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.
Browse by Week:

Get Rid of Broken-Down Construction Signs

RECEIVED Wed., April 30, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Can the city please do something about all of the broken-down construction signs that are littering Austin's urban center? Don't we have a maintenance department that is supposed to pick these things up when they have disintegrated? The wooden signs with orange sandbags last about a week as intended, then they fall apart and become a dangerous eyesore. They are always left there to rot well after the construction project is finished, sometimes for months. They block busy sidewalks and fall dismantled into the street with large exposed screws. They are an ugly safety hazard and a plague. Can't they manufacture them so they don't fall apart so easily? I am just really tired of seeing them all over the place. Can someone please be sent to pick them up when they have become worthless junk? Is this the price of progress? It's like they are too busy building monuments to consumerism to simply pick up after themselves and put away their tools.
Paul Minor

Sidewalks Need to Be a Priority

RECEIVED Wed., April 30, 2008

Dear Editor,
    No matter how tight the city budget may be, Austin needs a deadline, funding, and staff to finish the sidewalk and crosswalk system. Vertical, mixed-use, transit-oriented development, New Urbanism, and the Climate Protection Plan will all be ineffective without a complete, well-maintained pedestrian system. Austin also needs some temporary pedestrian space while the sidewalks are being finished. Perhaps we need pedestrian lanes in the streets.
    The city budget will be tight this year. Usually, whenever money is tight, pedestrian and bicycle funding is cut. The rationale, I guess, is that hardly anyone in Austin walks or bicycles for transportation anyway.
    Yet somehow cars managed to kill 24 pedestrians in Austin last year. How is this possible, if nobody walks here?
    The truth is that, actually, everyone in Austin is a pedestrian. The pedestrians killed by cars each year include people who step out of disabled cars to seek help, people who “drive everywhere” but are just crossing the street, children waiting for school buses, people walking bicycles with flat tires, people in wheelchairs, and so on.
    With money tight and gasoline expensive, more people are willing to walk instead of drive for trips of half a mile or less. But without any pedestrian space at all on most streets, people will just keep driving those half-mile trips.
    If we really want to solve our problems and not just dream of castles in the air, we need a deadline, staff, and funding for finishing the pedestrian infrastructure.
Yours truly,
Amy Babich

Where Does Gov. Perry Stand on Pre-K Funding?

RECEIVED Wed., April 30, 2008

Dear Austin Chronicle,
    Pre-K Now's new report, "Leadership Matters," rates each governor's commitment to prekindergarten education. For the first time in four years, the number of governors proposing increases in pre-K funding declined. The struggling economy this year gave voters a good look at their governor's true pre-K colors. While many states are facing deficits, some governors showed that they recognize pre-K's value not only to children and families but to the long-term economic success of their states. These governors understand that young children's minds cannot wait for budget surpluses.
    A bipartisan group of 17 state executives chose to protect and grow pre-K investments. Their proposed increases total $261 million and would make pre-K available to nearly 60,000 more 3- and 4-year-olds across the nation.
    The states whose governors proposed pre-K funding increases are: Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia. Also, the mayor of Washington, D.C., proposed an increase.
    In the minority are four governors who proposed cuts in pre-K funding. These are the governors of California, Idaho, Rhode Island, and South Carolina. Governors in five other states proposed flat funding for pre-K: Arizona, Delaware, Kentucky, Missouri, and South Dakota.
    Where is Texas? What is Gov. Rick Perry's stand?
Sincerely,
Jerry R. Grammer, Ph.D.

Election a Complete Scam

RECEIVED Wed., April 30, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I was first able to vote for president in the 2000 election. What have I learned since then? It is all a sham. It has to be! Here is my (and others my age) history of politics.
    Election 2000: You gotta be kidding me! After eight years of good times with Bill Clinton, the Republicans are running George W. Bush? Is he related to that total disaster George H.W. Bush? This is gonna be a landslide.
    Election 2004: Wow, OK, somehow we have made it through the nightmare of the last four years. At last it's over. And I though George H.W. was a disaster! Wow. Whomever the Dems put up is a no-brainer.
    Election 2008: Whew those four years were worse than the last! OK, all we have to do is pick a normal, moderate Democrat and he will surely win this election. You have got to be kidding me! It is almost May, and the Dems still have no candidate? I didn't think it was possible to screw this up! I mean, all we have to beat is an insane, antiquated warmonger! So we choose Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama?
    With Hillary there will be no "on the fence" votes. People who don't like her, hate her. Not to mention the large number of Dems that simply won't vote for a woman.
    With Obama, almost no experience. And probably a greater number of Dems won't vote for him because he's black. You know, people from places like … the South! I work with all hardcore Democrats; trust me, Obama will not get any of their votes.
    Therefore, I can only conclude that this is a complete scam. There is no election. They must all be on the same team, promoting the illusion of democracy. How else can you explain the 2000, 2004, and 2008 elections?
Steven McCloud

No Scientific Evidence for Intelligent Design

RECEIVED Wed., April 30, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Since there is no scientific evidence for intelligent design/creationism, the only source for this wacky "theory" is the Bible. Lots of people don't realize, though, that there has been scientific study of the Bible for well over a hundred years, and the results are quite enlightening. Those who've studied the Bible from a scientific, as opposed to religious, point of view understand these things:
    1) Much of the Old Testament was written after the Babylonian exile that began in 586BC and incorporates Babylonian myths of creation and flood.
    2) There are numerous internal conflicts caused by the combination of priestly, Yahwist, and other traditions. So, for instance, there are two separate creation stories in the first part of Genesis. Which one do the creationists believe?
    3) A literal understanding of the Bible is unsupportable because of the internal contradictions and the evidence that much of the Bible was written long after the supposed events as commentary on events that were current at the time of writing.
    There should be no controversy over teaching I.D./creationism in public schools. It should not even be considered, because there is no factual basis. The only reason it is considered is that people who understand very little about the source material, the Bible, are intimidated by those with a religious axe to grind.
Ben Hogue

'Chronicle's Endorsement Missed the Mark

RECEIVED Tue., April 29, 2008

Dear Editor,
    First I want to thank Wells Dunbar for his coverage of City Hall and the upcoming elections – a job well done [“Beside the Point,” News]. I don't always agree with the Chronicle's endorsements or takes on issues but can always count on getting more local news on Thursdays than what has been reported elsewhere during the entire week. Thanks.
    I do have to agree with Ray Reece (“Postmarks” online, April 28) that y'all missed the the mark in not endorsing Robin Cravey for council Place 4 [“'Chronicle' Endorsements,” April 25]. Both he and Laura Morrison would make good council members, but I believe Cravey has distinct advantages concerning his knowledge of the business of City Hall, and his love for this town has been proven over many years of volunteer service. And to quote Reece, "To fail to elect him to Place 4 would be to miss a rare opportunity for a critical upgrade in the quality and wisdom of city government."
    My own endorsement was simple: I’m happy to stand behind Robin in his bid for City Council. Having known Robin and Jane for more than 30 years, it is a simple matter of trust. I trust Robin's basic integrity. I trust his abilities to work with city staff and neighborhoods – earned by experience working with both. I trust his vision for this city we both love. And last, though we have had differing opinions on occasions over the years, I trust his ability and willingness to listen to all parties with respect and due consideration before making decisions. This is a much-needed ability in this often contentious town. It's just a matter of trust, but in politics as in life, it is pretty fundamental.
Gary Hyatt
Bouldin Creek Neighborhood
39-year Austin resident/neighborhood activist

Bicyclists Deserve Protection

RECEIVED Tue., April 29, 2008

Dear Editor,
    In the early Eighties, my roommate Marguerite borrowed my bike to go down to Whole Foods to get some ice cream. She never came back. We got a call from the police saying there had been an accident. A man driving south on Lamar hit her from behind with his truck as she was traveling on Lamar. She was dragged beneath his truck when he turned right onto Sixth Street. He didn't stop for several blocks. Marguerite was from the United Kingdom and had a different understanding of bikes on the road.
    The driver never had his license revoked. The man never got a ticket, even though he failed to stop. He never went to jail. He never suffered any consequences for what he did, even though she died.
    On Friday evening as I was driving home from work, police were arresting Critical Mass bicyclists near Lamar and 12th; allegedly for not obeying traffic signs.
    My question is this: If bicyclists can get arrested for not abiding by the law, why can't the same laws protect them when they are riding on the road?
    Instead of arresting the Critical Mass bicyclists, the police should have been riding with them. Vehicle drivers need to learn to share the road with bicyclists.
Pam Thompson
   p.s. The above is not an isolated incident; Slave died on a corner by the courthouse when a truck turned right without stopping. Before that, Ben died on Guadalupe and MLK when someone hit him from behind, and no tickets were issued to car/truck drivers.

Against Subsidies

RECEIVED Tue., April 29, 2008

Dear Editor,
    On these days following Earth Day, with so many people across Mother Earth dying of starvation, I had to speak out about the crimes against humanity being perpetrated on the human race by the prostitutes in Washington, D.C. I am speaking of the senators and representatives who sell their souls and votes to each other, as a prostitute sells her body. I’ll vote for your sugar and rice subsidies if you vote for my corn subsidy, and I’ll vote for your cotton and wheat subsidies if you vote not to raise my auto CAFE standards, and I’ll vote for your tobacco deal if you vote for my oil subsidy, etc., etc., etc. The sinister part involves the huge agribusiness. Chemical and oil companies like ConAgra, Cargill, Kraft, Monsanto, DuPont, Exxon, Conoco, Shell, etc., who pay huge bribes (supposedly political contributions) to these political prostitutes to get their support for all of the other subsidies in order to corral their votes for ethanol subsidies, which go mainly to millionaires and these huge corporations. Corn-based ethanol produces no positive benefits in the reduction of global warming, yet the subsidies for ethanol are directly responsible for all food price increases across the globe, resulting in deaths from starvation. Are these political prostitutes so imbued with their own self-importance and their need to be re-elected that it clouds their minds and judgments into continually taking the bribes while selling their subsidized souls? Our G.W. Shrub Republican and sycophant senators voted for all of the ethanol subsidies. Instead of canceling all subsidies, especially for ethanol, some want to freeze ethanol subsidies at current levels. Again, the smarmy prostitutes, while seeming to care about the starving people, are just trying to keep their hands in the cookie jar of the D.C. money brothel for re-election. Have y’all no shame?
James Jolly Clark

Faulty Logic

RECEIVED Tue., April 29, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I'm writing in response to Pete Wall, the bicyclist whose head is as thick as a block house [“Postmarks,” April 25]. Without bicyclists hindering traffic there would hardly be any pollution or traffic jams. With this same simple logic you will realize that people with asthma would benefit more from driving with the air conditioning on than from breathing the air outside.
Jesse Slate

AISD Has Not Sought Dialogue

RECEIVED Tue., April 29, 2008

Dear Editor,
    As a card-carrying Johnston High PTA and all-sports booster member, I can assure you no one with the Austin Independent School District or Johnston sent any notice to parents of any AISD board meeting to discuss the closure of our school ["Naked City,” News, April 25]. AISD has not sought to establish a dialogue with Johnston parents.
    This has resulted in the apparent assumption that parents don't care, and our kids aren't trying. Recently, the Johnston High track team had a couple of members travel to Huntsville to compete against the very best of other 4-A schools throughout the state. These students' successes, like many other untold success stories at Johnston, do not happen by accident. They happened because parents, teachers, and students are doing the best they can to work in partnership to guarantee student success.
    Yes, there are success stories coming out of Johnston High, but the media focuses on the negative. AISD could really help out JHS by helping foster more successes.
    It's not the walls at Johnston that make it a failure, and transferring out students and closing the doors will not magically make Johnston High students better. There is not a mold problem at Johnston that causes failure. Unfortunately, many working-class parents at Johnston do not honestly know how to help their kids be academically successful. With the closure of Johnston, all you'll get is former Johnston High students failing at their new high schools.
Felipe Garza

Why 'Cravey' Over Morrison?

RECEIVED Mon., April 28, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I read the “'Chronicle' Endorsements” [News, April 25] and was surprised to see that you picked Laura Morrison over Robin Cravey in Place 4. Everything you wrote about Cravey made him seem like the natural choice for Chronicle readers. I feel I've wandered into an alternative universe when you pick an engineer, and the Statesman goes with the environmentalist.
    Can you tell us who makes the pick for your paper and how you arrived at this one?
Jim Cullers
   [News Editor Michael King responds: The Chronicle editorial board (for endorsement purposes) included the publisher, news editors and managing editor, and news staff (in all about 10 people, with multiple perspectives). We meet with and report on the viable candidates, we meet together and via e-mail, we discuss and argue and debate, we make the best consensus choice we can among the candidates, and then draft an endorsement that we can all subscribe to. In the particular case of the Place 4 seat, we would refer readers to our full endorsement (posted online) and simply add that we don't think it's fair to either of these candidates (or the others) to reduce the entire discussion to "an engineer" vs. "an environmentalist."]

Supports Cravey

RECEIVED Mon., April 28, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I have known Robin Cravey for well over a decade. We first worked together when I was working for Mayor Bruce Todd and he was working for Mayor Pro Tem Max Nofziger down at City Hall. I believe he has been a tireless leader and advocate for the environment and overall quality of life here in Austin. I will be the first to tell you that Robin and I probably agree on one out of 100 political issues – and that's on a good day! That includes his very vocal opposition to many of the projects I have worked on in Central Texas. However, I believe Robin to be one the most honest community leaders I have ever met or worked with. He would be good for Austin's future.
Trey Salinas

The McMansion Nightmare Continues

RECEIVED Mon., April 28, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I am writing this letter to the Chronicle because I do not know where else to turn. I live on Kinney Avenue in South Austin. I endured two full years of McMansion building. The home is the first McMansion in the neighborhood and takes up the entire lot. On one side, it is only maybe 20 feet from my home and north windows and doors. The people that built the house have lived there now for about a year and a half. They have been a complete nightmare the entire time. Their total disregard for their neighbors and feelings of complete entitlement, well, is honestly a form of terrorism. Just when I thought they might be calming down, they installed a system around their home that sprays poison three to four times a day. It kills all, and I mean all, insects. That includes bees, butterflies, and june bugs. To find out more, you can Google Automated Outdoor Insect Control. The day they installed it, the wind was blowing, and when they tested it, all the spray went to my neighbor's yard on the other side. On the side where they are 20 feet from my home, there are 10 devices that spray, half of them facing my windows. There is absolutely no talking to these people. We called the city, and apparently there are no laws in Travis County concerning pesticides. I am now in high terror because I do not know when this thing goes off, so I have to keep my doors and windows closed at all times. I also garden and love beneficial insects and do not want mine killed. This is happening in the Zilker neighborhood where there are many gardeners and vegetarians. What if 10 homes decided to install these? We all know this cannot be good for the environment! The ad says this poison is harmless; I think it can't be true! Please, someone help! Is there anyone out there with some good ideas on how to proceed? One day it could be your problem, too!
Thank You,
Allison Hubbard
Zilker neighborhood

Blah, Blah, Moral Nihilism, Blah …

RECEIVED Mon., April 28, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Blah blah, moral nihilism, blah blah blah, America, blah blah, freedom, blah blah, unenlightened, blah blah, moral relativism, blah blah, moral clarity, blah blah. Vance McDonald, please sign up and fight in Iraq! Or is that too much "moral clarity" for you?
Steve Coon

My Political Platform

RECEIVED Mon., April 28, 2008

Dearest Editor,
    Well, we're finally here. After seven long years of buildup and waiting, we're finally going to do what we've been planning for the entire length of the Bush administration. We're going to go bankrupt.
    What's that you say? You weren't planning on bankruptcy?
    Well, actions speak louder than words, my friends.
    As sure as we may have all been that we could remain solvent despite exponential increases in spending and consequent lowering of revenues (tax cuts), the simple arithmetic is back to bite us in the ass. You simply can't spend millions of dollars per minute blowing things up in the desert without paying for it. And pay for it we shall.
    So America is essentially bankrupt. That "economic stimulus" check we're all going to get soon? It's just made-up, printed money. It makes every other dollar in your wallet less valuable.
    Besides, Band-Aids can't patch up levees.
    American families are having their utilities shut off. Their mortgages are going sour. Consumer spending is finally dropping, but not before leaving a mountain of bad debt in its wake. The glossed-over news reports on our "slowing economy" are a bunch of hogwash. The plane is falling from the sky, and we still have a drunken cowboy at the helm.
    Politically, we can demand that our legislators refuse to fund the war any further. There is simply no other way to stop this disastrous war than to cut off the funds. Luckily, this should be easy, as there is no money left! If our elected officials refuse this obvious, easy step, then we should refuse to pay taxes. I know it seems extreme, but it will be far easier when you realize that you have no money to pay said taxes a year from now.
    In terms of community, start growing a veggie garden, organize a neighborhood day care, get to know your neighbors, and bind together and take care of each other, because in the coming crisis, all we will have is our ingenuity and brotherhood to keep us alive. Take responsibility for yourself, reduce your consumption, and start producing something, anything. Just make yourself useful in some way, or we are all fucked.
    During the general election this November, Americans in the Northeast will be freezing to death, unable to purchase heating oil. The dollar will be spiraling ever downward. Gas at $4.80 a gallon. Food shortages will be commonplace. We'll probably be gearing up for an even more costly war with Iran.
    That's why my entire congregation and I are voting for the candidate that is opposed to gay marriage. Seriously, the gays want to marry. And only we can stop them. That's called "values,” something you heathens wouldn't know anything about.
See you in hell,
Mike "Dub" Wainwright

A Significant Role in Retarding the Perpetuation of Liberty?

RECEIVED Mon., April 28, 2008

Dear Editor,
    The moral trap – in economics it’s called moral hazard. That is exactly what Louis Black promotes in his recent “Page Two” piece [April 25]. The ultimate mystery is that he continues to cling to this ethical confusion. As a result he plays a significant role in retarding the perpetuation of liberty and its primary guardians – the American people.
    His final paragraph says it all. While profound issues such as “truth” are “always open to discussion,” Louis regularly denies or ignores that there are, in fact, immutable moral truths. His pronouncement that there is “a distinction between outside reality and personal opinions and beliefs” clearly reveals his gross misunderstanding.
    History has shown that the reality of moral enlightenment is just that – reality! The ancient Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans were among the initial social pioneers who started this process of mass realization. Their seminal epiphanies of discovering the vile dangers of moral ignorance, envy, and hubris and lauding the virtues of individual accountability, mutual free and fair association, gratitude, and humility have proven eternally prescient in determining either profound happiness or abject misery. Indeed, the wages of the dark side are clear; pure models are the genocidal horrors of Nazism and communism. Conversely, humanity flowers when those malevolent tendencies are condemned, and freedom, resulting from adhering to the ancient moral virtues, reigns.
    Today there is a new crop denying these facts. The worst are Islamist zealots advocating genocidal theocratic tyranny. And the best are the former’s enablers. Everyone must decide which orbit they occupy; facilitating despotic Islamist evil by denying moral certitude and accountability or overtly condemning it as immorally damned. Granted, this existential recognition takes courage. But once the audacity of moral clarity is applied the correct position is obvious. Even Louis and his prattling Democrat colleagues must recognize this.
Vance McDonald

Not Worried About Past Heroism; Concern Is the Present

RECEIVED Mon., April 28, 2008

Dear Editor,
    My problem is not with John McCain's past heroism but with his current lack of it, i.e., his inability to stand up and vow, "I will not be a McSame. This president has seriously damaged both our country and world relations, and that has got to be changed."
    He'd walk away with the nomination if he were to say it – as would Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. But they're all McSames.
    Now Obama just might be screaming through clenched teeth that he wants to walk into the temple on day one and overturn the merchants' tables, but he hasn't quite been able to say it so that we hear it. He's the closest though, and the one we'd all vote for if we had any sense because at least he's willing to whisper what no other politician dares even to think.
Jim Lacey

Supports Robin Cravey

RECEIVED Mon., April 28, 2008

Dear Editor,
    With all due respect, your endorsement of another candidate over Robin Cravey in the Place 4 City Council race is off the mark in my view [“'Chronicle' Endorsements,” News, April 25]. As a former council aide, an attorney, and a longtime leader in neighborhood and environmental causes, Cravey's qualifications cannot be matched. Nor can his vision for the future of Austin, which he has taken the trouble to state in detail on his website.
    Cravey is the only candidate I have seen run for office in Central Texas who has thought to include the protection of area farmland and farmers in his list of strategic objectives. That's the kind of foresight we will need in the radically hard times that lie ahead, driven by oil depletion and climate change. He would likewise support small local businesses over large corporate interests, sidewalks and bikeways over freeways, affordable housing over McMansions, and, of course, would defend what is left of the natural environment.
    Cravey minces no words in declaring his position. He speaks in a voice that clearly conveys his strength, his sincerity, and his passion for Austin. To fail to elect him to Place 4 would be to miss a rare opportunity for a critical upgrade in the quality and wisdom of city government.
Ray Reece

The True Cost of Renting a Trash Can

RECEIVED Mon., April 28, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Gadzooks! I've just estimated that the $7.50 rent I pay on my trash can every month and which I've owned for five years has actually cost me $450 as of this month.
    Are you kidding me?
    "No sir, you cannot do that," a pleasant voice with the city utilities responded when I asked here if I couldn't just purchase an exact replica of my own (they're available at Lowe's). She explained that if the waste collector damages a privately owned can, the city is then liable to replace it.
    Hmmmm, I thought for a second and then I asked her, "How about the city agree that I pay $7.50 a month only until I've paid $59, the actual cost of the can, and if my can ever has to be replaced for any reason, you just start charging me $7.50 rent again until I've paid it off – $59 – as well?"
    She didn't have a reason why that wasn't a fair proposition, but I do: $450 less $59 = $391 profit – and counting.
    I didn't think the city was supposed to profit in such matters.
Jim Lacey

Stay Informed

RECEIVED Mon., April 28, 2008

Dear Editor,
    With the release of Ben Stein’s new documentary, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, it is an indication that the debate over intelligent design is neither simple nor easily understood [Film Listings, April 25]. Whether or not you believe in intelligent design theory, it is hard to avoid the controversy swirling around it. With public school teachers strongly opposed to having it in the biology curriculum and evangelical fundamentalists advocating for equal time, students are stuck in the middle. I personally don’t feel that I.D. theory should be allowed in schools, with the exception of private schools or higher-education institutes. It really only becomes an issue when the topic slips into the public school curriculum, where it surely has no place. I think it’s important for people to remain educated and aware of the current debate. But more importantly, parents need to be aware of what their children are learning in school. Get involved. Stay informed.
Patricia Moden

Environmentalists Noble, Local Publication Inattentive

RECEIVED Sun., April 27, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Re: Save Our Springs' Bill Bunch and Austin Chronicle News Editor Michael King: Oh, will you two please stop it! You are worse than Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. It's obvious you both want Austin to be a better place, so can we put "the things you do wrong" away and talk about the things we can do right? Sure, Bunch's letter was passive-aggressive, but King's response was downright mean [“Postmarks,” April 18]. As for the merits, I for one have many times wondered why council consistently votes against the wishes of their constituents. I mean, were they really considering allowing billboards to be built on 360 and other scenic highways? Who the hell would be for that except deep-pocketed business interests? I'm sure people would be interested in a local publication's explication of such seemingly dubious intentions. And if Bunch is the only one asking for a return to this, maybe he's just the only one who's been around long enough to remember how it used to be (and care). And I am so frustrated with the tired old "pull it out of a bag and slap it on" environmentalists' insult that we are arrogant and self-righteous (others include hippie and tree hugger). How dare we tell you what you could be doing to maintain the earth's beauty and habitability? Leaving aside the argument that many environmentalists are experts in the field and may only be applying scientific findings to common sense, could your real beef be that environmentalists ask you to do something that no major political figure has asked of the American people since Jimmy Carter (and we can see where that got him); and that is to sacrifice, to do something that involves looking beyond yourself for a minute to other beings on this planet, present and future? That would include speaking the truth, however bitter it may be.
Kelly Davis

Fire Department Good; Police Not So Good

RECEIVED Sun., April 27, 2008

Dear Editor,
    It was the time when I called the police, and they came two hours and 15 minutes later, and I rubbed it in on those two poor cops who showed up. Or maybe it was the numerous times that I complained about their poor training with Ms. Futrell, trying to show their ineptitude and inability to handle anything other than traffic tickets. But today [April 27], it was the climax:
    There was a fire on South Lakeshore today, and it was pretty serious considering the wind conditions and the crowdedness of these complexes; I counted about 16 fire trucks, an ambulance, and one emergency medical services truck, etc. It was a clean, very nicely organized effort by the fire people from my humble point of view. Forty minutes into the event, drivers were still coming through from all directions, pulling around fire trucks and generally lost on all three access streets. Not one single policeman was present. By comparison, when police set up a checkpoint in the same neighborhood recently, it was as strategic as you can imagine: Streets blocked off, an extra police car a block away in case one of these poor saps tried to flee, three cars just to write tickets, the works. All for the purpose of gathering funds. How can you avoid the criticism?
    Please, give full recognition to the fire commander in charge; he doesn't need it, but it was a superb job managing personnel and equipment placement and use.
Paul Aviña

Why Must Windsor Park Be Austin's Dumping Ground?

RECEIVED Sun., April 27, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Why must my neighborhood be Austin’s dumping ground?
    Why shouldn’t Austinites share our community responsibility to care for the less fortunate?
    As Chronicle readers may know, a new low-income and homeless resident housing development has been proposed in the Windsor Park neighborhood at 5908 Manor Rd. Readers may not realize that Windsor Park is already doing its part to provide this type of housing. According to 2007 Austin census data, my neighborhood supports approximately 115 Section 8 households. By contrast, other Austin neighborhoods to our west host drastically fewer: Hyde Park has only four Section 8 households, and Tarrytown has none. Why must my neighborhood bear our community’s burden while more privileged neighborhoods neglect to do their part?
    Windsor Park residents are proud of our beautiful homes, our proximity to Downtown, and our vibrant and diverse community. We’re also proud to give a second chance to those in need. But we’re tired of bearing that responsibility for all of Austin. Local residents voted 53-1 against an amendment to our neighborhood plan that would allow the low-income and homeless housing development at 5908 Manor Rd. I urge city officials to respect my neighborhood’s wishes, and I encourage Austinites to share our community’s responsibilities to help the less fortunate.
Sincerely,
Sarah Norris
Windsor Park homeowner

Bravo, Virginia!

RECEIVED Sun., April 27, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Bravo, Virginia! How bizarre to encounter kids and strollers in the Hilton Ballroom at the annual Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival, basically a cocktail party with an abundance of free-flowing alcohol present [“Food-o-File,” Food, April 18]. It was nice to see the signs prohibiting strollers in the tents at the Georgetown event. We were tripping over them last year.
    Thanks for voicing an opinion held by many others!
Graham Weldon

Environmental Concerns About Cravey

RECEIVED Sun., April 27, 2008

Dear Editor,
    In your endorsements [“'Chronicle' Endorsements,” News, April 25] you made a good choice for Place 4, but I dispute your assertion that another candidate, Robin Cravey, "has a long track record as an environmental activist (most recently on the Barton Springs Master Plan), and would undoubtedly be a stalwart environmental voice on the dais." Cravey did, indeed, found the group Friends of Barton Springs Pool and establish himself as its first president. He used that office to promote the Barton Springs Master Plan – but that plan is highly controversial (just look at the debate in the message archive on www.groups.yahoo.com/group/bartonsprings). Many of us who swim regularly at the pool fear that the plan, written by architects (Limbacher & Godfrey) and managed by a construction contractor (Tony Arnold), entails way too much gratuitous renovation and new construction that may cause the pool to be closed to the public for extended periods and will permanently alter the bucolic, old-fashioned charm of Barton Springs. We felt the planning process and public input procedure for the Master Plan have been deliberately obfuscated. Since getting the short-term plans for the Master Plan approved (setting taxpayers in debt for $6.5 million), Cravey resigned from his position with FBSP to pursue his political agenda. It leaves us all to bear the brunt of the damages caused by the demolition ball he has set rolling in the direction of Zilker Park.
Karen Kreps
Barton Springs polar bear

What About Universal Electric Timers?

RECEIVED Sat., April 26, 2008

Dear Editor,
    In January, I accidentally overlooked paying my Austin utilities bill and in February received one for $434 (average $217 per month).
    As I am extremely mindful of conserving energy, I called Austin Energy, enraged. An unidentified agent there told me, "Nothing will raise your bill quicker than your water heater.”
    Determined to correct this, I went to Lowe's in search of their most superefficient water heater, only to have a young man tell me: "Don't waste the money. Just put an electric timer ($59) on the one you have now."
    I decided to take the gamble and paid an electrician $75 to install the unit, for a total investment of $134. I set it to turn on at 4am and turn off at 6am, daily.
    My March bill plummeted to $80.25. I was astounded.
    Why wouldn't timers be a mandatory inclusion on water heaters? My investment ($134) nearly paid for itself the first month, saving me about $120. This one action could become one of the greenest things we do.
    It is inconceivable to consider how much $120 times one million Austinites would come to, but it'd be a bunch for sure.
    Hope someone in authority who can investigate this further will read this and take action. My unit was installed next to my breaker box so that I could open and reset the on/off times until I got it perfect.
Jim Lacey

Austin a Live Version of 'Monopoly'

RECEIVED Sat., April 26, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Austin has become a real live version of Monopoly. There remains increasing pressure on locals to "sell out" their homes to the highest bidder. The disappearance of familiar surroundings accompanied with the lure of money makes selling out very enticing. The almighty, worthless dollar has enslaved our city government and turned Austin into a lame caricature of California. Contrary to popular belief, it is this that has sparked concerned interest and passion in the upcoming local elections – not the carnivalesque presidential race. What a joke Austin has become, with an egocentric mayor who uses Earth Day as a career booster and flocks of overpriced IKEA condos appearing smack in the middle of our poverty-stricken Eastside. There's no time for finger-pointing. Three City Council seats are up for grabs, and local elections are just two weeks away. In an effort to regain control of our city's future, we must vote out all incumbents. It will be interesting to see if the (free) local, liberal press remains unchanged as the city it represents descends into permutation.
Always,
Colette Michalec

Disappointed Council Blocks Pedestrian and Bicycle Paths

RECEIVED Sat., April 26, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I was very disappointed to learn that Sheryl Cole convinced a majority of the City Council to block pedestrian and bicycle access to a new development in Hyde Park. I thought our city leaders were supposed to promote alternative transportation. I thought this was supposed to be a more bike-friendly, pedestrian-friendly town. How can they deny pedestrian access to mothers pushing strollers? How can they endanger children on bicycles? I just don't see justification for Hyde Park and Sheryl Cole to block already existing pedestrian and bicycle access.
Sebastian Wren

Only State Facts … Not Romantic Illusions

RECEIVED Fri., April 25, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I would like to point out a few key misconceptions Sofia Resnick printed about Joshua Bingaman's coffee shop, Progress [“Deliciously Ambitious,” Green Crush! feature, April 18]. The first misconception is that the compostable cups he uses are doing the planet any favors. Factually, there are no commercial composters in Texas. Those "green" corn and paper compostable cups being used are going straight to the trash, because there are no landfills around to actually compost them. In order to compost these biodegradable cups, they must be at a temperature of 180 degrees for three days straight. Not sure it gets that hot in Texas. This may be a reason Whole Foods decided against corn plastic in the end. Or perhaps they realized corn is a valuable resource to use when the end result is conservation. I also find it interesting that Progress is receiving a pat on the back for being so "green,” yet recycling is not mandated there. If Progress really wanted to make a concerted effort in the recycling department, perhaps the owner could go an extra step in "keepin' it green" by supporting a local collective like Ecology Action and mandating all materials be recycled within his cafe. EA picks up all of Cafe Mundi's recycling twice a month for a minimum price, which is what makes both of those organizations so great for the environment. Since Ecology Action was also mentioned in the article, I think it could also be a great idea to fact-check and ask the collective if it is true that Progress employees take the recycling regularly on their bikes. Overall, I feel the article was well-written and The Austin Chronicle did Earth Day justice in providing awareness on important environmental issues we face and showcasing environmentally friendly local businesses. However, it is also important to only state facts … not romantic illusions that owners occasionally enjoy projecting.
Still in love with the Chronicle,
Krissi Trumeter

Rush Is the Best

RECEIVED Thu., April 24, 2008

Dear Editor,
    This was probably my 15th Rush show, from the first time I saw them on Hemispheres back in 1979, and they are absolutely, undeniably, the most consistent, entertaining, and talented stadium band ever [“Natural Science,” Earache! Music blog, April 24]! Don't argue with me, I'm a pirate, and I will run ye through! Aarrgghhh.
Captain Phleabag

Bike Riders, Don't Take Unnecessary Risks

RECEIVED Thu., April 24, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Emergency plea to all Austin bike riders: I was surprised to see a cyclist ride around the warning sign on the Lamar Street bridge and continue across on the same narrow walkway where a rider tragically died a few years ago, prompting construction of the bridge next to the vehicle bridge. Before I had gotten over my initial surprise, I saw yet another rider do the same thing – ride around the sign and across the bridge at 5pm, in heavy traffic. Please do not take such risks when taking a route only a few minutes longer will provide a safe route across this dangerous location. (I'm not a bike rider, but I don't want to lose any more riders.)
Tom Brown

Bike Laws Make No Sense

RECEIVED Thu., April 24, 2008

Dear Editor,
    The laws pertaining to bicycles do not make sense with the reality of bike-riding in a city, as human-powered vehicles following car laws can be dangerous. Instead of bikes following the same laws as cars, bikes should have laws that take into account the lower speeds and human power of the bikes. Bikes should have the right-of-way at yield signs, should treat stop signs as yield signs, and should treat stoplights as stop signs. It is often safer for a bike to go before the crush of cars at a stop sign, and it makes no sense for a bike to stop at a stop sign when there are no cars coming. Precedent can be found in boating laws that treat different-powered boats differently. Sailboats do not follow the same laws as powerboats. Bicycles should have the same kind of preferred status that sail has to power in the boating world.
Tom Cuddy
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle