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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AISD Grossly Underpays

RECEIVED Wed., June 25, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Did you know that AISD pays teachers considerably less than [districts in] outlying areas, considerably less than most Texas schools, and considerably less than most school districts nationwide? I find that appalling. An adequate wage for all AISD employees needs to be a conscious goal of every member of this community.
    I am a certified educational aide, otherwise known as a paraprofessional. Paraprofessionals, classified employees and teachers are, simply put, the front line of our educational system.
    I work as a secretary in the office, enter classrooms to teach while teachers attend ARD meetings or professional development, proctor exams, assist on field trips, grade papers, write lesson plans, and much more.
    My gross pay is $1705 per month. After FICA and my personal health insurance, my take-home pay is down to $1365. My mortgage is $650 a month, electric $150 a month, groceries approximately $300 per month, car insurance and gasoline come to $215 per month, add phone service and internet and we have another $65 per month. That brings me to a grand total of $1380, just for my family’s basic needs. We don’t have cable and we have one vehicle. Once the math is done, you can see I am in the negative.
    I am fortunate enough to receive $500 dollars a month in child support to offset my family’s basic living expenses. When I last applied, I did not qualify for AFDC food stamps. None of my four children have health insurance.
    I believe that every person in this, our state's capital, knows that our future is in the hands of the children we teach. They are where our hearts, beliefs, and hopes lie. By paying AISD employees an adequate wage, we invest in our future, in our children.
Olivia Monica

Get Rid of College Sports

RECEIVED Tue., June 24, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Maybe it's just me, but it seems that our society is losing its intelligence. I have one suggestion. Get rid of the college sports. No more multimillion-dollar stadiums. Eliminate the student athletic complexes. For what they cost, you can send all the students to 24 Hour Fitness. Absolutely no more athletic scholarships.
    Then take all the funds, and build classrooms and science labs.
    I realize that people will say that UT's football team contributes to the university. It promotes the university's popularity. Why should that matter? In fact, why does it cost a couple thousand bucks to attend a local state college and 10 times that to go to a private school? Does St. Ed's teach a different biology than Texas State?
    Regardless of where a person chooses to go to school, it should cost only the amount needed to provide that education. Set university salaries based on cost of living for the area. Don't make the president a millionaire, although eliminating the head coaches' salaries will free up some payroll. You want to run a private university? No problem – if you can do it for this cost. Otherwise, maybe the state will buy your campus.
    Simply put, we need colleges to educate people and prepare them for the work force. That's it. You want to play baseball? Try out for the minor leagues. You want to get an education and a job? Go to college.
Steven Mccloud

He Owns the Property in Question

RECEIVED Tue., June 24, 2008

Dear Editor,
    The article, "Manor Road Housing Project Looking for a Home" [News, June 20] ends with with the following: "'People of low income have a right to a high quality of life,' said Arthur Sampson, a veteran who lives 600 feet from the park and supports the project."
    Could this be the very same Arthur Sampson who owns the property in question and not just a random area resident, as the article implies? Mr. Sampson has every right to his opinion, but I sincerely hope that reporter Lydia Crafts and The Austin Chronicle would not deliberately omit such an important detail.
    By the way, as a Windsor Park resident overrun by similar housing and hoping for a bit of property appreciation, I propose that Tarrytown would actually make the more ideal "high quality of life" site for this project.
Karina Cubilla
   [Editor Michael King responds: Community Partnership for the Homeless has indeed confirmed that Arthur Sampson is the landowner of the tract proposed for its Manor Road housing project. We thank Karina Cubilla for calling that information to our attention; we were unaware of it when we published our story on the project.]

Obviously From Someone Without Any Sin

RECEIVED Tue., June 24, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Poor, poor Scotty McClellan ["Who Did He Serve?" News, June 20]. "He's a person with no country," said Slater as heartbreakingly portrayed in Whittaker's article. I guess Scotty didn't notice the loyalty oaths and illegal scrubbing of eligible voters before he started humping for Bush. "The big disillusioning moment" for him wasn't that millions of Iraqis were subjected to terror beyond belief but that Bush "secretly authorized disclosure of the National Intelligence Estimate." Poor, poor Scotty. That is disillusioning. So, so disillusioning. How much life ruined, wrecked, and lost forever whilst Scotty remained mute and went along? But, hey, better late then never as is said. I wonder how much money poor, poor Scotty made and will make from his awakening moral conscience? Maybe poor, poor Scotty ought to give the money to the millions of Iraqi refugees or perhaps the thousands of American soldiers and/or their families maimed and damaged by this unnecessary and illegal war … then kill himself.
A. Quartermain

Pride Should Be Outrageous!

RECEIVED Tue., June 24, 2008

Dear Editor,
    What a shame. What a surprise! Austin's Gay Pride Parade is being driven by homophobic assimilationists. Thanks to the "Respectable Street" article [June 13], we queers do not have to wonder what agenda the lonely three Pride organizers and their Chamber of Commerce have up their sleeves. A benign, family-oriented event that caters to gay consumerist culture. Paving the way for newer, more digestible, commercialized gay identity. Secretly setting up barriers of race, class, and expression.
    Dearest Gratias, it is a matter of acceptance. If you're concerned with the children's well-being, remember this: Discrimination is the struggle. Acceptance is respect. Ripping a community in half based on looks or "outrageous behavior" for "normal" status is not what our children should be learning. We've come too far for homophobic comments from homos. Really.
    Have your parade. Maybe we'll come. But leave the hateful, discriminatory jargon out of it.
    We are queer. We are not like heterosexuals. And it's an amazing feeling.
Scott Tankersley
   [Gay Place Editor Kate X Messer responds: Dear Scott, here at the Chronicle we have a custom called the "Norwegian Rule," which basically states that if you think something is a good idea, you should do it. And in the case of your letter, you should. If you feel that Pride should be more expressive, you have the power. Make it so.]

'Round Rock 911'?

RECEIVED Tue., June 24, 2008

Sir,
    Reno 911!, Round Rock Police Department: No difference ["Cops Walk in Round Rock Shooting," News, June 20]. Well, except the Round Rock PD can actually get away with killing an unarmed, naked man.
Jay Williams

Do Not Let Loaded Guns in National Parks

RECEIVED Mon., June 23, 2008

Dear Editor:
    Add one more dumb idea to those being advanced in Washington: allowing loaded guns in our national parks.
    Under longstanding Department of the Interior regulations, firearms are permitted in national parks only if unloaded and stored. The National Rifle Association has pressured Congress and the current administration to change this rule and to permit loaded and concealed guns if allowed by state law. The administration has yielded.
    I call the idea dumb because the absence of firearms is perhaps the biggest reason why the national parks are now virtually free of violent crime. Sanctioning people to carry and potentially use firearms invites crime into one of our last peaceful family sanctuaries. Even if not used for criminal activities, loaded firearms are highly dangerous among persons in a crowded outdoor environment who are unreasonably anxious over wildlife and the conduct of strangers.
    Please join the many groups and individuals who oppose allowing loaded firearms in our national parks. Make your opposition known to the administration (Department of the Interior) and to the members of Congress.
Thank you,
Steve Bickerstaff

23rd Street Artists Market Failing Because of City

RECEIVED Mon., June 23, 2008

Dear Editor,
    [RE: "(Further) Beside the Point," News, June 20] The 23rd Street Artists' Market (it has not been called Renaissance for some time) once enjoyed a national reputation for quality handcrafted items, attracted thousands of tourists, and gave a wide variety of artisans a venue at which they were able to make a living. It is shameful for a city that so loudly touts its support of musicians to so completely ignore other forms of artistry. Decades of neglect by the Austin City Council, the Austin Police Department, and the Austin Parks & Recreation Department are instrumental in the slow, sad decline to the "glass and bead" market it is today.
    It is the duty of the City Council to appoint commissioners.
    APD and Parks Police could never agree on which department had the job of policing the market. It was a no (law) man's zone for years. I know; I was a vendor there for several years. I left after an incident where I called the APD to subdue a man who was aggressively threatening another vendor. The man was arrested, came back several hours later, stood less than 10 inches away from me, and threatened me with graphic bodily harm. I called APD and, three hours later, no officer. This incident was in no way unique or infrequent. It was also not unusual for customers to witness things such as, but not limited to, knife fights, (very) public urination, profanity in the presence of young children, and aggressive panhandling.
    Vendors and customers left and never returned. Changes proposed by the artisans and/or the commissioners to remedy these and other problems were cited as being too time-consuming for the staff of the Parks Department to implement. I know; I was at the monthly meetings for more than a year. Yet this is the same department that City Council proposes to directly oversee the market? Hmm. Here's an alternate idea: Why don't we do some research, look at other successful markets in the country, and find a solution that will benefit the market and the artisans?
Thank you,
Kat Allison

Boycott China

RECEIVED Mon., June 23, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Saturday, the so-called Olympic torch was carried through Tibet, the country invaded and brutalized by Communist China decades ago. All houses and stores were closed to allow the military to line the streets. Meanwhile, thousands of Tibetans killed or imprisoned by the Communist Chinese were unable to attend the festivities, which lasted two hours. Is that not reason enough to boycott the phony Olympics, which have become nothing more than an international corporate festival? If not, other reasons include the Communist Chinese government’s brutalization of its own people; absolute censorship of the press, and even the Internet; the manufacture of lead-based toys; adulterated medicines; the spewing of millions of tons of toxic waste; the rampant theft of American and European military and industrial secrets; the pirating of music, movies, and books on a massive scale; and other criminal acts too numerous to mention. This is all supported, encouraged, and backed by the Communist Party, which controls all of China, just like the sad little Communists of Cuba. Why do we boycott Cuba and not China? Ask the corporate entities that control our government and their lapdogs, our Congress.
John Callaghan

Supports Making Voters Show IDs

RECEIVED Mon., June 23, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Those who want to cheat by voting more than once continually declare that requiring ID prevents poor and elderly people from voting! That is such a myth. Several places, including a U.S. district court in Georgia, have pointed out that plaintiffs have failed to prove the ID law has harmed anyone.
    We can't board a plane, cash a check, or borrow a library book without proper ID. Why in the world would we allow people to cast a ballot without first proving their identities? It would certainly boost confidence in the electoral process.
    Two years ago, the bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform, headed by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker, issued a report that "the electoral system cannot inspire public confidence if no safeguards exist to deter or detect fraud or to confirm the identity of voters."
    We've seen plenty of close elections recently. We need to ensure that every vote, and every voter, is legitimate. Requiring that voters show ID is a good way to do just that.
Gerard Kern

People of Low Income Have Rights

RECEIVED Mon., June 23, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Regarding Lydia Crafts' article "Manor Road Housing Project Looking for a Home" [News, June 20], Frank Fernandez states, "There is a savagely acute need for this type of [transitional] housing in our community." There is no shortage in my community: We have identified 11 "transitional" and "group homes" on a one-mile stretch of Loyola Lane with upward of 12 people crammed into each "single-family" home! I challenge anyone who supports this development to find even one such facility on Redbud Lane, Enfield, Escarpment Boulevard, Bee Caves Road, or any other street in the more affluent neighborhoods of Austin.
    If Fernandez and the city of Austin really care about providing quality affordable-housing options for the diverse nature of our at-risk citizens, they would focus on spreading treatment programs and transitional housing developments throughout the entire city, not just centralizing them in one area in an attempt to create a "social services ghetto."
    As stated by Arthur Sampson, “People of low income have a right to a high quality of life.” I agree, and in providing that quality of life, we must also develop housing options in stable environments that are close to jobs, family, positive role models, etc. Just because someone lives in low-income housing does not automatically mean they want to live only on the Eastside.
    The Dallas-based Inclusive Communities Project Inc. says in a lawsuit that the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs has allowed most of the local apartment complexes financed with housing tax credits to be built in urban areas with high concentrations of poverty, crime, and blight. Please see "Group Sues, Says Housing Program Perpetuates Segregation," The Dallas Morning News, April 24.
    Shame on the leaders of Austin for sacrificing one neighborhood in an attempt to deal with a systemic issue the entire city should be proactively dealing with! Back up your beliefs with actions by spreading the "diversity" we are so proud of throughout the entire city!
Rob Crumley
Resident of University Hills

What About Businesses' Loyalty to Musicians?

RECEIVED Mon., June 23, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Musicians tend to revere and respect talented peers who have been working at their craft for many years. So do audiences. But what happens when businesses that employ musicians are utterly clueless as to their value? And when businesses part ways with musicians, should any ethical guidelines be considered?
    These are important questions in a city that calls itself the live music capital of the world.
    Last weekend, singer Suzi Stern and pianist George Oldziey, two of Austin’s most outstanding jazz musicians, were abruptly dismissed from their twice-weekly gig at the venerable Driskill Hotel, a gig they had held for more than five years. Suddenly, months of dates inked onto their calendars had vanished, along with the substantial income they would bring. And of course, Stern and Oldziey had turned down or not pursued many other potential gigs because of their long-term commitment to the Driskill.
    The news was broken by a brand new manager with no explanation. Up until that point, the duo had been treated with respect, kindness, and generosity by the Driskill's management, a treatment they had more than earned with their work ethic and consummate professionalism.
    The Driskill has the right to fire whomever it chooses. But the abrupt and dishonorable manner of the dismissal, carried out after the hotel’s summer calendar had been safely booked, flies in the face of the supposed value of this city’s musicians. And it raises the question of whether loyalty between venues and musicians has any place in live music capital of the world. I believe it should. In actuality, it rarely does.
Susanna Sharpe

Problems at Tecolote Farm

RECEIVED Sat., June 21, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I was wondering how to broadcast attention about the Tecolote Farm situation in Manor. Apparently, their well has been sucked dry as a result of some nearby project to water some athletic fields. If this is true and the operation of this great farm is at risk, what could we do to help this situation (and encourage our reputation as a city supportive of smart urban development)?
Tom Grzinich

Neo-Righties Not to Share Blame?

RECEIVED Sat., June 21, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Try this for a corrupt fiscal orgy, Vance ["Postmarks," June 27]: $3 trillion down the toilet to destroy a sovereign nation, 1 million dead Iraqis, 4,000-plus dead young Americans, 25,000 seriously injured, our reputation and national security severely scarred, and the tap from the world's second largest oil producer shut off. Might that at all be contributing to $4 per gallon gasoline? Or is it just a few neo-lefties screwing with Big Oil production? True conservatives would be appalled at the biggest consolidation of federal government and spending since FDR, thanks to the neo-righties in the Bush regime.
Mike Rieman

May Not Be a Genius But Sheer Stupidity?

RECEIVED Sat., June 21, 2008

Dear Editor,
    When you think about it, sheer stupidity goes a long way toward explaining the Barack Obama phenomenon. Consider:
    We know the Obamites are too stupid to vet their candidate. It only takes ten minutes of Googling to find out Obama is a complete fraud.
    We know the Obamites thought calling their fellow Democrats racists was a brilliant political move.
    We know Obamites think Obama's poorly delivered, derivative speeches are brilliant.
    We know Obama fans think Huffington Post and Daily Kos are good blogs.
    We know Obama fans think Michelle Obama is another Jackie Kennedy.
    We know Obamoids think the Rev. Wright fiasco was no big deal.
    We know Obamatrons think misogyny is cool and hilariously funny.
    We know the Obamanators thought that alienating their party's base was a winning strategy.
    We know Obamabats think Keith Olbermann is Edward R. Murrow (and not just a long-winded woman-hater).
    We know an Obama fan can't write a decent song to save his/her life.
    We know Obamites think moving the Democratic Party to Chicago is a grand idea.
    We know the Obama kids thought Obama was being straight with them when he talked about public financing and FISA.
    I'll bet each of you can add more examples of Obamite stupidity, and you are invited to do so.
    The conclusion is clear. We are witnessing a vast and growing IQ schism in the Democratic Party. In other words, the party is being taken over by a bunch of dummies. It's the only explanation.
    We anti-Obama people may not be geniuses. But how dense do you have to be not to see through Obama?
Perry Logan

Savlov Should Review More Than His Own Psyche

RECEIVED Fri., June 20, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Well, Marc Savlov reviewed The Happening [Film Listings, June 20]. It had to (sorry about this) happen. Trouble is, he did one of his patented "If Hollywood had had the sense to hire me as a director, I'd have done it differently – and it would have been better!" reviews.
    I've been reading the Chronicle for years, and I get so bloody tired of those director-wannabe reviews from him. It's gotten to the point where a bad review from him tells me I really need to see that movie.
    So, I saw The Happening today. Yes, M. Night Shyamalan is a one- (or maybe two-) hit wonder, and yes, The Happening is definitely not one of those hits; but Savlov's review is so full of his own issues about not being a film director that the movie itself, bad or good, is hidden behind his stream of bitterness.
    It would be nice if you had a lead reviewer who reviewed the movies, and not his own psyche.
Tom Davis

Developers Are the Problem

RECEIVED Fri., June 20, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Large and small developers (other people) are rapidly stealing from the rest of us in Travis County. They steal our values, increase our taxes, and destroy important reasons that we have chosen to live here. They do it to make a quick buck at all of our expense. Travis County needs to have more authority to control responsible and proper growth. Travis County has a citizen survey that you can add your voice to at: www.co.travis.tx.us. Or you might make a very quick call and thank Joe Gieselman, Travis County’s permit enforcement man, on this effort to help all of us maintain our quality of life even as Austin and the surrounding areas rapidly grow. This area is being harvested and destroyed, and it will get worse if enough concerned citizens do not show our appreciation of what we have by speaking up for it.
Jerry Hofrock

Blind Squirrels, Leftist Complacency, Corrupt Fiscal Orgies

RECEIVED Fri., June 20, 2008

Dear Editor,
    There is so much wrongheadedness in Louis’ “Page Two” [June 20] comments about President Bush and his administration, it is impossible to address here. That said, blind squirrels find an acorn occasionally. And Louis’ point about Mr. Bush allowing a profligate Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, to indulge their corrupt fiscal orgy is his one acorn so far this year.
    The irony is that Mr. Bush favored this irresponsible spending because of Louis’ own ideology – neo-leftism. Yes, Mr. Bush has been touched by this great moral, intellectual, and ideological confusion. He has credulously and ignorantly succumbed to justifying taking from producers and bestowing on the rest for the sake of so-called societal compassion and fairness, along with the increased billions spent for these purposes.
    But as always, neo-leftist central cultural and economic planning has failed again. Our health-care system is more confusing and expensive than ever, public education continues to graduate imbeciles, and tax, regulatory, and tort pressure drastically harms entrepreneurial risk-taking depressing economic activity, employment, and American prestige. Additionally, Mr. Bush’s leftist complacency has sanctioned judicial overreach threatening national security, i.e., allowing enemy Islamist combatants access to U.S. courts. And we can’t forget how he permitted radical enviro special interests to curtail critical oil production resulting in $4 a gallon gasoline.
    Secretly Louis must be thrilled. After all, he is a total lefty; not just superficially afflicted like Mr. Bush. Indeed, if comrade kid Barry Hussein Obama fools everyone about his own left-wing extremism and wins in November, neo-leftist nihilists such as Louis will gain everything they desire – kneeling to Islamo-fascists in Iraq and Iran while celebrating American cultural decline in earnest, accompanying the ascendancy of worldwide Islamist theocratic tyranny. You lefties must be panting ecstatically. After all, notwithstanding Mr. Bush’s affliction, this is all you.
Vance McDonald

Name Calling and No Absolution

RECEIVED Thu., June 19, 2008

Dear Editor,
    We all knew Scott McClellan was a liar's liar, and now for whatever reason, he has admitted as much [“Who Did He Serve?” News, June 20]. Sorry, no absolution here. He may be loathed by both left and right now, but if he does believe in an afterlife, at least Joseph Goebbels will be happy to meet him.
Tim Pipe

Like Father, Like Son

RECEIVED Thu., June 19, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Scott McClellan chose not to blow the whistle on President Bush but rather wait and profit from his secrets under the auspices of doing the right thing [“Who Did He Serve?” News, June 20]. He should have blown the whistle when he had a chance to really make an impact, but the McClellans have a history of waiting too long and writing books when it's too late. Barr McClellan (Scott's father) wrote Blood, Money & Power: How L.B.J. Killed J.F.K. in 2003 (Barr claims Lyndon B. Johnson killed John F. Kennedy with the help of Austin attorney Ed Clark – uncle to me – who Barr was a partner with for years!). Barr waited more than 30 years to out LBJ and Clark (presumably because it's baseless and everyone involved is dead) and has probably profited as well. I'm glad Scott finally blew the whistle (God knows we needed it) and that he didn't take his dad's approach of baseless claims, but why did he wait so long? I'd think twice about kissing a McClellan because they seem only to tell when it benefits them … not the people! Perhaps a fitting atonement for his silent complicity with the Bush administration would be to donate profit from the sales of his book to Iraq war veterans and families of lost soldiers.
Thomas Winslow

Outraged at Planned Toxic Wells

RECEIVED Thu., June 19, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I am outraged, as every conscious person should be, about the planned toxic injection wells on Creighton Road in Conroe, Texas. I have to believe this project has proceeded due to the fact that residents in The Woodlands and the surrounding areas are not informed, rather than [their being] apathetic. Currently, Texcom Gulf Disposal has been granted permits to proceed with their toxic well project, which will inject toxic waste under our drinking water aquifers. Not only is there a threat of toxic contamination to our water supply, but there is also the risk of a disastrous plume when the toxic materials are mixed prior to injecting them into the ground. The potential of an air pollution disaster is huge. Furthermore, the trucks hauling the toxic material will be on our roadways. The scenario of a spill is frightening. As citizens, we must take the time to make this issue a priority to fight. By getting informed, signing the petition to stop this irresponsible project, and riding the bus to Austin when the public hearing takes place, we can make a difference. If you choose not to make this a priority, think about the time you will be spending in doctor's offices, the soaring childhood cancer rates, and plummeting property values. At this point in the process, one of the only ways to stop the toxic wells from going forward is by community outcry. You do have a voice and you can make a difference. Go to www.stopthetoxicwells.com for more information and e-mail addresses to write your representatives and to sign the petition.
Caryn Rorabaugh
The Woodlands
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