Our readers talk back.
I Am Innocent!Dear Editor,
Re: Austin Chronicle cover story "Who Killed Father Ryan?" [News, June 17].
Turning a blind eye to justice affects everyone. As Martin Luther King said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." I was wrongfully convicted, more than 22 years ago, for the murder of Father Patrick Ryan in Odessa. Why can't a truly innocent man get justice? Is there a double standard of justice here in Texas?
When something goes wrong in the criminal justice system, it's never too late to try to correct the mistake. Sooner or later, justice must prevail. In my wrongful conviction case the ultimate outcome which should be: full pardon based upon innocence is now left up to the top leadership of Texas, namely, the Board of Pardons and Paroles and the governor. Are they going to continue to deny justice to an innocent man? Or are they going to take the necessary steps to correct this obvious wrongful conviction?
I would like to think and believe wholeheartedly! that Gov. Perry would strongly adhere to his statement that he made (as quoted in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Jan. 18, 2001) regarding correcting wrongful convictions: "Either we will confirm the previous findings of a jury, or we will correct a grave injustice in instances where the wrong person has been convicted."
I humbly appeal to you, Gov. Perry, to intervene and help bring my wrongful conviction to an end.
Don't give me the deaf ear, governor!
Don't ignore my cry of innocence, governor!
Don't ignore my call for justice, governor!
Don't allow my wrongful conviction to linger on and on and on, governor!
One thing is for certain, and has been proven to be true: I did not kill Father Patrick Ryan. I was innocent yesterday! I am innocent today! And, I will be innocent in perpetuity!
James Harry Reyos
See 'Crash'To the editor,
What a painful week! More grief for our community because an unarmed kid dies in a confrontation with police. More friendly fire hitting all those cops who use the least possible force day in and day out, who don't drink too much off duty, and don't make off-color jokes. More frustration for all those dedicated city officials who are dealing with systemic problems.
Austin has a lot of work to do and there are no simple solutions. But maybe there's a way to take one small step in the right direction at a time when bad feelings are at their worst. I don't believe in saying that anything deserves to be "required reading," or "required viewing." But if there are any generous benefactors out there looking for a way to help, they should buy out the theatres and offer free public showings of Paul Haggis' new movie Crash for every police officer, official, and resident who's willing to go see it.
Short of wholesale citywide shoe-swapping, it's the best way we have to get a look at the mess we're in from someone else's perspective.
Levy RespondsDear Editor:
This is being written in response to Mike Blizzard's characterization (among other charges) in last week's Chronicle of me being a "bully" ["Postmarks," June 17]. My initial reaction was simply to say that I resent Mike's perceptivity. Then I realized that perhaps Mike was simply being disingenuous in choosing to mislabel the same passion for Austin that he has, and that in a democracy reasonable people can disagree. So I called Mike, and after a lengthy conversation it appeared that there is probably not a nickel's worth of difference in how we see the problems facing a community we both love very much. (Where we do differ: Mike trusts Robin Rather Murray, and I do not, which I attribute simply to Mike's being young and naive.) Mike's criticism of my style is fair, but his implication that I am anti-women would be challenged by a large group of females ranging from my 90-year-old mom, to my three daughters, to the Texas Monthly staff, which is 85% female, most of whom will probably attest to the fact that I have created a great place for women to work, widely recognized as a firm with maximum flexibility for working mothers, no glass ceiling, and promotions based on merit. Mike also conveniently failed to note that Beverly Griffith lost her race to Betty Dunkerley, and Margot Clarke lost to Jennifer Kim. I must sign off now, because the Ace Brass Knuckle Company catalog that I was eagerly awaiting just arrived in the mail.
'Chronicle' Just a GOP Front!OK kids,
It's been nearly two months since it was revealed that the Downing Street Memo proves that Bush and Blair altered intelligence to support a preemptive war in Iraq, which, the last time I checked, is an impeachable offense.
Five hundred thousand Americans have signed a petition created by Rep. John Meyers to demand a congressional investigation. Ninety-four House members have signed on as well. More than 10,000 people a day visit www.afterdowningstreet.org, and yet the Chronicle has yet to do this subject service. What the fuck is going on with you guys?! Are you a secret front for the GOP? Grow some cojones, you pansies. I expect this from Fox News, but I've always considered you guys to hold the bar a bit higher. The emerging progressives in our government are counting on you, the progressives in media, to be their rallying support while they ask the tough questions they've been too scared to ask before.
Not that I'm questioning how you rate your journalistic priorities ... after all, that was an amazing cover story about frosting the other week. Way to go guys.
Mike "Dub" Wainwright[News Editor Michael King responds: We'd repeat to Mr. Dub what we've already published about the Downing Street Memo, but we pansies are too busy baking cakes and, um, reporting on many other stories that he deems too trivial to note. Silly us. We have been attentive enough to note the difference between U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Michigan, and somebody named "Rep. John Meyers," who as far as we can tell doesn't exist. But when you're busy lecturing other "progressives" on their failings, you can't be bothered about such details. Other readers interested in the subject can refer to www.downingstreetmemo.com and other sites.]
Talking With the ManDear Editor,
The April 1 extra issue featured an article on how to talk to the police ["Keeping the Party Alive," The AC, April 1]. Best wisdom in 20-plus years of the Chronicle. It was tongue-in-cheek but, well, dead accurate.
Is it available online? Everyone should read this article. Maybe it could be available in each issue as a public service.
Learning to say "Yes sir, right away sir" could save precious lives.
Tamara Dwyer[Editor's response: Yes, indeed it is available online. See ac-austin.com/story.php?section=word for this article and ac-austin.com for the entire issue.]
Linguistic DebateDear Editor,
In her review of the movie dot the i Marjorie Baumgarten says that Gael García Bernal's language is Portuguese ["Film Listings," June 17]. Hello, he was born and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico! Can we say that Nicole Kidman's native language is French when she was born in Honolulu and raised in Australia?! Also, the commonly used phrase in Spanish that means "I love you" is "te quiero" ... which does have an "I," though Marjorie blasts the movie for not making sense in that regard. Please ask Marjorie to research her facts more carefully, especially when related to other cultures and languages.
Antonio Brunner[Marjorie Baumgarten replies: The character Bernal plays in dot the i comes from Rio de Janeiro, where the native language is Portuguese. The character speaks English in the movie. The actor indeed hails from from Mexico. Also, in Spanish the word for love is "amor," which does not contain the letter "I." All we are told in the movie is that a kiss is the dot over the letter "I" in the word love a word that has no "I" in English, Spanish, or Portuguese.]
Levin Contemplates LevinDear Editor,
In regard to the article "Pro-Kim/Anti-Clarke Crowd Celebrates" [News, June 17], which was quite accurate overall, I'd like make a few points.
First, I didn't feel at all out of place at the Kim victory party. While most attendees were Democrats, there were at least half-a-dozen Republicans there ranging from Asian business leaders to Republican activists I have worked with for many years.
I also enjoyed catching up with several friends from my years at UT who are either Democrats or independents. I don't mind talking to Democrats or else I would have to stop speaking with my parents! Ultimately, all of us are more than just party animals, and every Austinite has a stake in good city government.
Also, I was asked whether a Republican could win citywide now and candidly said no. Of course, I don't have veto power over which Republicans, if any, might run citywide against Kim or anyone else. I always encourage fellow Republicans to get involved in city government and run for office while also trying to be realistic. There is value in providing voters a choice and getting a platform to advance important issues, even if victory is elusive.
Also in saying "we pulled her over the line," I did not necessarily just mean Republicans, although I think the results in different parts of the city show that the support of Republican activists may well have been a necessary though not sufficient condition.
I think an even broader center-right coalition was mobilized, including, for example, real estate agents who were offended by Clarke's attacks and young professionals who tend to be conservative on economic issues though their views may vary on social issues. Thus, I do strongly agree with the Chronicle's conclusion that this election represents a changing of the guard in Austin politics.
Marc A. Levin
This Is So FunnyDear Editor,
I was amazed no one responded to the "Page Two" column (June 3) that bemoaned the state of "current film criticism," including the sentence "It's generated into the almost always predictable, anti-Hollywood (while really loving Hollywood), well-made-film school of criticism, abandoning ideological, political, and philosophical appreciations."
In order to help readers understand and interpret the Chronicle's movie ratings I've included a handy "translation guide." The following list identifies how many stars are added or subtracted by the Chronicle reviewer to what one would normally have expected.
directed by Austin director add one star.
it contains lesbian kiss add one star.
it contains lesbian theme add two stars.
it has subtitles add one star.
setting is primarily in a foreign country add one star.
it stars Sylvester Stallone, Steven Seagal, Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Vin Diesel subtract two stars.
it stars no one 99.9% of Austinites have ever heard of add one star.
it includes a car chase subtract one star.
it was positively reviewed in the Statesman subtract one star.
it portrays U.S. military in a positive light subtract two stars.
it portrays organized religion in a positive light subtract one star.
it includes multiple fart jokes or other humor about bodily functions subtract two stars.
it can be easily understood without a college degree subtract one star.
it contains nudity of someone that would cause most people to have nightmares add one star.
it contains nudity of someone that would cause most people to become aroused subtract one star.
it has an unequivocally happy ending subtract one star.
it has won or will win an Academy Award subtract half star.
it has won or will win an award at Cannes film festival add one star.
it is expected to be No. 1 at the box office at some point in time subtract one star.
Just WonderingDear Editor,
Re: Kevin Brass' article on local TV news content during the sweeps, and how mindless the subject matter is ["You Are There!," News, June 10].
The piece was very entertaining, biting, and "good textbook Chronicle," but, was it self-deprecating humor or a self-portrait to follow on the next page with a full-color spread on high school prom fashions and dance steps ["Shake Yo Rump-ah!," Feature]? Gotta wonder.
Garza HighDear Editor,
The article "High School by Redesign" [News, June 10] focuses on the need for change in Austin high schools and even favorably mentions Austin ISD's own Garza Independence High School, but that is as close as the two entities usually get: a mention in the news that Garza is indeed a part of AISD. I have worked as a facilitator at Garza High School since it opened in 1998 and have seen the tremendous success we have had with students firsthand. One would think that AISD would include Garza administration, staff, and students in any conversation about redesign, indeed dissect what Garza does and try to emulate those parts that are the most successful. (Often we are isolated because our approach is so different.) While we are definitely not perfect, we strive on a regular basis to listen to students and make adjustments based on their continually changing needs. Maybe it's like the old saying "You can't be a prophet in your own land."
Pattern Always the SameDear Editor,
The pattern in every dubious police killing of a civilian is the same. Public outcry and demonstrations. A couple of days of stonewalling, then chief gives a consoling, but controlled, press interview, pledging to reach out. Internal investigation. Police monitor. Routine grand jury whitewash. Letter-writing campaign by the police union about how the officer is really the victim. A federal suit. Appeals to the Department of Justice. Nothing changes. Another killing follows. How many more people will the police kill before the city finally does something? Maybe it's time to stop relying on alternatives that don't work. Maybe it's time for hardcore political organizing. Maybe it's time for the Mothers and Grandmothers of Police Victims to follow the mayor around the city and be at every city council meeting until the political leaders demand an end to police killings by a department that is out of control.
James C. Harrington, director
Texas Civil Rights Project
Perry's Statement an Affront to Human DignityDear Editor,
As a child of the military and an American, I am embarrassed to be a resident of Texas today. Gov. Rick Perry's recent suggestion that gay veterans should leave the state of Texas is some of the most hateful and inappropriate rhetoric I have ever heard from a Texas politician ["Quote of the Week," News, June 10]. He should apologize and resign from office.
There are more than 66,000 gay and lesbian veterans living in Texas, according to service members Legal Defense Network. These people protect and defend our nation with integrity and honor, despite a growing a lack of human rights in the state of Texas. These veterans deserve our respect and gratitude, not a callous suggestion to leave their homes.
Texas is better off with diversity, not bigotry. Close-mindedness and hate are not values that represent the majority of Texans.
Gov. Rick Perry is an affront to human dignity and should not be allowed to remain in office.
Great Music Knows No Color BoundariesTo the editors,
I just spent one of the greatest musical weekends in Austin I have ever had. Friday and Saturday I was at Nelson Field listening to the second annual Alvin Patterson Battle of the Bands and Drumline Competition. Sunday I was at the Delco Center listening to the Gospel Explosion. (Unfortunately, I missed the Juneteenth parade due to a previous commitment.) But wait, in this "Music Capital of the World," laid-back and tolerant Austin culture, I was one of about 10 white people at Nelson Field and one of five white people at the Gospel Explosion (the other four were reporters). People wake up! You don't know what you are missing! Therefore, I am issuing a formal challenge to all those folks who say they are Austin music fans (of any color!) to come out next Juneteenth and hear what I'm talking about! It makes me happy just to think about it.
Natural Ear Music School Celebrates 15th Anniversary!Dear Editor,
We at Natural Ear Music School are celebrating our 15th year of operation in the city of Austin, and have had year-round bands since 1996; the first was Red Headed Stepchild, and eventually featured a 13-year-old Will Knaak on lead guitar and vocals. They cut a full-length CD in 1998 which is still in distribution. Will is now on staff here at Natural Ear Music, as well as Texas Hall of Fame members John X Reed, Freddie Krc, and our director, Alvin Crow.
We welcome the Paul Green School of Rock to Austin, but are collectively scratching our heads over the big deal he's making about it ["TCB," Music, June 17]. Austin School of Music (est. 1996) was our first serious imitator, so we have seen this before.
We had 22 weekly bands last year: the Flames, who won the AMN BOB; Loose Cannons, five fifth-graders who are playing this Saturday, June 25, at the Victory Grill; and Diamondhead, who were also finalists in the AMN Battle of the Bands.
Our packed Rock and Roll Summer Camp will have its concert this Thursday at the Broken Spoke. We expect to max the house. Check out www.naturalearmusic.com for current videos.
Students Won't LearnDear Editor,
Last week, Gov. Perry signed a bill to put a nonvoting student on the UT System Board of Regents. OK, let's review. The UT System is a $22 billion enterprise that must manage a $7 billion annual operating budget, 21 million acres of land, and almost 90,000 employees, to name only a few of its many facets. How many men or women under 25 sit on the board of directors of private corporations even a 10th that size? A student simply hasn't had time to learn enough to contribute anything substantial to running such an entity. Only in politics, where spending other people's money is a way of life, could such an idea even be presented, much less enacted.
Just to make the figurehead nature of the position more explicit, the student regent will have a one-year term, as opposed to the six-year term of a real regent insuring that each ambitious politico-in-training will be booted quickly to make room for the next one.
A student regent has long been a goal of student politicians. It sounds great. It looks great on a résumé, even better than president of student government. However, no one should be under the illusion that taxpayers or students will gain anything substantial from it.