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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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Toll Road Map Errors

RECEIVED Tue., Sept. 14, 2004

To Mike Clark-Madison,
   In the article this week on page 32 ["The Traffic Report," News, Sept. 10], there are two errors on the map showing toll roads. U.S. 183 South of SH 71 East was not proposed or adopted as a toll road by the CAMPO board. Also, the SH 45 North toll road will connect to U.S. 183-A. Otherwise, the map is accurate re: CAMPO action on toll roads. I appreciate that you have shown the "Phase 1" toll roads adopted by CAMPO in the year 2000 separate from the "Phase 2" toll roads adopted by CAMPO in July 2004. Most of the Phase 1 toll roads are under construction. I invite everyone to check the CAMPO Web site at www.campotexas.org and the CTRMA Web site at www.ctrma.org for the latest information.
Thank you,
Michael R. Aulick
CAMPO executive director
   [Mike Clark-Madison replies: Mr. Aulick is absolutely right, and we thank him for pointing out the error.]

When Musicians Misbehave

RECEIVED Tue., Sept. 14, 2004

Dear Editor,
   At a recent joint meeting of the Austin Music Commission and city of Austin Telecommunications Commission held on Sept. 8, a very heated exchange developed between infowarrior Alex Jones and musician Natalie Zoe, resulting in Zoe throwing her books on the table and screaming at Mr. Jones and the audience that she had had it. She turned and stormed out of the meeting like an undisciplined child having a temper tantrum. Earlier, Zoe had stated that she represents Austin musicians as vice-chair of the Austin Music Commission. This kind of behavior from someone who holds that position is deplorable and unacceptable. As an Austin musician, I do not want to be represented by one who publicly behaves so badly, gives up, and walks out of such an important meeting. I believe Ms. Zoe should immediately step down from her position for this irresponsible behavior.
Johnny Bartee

Medical Campus Would Benefit Austin

RECEIVED Tue., Sept. 14, 2004

Dear Amy Smith,
   Your article beautifully summarizes a very important topic of which many Austinites are either confused or unaware ["Is There a Doctor in the House?," News, Sept. 10]. Austin is currently the second largest city in the U.S. without a true academic medical presence (Phoenix is No. 1, but has the benefit of the Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale). City voters should consider the benefits of having an academic medical center seated in downtown Austin. A UTMB medical campus in Austin, or ultimately even a free stand-alone medical school, could allow research advancements through partnerships with the surrounding biotech companies and the UT-Austin bioscience departments, as well as providing access to certain specialized care that is currently available only through travel to the medical university centers of Dallas, Tyler, Houston, San Antonio, and Galveston. A university medical campus in Austin would easily attract those with interests in medical research, resident physician and medical student training, and patient care. There is also the more serious issue, which is the growing numbers of uninsured individuals in the Austin area who have reduced access to medical care (especially specialty care). The largest portion of urban indigent care is traditionally provided for under the support mechanisms of full-fledged medical university systems in other U.S. major cities. Thanks for bringing this timely issue to the attention of your readers.
Joshua DiCarlo, MD
Atlanta, Ga.

Toll Decision Needs Citizen Vote

RECEIVED Tue., Sept. 14, 2004

Dear Editor,
   The toll road plan approved by CAMPO in July was thrown together with almost no time spent making area residents aware of it, how much it would cost, and how it would improve traffic congestion. Since it was approved, tens of thousands of citizens have voiced concern that this plan will do little to alleviate traffic and that it punishes local residents financially.
    The toll plan will cost many Austin area families hundreds of dollars per year, and some will pay over a thousand. Many of the toll roads in the plan are a double tax because planning and construction were already under way with tax dollars. Most importantly, the plan affects us throughout our lifetimes, and for generations to come.
   The promise of toll-free alternatives rings hollow, and even if it were true, does not justify a poorly conceived plan. Area businesses favor the tolls because their employees pay the tolls and they pass the cost on to customers. The cost of everything goes up because of tolls, and so we get to pay even if we don't ride the toll roads ourselves.
   Poor choices made more than 25 years of no-growth policies by our "leaders" have led us headlong into the current traffic crisis. In the Nineties boom, they chose not to build the traffic infrastructure that we needed. Now more shortsighted public leaders decide the solution to the problem is to toll us into financial oblivion. Where are the public leaders with vision?
   The enormous cost increases to area residents imposed by the toll plan is the largest in a generation and deserves more study, better planning, more citizen input, and yes, a vote of the citizens.
Mike Gauthier

Celebrate Car-Free Day

RECEIVED Tue., Sept. 14, 2004

Dear Editor,
    It's sad that we in the United States get so little news of the rest of the world. Knowing how other people do things can be very helpful. It gives you perspective, and lets you see your situation from new angles.
    In the realm of transportation of course, other countries, even poor ones, have many things we don't have: electric trams that come every five minutes, bicycle paths that connect cities, pedestrian zones in the middle of town, frequent train service between cities. They also have car-free days.
    Sept. 22 is an annual car-free day in hundreds of cities around the world. (The European Union has a Web site about this at www.22september.org). Of course, we in the USA don't usually hear about it. The U.S. doesn't participate, and U.S. newspapers don't cover the event.
    On Sept. 22, in Austin, cars will dominate all streets, as usual. But let's at least make it known that in the rest of the world, cities are restricting cars so that people can walk and bicycle and breathe and think and look at their public space.
    A peaceful bicycle ride to commemorate World Carfree Day will leave from Eastwoods Park at 5:45pm, Sept. 22. An adventure walk will leave from outside Wheatsville Co-op at noon. But you can celebrate World Carfree Day just by walking or cycling wherever you happen to be in the city, and by actually looking at your surroundings. Breathe the air. Listen to the sounds. Imagine that, for just one day, the cars are gone.
    Perhaps next year Austin will celebrate World Carfree Day properly, by actually closing some streets to private cars. As a first step, let's at least notice that, every year, Sept. 22 is an international car-free day. Maybe it will give us ideas.
Yours truly,
Amy Babich

Society Benefits From Tolls

RECEIVED Tue., Sept. 14, 2004

Dear Editor,
   I read with concern about toll roads being used as means for others to pay for their "lifestyle" ["Austin@Large," News, Aug. 20]. Do we really want taxation based on lifestyle? Do we institute a tax on those people who are overweight because of their own unhealthy lifestyle? Would the advocates of "lifestyle" taxation advocate their expansion to include those whose lifestyle puts them at high risk for contracting HIV?
   How much must we pay in public health care costs so that the overweight can continue to order large fries with their Big Mac and Diet Coke or so that others can be irresponsible in the practice of their lifestyle? Would toll road "lifestyle" tax advocates support the concept that only people with children in school should pay taxes to support the school system?
   We must realize that "lifestyle" taxation is like a "targeted" tax cut; they are both behavior control. Government controls are enforced by confiscating your money if you have a certain lifestyle or allowing you to keep more of your money, providing you spend it how they want. The solution is of course to limit taxation to the financing of legitimate government functions such as public education and infrastructure and for it to get out of the lifestyle business. Certain lifestyle choices have consequences, such as being overweight, and the argument is thin that others should have to pay for those consequences. However, society as a whole benefits from a transportation infrastructure just as it benefits from a public education system. Even if you have no children in school, you benefit from having an educated work force and informed populace. Even if you do not drive, you benefit from the transportation infrastructure because you use the goods and services moved by the infrastructure in one form or another.
Carl Anderson

The Mysteries of '31 Nights'

RECEIVED Mon., Sept. 13, 2004

Dear Editor:
   As someone who plans on relocating to Austin from the Southeast within the next six months, I found your paper to be very good and generally informative, with the following exceptions in the article "31 Nights" by Darcie Stevens [Music, Sept. 10]. Not being "from 'round here" I found the article both ambiguous, poorly written, and very provincial (i.e., What river dried up? Does Austin have a great music scene? Did this person have a good time or not?). So perhaps you can understand my confusion and hopefully clarify. You mentioned in your editor's note, "wasted young lady." I'm not certain how this was meant, but personally I think "being wasted" is fine as long as one isn't driving a car, flying a plane, or trying to write an informative and hopefully entertaining article, am I clear?
Steve Cobb
Raleigh, N.C.

'Outfoxed' Preaches to Choir

RECEIVED Mon., Sept. 13, 2004

Dear Editor,
   It seems that in writing about Outfoxed: Robert Murdoch's War on Journalism (Film, Sept. 3) Marc Savlov forgot to actually review the movie. What we get instead, mostly, is Savlov's agreement with the film's thesis, that Fox News is heavily biased toward the right wing. Fair enough, but how well does the film make that point? Not very well at all. First and foremost, it's not persuasive to people who don't already agree with it. Preaching to the choir is nice but it's unfulfilling, and it's a wasted opportunity. Outfoxed also fails on a basic level: It's disjointed, unfocused, and redundant. But perhaps its biggest flaw is that it tries so hard to prove Fox's right-wing bias that it devotes little time to explaining why that's a problem. Without convincing the audience of that, the whole idea that Fox is right wing becomes moot – and so does the film.
   I'm aware of the director's credentials, but I still think that many of the students in the UT film school could tell this story better.
Michael Bluejay

Recycle, Don't Trash

RECEIVED Mon., Sept. 13, 2004

Hi,
   I was having a meal at Hilbert's hamburger place this afternoon (Sept. 9), when a fellow came in with a bunch of new Chronicles for the Chronicle stand. He picked up the old Chronicles from the stand (there were a good dozen of them), and dumped them into the Hilbert's trash can, without so much as a "how do you do." What about recycling, not to mention whether arrangements had been made with Hilbert's to use their trash can for your trash? (According to someone who worked there, such arrangements had not been made.)
   In any case, if all the Chronicles at establishments get dumped into the establishments' trash cans, that's a lot of newspaper not getting recycled. Just wanted to bring this up. Thanks.
Sincerely,
Fred Taylor
   [Circulation Director Dan Hardick responds: It is absolutely not our policy to throw unused papers in the trash. Drivers are very explicitly instructed to bring the papers back to our warehouse and put them in our recycling Dumpster.]

Many Toll Questions for Harper

RECEIVED Mon., Sept. 13, 2004

Editor:
   In the Sept. 10 issue of the Chronicle [Postmarks], Texas Toll Party representative Jean Harper listed three column inches of questions related to the Austin toll plan. One question, especially, piqued my attention: "Are you aware that the reason for the tolls is that the state doesn’t have money for maintenance, so it’s spending Austin’s allotted money on statewide maintenance?" This question prompts some questions of my own.
   What is your source for this information? Why is the Austin district being so ignominiously singled out? Was the action of diverting Austin’s money approved by the Texas Transportation Commission? Was the transfer approved by the Legislative Budget Board? Did the Texas Legislature approve the transfer of Austin’s highway construction money? Did Gov. Perry approve this transfer of money?
   Why did the state Legislature in the most recent session not approve sufficient funding for needed TxDOT projects? Why didn’t the Legislature not increase the Texas Good Roads tax on gasoline in order to pay for these projects?
   Finally, how would the Texas Toll Party suggest funding Austin’s needed highway construction projects if not with tolls or taxes? It is easy to complain; it is much more difficult to devise an acceptable plan of action.
   Austinites do have inquiring minds, and we want answers.
Bob Farnsworth

Karaoke's Image Besmirched

RECEIVED Mon., Sept. 13, 2004

Dear Editor,
   As Austin is the "Live Music Capital of the World," is it possible that you could eliminate the karaoke listings from your band/club listings? How disgusting can you be to list great karaoke with simple band listings. But, seriously.
Respectfully,
Duane E. Simmons

Live Peals of Musical Laughter

RECEIVED Mon., Sept. 13, 2004

Dear Editor,
   Your Sept. 10 cover story, "31 Nights" by Darcie Stevens [Music], was indeed fun and lively. And bassist extraordinaire Francie Meaux Jeaux (D&L's Texas Music Cafe, Tuesday, Aug. 3) is definitely noted for her distinctive laugh. Yet, rather than a "cackle," it's more like a peal of Swiss bells reverberating through the Alps.
Slim Richey
Driftwood

Smoking out Smoke-Free Venues

RECEIVED Mon., Sept. 13, 2004

Dear Editor,
   One the important discoveries of Darcie Stevens' 31-day odyssey through Austin entertainment venues is that one-third of them were smoke-free ["31 Nights," Music, Sept. 10].
Paul Silver

Bush's Latest Disaster

RECEIVED Mon., Sept. 13, 2004

Dear Editor,
   George Bush wants to reform the tax code?! Now I'm really scared. Did anyone notice his speech where he said Kerry can't roll back the tax cuts because the wealthy will just dodge and the rest of us will pay? Is this something the president should be saying? Especially a president that has cut funding for IRS investigators, making it easier for the rich to dodge? How can anyone have any faith in this man? We must do all we can to get him out of office. Hillary's right – he is a disaster.
Elaine Blodgett

Hug a Tree Until Things Get Better

RECEIVED Mon., Sept. 13, 2004

Dear Editor,
   Although few and far between this time of year, good rains make our usually dry creek beds incredibly attractive for 50 or so hours. Their spontaneity gives us a quick reminder of how Texas weather can be compared to a going out of business sale – hurry, while supplies last. Today, on one such excursion, I came across one of the killer live oaks I'm blessed enough to be living under.
   Call me a tree hugger, but I truly feel something when I lay my hands on certain trees around town. Not all of them give off a vibe (they are just trees), but once in a while a tree shows me just how long he has been around by giving me this "what's up kiddo" type of acknowledgement. These moments are when I feel a connection to nature; this is my favorite description for naturalism.
   Naturalism is a strange word in that it is often used in stereotypical ways. Many avid proponents, or naturalists, often respect nature with religious fervor – when they add mother to nature, they mean it. In contrast, avid opponents look at nature and naturalism with disdain, believing that man truly and completely reigns over God's green Earth.
   Neither of these parties is very large or entirely outspoken; nevertheless, these intellectual poles represent the scale at which the human race has integrated itself into holism with the cosmos.
   The masses are compelled to navigate toward one of these poles depending on innumerous mental factors and life situations. Nevertheless, if Robert Wright's theory holds true with the test of time, humanity will likely end up at some nonzero, or conflict-free and harmonious place with the environment.
   Unfortunately, harmony probably won't occur before things get much worse. In the meantime, I urge you to feel up a tree.
Rad Tollett

Austin Music: Love It or Leave It

RECEIVED Mon., Sept. 13, 2004

Dear Editor,
   31 nights and Darcie Stevens ("31 Nights," Music, Sept. 10) only really learned one thing (her No. 3: "The human body is not meant to enjoy the luxurious qualities of Austin nightlife every single evening"). She missed the true essence of the Austin music scene, and the charm, beauty, and exceptional talent she witnessed. I think a more appropriate wording of her lesson numbers one and two would be edited as:
   1) "There’s more music in Austin than" anywhere on earth.
   2) "You can visit any part of town at any time on any day and see bands of differing" styles, yet almost always of enormous talent.
   As I listened to the Greencards on Friday completely thrill the Jovita’s audience of young and old (in typical Austin fashion) with Carol Young’s voice (from her heavenly throat; not "her nose"), Kym Warner’s ("the mandolin player") magical command of his instruments, Eamon McLoughlin’s world-class fiddle/violin playing, and their talented guests, I couldn’t help but wonder: With her stuffy nose, through which orifice did Darcie’s thoughts flow before landing on the pages of this pathetic article?
   Stevens may have subconsciously (or not) given herself an out with the severe allergy problems. Perhaps she should move to Phoenix to help her sinuses. If she does I have a request; please tell people there how bad it is here.
David Legere

Bring Soldiers Home

RECEIVED Mon., Sept. 13, 2004

To the editor,
   In coordination with a nationwide vigil hosted by MoveOn.Org, there was a gathering of 300-plus people on the south steps of the Texas state Capitol building Thursday evening [Sept. 9]. The purpose of this vigil was to bring attention to the more than 1,000 members of our armed services that have been killed needlessly in the war in Iraq. They were put in harm's way by a commander in chief who said, "No thanks!" and was AWOL when it was his turn to go. This is a war started under the false pretenses that 1) Iraq was in some way responsible for the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center, and 2) Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction that were an imminent danger to the United States of America and the rest of the world. Both of these allegations have been proven to be false and were used by the Bush administration to further its own agenda of controlling the flow of oil in the Middle East. Day in and day out our brave men and women are facing death in a war that should have never been and one we seem to be bogged down in with no realistic exit plan. We want to bring attention to the fact that these aren't just numbers in a Pentagon news release but were actual living human beings. Those who have died were someone's father, someone's mother, someone's son or daughter, someone's brother or sister, someone's husband or wife. These are real people dying for nothing more than a political agenda. If this war is so important to our president and his family, why aren't Jenna and Barbara Bush over there fighting alongside our troops? I hope you will give coverage to this vigil in hopes of bringing our troops home soon, before the death toll rises to 1,500 or 2,000 or 2,500. Who knows where this will end?
Sincerely,
Delwin Goss
Event coordinator

First Amendment OK for LIberals, Too

RECEIVED Mon., Sept. 13, 2004

Dear Editor,
   In regard to Michael Foster's letter ["Postmarks," Sept. 3]. What Louis Black said didn’t even resemble the retarded Republican rhetoric that Michael spewed out. What Louis Black said was that even though he was under no obligation – and some of the writers used rude and or threatening language – he would still print the letters. The fact that Michael brought Tim Robbins and the Dixie Chicks into it didn’t bother me as much as the fact that he left David Koresh and Randy Weaver out. I mean, they must have been involved somehow in this evil liberal conspiracy. You know when a Chronicle writer and a free-cable dude are going at it something’s got to be up. I’m just afraid some loyal American who sells sawed-off shotguns to people is gonna be attacked by some rogue government agency. Like the police. Well, I don’t want to get hysterical so I’ll leave you with something I read in the Statesman. After Howard Stern was fined by the FCC because Janet Jackson showed her boob to a bunch of brain-dead football junkies. A woman wrote in and said, "I think George Carlin is a lot more disgusting."
Mike Luther

Election Day Numbers

RECEIVED Thu., Sept. 9, 2004

Letter to the editors,
   Attention needs to be spent on only two numbers to decide anything come Election Day in November:
   1,000 killed.
   0 weapons of mass destruction found.
Zeph McKee

On Toll Roads and Opportunism

RECEIVED Thu., Sept. 9, 2004

Dear smarter people,
   I recently took some action to understand the toll road issue and I agree that we are truly being misled. Surprise! This isn’t anything new considering we as Americans are greedy and we steal from one another all the time. This is why we are so hated in the international community. For instance, think about how much we steal from one another in our own country; why then wouldn’t we steal from our international neighbors too? Well now, aside from my "Americans the opportunist affirmation," if it sounds new and different, someone is trying to steal something.
   By the way, the letter from Rick Perry’s office proclaiming that the gas tax revenue is decreasing due to hybrids and more fuel efficient cars is so absurd I fell out of my chair and injured myself. Now I can’t drive my big SUV.
Dave Vleck
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