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Our readers talk back.


No 'Polygamous' Mormons

Dear Editor,

Re: "Meet the New Neighbors," News, July 29: Quoting from a news release by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "the Mormons" – "Recent news reports regarding various issues related to the practice of polygamy, especially focusing on groups in Southern Utah, Arizona and Texas, have used terms such as 'fundamentalist Mormons,' 'Mormon sect' and 'polygamous Mormons' to refer to those who practice polygamy."

There is no such thing as a "polygamous" Mormon. Mormon is a common name for a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The church discontinued polygamy more than a century ago. No members of the church today can enter into polygamy without being excommunicated. Polygamist groups in Utah, Arizona, or Texas have nothing whatsoever to do with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

When referring to people or organizations that practice polygamy, terms such as those listed above are incorrect. The Associated Press Stylebook notes: "The term Mormon is not properly applied to the other ... churches that resulted from the split after [Joseph] Smith's death."

It's distressing to me that this article has misrepresented who this group is – they are not "Mormons" and you have misled your readership as to who they really are.

Dianne Kerr

Plano

[Associate News Editor Lee Nichols responds: While The Austin Chronicle often uses the AP Stylebook, we do not allow it – or any particular group (or church, as the case may be) – to firmly dictate our language choices. While the LDS church may want to disassociate itself from splinter groups, the fact remains that they, the FLDS, and other groups all sprang from a common root in the teachings of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. To this end, the word "Mormon" serves our readers as a convenient reference, regardless of whether the "Mormons" in question belong to the dominant branch of that faith. As for "misleading" our readership, the article makes it quite clear that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is separate from and does not recognize the legitimacy of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.]

'Chronicle' Hypocritical

Dear Editor:

How ironic and hypocritical that the Chronicle, which proclaims "alternative" lifestyles, found it necessary to go all the way to far West Texas to expose those unorthodox Mormons with their multiple mates and partners ["Meet the New Neighbors," News, July 29], while your Personals advertisements in the same issue facilitate sexual Variations of Women Meeting Women and Men Meeting Men, and thereby invite us to greet and "Meet the New Neighbors" right here in Austin.

The Chronicle appears to rely heavily on a legal defense of traditional family and marriage, but may be forgetting how people in Eldorado, Texas, might likewise see Austin lifestyles as peculiar. You also present Mormons' beliefs in the second coming of Christ as unusual. Try that description on most Austin Christian churches. In your seemingly eager journalistic anticipation of the U.S. government burning down the Mormon church in Eldorado, is the Chronicle ready to call in Janet Reno with her torches and tanks for the rescue? Mormons are historically used to that kind of treatment. Your story also fails to note that some polygamists are now testing the legality of their own lifestyles on marriage and sex thanks to the recent Supreme Court rulings on the legal right to privacy in sexual behavior.

Gene Burd

[Assistant News Editor Lee Nichols responds: Burd misses the major point of the article. The Chronicle is not the least bit interested in condemning any "alternative lifestyle," but it is certainly newsworthy that the FLDS leadership is accused of numerous violations of law, including funneling public funds into FLDS coffers and sexual assault of minors – neither of which fit into any "alternative lifestyle" that any reasonable adult would approve of. Nor are we "eager" for a violent end to the FLDS, but it is again newsworthy that experts who have studied or have firsthand experience with the FLDS believe that such an outcome is possible.]

An Honest and Glaring Portrait

Dear Editor,

Thank you for this terrifying and very informative account of a "prophet" that has settled in Texas again ["Meet the New Neighbors," News, July 29]. I was unaware of the FLDS until I read the featured article. If it weren't so unsettling, I would have been surprised to see a "News of the Weird" in the same issue.

Something tells me that Jeffs and his followers might not last as long as David Koresh did, but if he and his people do, we might have another frightening situation on our hands, this time more prominent due to the availability of large amounts of money and dirty power that Jeffs is accustomed to.

Thank you for printing such an honest and glaring portrait of what is to come in the future. Someone should send this article to Oprah. Wouldn't that be interesting?

Andrea Reiter


Missed a Buttload of Soul

Dear Editor,

Re: Review of Stephen Bruton's From the Five ["Texas Platters," Music, July 29]: I have had the pleasure of knowing Stephen Bruton as a friend for more than 10 years, additionally he has been a major influence on my own music. He was the first producer to show me the joy of being in the studio and putting my life down on tape when he produced Storyville (the CD that spawned the band). Artistically, he helped me achieve new levels in my work by surrounding me with such great musicians (Tommy Shannon, Chris Layton, David Grissom, Derek O'Brien, Frosty Smith, and Don Henley just to name a few).

The experience of working with Stephen on Storyville is one of the reasons I will do anything I can to work on any project that Stephen Bruton is involved with. I only wish I could have been on From the Five. In talking with other musicians who worked on From the Five, all commented on the quality of the work, the energy of the songs, and the overall quality of the project and their delight to be involved. Musicians are usually the hardest critics, and they loved the record, and I have to say I agree.

This is why I was so disappointed to read the recent review written in the Chronicle. It seems to me the review, as so much so-called music criticism is nowadays, is guided by the lowest common denominator. Fashion and celebrity seem to be able to make up for half-ass playing and sub-par songwriting – so much so that it has become the norm and writers don't know a good song (or album) if they hear one. The idea of musicianship, technical expertise, and soul are completely alien concepts to them.

You can always count on Steve to bring you a recording that takes you on a great journey from start to finish – even though it may not be full of radio hits. Stephen Bruton is an incredible songsmith and I continue to be impressed with his funny, sad, and quirky wit as he comments on life and love. I have to say I do not agree with your review. This CD has a great feel, and I have to ask how the reviewer missed this. This work is fresh, wise, and full of life – not to mention the badass quality of the recording. This all was missed because, it seems to me, being a critic has come to mean finding something to criticize – searching for the negatives, whether real or imagined.

I am no writer, and this letter will attest to that, but I do have some idea of what it takes to put songs to paper and then give them life. I do know the recording process. I do know that there is no stillness, no formulas, no color-by-numbers songwriting on From the Five – just great craft with a good feel and buttload of soul.

Malford Milligan


Jokes Are Old and Tired

Dear Editor,

On July 22, the Chronicle printed Chuck Shepherd's "News That Sounds Like a Joke" ["News of the Weird"] about patients with Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome being "too tired" to attend CFIDS Awareness Day. Having lived with CFIDS (often inadequately called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) for three years, I appreciated the irony of the article.

But the problem with one-liners like Shepherd's is that they perpetuate the myth that CFIDS patients are not actually ill, but just "too tired." While debilitating fatigue is a reality for CFIDS patients, it is only one in a constellation of symptoms, including muscle and joint pain, insomnia, chemical sensitivity, flu-like symptoms, and cognitive impairment. CFIDS is an auto-immune illness, like MS or AIDS. Those with mild cases are able to work and maintain families; the sickest are housebound for years.

I fall between the extremes, operating at about 25% of my pre-CFIDS functioning. Looking at me, you would never know that I am sick. I am not missing a limb, nor have I turned a murky shade of green. But 75% of me is gone. Seventy-five percent of my stamina, my energy. While I am grateful and joyful for the life I am still able to live, I mourn and rage daily for what I have lost.

Media jokes about CFIDS are as old and tired as CFIDS patients themselves. How about something new, that debunks the myths? How about compassionate, medically accurate reporting on an illness that affects an estimated 800,000 Americans? Giving voice to Austin's CFIDS community would be a great service to patients that – as "News of the Weird" noted – are often too ill to advocate for themselves. Will the Chronicle continue to print easy one-liners to give healthy people a chuckle over their morning coffee? Or, will it be progressive on the medical-news front?

Kari Cain


Question Answered

Dear Editor,

In your article on Murderball ["Zupan on Impact," Screens, July 22] you said, "Zupan, of course, is quadriplegic." How is that possible? A quadriplegic has lost the use of all four limbs? Zupan is clearly using the phone in pictures in the article, and I would think he would need the use of his arms for rugby as well. Please help me understand.

Chad Potier

[Associate Editor Shawn Badgley responds: Sorry for the confusion, which is common when discussing the effects of spinal injury: In so many words, quadriplegia means varying impairment in all four limbs. Yes, Mark Zupan can use the phone. He can even drive, using a hand lever. He can push his wheelchair and he can throw a ball. As mentioned in the story, Zupan is a 3.0 in quad rugby, the second-highest assignation, indicating that he has better-than-average range of use. He does not, however, have complete use of his arms. His hands possess little grip or strength. As explained in the film, for instance, many quad rugby players use a light glue to aid in maintaining control of the ball. Zupan himself straps weights to his hands in order to lift them. It should also be said that, as with elite able-bodied athletes as compared to maybe you or me, Zupan, as an elite disabled athlete, is hard to physically compare to his quadriplegic peers in terms of his being in better shape.]

It's Not 4.7, but 5.5 Miles!

Dear Editor,

It's amazing that your paper could publish an entire article based on the notion that it's impossible to live in 78704 and more than 4.7 miles away from AMD's current campus without taking the five minutes of fact checking required with the map technology provided for free on the Internet ["Discrepancies in AMD Lantana Traffic Data?," News, July 29]. I suspect Steve Beers made his maximum commute distance calculation assuming that everyone flies to work, but since we're still bound to driving fossil-fuel burning vehicles on paved surfaces, the distance will be a little further than the proverbial crow's flight. I did a check on Yahoo! Maps from a residential intersection in 78704 to AMD and it showed a 5.5-mile travel distance.

Matt Rafacz


Our Silence Is Suspicious

Dear Editor,

We need more coverage on Downing Street and House Resolution 375. Say whatever you like – we're interested in where your political experts stand on this issue. Just say something. Your silence is becoming suspicious.

Thomas Allen Humphreys


Doesn't Trust APD

Dear Editor:

In the vain "you forgot to ask me" vein, I'd like to respond to Jordan Smith's last two articles on APD.

In her recent Taser story, besides the health risks and lack of studies on target populations, there's a big piece missing here ["Tasers Helped Reduce Use of Force, APD Report Says," News, July 29]. APD should not be proud that use of force is down on the lower end of the force continuum (soft and hard hand controls, pepper spray, etc.) and up at the highest end of the spectrum. This past April they changed policy to reflect that Tasers should be used before a gun, after all other options have been exhausted or are deemed not applicable if a suspect is using deadly force against them. They are violating their own policies by continuing to increase their rate of use.

The Rocha "new drug test" ["Rocha Case: New Drug Evidence Raises Questions About County Lab," News, July 22] story continues to shed light on either a corrupt or an incompetent (or both) police force, but there's a key piece of the story missing: the numbers! Tetrahydrocannabinol was measured at 0.0048 ml/l and the 9-Carboxy-THC level at 0.020 ml/l. Dude! That's like the contact high off a joint smoked next to you six weeks ago!

Was the first test "false" or was the second round ordered to expand the range for any use? Does this "new news" insinuate justification of force? Well sorry, APD, we ain't buying. According to witnesses and inferring from the amended coroner's report, which cites cuts and scratches on his face and upper chest, he was flat on the ground when they shot the unarmed teenager in the back (not leaning over Officer Doyle – the wild card in the story; where was his Taser?).

Alotting 75% of the city budget for this kind of "public safety"? This is truly sad, y'all.

Rest in peace Daniel, we're with you,

Debbie Russell


Grant Park?

Dear Mr. Gray,

Though I could be mistaken, as I haven't lived in Chicago for nearly seven years now, I'm pretty sure you were wrong when you said Grant Park was the "Hundreds of acres of prime lakefront real estate, set aside for public use since 1835" ["TCB," Music, July 29]. Grant Park, at least as far as I knew, usually referred to the comparatively small area surrounding Buckingham Fountain, between Michigan Avenue and Lake Shore Drive. Thus, the Art Institute – though close to the park – is not actually "in" the park.

Cheers,

Marshall Escamilla


West Lynn Closed Is City's Loss

Dear Editor,

I understand John, Cameron, and Ann have closed the multi-award-winning West Lynn Cafe to concentrate on Mother's (the former site – now under new ownership - is now Cosmic Cafe with an Indian influence).

The closing of West Lynn is a real loss to Austin so I for one hope Mother's outlasts us all. In my book it's part of Austin's soul.

John Blinn


SOS' Extremist Shenanigans

Dear Editor,

Re: SOS anti-AMD billboards: Hmmm ... so it's not OK to build wisely over land that is bound to be developed already, but it is OK to pollute my view of downtown with a whiny billboard ["Discrepancies in AMD Lantana Traffic Data?," News, July 29]?

Are there no other projects (maybe ones they can actually do something about) to go stop? When are we going to stop giving attention to SOS' extremist shenanigans?

Give it up ... AMD is relocating. Move on! And thank goodness billboards have as much staying power as SOS these days! (Allowed if it's already there, but banned from being built.)

Julie Cooper


Tambaleo in Trouble Because of Developer?

To whom it may concern,

I am co-owner of Tambaleo, located on the corner of Third and Bowie. My partner and I have known of the potential redevelopment of this lot for a while, and would like to create awareness of what this project could mean for our business. Tambaleo has been operating for just over 21/2 years and is a very profitable and growing business. We have invested a considerable amount of money in this property along with an immeasurable amount of time. With our renewal option, which we plan to execute, we have about 21/2 years remaining on our lease contract. This puts us well beyond the estimated start date of the project and we have yet to have a conversation with the developer regarding the future of our business. We showed profits in our first year of business and doubled revenues in our second. Currently we are trending to show more than a 30% increase in year three from year two. With more than $100,000 invested in lease hold improvements and ongoing renovations along with 14% of our gross earnings being allocated to the highest sales tax rate in the state, we are astonished to have found ourselves in such a vulnerable position. Having achieved a strong and profitable business the intention has always been to negotiate a longer-term lease contract and continue what we have worked so hard to build. It is truly disheartening to see projects like this take shape without giving any consideration to the businesses that will be destroyed in the process.

Chad Mize

Owner/general partner

Carpe Diem Entertainment LLC, DBA Tambaleo


Not About Parks, but Money

Dear Editor:

Last week, after Hays County Commissioners Court narrowly approved a $100,000 grant for Belterra subdivision parks, County Judge Jim Powers is quoted as saying, "We are a pro-park people" and "What's sad is when we get into a situation where the developer is involved and parks are bad things." Powers' comments followed a 3-2 vote in which he voted to give public parks money to a high-end residential developer.

Parks are not bad things, but using public money to subsidize a developer's subdivision is.

Putting a positive spin on a bad precedent is nothing more than 2006 election politicking by Powers and by Precinct 4 Commissioner Russ Molenaar, who sponsored the agenda item simply to curry Belterra votes. Molenaar desperately needs to curry votes after his wasteful Nutty Brown Road fiasco, locally known as "Molenaar's Folly."

County grants administrator Richard Salmon has leveraged the taxpayers' parks bond money 4-1 in an outstanding series of public park projects. For every dollar contributed by the county, others contributed $4. The Commissioners Court unanimously approved each of these public parks. This time the Belterra developer scammed county taxpayers with help from Powers and Molenaar.

Kudos to commissioners Debbie Ingalsbe and Susie Carter for voting in the public interest by voting against this project. Shame on Commissioner Will Conley, who voted for this project and failed to heed his own words about upholding the county's parks bond reputation with reputable projects.

Charles O'Dell

President

HaysCAN


Takes TAKS Test to Task

Dear Editor,

I appreciated your comments regarding the TAKS test ["Capitol Chronicle," News, June 4, 2004]. I have been a teacher since 1969 and love helping children learn. It seems so disturbing that some of the testing is so inconsistent. For example, the fifth grade science test, now in its third year, required a student to have a 77.5% accuracy in order to pass the test. If we are wanting to encourage students to stay interested in an area, it seems this is not the correct way to do it. Many other areas only require a 60% passing rate. I am sure a lot of money is spent to pay some statisticians to develop a very complex plan, but these are children. It is an exciting challenge to get them engaged, don't we need to encourage them a little?

Susan Nelson

Amarillo


Good Rock History

Dear Editor,

That was some pretty good rock history from that ol' Warren Jeffs in his Mormon compound out West Texas way ["Meet the New Neighbors," News, July 29]. As regards the Beatles and that Negro he says "taught them how to do it" 'fore they went worldwide, do you think he was talkin' 'bout Billy Preston? He sure can write a good "simple song."

Patrick Judd


Thanks, but Get the Name Right

Dear Editor,

First I'd like to say thank you for the excellent review for Petra's Pecado ["Arts Listings," July 29]. I am so happy you enjoyed the show. I wanted to let someone know that my name is Leticia Trejo Mckendrick (Tina Tamayo), not "Lisa."

Thank you so much for your time,

Leticia Trejo Mckendrick

[Editor's note: The Chronicle regrets the error.]

Happy With Indian Palace

Dear Austin Chronicle,

I was so happy to read your recent review of Indian Palace restaurant on Far West Boulevard [Food, July 22]. My wife and I have been enjoying the dinner buffet there since it opened (even before they got their liquor license). The owners, who run the place, are always friendly and the food is delicious. I'm glad to see one of our favorite family-owned local restaurants recognized and hope more people check it out. Thanks for reviewing such a great place.

Alan Reizner

p.s. I always order two glasses of water – the second one is to cool down my fork.

Knows What Jesus Would Do

Dear Editor,

If Jesus Christ were alive today, he would never, ever, ever use his turn signals.

As ever,

Blair N. Bovbjerg


Suspicious of Police

Dear sirs,

Daniel Rocha's murder by Austin police can't be justified even if he was high on cannabis (marijuana), which he wasn't! It's very strange that the cameras were turned off in the police car at the time. (If they really were?)

If the police murder someone who is not trying to kill them or someone else, that is a homicide. They should be subject to the full extent of the law even if that includes the death penalty.

Police are only not above the law, they are supposed to be setting an example for the rest of the citizens. Therefore the penalty should be more and not less than for other citizens.

As far as being high on cannabis, people that use cannabis are more peaceful than people that are straight or on any other drug. I know this for a fact because my brother was a violent alcoholic who only acted normal under the influence of cannabis. He had many other mental problems. When he was on alcohol he would try and kill me with a knife or any other weapon he could get his hands on. Only the use of cannabis would make him a normal, reasonable person. My mother would ask me to get him cannabis to help keep him nonviolent and out of mental institutions. If cannabis was legal, how many lives would the use of this drug save? Cannabis is a drug of peace, regardless of what the crooked police say.

Julian Ward


Texas Norml

Future Isn't Pretty

Dear Editor,

I have just come back to Texas from a long and strange diversion in Las Vegas. It is not what you think: Gambling, showgirls, and quicky marriages are just a mirage. It is hyper capitalism. It is dense smog forming from clear blue skies in less than 10 years, homeless people being given bus tickets to other towns so the newbies do not have to see them, one of the most beautiful valleys I have ever seen completely destroyed by an insatiable greed, it is the mountains that surround that valley being topped-off like shrubs so they can fit just one more vacation home. It is "communities" with fences and guards, where no one knows anyone else. No one knows the history, the beauty, the ecosystem. Profit is the only answer. Why am I telling you this? Well, I'm back and I see more people on one street here that care about their community than there are in the entire city I came from. But I also see the developers with their claws in every corner of the city and when they are in the game they have the ball. A lot of letters last week lamented the change in attitude here recently. Let me tell you as someone who is back with fresh eyes, the changes have just begun and it is going to take a lot more than bumper stickers to keep Austin weird. This is not to be construed as an insult to the activist community, more as a warning to everyone who thinks that it can't happen here. Check the back of this paper, the development is in full swing with very little chance of even slowing.

Britton Jorgensen


Outraged and Scandalized

To the editor,

I am outraged and scandalized as I read of the apparent change in priorities of the Texas Legislature during its special session: While our state officials continue to debate and disagree on how to fund public education in Texas, they seem to unanimously agree on the increase to the retirement benefits and salaries of Texas judges. The main argument, among others, in favor of this new bill is that state judges have not received a salary increase for the past seven years.

To begin with, no state official should receive any increase in salary, retirement funds, or any other benefits at this time for a job they are unable or unwilling to accomplish. The Texas Legislature has been addressing the issue of how to fund public education this past year, and the state officials have yet to resolve it; they should not be rewarded for a job they are not doing. Furthermore, the reason these state officials are elected and paid for is to represent the people, not themselves; why, then, put their own financial interests ahead of the general welfare of the people, in this case public education? Additionally, this special session was called to formulate a plan to fund public education, not the wallets of state officials.

Thankfully, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has remained focused on what the state Legislature should be discussing at this time: the funding of public education and not the retirement and salaries of state officials ["House Gives Perry the Finger," News, July 29]. I would encourage Lt. Gov. Dewhurst to remain focused on Senate Bill 2 and to put the interests of the people ahead of those of egocentric politicians who have lost their sense of duty: to represent the people they govern and not to help each other out financially at the wrong time.

Sincerely,

Michael A. Livas

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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Our readers talk back.

July 9, 2004

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A plethora of environmental concerns are argued in this week's letters to the editor.

March 31, 2000

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