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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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Dialogue Seriously Degenerated

RECEIVED Wed., Jan. 3, 2007

Dear Editor,
    I hereby nominate Mr. Standiford as "Most Uptight Person of the Decade." What could have been spirited discourse over the years between writers/readers of the Chronicle has, sadly, degenerated into serious linguistic insignificance.
    Labels, categories, and pedantic diatribe serve only to keep others from hearing what is attempting to be said. Perhaps this is the year to move to the next level (up not down) in the use of the English language.
Sincerely,
Jeffrey Richardson

City Hall Should Be Available for the People

RECEIVED Wed., Jan. 3, 2007

Dear Austin citizens,
    I am writing to encourage your interest and action in confronting Austin's waning customs of participatory democracy.
    Citizens are not allowed to use their own City Hall. Before the old City Hall was closed in the year 2000, it was quite common for average citizens to use City Hall chambers and meeting rooms for all manner of reasons when the building was not used for city business.
    City Council candidates would gather their constituents in chambers to give their announcement speeches. Citizens would hold press conferences and forums related to city affairs on a weekly and even daily basis. Channel 6 would often tape these and rebroadcast them along with their other programming. But when the new City Hall was opened, this custom mysteriously vanished.
    When I realized what had happened last spring, I began protesting this anti-citizen policy. City Council members were not even aware that the policy had changed. Enough questions were raised for the City Council to delegate the matter to the Austin Community Technology and Telecommunications Commission for review.
    The commission will be holding a hearing on this issue Wed., Jan. 10, after they convene at 7:30pm in the City Hall Boards and Commissions Room. I am asking you to join me in recommending that this beautiful building funded by Austin citizens be given back to us for our use when it does not conflict with city business.
    I analyzed use of City Council chambers during business hours between January and March of 2006. I found that city business took place only 32% of the time, and this included City Council and Planning Commission meetings.
    If enough advocates can show a presence, we can have an impact on changing this restrictive policy. Please try to attend and help to reclaim our right to use our own seat of government.
Sincerely,
Paul Robbins

Black's Generalizations Are Wrong

RECEIVED Wed., Jan. 3, 2007

Mr. Black,
    Please take a step back from wherever you are and reconsider your column in the Dec. 29 issue [“Page Two”]. It appears to me that you are assuming much too much about the attitudes and views of most of the people in this country. Your column begins with how "we" are so extremist, "denounce compromise" "know exactly what each [good and evil] is" and that "[e]vil is what motivates those who disagree with us." Then, more disturbing, is your statement that "almost all of us insist that certain of our beliefs represent such immutable ... morality that ... they must be legislated." How can you possibly know what "almost all of us" believe? Or even what "we" believe? In actuality, I think you are wrong about what most people think and believe. Of course, I can't really know either, but my experiences and those of my friends and relatives leads me to the view that a majority of people are still tolerant and open-minded, at least most of the time. Perhaps you listen to too much right-wing talk radio or other similar sources – and I mean this in all sincerity. Your columns for some time have seemed so pessimistic and dark, almost, at times, paranoid. Yes, there is much evil in the world, and ignorance and stupidity, and it can be depressing. But it is not true that "almost all," or even, it seems to me, a majority of people are as you described. Rather, I think most are not, at least most of the time, but instead they have at least some ot the attributes of people you know and admire, such as, as a small example, your friends and co-workers.
James Thomassen

The Facts of the Second Amendment

RECEIVED Wed., Jan. 3, 2007

Dear Editor,
    Normally, I wouldn't write in when someone (a Kurt Standiford, in this case) unloads his hate on "homosexuals and their apologists," Dixie Chicks, and "blowhard harpies," but when the Second Amendment is evoked in argument, I take interest [“Postmarks,” Dec. 29]. For Mr. Standiford: precisely who is threatening enough (despite your "yawns") to face the "facts" of the Second Amendment? What positions do they hold? What are their high crimes? How does the Second Amendment not "allow for such pompous delusions of grandeur nor despot reprobate arrogance"? How would the Second Amendment be used and by whom (include yourself, if applicable). Use examples. Explain your answer in detail.
Sincerely,
Stephen W. McGuire

Doesn't Like Hays County Commissioner Conley

RECEIVED Tue., Jan. 2, 2007

Dear Editor,
    Hays County Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Conley owns Conley Car Wash in San Marcos. Many folks are asking: Who owns Commissioner Will Conley?
    Since the stunning November loss of a Commissioners Court majority that bulldozed special interest projects through the court at the expense of the average citizen, Conley’s desperate efforts to deliver pre-election commitments have become apparent.
    Before County Judge-elect Liz Sumter was even seated, Conley was bad-mouthing her in an effort to salvage his special interest Loop 110 segment that will benefit two of Conley’s major campaign contributors, developers Terry Gilmore and Randall Morris and several engineering firms, including Houston-based Dannenbaum Engineering.
    Conley, who raised more than $75,000 in campaign contributions, primarily from those who stand to benefit from the Loop 110 project in Precinct 1, knows the new court recognizes the folly of saddling county taxpayers with an expensive road to nowhere for the benefit of Conley’s campaign contributors.
    A portion of the proposed Loop 110 segment lies within the San Marcos city limits, and the whole development area will be annexed in the future, leaving the new road cost for county residents to pay.
    Conley, the new, self-proclaimed county road czar is desperate to salvage shadow tolling, because without it Conley can’t deliver on his commitments.
Charles O’Dell, Ph.D.
HaysCAN

Denying Reality With Psychotic Whorish Lies

RECEIVED Tue., Jan. 2, 2007

Dear Editor,
    Denying reality is all the news lately. Jim Hightower mocks Bush for denying the "truth" of an official civil war in Iraq ["The Hightower Report," Dec 29] … not that such hair-splitting semantics are even remotely pertinent to the question. Then Louis Black calls the liberal bias of the media "nonexistent," refers to anti-affirmative action as racist, and dismisses the scourge of illegal immigration as irrational hysteria [Postmarks, Dec. 29]. And of course there is no war on Christmas, no homosexual agenda, and the moon is made of green cheese (NASA research notwithstanding).
    Nobody is buying these psychotic, whorish lies, even the morons who dream them up! Agenda seeking, tortuous rhetoric not only kills any semblance of credibility, it also makes the user a laughingstock.
    Black and Hightower the Hypocrite may need a splash of that "Truth Cologne" after wallowing in their cesspool of insanity all of these years.
Kurt Standiford

Remedy: Reduce Stress, Reduce Fear

RECEIVED Tue., Jan. 2, 2007

Dear Editor,
   The author of Inside the Kingdom, Carmen bin Ladin, laid out an analysis parallel to Louis Black's editorial "Red-State Specials" in the Dec. 29 issue. Both explain that people do react with hostility and religious conservatism when exposed to unknown cultures and religions. It's a defense mechanism to stress and an unconscious strategy for survival. Folks get pretty vicious when it comes to self-preservation! Carmen, the ex-wife of Osama's brother, was shocked by the treatment women received in Saudi Arabia. She concluded that oil wealth increased their exposure to Western values creating great stress. So the Saudi tribes react by going backward in fear and insist that the women stay behind veils, etc. This ultraconservative religious reaction is intended to preserve the known and safe even though it is irrational. Sorta like the ostrich putting its head in sand to hide.
   Stress does create reactions of hostility and hiding by going backward. Remedy? Reduce stress. Reduce the fear clashing cultures create. Take a word of advice from Deepak Chopra to treat hostility with love and understanding. Reassurances, calls for peace, discussions, compromises, listening well, all would neutralize this back to the past flight and fight. Ask others to join hands and walk toward the future together, not in fear but in faith of the higher powers we all possess as humans. Let's overcome the basic animal instincts of survival and learn to live well on the beautiful earth as humans. We have a universal religion of the human spirit, whatever face we put on it, and that spirit encompasses all with intelligent understanding.
Linda L. Smith, LMSW

Think About the Motives of Those Attacking Wal-Mart

RECEIVED Tue., Jan. 2, 2007

Dear Editor,
   I was impressed that you published a letter defending Wal-Mart [Postmarks, Dec. 29], as this point of view would seem to be in opposition to the stances of you and your readers. This open-mindedness moved me to add some comments. While it’s certainly legitimate to attack Walmart for selling cheap imported goods, out-competing community stores, and paying lowish wages, passengers on that bandwagon should know who’s driving it. Wal-Mart operated free of any noticeable criticism until it began to sell food in its "Supercenters." This threatened the traditional supermarket chains (HEB, Albertsons, Safeway, Randalls, et al) as they are unionized and pay significantly higher wages across the board than do nonunion mass retailers. The supposed grassroots anti-Wal-Mart campaign is, in fact, the deliberate creation of the Service Employees International Union. They funded something called the Center for Community & Corporate Ethics, a nonprofit, whose sole mission is the anti-Wal-Mart campaign (also called "Wal-Mart Watch") The Union contributes about $4 million per year to the campaign, and it raises additional money from any other sources it can find to keep the campaign going. Go on its Web site, and it will ask you to contribute to the anti-Wal-Mart cause. While there’s nothing wrong with supporting the union movement, I object to the deceptive way that Wal-Mart is targeted by the creation of a sham grassroots campaign. How is Wal-Mart different from any other mass retailer? Everyone sells cheap imported goods, and Wal-Mart (for example) pays higher wages than Barnes & Noble. Their sin is daring to sell food. In America, we have a mechanism for unionizing a company. Win a secret ballot election by the workers. It’s called "democracy".
Bob Cook
Dripping Springs

The 'Will Wynn Park?'

RECEIVED Mon., Jan. 1, 2007

Dear Editor,
   I have lived in North Austin near Rundburg since 1990. These past few years I have seen an increase in crime in my area. Drugs and prostitution are on the rise all around my home. The Capital Metro bus stops all along Rundburg are constantly filled with persons who just sit and are dealing drugs/prostitution, yet never get on the bus. I am aware that the children who ride the bus are constantly subjected to this environment.
   I am no expert, but it is very obvious to see. My issue has been a topic on various news stations in Austin. I have placed many calls to the local police department with no results. It seems that the city officials are more concerned with Wal-Mart and with the neighborhoods with more money. I am also a taxpayer.
   The city has chosen to honor ex-Mayor Gus Garcia with a nearby park in his name. This park is located on 1101 E. Rundburg nearly 50 feet from a recent unsolved murder of a Hispanic man and another 50 feet from where an elderly woman was beaten and raped. These crimes have become an occasional occurrence and the city officials seem to ignore the needs of my area. Their total focus seems to be elsewhere.
   There is also another unofficial park nearby. This is located in my back yard in between two gas stations on Rundburg. This is where the major crime activity takes place. People congregate to exchange drugs and solicit sex. I propose to name this park "Will Wynn Park," after our current Mayor. If this area is good enough for Gus Garcia then it should be good enough for Will Wynn. The property is currently for sale; the city should buy it and name a park after him, since it seems appropriate. Gus, if you read this letter, please help us in saving our neighborhood?
Adelita Diaz

Those Opposed to Wal-Mart Not Racist

RECEIVED Sun., Dec. 31, 2006

Dear Editor,
   This is a reply to V.J. Asensio’s letter on the "Witch-Hunt of Wal-Mart" [Postmarks, Dec. 29]. To accuse those opposed to Wal-Mart of racism is to ignore two facts: 1) The workers in the sweatshops that make Wal-Mart’s merchandise aren’t usually Caucasian; and 2) many of those owning small businesses threatened by Wal-Mart are minorities. But at least when they lose their businesses they can work at Wal-Mart for pitiful wages and no benefits!
   As for "supply and demand", when the U.S. had slavery, the cotton supply met the nation’s demand, right? Now we have the same principle, only our slaves are overseas.
   The economic impact of Wal-Mart is peanuts. Wal-Mart readily does business with human rights abusers: Does the word "laogai" mean anything to anyone?
Vanessa Hutcheson

Flouting City Ordinances

RECEIVED Fri., Dec. 29, 2006

Dear Editor,
   The neighbors of Northcross have many reasons for opposing a Wal-Mart, but one stands out to me in terms of legal clarity. (Quick disclosure: I am a northwest Austin resident but not an immediate neighbor to Northcross. But my sister lives across the street, I grew up within walking distance, and my parents still live there.)
   According to Doucet, the firm planning the proposed 24-hour Supercenter, the supply trucks will go along Northcross Drive, which is a residential street (with Chelsea Creekside Apartments), and the trucks will run 24 hours a day.
   This proposed truck route flouts the following city ordinances: "9-2-3 GENERAL RESTRICTIONS: A person may not: (1) make noise or use sound equipment in public between 10:30 p.m. and 7:00 a.m; (3) make noise or play a musical instrument audible to an adjacent business or residence between 10:30 p.m. and 7:00 a.m; (5) operate sound equipment in a vehicle audible or causing a vibration 30 feet from the equipment. 9-2-4 RESTRICTION ON DECIBEL LEVEL; 9-2-5 RESTRICTION ON USE OF SOUND EQUIPMENT IN A RESIDENTIAL AREA; 25-3-86 COMPATIBILITY STANDARDS: (B) The noise level of mechanical equipment may not exceed 70 decibels at the property line. 25-5-145 EVALUATION OF CONDITIONAL USE SITE PLAN: (B) A conditional use site plan must: (5) reasonably protect persons and property from erosion, flood, fire, noise, glare, and similar adverse effects." The latter would appear to invalidate the entire existing building/lease agreement.
   Why doesn't Wal-Mart relocate its proposal near my neighborhood instead, specifically to the former Home Depot on Great Hills Trail? Much better location.
Will Cain

Reviewer Has Poor Taste

RECEIVED Thu., Dec. 28, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Regarding the review on Seeing Is Believing for artist Bobby Darin [“Music DVDs,” Music, Dec. 22]: It is unfortunate that Greg Beets has poor taste in talent. Mr. Darin is highly regarded (by all of his peers) as one of the most talented entertainers of the 20th century.
Teresa Sodaro

Thanks

RECEIVED Thu., Dec. 28, 2006

Austin Chronicle and Wes Marshall,
    Thanx for the kudos in your article today [“Why Whip In Rules,” Food, Dec. 29]. We greatly appreciate any mention, and the article was quite good.
    Thanks again and happy New Year's.
Dipak Topiwala
General manager
www.whipin.com
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