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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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Also Puzzled and Disheartened by TCW

RECEIVED Wed., Oct. 25, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Re: The Texas Conference for Women [“On House-Arrest Soirees and Fabulous Thighs,” News, Oct. 20]: I couldn't agree with the article more. It was a great snapshot of TCW. I honestly left feeling a bit puzzled and disheartened as I reflected upon Martha Stewart's "keynote" address and Anita Perry's commentary.
    Thanks for a great article. Glad that I wasn't the only one feeling this way!
Romita Kane

Why Didn't 'Chronicle' Endorse Brees and Buchanan?

RECEIVED Wed., Oct. 25, 2006

Dear Editor,
    It was disappointing that you chose not to endorse in two of the races for the 3rd Court of Appeals, those involving Democratic candidates Mina Brees and Bree Buchanan [“Endorsements,” Oct. 20].
    The Chronicle's omissions leave the false impression that these contests are unimportant and that the sacrifices and talents of the candidates are insignificant. Nothing could be further from the truth. Both Mina Brees and Bree Buchanan are highly respected lawyers who have a wealth of practical experience, both in and out of courtrooms, that would translate well to the appellate bench. And the 3rd Court of Appeals may be the most important appellate court in the state, passing as it does on matters related to the administrative agencies of our state government, in addition to other civil and criminal matters.
    As you were, apparently, unable to come to a decision in these races, I suggest the Chronicle refer readers to the Voters Guide at the League of Women Voters Web site (www.lwvaustin.org) for a full list of candidates and their responses to the LWV questionnaires. Your readers deserve the full story.
Chris Elliott
Chair, Travis County Democratic Party

More on Studying Cyclists' Injuries

RECEIVED Wed., Oct. 25, 2006

Dear Editor,
    I am writing in regard to Brackenridge Hospital and St. David's HealthCare's plan to collect data on cyclists with head injuries in regard to whether they were wearing a helmet or not at the time of their wreck ["Bicycle Helmet Headbutting Resumes," News, Oct. 20]. While I applaud any attempt to collect data for the sake of cyclist safety, I hope that they expand the areas in which they collect data for this study. In doing so, they could more thoroughly shed light on policy changes that could actually prevent accidents from occurring to begin with rather than only determining whether wearing a helmet provided protection after a wreck has already occurred.
    I am aware of Brackenridge's position on the mandatory helmet ordinance (that is, that they are in favor of it) from hearing their testimony at the public hearings (and by reading about the design of this study). It seems that any study that has the intent of "put[ing] real numbers behind proponents' arguments that a helmet law would save millions of dollars in uncompensated medical care costs" is a politically motivated study with tunnel vision as to the overall issue of cyclist safety.
    I strongly encourage those funding and designing the study to also collect other data, such as the cause of the bicycle accident, or if a bicycle lane was present at the time.
    If this study were to find (for purposes of illustration) that a vast majority of bicycle accidents are caused by cars and that they take place in areas without bicycle lanes, that would provide far more information as to how to go about preventing accidents in the first place. Researching what policy changes can prevent accidents would be more beneficial to cyclists than a study that seeks only to control the damage done after to an unchanged number of wrecks.
Gwendolyn Norton

Why Spend $90 Million on a New Library?

RECEIVED Wed., Oct. 25, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Why is Austin proposing to spend $90 million to construct a new library at this time? I've always loved libraries, but in a time when vastly more information is accessible using a device you can carry in one hand than can ever be contained in any library, why are we constructing a library suitable for the last century? Surely 21st-century libraries will do more than provide Internet access for the indigent and sleeping space for the homeless. Wouldn't it make more sense to wait a few years until a clearer vision for whatever that mission is to be emerges before we spend all that money?
David Horton
   [Editor's note: While Prop. 6 will provide funds to begin planning a new library now, the monies will not be spent until late in the seven-year bond cycle, after issues such as those raised have been fully explored and addressed in a new building design.]

Babich Weighs in on Helmet Law Controversy

RECEIVED Tue., Oct. 24, 2006

Dear Editor,
    If I were conducting a study about the cost to the city of brain injuries, I wouldn't restrict my attention to bicyclists ["Bicycle Helmet Headbutting Resumes," News, Oct. 20]. Why not study all brain-injured patients, and note in each case the cause of the injury? That way, there would be some context for the data about bicyclists. I wonder why the folks pushing for a bicycle helmet law don't look more at context. Don't they want to know why people who supported a bicycle helmet law in 1996 are opposed to it now? Don't they care whether or not mandatory bicycle helmet laws really work to improve public health? Why do they think a safe passing law is more complicated than a bicycle helmet law? Is it because motorists must be persuaded to accept laws, but bicyclists are a small minority that can be bullied?
    In 1998, the University of Adelaide in Australia conducted a study on the use of motorcycle and bicycle helmets by passenger-car occupants. Bicycle helmets were less effective than motorcycle helmets, but more effective than airbags, in preventing head injuries to seat-belted car riders. The conclusion was that bicycle helmets on car riders could cut Australia's brain injury costs by 25%. However, the researchers added, people riding in cars wouldn't want to wear helmets, unless helmets became fashion accessories. Australia passed a mandatory bicycle helmet law without asking whether bicyclists liked helmets.
    Austin's bicycle-helmet-law pushers are oddly dogmatic. They lack the open mind and spirit of inquiry of legitimate researchers. They are not interested in viewpoints other than their own. They want obedience, not discussion. And they consider bicyclists a small, unimportant minority that can be bullied.
Yours truly,
Amy Babich

Concerned Over 'Chronicle's Grammatical Failures

RECEIVED Tue., Oct. 24, 2006

Dear Editor,
    I'm flabbergasted. Reviewing Flags of Our Fathers [Film Listings, Oct. 20], Marjorie Baumgarten writes: "It is impossible not to find resonance ..."
    I can't remember the last time a Chronicle writer let an infinitive slip by unsplit. I'm surprised Baumgarten wasn't caught and sent back with orders to write "impossible to not resonate" 100 times.
    Anyway, I'm glad she got away with it. I hope it's the beginning of a rebellion.
Don Taylor

Putting People in Their Place

RECEIVED Tue., Oct. 24, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Elizabeth Christian finds it "mind-boggling" that the League of Bicycling Voters would oppose a politically motivated, statistically invalid study whose data collection methodology was thoroughly discredited years ago [“Bicycle Helmet Headbutting Resumes,” News, Oct. 20]. That's interesting. Or not. Unlike Christian, Todd, Crocker, or Berkowitz, everyone in the LOBV is a transportation bicyclist, the only group which would be affected by an adult mandatory helmet law. And however unintuitive it might seem to the uninformed, we agree unanimously that a helmet law will decrease, not increase, bicycling safety in Austin (see, for example, www.lobv.org/15reasons.html). Christian puts us in our place, however, by wondering out loud what the LOBV could contribute to a study designed for a "peer-reviewed" journal. I don't know, expertise? Familiarity with the literature? Knowledge about statistics? Dr. Crocker, one of the physicians behind this study, is the imbecile who sent an e-mail to City Council summarizing data collected at Brackenridge which inadvertently implies that bicycle helmets are 90% effective at preventing leg injuries in minors (lobv.org/drcrocker.html). Crocker's e-mail, incidentally, reveals the flaw in their data collection methodology. If Crocker/Berkowitz had bothered to consult with actual bicyclists (or even studied the existing literature), they might have a study which could provide some useful, publishable information rather than another textbook example of how to lie with statistics. Finally, Christian informs us that "you must legislate behavior.” This statement defines fascism – think about it. For more fun quotes like this, see the sidebar here: www.lobv.org/statistics.html. Elizabeth, did it ever occur to you that the engineers, PhDs, public policy professionals, and commuter bicyclists with literally centuries of combined bicycling experience just might know more about this issue than you, Bruce, and the Laurel and Hardy physicians you've assembled to promote your political agenda? I continue to hold out hope that MHL proponents will eventually see the error in their ways.
Patrick Goetz

Civility Still Exists

RECEIVED Tue., Oct. 24, 2006

Dear Editor,
    I was reminded last week that in an age of rancorous competition that civility still exists. People from Austin and other cities paid a visit to both Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska rooting for their team in a decorous and proud fashion reflecting that civility. It is such a pleasure to have you pay us a visit whether for the College World Series or for the big football game or any time.
Thank you,
Anthony Abbott
The French Cafe
Omaha, Neb.

Lakewayers Never Cease to Amaze

RECEIVED Tue., Oct. 24, 2006

Dear Editor,
    The Lakewayers never cease to amaze me! When we first moved here, they thought it was OK to put an experimental wastewater project next to a school and let it spray unfiltered wastewater on the children at Lakeway Elementary. Then they fought “porcelain veneered” tooth and “French tip” nail to stop a lowly Wal-Mart. No low-class big box in my neighborhood was the cry. Next the holy roller elements erected the 150-foot-tall “holy” cross cell phone tower at Emmaus Catholic Church. Direct and clear reception with the big cell phone user in the sky! And chump-change revenue for the church. After that they were mad that a floating restaurant was playing their music too loud when they built their homes up to 25 years after the restaurant first opened. They tried to bully the owners and now have annexed the place into Lakeway. Then recently they allowed the law that stopped the lowly Wal-Mart to be modified to build a 560,000-square-foot retirement complex because so many of them want to live out their last moments in Lakeway. They wanted their own special big box before the pine box.
    This last one really is ironic. Lakeway, as the name evokes, is on the lake, thus the lake lifestyle – marinas, floating restaurants, wave runners, etc. But the Lakewayers don’t want anyone that is not one of them or, better yet, not one of the ones who live on their Lakeway street to drive down their Lakeway streets to get to the proposed new marina in Graveyard Point, which is not in Lakeway. Presently, they are fighting the proposed marina coming up with all sorts of ridiculous and basically snobby reasons why it shouldn’t be built on the lake. They don’t call it Snakeway – Fakeway for nothing!
Chris Wilson

Shea Supports Brees for Place 5 on 3rd Court of Appeals

RECEIVED Tue., Oct. 24, 2006

Dear Editor,
    I was surprised by your lack of endorsement in Mina Brees' race for Place 5 on the 3rd Court of Appeals [“Endorsements,” Oct. 20]. I believe this is a case where Mina is clearly the better candidate. First, and most critically: the court is unbalanced – four of the six members are Republicans and one of the two Democrats is retiring. One-party rule is wreaking havoc in this state – and the nation – and a fair judiciary is essential to restore the balance of power.
    Second, this court is crucial for justice in Travis County. In 1992, when the corrupt "rule" City Council violated the city charter, and defied a local court order to call the SOS election, it was the 3rd Court that heard the appeal, and ordered the election. It was also this same court that ruled that the SOS Ordinance was constitutional.
    Third, Mina is more qualified. She won the State Bar of Texas "Best Qualified" poll with 57.3% of the vote of all of the lawyers in the 24 counties that make up this court – against a six-year incumbent! She also won the 2001 Peacemaker Award for the Environment by the Dispute Resolution Center of Central Texas and in 2005 was given the Professionalism Award by the Austin Bar Association and the Texas Center for Legal Ethics and Professionalism.
    Mina's opponent looks like just another political hack – he was a Democrat but switched to Republican when it seemed expedient.
    Mina Brees is a welcome change. She is fair, smart, and tough. We need her on this court and I urge everyone to vote for her.
Thanks,
Brigid Shea
Former SOS director and Austin City Council member

SOS Supports Proposition 2

RECEIVED Tue., Oct. 24, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Thank you for Katherine Gregor’s informative article on the varying definitions of “conservation development” being discussed in Travis and Hays counties [“Save as We Pave,” News, Oct. 20]. To be sure, we need our local governments to take action to make all development less harmful to our environment.
    Most people understand that we cannot simultaneously pave and save the Edwards Aquifer and the Hill Country. We also know that it is far cheaper to protect sensitive watershed land than to pay for infrastructure to serve far-flung Hill Country sprawl that pollutes our creeks, streams, and aquifers.
    That’s why Save Our Springs Alliance supports Austin bond Proposition 2, which includes $50 million to protect undeveloped land in the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Watershed.
    Thanks also to Austin Chronicle readers for voting us Best Effort to Improve Austin (along with Keep Austin Beautiful) and for choosing Barton Springs as Best Swimming Hole [“Best of Austin,” Oct. 13]. Chronicle readers can help buy and protect critical Barton Springs Watershed lands now by voting for Austin bond Prop. 2. Early voting is already under way.
Thank you,
Bill Bunch
Save Our Springs Alliance

Nobody Talked!

RECEIVED Tue., Oct. 24, 2006

Dear Editor,
    I saw Jenny Lewis do a great show at Stubb's last night, and I was floored by the fact that nobody talked loudly, laughed, or yapped on their cell phones during the quiet songs. You could hear a pin drop. In the past, that has absolutely killed my concertgoing experience in this town. I'm probably too optimistic in thinking this is a new trend, but it was a nice change.
Brian Gleason

Questions About Proposition 4

RECEIVED Tue., Oct. 24, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Will I vote for Proposition 4? Probably. Does it disappoint? Absolutely. What bothers me most about Prop. 4 is that it will give Zachary Scott Theatre Center $10 million to build a third performance space. This kind of exclusive grant flies in the face of the need to keep Austin's viable theatre scene diverse. Without diversity there is no art. In light of the recent closure of the State Theatre Company, why is it so crucial that Austin's most financially successful producing theatre be given more public funds? Shouldn't those funds be directed to the handful of innovative theatre companies that produce original work and regularly employ a talented cast of local artists? Shouldn't those funds be used to provide the much-needed renovation of other, equally important performance spaces, rather than creating another one for Zach Scott? The answer to each of those questions, I believe, is yes. And it's a shame that the folks who put together Prop. 4 failed to see that.
Mike Lawler

Attacks 'AC's Endorsement of Bell

RECEIVED Tue., Oct. 24, 2006

Dear Editor,
    In endorsing Chris Bell [“Endorsements,” Oct. 20], the Chronicle staff apparently overlooked Bell’s very conservative stands on several important issues. In recent campaign appearances, including an interview on Texas Monthly Talks, Bell has said he supports the death penalty and opposes legalizing marijuana possession. Worse yet, he opposes gay marriage.
    I know that in Texas, it would be political suicide for any gubernatorial candidate to publicly support equal rights for gays and lesbians. But running for governor in a state full of homophobic bigots is no excuse for promoting homophobia or bigotry. As a so-called “liberal” candidate, Bell should be ashamed of himself for his anti-gay rhetoric.
    Is Bell himself a bigot, or is he just pandering to bigots? The answer doesn’t really matter. Either way, the Chronicle staff should never endorse a candidate who opposes gay marriage and, in effect, supports discrimination.
    I realize that Bell has taken progressive stances on issues such as health insurance and education, and he’s a far better candidate than Governor Goodhair, Grandma Strayhorn, or Kinky Friedman. But his anti-gay views are disgusting and inexcusable, and should disqualify him from holding any public office. For this reason, the Chronicle should change its endorsement in the gubernatorial election to "none of the above."
Don Clinchy
   [Editor's note: A clarification: Democrat Chris Bell has said he does not support gay marriage, but he strongly opposed the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, because, he said, "It's designed to drive a wedge instead of building bridges. I support civil unions, because everyone deserves equal protection." More broadly, we don't believe that a Chronicle endorsement requires that we agree with a candidate on every issue.]

9/11 the Biggest Story of Our Generation?

RECEIVED Tue., Oct. 24, 2006

Dear Editor,
    It amazes me to no end that Austin's supposedly "progressive" weekly continues to spout the party line that anyone who dares question the Bush-approved story of 9/11 is a "conspiracy theorist" [“Letters @ 3am,” Sept. 15; “Page Two,” Aug. 18].
    The events that day have led to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the atrocities at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo, the gradual dissolution of the Bill of Rights, and countless other nightmares.
    If the many millions of us who have questioned these events since day one are conspiracy nuts, then what does that make the hundreds of U.S. military and government officials who also think 9/11 was an inside job? Top Army, Navy, Marine, and CIA intelligence leaders are among them. Many of their arguments are presented at www.patriotsquestion911.com. Are they all nuts too?
    One would assume they know a bit more than most ... even the savants at the Chronicle.
    Instead of constantly moaning about Bush, why not actually do some real journalism and address the biggest story of our generation?
    Maybe Stephen Moser can cover it. I hear those generals have really snappy outfits.
Kyle Swanson

Regulate Real Estate Investment Purchases

RECEIVED Tue., Oct. 24, 2006

Dear Editor,
    As a new home sales representative, I encounter the endless flux of investors wishing to buy new homes for investment properties (and thus, turn them down). Some investors are having such a difficult time finding new properties to buy that they will intentionally lie to agents. What I feared hit harder to (my intended) home. I attended the Skyline Austin opening reception on October 19 after placing a reservation deposit. I would have loved to live in a condo/loft that was green-friendly, Downtown, and had all the bells-and-whistles like concierge services, workout facility, and pool. I attended energized, and left sorely disappointed. As I browsed the room, I tried to seek out potential neighbors only to find investors (many of them from California) wishing to own their own piece of the downtown pie. My fiancé and I do not want to live where we have an endless stream of new neighbors as leases expire and windows constantly display “For Rent” signs. Nor do we want to purchase where prices are overinflated. The solution? Keep housing affordable for Texans by limiting the number of investment purchases in new condo projects/new home developments. (Ten percent is reasonable.) Whether this happens on a state level or city level, it’s long overdue.
Nicole Acosta

Rolling Stones Great, Leading to These Complaints

RECEIVED Mon., Oct. 23, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Mick and the boys were superb! It's a shame that Charles Attal and gang can't seem to mix the sound like the Stones' board operator. There was no booming bass guitar, no pounding bass drum – just a clean sound – even from a mile away. All this, with very little delay between the sound and the JumboTron. Thanks so much to the chopper that constantly flew overhead all night long. Tell me this was the Stones' video crew or something that enhanced the show. If not, tell me which news channel felt the need to disrupt the entire show so that I will be sure to never tune them in again!
Bronco Broussard

Bell Best Shot at Getting Rid of Perry

RECEIVED Mon., Oct. 23, 2006

Dear Chronicle,
    I was happy to see that you endorsed Chris Bell and are telling it like it is about Kinky Friedman [“Endorsements,” Oct. 20]. Like many progressives, when I first heard of Kinky's candidacy I was intrigued and thought I might support him. But as time has gone by I feel alarmed that his presence in this race could be just the thing that tips the scale and keeps Rick Perry in the Governor's Mansion.
    To your readers who are supporting Kinky because he's a maverick, or "Why the hell not?" I say, if you are truly a progressive, take a look at what Bell stands for and don't make assumptions just because he's from a major party that has disappointed all of us. Then ask yourself, what do you really know about Kinky and what has he come out in support of that makes you think he'll improve things for our children, our teachers, our minimum-wage earners?
    We might have a chance to get rid of Perry, but it won't be by voting for Kinky. And Bell is much more than the lesser of evils.
Thank you,
Susanna Sharpe

I Am a Libertarian Not an 'Extremist Republican'

RECEIVED Mon., Oct. 23, 2006

Dear Editor,
    As the Libertarian candidate for governor of Texas, I was not surprised by the Chronicle’s endorsement of my opponent Chris Bell [“Endorsements,” Oct. 20]. I did, however, get a nice chuckle out of your description of me as an “extremist Republican” [“Endorsements” online, Oct. 20].
    While it may have escaped your notice, I am the only explicitly pro-immigrant candidate in the race for governor. I am the only candidate who opposes discrimination against gays, and I have called for the repeal of all laws and constitutional amendments that so target them. I am the only candidate who has demanded an end to the cruel and destructive “War on Drugs.” And I am the only candidate who favors strict civil liability against Texas polluters.
    It is true that I am a fiscal conservative – but I can assure you that given my pro-freedom agenda, Republicans have even less use for me than you do.
Sincerely,
James Werner
Libertarian candidate for governor

'Chronicle's Treatment of Kinky Unfair

RECEIVED Mon., Oct. 23, 2006

Dear Editor,
    More than half the article endorsing Chris Bell for governor was devoted to denigrating Kinky Friedman [“Endorsements,” Oct. 20]. To compare Kinky with the current president was low-down. Kinky has run a clean, honest campaign and his views on the issues are clearly laid out for those who care to read and listen. The real joke is not Kinky, but rather that the Chronicle endorses the trained politicians who do not rise above the slick, politically correct solutions that have gotten us where we are today. Go Kinky!
Gail Clinton, PhD.
Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Oregon Health Sciences University

Supports Kinky for Governor

RECEIVED Mon., Oct. 23, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Once again, you guys got it wrong [“Endorsements,” Oct. 20]. You should have endorsed Kinky Friedman over the Democratic candidate Chris Bell for the very reason you didn't endorse him. When you call a lack of experience a negative, I say that he doesn't have a political allegiance to play favorites to. How could the Dems literally abandon the second most populace state's governor's race to the Republicans? They could have dug up Ann Richards and got more votes than Chris Bell can. Kinky is the only real challenger in this year's election to the openly corrupt Rick Perry and his corporate-backed minions.
Carlos Garza

'Chronicle' Should Have Endorsed Buchanan for Place 6, Court of Appeals

RECEIVED Mon., Oct. 23, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Why did the Chronicle choose not to make any endorsement on Place 6 in the 3rd Court of Appeals race [“Endorsements,” Oct. 20]? Bree Buchanan, who is running against Bob Pemberton for Place 6, represents the only family-law expertise available to the court as Justice Bea Ann Smith steps down. Her 17 years of legal experience, which include her current position as a professor at the UT Law School, running the Children's Rights Clinic, and serving as legislative director for the Texas Council on Family Violence make Bree an important addition to the 3rd Court of Appeals.
Sincerely,
Barbara Nadalini

Screw the Democrats, Vote Kinky

RECEIVED Fri., Oct. 20, 2006

Dear Editor,
    I was disappointed, but not surprised to see the Chronicle supporting Chris Bell for governor [“Endorsements,” Oct. 20].
    We, the progressives of Texas have been ... how shall I say it? Screwed. Screwed by politicians posing as populists. Screwed by Democrats who are as corrupt as any Republican could ever be. Screwed by a political system that disavows input from anyone but Tweedledee and Tweedledum, left and right, yin and yang.
    You claim, like others, that Kinky is a "joke" candidate. Yet, his political reform plan is brilliant, well thought out, and has nothing but good to bring to Texas. He also wants to bring us a quality health care system, decriminalize marijuana, and aggressively pursue a renewable energy plan.
    Let's open Texas politics to the common man, provide for our citizens, and look to the future. Screw the Dems. It's time to give them a taste of their own medicine! I, for one, am tired of forcing down this bitter pill of a "lesser evil."
Viva la Kinky!
Mike "Dub" Wainwright

Good Riddance From an Expatriate

RECEIVED Fri., Oct. 20, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Thanks to myself I now live in another country.
    I read the article about Foley, Woodward, Bush, and Co. [“Point Austin,” News, Oct. 13]. This was news when King George I was in office and King George to be was governor of Texas. Now it is a disaster. As a good friend of mine and a fellow Austinite has said for more than 30 years, ¨Democracy is for the majority, and the majority is ignorant.” I teach business English to businessmen in my new home country. Without exception they all have asked how King George II internationally recognized international criminal and terrorist got elected/re-elected? I tell them he won the first election by default (of the democratic majority and Al Gore the whore) and the second election was bought and paid for.
    Dear Diebold,
    That check went through OK? Thanks for the election.
    King George II
    I also explain the shame I felt as a citizen of the U.S. and that the oligarch that pretends to be a democracy got to be more than I could stand as a free-thinking apolitical progressive.
    Here's a prediction that is better than insider info. On a hot stock ... it ain't gonna get any better any time soon. You can take that to the bank. As they say in Latin America, ¿Sabes porque? You know why? Because change comes from the energy of the youth. And as long as "the youth" have a TV, a computer or Game Boy, or an Xbox and an A/C they will not get off their collective dead asses and affect (force) change. And as long as there are collective thinkers (the ignorant majority) that think they can prohibit a behavior out of existence, change will never come.
    So ... good luck to all of you stuck in the crumbling Empire; and I hope that the Empire doesn't have the force to strike back.
Jay Lindley
Alajuela, Costa Rica

Preserve Austin's Character

RECEIVED Fri., Oct. 20, 2006

Dear Editor,
    I just heard about the Marriott Hotel's plans to build three new hotels, destroying a historic section of Austin. I lived in Austin a few years ago, and consider it the saving grace of Texas.
    Part of what's special about Austin is that small business can thrive there, and people value character and personal service over mass-produced multinational McChain corporations.
    Just because Austin's character has made it outstandingly popular does not mean that it's a good idea to stamp out businesses that built that character, to make way for more people who want to enjoy it.
Tricia Toney
Denver

Would Dripping Springs End Up Penalized?

RECEIVED Thu., Oct. 19, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Describing Dripping Springs and its mayor, Todd Purcell, The Austin Chronicle wrote, “His city would end up penalized for its tougher water-quality regulations if other cities and counties failed to join him” (in adopting the Regional Water Quality Protection Plan) [“Naked City,” News, Oct. 13].
    Of course we urge other jurisdictions to adopt the plan's higher water-quality standards, but how could tougher water-quality regulations possibly put Dripping Springs at a disadvantage when it is already overwhelmed with new development and has more knocking on the door?
    Dripping Springs has a huge ETJ covering about 25% or more of Hays County that is greatly desired by developers, and having strong water-quality regulations can only enhance property values and help to maintain the quality of life that draws so many people to its ETJ. It's the mayor and his obedient City Council who are penalizing us in the ETJ. We get the development and its problems. Purcell gets the impact fees for his pet projects. The ETJ gets Belterra and its request for direct discharge of wastewater effluent into our streams. Purcell gets development fees to help pay for a debt-crushing $15 million central sewer that will serve only a portion of the city's 1,500 population.
    Despite concerns of 20,000 disenfranchised citizens in the ETJ who cannot vote in city elections, and disenchanted city residents, Purcell pursues his personal vision for Dripping Springs and pays for it with high-density development in the ETJ.
Charles O'Dell, PhD
HaysCAN
Dripping Springs ETJ
   [Editor's note: A clarification: as Kimberly Reeves reported, "Mayor Todd Purcell said his city would end up penalized for its tougher water-quality regulations if other cities and counties failed to join him." We reported accurately what the mayor said, and Charles O'Dell's disagreement is with the mayor.]

Supports Democrats

RECEIVED Thu., Oct. 19, 2006

Dear Editor,
    What is the appropriate response to corruption? Are multiple scandals more significant than any individual scandal? Is repeated misuse of public trust and public office and public funds a call to action for the rest of us?
    How should the media respond to related scandals or a series of scandals when leadership seems unresponsive? May I suggest that at some point the media has a responsibility to focus most of its attention on the scandals, as a public service?
    How should a citizen respond? When our government gets this bad, my personal conclusion is that all my discretionary funds should go to reform candidates, and all my spare time must be spent campaigning for reform candidates. Anything less, to me, is un-American. My favorite charities must wait. My yard will not receive as much scrutiny this fall. My weekends, and, as in this moment, even some of my work day are devoted to political activity. Such, in my mind, is the cost of our liberty, our democratic process, our ownership responsibility for our government and our society.
    Once my family's safety and health are provided, it is my responsibility to my community (and nation) to actively oppose corruption and irresponsibility and pigheadedness in our government. Join me this fall in working to return our government to the control of reasonable and responsible elected officials.
    For Congress, that means Ted Ankrum in the 10th District, John Courage in the 21st District, and Lloyd Doggett in the latest 25th District. In the Senate, that means Barbara Radnofsky. In the state House it means first Valinda Bolton, plus all the other Democrats around the state. There are state Senate seats as well that need to change. These are the reformers; the newcomers, or the minority party members who have been pushed to the sidelines while special interests and scandals have proliferated.
    We can't afford any more complacency. We must step up now, and vote for change and meaningful reform, or we face dire consequences that the world will never forgive.
Ron Coldiron

Opposes McMansion Ordinance

RECEIVED Thu., Oct. 19, 2006

Dear Editor,
    I was disappointed to see that the Chronicle has been beguiled by the screw-the-rich rhetoric of the McMansion proponents [Best New and Potentially Sexy Zoning Ordinance in Austin, “Best of Austin,” Oct. 13].
    The McMansion ordinance benefits large-home owners at the expense of small-home owners; makes Central Austin increasingly inhospitable to families; obstructs the natural process of densification; condemns us to a creaky (but expensive) inventory of increasingly substandard housing; maintains an unfair share of the tax burden on modest properties; stifles innovative design; hands over aesthetic regulation to reactionary neighborhood groups; penalizes two-car garages; encourages smaller yards; and further lengthens the lead time for new construction, the cost of which falls on buyers.
    That's a lot for one ordinance to live down. It's not worth the right to “lounge naked in your back yard” with the “crickets and salamanders.” (If you're lounging naked with crickets and salamanders, odds are you're not paying $350,000 or more for a central Austin home.)
    If the McMansion ordinance was the “best” new zoning ordinance, Austin's in a lot of trouble.
Chris Bradford
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