Our readers talk back.
Fri., Nov. 26, 2004
Voice of the People?
On the 9th to 12th of November I had an e-mail exchange with Mr. King asking why the Chronicle had not run a story on the allegations of election fraud in this past election. The text of the e-mail exchange can be found at www.angelfire.com/indie/chronicle0.
At this point I am not aware of the Chronicle having run any story about these allegations despite various grassroots news sources covering this issue. Note to the reader: please look at www.blackboxvoting.org for more on this story.
In my estimation this isn't just some kind of paranoid theory, but one very much supported by ongoing actions taken by our current administration. Yet your choosing to not report on it (though you knew it was going on) is part of the process of this issue being robbed of its legitimacy.
Is the Chronicle still the voice of the people? Was it ever? Does the voice of the people report on a story that impacts the citizens of the world so profoundly as would a fraudulent election of the United States of America? I should think so. And yet you didn't.
My issue here is not precisely with whether or not the election was a fraud (though I very much believe it was) but rather with the matter that when you were presented with the opportunity of writing a story about a growing number of citizens that believe that their election was rigged, you didn't. In fact, you (in my opinion) treated me rather rudely and rebuffed my concerns about your actions.
My hope is that you will grow to see the effect that your inaction has had, and in the future, when a story of grave importance comes along that the corporate media is not reporting you will perhaps report on it.
[News Editor Michael King responds: Despite his superhuman diligence, Andy Costell apparently overlooked "Wake Us When It's Over," Nov. 19 [News]. While berating us for irresponsibility, he also seems to have entirely overlooked our regular coverage of the issues raised by electronic voting and related matters over many months. We will continue to report on these stories, but we do plead guilty to having higher standards for news, voting fraud, and accuracy than either BlackBoxVoting.org or Mr. Costell. On the other hand, we could never hope to compete with him in either rudeness or condescension.]
Council Issues Complex
Members of the small-business community have met with all of the City Council candidates and hosted a candidate forum on Nov. 16 at which eight candidates participated.
We agree with Mike Clark-Madison that the central issue could and should be "quality of life" ["Austin@Large," News, Nov. 19] rather than environment versus business. All of our conversations with the candidates have been about how Austin can nurture its economic vitality so we can afford the quality of life we all want for ourselves and our neighbors.
A thriving economy, particularly for small businesses, allows us to afford to protect more land from sprawl, allows us to provide more comprehensive services for our homeless, allows us to reopen libraries and community centers, allows us to preserve the funky businesses that define Austin's laid-back culture, allows us to expand public arts projects, allows us to invest in a more friendly parking situation downtown, allows us to expand transportation choices, and allows us to resist pandering to inappropriate businesses that might take more from the community than they give back.
The candidates we will support are those who demonstrate the most depth of understanding of the obstacles to our greatness, and the broadest imagination of possible remedies, and the best skills of persuasion to build consensus with their colleagues on the council.
Only the most simplistic thinking sees the City Council race as left versus right or pro-environment versus pro-business. We have evolved past this. It is now an exhilarating discussion of information and imagination.
Hays County Troubles
Several members of the Hays County Commissioners' Court have gotten themselves into a terrible and embarrassing political and legal bind this past year over the Heatherwood subdivision near Dripping Springs. And they're trying desperately to maneuver out of the quagmire they created by supporting this scandalous development. Their behavior concerning Heatherwood has been so harmful to the public interest that their future political careers depend on how well they cover up what they have done.
County Judge Jim Powers and Precinct 4 Commissioner Russ Molenaar have, at great cost to taxpayers, consistently supported the nefarious Heatherwood subdivision of their avowed developer friends Paul Watkins and Rex Baker. In May, after creating turmoil in commissioners' court, Powers encouraged his developer friends to sue the county. They did.
When a competent outside attorney, hired to defend the county against the lawsuit Powers had invited, told commissioners she could win the case and recover all legal fees from the developers, Powers and Molenaar caused her to resign. Instead of requiring the developers to pay for their frivolous suit, Powers and Molenaar engineered a "settlement" wherein county taxpayers will pay legal fees for both the county and developer in a suit Powers helped to create and encouraged his developer friends to file.
In a clumsy and transparent attempt to cover up their mess, Molenaar and Powers called for Hays County District Attorney Mike Wenk to appoint a special investigator to probe "leaked executive session information that may have damaged the County's interest" and then accused others of the offense they had already committed themselves.
Wenk has shown that he will play ball with Powers and Molenaar by appointing an investigator Wenk claims is "absolutely qualified" but won't identify, or explain the jurisdiction, authority, and responsibility involved. In other words, we now have "secret police" in Hays County.
The irony is that while Commissioner Carter and HaysCAN have worked tirelessly to protect the public interest, Powers and Molenaar have been keeping their Heatherwood developer friends up to date and working tirelessly for them in commissioners' court.
HaysCAN sees a witch hunt on the way to cover up the mischief of Powers and Molenaar. Citizens should call and write to these two officials to demand an accounting and an independent outside investigator such as the Texas Rangers, whose responsibility it is to carry out these kinds of investigations. That's exactly what Powers, Molenaar, and others in Hays County government fear.
In celebrating the grand opening of the beautiful new City Hall building, we would like to recognize the contributions of the workers and laborers including but not limited to the many foreign-born workers in the construction of this magnificent new Austin landmark. These hard workers build so much of our great city, and we want to express our sincere appreciation.
City of Austin Commission on Immigrant Affairs
Coyotes Are Here to Stay
While I applaud Travis County for recognizing that the coyote "problem" is best solved by behavior modification for coyotes and humans, their proposed plan falls short of their stated objective.
Contrary to the opinion of the Travis County extension director, leghold traps do little or nothing to reinstill fear of humans in a local coyote population. This is because the trapped coyote is typically killed along with his or her newfound fear of humans, and the coyotes not caught in traps remain unaffected. Moreover, such traps are inherently nonselective and cannot discriminate between a coyote's limb and that of a dog, a house cat, or a child.
A safer and more effective way to teach coyotes to fear humans is through aversive conditioning techniques such as body language, loud noises, and pyrotechnic charges. In extreme cases, rubber bullets and pepper spray may be used. Further, Travis County should prohibit the intentional feeding of coyotes and other wild animals in urbanized areas with strong legislation and enforcement.
Coyotes are here to stay. In honor of the coyote's resourcefulness and resiliency, the Navajo called the species "God's Dog." If we're smart, we'll recognize that coyotes have much to offer us, not only by keeping ecosystems healthy, but by providing inspiring examples of ingenuity and adaptability in an ever-changing world.
Check out the Animal Protection Institute's Web site (www.api4animals.org) or call 916/447-3085 for a free brochure on living with coyotes and other wildlife.
senior program coordinator
In regard to "Letters @ 3am" [Nov. 12].
Mr. Ventura begins his most cogent passage with the admonishment, "Don't demonize people who disagree with you." That's good, but his piece is rife with examples of his doing otherwise.
When discussing a theoretical economic chaos, he says progressives must "present them [economic alternatives] in a way that badly educated people can understand." Do I detect a rather obvious and odious inference that those who don't vote "progressive" are automatically classified as "badly educated"? i.e., vote my way or continue to take your stupid pills, yes? He goes on to describe those who voted conservative as "Irrational," likening it to cases where "whole peoples go insane." This is far from the case.
Despite his own acknowledgment that progressives shouldn't "talk down" to white working stiffs, he continues to do so. As a former 17-year member of the United Steelworkers union, I take umbrage at the declaration that I and my fellow blue-collar workers are "unequipped for the complexities and paradoxes of the 21st century," and have, in some way, been "left behind." Bull. We are as able as anyone to do our own research and make fully informed decisions as to whom we wish to place in leadership positions. Just because our actions confound Ventura's thinking doesn't mean we're not entitled to take them; we'll choose our own path.
As to the war in Iraq, I also take umbrage to the notion that the "rural poor" are fighting this war. Tell that to my 21-year-old son, a Marine serving in Iraq. Our family is neither rural nor poor. He joined the Marines after 9/11, with his eyes wide open as to all the possible negatives that might come his way. He went to serve and protect all Americans, even those who would denigrate his efforts, like Michael Ventura.
And, finally, I'll really look forward to Ventura standing by me, and other firearm owners, the next time the leftists/elitists try to ban or otherwise restrict our right to keep and bear arms. I'll hold him, and all of his "progressive" friends, to his statement "Progressives must stand passionately with all who seek their fair share of the Bill of Rights." We'll see if, when the moment arrives, they're really willing to deliver! Personally, I'll bet they come apart like a cheap suit!
Younger Ventura Smarter
One week Mr. Ventura writes about "perfidy" ["Letters @ 3am," Oct. 1] and the next he tells us we must try to appeal to people who aren't very educated or intelligent ["Letters @ 3am," Nov. 12]. One week he demonizes Ralph Nader, and the next week he tells us not to demonize Bush and Cheney because demonizing is wrong.
Years ago in a brilliant audio recording titled Demo-crazy in America, Mr. Ventura said that the Democratic Party only served the purpose of creating the illusion of a democracy. Years ago, in his original collection of essays titled Letters @ 3am, Mr. Ventura told us a vital lesson he learned after his mother whacked him with a pot for crying. "Don't ever get on your knees for anyone," she tells him.
A few weeks ago, Mr. Ventura said Nader and other third-party voters would hate themselves for voting as they did. I feel much better today, having voted for Nader, than I would have if I had fallen to my knees to vote for a candidate who has seldom represented my views and would be unlikely to ever do so. I know what John Kerry stands for because I've examined his voting record and because I learned some important things from a younger, more focused, and more courageous Michael Ventura.
Planning Future With LCRA
To whom it may concern,
My father, William M. Peacock, bought 3,000 acres on Hamilton Pool Road in 1949. We moved to Austin in 1953. Our family has been a part of that community for many years. He always thought that some day Austin would grow to it. Obviously, that time is coming in the near future.
Through the years I have seen many changes in Austin, I-35, Loop 1, Loop 360, etc. We have lived in West Lake Hills for 31 years and worked on a Master Plan for our community. This has served us well as more and more people moved into the area. Growth is inevitable and no one can change that. However, it can be anticipated and planned.
I am convinced that LCRA will be the best agency to help us plan for the future. The proposed water line for Hamilton Pool Road will serve thousands of people and also preserve the land we love and help the environment. I am convinced the proposed Hamilton Pool Road water line is a necessity. We need to install a larger pipe to accommodate future development beyond RR 12.
Sunshine (Ex-) Patriots No Loss
I have one word for David Hamilton and his desire to leave the country because Bush won ["Postmarks," Nov. 19].
Speaking as a liberal, your rhetoric sickens me, as does your cowardice. You do nothing but make us look bad. So please don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. Also when things do get better (and they will), don't even think about coming back.
So in other words, get lost, stay lost.
I would remind my progressive colleagues of some words spoken at another dark time in out nation's history when all seemed hopeless. They rallied us then and they should suffice now.
"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated."
Thomas Paine The American Crisis.
Liberalism Not Dead Yet
Richard Stovall ("Postmarks," Nov. 19) expresses satisfaction in the death of liberalism, supposedly one of the outcomes of our recent election; however, to paraphrase one of America's most famous liberals, Mark Twain, rumors of the death of liberalism have been greatly exaggerated. In his letter, Mr. Stovall never actually defines liberalism, and I'd be interested in hearing how he does. In my mind, liberalism means, among other things:
1) using the law to protect people from the unbridled excesses of power and the market at large;
2) ensuring that citizens are not discriminated against or persecuted for their political, religious, social, or sexual orientation; and
3) believing that, in a country as wealthy as the United States, no child should go to sleep hungry, be denied health care, or live in a toxic environment.
Why am I so certain that liberalism isn't dead? This may surprise Mr. Stovall, but liberals like myself have no intention of remaking ourselves in order to be accepted by "flyover" America (to use his term).
Consider the very fashionable "red state-blue state" trope. Frankly, this is not a very accurate or useful way to look at what is admittedly a fundamental divide in our country; instead, if one paints the map in red and blue according to the voting results by county, a very different image emerges, that of the Urban Archipelago (which includes Austin and Travis County, I might add). That's right, every urban region, including the entirety of Silicon Valley, is a beautiful, cool azure.
What would it mean to the Unites States if the Urban Archipelago were to vanish into the fog like Brigadoon? What would the population be like? It would be a lot less diverse, a lot less tolerant, and a lot less educated. Indeed, even folks like Richard Stovall, who are clearly among the best red America has to offer, are drawn to the cultural, intellectual, and commercial opportunities offered by the Urban Archipelago. And we're glad you're here! But here in our sanctuary there will always be more of us than you. And if red America were somehow able to destroy the very liberalism that sustains the Urban Archipelago, then surely the goose that lays the golden eggs will have been sent to the slaughter.
APD Story: Nothing New
This new "article" about Mala Sangre failed to provide us readers with anything new about the case ["APD's White Takes 'Bad Blood' Back to Court," News, Nov. 19]. If Ms. Smith insists on pounding on APD's managerial skills she should consider digging into the upcoming changes at the Police Monitor (an APD affair) or write something about the clout of insurance companies on this noble institution. Even a stupid traffic ticket's effects on East Austinites would be more interesting.
Media's Disgusting Behavior
This is in response to Rob "Captain Boycott" McCarty's letter in your last issue ["Postmarks," Nov. 19]. WTEN, the ABC affiliate in Albany, N.Y., also refused to air Saving Private Ryan. And I, like you, was irate with that decision. One thing Rob didn't mention in his letter: ABC had told its affiliates that it would be responsible for any fines the FCC might levy. So the local affiliates' argument that they were afraid of being fined or penalized is duplicitous.
So we have the capitals of two of the greatest states in the United States blacking out this important and revered American film about the sacrifice of veterans, on Veteran's Day.
What are we to think? That we ask young men and women to give their lives for their country then don't even have the guts to present something which highlights the nature of their sacrifice. Pretty disgusting.
Thank You, Election Workers
The citizens of Travis County owe a debt of gratitude to the county employees and the community volunteers who worked during the November election period to ensure that every vote was counted and that the election ran smoothly.
The employees of the Elections Division of Travis County worked long hours preparing the ballots and the eSlate machines, training election workers, and counting ballots. The Assessor-Collector's Office processed a record number of voter registration cards. The sheriff's officers delivered the equipment containing the votes to the counting sites from receiving stations and early voting sites.
Citizens helped as election workers through early voting at numerous sites and on Election Day at 261 precincts. Others volunteered at the Ballot Board to open and verify more than 9,500 absentee ballots.
The League of Women Voters Austin Area thanks the election workers and citizens who worked so hard to make the election successful and the 354,000 citizens who came out to vote.
Barbara S. Hankins
LWV of the Austin Area