FEEDBACK
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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Quote(s)

RECEIVED Wed., April 6, 2005

Louis,
    You've simply got to have a regular "Quote(s) of the Week" somewhere after seeing this one. (I think y'all may have had them before.) This one came out of your own AC mag.
    "I know all about the price of freedom. My parents' gardener's son is in the Marines." Ashleigh Forrester in the AC supplement, on the struggles of Arab nationalists against French occupation [“AC Datebook,” the Hookup, April 1].
Later,
Stanley Gilbert
   [Ed.'s note: Please check the issue date of the AC again.]

Okkervil River Has Enormous Talent

RECEIVED Wed., April 6, 2005

Dear Editor,
    My wife and I were so glad to see these guys (Okkervil River) recognized [“Black Sheep Boys,” Music, April 1]. We no longer have time or the lifestyle to get out and hear a bunch of music live unless it's at the Cactus, but somehow or another we stumbled across one of Okkervil River's albums, and it was one of those that remained in our home CD player for weeks getting better and better every time we listened to it. Enormous talent with both the music and the lyrics ... there aren't really many “albums” anymore where the whole package matters. Your recognition of this talent makes us feel smart, so thanks!
Larry Warshaw

Horrified

RECEIVED Wed., April 6, 2005

To the Chronicle staff,
    I am a longtime reader and lover of the Chronicle, and as such cannot help but be horrified at your new "youth-oriented" publication, the AC. The articles are unengaging and geared toward the worst stereotype of the airhead college student. Bikini-clad women and "articles" concerning vaporized alcohol and text-message transcripts with pop stars are hardly in keeping with the spirit of substance-based journalism on which you have built your name. Perhaps your advertisers are pushing for a younger demographic, yet you are admired for your independence. For shame, Chronicle, and you have succeeded in disenchanting one of your new mag's target audience members – a 22-year-old woman.
Caren Panzer
Hilo, Hawaii

Blizzard Clarifies His Position

RECEIVED Wed., April 6, 2005

Dear Editor,
   Readers of Rachel Proctor May’s feature on the proposed commercial design standards may have gotten the impression that I oppose “vertical mixed-use” projects (typically first-floor retail with residential and/or office above) [“Weird by Design,” News, April 1]. To the contrary, I am a consultant on two projects that include exactly that type of development.
   My point to the author was that not every project in the entire city needs to be vertical mixed-use and that even Robert Gibbs, the national guru behind these proposed standards, argues that requirements of first-floor retail on every building do not always work as intended. In cities that have instituted such regulations the first floor is often left unoccupied as a cost of doing business, which hardly leads to the pedestrian-friendly, walkable projects the standards are intended to create. More alarming from an environmental perspective was the portion of the proposed design standards that grandfathered vertical mixed-use redevelopments from the impervious cover limits of the SOS Ordinance, thereby actually encouraging residential density over the aquifer and all the pollution that entails.
    As for the Beast from Bentonville, encouraging limestone facades on Wal-Marts or even moving them up to the street edge will not pay the workers inside a livable wage with benefits or bring back the thousands of American jobs that Wal-Mart suppliers have outsourced to China and Saipan. Planning issues cannot be divorced from more bread-and-butter issues like wages, affordability, and economics if we really want to reverse traditional growth patterns and provide a quality of life that everyone can enjoy.
Thanks,
Mike Blizzard
P.S. p.s. I have been asked by several clients and local business owners to help assess the impact of the proposed design standards on local businesses and grocery stores. The opinions expressed in this letter and last week’s article, however, are solely my own.

Misspelled Title Corrected

RECEIVED Wed., April 6, 2005

Dear Editor,
    Although SXSW is over, and this may seem outdated ... my film "Mott Music" was spelled "Morr Music" in an article relating to the Music Shorts program [“Out There,” Screens, March 18].
Thank you,
Jarred Alterman
director/producer
Brooklyn, N.Y.

And the 'AC's Issue Date Was ...?

RECEIVED Wed., April 6, 2005

Dear Editor,
    I am so very confused, I went to lunch today seeking The Austin Chronicle as I have done for years and in its place I found something called the AC. I went to the bottom of the stack seeking my Chronicle fix as I was nearing and fearing the weekly oncoming withdrawal that usually occurs when all copies of the Chronicle have been taken by the other junkies. I settled for the AC read, only to get the impression that it has replaced The Austin Chronicle. No! This could not be. I am reading more into this (no pun intended) than it is. Next week I will once again get my fix. I left the restaurant sulking without ever reading “News of the Weird.” So please, tell me that this was the biggest April Fools' Day joke ever played on us Austinites and that you really got us good, ha ha and so forth. Or you can inform me that I have been living under a rock and that “I blew this out of all proportion to the occasion” and that AC has not replaced the Chronicle and that the only place I will see it in the future is online. Sorry for wasting your time thinking that such a devastating thing could have occurred, and I apologize in advance for being so greatly mistaken.
Cliff Luckey

Dark Visions

RECEIVED Tue., April 5, 2005

Dear Editor,
    I envision a world with no war, hunger, disease, or poverty. I envision a world where there is no prejudice, human oppression, or greed; where no dictators rule with the swords of tyranny and fear. Believe me when I tell you that President Bush is working for this!
    I envision a world where we stubbornly consume our future to feed our past, where we destroy our most precious and vital of natural resources – clean air and water – by bull-headedly maintaining our reliance on fossil fuels and minimizing or ignoring completely the use and development of renewable solutions. Believe me when I tell you President Bush is working on this.
    I envision a future not so far at all away where once temperate climates become unbearable, where species die at a dizzying rate, where one after one the chain of life is broken, link by link. Oh wait, this is already happening. And believe me when I tell you that President Bush is spending the needed funds to continue studying the problem.
    I envision a world where at some point we no longer have that which we as humans need to survive, a situation that many people already experience. I envision a world without humans, where remnants of our civilizations slowly crumble and decay into a horrible eulogy that will continue for millennia unheard. Believe me when I tell you that President Bush, who is seemingly oblivious to the fact that he is in the unique position of guiding the world toward saving change, is on the job and working on it.
    These are the visions that wake me in the middle of the night. In these visions there is no longer the grand array of life once supported by this jewel, this mother Earth. We have smothered ourselves out of existence and taken with us war, hunger, disease, and poverty. Where there are no humans, there can be no dictators to rule with the swords of tyranny and fear. On a dead planet there are no political parties. No Christians, Jews, Muslims, or atheists to battle with. Trust me when I tell you President Bush seems to be doing precious little to avoid this vision. But he is most definitely allotting the funds toward the continued study of the problem.
David Skinner

Oppose Big Brother

RECEIVED Tue., April 5, 2005

Dear Editor,
    An alarming proposal currently before the state legislature, HB 2893, is going to require that a tracking chip be placed in every vehicle in Texas. This chip will be located in the windshield sticker proving current vehicle registration. As proposed, the chip will electronically monitor you throughout the state to verify that you have paid all your taxes and insurance (and are otherwise behaving). This is Big Brother in your car, and should be opposed.
Mark Stephens, Ph.D.

Who Really Cares About Movie Reviews?

RECEIVED Tue., April 5, 2005

Dear Editor,
    It really baffles and saddens me that folks actually take up time and energy criticizing movie reviews. Who cares? So some person you don't know disagrees with your movie taste! How boring is your life? Is it that important to the fate of the nation if Shrek got laid or Harrison Ford's vein in his head is bigger than it was in the last "dramatic piece"? No wonder this country is quickly becoming a dull, vapid wasteland of droning robot lameoids. How judgmental is that?
John R. McCollum

A Dumber and More Ignorant 'Chronicle'

RECEIVED Tue., April 5, 2005

Dear Editor,
    I honestly thought, and am still hoping, that the launch of AC [April 1] was an April Fools' Day joke. Let me preface this by saying I am a 20-year-old student at UT who grew up in Austin and looks forward to my weekly dose of the Chronicle. It is not that I have a problem with a "more edgy" version of the Chronicle, but by "edgier" did you mean dumb and ignorant? I was angered by your article on "local chow." Since when does Louis Black support ditching Magnolia Cafe or any of the other truly local flavors for IHOP [“Hot Eats,” Chow, April 1]? Were you serious? There was even a section on sex-related issues that encouraged a girl to go out with her friends and not worry about an infection she thought she got from "staying to long in a hot tub with a cute guy ... if you know what I mean” [“Doin' It,” the Hookup, April 1].
    As the target audience for this new edition I was sorely disappointed. Where was the news? Or do we really only care about The OC and binge drinking. I really enjoy the Chronicle so hopefully y'all will work out the kinks and the AC will work out for you. I, for one, will continue to read the old Chronicle b/c edgy to me is stimulating articles and support for eccentric Austin.
Thanks,
Leah Hughes
   [Ed.'s note: Trust your instincts.]

Kudos to Police

RECEIVED Tue., April 5, 2005

Dear Editor,
    Jordan Smith's article “Sixth Street Blues” from the March 18 Chronicle [News], regarding police behavior, is unbalanced, inappropriate, and just plain wrong. She has obviously not spent enough time on Sixth Street to write about it intelligently. She should stick to writing about what she knows. In the 22 years that I have been selling flowers on Sixth Street I have had lots of experience with the police, and I am telling you that they do an excellent job of keeping Sixth Street a fun and safe place to visit.
    The vast majority of people on Sixth Street are pleasant and well-behaved. The people who get arrested there are the people who come looking for trouble. No one gets arrested just for being drunk; they have to be a danger to themselves or others, or doing something else totally inappropriate.
    Kudos to the Austin Police Department for a difficult job well done. Sixth Street is a safe and fun place to visit, party at, and drink responsibly because of the great job that our excellent police department does there. Jordan Smith should do more research before she writes about it again.
Respectfully,
Sam Langley

Animal Friendly

RECEIVED Tue., April 5, 2005

Dear Editor,
    Thank you for your excellent article about trap/neuter/return programs in the metro area as well as the spay/neuter issue [“City Searches for a Feral Cat Fix,” News, March 25].
    I publish a list of area veterinarians who do offer low cost spay/neuter – the list is not nearly long enough to address the problem.
    One way pet owners can help is to ask your veterinarian if he/she offers low cost spay/neuter. If not, please ask them to consider doing so if they want to keep your business!
    You can also purchase animal friendly license plates. The majority of funds collected goes into a statewide distribution fund and is given as grants to shelters and organizations who support spay/neuter programs. Find out more by contacting the Texas Department of Transportation or SNAP, the Spay Neuter Assistance Program, in Houston. They have a Web site.
    Also, please support organizations such as Shadow Cats, Animal Trustees of Austin, and SpayAustin with your donations, volunteering, and fundraising.
Elaine Byrne, realtor
Central Texas cat captain, SPAY/USA

Three Ideas to Improve Quality of Life

RECEIVED Tue., April 5, 2005

Dear folks in charge,
    We could improve Austin's quality of life quickly and immensely with these three ideas. No. 1: Every summer every building in town, full or empty, is ridiculously cold, sweater cold! Drop it to 72 or 74 across the board and watch our bills go down in every way. This should be done nationwide. Why isn't it? No. 2: How many million tons of smog are generated every year by the insanely long waits at stoplights, often two minutes while no one goes the other way? Thirty second light shifts would save incredible amounts of gas and pollution – and aggravation, thus accidents. A true no-brainer, especially late at night. No. 3: Some sort of green lawn tax. How many folks, west side especially, have huge green water-sucking, chemical-drenched lawns? The day is coming when this will be seen as the biggest waste of them all, and to what end? Pure vanity. Water is everything to our species, in our climate especially. Why not wake up sooner than later? These are pretty easy ideas to implement. So why don't we?
Still lovin' our town,
Kyle Swanson (no relation, praise the lord)

Hush Money

RECEIVED Tue., April 5, 2005

Dear Editor,
    I certainly hope much attention is being paid to the blatant political chess game going on with Midtown [“Midtown Saga Burns On,” News, April 1]. It is obvious that Baylor is showing the city how generous, how helpful, how supportive, and how much damage control they have done for the city surrounding this incident. Oh – and then, we want money. Oh no, we don't want $400,000. We want $750,000.
    This is hush money! City pays, club owners claim to keep a lid on their disbelief and emotional trauma that came from stupid messages sent by a few police officers. (Stupid, not criminal.) Baylor cited one, one incident (of which I am not familiar with) where police apparently failed to respond appropriately to a 911 call. She failed to even mention the number of calls to police since then (most likely hovering around 500 or greater) to which there have been no complaints.
    I hope the media zeros in on the statements put out by Futrell and McDonald that “this was the city's idea and we would have given it to the club had the incident not happened.” Lie lie lie. All to appease a family that is connected with Washington.
    And finally (trying to keep this short), I hope the media roll over to Mr. Linder – and hold his feet to the fire – who stated on television news that the e-mail and statements in the e-mail were taken out of context and someone has it out for the city manager. I hope people see the irony and hypocrisy of that mindset. Hang and fire police officers for their e-mails that stink of racism (although race was never mentioned), but take a step back and take a look at the big picture when it comes to “his” people sending messages.
Ryan Herring

Defending Virtual Schools

RECEIVED Tue., April 5, 2005

Dear Editor,
    In reference to Amy Smith and Rachel Proctor May's recent articles on pending legislation, connecting virtual schools with "vouchers" is misleading [“Lege Notes,” News, April 1; “A Voucher Is a Voucher, Even if It's Virtual,” News, April 1; “Vampire Vouchers Rise Again,” News, March 25]. The presumption that virtual schools are unsupervised learning reveals a lack of understanding of what virtual education is.
    eLearning is growing in the public school sector as well as in the corporate training sector. The University of Phoenix now is the largest university in the country, but it is only part of a spectrum of higher education institutions that are moving toward eLearning. New York University, for example, recently expanded its virtual college – to offer an undergraduate program as well as a grad program. The University of Texas Distance Education Center is considered one of the leading eLearning institutions in the world.
    Many state agencies provide statewide virtual schools. Florida leads the nation, but Illinois and Kentucky also have excellent virtual high schools.
    In Texas the Virtual School Pilot helped the Houston ISD, Plano ISD, Birdville ISD, Spring Branch ISD, the Texas Virtual School at Region IV Education Service Center and the University of Texas High School to establish strong programs.
    As moderator of a listserv of virtual school administrators (www.texasvsp.org) I support the concept. I am concerned, however, about giving the State Board of Education control of the network. I think the public schools are doing a great job already and that Carolyn Boyle does not represent the aforementioned Texas public schools but rather a narrow constituency dominated by educators fearful of much-needed educational reform.
David Bearden

Ambiguous?

RECEIVED Tue., April 5, 2005

Dear Editor,
    Your recent “Page Two” column made very little sense to me [April 1]. [Here are] two direct quotes from that column:
    “As far as statistics are concerned, I neither care about nor fully believe reports about the economic impact of smoking bans on small businesses, whether issued from either camp or even from 'neutral' agencies.”
    “Isn't it time that instead of adding to the worries and concerns of club owners like Wickham, we offered them our gratitude and support?”
    Perhaps local politics cause you to be so ambiguous about that issue. I certainly don't know. In any case, it would be nice to know which of those statements represents your point of view.
Respectfully,
Gary L. Zimmer

Bellagio Review Unfair

RECEIVED Tue., April 5, 2005

Dear Editor,
    What has happened to our Chronicle? I have depended on Virginia Wood for finding good food in Austin since I arrived here eight years ago. In light of two recent events, I can no longer do that. I work for Bellagio Italian Bistro, a small family-owned restaurant at Jester Boulevard and 2222. A scathing, untruthful review was published by you all a few weeks ago [“Off and On,” Food, Feb. 18]. I personally took offense because I know how hard our very small staff works to make our restaurant a wonderful experience for everyone, including ourselves. I highly respect our owners and my co-workers. We are a family. I watch them all perform to the best of their abilities every day. We all care! I was told to dismiss the article, seeing as the reviewer was from Houston and we could have had an "off day,” which I am reluctant to accept. I just opened my newest Chronicle to find a blurb in the “Restaurant Roulette” section which, for me, adds insult to injury. It intimates that we make our customers uncomfortable because we close our kitchen "right after the dinner rush,” which is an outright lie. I personally have stayed one extra hour for one single table to dine at the very last moment, and given them the same caring service as if they were my first table of the evening. Have any of your reviewers ever had to manage the labor costs of a small, family-owned business? I watch three separate owners do their utmost to make their business solvent and profitable on a daily basis, and I am there, as are all of my constituents, to back them up. Now it seems like your opinions have become vindictive. Can I change your mind by caring for you myself? Our food is wonderful. If not, why has your reporting become so negative? We should get the same fair shake that some of the more mundane and less tasty venues garner from your publication. We support local businesses; shouldn't you?
Billie M. Dixon III
   [Virginia B. Wood responds: As I explained to the owner of the restaurant, neither the reviewer nor this newspaper has anything to gain from reviewers fabricating stories. Our reviewer is not from Houston and gave what I considered to be a fair, balanced, and honest account of his personal experience at Bellagio. That is what all our reviewers are expected to do, regardless of whether the restaurant is locally owned or not.]

Statistics

RECEIVED Mon., April 4, 2005

Dear Editor,
    Six months ago, Massachusetts enacted a smoking ban that encompassed the entire commonwealth. Bar and restaurant owners were furious, claiming that it would put a huge dent in their profits and place undue harm on the entertainment business.
    Today, Harvard University has reported that the sales and employment of all Massachusetts restaurants and bars have actually increased since the smoking ban.
    Six months. More jobs. More sales. The quiet majority is not vocally praising this smoking ban, but they are publicly endorsing it. Austin could feel a similar, natural high.
Rad Tollett
   [Ed.'s note: The figures you cite above have to do with overall revenue rather than specific businesses. There are any number of questions that would need clarification. How many businesses that were open when the ban went into effect are still open? How have Mom and Pop businesses done? How have smaller live music clubs done? Are fast food chains earning a larger, a smaller, or the same percent of the total as before the ban? And that's just a few of the most obvious.]

Conservatives' Choices

RECEIVED Mon., April 4, 2005

Dear conservatives,
    You are going to have to make a choice soon. For the past many decades your primary message has been that the government should get the heck out of people's lives and let them be independent and free to make their own choices.
    Now that you are in control of two of the three branches of government, things seem to have changed. As a whole, you apparently intend to interject yourselves right into the most personal and intimate arenas of personal choice and freedom. Your actions in the Terri Schiavo case, as well as in many other areas of freedom of choice to live or die, are more invasive than the "bleeding heart liberals" ever were.
    Personally, I'd prefer that you get your mitts off my life and let me be free to make my own choices and for my own voice to be heard, whether you like the message or not, or whether it matches your religious beliefs or not.
    Or is it just about money, power, and control, and not about freedom at all?
    You need to choose to be true to what you have told us, or honest about what your intentions really are.
Gerry Starnes

Clarifying Constitutional Mandates

RECEIVED Mon., April 4, 2005

Dear Editor,
    It is with dismay that I read two letters to the editor accusing those members of the Senate who desire to change the filibuster rule in the Senate of trying to upset the Constitution's built-in systems of checks and balances or ending judicial responsibility [“Postmarks,” April 1].
    The filibuster is not mentioned anywhere in the Constitution. It is a rule the Senate imposed on itself under its authority to make those rules and it is free to change it as it wishes. In fact it has changed the filibuster rule a few times, once at the suggestion of President Wilson who was no neo-conservative. Those who now support the filibuster should remember it is a blade that cuts both ways. It has been used in the past to block civil rights legislation.
    A constitutional amendment defining the powers of the judiciary the way the powers for the other branches of government are enumerated can better address judicial responsibility than a filibuster. The framers of the Constitution thought this would be addressed later after ratification. One reason for anti-federalist misgivings about the Constitution was because of its failure to address judicial powers. Unfortunately Congress never got around to an amendment addressing this problem. An unrestrained judiciary is another blade that can cut for or against you.
    "[T]he Federal Judiciary; an irresponsible body (for impeachment is scarcely a scare-crow), working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little today and a little tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief, over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall be usurped from the States, and the government of all be consolidated into one. ... [I]t will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated." -Thomas Jefferson.
Carl Anderson
   [Ed.'s note: The above is in response to statements the letter writer wishes had been made, so he could rebuke them, rather than statements actually made. There are constitutional mandated checks and blanaces in the federal governmant. There are also checks and balances that have evolved by legislation. Neither of the letters mentions the Constitution. They do address the issue that traditional checks and balances created by legislation and maintained by consent are being attacked.]

Smoking Ban Won't Hurt the Live Music Scene

RECEIVED Mon., April 4, 2005

Dear Editor,
    It's clear that Louis Black cares deeply about Austin's live music scene – the clubs, the musicians, and the culture that surrounds it. So, I'm puzzled by his recent column concerning Austin's upcoming smoking ban ordinance vote ("Page Two,” April 1).
    Black says that he doesn't "care about nor fully believe reports about the economic impact of smoking bans on small businesses," but then he takes one such report to heart (from Elysium owner Wickham) and concludes that "a ban will hurt some clubs, kill other clubs, and damage the live music scene."
    I'm not sure how Black can be so certain about the economic impact of a smoking ban, but let's consider what his conclusion says about those who care about Austin's live music scene as much as he does.
    The possible economic damage of a smoking ban will occur if most smokers no longer go to the clubs. In other words, these smokers are going to the clubs to smoke. They have little or no commitment to the bands or venues. So, the "vitality" of Austin's live music scene is resting on the whim of smokers whose lifestyle choice has absolutely nothing to do with the music scene that Black cares so much about.
    Yes, less business from smokers is a possible result of a smoking ban, but let's also consider some possible benefits for Austin's live music scene: More attendance from nonsmokers. Continued attendance from smokers who value the music scene more than their smoking. Improved air quality for Austin musicians, venue employees, and patrons.
    Even if the smoking ban passes, people will still be free to smoke in the vast majority of Austin in places called "the outdoors." Voters should be aware that, unlike the Round Rock ordinance, Austin's ordinance does permit smoking on outdoor patios.
Jason Levitt

All Places Should Be Nonsmoking

RECEIVED Mon., April 4, 2005

Dear Editor,
    I wonder what percentage of Austinites smoke? Many music venues, clubs, and the like that argue they will go out of business if patrons are not allowed to smoke in their establishments while listening to cool Austin music, might be surprised to consider that they might actually increase their audiences with a smoking ban.
    As it is, Austin is "the Live Music Capital of the World" for smokers; what a shame. If Austin is so cool, aren't the majority of Austinites nonsmokers? What a potential gold mine for new patrons if all places were nonsmoking.
Derek Taulman

Get Over It, America

RECEIVED Mon., April 4, 2005

Dear Editor,
    Get over it, America. You will never solve all the problems of life and death, in general or in particular, no matter how long you yap about it. One thousand times per day the decision about removal of life support is made in this country, without the intrusion of TV cameras or right-wing commentators. And when a dispute arises between two citizens on any issue, we have a well-established court system – older than America itself – to deal with it.
    And another thing: You don't get to make the decision about whether Michael Jackson really molested those boys. We have juries, guided by judges and rules of evidence, to make that decision. It's not your call. And O.J. Simpson? The courts had the last word on that one, too. It doesn't matter what you think. Same with the Waco tragedy. What you see on television is usually a tiny slice of reality, anyway – certainly not a sound basis for making sweeping judgments about life, death, and justice.
    We can educate ourselves; engage in earnest, reflective thought; discuss and debate; organize with like minds; and try to influence our elected lawmakers. But beyond that, we might as well recognize our individual powerlessness in such matters. Give it up to God, nature, or chaos. Our lives will be a lot happier for it.
Robert Wilks

Say No to the Smoking Ban

RECEIVED Mon., April 4, 2005

Dear Editor,
    Thank you, Louis Black, for sorting through the smoking ban controversy and explaining its potentially tragic impact on the live music culture of Austin (“Page Two,” April 1).
    We believe that the majority of voters will come to the same conclusion if we can reach them and motivate them to vote May 7.
    If you would like to help, please check out our Web site, KeepAustinFree.com, and see how you can help collect contact information for sympathetic voters and the money needed to inspire them to vote May 7.
    Terrible, and irreversible, things can happen if reasonable people stand by and do nothing.
Paul Silver
Owner of 219 West Lounge and Restaurant

Doesn't Really Want Help Understanding ...

RECEIVED Thu., March 31, 2005

Dear Editor,
    Please help me understand, our Constitution states that Congress shall not pass a law establishing a religion, nor prohibit the free expression thereof. How can the courts deny Terri Schiavo the right of communion? Doesn't this violate her constitutional rights?
Daniel Younger
Itasca

Hutchison Co-Sponsoring 'Nuclear Option'

RECEIVED Thu., March 31, 2005

Dear Editor,
    In case anyone is interested, our esteemed Sen. Hutchison is co-sponsoring Bill "I'll Diagnose What Ails Ya'" Frist's threat to eliminate the filibuster in the U.S. Senate, and with it any hope for federal judicial responsibility. Just in case anyone might want to drop her a line and tell her how they feel: 202/224-5922, www.hutchison.senate.gov/e-mail.htm.
Steven Blaisdell

Land Tax Logic

RECEIVED Thu., March 31, 2005

Dear Editor,
    The Chronicle only noted the resulting unfair change in property taxes owed, that only the rich are likely to get a property tax reduction if HB 3 passes [“When Is a Tax Not a Tax? Ask the GOP.,” News, March 25].
    The damage is much worse than that.
    Remember the attention that is always called to "raising the tax base" by developers seeking lots of "partnering" with the city to justify subsidies of one sort or another? Lowering the property tax blows away the justification. Giant subsidies, such as Catellus will get for the Mueller tract, are hard to justify anyway.
    What the Lege powers really want is to keep the land tax part of the property tax as low as possible. The lower that tax, the higher the cost of land (and land deal profits) and the more the modest income earners can't afford to live in Austin.
    Conversely, the higher the tax on land, the lower the cost of land (and land deal profits) and the more the modest income earners can afford to live in Austin
    Take your pick. Our elected officials at all levels of government have.
Mary Lehmann

Brain Dead

RECEIVED Thu., March 31, 2005

Dear Editor,
    This in regard to Jeb Bush and the Bush administration's involvement in the Schiavo case. Some politicians just don't think. Which basically means they are brain dead. My suggestion is ... stop feeding them!
Jinny Lee
Melrose, Fla.
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