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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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I Am Innocent!

RECEIVED Wed., June 22, 2005

Dear Editor,
    Re: Austin Chronicle cover story "Who Killed Father Ryan?" [News, June 17].
    Turning a blind eye to justice affects everyone. As Martin Luther King said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." I was wrongfully convicted, more than 22 years ago, for the murder of Father Patrick Ryan in Odessa. Why can't a truly innocent man get justice? Is there a double standard of justice here in Texas?
    When something goes wrong in the criminal justice system, it's never too late to try to correct the mistake. Sooner or later, justice must prevail. In my wrongful conviction case the ultimate outcome – which should be: full pardon based upon innocence – is now left up to the top leadership of Texas, namely, the Board of Pardons and Paroles and the governor. Are they going to continue to deny justice to an innocent man? Or are they going to take the necessary steps to correct this obvious wrongful conviction?
    I would like to think – and believe wholeheartedly! – that Gov. Perry would strongly adhere to his statement that he made (as quoted in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Jan. 18, 2001) regarding correcting wrongful convictions: "Either we will confirm the previous findings of a jury, or we will correct a grave injustice in instances where the wrong person has been convicted."
    I humbly appeal to you, Gov. Perry, to intervene and help bring my wrongful conviction to an end.
    Don't give me the deaf ear, governor!
    Don't ignore my cry of innocence, governor!
    Don't ignore my call for justice, governor!
    Don't allow my wrongful conviction to linger on and on and on, governor!
    One thing is for certain, and has been proven to be true: I did not kill Father Patrick Ryan. I was innocent yesterday! I am innocent today! And, I will be innocent in perpetuity!
James Harry Reyos

The Air We Breathe Is Dangerous

RECEIVED Wed., June 22, 2005

Dear Editor,
    I can't go outside today because the air quality, as determined by Dallas weathermen, is dangerously unhealthy. They showed a picture of downtown and it looked like it was covered completely in fog, only it wasn't fog, it was air pollution. I have developed breathing problems over the years, and as I write this letter my eyes are burning and I have a headache from something flowing through the air in my own home. According to the Times, "Mr. Bush has said global warming is just too uncertain a matter to justify anything more than voluntary measures to slow growth in fossil-fuel emissions." That is why he is allowing big business to volunteer to slow down emissions from their factories and not make it mandatory. The Bush administration is also acting to make it more and more difficult to challenge environmental abuses and enforcement of environmental laws. In a debate with John Kerry, Bush said he was a good steward of the land. I have a image in my head of an American Indian howling with grief instead of the one tear trailing down his face.
Cecilia Nall
Dallas

Is Bomb-Making Austin's New Symbol?

RECEIVED Wed., June 22, 2005

Howdy folks,
    Is it just me, or does anyone else find it painfully ironic that our City Hall, the symbol of Austin, is flanked and loomed over by two massive boxes owned by CSC, a major defense industry contractor who moved there because we paid them megamillions to? What a trade ... Liberty Lunch for security central, music-making for bomb-making. Need we find a clearer symbol of where we're heading?
Kyle Swanson

Ben McCulloch Was My Relative

RECEIVED Wed., June 22, 2005

Dear Editor,
    It is ironic that I happened upon your article this morning ["Day Trips," April 19, 2002]. I am cleaning out an estate of my grandmother. In her trunk from 1912 I found letters from Ben McCulloch to his mother and other letters that I have not read yet. He would be my great-great-great-grandfather. He raised my great-grandmother when her parents died at age 7. I found these last night and spent much time last night looking up just exactly who he was. This led me to your Web site this morning. I have a daughter living in Austin studying to be a nurse midwife through the University of Texas. I noticed that the celebration is this week. I will e-mail her the article you wrote. It was very interesting and informative.
Frances Neil Hutson
Amarillo

Natural Ear Music School Celebrates 15th Anniversary!

RECEIVED Wed., June 22, 2005

Dear Editor,
    We at Natural Ear Music School are celebrating our 15th year of operation in the city of Austin, and have had year-round bands since 1996; the first was Red Headed Stepchild, and eventually featured a 13-year-old Will Knaak on lead guitar and vocals. They cut a full-length CD in 1998 which is still in distribution. Will is now on staff here at Natural Ear Music, as well as Texas Hall of Fame members John X Reed, Freddie Krc, and our director, Alvin Crow.
    We welcome the Paul Green School of Rock to Austin, but are collectively scratching our heads over the big deal he's making about it ["TCB," Music, June 17]. Austin School of Music (est. 1996) was our first serious imitator, so we have seen this before.
    We had 22 weekly bands last year: the Flames, who won the AMN BOB; Loose Cannons, five fifth-graders who are playing this Saturday, June 25, at the Victory Grill; and Diamondhead, who were also finalists in the AMN Battle of the Bands.
    Our packed Rock and Roll Summer Camp will have its concert this Thursday at the Broken Spoke. We expect to max the house. Check out www.naturalearmusic.com for current videos.
Mike Murphy

Not Really a 'Good Boy'

RECEIVED Wed., June 22, 2005

Dear Sir,
    I sympathize with the family of Daniel Rocha ["Rocha's Death Involved Taser Confusion," News, June 17], but the truth is he was not a "good" boy as stated by a relative. "Good" boys do not have long rap sheets as he did. Sophia King was about to stab another person when she was shot by an officer. Jesse Owens was killed when he put the life of yet another officer in jeopardy. Dead is dead. God forbid that I should ever be attacked by a minority or mentally ill person here in Austin. The police might be afraid to do their job and protect me.
Sincerely,
Joanne Leigh Terry

Levin Contemplates Levin

RECEIVED Tue., June 21, 2005

Dear Editor,
    In regard to the article "Pro-Kim/Anti-Clarke Crowd Celebrates" [News, June 17] which was quite accurate overall, I'd like make a few points.
    First, I didn't feel at all out of place at the Kim victory party. While most attendees were Democrats, there were at least half-a-dozen Republicans there ranging from Asian business leaders to Republican activists I have worked with for many years.
    I also enjoyed catching up with several friends from my years at UT who are either Democrats or independents. I don't mind talking to Democrats or else I would have to stop speaking with my parents! Ultimately, all of us are more than just party animals and every Austinite has a stake in good city government.
    Also, I was asked whether a Republican could win citywide now and candidly said no. Of course, I don't have veto power over which Republicans, if any, might run citywide against Kim or anyone else. I always encourage fellow Republicans to get involved in city government and run for office while also trying to be realistic. There is value in providing voters a choice and getting a platform to advance important issues, even if victory is elusive.
    Also in saying "we pulled her over the line," I did not necessarily just mean Republicans, although I think the results in different parts of the city show that the support of Republican activists may well have been a necessary though not sufficient condition.
    I think an even broader center-right coalition was mobilized, including, for example, real estate agents who were offended by Clarke's attacks and young professionals who tend to be conservative on economic issues though their views may vary on social issues. Thus, I do strongly agree with the Chronicle's conclusion that this election represents a changing of the guard in Austin politics.
Marc A. Levin

Students Won't Learn From Year Tenure as a UT Regent

RECEIVED Tue., June 21, 2005

Dear Editor,
    Last week, Gov. Perry signed a bill to put a nonvoting student on the UT System Board of Regents. OK, let's review. The UT System is a $22 billion enterprise that must manage a $7 billion annual operating budget, 21 million acres of land, and almost 90,000 employees, to name only a few of its many facets. How many men or women under 25 sit on the board of directors of private corporations even a 10th that size? A student simply hasn't had time to learn enough to contribute anything substantial to running such an entity. Only in politics, where spending other people's money is a way of life, could such an idea even be presented, much less enacted.
    Just to make the figurehead nature of the position more explicit, the student regent will have a one-year term, as opposed to the six-year term of a real regent – insuring that each ambitious politico-in-training will be booted quickly to make room for the next one.
    A student regent has long been a goal of student politicians. It sounds great. It looks great on a résumé even better than president of student government. However, no one should be under the illusion that taxpayers or students will gain anything substantial from it.
Sincerely,
Alan McKendree

Linguistic Debate

RECEIVED Tue., June 21, 2005

Dear Editor,
    In her review of the movie dot the i Marjorie Baumgarten says that Gael García Bernal's language is Portuguese ["Film Listings," June 17]. Hello, he was born and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico! Can we say that Nicole Kidman's native language is French when she was born in Honolulu and raised in Australia?! Also, the commonly used phrase in Spanish that means "I love you" is "te quiero" ... which does have an "I," though Marjorie blasts the movie for not making sense in that regard. Please ask Marjorie to research her facts more carefully, especially when related to other cultures and languages.
Antonio Brunner
   [Marjorie Baumgarten replies: The character Bernal plays in dot the i comes from Rio de Janeiro, where the native language is Portuguese. The character speaks English in the movie. The actor indeed hails from from Mexico. Also, in Spanish the word for love is "amor," which does not contain the letter "I." All we are told in the movie is that a kiss is the dot over the letter "I" in the word love – a word that has no "I" in English, Spanish, or Portuguese.]

Lost in the 'Creepshow' of the 'Apes'

RECEIVED Tue., June 21, 2005

Dear Editor,
    Texas politics can be better described in movie titles. Creepshow (Texas House) is over, but may return for another engagement disguised as Halloween. The Fog (that's where they were during session). Perry is Lost in Space. Craddick is starring in The Grudge and Scrooge. The Senate can be described as being in The Land That Time Forgot.
    Planet of the Apes describes the whole shooting match.
Clyde L. Harris
Hillsboro

Great Music Knows No Color Boundaries

RECEIVED Tue., June 21, 2005

To the editors,
    I just spent one of the greatest musical weekends in Austin I have ever had. Friday and Saturday I was at Nelson Field listening to the second annual Alvin Patterson Battle of the Bands and Drumline Competition. Sunday I was at the Delco Center listening to the Gospel Explosion. (Unfortunately, I missed the Juneteenth parade due to a previous commitment.) But wait, in this “Music Capital of the World,” laid-back and tolerant Austin culture, I was one of about 10 white people at Nelson Field and one of five white people at the Gospel Explosion (the other four were reporters). People wake up! You don't know what you are missing! Therefore, I am issuing a formal challenge to all those folks who say they are Austin music fans (of any color!) to come out next Juneteenth and hear what I'm talking about! It makes me happy just to think about it.
Regards,
Deana Newcomb

Perry's Statement an Affront to Human Dignity

RECEIVED Tue., June 21, 2005

Dear Editor,
    As a child of the military and an American, I am embarrassed to be a resident of Texas today. Gov. Rick Perry's recent suggestion that gay veterans should leave the state of Texas is some of the most hateful and inappropriate rhetoric I have ever heard from a Texas politician [“Quote of the Week,” News, June 10]. He should apologize and resign from office.
    There are more than 66,000 gay and lesbian veterans living in Texas, according to service members Legal Defense Network. These people protect and defend our nation with integrity and honor, despite a growing a lack of human rights in the state of Texas. These veterans deserve our respect and gratitude, not a callous suggestion to leave their homes.
    Texas is better off with diversity, not bigotry. Close-mindedness and hate are not values that represent the majority of Texans.
    Gov. Rick Perry is an affront to human dignity and should not be allowed to remain in office.
Ken Seifert
Conroe

'Chronicle' Clues Readers in to May's Truths

RECEIVED Tue., June 21, 2005

Editor,
    One year ago CTRMA Executive Director Mike Heiligenstein and toll boss state Rep. Mike Krusee solemnly intoned that without tolls we would either have to raise the gas tax by "$2 to $3 per gallon" or learn to like congested roads. At last Monday's CAMPO meeting Executive Director Michael Aulick said that a gas tax increase of 1.6 cents per gallon would raise enough money to build all of CAMPO's road improvements as "free" roads.
    The Travis County Libertarian Party calculates that a 2.5 cent local gas tax increase would be sufficient to build all of the planned new capacity and pay for maintenance of them into the future. Heiligenstein and Krusee lied.
    The problem is that the media reported Republican lies but they haven't reported any contrasting opinion. And it appears that Democrats like Dawnna Dukes, Gonzalo Barrientos, Karen Sonleitner, and Sam Biscoe have bought the Republican line. The Chron should clue them in.
Vincent J. May
Elgin

It's Time We All Look at This Mess From Different Perspectives

RECEIVED Tue., June 21, 2005

To the editor,
    What a painful week! More grief for our community because an unarmed kid dies in a confrontation with police. More friendly fire hitting all those cops who use the least possible force day in and day out, who don't drink too much off duty, and don't make off-color jokes. More frustration for all those dedicated city officials who are dealing with systemic problems.
    Austin has a lot of work to do and there are no simple solutions. But maybe there's a way to take one small step in the right direction at a time when bad feelings are at their worst. I don't believe in saying that anything deserves to be "required reading," or "required viewing." But if there are any generous benefactors out there looking for a way to help, they should buy out the theatres and offer free public showings of Paul Haggis' new movie Crash for every police officer, official, and resident who's willing to go see it.
    Short of wholesale citywide shoe-swapping, it's the best way we have to get a look at the mess we're in from someone else's perspective.
Yours,
Davida Charney

Levy Responds

RECEIVED Mon., June 20, 2005

Dear Editor:
    This is being written in response to Mike Blizzard's characterization (among other charges) in last week's Chronicle of me being a "bully" [“Postmarks,” June 17]. My initial reaction was simply to say that I resent Mike's perceptivity. Then I realized that perhaps Mike was simply being disingenuous in choosing to mislabel the same passion for Austin that he has, and that in a democracy reasonable people can disagree. So I called Mike, and after a lengthy conversation it appeared that there is probably not a nickel's worth of difference in how we see the problems facing a community we both love very much. (Where we do differ: Mike trusts Robin Rather Murray, and I do not, which I attribute simply to Mike's being young and naive.) Mike's criticism of my style is fair, but his implication that I am anti-women would be challenged by a large group of females ranging from my 90-year-old mom, to my three daughters, to the Texas Monthly staff, which is 85% female, most of whom will probably attest to the fact that I have created a great place for women to work, widely recognized as a firm with maximum flexibility for working mothers, no glass ceiling, and promotions based on merit. Mike also conveniently failed to note that Beverly Griffith lost her race to Betty Dunkerley, and Margot Clarke lost to Jennifer Kim. I must sign off now, because the Ace Brass Knuckle Company catalog that I was eagerly awaiting just arrived in the mail.
Mike Levy

Austin Needs a New Park

RECEIVED Mon., June 20, 2005

Dear Austin Chronicle,
    Our City Council is considering an idea to disrupt South Austin and indeed downtown by actually narrowing Riverside Drive. I have a suggestion for what to do with the same city revenue.
    North Austin needs a sizable city park, but does not have one. Take a look at a map of Austin that shows the city parks in green and you'll notice something striking. No sizable city parks exist in North Austin.
    Parts of North Austin are loaded with young and old Austinites who have no public parks to go to and relax with the family. It's a fact that city parks provide people with something legitimate to do, and that helps to reduce crime.
    North Austin has too much crime and too many neglected places where parks should exist.
    We need another Zilker Park-sized park in North Austin. I propose that a city park be created on Rundberg Lane – exactly where it's needed most.
Joe Zamecki

Great Article About Jason Allen

RECEIVED Mon., June 20, 2005

Dear Editor,
    I enjoyed the article about Jason Allen ["Gruene Pastures," Music, June 17]. We are family and I spent many nights at honky-tonks listening to him play and I am proud for him and the success he is having. Thanks for the great article about Jason.
Troy Wisenbaker
Aransas Pass

Article on Cemetery Informative

RECEIVED Mon., June 20, 2005

Dear Editor,
    I found your article on the Texas State Cemetery very informative and interesting ["In Memoriam," News, May 27]. My great-great-grandfather, John Green Wood, died at the Texas State Lunatic Asylum in 1903 and was buried at the Texas State Cemetery. Apparently no one has been able to find his grave. I am planning a trip to Austin this summer to see the cemetery and to continue my genealogy research.
Linda Gist

Vote Not Counted

RECEIVED Mon., June 20, 2005

Dear Editor,
    Michelle Belangers' story was quite familiar ["Postmarks," June 17] I also was disenfranchised, in the smoking ban election. Seems that despite my never having altered my original voter registration, I was not in the database somehow. I lengthily presented enough ID to cast a provisional vote which was, I was informed by mail, not counted (thrown away) since I was not in the voters' database. (Duh?) Recalls? How?
K.J. Brown

Walking in Ignorance

RECEIVED Fri., June 17, 2005

Editor,
    Democracy fails when people walk in ignorance. Our community is torn over the toll road debate, yet a little light may help heal the division.
    At its June meeting, CAMPO released information that building all of our proposed toll road projects as “free” roads could be accomplished with a tiny 1.6 cent per gallon increase in the (local) gas tax. A year ago CTRMA Director Mike Heiligenstein said that it would cost $2-3 per gallon! I think he lied.
    CAMPO, hearing the news, passed a one-year moratorium on committing to new toll projects, but all roads under construction now will proceed with previously allocated gas tax money. During the interim CAMPO will consider dropping the toll plan.
    Poor people should rejoice at this news. They can afford 1.6 cents but not the $1,000 per year in tolls they would have to pay otherwise. Many poor people drive trucks full of tools to work and can't ride a bus.
    Environmentalists should also be pleased if tolls are deleted. Having toll-evading cars stacked up on neighborhood streets degrades air quality.
    Civil libertarians cringe at the thought of having their daily travel recorded in Big Brother CTRMA's database. But the major media have not reported the news and none of these people can register their opinions with their elected officials if they are uninformed.
Vincent J. May
Libertarian Party Transportation Committee

Talking With the Man

RECEIVED Fri., June 17, 2005

Dear Editor,
    The April 1 extra issue featured an article on how to talk to the police [“Keeping the Party Alive,” The AC, April 1]. Best wisdom in 20-plus years of the Chronicle. It was tongue-in-cheek but, well, dead accurate.
    Is it available online? Everyone should read this article. Maybe it could be available in each issue as a public service.
    Learning to say "Yes sir, right away sir" could save precious lives.
Tamara Dwyer
   [Editor's response: Yes, indeed it is available online. See ac-austin.com/story.php?section=word for this article and ac-austin.com for the entire issue.]

Letter Writer Figures It Out – 'Chronicle' Just a Front for GOP!

RECEIVED Fri., June 17, 2005

OK kids,
    It's been nearly two months since it was revealed that the Downing Street Memo proves that Bush and Blair altered intelligence to support a preemptive war in Iraq, which, the last time I checked, is an impeachable offense.
    Five hundred thousand Americans have signed a petition created by Rep. John Meyers to demand a congressional investigation. Ninety-four House members have signed on as well. More than 10,000 people a day visit www.afterdowningstreet.org, and yet the Chronicle has yet to do this subject service. What the fuck is going on with you guys?! Are you a secret front for the GOP? Grow some cojones, you pansies. I expect this from Fox News, but I've always considered you guys to hold the bar a bit higher. The emerging progressives in our government are counting on you, the progressives in media, to be their rallying support while they ask the tough questions they've been too scared to ask before.
    Not that I'm questioning how you rate your journalistic priorities ... after all, that was an amazing cover story about frosting the other week. Way to go guys.
Your's truly,
Mike "Dub" Wainwright
   [News Editor Michael King responds: We'd repeat to Mr. Dub what we've already published about the Downing Street Memo, but we pansies are too busy baking cakes – and, um, reporting on many other stories that he deems too trivial to note. Silly us. We have been attentive enough to note the difference between U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Michigan, and somebody named "Rep. John Meyers," who as far as we can tell doesn't exist. But when you're busy lecturing other "progressives" on their failings, you can't be bothered about such details. Other readers interested in the subject can refer to www.downingstreetmemo.com and other sites.]

Pattern in Every Dubious Police Killing the Same

RECEIVED Thu., June 16, 2005

Dear Editor,
    The pattern in every dubious police killing of a civilian is the same. Public outcry and demonstrations. A couple of days of stonewalling, then chief gives a consoling, but controlled, press interview, pledging to reach out. Internal investigation. Police monitor. Routine grand jury whitewash. Letter-writing campaign by the police union about how the officer is really the victim. A federal suit. Appeals to the Department of Justice. Nothing changes. Another killing follows. How many more people will the police kill before the city finally does something? Maybe it's time to stop relying on alternatives that don't work. Maybe it's time for hardcore political organizing. Maybe it's time for the Mothers and Grandmothers of Police Victims to follow the mayor around the city and be at every city council meeting until the political leaders demand an end to police killings by a department that is out of control.
James C. Harrington, director
Texas Civil Rights Project

Garza High

RECEIVED Thu., June 16, 2005

Dear Editor,
    The article [“High School by Redesign,” News, June 10] focuses on the need for change in Austin high schools and even favorably mentions Austin ISD's own Garza Independence High School, but that is as close as the two entities usually get: a mention in the news that Garza is indeed a part of AISD. I have worked as a facilitator at Garza High School since it opened in 1998 and have seen the tremendous success we have had with students firsthand. One would think that AISD would include Garza administration, staff, and students in any conversation about redesign, indeed dissect what Garza does and try to emulate those parts that are the most successful. (Often we are isolated because our approach is so different.) While we are definitely not perfect, we strive on a regular basis to listen to students and make adjustments based on their continually changing needs. Maybe it's like the old saying, "You can't be a prophet in your own land.”
Barbara Aviles-Torsberg

Just Wondering

RECEIVED Thu., June 16, 2005

Dear Editor,
    Re: Kevin Brass' article on local TV news content during the sweeps, and how mindless the subject matter is [“You Are There!,” News, June 10].
    The piece was very entertaining, biting, and "good textbook Chronicle,” but, was it self-deprecating humor or a self-portrait to follow on the next page with a full-color spread on high school prom fashions and dance steps [“Shake Yo Rump-ah!,” Feature]? Gotta wonder.
Ben Anglin

A Bone to Pick

RECEIVED Thu., June 16, 2005

Dear Editor,
    On the Web site, Mr. Smarty Pants refers to a carving with a 26-foot "phalanx” [June 3]. The only definitions I know of for that are a formation of people and a finger or toe bone. The article neglects to indicate whether it's a toe or finger that's 26-feet.
Jeff Shaevel
   [Mr. Smarty Pants replies: Dear Jeff, You do indeed have a bone to pick with me. The word should be "phallus" and I apologize. The Cerne Abbas Giant has a 26-foot phallus not a 26-foot-long phalanx. If you are talking fertility, this would make much more sense than to have a stautue with a 26-foot-long toe or finger.]

Free No More

RECEIVED Thu., June 16, 2005

Dear Editor,
    Hello, Austin! Free is no more! Having a dip in "barking springs" the other day I sensed a foul odor and next thing I know two of Austin's "piece" officers are making everyone leave the premises! What has this come to? Was Krispy Kreme klosed? Could their mocha latte be a single and not a double? Seig heil, my friends! I guess this po-lease state of things is still working. The man is grumpy and the citizens are payin' for it!
Love,
John McCollum

'Crappiest Dive Bar'

RECEIVED Thu., June 16, 2005

Dear "Postmarks,"
    I'd like to make a correction to Spin Associate Editor Melissa Maerz's comment in "TCB" [Music, June 10] that Jackalope is "the crappiest dive bar" in Austin. That honor clearly belongs to Ed's Cucharacha. Jackalope is merely the urine-soaked trough adjacent to the "crappiest dive bar" in Austin. Thanks.
Preston Hetherington,
Yuppie Prick
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