Our readers talk back.

Facts About RMA Bonds

To the editor,

The Feb. 11 letter from Dolores Leyba and Jim McDermitt claims, "The formation of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, as a new toll road authority in Central Texas, causes Travis County to commit the full faith and credit to the RMA bonds, obligating Travis County to raise taxes to pay for the bonds if the toll fees do not cover the cost of the bonds" ["Postmarks"].

Not true. Here are the facts. The bond documents, including the bonds themselves, contain language stating that neither the state of Texas nor any other political subdivision of the state of Texas, other than the CTRMA, is obligated to pay the bonds. Further, there is no pledge of taxes from any entity to the payment of the bonds, and the bonds will state that the CTRMA has no taxing power.

Ditto in relation to similar concerns raised about the deal that financed SH 130, SH 45 North, and the Loop 1 North extension, the three toll projects now under construction that began under the old Texas Turnpike Authority. Travis and Williamson counties and Austin have no obligations beyond the generous checks to purchase right-of-way that each government turned over to the state in 2002 at the time those bonds were sold.

Karen Sonleitner

Travis County commissioner and CAMPO board member

What's Up With the 'Chronicle'?

Dear Editor,

About your dismissal of Andrew Bucknall as a credible council candidate because he doesn't have enough money at this point ["Council Candidates Take Their Places," News, Feb. 4]. OK, I'm his father and a touch touchy. But!

Shouldn't the platforms, issues, and social activism be reported first? Then an informed electorate might have a basis for contributions that would level the financial playing field. But starting with wealth and connections sounds like Tom DeLayisms – a strange position for a populist paper like the Chronicle.

What's up with you guys?

Malcolm R. Bucknall

Don't Be So Defensive

Dear Editor,

I read with great anticipation your response to Ms. Menchu's grievances about your lack of coverage for Austin's Inauguration Day protest ("Postmarks," Feb. 4). How comforting to see that even after taking part in a 1,500-person protest in which the only violent and destructive acts were overseen by our mighty police force, we still have a place to come and be treated like misbehaving children.

If you didn't hear about it that's cool. You can just say so. We won't get mad or laugh at you because everyone at the Chronicle got sick for the several weeks before the protest and couldn't go out and see the thousands of pretty fliers around the city. Or perhaps if you were all busy counting buzzwords in the presidential address because everyone knows politicians are the true bearers of all social and political change.

All I'm saying is you don't have to get so defensive. You dropped the ball. Move on, learn from it; although, to rephrase your reply: "We confess some misgivings about participating" with a publication "that so cavalierly dismisses the role of" direct action. "Silly us, we thought that was a central component of democracy."

Next time, just give us a photographer, OK?

Aaron Cobb

An Inquiring Mind

Dear Editor,

Regarding the Feb. 4 story about the diswelcomed appearance of "JESUS SAVES" on your Schlotzsky's receipt ["Naked City," News]: 1) When did you discover the religious text? 2) Did you ever believe that it had been ordered by Schlotzsky's management or by Bobby Cox Companies Inc.? 3) Did you ask the Schlotzsky's worker about it? 4) Do you believe that you were singled out for this message or was it probably being printed on all Reg Original Sourdough receipts? 5) Its purchase by a David Dewhurst contributor did not prevent you from eating at Schlotzsky's. Would you knowingly patronize a restaurant whose managers permitted religious speech?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Mark Luckstead

[Lee Nichols responds: In reporting the story, I never talked to the employee but called the store in question; the manager answered the phone and referred all questions to Schlotzsky's corporate office. However, I was not the actual customer – that was my co-worker, Chronicle webmaster Brian Barry, so I'll let him answer the questions, in order: "1) I didn't notice it until I had already left the premises. 2) Not really. 3) I didn't get a chance to ask the worker about it (see No. 1). 4) No, although I am in need of a haircut, which might make me a target in some circles. 5) What's on the menu?"]

Nothing Christian About 'Impurities'

Daniel [Younger],

Your letter makes no sense whatsoever ["Postmarks," Feb. 11]. If our founding fathers discarded the impurities in our American "melting pot," where is the Christianity in that? Didn't Christ take care of the poor and downtrodden? And just who were those impurities? The Native Americans? The African slaves? The Chinese who built our railroads?

If our founding fathers were such great Christians, why did they support killing all the Native Americans? (Oh yeah ... manifest destiny.) Why did they support slavery? (Oops, I forgot ... the Bible supports slavery.)

If you are such a great Christian, Daniel, you have to ask yourself, "Who would Jesus discard?" But really, with a letter like yours, I don't think you concern yourself with questions like that.


Steve Coon

Kansas City, Mo.

Heaven Help Us?

Dear Editor,

I'm a lifelong Republican who thinks our current governor is a sad joke, our current Travis County chair is a self-important buffoon, the U.S. House majority leader should have been jailed long ago, and that TAB should be investigated under the federal organized crime and racketeering statutes. Then I hear that the new head of the Democratic Party, Mr. Dean, proudly boasts that he "hates all Republicans and everything that they stand for." No room for me there. This is a cry from all moderates, both Republican and Democrat – heaven help us? The entire political apparatus of this country is in the hands of the lunatic fringe, both left and right.

Scott Sexton

The Soul Cares

Dear Editor,

I've praised Michael Ventura many times in the past for being a good, caring, rational human being. Then, out of the blue, in some kind of "carnival" ecstatic state, he tells us that the soul doesn't care who or what it nourishes or destroys ["Letters at 3AM," Feb. 4]. Great. That puts him about on the same intellectual level as George Bush and his horde of Nixon cronies. Perhaps he should try looking into the latest discoveries of modern physics, such as Bose-Einstein Condensates and the collective wave functions of bosons. He might find that the soul, as part and parcel of the universe and symbol of the gods and demons of our ancient past, cares very much about what it creates and destroys. I would love to talk to him about my own Tiny Bang Theory. Methinks he has spent too much time with the half-baked satanic techies in this town who try to pass themselves off as scientists and engineers. We hope he recovers from his hangover.

Peace out,

Todd Alan Smith

Should Have Used Original Story

Dear Editor,

While I'm sure the new Chitty Chitty Bang Bang musical is grand ["Bittersweet Spotlight," Theatre, Feb. 4], it's too bad they chose to use the movie script instead of Ian Fleming's original story.

It had nothing to do with Lord Bomburst, dancing dolls, and German castles, and everything to do with a great recipe for fudge and a smuggling ring run by the French mob.

I guess Hollywood figured that would never fly.

Ross Smith

All Interested Salamanders

Dear Editor,

Re: Your article on FWS "arresting" criminals destroying salamanders ["FWS Punts Salamanders to TCEQ," News, Feb. 11]. I guess the city of Austin issues a five-day notice to all interested salamanders before beginning cleaning operations in Barton Creek Pool (ye olde swimmin' 'ole). And there is no "take" during cleaning because the salamanders can withstand fire hose pressures but not "pollution." Anyway ...

William Roberts


Utter Hypocrisy of Letter's Claims

Dear Editor,

When I read Mr. Younger's letter, "The Sludge Also Rises" ["Postmarks," Feb. 11], I was not as horrified to think that someone could have such a fundamental misunderstanding of America's metaphorical "melting pot" as I was at the idea that he would publish it. Apparently, he has missed the irony of the sheer social Darwinism contained in his letter. Moreover, for him to equate his beliefs to the "Christian principles and values on which we were founded" only demonstrates the utter hypocrisy of many ideas that can be carried under the Christian banner. Perhaps Mark Twain was right: "There has been only one Christian. They caught and crucified him early."

David Ryan

'No Matter What, Bush Is Right!'

Dear Editor,

For all the people in America and around the world who are denigrating the bravery of Iraqis who went and voted by claiming that any election held "under American occupation" is invalid and a sham, I was wondering if you felt that way about elections in, well, Europe? We've had troops in the ground in, well, Germany for example, since World War II; does that make all their elections over the past 50 years invalid? How about Japan? South Korea? Guam? How about elections in the 23 nations around the world that currently have a U.S. military presence? Just wondering if I could get a rational answer from someone about this apparent contradiction being fostered by the "no matter what, we hate Bush" camp.

Carl T. Swanson

Resist Social Security Changes

Dear Editor,

Would you trust a worm and a weasel with your Social Security check?!

I know I wouldn't. That's why I plan to resist entrusting my money to the people whose reason for invading Iraq was to "rid the world of weapons of mass destruction." The very people who solemnly swore off nation-building have spent billions of taxpayers' money on an ill-conceived mission.

Now they want to mess with Social Security. They say they want to fix it, but I'm wondering if what they really want is to tax us under cover of another name. After all, the invasion of Iraq was not so much an "invasion," but "a pre-emptive strike," to which there was to be a speedy conclusion.


Charles Rand

Sour Grapes

Dear Editor,

Garden-variety South Austin hippie, creative ad writer, seeks fair-minded, independent-thinking Personals editor with spine, to battle the twin towers of the all-American dollar and the sexual double standard, to give credit where credit's due, instead of pitching payola to the female ad writer who can stuff the Chronicle Classifieds coffers with the most money. Must enjoy steady diet of sour grapes.

Sam "Hambone" Mitchell

R.I.P. Neal's Hideaway

Dear Austin Chronicle,

A sad day is lost of a legendary blues club from the 1940s here in Texas: Neal's Hideaway. A place where myself, Lightning Hopkins, Mance Lipscomb, and others have played many of times. I am working on a benefit for the club and thought I might pass the story on to you. I also have something on my site about Neal's Hideaway as well:

Thank you,

Randy Pavlock

Supports Knaupe

Dear Editor,

I am writing to express my support for Gregg Knaupe for Austin City Council. I have known Gregg since our days with Ann Richards' 1990 gubernatorial campaign, and I know he will make good choices for everyone living in Austin.

He shares my concerns about growth without proper planning, and most especially, he will look out for those of us living east of I-35 who see not only residential growth but industrial and commercial growth as well. We need members on council who will work cooperatively with their fellow members, of course, but also think about the importance of working with surrounding cities and counties who contribute to our regional growth.

Regardless of how difficult the issue, I know Gregg will bring an open mind, a big heart, and an opportunity for the next generation of leaders to keep Austin the greatest city in the world.

As a progressive member of our diverse community, I hope you will consider supporting and voting for Gregg Knaupe for City Council.

Celia Israel

Former president of Austin Women's Political Caucus

Good damn liberal

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