The Austin Chronicle


December 2, 2005, Columns

Cover Exploitative

Dear Editor,

I was shocked and disgusted by the cover of the Chronicle this week ["What Happened to the No-Kill Millennium?," News, Nov. 18]. I realize that the story needs attention, but putting pictures of dead cats on the cover page is exploitative and appalling. Would you put a long line of dead human beings on the cover? No, because that would be considered in poor taste. I should at least have to open the paper up and flip through it before I'm forced to look at something so grisly and upsetting!

Melissa Johanningsmeier

No Graphic Pictures on Cover

Dear Editor,

Awareness is one thing, but a story with graphic pictures on the cover is completely another ["What Happened to the No-Kill Millennium?," News, Nov. 18]. Proofread your work.

Chris Cortinaz

Cover Photos Effective

Dear Editor,

Thank you for the cover photos and the articles on the failure of the No-Kill Millennium ["What Happened to the No-Kill Millennium?," News, Nov. 18]. The photos were horrifying and shocking, but so is the fact that more than 13,000 animals a year are killed in downtown Austin. Maybe these photos will help people understand just what that means. Maybe people who give their pets to the pound will believe the signs that explain their pets will probably be euthanized. Maybe now they will understand the meaning of the word "euthanasia." TLAC is not a happy place where all deserving pets will find a new, loving home. Rather, it's a city pound where more than 59% of the pets whose owners take them there to find new homes will end up dead. If the pictures make people think about that, then they've done their job.

Carol Stephens

Will Finish Reading Article

Dear Editor,

I am the director of Thundering Paws Animal Sanctuary in Dripping Springs, and I would like to thank you sincerely for your article on euthanasia at Town Lake Animal Center ["What Happened to the No-Kill Millennium?," News, Nov. 18]. If this kind of exposé is what it takes to get people to spay and neuter their pets – and any other animal they come across – then it is well worth it. I confess I have not gotten through the article yet. It is difficult reading. However, I will finish it. I am not immune to confronting the horror.

Thank you again. You are very brave, and very loving to have published this article.

Anne Zabolio


Thundering Paws Animal Sanctuary

Dripping Springs

We Need a Law

Dear Editor,

You showed in graphic detail the sad reality of pet overpopulation in your excellent article on the failure of the much publicized No-Kill Millennium ["What Happened to the No-Kill Millennium?," News, Nov. 18]. Now it is time to urge Austin City Council to step up to the plate and support mandatory spay/neuter. Here is why we need a law instructing people to neuter their pets; unfortunately nothing has worked so far to curb the number of unwanted animals killed daily in the city's shelter; not public service announcements, not more awareness about adoptions, not low-cost spay/neuter, nothing.

As a progressive city, Austin should take the lead and get aggressive to stop the birth of unwanted cats and dogs. Mandatory spay/neuter is working in other cities and the animals deserve for us to put it into place here. The Chronicle was brave enough to show and tell how dire the situation is, why won't a council member be brave enough to sponsor a mandatory spay/neuter proposal?


Julia Hilder

Ruiz Gone to Hell

Dear Editor,

If David Ruiz hadn't been the lead plaintiff in the controversial lawsuit that led (now Senior) District Judge William Wayne Justice to drag Texas prisons kicking and screaming from the 16th to the 20th century, he might have been better known as a habitual felon whose hobbies included using deadly weapons to separate noncriminals from their money and property ["Prisoners' Rights Crusader Ruiz Dies," News, Nov. 25]. While his influence on making the Texas prison system less inhumane cannot be doubted, it's only fair to his victims that his entire legacy be remembered. No lawsuit is going to improve his current living conditions.

Michael Simpson

Give KUT Back to Students

Dear Editor,

Hello, my name is Robert Flores, and I'm responding to the article about the future of KUT ["Getting on the KUTting Edge," News, Nov. 25]. I am the current program director for KSYM at San Antonio College in San Antonio. My opinions about the article are purely my own and not the station's. In response, KUT deserves to be given back to the students (poor KVRX). NPR is a nice angle to have, but I don't see how that ties into communication college. Here at KSYM, every paid staff member is required to be enrolled in at least six hours of study for part-time minimum wage. However, it may sound sad, in fact it's an honor. The other college station in town, KRTU (Trinity University), operates much like KUT does with respect to how the station manager and program director are given salaried positions. KSYM is financially independent as well as the others and raises a little more than $50,000 once every year. For us, what it comes down to is what we do. We play music. We're the only outlet in this town (San Antonio) with a 24-hour alternative-music format, and it is run entirely by students at the community college. We have direct community impact.

Robert Flores

San Antonio

Criticism Is Very Subjective

Dear Editor,

I've just read Jim Caligiuri's review of 3rd and Main – the first full-length CD by the Gene Pool – and I just can't believe how wrong I am in enjoying that CD as much as I do ["Texas Platters," Music, Nov. 25]!

Have being born in Brazil, and educated in Switzerland and France, I don't really have knowledge of Austin's local music, so I was enjoying the simple pleasure of good music. But, now I know I shouldn't like this CD.

Or ... should I? Music is art, and is very subjective.

I wonder what kind of critic Jim Caligiuri is, once he leaves no other option for the public than to avoid listening to this the Gene Pool CD.

I completely disagree with his opinion – 3rd and Main is one of my favorite CDs, and no one will convince me that music should be a standard kind of art – which is an oxymoron.

We should celebrate the creativity and encourage local artists.

Fabiola Cukierman

Animals Can't Put on a Condom

Dear Editor,

In regards to your Gimme Shelter cover story ["What Happened to the No-Kill Millennium?," News, Nov. 18], I thank you for not shying away from publishing photos that show the needless end result of what happens when people don't spay and neuter their pets. As a humane educator for Animal Trustees of Austin, I can honestly say that time is well spent in educating people on why they should spay and neuter their pets. As an educator for this issue, I've heard everything from "if I spay and neuter my dog, will he/she still be able to pee?" to "my dad won't get Spot fixed because he thinks he won't be a 'man' anymore." Spaying and neutering your pet is not a sex-change operation. It's a simple procedure that will help end the need to euthanize healthy and adoptable pets at TLAC. With inexpensive resources like ATA's Low Cost Spay and Neuter Clinic (512/450-0111) and EmanciPet (512/587-7729), which offers free spay and neuter Fridays for East Austin residents, there is simply no reason not to fix your pets. As an added bonus, spaying and neutering your pets will reduce their behavior and temperament problems, as well as reduce the risk of cancer and other health problems that are expensive to treat. Dogs and cats can't put on a condom, so it is up to us to spay and neuter our Austin pets today for a no-kill millennium tomorrow.

Timothy J. Verret

Like a Drunk at a Party


Really well put ["Page Two," Nov. 25]. I've said to several friends of mine that being an American, since the invasion of Iraq, is like being with a drunk at a party who then starts fighting with everybody. Now the problem is how to get out of the bar. You marshaled your points brilliantly and far from being just a rant, you proffer serious analysis of an absurd yet terrifying situation. Thanks for articulating what so many of us are feeling – all patriotic, if Democratic or (gasp) liberal Americans – who believe in real freedom and real acceptance of each other's beliefs, morals, and lifestyles – and putting it into words that, unlike the horrendous situation we're now in – make sense. No one is arguing that fighting, say, Nazi Germany was the right thing to do, but they invaded Poland. Happy T'giving and thanks to all at the Chron.

Mandy Mercier

How Many?

Dear Editor,

How many police shootings have occurred in the last two years without the officers involved receiving any substantial punishment?

William Trey Andrews

[Editor's note: The question is unclear, since most police-use of weapons is within the law and does not merit disciplinary action. There have been two controversial shootings in the last two years. Jesse Lee Owens was shot and killed by APD Officer Scott Glasgow in June 2003. Glasgow received a 90-day suspension. Daniel Rocha was shot and killed by Officer Julie Schroeder in June of this year. Schroeder has been terminated by Chief Stan Knee; that decision is under appeal.]

Cultural Center of Their Own

Dear Editor,

I went to the groundbreaking ceremony for the planned Mexican American Cultural Center, which I feel should have been built many years ago. Our indigenous ancestors have been here for thousands of years, and Mexicans have been here for hundreds. Mexican-Americans have been in East Austin for more than 75 years. Why, why did it take so long for this community to get something that it greatly needed and deserved? Generations of Latinos missed out on a cultural center of their own. As we know, youth who are immersed in arts are less likely to use drugs or get involved with gangs. They need a special place where they can express their feelings and talents in a creative way.

Influenced by racist individuals, Austin voters turned down a 1992 city bond to build the center. City management, obviously influenced by real estate dealers, delayed this project again and again. The message to the community is that they do not deserve a nice facility and that the land is more valuable than they are!

It's a sad irony that MACC is being built at the same time that the Mexican community is being torn apart and pushed out due to gentrification. Members of the community need to be empowered and educated about our legal and political systems and how the U.S. and local economies directly affect them. Well-intentioned newcomers, who are willing to work together with the old residents, are welcomed and greatly appreciated. But it is the unscrupulous encroachment of self-seeking individuals that we do not want. They tend to treat Mexicans with total disregard for their rights and wishes. The community is losing its rich, colorful culture and traditions, and the luminous glow within its soul is slowly fading away.

Anita Quintanilla

Speaking Up

Dear Editor,

PODER thanks Wells Dunbar for his article "How Not to Gentrify: HRC Asks for Eastside Moratorium," News, Nov. 4. I have lived in East Austin for more than 53 years in comparison to Anthony Edwards ["Postmarks," Nov. 18], who recently moved to Canterbury Street. For the readers, I grew up at 1205 E. 10th St. and my family's home (in which two of my brothers still live) is on Inks Street. I currently live in Montopolis, which is part of East Austin.

PODER's office, my second home, is at 2604 E. Cesar Chavez St. PODER was involved in the Cesar Chavez Plan since the beginning, and we will continue to be involved. I don't need a newcomer's permission to speak for East Austin. I speak alongside the community. PODER and generations of established Mexican-American residents did not ask for development of condos or lofts. More than 100 families that owned property in the East Cesar Chavez neighborhood plan signed a valid petition against the commercialization (CS-MU) of the area!

While PODER and community residents have been involved in the city's neighborhood plan process, we have stated numerous times that we will not let the boundaries set up by the city divide our East Austin communities. Fortunately, the city has recognized this. PODER has been and is involved in numerous neighborhood plans. Our community and our family relations do not end at the city's boundaries.

Susana Almanza


In Favor of PODER

Dear Editor,

I am slightly perturbed by a letter you received that only bashed PODER ["Postmarks," Nov. 18]. As a lifelong resident of East Austin, I would like to take the opportunity to speak out.

I really doubt that the development projects in East Austin will revitalize my community. Most of these projects cater to affluent, white, young professionals. The housing units (aka condos and lofts) are overpriced, and the small coffee shops and businesses (art galleries) don't appeal to us because they were not made to serve us.

An ounce of research will uncover the fact that the white population in East Austin from 1990 to 2000 has increased by 31%. It may be that Mr. Edwards, along with the other neighbors whose opinions differ greatly from PODER, falls into that first wave of gentry.

PODER gained the respect and trust of East Austin residents. During the 1990s the East Austin community, with the help of PODER, shut down the tank farms (home to major oil companies) that were poisoning our air, land, water, and families. We shut down the BFI Recycling Plant, which brought filth and rats to our community. By 2007 we will have shut down the Holly Power Plant, right down the street from Mr. Edwards' home. Power plants in the United States are responsible for 72% of sulfur dioxide emissions, 33% of nitrogen oxide emissions, 32% of particulate matter emissions, 23% of mercury emissions, and 36% of carbon dioxide contaminating our air.

Ironically, now that we live in a healthier community we are being displaced.

It may be easy for people such as Mr. Edwards to ignore this reality. Unfortunately some of us have to face it and wonder if we will be able to afford these property taxes. If not, where will they push us next? Farther east?

Ana Villalobos

Lucky to Have Jack Ingram

Dear Editor,

Thanks for the Jack Ingram piece ["Wedding Vows," Music, Nov. 4]. I have followed his sporadic musical journey since the beginning of the Southwest Conference Tour. While the new single seems a bit saccharine and his new business partner is a musical cartoon, the country-music industry should be so lucky to have Jack at its forefront. Some may scoff at his ambition, but he could have slipped on a Resistol, smirked at the camera, wiggled his ass, and been a star 10 years ago. He instead remained sincere to himself, his fans, his band, and his craft. Inarguably, this both led and legitimized a new generation of "Texas Music" singer/songwriters. If he has to compromise slightly to ultimately have the same influence on Nashville, one "slick" single is a small price to pay.

Joey Austin

Demystifying Animal Policy

Dear Editor,

Thank you for demystifying Austin's animal policy ["What Happened to the No-Kill Millennium?," News, Nov. 18]. You have no idea how often people try to spill their "knowledge" that TLAC is a no-kill facility. Along with a spay/neuter ordinance, that is what Austin really needs: a facility that deserves the title "animal shelter"!

By the way, the author could have named the "body bags" for what they are: trash bags, which are disposed of at the landfill. Congratulations, city of Austin.

Britta Kresse

[Editor's note: The Chronicle has received many letters regarding this article. They're posted online at]

Moderate Republicans Extinct?

Dear Editor,

In some sense I feel somewhat disenfranchised and pushed to the side. There's a new sheriff in town and it's his way or the highway. It doesn't matter what I've done in the past. The loyalty, the votes, the long-term support – all for naught.

You see, I'm part of a group that is being relegated to the sidelines as inconsequential. I'm a moderate Republican. I don't seem to be conservative enough, ideological enough, or Christian enough for the people that have taken over the party apparatus.

My primary concern is that the far-right fringe element has taken over my party. I'll call them R-extremes. The R-extremes are more concerned with dominance instead of governance. And lately, their governance is suspect. The litmus test gets harder to pass every year.

There doesn't seem to be any room for dissent. You are either 100% behind them or are labeled a traitor. Compromise has become a four-letter word and considered a weakness in their minds.

And our poster boy, Tom DeLay, is the best thing to happen to the Democrats in a long time. Do we not have the capacity to remove "bad apples" from the bushel? I guess it is hard to do when the R-extremes control the people, the money, and the power structures that run the party. For balance, the Democrats have their own version of DeLay in the likes of Howard Dean. Nice two-party system we have here – both controlled by the fringes.

I don't want to give up on the Republican Party whose philosophy and ideals used to resonate with my core beliefs. But, my patience is wearing thin. Unless something is done to bring the party back to the middle, the other guys are ready to jerk the steering wheel back hard to the left.

John Romano

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