Our readers talk back.

Saddened but Not Shocked by Jackson County

Dear Editor,

Ricky [Patterson] is my first cousin. I am not shocked by Jackson County ["Crackpot Crackdown," News, Oct. 21]. My father, Ricky's uncle, left Edna because of the lack of advancement for the black man and the prejudice that exists. I am so sorry that my cousin has fallen victim to a flawed system. I am suprised that [Bobby] Bell can sleep at night.

Linda Marie Balabin (Patterson)

Clovis, Calif.

That's Just Embarrassing?

Dear Editor,

I am sure that you have already been throttled by other readers for calling Jackson County part of "East Texas" in last week's cover story when the map accompanying the report clearly refutes that assertion ["Crackpot Crackdown," News, Oct. 21]. As does any real sense of Texas geography.

Jordan Smith tells an interesting tale. The problem is that she doesn't understand that the county she is reporting on is in a different region of the state (with similar – yet distinct – cultural issues). How can your readers trust any attempt at insight or even the recitation of facts?

Next time, look at the map before you go to print and before you blow it on the cover page. And when you are reporting on the Coastal Bend, aka the Golden Crescent, say so.

I hate to sound harsh, but that's just embarrassing.

Better luck next time.

Chris Lippincott

[News Editor Michael King replies: The first sentence of Jordan Smith's story describes "the small Southeast Texas city of Edna, seat of Jackson Co." The passing references to East Texas have to do with similar historical Texas patterns of racial discrimination. As Mr. Lippincott is surely aware, the broad geographical distinctions of "North, East, South, and West" Texas are subject to many local refinements (e.g., Central Texas, Texarkana, Coastal Bend, etc.). If he thinks that's embarrassing, he should read "Crackpot Crackdown" again.]

Ventura Wrong on Oil Costs

Michael Ventura,

It's time to put your money where your mouth is. You've been beating the peak oil drum for months now. Your column "Things to Come: Part 2" ["Letters @ 3am," Oct. 14] has pushed me over the edge. I'm tired of the convincing nonsense erupting from your pen. This column is full of inaccuracies. To contest just one misleading statement, you claim that "When oil reaches $100 and $200 a barrel, and it will," that it will cost "$150 to pump your car." This is obviously wrong.

If oil reaches $100 a barrel (and it won't, not in the foreseeable future – then the price of gas will approximately double. At $5 a gallon you are going to need a 30-gallon tank in your car (this barely exists in consumer vehicles) before pumping gas will approach 150 bucks. So even agreeing with your erroneous assumptions, the only vehicles spending that much money per tank of gas will be, well, tanks (SUVs, large trucks). Only at $200 a gallon will most consumer vehicles approach $150 per tank of gas, and that is not going to happen.

I've had enough. I'll bet you 1,000 greenbacks that in five years' time (or seven or 10) the price of oil in a barrel will be less than 100 (inflation adjusted) U.S. dollars. So come on, let's ape the famous Paul Ehrlich vs. Julian Simon bet – I get to be Simon. If you feel the need to decline, please stop writing these poorly thought-out, barely researched (though well-written) pieces of apocalyptic tripe. I for one am sick of the gloom and doom.

Brazos Price

p.s. Bring back Andy "Coach" Cotton.

[Michael Ventura responds: My mistake for putting numbers on a rhetorical flourish, thank you for pointing it out. But to call a column "full of inaccuracies" and merely cite one – that's sloppy. Nail me if I can be nailed, but not by innuendo. You believe that an unrenewable resource, for which there is drastically more demand, will remain more or less manageably priced? I hope you're right. As for your bet – if oil does what I think it's going to do, it will mean a lot of suffering for a lot of people. That's nothing I want to bet on. You see, Mr. Price, I don't enjoy coming to the conclusions that I've come to, and I really do hope you're right.]

Getting the Big Picture

Mr. King,

You nailed it! Thanks for expressing the concerns of many state employees – myself included ["Point Austin," News, Oct. 21]. What a scam and big cover-up being presented to the taxpayers and Legislature. Taxpayers are going to be screwed and the poor are going to be totally lost. What an inspiring article to realize that someone actually gets the big picture. Thank you.

Anita Moore

Wichita Falls

More Threats From Drilling

Dear Editor,

Many thanks for the News article in the Oct. 14 Chronicle re: threats to national wildlife refuges, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge ["Reports Detail Threats to National Wildlife Refuges"]. On the Arctic Refuge, your article highlighted the recent Texas Public Interest Group Report showing the high frequency of oil spills that have occurred associated with Prudhoe Bay drilling. I will briefly add an often overlooked point: that the coastal plain in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is much narrower than in the Prudhoe Bay region, and the proposed oil drilling activities and associated infrastructure will occur throughout the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge coastal plain. Area field biologists have repeatedly warned government officials about substantial negative impact on the feeding and/or reproduction of many species including myriad bird species, polar bear, musk oxen, and caribou. In particular, biologists are quite concerned that caribou and musk oxen will retreat up into the hills above the coastal plain where forage is of lower quality, where they will be more prone to predators such as grizzlies and wolves, and where there are fewer coastal breezes to reduce the toll of mosquitoes. The Gwich'in people in interior Alaska have depended on caribou that feed and calve in the Arctic Refuge for a substantial portion of their food for centuries and are opposed to the oil drilling. Surely, Americans can conserve by better fuel efficiency, greater use of mass transit, and increasing renewable resources rather than harming this unique region by reckless oil drilling.

Mona Mehdy

How Many Hours?

Dear Editor,

Like all but the most self-involved, my heart goes out to Willie Graham and his family ["A Hell of a Year," Music, Oct. 21].

I just have to point out that Mr. Jon Dee Graham's math skills ("I've been alive 67,176 hours") don't rate up there with interviewer Kathy McCarty's musical skills assessment of him as "the greatest songwriting guitarist alive." A subjective judgment many might question. I don't know. There are so many.

I do know that there are 24 hours in a day and 3651Ú4 days in a year. Twenty-four times 3651Ú4 equals 8,766 hours in one year. Willie Graham at age 6 (six times 8,766) has lived 52,596 hours. His dad, by his own calculations, is 7 years and 8 months old. Not sure how old he really is, but a 60-year-old would be 525,960 hours old.

So Willie made a good guess when he said the answer would probably be a million hours.

My best wishes to Willie and his math-challenged dad, to his mom, to Kathy McCarty, the greatest living guitar-playing songwriter who ever was in Glass Eye, and to The Austin Chronicle fact-checker.

Henry Stopher

What About Williamson?

Dear Editor,

You know, not to be acerbic, but there's no reason to drift so far from home looking for a complete disregard for the law by a county ["Crackpot Crackdown," News, Oct. 21]. Merely stand and look to our nearest neighbor to the north (Williamson for those directionally challenged), unless of course there are some places journalism fears to go.

Those guys make the blind lady with the scales cringe. Make me cringe, too.

Art McMillian

[Editor's note: See, for Williamson County example, "If You're White, It's Alright," by Jordan Smith, News, Sept. 24, 2004.]

"Assumption' or "Reality'?

Dear Editor,

In reference to your article "Parents Playing High School Redesign Hooky?" [News, Oct. 7], I believe Pamela McKinney should be congratulated for her interest and effort regarding her own child's education. I question, however, her being "appalled" at the so-called assumption that minority parents are not involved enough. Perhaps the quotes should have been around the word assumption as well. In addition to the common perception of the above being true, your article, although it may not have intended to do so, serves the purpose of detailing the extreme measures AISD takes in order to facilitate parental involvement and, therefore, supports the notion of lack of involvement as fact and not assumption.

If low parental support is simply just an "assumption," then why is precious money being allocated for ad campaigns and fliering instead of being used for teachers' salaries and school resources? If this were an "assumption," why should already overworked teachers and school officials resort to spending time "block-walking" to encourage minority parents to participate in school forums? Ms. McKinney certainly has a right to be appalled. Rather, she might focus her dismay at the unconcerned parents that give invested, honorable ones like herself a bad rap.

As a mental-health professional who has worked with at-risk children and families in a variety of settings, including public schools, I am soberly conscious of the fact that it is supportive, motivated parents such as Ms. McKinney that truly make the difference in a child's academic progress and ability to learn.


Angela Burns

Put Our Money Where Our Progressive Mouths Are

Dear Editor,

I own and occupy a single-family home in Old West Austin. Imagine my surprise when I read the Spring project "is isolated from the single-family core of OWANA" ["Will Towering Condos Spring to City Approval?," News, Oct. 21]. That may have been true 30 years ago, but many of the properties in Old West Austin now contain duplexes and apartments. The city's zoning map indicates that most of the parcels are zoned multifamily. Aside from a couple dozen homes on Baylor, Blanco, Ninth, and 10th streets, multifamily is the land use of choice. In most cases the real estate is just too too valuable and the structures too small and old to support your average middle-class family homestead. Ironically, allowing for more density has spared much of Old West Austin from excessive redevelopment and new construction in the past 15 years.

I support the Spring project and similar high-density downtown projects, all the way up to the east side of Lamar Boulevard. It is time for us to put our money where our progressive mouths are. Austin's downtown is patchy and pathetic given our population. It should be a desirable place to be for everyone to go, night and day. The more vertical space we make available for people downtown, the cheaper it will be to live there. And more affordable housing downtown will make it easier for citizens and future councils to resist oversized residential projects like the ones currently crowding the landscape all over established neighborhoods like Old West Austin.

Pat Doyle

Independent Thinkers

Dear Editor,

In the article announcing your views of the coming state constitutional amendment offerings [Endorsements, Oct. 21], I found the following concerning Proposition 2: "... but we expect regular Chronicle readers are largely in agreement in opposing this ridiculous amendment." Such a comment shortchanges many of your readers and, in turn, you shortchange yourselves. While I will vote against Proposition 2, it will be for my own reasons, which do not necessarily coincide with yours. I (and I cannot be alone) read the Chronicle to be informed, not to find someone who merely echoes my beliefs. We read the Chronicle because, even when we disagree with you, we perceive that you are giving it to us straight from the heart and the head and not just shoveling shit for the sake of wielding a tool. And that places you in marked contrast with those patronizing yet strangely detached and arrogant dolts who run the local daily. When you begin to believe that all your readers are marching in lockstep, that's when you start tailoring your offerings to please the readership. Don't do that! When we think you are full of crap, we'll say so. But we'll also keep reading.

Scott Sexton

Keep Us Posted on Edna

Dear Editor,

Thanks for your story on the injustice in Edna, Texas ["Crackpot Crackdown," News, Oct. 21]. Let us know what happens! Being from Lubbock, and traveling many times through Tulia on the way to church camps in the summer, I hated to hear about what happened there, but I love that others fought and got results. I pray for the same to happen in Edna.

Gregory Lynn

Phoenix, Ariz.

Alex Jones Fan

Dear Editor,

I was pleasantly surprised to see Alex Jones win the Readers choice for Best Public Access TV Show ["Best of Austin," Oct. 14]. I've been watching Infowars for years now, and I'm glad that people are opening their eyes and minds and realizing all the corruption that is really going on in our government. I have a newfound respect for all the Chronicle's readers, and this vote proves they are all intelligent-minded free-thinkers and not "sheeple." I love this city.


Jen Colegrove

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