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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Totally Missed It!

RECEIVED Wed., Oct. 17, 2007

Dear Editor,
    The revival of vaudevillian theatricals, i.e., post-Brechtian theatre destroying the fourth wall as if it were the Berlin Wall, has produced some incredible theatre moments: Outer Dark Stage Arts Cabaret, St. Idiot Collective’s EFF schtick, and Trouble Puppet’s How I Became a Catholic Suicide Bomber. I have no doubt that Tooth and Nail: Plus Tooth 2! was another [Arts Review, Sept. 14]. And I totally missed it! Didn’t read for it, didn’t see rehearsals/run-throughs, didn’t show up, even though I thought about showing up. “Tongue and Groove Theatre dishes up vaudevillian punk in two odd and hilarious shorts” is to put it mildly. Adrienne Mishler and Travis Hale alone would be enough synergy to produce award nominations in a cast. I did have a good excuse, though; I saved a lot of money by not responding to junk e-mail.
Kevin Cox

Wal-Mart Not a Done Deal

RECEIVED Wed., Oct. 17, 2007

Dear Editor,
    Construction of the Wal-Mart Supercenter at Northcross hasn't even started, but a lot of people I talk to think it's a done deal.
    Not so! Responsible Growth for Northcross (www.rg4n.org) has sued the city and developer to get it stopped. The lawsuit lays out several claims why the site plan was approved illegally. The case is scheduled for hearing on Nov. 13.
    The developer could be sent back to the drawing board if the judge agrees with just one of the claims.
    So please don't give up, Austin. This fight is far from over. RG4N needs your support to stop this bad development.
Chip Rosenthal
RG4N technology chair

If Ginger Man Closes, Shame on Austin

RECEIVED Tue., Oct. 16, 2007

Dear Editor,
    The only matching set of drinking glasses that I own came as a gift with purchase from one of Austin’s finest establishments, the Ginger Man. Rumor has it that in a little over a year this place will be turned into yet another high-rise condo that fat cats will get rich off of and those yuppie jerks can infest like lice.
    Shame on Austin if this is true. Once again we take something that everyone enjoys – and I’m assuming they enjoy it, because the Ginger Man is always packed when I go in – and we take away its charm in order to make a fast buck off of it. We forget that the reason most people want to live Downtown is because of places like the Ginger Man. I once thought Will Wynn would do this city well. Now I see that he’s just looking to turn us into another Houston or San Antonio. South Congress has already been ruined; the Eastside is in the full throes of gentrification; so of course, it's the perfect time to muck up Downtown. Pretty soon you won’t even be able to see the Capitol or the UT Tower. They’ll both be blocked from view with condos and banks, signs of the proud tradition of corporatism that Austin is now looking to carry.
    I always thought the saddest day of my life would be Danny Young’s retirement from the restaurant business. I was mistaken. If the Ginger Man is closed, I will have a new dark day to look back on.
Katy Ludlow

Should We Be Building More Roads?

RECEIVED Tue., Oct. 16, 2007

Dear Editor,
    The sad part of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization vote [“Naked City,” News, Oct. 12] to fund more toll roads was that only two options were considered – build toll roads, or build roads without tolls. The issue of whether we should be building more roads was never raised. New roads allow people to live farther and farther from Austin and zip Downtown. They keep auto, oil, construction, and real estate interests flush with cash.
    However, the downside of more roads includes increased dependence on foreign oil, more greenhouse gases, more national indebtedness, and more land around Austin being paved over.
    If and when we actually start worrying about greenhouse gases or face significant oil shortages, housing construction induced by the new roads will be so scattered that mass transit won't be feasible.
Philip Russell

Future of Austin Traffic?

RECEIVED Tue., Oct. 16, 2007

Dear Editor,
    I believe I have a new slogan for the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization and how to "sell" the new toll roads in Austin: "If you wanna roll, you gotta pay the toll!" Is this the future of Austin traffic or what?
Bill Vordenbaum

Against Anti-Panhandling Law

RECEIVED Tue., Oct. 16, 2007

Dear Editor,
    Re: The anti-panhandling proposal: The bottom line is, do we truly believe in equal rights for every citizen? Or do we endorse a philosophy that either doles out or restricts constitutional rights based on a person's economic class?
    Most people these days are beginning to comprehend racism – so please let's try to apply what we've learned from that to classism.
    This isn't about what is annoying, inconvenient, rude, or obnoxious. This is about the fact that people are seriously proposing to remove a group of people's constitutional right to ask for money. As does everyone in some form, shape, or fashion.
    Certainly if a homeless person is being dangerous, then that's another story, but laws already exist to handle that.
    And please do not think that some developers don't also exercise their own version of "high-dollar panhandling" via land squeeze-outs, deals made behind closed doors, and property takings, etc. (Hopefully we will not construe that all developers are of this yoke just because some are, anymore than we should construe that all panhandlers are dangerous just because some are.)
    We already have laws on the books for crooks and for folks behaving dangerously.
    The question is: Are these laws going to be enforced equitably across the economic strata, or will special privileges be handed out to the upper class while the lower classes are criminalized for actions of a lesser crime and even for actions that are not a crime?
    What role will law enforcement play in either equalizing or stratifying the treatment of citizens of different classes?
    Finally, have some people forgotten about the Great Depression? How many of these folks who now wish to criminalize the homeless actually had ancestors who endured the harsher aspects of the Great Depression – including perhaps being homeless?
In good spirit,
Allissa Chambers

What About Safety of Those Who Work for a Living?

RECEIVED Tue., Oct. 16, 2007

Dear Editor,
    Re: Gina Alexia's Oct. 12 letter, “Panhandlers a Real Problem” [“Postmarks”]: While her case may seem, to some, oversimplified, it put me in mind of an event I witnessed three years ago.
    Waiting for my car to be serviced at a shop on the intersection of McNeil Road and 183, I watched three apparently homeless people engaged in a poorly concealed transaction at the bus stop, on the street. This transaction degenerated into a savage, two-on-one beating of the third person, a woman. As I realized this was more than a shoving match, I ran to intervene, pressing “9” on my phone. The two attackers kept me back, however, brandishing the pallet slats they'd used on their victim. Long before police arrived, needless to say, all three of them vanished.
    Seemingly when soliciting handouts, many homeless don their metaphorical tinfoil hats and stick their hands in their shirts to assure us that, “Hey, we're harmless and helpless victims of society that can only benefit from your donation.” However, I'm not the only one who's seen the cunning, calculating, remorseless behavior exhibited by pathological criminals, whether they've an address or not. We, the average citizens, should not be expected to have to screen out the “acceptable” behavior of our city's homeless population.
    I believe rehabilitation is possible; seeking to achieve it one stoplight at a time is not. (Enforced shelter? Maybe too severe?) Either way, I'm predisposed to considering the safety of those who work for a living before worrying about the needs of those who don't and won't.
Lee Aycock

Thanks

RECEIVED Tue., Oct. 16, 2007

Dear Austin,
    Thank you so much for voting me Best Clothing Designer two years in a row [“Best of Austin,” Oct. 12]. I am so honored – it means the world to me. I want to give each and every one of you a big hug!
Love,
Chia

The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round

RECEIVED Tue., Oct. 16, 2007

Dear Editor,
    Nancy Pelosi and her fellow neo-leftist Democratic congressional colleagues have passed a nonbinding resolution condemning Turkey for alleged genocide against Armenia during World War I. This putridly irresponsible act is a direct slap at America’s effort to defeat the worldwide jihadist campaign to conquer the world. Indeed, if the resolution is approved by the entire Congress, the Turkish government has made it clear that it will restrict cooperation with the U.S. military in the battle for Iraq. In the near term, this travesty would result in the unnecessary deaths of American troops in the Iraqi theatre of war. In the long term, it could mean American defeat in Iraq and a new dark age of worldwide Islamist tyranny.
    It is clear that this despicable proposal is a backdoor attempt to further the Democratic efforts to facilitate the surrender of America in Iraq. Since they have been unable to legislatively achieve U.S. defeat, they are now stooping to this horrid tactic. This newest sedition must be the final verdict against the neo-left Democrats. They are so ensconced in their desire for political and cultural power – e.g., socialistic enshrinement of class envy and morally vacant multiculturalism – that they are willing to sacrifice America to the Islamist despots. Of course, the supreme irony is that if they succeed, they will be the first to be tortured to death by the jihadists.
    We must realize that we are in World War IV. The Democrats are morally and intellectually incapable of comprehending this. There are millions of Islamists committed to the destruction of civilization resulting in the theocratic enslavement of humanity. If we allow the Democrats to succeed in their ongoing efforts to defeat America, the free world is doomed. For the sake of posterity, Democratic neo-leftists such as Pelosi must be forever condemned.
Vance McDonald

Between the Third and the Fourth Terms

RECEIVED Mon., Oct. 15, 2007

Dear Editor,
    Thanks for mentioning my candidacy in your opening survey of the May 2008 elections for Austin City Council [“Point Austin,” News, Oct. 12].
    I was also interested in your coverage of the advance maneuvers for the 2009 mayoral election. You can’t plan too far ahead, so I thought it would be a good idea for me to go ahead and announce now my plans to run for mayor in 2018. That will be one year after the end of my third term as a council member. Between my third term as council member and my first term as mayor I intend to take a year off to write a book and travel around the world via holographic projection.
Fraternally,
Robin Cravey

In the Sober Light of Day, Even Brenner Looks Good

RECEIVED Mon., Oct. 15, 2007

Dear Editor,
    In retrospect … in the sober light of day … the Chronicle is not "lazy and/or jerks," and gosh darnit, Wayne Allen Brenner is just a hardworking man trying to make the best with what limited space he is allotted [“Postmarks,” Oct. 12]. That much I realize. For this, I apologize.
    The Chronicle has done several nice things for this overzealous chap in the past several years, which I have not forgotten and am not ungrateful for.
    But the absence of a no "best of stand-up" category in the annual poll does indicate that there are lessons to be learned from this e-mail debacle.
    I've learned my lesson (don't be such a jerk through the Web), but the Chronicle could definitely take a moment or two to realize how great the Austin stand-up scene is, compared to how minimal noise gets made of it in the Chronicle.
    My proverbial hand is outstretched in the most sincere of apologies.
Chuck Watkins

World Carfree Day Is About Possibility

RECEIVED Mon., Oct. 15, 2007

Dear Editor,
    If I have somehow given the impression that World Carfree Day is an annual event devoted to impugning the moral character of motorists, I would like to apologize [“Postmarks,” Sept. 28]. That's not what it is about at all. World Carfree Day is about reconsidering the role of the car in the city. It's no secret that cars have many unpleasant side effects. People who drive cars are not immune to congestion, pollution, violent death, etc. But what can one person do about it? That's why cities observe World Carfree Day every year on Sept. 22.
    Here's how it works. A city restricts cars on at least some streets so that people can get out of their cars for a day and look around. If possible, measurements are taken of pollutant levels, noise levels, death and injury levels, etc., for comparison with data from other days. People generally enjoy car-free days. It's nice to be able to move around on foot or bicycle without the threat of other motorists running you over.
    Do cars belong in cities? Should highways cut through cities? Is the landscape prettier with more cars? Is there an optimal number of cars for a neighborhood or a city? Do people really need to walk? Do we need sidewalks? Do we need more roads? Resources are limited. We may want to stop and think seriously about how best to use them.
    You can't see much of what's around you from inside a car. Most motorists know that people are not at their most rational while driving cars.
    World Carfree Day is a time to observe and think, not a time to fret over someone else's moral character. Let's give reason a chance.
Yours truly,
Amy Babich

Pay Statistics on Teachers Way Off

RECEIVED Mon., Oct. 15, 2007

Dear Editor,
    Richard Whittaker's article featuring statistics galore from the National Compensation Survey was interesting indeed [“Does It Really Pay to Work in Austin?” News, Oct. 12]. I'd like to point out one false statistic concerning number of hours worked per year. The sentence states 2,119 hours per year for managers, 2,215 by automotive technicians, and 1,488 by elementary- and secondary-school teachers. I guess someone (i.e., the Bureau of Labor Statistics) arrived at the figure for teachers inaccurately by multiplying 40 hours per week by number of weeks worked per year, which they assumed was 37. This would be a minimum, not an average. Probably figuring three months off for summer, when it is realistically two, the number of weeks worked is actually 41. I speak from experience because my wife has taught kindergarten and first grade for 13 years. Also, there's never a 40-hour workweek. She averages closer to 50, and that doesn't include extras like Parent Teacher Association meetings, back-to-school nights, science night, math night, literacy night, etc. So the actual yearly number of hours is well over 2,000, not nearly as few as the article implies.
    In addition to school time, there's homework, lesson planning, phone calls to parents, shopping for supplies not provided by the district, dealing with the stress of unrealistic demands, and the list goes on. Texas doesn't allow a union for teachers. Their salary doesn't compare to other college-educated professionals. Teachers who don't give up only stay in the profession because they love children and want to educate them to offer the best possible chance of "making it" in this society. This society, faced with war, global warming, and so many other critical issues, continues to keep education reform on the back burner. Hopefully, teachers, who are being held "accountable" for future generations, will continue to inspire creative problem-solvers. Everyone reading this has a teacher to thank.
Jeff Farris

Peanut-Butter Cups Were From Celeste's Best

RECEIVED Mon., Oct. 15, 2007

Dear Editor,
    Thank you for recognizing the conscientious eco-practices of Progress Coffee in your “Best of Austin” Critics Picks [Oct. 12]. I was pleased that you singled out the vegan peanut-butter cups for praise, because my company, Celeste's Best, supplies Progress Coffee and several other Austin coffee shops with those peanut-butter cups and many other products. Celeste's Best was started almost five years ago, with the mission to bring Austin vegan desserts that aren't health food. They are indulgences, just like any other dessert, and I love that most of the people who buy them would never guess that they are vegan.
    For a list of other products and local coffee shops that carry Celeste's Best, check out www.celestes-best.com.
    Thanks again for the props.
Celeste Caswell

Best Approach to 'Gun Problem' Is to Enforce the Law

RECEIVED Mon., Oct. 15, 2007

Dear Editor,
    I commend Jordan Smith for her piece "The Journey of a Gun," Oct. 5 [News]. Unlike most liberal/progressive publications, Ms. Smith has looked at the role of firearms in crime with a clear lens and found – voilá! – that the best approach to "gun crime" is enforcing the law. Surely, her experience writing the Chronicle's “Reefer Madness” column has served her well by disabusing her of the notion prohibition works.
    Jason Meador's remarks in his letter of Oct. 12 [“Postmarks”] are worth noting, when he says, "Those figures [10,000 guns confiscated annually by Chicago Police] don't differentiate between crack dealers and innocent citizens forced to illegally protect themselves from crack dealers." This is rather virgin territory for anyone interested in gun "trafficking" issues; frankly, I haven't come up with even a guesstimate from anyone as to how many guns "smuggled" into gun-prohibition locales were meeting the demand of otherwise law-abiding citizens who are tired of duck 'n' cover approaches to urban violence.
    Incidentally, according to the 13th annual "America's Safest (and Most Dangerous) Cities" report for 2005, Morgan Quitno Press, www.morganquitno.com, Chicago ranks 48 out of 100 cities in terms of murders per 100,000 population (15.6). Houston ranks 46, Miami 58. No. 1? Compton (Calif.) with more than 60 murders. The national average is 5.6 murders per 100,000.
Sincerely,
Stephen W. McGuire

Adding to Completely Partisan Satire

RECEIVED Mon., Oct. 15, 2007

Dear Editor,
    Re: “Completely Partisan Satire” [“Postmarks,” Oct. 12]: I compliment Perry Logan for his modest proposal to solve the Republican problem. I make two additional suggestions:
    1) Perhaps a state or territory not a part of the contiguous U.S. to exile Republicans, like Guam or even Alaska, would be better.
    2) Though the worst of Republicans are white guys, Republican women, including matronly church and country-club ladies and younger women typified by caked-on make-up and screeching voices, like newsreaders and weatherpersons inflicted on us by cable TV, should be sent away, too.
John Callaghan

City Does Not Owe the Homeless

RECEIVED Mon., Oct. 15, 2007

Dear Editor,
    In the Oct. 12 issue of The Austin Chronicle, Allissa Chambers' letter to the editor [“Postmarks”] bemoaned the anti-panhandling proposal and all attempts to clean up the homeless mess in our otherwise beautiful city.
    I've lived in Austin for more than 15 years. We have a beautiful city, but the hordes of homeless people we also have here are bringing our beloved city down. I have been accosted by homeless individuals demanding money more times than I can recall, and I've actually had to run to get away from them on more than one occasion.
    Damn right we need a ban on panhandling in Austin, but not just in a small number of certain public areas. I think there should be a citywide ban on panhandling. I think aggressive panhandling should be prosecuted aggressively. Homeless people need to understand that average Austinites don't owe them anything and are not here for them to harass. But remember, this is not a proposal to outlaw homeless people but, rather, to outlaw something obnoxious, rude, and dangerous: panhandling.
    I don't want to infringe on the rights of the homeless or seem cruel toward them; I'm just tired of being their target, just because I'm not also homeless. Austin does not owe the homeless any favors, and our city is not here for them to abuse. Please don't ever give them money, as that only encourages them more and fuels their drug abuse. To the homeless in Austin: Please leave Austin alone. Please stop ruining our city. Please find I-35, and take it north or south; I don't care. Just please leave!
Joe Zamecki

At the Intersection of BuRo and KoLa

RECEIVED Sun., Oct. 14, 2007

Dear Chronicle,
    I see from your Room Service write-up that you have christened North Loop Boulevard as “NoLo” [“Best of Austin,” Oct. 12]. I noticed this while reading your fine paper and having coffee at the Frisco Shop, near the intersection of BuRo and KoLa. Since I’m in the market for a new sofa, I then went up to the Lack’s on AnLa to check out their current sale. Later, I got hungry, so I drove over to the Tamale House on AirBo and had a great lunch. I wanted to do a little socializing, so I then went over to JuLa and had a martini at LaLa’s. Feeling a little frisky after that, I then drove up to RuLa, picked up a streetwalker, and got myself a BloJo.
    When does it end? Stop it; stop it right now, you freakin’ dorks (yes, I said, “dorks”). Good God.
Stephen Mills

Focus on Areas of Pervasive Criminal Activity

RECEIVED Sat., Oct. 13, 2007

Dear Editor,
    Regarding a “no solicitation” ordinance, please allow me to offer some insight as someone who is a homeowner in the belly of the beast here at North I-35 and Rundberg. Drugs and prostitution are rampant, arrogant in their obviousness, and virtually ignored by the Austin Police Department. Here, drugs, prostitution, homelessness, and alcoholism inextricably intertwine into a pervasive and diseased subculture.
    The other day, heading east on Rundberg, I saw four hookers at a gas station off I-35 at 9am on a Saturday morning. When I got to the bottom of the hill, where Rundberg dead-ends into Dessau, there sat a cop with a radar gun. That, to me, seemed very symbolic. Ticketing speeders brings in revenue. Busting the pimps, hookers, crackheads, and drunken panhandlers farther down the street uses APD resources with no monetary return on investment. It’s a simple man-power math problem. In principle, I think a “no solicitation” ordinance is unconstitutional. To effect change we need to enforce laws we already have. The homeless are drawn to the area because of the general lawlessness. Maybe if we demand that APD focuses less on traffic enforcement in the community’s obvious trouble spots of pervasive criminal activity and more on the actual criminal activity itself, a side effect might be a decrease in panhandling. And, no, I’m not writing this because the cop at the bottom of the hill gave me a ticket.
James Bryant

What Is Needed Is a Pay-at-the-Pump Tax

RECEIVED Fri., Oct. 12, 2007

Dear Editor,
    If you care about serving the Austin community, please do an investigative report comparing the overhead costs, rate of return, and environmental impact of these two road-funding options: toll roads (a per-use tax) vs. a local gasoline tax (pay at the pump). You have said that a local gasoline tax would be impossible to pass the Texas Legislature, but it would pass if citizens wanted it. The citizens need to be properly informed first, and that is your responsibility.
Curt Karnstedt

A Good Time to Think Back

RECEIVED Fri., Oct. 12, 2007

Dear Editor,
   Let me be the first to make the following obvious joke:
   So, Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize. Unfortunately, there is no prize for war or stupidity, so George W. had to settle for a gold star from Dick Cheney.
   This is a good opportunity for us to think back and imagine how different things might have been in the last seven years if the Extreme Court had not taken it upon themselves to decide whom they wanted as president in 2000.
Ben Hogue
Driftwood

If You Want to See ACL Pictures ...

RECEIVED Fri., Oct. 12, 2007

Dear Editor,
    I visited last month's Austin City Limits Music Festival for the third year in a row. Once again, I got to experience Austin's cool vibe – Austinites rock – and got some really nice photos. I approached quite a few folks, too, so some of your readers may recognize themselves. I offer sincere thanks to all who permitted me to take their pictures.
    See more than 100 color photos at www.ctphotoartist.com. Click on Photo Exhibits for the ACL 2007 pictures.
    I spent the entire week in Austin, culminating with ACL and really, really want to move to Austin now. I had a blast!
Cheers,
Charles Tatum II
Houston

Best 'Sour Grapes'

RECEIVED Thu., Oct. 11, 2007

Dear Editor,
    No Best Austin Stand-Up Comedian [“Best of Austin,” Oct. 12]? Seems a little odd considering the plethora of national touring headliners and rising stars who all call this town home.
    Oh, wait – that's right. You guys are the Chronicle. You're lazy and/or jerks. I forgot. Pardon me.
    It's bad enough that stand-up has been relegated to a random, one-sentence blurb every week, which inevitably includes the words "snarky" or "yuk-fest." (Thanks, Brenner, you really capture the Austin scene, you snarky bastard you.)
    But to be omitted entirely from a supposedly "relevant" poll that includes categories like Best Austin Kids Playscape and Best Local Homeless Dude is a major "fuck you" to the Austin comedy community.
    Thank goodness that Misprint and The Onion are around to spread a little love.
    Most overrated local publication? Definitely the Chronicle.
Gratzi,
Chuck Watkins
   [Editor's note: "Best of Austin" Editor Kate Messer considered replying to this, but she is a lazy jerk. Better luck next year.]

Are There Big Donations Behind Every Editorial?

RECEIVED Thu., Oct. 11, 2007

Dear Editor,
   Some of us "radical Republicans" are grateful to the "mystery men" for giving their support along with us to real Republicans [News blog, Oct. 5].
   Are your votes for sale? How many hours did you give volunteering for a candidate? Did you volunteer or go to the polls, or write your editorial, because of who had the glossiest ads or because of agreement on the issues? Should we look for big donations behind every editorial, or should we assume the writer has integrity? (In spite of the fact that the name of George Soros isn't included in your editorial.)
   The Swift boaters, their supporters (I attended the rally in Washington, D.C., in September '04), and the people who vote in elections don't sell ourselves for TV ads or pieces of mail. Whether "radical" Republicans or Democrats, I assume that we freely give our time and our votes to the best candidate who we believe will represent us.
Beverly Nuckols
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