Our readers talk back.
Vote (but Vote Carefully)To the editor,
With all due respect to the Mother Jones article Lee Nichols cited ["Election 2006," News, Sept. 22], may I suggest that the best way to "bother" Tom DeLay and his merry band of redistricters is for our neighbors to vote in large numbers in the upcoming election.
Clearly, the Mother Jones article lacked the benefit of the analysis by Lee Nichols and Kimberly Reeves in the Aug. 11 Chronicle ["Lloyd Doggett, Conservative Democrat," "Doggett Prepares to Win New District Again," News], which remains the most incisive article I have seen about the composition of the latest version of District 25.
While at least it unites South Austin with the brewery in Shiner, District 25 now stretches from Lakeway around Central Austin to Eagle Lake and Yoakum. It contains 200,000 people I have never served before and enough Republicans that George W. Bush was able to beat Al Gore in it without a recount. Though they face very challenging races, my friends John Courage in District 21 and Ted Ankrum in District 10 are also deserving of support.
Not only these district lines, but the election process itself is confusing. Unlike any other that we have had in Central Texas, a separate vote is required in my congressional race. Straight party votes will not be counted toward my election.
With new lines, new procedures, and three candidates running against me, I am hard at work trying to earn votes in what is my third new district in three elections. So if you believe the Bush administration and its cronies have our nation on the wrong course, I hope you will bother to vote in the upcoming congressional elections.
And if you can do more, come by our office, just south of the new Whole Foods at 916-C W. Third or call 391-2343.
Rep. Lloyd Doggett
Neighbors Working With AllDear Chronicle,
Thank you for covering growth issues in Southwest Travis County ["Cease-Fire Ends in Southwest Road Wars," News, Sept. 22]. The Hill Country Alliance was formed to promote responsible and planned growth to a region that is under tremendous pressure to urbanize. We strongly believe that citizens should participate in planning decisions, and we believe it is critical that water quality, natural areas, and water supply remain top priorities for the Texas Hill Country. We are not part of an "anti-growth" faction as stated in this article. We are neighbors working cooperatively with environmentalists, developers, and elected officials to preserve the water quality and natural beauty of this unique region of the Texas Hill Country. We have regularly invited an open dialogue with County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty and others to discuss these issues. Please see www.hillcountryalliance.org to learn more about our initiatives.
Hill Country Alliance
Preserve Our PreservesDear Editor,
Are water-quality preserves and endangered-species habitat preserves the appropriate place for new toll roads in the Barton Creek, Barton Springs, and Edwards Aquifer watersheds? That's the question we asked at the last CAMPO meeting, where we displayed a map which has the seal of Travis County on it that shows new roads cutting through Balcones Canyonlands Preserves and Barton Springs Water Quality Preserves owned by the city of Austin.
Can't we preserve our preserves? Is that too much to ask?
For questioning the wisdom of building a new road through preserves and opening up Barton Creek watershed land to development, we were labeled by Chronicle writer Kimberly Reeves as "anti-growth" ["Cease-Fire Ends in Southwest Road Wars," News, Sept. 22].
We are for conservation, for clean water, and for public involvement in infrastructure decisions. We don't try to stop growth. We and many other community organizations and citizens across Central Texas work to have a voice in how we grow, in where we grow, and how much we grow.
The largest community input regarding our region's projected growth was the Envision Central Texas five-county public survey. Respondents overwhelmingly supported protecting the Edwards Aquifer.
There are local solutions to existing transportation problems, as Gene Lowenthal of the Hamilton Pool Road Scenic Corridor Coalition pointed out to CAMPO. The Fix 290 Coalition (which includes Save Our Springs Alliance) has a solution for improvements to 290 and 71 in Oak Hill that has broad community support: a parkway design.
We can improve transportation without running roughshod over our preserve lands.
Save Our Springs Alliance
Rita Experiences FirsthandDear Editor,
My son and I are Hurricane Rita evacuees who now reside in Austin. I recently read the article on Rita ["The Forgotten Storm," News, Sept. 22], and while I found some points accurate, the majority of it left me disturbed. I disagree with Rita being said to have been "bad timing" because it happened a month after Katrina. When is having a hurricane pummeling toward your town ever good timing? What's being forgotten here is how our experiences from Rita (living hell) could have been so much more catastrophic had it not been for Katrina first opening eyes to some major issues. A good example is how so many from Katrina were screwed when it came to their pets. A lot of them were told to leave their pets at home (which ended in tragedy), and if they chose to bring them, they were turned down for shelter because they had animals with them. By the time Rita came around, policies had changed on evacuees' pets because of what everyone saw transpire from Katrina. Considering I had eight animals with me during evacuation, I'm grateful. Some need to realize that the hardships we faced don't compare to what those from Katrina faced. I have visited Beaumont since leaving, and while you do see damage sporadically, it basically bounced back to the same, if not better. I saw new businesses being developed and job openings are all over.
I experienced Rita firsthand ... this was not a forgotten storm. These were two different storms! One happened to cause more destruction, fatalities, and displacement. We from Rita all have had a year to pick up our lives. I acknowledge that some homeowners may still be hurting, but it seems that some still struggling from Rita are only suffering because they have become a bit too comfortable with handouts and freebies.
What's Up With First Night?Dear Editor,
Along with many others who submitted proposals for this year's First Night event, I have been wondering what's going on with the organization since the deadline for notifying participants came and went. Thanks for shedding some light on the situation ["First Night Austin," Arts, Sept. 15]. With no information on their Web site and, now, no director, many of us are left in limbo, hoping things will work out. However, without Ann Graham, who did such an excellent job last year (and for a decade in Boston), I wonder what the prospects are for First Night Austin's future. Why tamper with the formula of such a successful event? Money, and the lack thereof, is certainly a problem. But if this city is the artistic haven it believes itself to be, isn't there some civic benefit in supporting an event with such broad appeal? Plus, if we don't keep the artists busy, who knows what trouble they'll get into?
Good luck to both Ann Graham and to First Night Austin.
Perry Shoots Outside the BoxDear Chronicle,
As a misfit of photography I want to thank Robert Faires and the Chronicle for running the article on Sean Perry and his approach to unusually angled photography ["Let Me Show You Something You May Have Missed," Arts, Sept. 22]. For years I have been shooting from odd angles and catching flak. It is so refreshing to see someone on a professional level doing the same. I encourage those I instruct to just take a basic point-and-shoot camera, load it with black-and-white film, and go outside their boxes and don't be afraid to shoot from weird angles. So you shoot only the very top of a church or lay on the ground and get stepped on in the process while shooting that is half the fun. Thank you, Sean Perry for going outside of your box.
W. Keith Sharp
Disagrees With ReviewDear Austin Chronicle,
Re: Jim Caligiuri's review of Van Morrison at the ACL Music Festival ["ACL Fest Live Shots," Music, Sept. 22]: Bullshit.
More 'Critical' ReviewsDear Editor,
Re: Clearcut (the movie, with Graham Greene) [Film Listings, Sept. 18, 1992]: With all due respect to the services critics such as yourselves attempt to provide, reading your critique of this particular film, for instance, does nothing more than tell the reader the story before he or she gets to see the film. I think it would be far more useful for the reader to learn more about the movie from a "critical" overview, without necessarily giving the story away. Am I wrong?
Bike Lanes Must Be SafeDear Editor,
Consistent with your story about the increased safety of bike lanes ["Naked City," News, Sept. 22], the county must look at the bike lanes on Loop 45 at the south end of MoPac.
There are two places eastbound and westbound where the bike lane disappears to make way for left-turn lanes (that are used primarily for U-turns). These places pose substantial risk to bicyclists who literally have nowhere else to go but into the lanes of car traffic. Someone is going to be killed unless this situation is corrected.
My proposal is to get rid of the left-turn lanes. But another alternative is to reduce the size of the left-turn lanes to allow at least some space for the bike lanes.
Please bring this issue to the attention of the proper authorities.
Van Morrison at ACL Was GreatJim Caligiuri,
My initial response to your review of Van Morrison's ACL Music Festival ["ACL Fest Live Shots," Music, Sept. 22] performance was to spread enough invective over your poor, dumb ass to make you wish you'd never seen a keyboard, much less tried to eke out a meager existence with one.
But, on further reflection, I have forgiven your ignorance and decided the fault lies with whoever sent a boy to do a job which clearly cried out for an adult.
If you want specifics about what a great concert this was, ask anyone who has ever listened to Astral Weeks.
What Happened to 'Femme FM'Dear Editor,
What's up? I go out of town for a couple of weeks and return to find that one of my favorite shows, Femme FM, is no longer on KUT. And not only is it no longer anywhere on the roster, but it's been replaced by four hours of Paul Ray and Twine Time ["Media Watch," News, Sept. 8]?! I mean, come on!
I was a kid in the Sixties, living near Detroit, listening to this music on local AM radio stations when it was real and fresh and significant. Commercial, corporate "Oldies" stations across the country are playing this stuff (most of which has been bastardized to sell everything from cars to laxatives) all the time now. Why do we need four hours of it on KUT?
When I moved to Austin a few years ago, I spent a lot of time bragging to friends in other cities about how great the programming was on KUT especially Femme FM. I turned 'em on to KUT.org so they could listen.
And I became a member of KUT because they were so great at presenting new voices and at keeping an eclectic, balanced, and fresh mix of all kinds of old and new music. Cutting such an important and unique program like Femme FM makes me rethink my membership.
Thank you, Teresa Ferguson, for putting so much into searching for and presenting so many fine female musical artists over the years. Thanks for keeping our voices alive. I hope you'll keep carrying the torch, even if it's not at KUT.
Perhaps 'Thanks' GenuineDear Editor,
Re: Interview with Chuck Klosterman ["Truth and Inconsequences," Books, Sept. 22]: I noticed in the comment about a Christmas card from Val Kilmer you referred to him as a Scientologist. Actually the truth is Mr. Kilmer is a Christian Scientist. This is not Scientology, which is John Travolta and Tom Cruise's religion.
And I think that was a very nice gesture on Mr. Kilmer's part to send you [Klosterman] a Christmas card; that is his way of thanking you for writing a positive article about him. But you made his gesture seem like a joke to you; not cool. He has had more than his fair share of trash written about him. How would you like it if every time you turned around, someone was writing something nasty about you and a lot of times it's not the truth? Then someone finally writes something nice and positive. Wouldn't you want to make a kind gesture to thank them? Well, I just wanted you to know what Mr. Kilmer's real religion is and how comments that you as a "journalist" make can be very upsetting to his fans that adore him.
Victoria, British Columbia
Too Hip for Their Own GoodDear Editor,
Just went to a hip new Austin restaurant for the first time this week. How casual can you be before it's just too much? The decor was great. The food was good, but a bit pricey. OK, OK, the reason for this letter has nothing to do with either of these things. As both my partner and I ate our lunch, we were finding it hard to believe that we were almost face-to-face with our waitress eating her lunch (a Reuben and fries)! We thought certainly that it was either another person (the girls have the same hip look, and there were plenty of them and few customers) or that we had been passed off and she had only taken the order. But nope ... it was our waitress. Wow. Not exactly comfortable for the customer when it comes to enjoying the experience. God forbid we needed anything ... the poor thing would have had to get up. Then again, guess she could have just passed her ketchup over to us. People generally don't want to see the actors in a play out of character until after the show. But apparently that's the norm here. I thought this kind of thing only happened on Seinfeld. Maybe it's us ... but it just didn't play out as hip, weird, or cool.
What Will You Do About It?Dear Editor,
Gas prices are falling. A bunch of slime (both parties!) soon needs your vote. Coincidence? I know it is not. The resounding, relevant question: What will you, individually or as group, do about it?
Ray E. Dunn
Another Fan of VanDear Editor,
I wonder if your writer and I saw the same Van Morrison show ["ACL Fest Live Shots," Music, Sept. 22]. He is certainly a legend and all grown up, so I don't expect cartwheels from Van or his band. He delivered a set of well-played songs that most of us have known for a long time. I never tire of his music or his presentation. I've been playing him on the air since the early Bang era and still think he's great. Perhaps you might have done better reviewing one of the younger bands that provide more "show" than go.
Time to Come Home, KayDear Editor,
After saying she would debate her opponents, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison said she could not attend, as the Senate was still in session. Then why was Kay in Arizona campaigning for Republicans on Sept. 22? Do the Republicans in Arizona mean more to our senator than our concerns here in Texas? It would follow her pattern of the past six years as a senator. Kay sponsored a bill to limit terms for senators after promising Texas she would only serve two terms but has decided her ego is better than her word. She also thinks perjury is nothing to be indicted for, at least for Republicans. When asked about Tom DeLay she said, "I certainly hope that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality." Well, not so fast. When the subject is President Clinton and not DeLay, Kay says, "The crimes of perjury and obstruction of justice are 'high crimes.' ... Perjury is a lie told under oath that is legally wrong." You cannot have it both ways, Kay.
It is time to come home to Texas and face your constituents, who wonder why their Texas senator doesn't care about them or their issues and is willing to rubber stamp anything Bush or Rove puts in front of you. Asking for an up and down vote on any Bush nominee is just one of the many ways you have let Texas down. Maybe Sen. Hutchison needs to get in touch with Texas and stop listening to Bush and Rove.
President of Stonewall Democrats of Williamson County
What About the PS in DPS?Dear Editor,
One stormy afternoon about two weeks ago, my six-and-one-half-months-pregnant friend and her husband were heading west on Highway 71, out toward Marble Falls, when they got a flat. Much to their dismay, they then discovered that the spare tire in their truck (that they had purchased less than a month earlier) was also flat.
Luckily (or so they thought), a DPS vehicle pulled up and asked why they were stopped on the highway. After learning that they were stranded with a flat tire and no spare, the DPS employee promptly informed my friends that there was nothing he could do and went on his way, leaving my very pregnant and uncomfortable friend and her husband to try to find someone who would come lend a hand in the middle of the downpour.
What is the world coming to when a public official would refuse to aid a stranded motorist, especially one with a pregnant wife in the car, in the middle of a storm?
On another note ... thank you! The Chronicle is a lone beam of hopeful light in an ever-darkening horizon of media BS. Keep up the good work!
DEA Doing DisserviceDear Editor of The Austin Chronicle,
The Drug Enforcement Agency is doing a disservice to America's election process ["Weed Watch," News, Sept. 8], making a mockery out of the law-enforcement rant: If you don't like the laws, change them.
While DEA Agent Michael Moore was quoted (in Boulder, Colo.), "We're in favor of ... working based on all the facts," it's worth noting that "DEA facts" is an oxymoron. The DEA is the last place to get "facts" about cannabis. They're experts on prohibition, not cannabis. Their justification behind cannabis prohibition is, and always has been, based on lies; everything the DEA says about cannabis is suspect and should be researched by voters.
Fact is, relegalizing cannabis is past due, and the DEA should step aside while Colorado and Nevada lead the nation back on track to obey Christ, God our Father in relegalizing cannabis, bringing peace on Earth, and utilizing one of the great creations God has to offer.
How Many Were Involved?Dear Editor,
One recurring refutation against 9/11 conspiracy theories is that such a plot would involve hundreds if not thousands of people and that secrets about the planning and execution could not be kept secret. Yet, the official government version is that it was carried out by just 19 men. Does raising this point make me a nut? Am I guilty of thought crime? Please advise.
What 'Mission Accomplished'?Dear Editor,
Because this administration has yet to accomplish any real mission, they instead use ploys to blatantly mislead the country prior to the midterms. Two big issues for "the rest of us" (as opposed to those who bought this administration) are the war against terrorism (that's Osama, not Iraq) and our pocketbooks. So instead of really doing anything about it, the administration, through proxy, deals with its failure to find and prosecute bin Laden by saying he's dead or at least putting the bait out there. Gas prices have also been mysteriously dropping. Two major failures solved by deception.
The real "mission accomplished" by this administration has been their success in misleading the very people who put their trust in them and voted for them. How sad and what a commentary as to the real character of HalliBush Inc.
Emotionally UnstableDear Editor,
George W. Bush is a cowardly, emotionally unstable person who fears confronting his adversaries face-to-face. He fears citizens who might disagree with him, keeping such persons away from "public" meetings. He rides around in a tanklike vehicle. He squelches dissent of any type. Finally, in front of the world media on Friday, he derisively declares, "No I will not meet with him [the president of Iran]."
Has G.W. Bush already decided to attack Iran? If so, his Christian fundamentalist supporters may find themselves screaming from the sulfurous fires of hell instead of being "raptured to heaven" as this end-of-the-world scenario plays out.
Fond Memories of Ann RichardsDear Editor,
Perhaps my fondest memory of Ann Richards was the day after she was elected governor. Having worked hard for Ann's campaign, I took my husband and young son (then in second grade) from Dallas to Austin for the election. My son wore his "Another Man for Ann" T-shirt and wrote about his experience in the school newspaper. It was a heady experience and we all drank it in.
The morning after the election we were leaving Austin to return to Dallas and went by Ann's campaign headquarters. It was early, and a couple of other people were arriving, but not many cars were in the parking lot. Ann arrived unexpectedly just as we pulled up. I walked over to introduce the new governor to my son. A crowd began gathering to see her, yet for several minutes Ann conversed with my son, taking time to be kind and make this child feel important on what was her most special day.
After I moved to Austin two years ago, I saw Ann two last times at chance encounters. The first time was Labor Day weekend while I was volunteering at the Convention Center after Katrina. Ann and our current mayor were walking through discussing what could be done. No entourage trailed; no cameras took pictures. I went over to her and introduced myself and reminded her she had appointed me as chairman of a state agency years ago. She acted as if she knew me, although it is unlikely she actually remembered me and thanked me for being there. She was charismatic, humble, and powerful. But mostly she was kind. She epitomized leadership.
Brenda H. Collier
Teeth and MercuryDear Editor,
A couple of years ago, I was diagnosed with mercury poisoning caused by seven 36-year-old "silver" mercury amalgam fillings in my teeth. You may not know that all "silver" fillings in your teeth are made up of 50% mercury. You may not know that your dentist is not required to tell you, except in California. You also may not know that the EPA declared mercury a hazardous waste material in 1989. You may not know that many countries have banned the transport and use of mercury. You may not know that this barbaric form of "dentistry" has been around for more than 150 years. You may not know it's against the law to put mercury in animals but "OK" to put directly into our heads. The fact is mercury is a known neurotoxin and debilitates our immune systems. Now you know the truth.
On Sept. 6, I testified along with many others at an FDA hearing concerning the neurological effects of "silver" mercury amalgam fillings. The good news is the committee rejected the FDA's white paper in a 13 to seven vote, stating that the FDA had excluded relevant studies on mercury amalgam and that evidence exists suggesting that the public was being harmed. We are waiting now to see what the FDA intends to do with such an unprecedented response. Meanwhile, the ADA is in damage-control mode; "Don't panic; mercury is safe." Wrong!
The ugly truth is the ADA unethically chooses to continue to use mercury instead of safer composites. E-mail/write the FDA & your representatives to put an end to this chemical genocide. Visit www.toxicteeth.org and www.iaomt.org to empower yourself with the truth.
Worried About KUTDear Editor,
It was with great sadness that I returned to Austin after a few days away to find that KUT had taken yet another step down the road toward vacuous corporatism ["A Blizzard of Rhetoric," News, Sept. 8]. Teresa Ferguson, one of the two most gifted music programmers at KUT (the other is Jeff McCord), no longer has a show. And when I looked at the station's redesigned Web site to see what other havoc had been wrought, I found the ominous inclusions of a Top Plays section on the Music page. Isn't it enough that all of the station's nonmusic announcers (except Bob Branson) are entirely bland and one-dimensional? Now the station's music programming is choking out innovative voices and measuring its success by the standards of commercial radio (how many times a song is played in a given week). I want to hear programs produced by people who care about music and have the skill to find what's good and deliver it enthusiastically. I own podcast subscription software, and I know how to use it!