current issue and will continue to look to the Chronicle for great entertainment news and compelling features as I learn the "ins" and "outs" of my new home.
Jeremy D. Wells,
Editor, The Austin Student
Curtis Not an 'Independent'
Dear Michael King,
I appreciated your comments to Linda Curtis even as she continues to misrepresent herself as an "independent" and hide her long subservience to a secretive NYC-based sect which many (including myself) have called -- with compelling reasons -- a political-psychotherapy cult. In fact, all of Curtis' dozen-plus years in Texas have been choreographed by master demagogue Fred Newman, former USAF psy-ops researcher, philosophy professor, anarchist, unlicensed psychotherapist, harem-keeper, Marxist-Leninist-Maoist revolutionary, Lyndon LaRouche-Gino Perenti disciple, Sharpton-Buchanan-Bloomberg-Nader shill -- in short, a political chameleon who once tried to negotiate concurrent political alliances with both Louis Farrakhan and the Michigan KKK!
As often as Dr. Newman has reinvented himself since the 1960s, so his core organization has morphed in a stream of intermingling front groups: Centers for Change, International Workers Party, New Alliance Party, Rainbow Lobby, Peace and Freedom Party-Rainbow Alliance, Solidarity Party, Reform Party-NY, Patriot Party, Independence Party, Committee for a Unified Independent Party, Independent Texans, All Stars Project, Castillo Cultural Center, Institute for Short-Term Social Therapy, and many many more -- all with overlapping leadership, memberships, telephone numbers, programs, and accountants.
I worked with Fred Newman from 1971-74 in an Upper West Side community-organizing project called CFC. I headed the communication section, launched a respected weekly street newspaper, served on the Central Committee. I resigned abruptly in mid-1974 upon Chairman Fred's announcement that CFC would disband in order to join LaRouche's notorious National Caucus of Labor Committees. Newman's timing also coincided with LaRouche's ballyhooed "revelation" that the latter had been targeted in a Manchurian Candidate assassination plot involving brainwashed NCLC cadre, the CIA, MI-5, KGB, Mossad, Nelson Rockefeller, Henry Kissinger, and unidentified Cuban frogmen. In the ensuing group hysteria, LC members who openly expressed doubt about the story were forced into marathon "deprogramming" sessions involving sleep deprivation, long menacing interrogations, and incessant high-volume doses of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. I believe that Newman here began his on-the-job training as cult master.
Chairman Fred learned valuable lessons during his dalliance with LaRouche -- including the obvious ones: opportunism, divisiveness, and effective behavior-modification techniques. LaRouche was so ego-driven to establish intellectual hegemony over Western civilization that his resulting demagoguery made him easy prey for enemies. As Newman watched LaRouche self-destruct, he learned that he had to curb his ego and "fly under the radar." This included anointing disciples such as Lenora Fulani, Jackie Salit, and Linda Curtis to act like leaders and catch the political fallout, investigatory heat, etc. Thus Newman has remained much more "elusive" as a cult master than LaRouche.
To learn more about this shadowy group and its opportunistic leadership, please visit
, an extensive Web resource created by ex-Newmanite activist Marina Ortiz.
Clemency for Allridge
Thank you for the moving story about James Allridge III ["No Mercy," News, Aug. 20]. I sent a fax asking for the board of pardons to grant clemency, which I would not have done without first having read this article.
Thank you, Brian Johnson
Traffic Planning Needed
I have only lived in Austin for four years. I originally came from the black hole of Victoria, Texas. Black hole that it may be, at least their traffic lights are synchronized. I know that on the main roads, if you hit it just right, you never have to actually stop (so long as you are going the speed limit or 5 miles over) until you reach your destination. Now, in Austin, I have lived in several different areas, and I can see that planning was not something that was well thought out here. An example is the lights on 38th Street, specifically at Lamar and Medical Parkway. You sit at the Lamar/38th red light seeing a green light at Medical Parkway/38th and just as yours turns green and you start moving, Medical Parkway turns red. The bottlenecks at that location are ridiculous. So, please don't try to sell me bs that there were no other options but toll roads to facilitate traffic. I mean, if I am unaware of studies have been done, then I am sorry. But, it just seems that there are so many better ways to stop the bottlenecks. There are always other options. I implore our City Council to think outside the box, don't limit your thinking, and be open to new pathways without taxing those further who are already being taxed into poverty.
'Chronicle' Not as Good
The Austin Chronicle Calendar is not as good as it used to be. I am wondering what has happened. The Calendar used to list the events going on in Austin that were unique to Austin. The Calendar truly was a good resource for finding out what cool things were going on. Now, the current Calendar does not mention most of the cool events going on in Austin. And every day it mentions the [name deleted Ed.] Gallery. That gallery can not possibly have something cool going on every day. Please fix your Calendar. I don't even use it anymore I use Austin360.com and refer people to it rather than the Chronicle. I'd prefer to refer people to the Chronicle Calendar.
See 'Page Two,' July 23, 2004
I still very much enjoy your paper. But I miss "The Straight Dope." Will you please tell me the reason you dropped this piece? I believe myself and many other fans at least deserve to know why.
Tommy X Hancock
Against Facility on Lamar
On Aug. 26 after months of deliberation and four lengthy postponements beginning on May 6 the City Council will vote on whether to approve or deny a conditional-use permit for the purpose of establishing a minimum security correctional facility at 5117 N. Lamar.
The immediate neighbors and business owners are solidly in opposition to the proposed 52-bed facility for housing inmates from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
I strongly submit that on Aug. 26, the City Council should responsibly step up in support of the neighbors and honor the Planning Commission's March 23 unanimous recommendation to deny the issuance of a conditional-use permit for the building in question at 5117 N. Lamar.
The time is at hand for the council to do the right thing and stand in support of the Murray Place neighbors. Deny the pending appeal for a conditional-use permit for the property at 5117 N. Lamar. The ball is in your court.
Gerald J. Patrick
Support Austin Access
Letter to the editor,
The freedoms of speech and press are two of the fundamental attributes of those who truly live in an emancipated society. Unfortunately, in recent times we have seen the creation of "free speech zones" to muzzle dissenting political points of view, while the corporate media has become increasingly manipulated and biased. Here in Austin we have been blessed with Austin Access Television, which allows Austinites of every race, creed, religion, sexual preference, etc. to voice their own point of view Austin Access is one of the things that makes "Austin weird" and a great place to live.
Austinites need to know there is a move to limit public access and to censor and manipulate content.
The first issue is the move to close down the local public channel (15) and turn it over to Time Warner and friends (Austin Music Network) as a commercial station. To turn this valuable station over to the corporate giant Time Warner is to say "goodbye" to this very valuable low-rung public station. Secondly, there is a motion presented by some of the board members of ACTV to monitor programming. This is particularly reprehensible!
I would encourage all Austinites to call and write the City Council and the board of ACTV to keep public airwaves public and to stop censorship!
Keep Gas Tax at Home
Dear Mr. Paul Silver,
From atop my usual hobbyhorse, I beg to differ with your assertion that tolling our roads is the only option ["Postmarks," Aug. 13].
My argument involves a recent epiphany of mine concerning the traffic people, whose every move makes things worse. I had previously come to the conclusion that they must be stupider than humanly possible, which is, of course, impossible, and therefore an inadequate explanation for their extreme, and unresponsive, irresponsibility.
The road-toll fiasco, in which the only positive is more revenue (every other aspect, such as inevitable inefficiency, being negatives), made a click! in my mind that the transportation crowd's immutable policy of delaying as many vehicles as possible as often as possible for as long as possible (whether by means of traffic-signal misuse or of often-senseless lane mergers or of allowing left turns on green arrows only) is probably aimed at generating as much gas-tax revenue as possible.
Since this tax is apparently applied statewide, it requires an enormous increase in the tax generated in Austin to make any difference to Austin. Conversely, it is entirely understandable that Flat, Texas, doesn't want to pay more gas tax for the sake of Austin's roads.
I propose a grassroots movement to urge the legislature to apply the gas tax generated in each community to that community's road funding. Thus in Austin we perhaps would 1) not need the tolling and even 2) see some improvement in transportation efficiency. If our gas tax stayed here, maybe we would no longer need to burn 20% or so of each gallon at idle.
To the adage "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," I add the extension "Don't try to fix a problem by replacing it with several worse ones."