Our readers talk back.

Sonleitner Stands by Record

Dear Editor,

Some relevant facts were left out of last week's story about my race ["Sheriff's Unions Back Eckhardt for Precinct 2 Commissioner," News, Dec. 9]. Folks tell me they assume that Travis County Sheriff's Office corrections and law enforcement officers must not have gotten raises – hence no endorsement. Nope. The Commissioners Court unanimously voted for a 7% raise for every person on what's called Sheriff's POPS (Peace Officers Pay Scale). That's 5% across the board effective back in October plus a resumption of an annual 2% anniversary or step raise. Cost of this? $3,487,715.

Sadly, what the associations wanted was unaffordable given the county's tight financial circumstances. Their proposal plus step raises would have cost $6,204,826. That's a big spread. We had many countywide needs to consider and in the end it's a balancing act.

Pay was not the only addition to the sheriff's budget. The budget for this one department jumped nearly $8 million, largely driven by the need to hire more corrections officers to ensure the safety of officers handling the spike in inmate population. The TCSO budget for FY 2006 is roughly $100 million out of a total $361 million general fund budget. That's more than any other department by a long shot.

Besides adding 42 new corrections officers and security coordinators, we unanimously chose to invest in 10 new deputy sheriffs dedicated to traffic patrol, another half-a-million-dollar investment in TCSO.

The associations made it clear in meetings I had with them that the only hope of getting their political endorsements was to vote for what they wanted – regardless of whether it was affordable to taxpayers. I refused to link my budget vote – past, present, or future – to any election process. I was not going to stop doing my job for fear of the loss of a political endorsement. Period.

I will rely on voters to review my nearly 11-year voting record. It clearly shows that I support the men and women of the Travis County Sheriff's Office in terms of pay, number of personnel, equipment, and facilities. We've taken our sworn officers from admittedly low wages when I arrived in 1995 to the highest paid corrections officers in the state and the highest paid county sheriff's deputies in the state. This year we added another 7% on top of that, and the officers deserved those raises. Thanks for the opportunity to provide your readers more information in order to make an informed decision.

Karen Sonleitner

Travis County Commissioner

Clever Put-Down of Black

To Louis Black,

Here's a rhyme that Johnny Cash could've sung to you:

There is a caliber of .41,

shows what the fuck

you know about guns.

You should not sully the Cash name with bullshit, even if you like the song he's singing ["Page Two," Dec. 2]. Do your homework.

Mike Larkin

Close Your Mouth, Open Your Hearts

Dear Editor,

It amazes me how much commotion is being raised over the issue of Christmas trees ["Postmarks," Dec. 9]. Every single Christian should be beaming with pride on how arguing over this issue sets them apart as a shining example of faith. Of course, we all remember the story of the nativity and how the first Christmas tree was decorated in the manger by Mary and Joseph, evergreen trees being so abundant in Bethlehem. What kind of knucklehead would blaspheme to think it was a pagan ritual adopted by the church? It was probably around the Christmas tree that the idea first occurred to Jesus to spread the new covenant: Love God and your neighbor as yourself. Of course that only meant your Christian neighbors – not including Jews and Muslims or any of the myriad of other faiths included (regretfully?) in the Bill of Rights protections upon which our nation was founded. Because, of course, every candle lighted in every menorah is a direct attack on this fragile religion. It's such a shame that Christians have been so long persecuted in this country. Too bad someone hasn't risen to power in this country who truly espouses the ethos of those fundamentally Christian, so that their message could be brought to other godless sovereign nations. So gird yourselves in truth, o ye embattled Christians. Gather round the Christmas trees in the public squares and rally! So that all may hear the Savior's message: Whensoever you have done it unto the least of my brethren, then too you have done it unto Me. May the baby Jesus close your mouths and open your hearts.

Happy Holidays,

The Rev. Dave Kelton

May You Have a Joyous Pagan Ritual!!!

Dear Editor,

Re: Strong Support for Christmas! ["Postmarks," Dec. 9]: Will the silliness never stop? I laugh so hard sometimes that I dry heave!

This topic is not at all important. And in fact, the "war" on people and entities that do not use the word "Christmas" is contradictory to what is supposed to be the spirit of the season in the weirdest of ways.

Ms. Judith Matula: You may do good to read a history book and discover that our dear old Christmas tree is actually and originally a dear old pagan ritual tree. I hope, for the sake of the people that you come in contact with, that you can have a happy holiday.

Joyous season's tidings to all at The Austin Chronicle. I look forward to you all week long!

Paul Nadeau

"Page Two' Confusion

Dear Editor,

Re: "Page Two," Dec. 2: I was hugely intrigued with the story until, at a halt, the confusion began. You don't have to structure sentences using a compilation of words to rally in the "shared frustration" of our government. Your writing ability captured me. Please continue to write with a humble reminder of the music we cherish and the song we sing. Not forgotten are our cries.

Tony Broadway

Case Rationally Decided

Dear Editor,

Re: Rocha slaying ["Point Austin," News, Dec. 9]:

Officer Julie Schroeder equates suspect resistance with malevolence to APD officers.

Rocha resistant, hence malevolent.

Rational person would believe Rocha, being malevolent, intended to kill or seriously injure officers, thus shooting is justified.


Neither officer involved states that Rocha struck them; both characterize his actions as flight.

Rocha's behavior matches APD's definition of defensive resistance.

Defensive resistance does not qualify as malevolence toward the officers.

Second problem: Schroeder's combat rationale:

Rocha is malevolent and Taser is missing from vest, hence, Rocha has Taser.

Rocha will use Taser on Sgt. Don Doyle and seize Doyle's pistol for use against both officers.

Had Rocha been malevolent, his best tactic would have been to stun Schroeder with her own Taser, and seize her pistol, not turn and seek out Doyle.

In fact, Rocha had no Taser; Schroeder's improper placement of the Taser in her vest pocket led to its loss in the encounter.

Other factors:

Schroeder still possessed her baton, but didn't use it.

Schroeder's mistaken rationale and tactical error created the shooting environment.

Schroeder had opportunity to confirm/deny Rocha had Taser, but shot Rocha instead.

The case is presented to the grand jury in a way most favorable to Officer Schroeder, not broken down to a point-by-point basis.

Is this case actually rational?

Ricky Bird

Defending Alex Jones

Dear Editor,

It amazes me that you [Perry Logan] have to make a name for yourself by bashing Alex Jones ["Postmarks," Dec. 9]. Usually, it takes a few facts instead of name-calling in order to prove your point. Alex may be extreme, but he challenges you to read the facts for yourself. Oh, and your show is about as coherent as your letter. No amount of rah-rah chants and editing tricks will convince anybody unless you present facts. Additionally, Alex attacks the Republicans just as you do. When I see your show it looks like a poodle boasting 10 pounds of ego in a 5-lb. bag. Alex's show may induce ulcers, but yours induces seizures from all of that irritating editing. With Alex, I can at least down a spoonful of Pepto.

James Price

Downright Crazy Ideas

Dear Editor,

At risk of making an obvious point, Perry Logan is a crazy nut ["Postmarks," Dec. 9]. Think I'm wrong? Just spend five minutes watching his program, The Perry Logan Show. The show has enough repetitious fast edits, anachronistic video effects, and frenetic jabbering to give the viewer a seizure, but I imagine most folks change the channel before their nervous systems melt in the wake of Logan's insipid assault on the senses.

I don't know what might be the real source of animosity between Logan and Alex Jones. However, based on the content of Logan's show I'd be surprised if the friction didn't in some way stem from disputed access to an ACTV editing bay.

While Alex Jones may have some, uh, uncomfortable ideas, Logan is downright crazy. Even so, I never would suggest that Logan's hateful, lunatic, self-indulgent right to free expression should be suppressed simply because I don't like him.

Shine on, you crazy nut!

The Rev. James E. Bryant

No State Nut

Dear Editor,

I believe there is an error in this article, "Harvesting History" [Food, Nov. 25].

It refers to the pecan as the state nut, but I cannot find anything on Google to back this up. I believe the author has made the mistake of mixing up the designation of the pecan tree as the state tree, not nut.

Kent Wang

[MM Pack responds: Mr. Wang is correct; as far as I know there is no official state nut. I was making a joke, extrapolating the state nut from the official state (nut) tree.]

Bell the Cat

Dear Editor,

Simply putting a bell on your cat's collar can help to stop the decimation of local wildlife populations ["The Bloodthirsty Killers of Circle C," News, Dec. 9]. I know this might be difficult to implement on a wide scale, but this might be a simpler solution for Susan Schaffel than getting Circle C to enforce a pet-on-leash rule.

John Trujillo

You Are No ...

Dear Editor,

Kudos to Rachel Proctor May on a wonderful and what should be an award-winning article ["The Bloodthirsty Killers of Circle C," News, Dec. 9]. I could not keep from wondering what a meeting among all of those creatures in her piece might be like? I suppose that they would probably all unload on each other. You wouldn't know hygiene if it whacked you over the head, you, you squirrel you! ... Shut up you little tweety-chirping ... you're just mad because you ain't got no balls! ... I knew Puss 'n' Boots! You, sir, are no ...

Eddy Ames

Less Than Stupefied at Doom

Dear Editor,

Despite the praise heaped on MF Doom's live show at La Zona Rosa in your most recent issue, I have to say that I was less than stupefied ["Phases & Stages" Web Extra, Music, Dec. 9]. After a short set (50 minutes?) and no encore, despite chants from 500-plus people who paid $25 to see him perform, I recall walking away from the show amidst boos and grumblings from the crowd. I am the first to heap praise on MF Doom for his lyrical skills and all of his latest recordings, but his live show was butt.

Jesse Proctor

[Music Editor Raoul Hernandez responds: Have you seen many rap concerts? An hour from an MC of MF Doom's stature is the equivalent of a three-hour Bruce Springsteen performance. The worst you could say about Doom's La Zona Rosa gig is that the wait for him to hit the stage seemed interminable. That, sadly, is par for the course in cases such as this, and truly, extremely butt. Thanks for the letter; thanks for reading.]

Only Two!?!

Dear Editor,

Congratulations to Texas, you now have two draft dodgers, Cheney and DeLay. If you get a chance, thank them for me for sending my son, a Marine, to Al Anbar Province, Iraq, to do what they failed to do, serve their country.

Paul Tracy

Raymond, Maine

Bless Bill Hicks

Dear Editor,

Here is something I wrote 'bout the legend himself (Bill Hicks): One opens his eyes to what he believes is the real world. Very few see this and with this gift he could change the train of thought for many. Why is it that some see and others don't? Does this make the ones that can see wiser to the world around them, or simply encourage them to look harder?

Hicks has managed to be the catalyst in my life, encouraging me to look harder at the world around me and the way in which it is being run. I owe my whole train of thought to this brilliant man, and although I'm not seeking to follow in his footsteps, I'm seeking what he sought.

Heidi Reid

New South Wales, Australia

Naked Graham Perfect Holiday Treat

Dear Louis,

To anyone who has a frustrated male-deprived single girlfriend on their Christmas list, get her one of those 2006 calendars a bunch of Austin musicians put together to benefit Jon Dee Graham's son Willie ["Naked," Music, Sept. 23]. The whole calendar kicks ass for anyone on your list, but January will be the month your single girlfriend will want to keep up all year 'round (I know I am). It's a night shot of Guy Forsyth standing by the water's edge at Barton Springs and all he has on is a ukelele. It's definitely a hot shot! The main reason I am suggesting this is, Thanksgiving week, I was at the store and there on the front of People magazine was "Sexiest Man Alive" with a big mug of Matthew McConaughey next to it. Well, right then I told myself that he didn't even have a chance next to Austin's own Guy Forsyth. Then last Wednesday at Antone's, I was already dancing happily to Guy's fantastic vocals when I had to laugh out loud as I watched Matthew himself strut up just a few feet from me and literally dance all night long like a cocky chicken. It was hilarious to look at the supposedly sexiest man alive dancing like a chicken and then at the real man onstage. Believe me, there was no doubt who was the genuinely talented and sexy man there at Antone's that night. I highly recommmend buying Guy's newest CD and a few of the calendars as gifts, and then take your friends to see Guy perform live when he's in town. Guy's voice sings to your heart and makes anyone feel really good, and he takes away the single-girl blues. Happy holidays from a voice of the 78704.

Renée Fuqua

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