Our readers talk back.
Tricks Won't Protect SpringsDear Editor,
Thank you for the cogent coverage of the proposed AMD move into the Barton Springs Watershed ["Point Austin," News, Dec. 30]. While the Statesman refuses to tell the real story, you have made clear that all of AMD's on-site greenbuilding tricks will do nothing to protect Barton Springs from the collateral damage of secondary development.
While getting the secondary-effects problem right, you suggested there is no question as to the greenness of AMD's on-site plans. This is not correct. Locating a major employer over the state's most vulnerable aquifer can never be "sustainable" or "preservation-oriented." In claiming "grandfather" status, AMD insists on building 40% more impervious cover than allowed under the voter-approved SOS ordinance. The weaker standards from the mid-1980s would also allow much greater "cut and fill," aka bulldozing, of natural contours.
On another point, our criticism of Mayor Wynn has nothing to do with seeking out villains. You write that "Wynn insists that he and city staff did everything they could" to convince AMD to locate elsewhere. But what Wynn actually did was keep AMD's planned move secret from the community for more than four months. Then, when it was made public, Wynn kept his gag firmly in place, insisting that speaking out publicly would be symbolic and pointless.
The silence of Wynn and the rest of the council is aiding and abetting AMD's move, the demise of Barton Springs, and the betrayal of two-thirds of Austin voters who told our city leaders to save our springs.
Thanks and stay tuned,
Save Our Springs Alliance
The Rapture of RokyDear Editor,
I was floored (pun intended) when I saw the magnificent Roky [Erickson] on the cover of the Chronicle [Dec. 30]! I almost fainted from rapturous delight! What an absolute fitting tribute to the new year a promise of hope after an especially trying year. Did I mention I love Roky? When I first saw him perform and every performance thereafter, my heart skips a beat and I glow all over while basking in his triumph. I love you Roky. Welcome back!
ARC Within LakewayDear Editor,
In Wells Dunbar's article of Dec. 30 ["Lakeway: Desperate Suburbanites in Zoning War," News], he stated that the ARC site straddles the line between Lakeway and the Village of the Hills. The site does not straddle the line; it is entirely within the legal boundaries of the city of Lakeway. The Hills, ultimately, has no say in what Lakeway decides can be built on the property.
I would also be interested to know what promises Lakeway made that they have reneged on. I have not heard that side of the story.
Best regards and happy new year!
Mayor, the Hills[Wells Dunbar responds: Mayor Jones is correct, in that the proposed ARC Summit at Lakeway does not straddle the line with the Village of the Hills, but is indeed a stone's throw away unfortunately, all parties that tried to plot the wild territory have met unceremonious ends. All kidding aside, however, we stand corrected.]
Aquifer Horse Has Left BarnDear Editor,
Recent Chronicle issues ("Back to the Trenches," News, Dec. 16; "Saying 'No' to AMD," and "AMD Sets Its Site on Lantana," News, Dec. 23; and "Blame It on Grandpa," News, Dec. 30) seem to predict the imminent demise of the Edwards Aquifer should AMD proceed. Examination of satellite imagery and geologic maps shows that most of the land in the local Edwards Aquifer direct recharge zone has already been extensively developed. This includes the south MoPac corridor, Barton Hills neighborhood, Barton Creek Mall, Travis Country subdivisions, the huge malls in Sunset Valley, and the sprawling residential subdivisions south of 290. All of these lie directly atop the Edwards Aquifer, which regionally flows northward to Barton Springs. The Edwards Aquifer contributing zone is similarly developed, particularly along highways 290 and 71. Assuming these existing high-density developments have not already ruined the aquifer and Barton Springs, I doubt that development of the AMD tract (especially as proposed) and the few remaining parcels in the vicinity will have significant additional impact. Dye-tracer studies have shown that surface runoff from Lantana will likely re-emerge at Cold Springs on Town Lake, thereby bypassing Barton Springs entirely. Hence, notional arguments of ruinous follow-on secondary development and pollution appear to be specious. Further, Freescale Semiconductor's large (1.5 million-square-foot) headquarters with 2,700 employees directly adjacent to the Lantana tract would seem to set a precedent for such development. In short, the proverbial horse has already long left the barn in terms of discouraging development directly on the aquifer and in the contributing zone. It seems that an opportunity has presented itself to use the AMD approach to create a model, an expected standard, perhaps even a mandated requirement, for future sustainable developments.
More Satire, PleaseDear Editor,
Re: "Page Two" from Dec. 23: Satire often makes its points with much more strength than polemic. And the humor coating makes it go down easier. I really loved this column. Louis Black should do satire much more often.
More Apartments Near UTDear Editor,
Mary-Gay Maxwell's complaints about houses rented out to too many students strike home for a lot of us ["Are Partiers Dimming the 37th Street Lights?," News, Dec. 30]. I live in her neighborhood, next to a duplex full of undergrads who are occasionally a problem despite a landlord who's more responsible than most.
But let's be clear: Most college kids don't particularly want to live in a house. It's more work than an apartment, you don't get a pool or an entertainment room, you have more worries about parking and roommates, etc.
So why are so many UT students living in rental houses, compared to cities with other large colleges (such as Penn State)? Well, for one, UT doesn't have many dorms. Not much we can do about that out here in the community. But there's another contributing factor here: This area doesn't have anywhere near enough near-campus apartments to satisfy demand. Some students would doubtlessly still live in rental houses, but a large majority would switch back to apartments, as they do at other big universities. It's ludicrous that there's so much low-density development (single-story even) along Guadalupe close to campus.
Living off Far West or Riverside (in low-density apartment sprawl) is a poor substitute to being able to walk (or ride your bike) to class a slow, stuck-in-traffic shuttle bus isn't going to win the battle against close-in rental houses. So it's clear we need more near-campus high-density apartment development and the recent rezoning of West Campus is a good start, but not nearly enough. The problem today, though, is that we're still dealing with the effects of the last 20-30 years of ill-advised obstruction tactics by near-campus neighborhoods to any and all apartment development. Villas on Guadalupe, anyone?
Unfortunately, this lack of near-campus high-density apartment housing was, in fact, created by neighbors like Maxwell through their irresponsible opposition to essential projects like the Villas. Too bad that people like me (living a few blocks from those 37th lights) have to suffer the consequences with her.
Attention to Prairies OverdueDear Editor,
Water-quality lands? Native tallgrass prairie is one of the best water filters money can buy, but it ain't the cheap throwaway from Box-Mart. They're rare, they're getting rarer, and gasp they're on the Eastside ["Dreaming of Buffalo," News, Dec. 23].
Early botanist Mary S. Young described the profusion of wildflowers along the Austin and northwestern RR line in and around Austin. This is the same transit line that Cap Metro has been furiously promoting, and yes, some of that old wildflower glory is still there. Let's give the prairies on the Eastside the attention they're long overdue.
Watson Icing on CakeDear Editor,
I just finished reading "Heeah! Dale Watson Rides Again" ["Honky-Tonkers Don't Cry," Music, Nov. 25]. I am a sometimes writer for Barflies.net, and Dale Watson is without a doubt one of my favorite artists. I used to see him play when he lived in Los Angeles, but he has come a long way from those years. I make sure to catch him when he comes this way, which isn't too often anymore.
It's commonplace for me to listen to his albums Dreamland and Every Song I Write Is for You at least once a week, if that tells you anything. The latter is my favorite album of all time, and I don't know of any singer, outside of Raul Malo, who has a better voice.
I have to call it as I see it, and Dale Watson is the icing on the chocolate cake!
Thank you, again, for an informative and well-written article.
Huntington Beach, Calif.
Christians in Glass HousesDear Editor,
About "Beyond Belief" ["Page Two," Dec. 30]: This seems to be a contest of ideology among those living in glass houses throwing stones.
The issue is not complex: Religion is a tool that is utilized by individuals, groups, and institutions for purposes that range from the positive to nefarious, and everything in between. Regardless of how anyone feels about Christmas and its importance (come on let's not call all of this material junk "religious," huh?), the fact is that since the Crusades, Christians have believed that their faith is the "one true faith." When Christians are not belittling each other (there is only one true Bible, only those from the XXX faith will be born again, etc.), they spend time pretending that billions of people do not actually follow other faiths. I believe that the largest faith group in the world is actually Muslem.
America still denies the right for those who are not Christian to have paid holidays on their chosen faith dates. It is always hard for the "majority" to give ground, as they feel they are losing when others gain. Non-Christians suffered discrimination when our country imposed Christian songs and icons on society at large, and also considered the use of "Merry Christmas" to be basic social etiquette. "Happy Holidays" is not necessarily a denial of Christmas, or anyone's right to celebrate it. It simply encompasses the different holidays and beliefs that exist.
Loudly voiced beliefs are absolutely no proof of the speaker's morality. After witnessing downfalls of televangelists, priests, religious instructors, and cult leaders, we know that sometimes he who speaks the loudest has the most to hide.
For so-called "Christians" who insist on criticizing others, let he who is without sin be the one to throw the first stone, and judge not lest ye be judged. Amen.
Mary E. Wambach
Neighbors Don't Want ARCDear Editor,
Many residents who would be adversely impacted have spoken out against the proposed ARC retirement complex ["Lakeway: Desperate Suburbanites in Zoning War," News, Dec. 30]. The predictable Lakeway mouthpieces and politicos who do not live adjacent to the proposed project site have voiced their opinion to let us know they think it is OK and absolutely necessary to build a massive retirement complex next to established residential homes in Flintrock Falls, Yaupon Creek, and the Hills.
I wonder if the mouthpieces and the Lakeway officials ever heard of the good neighbor policy, or, more importantly, one of the most fundamental of the Ten Commandments: love thy neighbor. Which is supposed to be one of the 10 guiding premises for leading a truly Christian life? Consideration for your neighbors is one of the basic tenets of a civilized society. Ask them if they would like this monstrosity of a project in their back yard. I know that their answer would be a loud and clear no!
The residents who oppose this massive project do not oppose the right of anyone to retire in our community. We do oppose the blatant attempt by those who would not be adversely impacted bending over backward to accommodate a corporation (ARC), when there was such a massive outpouring of opposition to another corporation (Wal-Mart) a few years ago. I bet you that if Wal-Mart came back to Lakeway and tried to change the existing zoning laws like ARC is attempting to, they would be laughed out of Lakeway City Hall!
Defining Paranoid "Christians'Dear Editor,
Bravo to Louis Black for tightly defining what paranoid "Christians" are all about: divisiveness and blame ["Page Two," Dec. 30]. And here I thought he was just a good comedian.
Lubbock Beyond HollyDear Editor,
In the Lubbock Lights documentary review [Music DVDs, Dec. 23], Jim Caligiuri says that the film glosses over Buddy Holly and concentrates on lesser figures. That's true, but sensible. The Buddy Holly story had already been told very well in many ways.
The director, Amy Maner, could only hope to recognize some of the Lubbock Lights. So she told the story more from the perspective of a Lubbockite. There are many incredible musicians from West Texas and everywhere else that will never be recognized as such.
Many people, even music historians, may not know that Buddy's music, during his lifetime and for many years later, until the Beatles, was virtually unknown in Lubbock except in his own age group.
I was taken aback at one point when a big celebration was to occur in Artesia, N.M., and they called me to play and asked for a recommendation for a "young people's" band to also play. At the time, I didn't realize that we weren't a young people's band anymore.
Both the Roadside Playboys and the Crickets went to Artesia and had a great time at the two dances. Since then, I've always been very aware that it's time to rock & roll!
Tommy X Hancock
Thanks for the ButtsDear Editor,
I want to personally thank all the people from out of state who came to Austin to promote the no-smoking ban. I want to thank the members of the City Council who support the smoking ban and the voters who voted for it. Thanks to the Chronicle and its support of the ban, too. Thanks for all the toxic waste dumped on our streets in the form of cigarette butts. Has anyone looked on the sidewalks in Austin lately? Has anyone figured out that since it's illegal to put ashtrays out for smoking patrons those patrons are going to toss those butts on the ground? Cigarette butts certainly are toxic waste, when are people going to start getting arrested and charged for illegally dumping toxic waste on city streets? Known carcinogens wrapped in filters that are not biodegradable: perfect. Now all that toxic material is washing down the sewer system into Town Lake. Brilliant example of unintended consequences; nonetheless, something now has to be done not about smokers, but about the toxic waste they are polluting our city and lakes with from their discarded butts. But hey, let's make sure we fine people who put out ashtrays: can't have that! Thank you for your time and consideration.
Time for a Radio WakeDear Editor,
Re: The demise of Z102 (aka 102.3, KPEZ): My radio used to gravitate here, force of habit, and the familiarity of good tunes from the Allman Brothers, the Who, Styx, and others.
I took a sabbatical from this station when the Morning Zoo got replaced with The Big Show.
Then they finally left and I returned to this good ole classic rock station.
Then there was a channel shuffle and it became world-class rock, which started out sort of OK then improved with some playlists and DJ interaction, at least announcing titles and artists.
Now it is ... 102.3 the River, "Positive Music, Safe for the Entire Family."
Somebody needs to hold a wake for this old station. I only hope that KLBJ FM can provide a reasonable alternative to what KPEZ used to be.
Where's the Outrage?Dear Editor,
I try not to be mean to people, and I do believe everyone deserves their day in court; however, I have to ask if I am the only person in Austin, hell, in this country, who is, simply, disgusted by Anna Nicole Smith?
In this country, people on death row have their appeals go unheard by the United States Supreme Court, but this woman not only gets her case heard, but also gets backing and support from the White House [Solicitor General Paul Clement]!
It seems to me there is something seriously wrong with the system when people's lives mean less than the aspirations and greed of a has-been, goofball, bleached-blond bimbo! Where is the outrage?
Again, just my opinion.
Take to the StreetsDear Editor,
Illegal war, illegal torture, and now, illegal wiretaps. Bush, Cheney, and all the usual suspects tell us that the president can do it all. So, how surprised will everyone be when the 2006 election is 1) suspended; 2) canceled; or 3) stolen? After all, we've seen them break any law they want without consequences.
It's time to quit complaining and start acting before it's too late. Get in the streets with the World Can't Wait movement in January. If you rely on voting them out next time around, you may be disappointed.
It's not who votes that makes the difference. It's who counts the votes.
Californians Know BestDear Editor,
In the new year we could see billboards in Texas calling for the recall of Tom DeLay? In California, Gov. Gray Davis was recalled by the voters and he hadn't committed a crime. Tom DeLay [allegedly] has. He had yelled for impeachment of President Clinton for a consensual three-time affair when other Republican members had long-term affairs that broke up marriages. Tom DeLay has [allegedly] committed crimes of conspiracy and money-laundering and has excluded the Austin district from the democratic process. He uses his job not to serve the people, but to keep Democrats from being elected. Never has a recall been more deserved. His gangster's false-smile should be on the billboards suggesting that Texans soon "Recall Tom DeLay!"
St. Helena, Calif.
Leader Manipulates SystemDear Editor,
Closed-door meetings where note-taking is not allowed; a president who dismisses the checks and balances of a democratic nation; makes decisions on information only he is privileged to know; a war sold to the American public on manipulated information; Homeland Security knows your library preferences. President George W. Bush has proved to be a political leader able to manipulate the political system in this democracy to obtain almost autocratic power. Like Hitler, Bush is a leader bored by administrative details, which opens the way for fanatical and often corrupt subordinates.
Now the American public is being spied on without knowledge or authorization from the judicial system, an integral part of this government's checks and balances. Bush claims his authority as president gives him permission to override the protection our founding fathers fought for and Americans die for. Behind a facade of legality, just like the Nazis, Bush has dismantled the established protections of law.
Bush has become a true demagogue who has gained power through impassioned public appeals to the emotions, fears, and prejudices of the American people. We invade and conquer foreign lands, proliferate Bush's democracy to Third World nations; advancing his occupation while consolidating power while scapegoating dissenters as unpatriotic and terrorist sympathizers, the object of irrational hostility.
Mary Jo Osgood
Are You a Looney?Dear Editor,
Are you a tin-hat loony, like Alex Jones? Take the following quiz, based on statements made by Alex on his ACTV/PACT show. Read each statement carefully, then count up the total number with which you agree:
The ruling elite of the world worship Moloch.
The secret rulers of the world can live forever.
The elite have openly announced that they want to kill 80% of us.
Vicente Fox can morph into a green devil. (Alex says he saw him do it. Honest.)
The Communist Chinese Army has taken over the Massachusetts Port Authority.
There are live AIDS viruses in the corn.
Illegal immigration is a government plot.
The counterculture is a government plot.
Vaccines are a government plot.
Thumb scanning is a government plot.
Environmentalism is a government plot.
The National Seatbelt Initiative is a government plot.
Feminism is a government plot.
Toll roads are a government plot.
Antidepressants are a government plot.
All domestic terror attacks are government plots.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is part of an Austrian plot to take over America.
Skull & Bones is part of an English plot to take over America.
The United Nations is part of a (very slow) plot to take over America.
Children's cartoons are part of a government plot to brainwash us.
Gloria Steinem is a CIA agent.
Michael Moore is a CIA agent.
Noam Chomsky is a CIA agent.
People have tattoos saying "Don't Kill Me" in Holland.
The government keeps "giant, honeycombed hives full of toddlers drugged on lithium."
Tally up how many answers you marked as "true." The result tells you how crazy you are.
1-5: You forgot to take your meds.
6-10: You'll believe any old sh*t.
11-15: You're a "Patriot" i.e., an angry white guy with an IQ in the mid-80s.
16-20: Take your meds.
21-25: You are Alex Jones.
Stupid Opinions, Unsupported ClaimsDear Editor,
This bunch that supports killing the unborn, encourages homosexuality, that nearly ruptured a gut pulling the cord on Terri Schiavo, that are somehow concerned about civil liberties' endangerment over ordered intercepts of suspected terrorists, that want the Ten Commandments and anything else pertaining to God removed and out of sight, that speak their stupid opinions and unsupported claims publicly without consideration of how it affects our troops and encourages the enemy, that accuse our troops of committing terrorist acts and claim the war is not winnable, have all gathered around their "Holiday Tree" asking for donations for their party. So anyone that believes they came from monkeys and has the IQ of a dingbat join with them and send money!