The Austin Chronicle


April 21, 2006, Columns

Proposition Will Shut Down Government, Not Open It Up

Dear Editor,

Thank you Mr. Black for using some common sense when writing about the "Open Government" propositions ["Page Two," April 7]. This reminds me of the PATRIOT Act, where officials label horrible legislation with cute names, and the people roll over and accept it. These propositions will cripple the city of Austin. Funny enough, it will never stop under-the-table deals and secret meetings with dishonest elected officials. We must elect honorable citizens and keep terms short to keep government honest. The cost associated with opening up all government information is astounding. The writers bashing Mr. Black obviously have no technical background, or they are turned on by the thoughts of their local government crumbling before them. Please find a tech-savvy friend to tell you what it would cost their company to make every employee's phone calls, facsimiles, e-mails, text messages, PIN messages, instant messages, and electronic documents instantly available for public access via the Web (not to mention sorting these based on federal privacy laws). Your pal would laugh hysterically because that would be the end of their company. The same is true for the budget-strapped city. This is about the SOS shutting down the government, not opening it up. Most citizens of Austin are too smart to fall for this nonsense, but these people need to get out and vote to keep the fringe at bay.

Chris Stewart

A Bill Bunch Spin – as Exciting as Anticipated

Dear Editor,

While we may differ as to whether open and instant access to public information and city decision-making saves more tax dollars than it costs, perhaps there are a few points on which we agree ["Page Two," April 7].

We appear to agree that science tells us what we must do to protect Barton Springs. Just as a broad scientific consensus told the powers-that-be in New Orleans that destruction of buffering wetlands and an inadequate levee system would result in tragedy, a broad consensus of the Central Texas scientific community has told us that we must steer urban development away from the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Watershed. As in New Orleans, our public and private leaders are ignoring the scientific consensus.

Proposition 2, the Save Our Springs amendment, calls on our public and private leaders to recognize the scientific reality that we face (just as we must face global warming) and to steer development downstream of Texas' most vulnerable aquifer.

We also agree that costs matter. For a fraction of the proposed $1.25 billion in highway expansions planned for the Barton Springs Watershed, we could buy up proposed traffic-generating development lands and save, rather than pave, the watershed. Losing Barton Springs to endless, taxpayer-subsidized sprawl will cost us so much more than court costs that may flow from our community again insisting that Austin has a right and stewardship obligation to prevent further contamination of Barton Springs.

Right now, as public and private leaders, who should be leading, remain silent, Proposition 2 gives every Austin voter the opportunity to ask our public officials, AMD, and the Chamber of Commerce to respect more than 30 years of community efforts to save Barton Springs and to do what science and sustainable economics tells us we must do.


Bill Bunch

Save Our Springs Alliance

Only a Few Liars Oppose Props. 1 & 2 – for the Righteous They Are No-Brainers

Dear Editor:

In response to your analysis of the Proposition 1 and 2 charter amendment ballot-language rewrite session, and the line, "The angry tone ... largely ... confirm the shortcomings of the petition-driven initiative and referendum process" ["Ballot Battle," News, April 7]. Hardly. The problem is not with democracy, but the stifling thereof.

More than 2,000 entities in the state allow misconduct records on police officers be revealed upon request, but not Austin. The state itself has online access to officials' schedules and archived electronic communication, but not Austin.

The need for open government is highlighted by the city (and developers and former council members working as lobbyists) continuing to tout what are now illegal lies since Judge Yelensky ruled against the city on its initial ballot language on the props.

So a loud, corrupt few are desperately striving to protect their secrecy: case in point of why we need access to specific documents, schedules and archived communication (not "live": that's a lie). So for a healthy government, look past the subjective hype of "bad language" (the judge said the ballot language was bad, not ours) and "too costly" (even at the inflated cost analysis already deemed a flat-out lie in court, it still cost less than one bad back-room deal).

Would the ACLU support a measure that invades privacy? Hello! The McCracken lie of "limit the ability of citizens to keep private details of communications" unfortunately remains in the ballot language – in violation of the court and in disrespect of the 20,000-plus signers of the petition. The same laws that apply now in open-records requests will apply after the passage, and in fact, Prop. 1 preserves such in its language.

"[U]nintended consequences," Chronicle? The intentions are clearly laid out in the amendments, and the city holds the key on how to efficiently and honestly implement the measures (unfortunately, but we'll stay on 'em!).

Prop. 1 will make Austin a 21st-century city in transparency and online so we can follow the money before our money is secretly spent, and Prop. 2 will enforce our SOS ordinance by phasing out "grandfathering" and preventing toll expansion over the watershed, a no-brainer for those who wish to keep the soul of Austin intact!


Debbie Russell

ACLU Central Texas

[News Editor Michael King replies: Although the Prop. 1 proponents continue to insist that any disagreement with their own interpretation of the charter amendments is not just mistaken but "a lie," the actual language of the amendments is in fact inconsistent and unclear on both the "real time" posting requirements and the question of privacy protections. Simply declaring the ACLU's supposed good intentions as self-determining is both insufficient and arrogant.]

Vote No on Propositions 1 & 2

Dear Editor,

Patrick Goetz ["Postmarks," April 14] and others supporting SOSA's "open government" charter amendment appear to believe "secret deals" are, by nature, evil. Some "deals" must be secret. A flower never blooms before it's ready to offer its beauty. An artist never presents a new work before it is ready to perform. A baby is never born before it is ready to meet the world.

We live in a time when every step we take may trigger a tipping point. Cultural creatives are often the quiet, shy souls who can guide us through times like now. If more of us could see how promising their creativity is for all of us, if they could know how large their numbers are, many things might follow. These optimistic, altruistic millions might speak more willingly and frankly in public settings and act more directly in shaping a new way of life for our time and the time ahead. They might lead the way toward an integral culture.

To ask a cultural creative to "open the kimono" before they are ready is to silence those who might preserve our quality of life. The wellspring of their ideas needs protection as much as the embryo in a mother's womb. Proposition 1 is a clumsy tool ripping open the workings of our government to the world much like a child destroying the bud looking for the flower. The ideas that could protect and preserve Austin's future would likely be the collateral damage of Proposition 1. Vote no on propositions 1 and 2.

David Richardson

Liberal Psychosis and Speaking Out of Both Sides of Your Mouth

Dear Editor,

The recent "Page Two" [April 14] rant left me confused about the illegal immigration issue. First, Louis Black writes, "Certainly immigration is and has been a major issue." He then asks about several other issues, as if multitasking isn't being done, which it clearly is.

But then Black shifts gears, into reverse in fact, and writes, "Yes, this is an artificial problem and a minor issue, driven to prominence by shallow ideological needs."

It seems liberal psychosis allows Black to have his political sour grapes and eat them too. It's only a serious issue when it's addressed by the left, but it's a minor issue when the concerns of the right are addressed?! Don't you care that Texas would not have a school funding crisis nor a health care crisis if not for illegal immigration? (And how about affordable living wages?) If you really want to soak the rich, why not get rid of their scab labor and make all of those mean ol' Republicans cut their own grass and clean (and build) their own houses?

When tens of thousands of illegal immigrants protest and demand anything of the U.S., I'd call that a major issue.

And speaking of liberal psychosis (which allows Black to speak out of both sides of his mouth), did you know that in Mexico it's a felony to be an illegal immigrant, and it's a felony for noncitizens to protest anything?

Neatly tucked between the two conflicting hypocritical takes on the immigration debate, Louis Black finds time to throw in enough browbeating, right-hating red herrings to sink a ship. Is there any chance Louis, that for once you could stay on topic, if not address some solutions and answers to the problems? But in closing, Louis Black again writes "Illegal immigration is not a major problem facing the United States." Well Louis, how about if they could all vote and voted Republican?

Kurt Standiford

Veterans Before Illegals

Dear Editor,

Here are some basic truths as I see them: The illegal immigrants in this country are making minor contributions to our economy, as they always have in the past ["Page Two," April 14]. They have become a larger economic burden on our public health, education, and welfare systems. Like so many of the working poor in this country, they cannot afford private health care. These economic refugees (what they truly are) have exposed the greatest failure of our foreign policy of the 20th century: economic justice. China and India have booming economies now and have done so largely without much aid from the USA. The culture of Latin America has yet to throw off the strict patron/peon caste system inherited from Spanish colonial rule. Until they do that, their economies will continue to flounder and fail.

Mexico is a country rich in both natural and human resources but yet it has failed to develop economically so that most of its people can look forward to a better life. There's now a huge double standard in this country. Working in this country without a permit is a crime. An illegal immigrant is allowed to walk around free in this country without fear of prosecution with government benefits, but 200,000 troops are kept in harm's way protecting foreign oil fields in the name of economic stability. If a GI commits a crime in that country, he will be prosecuted, but an illegal alien won't in this country. I feel it's the greatest betrayal of our military veterans who have served our country to spend a penny on assistance for illegal immigrants or foreign aid of any kind. Let's take care of our vets first.

Carlos R. Garza, USAF Ret.

Hudson Bend

Please Explain

Dear Editor:

Please, explain to Mr. Black that there were two immigrant demonstrations: The first one, by young, brave men waving Mexican flags walking miles to the Capitol, and the world took notice. Right after, civic leaders waving American flags, more likely organized by this PR firm in Dallas, paid by Mr. Fox, and helped by the California diocese. From here, only god (in Texas) knows, but the Austin diocese is staying quiet. Mexicans are driven here by American policies in Mexico, like redistricting, police stalking on drivers to pay for new roads, government staffers clamoring for more inversion extranjería, open discrimination by the press, the American Chamber of Commerce helping to elect every president, drug dealers, and harsh weather. The Central American immigration is mostly weather- and drugs-related. Mr. Black's worries will worsen when Mexicans start demanding free health care and free college education.

Paul Aviña

Huh? Black Not Such a Liberal

Louis Black,

You're not such a liberal after all, when you come down on the same side on the immigration issue as President Bush, The Wall Street Journal, and the United States Chamber of Commerce ["Page Two," April 14]. I enjoy watching old liberals, frozen in their mindset, become reactionaries, as the world moves on around them.

Richard R. Brown

[Louis Black responds: Richard, as much as I hate to muck with your enjoyment, can you point out where I have ever claimed to be a liberal? Just once, anywhere? I support liberalism in general and embrace many liberal ideas. The extent to which the right has lately become intolerant in their self-righteous, anti-constitutional government ideology offends me, but where have I ever called myself a liberal? Or anti-capitalist, or anti-free-enterprise for that matter. There are lots of ways to mock and disagree with me, but I think you are putting a word in my mouth. And supporting immigration reform is reactionary? How, please?]

Making Fun of "Liberals'

Dear Editor:

In regard to the recent controversy over illegal immigration, allow me to offer a few "liberal" proposals.

The problem could be easily and immediately solved by putting all illegal aliens to work constructing a wall across the entire southern border. (Hell, they make up 90% of the construction industry, anyway.)

And at below minimum wages, what a bargain! But I'm afraid Vicente Fox, the ACLU, and 12 million other illegal aliens just wouldn't see the humor, or irony, in it.

As a prerequisite to citizenship, we could have all aliens (legal or otherwise) serve a minimum of two years in the U.S. armed forces. Not only will it help us fight the war on terror, but it will also help protect our own borders, which, by the way, is what the military is supposed to be doing anyway.

Or, we could always do what Mexico does: Outlaw all immigration, close our borders, punish the bad guys, ban all protests, and throw anyone who disagrees with us in jail. But wait! Isn't that what's causing the problem to begin with the Mexican government? Oh well, so much for NAFTA.

And last but not least, we should consider profiling all illegal immigrants and allow only the good looking and smart ones to come in. Hey, we already have a surplus of ugly and stupid people. The smart ones, of course, will work hard, pay taxes, have kids, and send them to public school where they can learn, among other things, that Davy Crockett was a war criminal, that Texas was stolen from Mexico, and that the rest of us are racists. And the good looking ones, oh well, who cares what they do? As long as they look good doing it and can still mow our lawns. Si Se Puede!

Joe Prussing

Port St. Lucie, Fla.

A More Practical Approach to Immigration

Dear Editor,

It never ceases to amaze me how easily Americans are manipulated into a frenzy by the media's catastrophe of the week. This week it's immigration. Everyone's making their best attempts to make it a huge issue, when it's not one at all. Granted, there are 11 million people who broke the law by coming into the U.S. illegally. This does not mean the appropriate punishment for that crime is loss of job, home, and possessions, have their kids taken from school and deposited across the border. I think perhaps a more practical approach, which might benefit everyone, is in order. Since it costs illegals from $500 up for fake papers, why not register all illegals, have them pay that $500 to the government for work papers good for five years. At the end of those five years, if they have not applied for citizenship, they would be required to leave and apply for re-entry. I think America has far larger fish to fry than to spend hundreds of billions to round up and deport people who came here not to collect welfare but to work, raise their families, and give their children the opportunity for a better life. Those are ideals that America was built on, and we should welcome hard working people who support those values. There is also the consideration of how much higher our taxes are going to be raised to make up for revenue shortfalls from the removal of 11 million people from the economy? Sales taxes, and for people with fake papers, withholding from their paychecks that they can never file for and collect. It's a very deep, complicated issue, which needs more consideration than people shouting at each other on the news. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Carl Swanson

A Disguised Attack on the Church – Clever, Clever

Dear Editor,

In all the immigration protest, no one seems willing to point out how much of the problem lies at the door of the ultimate corporation.

This firm is the largest going concern on the planet, pays no taxes, and creates many many many million more little corporate worker bees every year. In fact, a basic corporate tenet is that corporate workers must keep creating new workers. To attempt to not do so is not only against the law.

It's a sin!

They eat the body of their leader, drink his blood, believe he rose from the dead, and will do so again any day now ... and we're the crazy ones for suggesting that the greatest threat to this planet is not immigration; it's simply too many people. Any corporation forcing more people to breed every day should be outlawed, for the sake of every living thing on this planet.

Or is that politically incorrect?

Forgive me father, for I have sinned.

Kyle Swanson

Thinks Bush Goofy

Dear Editor:

I know what I know about politics, and I think President Bush's tactics are a little goofy at this point. He always chooses one or two topics, and to me, that lets us know that he's not really a global thinker. For 2000, his issue was No Child Left Behind, and okay, that was a good one. I almost believed that one. Almost. Then it was the war and gay marriage. Now it's immigration reform; only this time because it's the House, he wants us to believe that it's the entire House that's right along with him.

My fellow voters, remember what happened on each and every one of his issues as soon as he and his compadres got through the door? Nothing. No Child Left Behind has no money to fund itself, he's completely abandoned the gay marriage issue, and the war is probably going to drag out for at least another 20 years. Well, you can't get rid of him because he's already gotten his second term. However, the House is next.

Humanity and reality can have the House if we all pay attention. Don't let him persuade you that the people who haven't followed through or paid attention to any of their campaign issues will do anything on immigration reform. It's not going to be solved by cheesy slogans and slapdash bills. Cooperation with Mexico and other countries whose people immigrate to the United States illegally will take time and diplomacy, everything we haven't seen with President Bush.

We want people in the House who pay attention to immigration reform and other global issues. We want people who care about what they're going to do once they get into office. Few if any of the president's people have good track records at this point. Pay attention, and don't give in to yet another distraction. If the president loses his legs, maybe some people will make some changes in the next two years.

Stephanie Webb

Find WMD, Use WMD – What's the Difference?

Dear Editor,

Having found no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Bush now has a new strategy for Iran. He plans to use weapons of mass destruction. That will ensure that WMD, or at least radiation, will be found in Iran.

Bush is the master of circular logic and doubletalk, and his Iran policy is another example. To him, reality gets mixed up with Alice in Wonderland. He starts a war in Iraq based on lies and then villainizes those who criticize a "wartime president." He rails against leakers who expose his crimes and then retroactively "declassifies" top secret information to punish an enemy. Anyone who could support him now is in deep denial.

Ben Hogue

Which Country Is More Dangerous?

Dear Editor,

Which country is more dangerous to human society?

Nation A: A medium-sized country with the potential to develop a nuclear weapon in a few years, but which says it has no intention of doing so, and there is no tangible evidence they are lying. During its thousands of years of history, it has not been known as aggressive toward its neighbors.

Nation B: A large country with 10,000 nuclear weapons, 5,000 on delivery vehicles aimed at who-knows-where, more than all other nations combined. Has a history of attacking other nations with nuclear weapons. Has long history of invading other countries. Refuses to accept nuclear no-first-strike agreements and advocates "pre-emptive wars." Plans to test new "bunker buster" weapons in defiance of the nuclear test ban treaty. Shelters known violators of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in Israel and India. Violates the same treaty by refusing to comply with its provisions to disarm. Spends more on its military than all other nations combined. Is widely known to lie about its intentions.

If this is difficult for you to answer, you have a serious brainwash problem.

David Hamilton

Support Balcones Canyonlands Preserve

Dear Editor:

Thank you for the article by Dan Mottola ["Is BCP Still for the Birds," News, April 7] regarding the challenges we face in ensuring that Balcones Canyonlands Preserve adhere to their mission of preserving endangered species while providing opportunities for public access within that mission. There was, however, one error in Dan's report regarding the exclusion of animals from our trails. The story said: "Lately, the appearance of signs prohibiting dogs at the no-leash-designated Turkey Creek Park, within the Emma Long Metropolitan Park, has raised many an eyebrow. Electing to enforce a measure in the 1999 BCP management plan, [Willy] Conrad said the dog ban postings were based on two citizen complaints, though no enforcement action has been taken."

There are no signs prohibiting dogs at Turkey Creek Park. I invite anyone to go out and walk the trail to see for themselves. No one from Balcones Canyonlands Preserve nor the Parks and Recreation Department has authorized such a sign to be placed there. Furthermore, no decision has been made about how to address the 1999 dog ban guidance.

We at BCP are very conscientious about trying to balance the ultimate goal of endangered species protection with the desires of people for trail access and will continue our efforts to keep the public informed about any changes to current policies regarding human and animal access to BCP trails.

Again, and on behalf of the voters who established the BCP, thank you for your continuing support in achieving our mission of protecting endangered species.


Willy Conrad CPRM

Division manager

Austin Water Utility Wildland Conservation

Need More Research on Asphalt Sealers

Dear Editor,

I am in the asphalt paving and pavement maintenance industry. We do not use coal tar emulsion sealers, as we understand them to be highly toxic/carcinogenic. We have been using asphalt emulsion sealers for the past 15-20 years, and found them to be much more "people friendly." However, the articles I'm reading in publications like yours don't mention much in the way of differences between the two sealers and the environmental impact of coal tar vs. asphalt emulsions. Is there no research available on the subject? The article I found on your Web site seems to be a "throwing the baby out with the bathwater" approach ["Study: Parking Lots Pollute," News, July 1, 2005]. There was little attempt to differentiate between the two sealers, and for companies like ours, who are trying to offer consumers a more environmentally friendly, less carcinogenic alternative, it is discouraging to have very little research to fall back on. Help!

John Bartelt

Monroe, Wis.

Spoiler Alert! Last Sentence Is Sarcastic (We Think)

Dear Editor,

I've been saddened by the lack of critical thinking in recent art reviews. Benné Rockett spent four paragraphs describing her inability to write about art and Lance Letscher's influence in her work while recommending his show on March 31 ["Lance Letscher: Index," Arts Listings]. The following week, she wrote an incomprehensible review of Eric Gibbons' work that left me with a headache ["'Outer Limits,'" Arts Listings, April 7]. Of course, Jacqueline May topped everything off nicely with a review of Benné Rockett's art class, a class that she herself participated in ["Learning From Local Artists," Arts Listings, April 14]. The work of these students was named the pick of the week, and Austin can be thankful we have such a wealth of insightful, critical, and unbiased art reviews to help steer our wandering eyes.

Michael Schliefke

What Happened to Relocation of Liberty Lunch?

Dear Editor,

Maybe this is beating a dead horse, but what ever happened to the relocation of Liberty Lunch? I'm still really upset that it's gone! What was the final word? Will it ever resurface? I loved going there back in high school and college.

Lee Sherman

Austin's Pedestrian Shortcomings

Dear Editor,

By confining her remarks to wheelchair accessibility in Austin, Amy Babich addresses only the tip of Austin's pedestrian shortcomings ["Postmarks," April 7].

Sidewalks are missing, incomplete, or inadequate on many major arteries and busy collector streets. Even in the CBD, once you leave Congress Avenue or Sixth Street, you find missing and broken sidewalks everywhere. The Warehouse and 2nd Street districts lack decent sidewalks as you try to walk to and from Congress.

In heavily-trafficked SoCo, part of the east side of Congress Avenue consists of a dirt path and a hill to climb if you want to stay out of the street.

As to Amy's comments, even some of the accessibility features that have been added are often a joke. Notice how many wheelchair curb cuts don't match up with the crosswalk. It looks like anyone in a wheelchair would be directed right into traffic at these intersections. Some ramps lead into dirt paths, a misplaced pole, or a sidewalk so narrow/broken as to be unusable.

As someone who moved closer to downtown to take advantage of the opportunity to walk to more places, I have been sorely disappointed by the lack of pedestrian infrastructure and the danger in walking many of our streets. Austin surely has the worst overall pedestrian mobility of any city its size.

John M. Bissell

Time for a Change in SD 25

Dear Editor,

Why is it that so few newspapers inform the public of alternate political candidates, e.g., that Kathi Thomas is a senatorial candidate in SD 25 against longtime incumbent Sen. Jeff Wentworth? After years of stagnation in the Senate and House, a freshman candidate like Ms. Thomas is a welcome sight.

Kathi Thomas is a true "people's candidate" who believes in working hard to provide the long-awaiting resolution for financing public education and decreasing sky-high property taxes. In addition, Ms. Thomas is against toll roads because there are alternate options that better suit the needs of the community.

When I've asked hundreds of residents of SD 25 – the counties of Travis, Hays, Bexar, Kendall, Comal, and Guadalupe – who their senator is, relatively few have even heard of Sen. Wentworth. Surely there must be a reason for this. While it's true that Wentworth has done some good for his constituents, certainly he could have done a lot more if he wanted to. Sometimes longtime incumbents get "stuck" in their positions and in their perspectives of what the community really needs.

It's time for a change, and voters need to consider whether Wentworth has earned another re-election, or whether it's time for "new blood" to work harder for the community in the 21st century. The same may be said for incumbents in other districts.

Therefore, it is essential that newspapers let the community know about Kathi Thomas' run for state senator, that finally there is a positive option to Wentworth. Information is power, and newspaper editors have the responsibility to enable the community to have that power.

Tony Prito

[News Editor Michael King responds: Kathi Thomas is a Democratic candidate against Republican incumbent Sen. Jeff Wentworth, and we do not cover fall campaigns in April, especially in the middle of primary and municipal campaigns]

Doesn't Like Bigotry


While I can appreciate people feeling concern about the ever-changing events in this country and their need to express that concern, I find the anti-foreigner and anti-immigrant fervor demonstrated in this country, state, and city very unsettling. Sociologists opine that this mentality is indicative of a pathology (i.e., xenophobia, racism, bigotry) on both an individual and a societal level. Demonizing and marginalizing whole groups of people because of (real or imagined) differences is how hate groups get started.

This bigotry makes some of the "patriotism" and "pro-Americanism" seem feigned and phony. When people engage in bigotry under the guise of "love of country," it turns expressions of those things we hold dear – family, God, country – into hackneyed slogans. A people cannot pretend to stand tall when they are doing so on the bodies of those they have torn down; especially when they have torn down those people through backbreaking (slave) labor.

This disrespect for diversity and multiculturalism is based on ignorance and therefore on fear and distrust of peoples and societies that are not understood. Just because it's something different, doesn't mean it's "bad."

Americans ask why people hate us. It's because of this type of perverse ethnocentrism and hypocrisy that many around the world view this country with disdain. And if we truly want to win the war, many of us should start with ourselves.

J.T. Serrato

Watch DeLay Still

Dear Editor,

The king of sweatshop labor, perverted religion, and sleazy, self-dealing politics will soon be out of power, and the air in Washington will be fresher because of it. That's something worth celebrating indeed. However, he [Tom DeLay] will certainly devote himself to power-brokering and fundraising for the extreme right as long as he lives and probably with less scrutiny from the press. So keep your eye on him because he will be using his sick and twisted ways to subvert "liberty and justice for all" at every opportunity.

Robert Wilks

Legalize Drugs!

Dear Editor,

I wonder when the U.S. is going to pull its head out of its collective ass and end the reign of terror narco-terrorists are using to murder cops, judges, and politicians? All I keep hearing from these assholes is "We need more cops on the border!" Well, bullshit. We need to legalize drugs, take the money out of the illegal drug trade, and put the drug gangs out of business. If alcohol is legal, why is pot illegal? I got a challenge for the city of Austin: Decriminalize drugs. If you can sign some bullshit petition against the war in Iraq, why not grow the balls to do something about the war against U.S. citizens? Wonder if the Chronicle might stand up and do something other than carp and complain? Maybe sponsor a public forum on the subject? Who knows? Baby steps.

Carl Swanson

Enjoys Ventura's Comments

For Michael Ventura,

Amazing how it takes an outsider to get a whole new perspective on an area. Good job ["Letters @ 3am," March 17].

Bobby Zimmer is not the only one who hasn't been able to see the forest for the trees around Hibbing, Minn.

We took a friend from Austin visiting us in Ely a few years back to visit Zimmerman's and Greyhound's birthplace.

While at the Greyhound Bus Museum we swung around the corner to the Haul Rust Mine overlook.

A dark back corner of the gift shop held a small group of faded newspaper articles about Dylan.

At the time that was about the only acknowledgment of the prodigal son in all of Hibbing.

Younger folks of Hibbing are beginning to realize that someone rather famous and influential came out of their town, but resentment is there to this day.

Hibbing seems to be just coming out of a decades-long, love-hate relationship with Dylan, but I think both have had a gross misunderstanding about each other over the years and maybe even themselves.

Believe it or not, the area is not such a culturally dead place as Dylan would lead us to believe. Albeit things have probably changed since Mr. Zimmerman left town, but we have been to some great concerts in the auditorium of his alma mater.

Grand Rapids is a very active cultural community, hosting artists from all over the world. Ladysmith Black Mambazo only a few weeks ago at the Rief Center in Grand Rapids. We will be going to a Ricky Scaggs concert at Coleraine High School next month. You missed that in your trip down 169, between Grand Rapids and Bovey.

The Rief Center concerts at the Coleraine High School auditorium have even hosted such Texas notables as Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel.

Fun reading your piece on Hibbing.


Joe Nicol

Ely, Minnesota

State's Privatization Fiasco

Dear Editor,

To its credit, the Chronicle has been extensively writing about the privatization fiasco at HHSC, perhaps the only publication educating the public about the tax dollars wasted in this endeavor. I wish to extend this goal by informing the public about a similar boondoggle concerning HB 1516, enabling the Texas Department of Information Resources to privatize numerous state services. This plan will be detrimental to many Texans and must be addressed. Therefore, I have crafted a Web site with background information about DIR's nefarious plans (www.geoci and encourage all persons to speak out against this plan. It is important that people know how the state plans to spend the tax dollars it has collected.

Eric Harwell

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