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Letters are posted as we receive them during the week, and before they are printed in the paper, so check back frequently to see new letters. If you'd like to send a letter to the editor, use this postmarks submission form, or email your letter directly to mail@austinchronicle.com. Thanks for your patience.
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Still Doesn't Want to Sell Mueller

RECEIVED Wed., April 14, 2004

Dear Editor,
   It's hard to disagree with Louis Black that you can't really tell how the City Council members are going to vote ["Page Two," April 9]. Certainly the council, as a group, doesn't seem too excited about keeping the advantages of owning our former airport in arranging for its redevelopment – not just the far greater yearly revenue stream from leasing than from selling it, but the surer control over the use of the land that goes with owning it. Members seem noncommittal even as the land-use headaches are already starting over the prospect of big-box retail like Wal-Mart on Mueller's northwest corner.
   Nor is the council, as a group, up in arms demanding figures on the revenue potential of Mueller and getting them reasonably in advance of having to choose whether the staff will develop a lease or sale plan. In absurd fact, the council is scheduled to make its choice the same day it gets the staff's figures, April 22, and without estimates of the potential revenue at stake either. Jim Adams, whose company hired the talent figuring out Mueller finances for the city, told the RMMA (Mueller) Advisory Implementation Commission some time ago those estimates weren't necessary.
   Looks like any council member determined to look after the city's interests with the same kind of diligence that serves stockholder interests is bucking the system, which routinely attempts to maneuver the council instead into approving what is put in front of it. No wonder Louis Black doesn't see "a group committed to leading the city." Austin really needs that group now.
   Suppose Catellus buys and develops the choice sections of Mueller, then decides to sell the rest, maybe unloading that pesky affordable housing requirement. We get built-in headaches – and selling is forever. Why now?
Mary L. Lehmann

Too Crowded to Go in, Still Enjoyed It, Still Offended

RECEIVED Wed., April 14, 2004

Dear Editor,
   What is up with Austin events these days? My husband and I went to the Swamp Romp but didn't end up going inside, as there was no place to go. Everything was crammed into this little fenced-in area, and I got claustrophobic just looking at the offensive sight. We sat outside the fence and had a real fine time. In addition, I am going to start boycotting these kinds of events, and I invite all you other real Americans to do the same. You might ask why? I will tell you why. All of the freakin' rules and regulations! I can't bring in water, food; even my umbrella now is too dang long! Hello! I thought I lived in America – the home of the free! Maybe I don't want to buy the food and the water and all the other stuff they have for sale at these events. That's my right as an American, and nobody should tell me otherwise and bar my entry because I choose otherwise. I am fed up and boycotting these events until this changes. It is ridiculous. Please join me for change!
Leslie A. Breaux
Leander

You Do 'The Alamo' Math

RECEIVED Tue., April 13, 2004

Letter to the editor and all Americans everywhere,
   John Wayne brought us his version of The Alamo at a time when another Texan was in the White House. The Alamo, LBJ, and Vietnam were from then on wound into one sticky ball.
   Disney now gives a more accurate Texas history while Bush is getting us stuck in the oil fields of Iraq. You do the math.
Gene Elder
San Antonio

O'Connor Is Neutral on Development Project

RECEIVED Tue., April 13, 2004

Dear Editor,
   In the April 9 Austin Chronicle article "Bee Cave Mall Back on Fast Track?," [News] I indicated that Tim O'Connor of Direct Events was "supportive of the [Shops at the Galleria] project." In fact, Mr. O'Connor is neutral regarding the project and our dispute with Save Our Springs Alliance.
Chris Milam

Turning on Bush

RECEIVED Tue., April 13, 2004

Dear Editor,
   American people have been met with more misinformation regarding activities of the current administration, security issues, and the character of the opposing candidates than ever before. I voted for Bush the elder both times for president and W. both times for governor, so I am not a longtime sour grapes, "I hate the Bushes" voter. Never before have I met with comments such as, "Get out of America," and, "If you are against Bush you are against America," etc. Supporting Bush and supporting our troops and America are not synonymous.
   Only with great effort and insistence has the 9/11 Commission, hence the American people, been able to gain access to information available prior to the terrorist attack on the twin towers. The facts, when finally presented, have been found to bear out Clarke's revelations. Miss Rice is unable to judge the importance of information she receives much less act on it.
   We do not deserve the lies and manufactured and/or withheld information from officials who place the good of America beneath personal goals.
   The greatest danger to the liberty of Americans today lies in the USA PATRIOT Act, which is directly opposed to those freedoms guaranteed to us by our Constitution. This is more dangerous than terrorists, because while terrorist attacks may potentially take the lives of thousands, the liberty of every single citizen in the United States, more than 293 million, is at risk under this act. This, the dishonesty of George Bush, and his abhorrent attitude against victims of, and for perpetrators of, environmental abuses, place him at the top as the person who has the least regard for the well-being of those whom he says he represents.
Sincerely yours,
Glenda Smith

SXSW Imposed Upon Young Austinites

RECEIVED Tue., April 13, 2004

Editor,
   Though my grandniece attends the university by working full time, she still somehow manages to paint, write poetry, and play music in a rock band. Despite what you say ["Page Two," March 26], SXSW is imposed upon youngsters who staff the all-important service sector, those underpaying locally owned restaurants, clubs, coffee shops, book stores, record merchants, etc., that have come to depend upon outside injections of capital for their survival. No worker is spared, no absence excused, extra hours are required of everyone. Little time and even less energy remain for taking in the festivities. For young artists like my grandniece, SXSW means pampering drunk and disorderly tourists, and one would hope that the cooks, cashiers, waiters, bartenders, and bouncers somehow feel affirmed knowing that their efforts contribute to saving "our" economy.
    Yet I doubt it. How gratifying that you spent an evening with Jim Jarmusch recalling college days while kids like my Rachel couldn't get in to hear the director speak. You are an "arbiter of taste," Mr. Black. You hold an awesome position in this town, reminiscent of a Petronius in Nero's court. But we instinctively recognize bad faith when times are hard, and your condescension regarding real art vs. unrecognized art demands an explanation. Incidentally, being "liberal" has less to do with throwing off tradition than with applying a relentless critique of the status quo, so lets be frank – you are enriched by this project. It's not a cultural event but a business venture, and, like the ill-fated Aqua Fest, SXSW is subject to the vagaries of economy.
    I did not approach my 93rd year to sit by while some fat cat lectures the struggling artists in this town. You're out of your depth, sir, and would do better to report until you have grown enough to analyze the culture.
Opal Walker

Comments on Rice

RECEIVED Tue., April 13, 2004

Editor,
    After listening to National Security Adviser [Condoleezza] Rice carefully avoid answering questions from the 9/11 Commission members, I assume action would have been taken only if requested and if she was provided with the time, date, location, and type of attack planned.
    I did not realize that advisers do not initiate action, do not question agencies providing information, do not urge intense searching when you receive warnings of a big, big, attack in the USA.
    If the national security adviser's position only involves being extremely well dressed, able to use 50-cent words, and praise the president on all occasions then I think we need a new title for the position.
    Perhaps, if it is a woman, Barbie in Government. Obviously, if it is a male, it could be Ken in Government.
    I would hope that the national security adviser would not simply "shake trees" for information and action but would threaten that heads would roll – metaphorically speaking.
Barbara Hannon
San Marcos

Don't Trust Mike Krusee

RECEIVED Mon., April 12, 2004

Dear Editor,
   I'm disappointed to see Mike Clark-Madison fall so easily for the bait and switch being pulled on Austin by Mike Krusee ["Austin @ Large," News, April 9]. Mr. Krusee is effective, but he has not suddenly been beset with a bout of regional responsibility.
   Look at the facts:
   1) Commuter rail is unlikely to serve many people within the city limits of Austin (due to the necessary wide spacing of stations and the in-expressway routing through most of Austin). You won't see a station south of 2222 coming from the north, for instance; and bet on only one between there and the city limits to the north.
   2) Round Rock, which Mike Krusee represents (primarily), pays no taxes to Capital Metro.
   3) The commuter rail plan is pushing Capital Metro toward providing so-called rapid-bus transit instead of light rail in the inner city (providing poor service to Austin residents, who, unlike the Round Rock residents mentioned above, pay the bills).
   Connect the dots. By shady legislative maneuvering, Mike Krusee managed to stop Capital Metro from providing high-performance transit to Austin citizens in 2000 (striking a blow against the liberals) and will soon manage to successfully divert a ton of money from Austin to Round Rock citizens (either Capital Metro money or other sources), as if the overwhelming city-provided subsidy in highway spending isn't enough already. And what's better, the people from Round Rock who do ride the rails won't have to worry about the unwashed citizens of Austin sitting next to them – this route will fail to serve the densest (and weirdest) parts of our city.
   In short: Mike Krusee is a friggin' genius. He's providing transit to his constituents and getting us to pay the bill.
Regards,
Mike Dahmus

Doesn't Like Taxes

RECEIVED Mon., April 12, 2004

Dear Chronicle,
   Seems like the only sector of the workforce not "sweating" income is the government: city, county, state, and federal. Sure is a lot of government! In 1998 local taxes were $1,800 a year. This year $5,600. Of course we have to pay for services, but is that really what we're paying for? We all know that government agencies receive more money when they fail to do the job we're paying them to do. Example, the CIA fails to intercept the 9/11 plot; they get a $14 billion budget increase. AISD fails to reasonably educate students; they get more money, and sometimes they do this without turning over the "oh the children" card. So there is no impetus or reason to successfully execute a government job.
   The bottom line is that it is perfectly legal for government to tax me out of my home, and I have no recourse. Current tax laws regulate how quickly and how much of my money government can take. It would be interesting to see what the tax rates would be if all the people who assigned rates and values made $25,000 a year.
   I don't expect government to be honest, but I like to dream that one day it would be fair and equitable.
Jim Paine

Bush Family History

RECEIVED Mon., April 12, 2004

Dear Editor,
   Review the search results for "Prescott Bush" and/or "Skull and Bones" within www.google.com for a most sober history lesson. This history should help to provide Americans with enough information to understand/demand an immediate recall/change of our "leaders" and "agencies."
Ben Hamilton

Long Poem

RECEIVED Mon., April 12, 2004

Dear Editor,
   This Bush administration is so bold
   It's crazy what they are doing
   Smearing, stalling, and treating Americans so cold
   They don't care about lives, who are they fooling?
   We, the people, know better.
   
   Caligula lives again, are you ready for his spin?
   He's in power, thanks be to god, his father.
   Caligula lives again. Spin, Spin, Spin.
   
   I heard the president doesn't like to read
   And a top priority is to be sure gays can't marry.
   He denies veterans money despite their pleas,
   It would be different if he went to war like Kerry.
   We, the people, know better.
   
   Caligula lives again, are you ready for his spin?
   He's in power, thanks be to god, his father.
   Caligula lives again. Spin, Spin, Spin.
   
   I saw Condi Rice swear in and testify,
   After a time, she got a turn to toe the line
   Of course she wanted to keep it classified.
   Asleep or swatting flies, she feared what they might find.
   We, the people, know better.
   
   Caligula lives again, are you ready for his spin?
   He's in power, thanks be to god, his father.
   Caligula lives again. Spin, Spin, Spin.
   
   Soon old Rumsfield will do the same
   They'll ask why he cut budgets
   And let's hope he'll have to explain
   Why he signed away counterterrorism efforts saying "Fu@$ It"
   We, the people, know better.
   
   Caligula lives again, are you ready for his spin?
   He's in power, thanks be to god, his father.
   Caligula lives again. Spin, Spin, Spin.
Brandon McKeithen

Senior Citizen's Pay for Bush Failures

RECEIVED Mon., April 12, 2004

Dear Editor,
   I feel very angry about being lied to. The Bush campaign has misled the American people by not telling the whole truth or mixing truth with lies. The senior citizens are directly paying for this war with their Medicare. I work in the health industry. I had to take a cut in pay because of this war. Not only myself but a lot of people did. The senior citizens that I care for have lost a lot of activities that they used to do on a regular basis but are now not allowed at all. One of these days you are going to get old. There might be a greedy Republican in the White House that will trade your rights for vain ambitions. Thank you and have a nice day.
Sincerely,
John Wright

Intelligence?

RECEIVED Mon., April 12, 2004

Dear Editor,
   It's incredible, really, if you think about it.
   On one hand the Bush White House had dozens of briefings handed to them by the best intelligence services in the U.S. stating, "Bin Laden told followers he wanted to retaliate in Washington," and, "Bin Laden implied in U.S. television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef," and, "The group apparently maintains a support structure [in the U.S.] that could aid attacks," and conclude there was no actionable intelligence.
   And on the other hand the Bush administration pays hundreds of thousands of tax dollars to [Iraqi opposition leader] Ahmed Chalabi – for information the White House's own sources believed to be unverifiable, and in some cases false – and still deems that information so actionable that Bush postpones the hunt for bin Laden to invade and occupy Iraq.
Richard Harvey

Kudos to New Restaurant

RECEIVED Mon., April 12, 2004

Dear Editor,
   Kudos to McCormick & Schmick's on the opening of their restaurant bar in the beautiful new Frost Building.
   The property is a breath of "fresh air" in the sadly outdated downtown Austin restaurant bar scene.
Gary Liddy

Politics, Politics Everywhere!

RECEIVED Fri., April 9, 2004

Dear Editor,
   The September 11 commission is investigating the events leading up to the tragedy in order to prevent future attacks. President Bush, who initially opposed even creating the commission, has stonewalled its work at every turn.
   The White House has deliberately withheld information from the commission. It has played games with deadlines and has placed the blame on the previous administration. It has tried to limit the testimony from administration officials and even the time the president himself spends with the commissioners.
   It was recently revealed (in a previously classified document) that on Aug. 6, 2001, President Bush received a briefing titled, "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States." But Bush spent the month of August on vacation at his ranch.
   It is time for President Bush to stop the games and stop the stonewall. The security of the American people is at stake. It's time for some honest answers from President Bush.
Sincerely,
Randy Case

Politics, Politics Everywhere, Part 2!

RECEIVED Fri., April 9, 2004

Dear Editor,
   The September 11 commission is investigating the events leading up to the tragedy in order to prevent future attacks. President Bush, who initially opposed even creating the commission, has stonewalled its work at every turn.
   The White House has deliberately withheld information from the commission. It has played games with deadlines. It has tried to limit the testimony from administration officials, and even the time the president himself spends with the commissioners.
   It is time for President Bush to stop lying and take responsibility for this and all the other disasters he brought down on the American people.
Sincerely,
Ivry Newsome

Supports Early Treatment for AIDS Act

RECEIVED Thu., April 8, 2004

Dear Mr. Black,
    I commend U.S. Reps. Lloyd Doggett, Martin Frost, Sheila Jackson-Lee, and Ciro Rodriguez for co-sponsoring the Early Treatment for HIV Act. ETHA was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in February with bipartisan support.
   This bill would give states the option of providing Medicaid coverage to predisabled people living with HIV. It is very important to people living with HIV as studies show that ETHA could reduce the AIDS death rate in the United States by 60%!
    ETHA would address a cruel irony in the current Medicaid system. Currently most individuals with HIV must become disabled by AIDS before they can receive access to Medicaid's care and treatment programs that could have prevented them from becoming so ill in the first place. ETHA is modeled after the highly successful Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention Act of 2000, which has been adopted by 49 states.
    Studies have found that providing early intervention care significantly delays the progression of HIV disease, increases life expectancy, and is highly cost-effective. I encourage the remainder of our delegation to join as co-sponsors.
Sincerely,
Lona Dellessandro

Rice Was Never Asked the Important Questions

RECEIVED Thu., April 8, 2004

To the editor,
   I just finished watching the Condi Rice "testimony" to the 9/11 Commission on TV. It was pure damage control, all sweet niceness and promotion/defense of the administration. Rice is a brilliant politician and can verbally dance with the best of them. Her answers were more seminar-style lecturing rather than answering, and she was never asked the real questions. William Rivers Pitt has put 20 questions together that should have been asked. None of these real questions were asked: www.truthout.org/docs_04/040804A.shtml.
Sincerely,
Bill Milo

Concerned About Our Government's Future

RECEIVED Thu., April 8, 2004

To the editor,
   The testimony heard by the 9/11 Commission made it clear that the Bush administration failed to take steps to protect the public from terrorists in spite of urgent warnings. That constitutes incompetence or negligence, but not a crime. Terrorists took advantage of incompetence and negligence, but they were not knowingly abetted.
   By now, officials and elected representatives should be aware that our democracy is also urgently threatened in a way even more serious than the threat posed by terrorists. Democracy in America is now in the early stages of being overthrown by stealth because of predictable crimes that may never be proven or even detected. The election of November 2004 will make vote-stealing in Florida in 2000 look like petty theft. The Republican administration and the Republican-controlled Congress are abetting the commission of vote-stealing by knowingly failing to take needed steps to protect the November 2004 election.
   Urgent warnings have been voiced by hundreds of journalists and computer scientists who say new electronic voting machines are terribly vulnerable to hacking by both insiders and outsiders. The administration has done nothing to confront that problem. Bills to correct the problem have languished in Republican-controlled congressional committees for months.
   Votes are subject to theft, and that crime may be undetectable if electronic voting machines are not fitted with a voter-verifiable, printed paper ballot for audit and recount. If vote theft should occur in November in even one or two states, that would be enough to sway results in a close election. Anybody who says that could not happen was not paying attention to what went on in Florida in 2000.
   Certain administration officials, senators, and representatives may deny that there is an urgent need to protect honest elections, but the cat is out of the bag. Our own Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison sits on the Senate committee that is holding up passage of SB 1980, a bill that provides for a printed paper ballot that can be verified by voters and used for audits and recounts if needed.
   Every concerned American should let officials and elected representatives know that they will be held accountable – incompetence and negligence will not be accepted as excuses when vote stealing is knowingly abetted by failure to take action that is clearly required.
   We citizens are counting on our government not only to protect us from terrorists but also to protect our right to vote in fair elections. It's an urgent issue. Let's hope they get this one right.
Regards,
Thomas Manaugh, Ph.D.
Dallas

Play Was Incredible

RECEIVED Thu., April 8, 2004

Dear Editor,
   The game was fast and furious. The play was incredible from both sides (I only saw the first half, though). One other ex-MLS player had been signed right before the game, Roy Lassiter. Ted Eck seemed unfamiliar with the Mexican style of play, but Ezra and Roy were outstanding. My only real question was, where did this club get the money to put up this high-quality collection of talent? Your views and opinions are anxiously awaited.
Dave and Linda Oliveira (from the front row)
Cedar Park

County (Not) at Work

RECEIVED Thu., April 8, 2004

Dear Editor,
    Just in case anyone still wonders why Travis County gets into budgetary problems, here are two pictures I just took (April 8, at about 11:45am). My wife and I were out for our daily walk, down through the Pedernales River valley at Hammett's Crossing. From a distance, we were pleased to see a county work crew out to clean up the mud deposited by yesterday's receding flood waters. As we got closer though, it became apparent that there were three dumptrucks, two pickup trucks, and six or seven men just sitting around, waiting for some sort of other heavy machinery.
    Now, under extreme mud conditions, this might not be too ridiculous, but the minuscule mud deposit there today could have been handled by two men with shovels, loading it into a pickup truck. When my wife suggested shovels to one of the four men in a pickup driving back and forth to set up flagger warnings, he said, "They didn't give us any." The crew has been out there for more than an hour now. At least a few of the vehicles' engines were running noisily and stinkily the whole time.
   I guess this show of force is overcompensation for the almost two-week wait we had to suffer for the sand cleanup after the last major flood. Or maybe they got grief because the one before that, it took a neighbor with his front-end loader to clear the road, long before the county even made a move in this direction.
   I firmly believe that even the county could be smarter, more efficient, and more environmentally sensitive than this.
Yours,
Ric Sternberg
Round Mountain

Budget Cuts Hurt Weakest and Most Defenseless

RECEIVED Thu., April 8, 2004

Dear Friends,
   I read with interest your article ("Naked City," News, April 2) in The Austin Chronicle. I have seen the budget cuts the Republican-controlled Legislature did in the last session to our Texas elderly and children. I shuddered when I saw the effects of the Republican gutting of all coverage for dental and vision help for our Texas youngsters. It made me so mad.
   But the budget cut that not only shocked but saddened me was the budget cut that Republicans unloaded on the weakest and most defenseless in our society. The Republican cut that shut off complete funding for hospice services to our poorer children hits these needy families of our state at a time when they are simply trying to keep their heads above water. At a time when you are there to witness the slow decline and ultimate death of your child, you, your child, and family are denied the services that hospice can bring to you in comfort, support, prayer, and understanding. You are denied this so the Republicans could delete some spending.
   Regardless of political party, such a cut to the sickest and most defenseless of us is loathsome.
   Shame on 'em.
Sincerely,
Ken Williams
San Antonio
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