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 Thanks for your patience.
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Make List More Inclusive

RECEIVED Wed., Dec. 15, 2004

Hi, Kate Messer,
   Thank you for highlighting very worthy and truly "big-hearted" public service groups in your Wish List program ["Holiday Wish Lists 2004," Nov. 26, Dec. 3, and Dec. 10]. Thank you for speaking about loving those who need our love outside our personal comfort zones.
   If the Chronicle does this series in 2005, the American Red Cross of Central Texas would greatly appreciate being included. We are a humanitarian organization led by volunteers that provides relief to victims of disasters: fires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, as well as man-made disasters. Assistance such as food, shelter, crisis counseling, and clothing is provided to families who sometimes have lost everything. In addition, we provide health and safety education to the general public, as well as emergency communication and aid to our armed forces and their families.
   Thank you on behalf of the many organizations in Austin helping all those who need our assistance.
With all good wishes,
Leah Pickett
Director of development
   [Special Features Editor Messer responds: Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Each year we attempt to contact as many public-service organizations as possible. We appreciate any feedback or communication from groups, due to the ever-evolving nature of contact info and personnel in the nonprofit sector. All nonprofits are encouraged to stay in touch with us, as we maintain databases for future projects such as these. If your nonprofit group has a question or concern about this year's Wish List or simply wishes to be included in future lists, please e-mail me: Also, for folks still wishing to donate items to local groups: The three Wish Lists that ran in consecutive issues will be available as one comprehensive list online at until the end of the year. Wish Lists that did not make deadline (including that of the American Red Cross) will be added in. Thanks and happy giving!]

Child Protective Services Issues

RECEIVED Wed., Dec. 15, 2004

Dear Editor,
   You are in error for the statement in this article ["Capitol Chronicle," News, Oct. 22], which expressly states and italicizes the word "confirmed" (e.g., cases of child abuse).
   The governor of Texas ordered the Office of the Inspector General of Texas to investigate a case that I had with CPS that was "confirmed," yet was garbage. The caseworker was out on sick leave and with car troubles for a week, never met with the police, and closed a report as confirmed child abuse, with no substantiated data other than what she wrote into a report because she needed to catch up on paperwork since she was out of work for a week.
   This type of poor data management was only compounded more when that same caseworker, rather than admitting she was wrong or lied, later filed those same false documents as government evidence.
   If you read the OIG's report closely, he does state that he doesn't have the jurisdiction to criminally charge a state employee who deliberately files fraudulent government documents (or lies under oath in open court), but that he has the power to recommend corrective action, up to and including criminal charges being brought.
   Slander and libel are serious issues. That's why an entire agency is under investigation. It wasn't about just not getting the kids in time, and away from abusers; it was also about the many screw-ups that caseworkers made themselves, and put our kids into the hands of the very people that were abusing them ... just to cut corners.
Donna Sims
   [News Editor Michael King responds: In the "Capitol Chronicle" column Donna Sims refers to (News, Oct. 22), a report by the Health and Human Services Commission described more than 78,000 confirmed cases of child abuse or neglect. Sims is certainly correct that some of those cases (perhaps her own) are pursued in error, but the scale of the real abuse problem in Texas remains overwhelming to a woefully inadequate number of inadequately paid, high-turnover caseworkers.]

Savlov Missed Charms of 'Blade: Trinity'

RECEIVED Wed., Dec. 15, 2004

Dear Editor,
   I was sad to read Marc Savlov's negative review of Blade: Trinity [Film, Dec. 10]. Did he go into the movie expecting something other than a comic book movie? Here are my opinions about Blade: Trinity: The soundtrack was great fun and perfectly accentuated the action. A few times during the movie my friends and I commented on how great the soundtrack was. There were plenty of very well-choreographed fight scenes (from a 10-plus-year martial artist). Dialogue for the most part was excellent and appropriate to the genre. Only a few times did I groan, but even then I can forgive because it is a comic book movie! I loved Parker Posie and Ryan Reynolds’ witty banter, and their timing and delivery were perfect! It is a comic book movie that knows it is a comic book movie and winks at the audience accordingly. I'm sorry Marc Savlov missed the wink.
Scott Swain

The Election Contested

RECEIVED Wed., Dec. 15, 2004

To the editor,
   Courageous advocates of democracy are demanding recounts in Ohio and other states; yet the media trivialize them by using anonymous labels such as "coalitions of disgruntled voters" and "third-party candidates." These individuals and groups deserve to be named.
   Citizens concerned about the integrity of our elections include 2004 Green and Libertarian presidential candidates David Cobb and Michael Badnarik, who have filed for recounts in Nevada, New Mexico, and Ohio due to massive voting irregularities and outrageous statistical anomalies there. Concerned community members also include the Alliance for Democracy, Citizens Alliance for Secure Elections-Ohio, Common Cause, Ohio Honest Elections Campaign, and the Ohio Democratic Party, who have joined the Ohio fight. They include the Rev. Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, who are filing an election challenge asking that the results in Ohio be overturned because as Jackson asserts, "the fix was in."
   Also among these little-known champions of the average American voter is 52-year-old Bev Harris. Her nonpartisan consumer protection group for elections, Black Box Voting, has launched the largest Freedom of Information Act request in history and is busy conducting forensic fraud investigations in five battleground states. And let’s not forget the League of Women Voters, who have expressed concern about widespread voter suppression and disenfranchisement in the 2004 election. They are demanding a full investigation through open and public processes. These are the voices fighting to uphold our democracy. Name them.
Jennifer Pyne
San Antonio

Feeling Unwelcome in America

RECEIVED Wed., Dec. 15, 2004

Dear Editor,
   Never in my life have I felt more unwelcome in American society than I do now after the election of 2004. As a gay Christian I am appalled at the hate that is spewed in my direction in the name of Christianity.
   What hypocrites these extremist, fundamentalist Christians are! They ironically are committing the sin of Sodom, which happens to be the sin of inhospitality. They abuse the bible by throwing these and other passages our way.
   They do not own Christianity. They do not control the president. And they do not speak for the rest of us tax-paying Americans who support equality.
Perry Trosclair

The Gang of Virtue Has None

RECEIVED Tue., Dec. 14, 2004

Dear Editor,
   The gang of virtue has none, unless winning at all costs is a virtue. Sometimes ambition soars and sometimes it creeps and crawls. In the case of Jack Stick, Talmadge Heflin, and Eric Opiela, it slithers.
   These Republican candidates do not understand why kids need health insurance, or why kids need adequately funded primary and secondary education, or why tripling college tuition places a crippling tax on the resources of middle-class families, or why Texans have the highest insurance rates in the country; if it is not about their corporate sponsors, they just don't get it. The only thing these dudes know for sure: Democracy in America these days is less about voting and more about counting. If the vote goes against you, count something else.
    A majority of the voters accurately assessed the values and value of Stick, Heflin, and Opiela. In the next few weeks we will see if it matters.
Steve Bradley

Shame on Us

RECEIVED Tue., Dec. 14, 2004

Dear Editor,
   In your "Naked City" [News, Dec. 10], you admit the naked truth that "we hang our Horns in shame" because the road to the Rose Bowl "was paved with whining," but shame also on you for your bully jab urging UT to "kick some Wolverine ass." You thereby bow to the crude boasting and bragging characteristic of the media and culture you so often lament. Where is your logical identity with the liberal/progressive Berkeley community, its classy Golden Bears, and its truly first-class university, presumably closer to your professed ideals and policies. Also, remember that sports fans and the blue states of California (and Michigan) have not forgotten the Enron energy manipulation from the Bush league; the last two red-state presidential victories; UT's refusal to accept second place in the College World Series in Omaha; and even President Nixon crowning the Horns "Number One" in their locker room after the 1969 Arkansas game while ignoring undefeated Penn State in the rankings.
   "OU" know so well that if you can't prevail on the field, then politically change the vote at the polls, but true sports champions win rather than whine, and they show class before they kick ass. Win or lose in Pasadena, the BCS vote switches still make UT smell like a ruse rather than a rose!
Gene Burd
Associate professor of journalism, UT

Bull Creek Foundation Proud of Record

RECEIVED Tue., Dec. 14, 2004

   In response to Mike Fitzsimmons' complaint about us ["Postmarks," Dec. 10]: Bull Creek Foundation is an all-volunteer group since 1994 working to promote, preserve, and improve the balance between nature, recreation, and sustainable development in the Bull Creek Watershed, the "other" Edwards Aquifer water supply creek in Austin. We helped develop the PARD Adopt-a-Park Program, and then adopted the Bull Creek Greenbelt in 1997. Since then, volunteers have enjoyed thousands of hours improving it.
   First, we had to stop vehicles driving in the creek and rutting the entire Greenbelt. Then we began a monthly Saturday volunteer workday. We work with experts (local to federal), using proven techniques to improve the biodiversity along Bull Creek while building, improving, and maintaining an educational trail for all to enjoy. We have fixed erosion problems and provided a safe, enjoyable, educational, accessible trail. Our work includes participating in the city's Long Range Watershed Master Plan, which deals with water quality, flooding, and erosion. Together, we've made breakthroughs in landscape practices to improve water quality for fish and other creek critters, curbed sewage spills with permanent fixes, restored biodiversity and fostered native plant recovery with selective invasive removal, clearing excess cedar growth and planting natives. Wildlife abounds, is prolific, and increasing. Life in Bull Creek is good and getting better every day because of the volunteers who give generously and intelligently of their time and talents. We appreciate, embrace, and encourage all species to coexist in a scenic urban setting. It's working!
Skip Cameron, president
Bull Creek Foundation

Return to Federalism!

RECEIVED Mon., Dec. 13, 2004

Dear Editor,
   It is interesting how some "progressives" have raised the issue of states’ rights on issues such as medical marijuana and gay marriage. I would welcome the retraction of the federal government back into its constitutional box but I doubt that federalism is what "progressives" really want. Ending federal control would require an end to federal funding because one always comes with the other. If the court rules that the states can make their own medical marijuana laws the feds can merely refuse to allow federal funds to be used for medical marijuana. Think about how much power the national health care plan progressives want would give the government.
   A return to federalism, done right, would extend from education, food stamps, and school lunches to social security and the environment. Since the Barton Springs Salamander does not migrate across state lines or international boundaries the federal government would not have any say on its welfare. What happens to the salamander would be up to only the people of Texas. Federal taxes that fund these matters would be cut and the money would remain with the taxpayers as potential revenue for the states to access to run their own programs such as health care or school lunches.
   "The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation and foreign commerce. ... The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives and liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement and prosperity of the State." James Madison, Federalist 45.
Carl Anderson

Lucky to Have Council Member McCracken

RECEIVED Mon., Dec. 13, 2004

Dear Editor,
   We are lucky to have a City Council person like Brewster McCracken who is willing and able to tackle the complicated process of developing design standards to improve the Austin quality of life.
   He represents the kind of council member we want and need. The best and brightest citizens who are willing to bring all the stakeholders together to work through controversial issues to a satisfying compromise that honors all points of view.
   Creating workable solutions is hard and creative work. It is far more demanding and requires far more skill than merely tossing around simplistic hopes and dreams. Yes, we want to protect the environment, but how do we allow for developments that respect the environment? Yes, we want to help out the unfortunate. But how do we balance compassion with enhancing the downtown experience of our tourists, revelers, residents, and workers?
   The courage to take on these challenges comes with risk; for the farther we reach the farther we can fall and disappoint those who put their hopes in us.
   We have serious issues that require serious and tenacious leaders. We are lucky to have Brewster. We need more people like him.
Paul Silver

Happy Bush Won

RECEIVED Mon., Dec. 13, 2004

Dear Editor,
   It’s time for me to leave the closet. I’ve been a registered Democrat for 22 years. I marched in two protests against the latest Iraqi war. I voted for Kerry in November.
   However, I am now happy to say, "I am glad Bush won."
   I have three reasons for my new Dubyaism.
   Europe is not our friend. They have been stabbing Israel and the U.S. in the back for more than 30 years under the Euro-Arab dialogue with this Faustian pact, the continent sold its soul for oil. The continent is now rife with violence and bloodshed at the hands of Islamic radicals welcomed by this pact. It is the original "blood for oil." Couple this with the EU’s unapologetic financial support of the Palestinian authority and Hamas and it is obvious that Bush was right to ignore Europe in regard to Iraq. They declared a quasi-war against us in 1973.
   Multiculturalism and political correctness are divisive tools of limo-libbies. This abominable double standard is racist. By holding "disadvantaged" groups to a lower standard of behavior than that of the mainstream, we are saying that these persons are incapable of succeeding in the predominant culture. However, complain about the adverse effects of this misbehavior, and you are branded a racist. All reasonable discourse gets handcuffed by identity politics.
   The left’s own elitism has made it irrelevant. In fits of childish narcissism, they blame red-state ignorance rather than their own ineptitude for their loss in this latest election. They are way out of touch with the average American, and their whining just distances them even more.
   Lefties are crying about moving to Europe to get away from red-state dominance. Go ahead. I suggest Spain. There’s lots of sangria and Real Madrid on telly. Just don’t cry to me when you can’t hear the match over the loudspeaker of the mosque next door.
Joe Mitchell

Cannabis Has Medicinal Value

RECEIVED Mon., Dec. 13, 2004

Dear Editor,
   Regarding "The Supremes Take a Hit" [News, Dec. 10]. My best friend and co-author George McMahon is one of the patients who receive medical cannabis from the United States government's Investigational New Drug Program. He uses his government marijuana to treat pain, spasms, and nausea related to years of surgical and pharmaceutical maltreatment, multiple injuries and trauma, and a rare genetic condition called Nail Patella Syndrome. Prior to being admitted to the federal marijuana program, George had been through 19 major surgeries and several near-death experiences, and he was taking 17 pharmaceutical substances on a daily basis. For the past 14 years, George has smoked 10 prerolled government joints each day. During this time, he's had no surgeries or hospitalizations, and he no longer takes any pharmaceuticals (aside from the occasional antibiotic).
    Like all the patients in the federal program, George is living proof that cannabis has medicinal value. The program was opened in 1978 under the guise of "research," but officials have not published even a single study on the patients they provide the marijuana to. It's almost as if they are afraid to confirm what they already suspect: Cannabis-based medicines can provide safer relief than many of the pharmaceutical alternatives. But it's too late. The genie is already out of the bottle.
Christopher Largen
Co-author of Prescription Pot and Junk
   [Editor's note: For more on George McMahon, see "A Quarter Ounce a Day," by Andrew Slaton, News, June 20, 2003 (]

Y'all Ought to Visit Canada

RECEIVED Mon., Dec. 13, 2004

Dear Editor,
   While I enjoyed Marjorie Baumgarten's Dec. 10 review of A Silent Love [Film], I was amused by her referral to Montreal as the melting pot of the Americas.
   As a transplanted Canadian (now a U.S. citizen) I must disabuse her of that notion. Toronto is even more multicultural. And, oh yes, Canada doesn't issue "green cards" but various kinds of "landed immigrant" status.
   It's a different country, you see, not part of the USA. They say travel broadens the behind, but y'all ought to visit Toronto or Montreal – you might be amazed and impressed at what you find. The world doesn't end at the Texas state line.
Diane Barnet

Homeless Scapegoated

RECEIVED Mon., Dec. 13, 2004

Dear Editor,
    Having repeatedly slandered the homeless for alleged pooping and peeing on everybody’s door, parking garage, and parking lot, the Downtown Austin Alliance/East Sixth Street Community Association now demands the city surrender economic sovereignty over sales in the downtown area. Apparently nothing is to be sold in the downtown area, unless the DAA allows it, between 7pm and 7am. Aside from the question of how this will deter panhandling, where the hell are the "progressives" on this being an overwhelming infringement on small business, especially microbusinesses that might want to exist without the blessing of an overbearing lobby, which seems to believe that it alone is authorized to tell everyone who is and is not appropriate to exist on the streets of Austin? Essentially, from the local media reports, the DAA is asking the council to regulate the homeless further because there is panhandling occuring in downtown Austin! Further reports state that the ARCH perimeter "crowd," which is allegedly doing all things nasty and illegal, represent only 1% of the homeless, who are panhandling to support their addictions. Austin officially recognizes the homeless population to be about 6,000 people, so the ordinance is being applied to this class in order to affect 60 people (that is 1%). Further examination by the local news revealed that most of those panhandling have homes. Doesn’t this eliminate the need to pass this ordinance at all? Apparently not, because there is no report of the almighty DAA backing down; instead they have 90 days to mount a new attack. Everyone can now look for the council to be flooded in Darwinian e-mails accusing the homeless of doing the most grotesque offences imaginable. Is it too politically improper to suggest that some of the Sixth Street clientele is most likely to be "doing the doo"?
Ricky Bird

Let's Keep Singing

RECEIVED Mon., Dec. 13, 2004

Dear John Aielli (and his fans),
    Don’t be sad. I know. Can’t sleep. Can’t erase tape ("Slop ... No. No. No. She just threw it!" sequence) right after "Joy to the World." Can’t, you know (Where’s the joy, the holiday spirit we just sang about?), erase this world’s insidiousness, pain, "... the hell has come ..." – you’re still not sleeping – and stunning ignorance. Nope. Not anytime soon. To recap: This offender (Dec. 4 caroling at Capitol), evidently a young, maybe not even a teenager yet (grinch) girl, couldn’t/wouldn’t control herself, and struck John. That never, it’s all good, I know, only good, (it’s all good, only good) happens. So I stopped, dismayed, having just secured your truly-an-Austin-living-legend and ("Hey Lance; Stevie") treasure, John, (just listen) autograph. And looked around. Nope. No bad, inept and/or surrogate parents in sight. Certainly no absent ones ...
    So let’s keep singing, ev’rybody. C’mon, Austin. ("Don’t be sad I know you will ..." – D.J.; "And so this is Christmas …" – J.L.) With you, of course, John (don’t be sad), leading the way.
Keith McCormack

Rich Are to Blame

RECEIVED Fri., Dec. 10, 2004

Dear Editor,
   In regard to "The Supremes Take a Hit," [News, Dec. 10]. Rich corporation owners, those that make huge campaign contributions, have no problem treating their aches and pains with medication. Having lots of money, most of them purchase the higher-priced brand medicines for their ailments.
   Poor folks usually use herbs, citrus fruits, plants to brew teas – make ointments, powder for capsuling, foliage for smoking.
   All things in life have cause and effect. I think I remember, "for every adversity there is a greater seed of equal and equivalent benefit."
   So why is it, when a person gives his life to producing products or services for the rich, exchanging the wear and tear on his body for money, he is expected to endure the pain associated with the deterioration with no occasion to elevate that unpleasantness?
   The rich only care about the poor for purposes of making money like: late fees on utilities and credit accounts, court costs, necessitating prisons and their support industries.
   Unless I am influenced by Monsanto, or Archer Daniels Midland, I can put a seed into the ground, and with blessings of sun, oxygen, and good soil, I can grow a plant that will feed me, cloth my family, provide building materials to construct my home, and fuel my car. There would be no profit for the rich – go figure. Do you think that is why cannabis is illegal?
Debby Moore
Wichita, Kan.

Smoking Friendly Restaurant List?

RECEIVED Thu., Dec. 9, 2004

Dear Editor,
   Why has there not been a listing of Austin restaurants that have created city-approved smoking areas for their guests? I know of only two right now, those being Hill’s and Trudy’s with T.G.I. Friday’s in the Arboretum now in the works. I am sure you have many readers who would like this information.
R.H. Hansen
   [Food Editor Virginia B. Wood replies: It honestly hadn't occurred to us, and you're the first reader who has asked.]

President Bush and the Left Are the Same When It Comes to Illegal Aliens

RECEIVED Thu., Dec. 9, 2004

To the Chronicle and my fellow citizens,
    It’s ironic, isn’t it, that President Bush and the left wing would have something in common. Ignore and excuse illegal aliens. The prez sez that we need them (illegals) to fill jobs that otherwise legals won’t take.
    OK, here, take a test. Drive around and take a good peek at any new construction or remodel or most any other construction-oriented activity, and guestimate how many workers there have legal status. Now, picture my predicament. I am trained and work in many of those trades, am a born citizen of the U.S., and, well, darn it, I can’t find steady work unless I sell myself short and work for $8 an hour even though I have more than 25 years' experience. Even when I am forced to go to the city-sponsored day-labor place off 51st Street, so I might pick up some cash, and I am No. 2 (No. 1 is also a citizen), 30-40 illegals go out before us at the whim of the employers who themselves might be illegals (and also unlicensed as they drive out).
    This year, as with most of the past 10 or so years, my family won’t get a holiday visit or even gifts in the mail, just a phone call making excuses that they hardly believe. Thank god that this "silent invasion" is creeping northward and Home Depots everywhere have a crowd of illegals in front of them taking jobs and lowering wages. It shouldn’t be too long before my folks know I was always telling the truth.
    So, I wonder if more Republicans or Democrats hire these illegals? And also if they know that somebody’s family in Mexico is having a nice Christmas because they were wired American dollars (which go a little further there), at the expense of my family here in the good ol’ US of A?
"Uncle" Paul Mitchell
P.S. p.s. Illegals have a lobbyist named Bush, I don’t?

Bitter About Coach

RECEIVED Thu., Dec. 9, 2004

Dear Longhorns,
   First of all, congratulations on making it to the Rose Bowl. As a longtime Cal fan, I say that with a somewhat heavy yet understanding heart. Texas is a premier program that truly deserves the BCS [Bowl Championship Series] bid it got.
   Having said this, I am somewhat bitter against your coach for being the first among his peers to actually campaign for votes. It goes without saying that the end result may have turned out the way it did anyway ... but rather than letting the team's performance on the playing field speak for itself, he quite literally begged for others to vote for his team. Why he would do this is only a question he can answer himself. My suspicion is that he felt the team's performance on the field was not adequate to justify the votes – for a number of reasons that space will not allow me to state. Suffice it to say that my personal feeling is that it was utterly classless ... mind you, not the first time a classless act was done by a major college football coach, but certainly the first time when it comes to the B(C)S bowl scenario.
   I will leave it at that for now. Congrats once again and best of luck to the players ... but not the coach.
Pat Clements
San Carlos, Calif.
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