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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Moser's Modest Proposal

RECEIVED Wed., Aug. 13, 2008

Dear Editor,
    In following the recent uproar regarding Stephen Moser's columns about bicycle riders [“After a Fashion”], I'm reminded of an essay by one Jonathan Swift, easily recalled from English literature, "A Modest Proposal," penned in 1729. In it, Swift recommended solving Ireland's unfortunate famine troubles by encouraging the Irish to eat their children. There may well have been some uproar after that was published as well, such an unthinkable suggestion as it was, possibly even dangerous. It should be noted, however, that there was never a wave of infant cannibalism in Ireland after 1729. On the other hand, Swift's writing has held up rather well over the centuries, recognized for what it is – satire. What a pity that some must take everything so literally and have so little appreciation for satire, irony, and parody that they call for censorship when a writer uses those classic forms. Surely Moser's purpose in writing the bicycle bit likely differed from Swift's objective, but that's irrelevant. Sometimes, darker humor can be the most profound of all, and I suspect that much of what Moser writes will find its place. What a shame that so little is known of literature that satire isn't appreciated and so little is known about government that censorship is thought reasonable.
Mary English Morrison

Johnston Should Rot In Hell

RECEIVED Wed., Aug. 13, 2008

Dear Editor,
    On Aug. 11, in the Johnston High School cafeteria, Dr. David Kernwein, the new principal, assured a meeting of parents, students, teachers, and community members that the name Johnston would never be used again. I was happy because Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston was a slave master who died in order to repress blacks. Before that, he led an expedition to kill Cherokee Indians, led the invasion of Monterrey, Mexico, and was in command in battles against the Mormons in Utah.
    I know that the school got its name when discrimination and segregation were legal, but to name a school where a majority of students are descendants of the people that Gen. Johnston fought so hard to repress is disgusting. To have the new principal lie to parents and students is unforgivable. I urge the descendants of slaves, survivors of the American Indian genocide, Mexicans who were oppressed, and believers of religious freedom to contact the AISD board and demand an end to the honoring of racist slave owners. May Gen. Johnston rot in hell.
Felipe Garza

Musically, San Antonio Is a Special Place

RECEIVED Tue., Aug. 12, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I gotta tell you, I got goose bumps seeing the mention of Esteban Jordan and the tiny Saluté International Bar in your newspaper last week [“Chac-Mool,” Music, Aug. 8]. It made me proud that some acts that are making noise in San Antonio are still appreciated outside SA and especially in The Austin Chronicle. I recall a few nights there when owner Azeneth Dominguez would share old stories about Mr. Jordan with me while sitting at the bar. In SA, Jordan is someone who is respected just as much by his peers as by his 20-something fans. As a hip-hop/dance DJ who plays regularly on the North St. Mary's strip (and tours regularly with artists like Kid Koala and Grand Buffet), San Antonio is the only place … I repeat … only place I can play a Texas Tornados record and a Randy Garibay record on top of a hip-hop beat and all the young folks know the words. It is something that is "particularly San Antonio," just like places in San Antonio such as Hogwild or Bar America are "particularly San Antonio." It reminds me of a conversation I recently had in New Orleans with Ben Jaffe, creative director of the world-famous Preservation Hall. (My tour mate, Kid Koala, sat in with the band when we toured together a few months ago.) Jaffe was talking about how not only do the youth in New Orleans know the words and culture of modern music, there is also a certain love and admiration for the old jazz tradition there. Similar thing in San Antonio.
    It's a special place.
    Thanks for the article!
Michael Pendon
aka DJ Jester the Filipino Fist

Having Paintings Stolen Is Devastating

RECEIVED Tue., Aug. 12, 2008

Hello,
    I am writing regarding the theft of Leanne Venier's paintings [“Art Thefts: Ripped Off While You Eat,” Arts, Aug. 8]. Just over 2 years ago, I had 13 paintings stolen from a salon on West Sixth. It was devastating. Oddly, when I was showing at the Zilker Botanical Garden in the spring, a young woman from Houston stopped to say she had bought three of the stolen items from Craigslist (two years after the theft). When I told her they were stolen, she fled.
    My sympathies go out to Leanne, but at the same time, for her, she is getting some great free publicity.
Ruth Meaders

Leaving Cuba; Leaving Your Parents

RECEIVED Tue., Aug. 12, 2008

Dear Editor,
    In reference to the book review of Tastes Like Cuba printed on August 8 [“Book Reviews,” Food], I can relate with Mr. Machado, as I was also put on a plane by my parents. Being 16 years old at the time, it was partly an adventure, but one thing I kept asking myself was what was the reason for them to do such a thing, since it hurt to leave them, as well as leave the island I grew up on. While I have yet to read the book, I am sure he encountered similar problems that most teens arriving to Miami International Airport encountered. For me, I came under the umbrella of Operation Pedro Pan, going to a camp and eventually going to a high school, St. Edward’s. Like Mr. Machado, I did not see my parents for a couple of years, but somehow I was able to manage, as most of us did. The only thing that sort of upset me was that he was able to travel to Cuba, while I, as a “regular” Cuban-American, cannot, since it would be against the law to do so. I guess envy is part of it.
Raul Iglesias

Savlov Got Only Part of the Story

RECEIVED Mon., Aug. 11, 2008

Dear Editor,
    With the disclaimer that we admire what the leadership is doing at Austin School of Film’s Cine Joven program, would it have pained Marc Savlov to do some traditional journalistic research to find out about the numerous other agencies doing the same programming for Hispanic youth, for much longer, and reaching a much larger population of Latinos and other minorities in Austin for a cover story [“Cine Joven Sin Fronteras,” Screens, Aug. 8]? Latinitas (www.latinitasmagazine.org) has existed since 2002, and has conducted video production classes featuring telenovela-making to daytime talk-show production to movie-making workshops since its origin. Though we are the first digital magazine for young Latinas, we teach outreach programs at 18 Austin and Round Rock schools, and now five more in El Paso, in Web design, writing, digital photography, radio and, sí, moviemaking - from storyboards to sound design - to more than 350 girls a year, ages 9 to 18. That’s just in our afterschool programming. We also lead a teen reporter intern program that just completed a short feature and music video for singer Gina Chavez, run workshops with other nonprofits aiming to meet their Latina audiences, conduct a yearly summer camp – all while publishing two digital magazines online per month in English and Spanish. How could Marc know this? I imagine he could have read it, in English, in the monthly press releases Latinitas issues to the Chronicle, the most recent outlining the content of our summer camp series in video production. Latinitas has provided direct services to 3,600 students since its origin, with digital equipment as simple as a camcorder with a boom mic to use of Canon XL1s at our most recent summer camp. We are also capitalizing on the free film-editing software available at Austin’s newest cultural landmark: the Mexican American Cultural Center (a partner with Cine Joven, also absent from the story). OK, that’s just us now – let’s not forget precedent set by Cine Las Americas’ Emergencia annual film event, produced by Latino and African-American youth from all over Austin, and PODER’s ongoing media literacy and production courses implemented in their Young Scholars for Justice program, which has produced an important documentary on the history of pollution on the city’s Eastside. You can understand why Latinitas’ mission is to cultivate the next force of minority voices in media – someone’s got to get the story straight.
Laura Donnelly and Alicia Rascon
Founders, Latinitas

Please Stay Where You Are

RECEIVED Mon., Aug. 11, 2008

Dear Editor,
    The smug “Californian” letter writer in the Aug. 1 issue (“Californian Messing With Texas”) [“Postmarks”] left himself wide open! After a recent visit from Austin relatives, he found himself in a serious discussion “concerning our belief in California that Texas makes embarrassing choices that are difficult to explain to others.” He goes on to randomly babble about too many guns, executions, and the prospect of Bible classes in schools. All typical clichés.
    But hold me back! Many here in Texas believe that Californians are among our biggest problems, what with our continuing artificial economy, high property taxes, and rapid, bus-bound condo developments, much of which is directly attributed to Californians who could not wipe the dollar signs out of their eyes while flying here. Talk about “embarrassing choices”!
    A recent article in the Austin American-Statesman documented that a high percentage of foreclosures in our area link straight to Californians who cashed in at home and rushed here to start flipping residential real estate in 2005 and 2006. They went belly-up because they had zero savvy about the market and were lured here by exaggerated real estate ads (promoting affordable Austin to Californians). What these folks did have (once upon a time) were dollars to throw away. They assumed, with great zeal, that the Central Texas property market would quadruple in value in short order. Great! Thanks folks! Just don't look for us evil Texans to bail you out.
    To the letter writer, Mr. Heinze, I would say that holding Texans and Texas in contempt as you do, we assume you will do us a small favor and not choose to move here like so many of your vehicle-horn-blowing brethren. Good. Please stay where you are, and hate us from afar.
Tom Kelly

Drivers Are a Frightening Reality to Bicyclists

RECEIVED Mon., Aug. 11, 2008

Dear Editor,
    “Driver Sentenced in Bicycle Fatality” [News, Aug. 1] quotes Gerd Hesness-Frudakis, the bereft sister of Vilhelm Hesness who was killed while riding his bike on Manchaca last summer, as saying that cyclists are resented by drivers who will even try to scare them. This is a frightening reality for those of us brave enough to take two wheels rather than four. Having just returned from six years living in the Netherlands, I can only deplore the absence of safe cycling in the U.S., but see the oil crisis as an opportunity for behavior to begin to change. However, until there is driver education which teaches sharing the roads with cyclists, and laws enforcing severe consequences for hitting them, as in Holland, tragedies will mount with the hope for a greater volume of people pedaling to avoid burning fuel. In Amsterdam, where 30% of the population rides (without helmets), safety is achieved in numbers and thanks to their infrastructure. Here, we can only dream of bike lanes that are more than painted lines on roads, where oversized cars go at excessive speeds so that taking the bike is much too scary for most people. The light sentence of this guilty driver relative to the loss of Hesness' life is irresponsible and misses an opportunity to send a stronger message to reckless drivers.
Lorn MacDougal

Cover Was Tasteless: A Black Woman Commodified, Exoticized And Exploited

RECEIVED Mon., Aug. 11, 2008

Dear Austin Chronicle art director/editor(s) responsible for cover art,
    Last week you ran a beautiful cover image [Aug. 1]. I also think it was wildly inappropriate and insensitive.
    Your story: avocados.
    Your image: A naked, nameless, faceless black woman artfully photographed from behind, holding a glistening avocado right where her thighs meet.
    If the Chronicle cover consistently depicted black women's faces as well as their bodies because the lead stories were frequently about the concerns, activities, and achievements of black women, this cover might pass muster.
    That's not the case.
    Black women's bodies – even more so than women's bodies generally – have been commodified, exoticized, eroticized, and exploited. At this point in history, black women's bodies and their representations should really belong to black women. Period.
    But certainly the Chronicle has the opportunity, if not the obligation, to make examined choices about how and when it features black women's bodies.
    Equating them with a sexy piece of fruit – ripe for plucking, selling, and eating – is tasteless and leaves me feeling sick to my stomach.
Camille DePrang

Article Biased; Reporter Lacks Professionalism

RECEIVED Mon., Aug. 11, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I am writing in regard to a reporter named Patricia J. Ruland and her article "Does Austin Need Fixing? Ask Reno." [News] which appeared in your August 8 edition. Ruland took potshots at a nonprofit, the No Kill Advocacy Center, and me especially, its director. In her story about a report released by FixAustin relating to Austin's poor performance in its animal sheltering system, Ruland allowed local officials to take what she herself calls in the story “a swipe at Winograd.” Not once did she call me for my perspective or allow me an opportunity to respond. Throughout the article is an undercurrent of anger and attacks against me that betray an agenda, a lack of professionalism, and a bias and lack of balance - all the core values of the American press.
    I called Bonney Brown, the director of the Nevada Humane Society, who described her interview with Ruland as “hostile” and “unprofessional” from the moment Ruland called. “She clearly had an agenda, and she was very hostile,” she said. She also said she was misquoted in terms of my involvement with the success in Reno.
    I spoke to Ryan Clinton, the director of FixAustin, and he said Ruland interviewed him but that she “didn't include any of it,” and she appeared to be “looking for ways” to attack me or detract from the work that I have done.
    As for me, I did not even get the courtesy, professionalism, or opportunity to offer my perspective, because she did not call me or the No Kill Advocacy Center for a comment. It seems that another perspective did not fit in with her tabloid agenda, and so she simply chose to forgo it. Using The Austin Chronicle to attack me, to allow others to take “a swipe” at me, without giving me the opportunity to respond is tabloid journalism at its worst.
    I ask for you to investigate this matter. But more than that, I ask to be given the opportunity to respond in a guest editorial to clear my good name and the name of the national nonprofit I am the director of – an organization, I might add, which does not have the nefarious intent that Ruland appears to ascribe to it.
Nathan J. Winograd
   [News Editor Michael King responds: While it's curious that Nathan Winograd would report others' supposedly negative responses to a Chronicle article early on Thursday morning – before the issue had even hit the streets – it's even more curious that neither Bonney Brown nor Ryan Clinton expressed any discomfort with Patricia Ruland's reporting in several communications, as the story was being prepared, nor afterward. If Brown believes she was misquoted in some unspecified way, and wishes to notify us directly, we would be glad to consider her complaint. However, Winograd's well-publicized perspective on Austin animal welfare efforts, and their practitioners, is amply represented in the story. We stand by our reporting.]

SAFPF Program Saved My Life

RECEIVED Mon., Aug. 11, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Thank you for correcting the spelling of my name [“Will 'SAFE-P' and TDCJ Be Held Accountable?” News, July 18]. I want the people of Texas to understand the importance of the Substance Abuse Felony Punishment Facilities. They are to give felons with addiction problems a chance to become productive members of society. While in SAFPF, you are paying your debt back to society while learning how to live a clean and sober productive lifestyle. Without my having gone to SAFPF, I believe that I would be in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for years, just doing time and costing taxpayers more money. Now I am able to contribute tax dollars instead of using them to be housed in TDCJ just doing time. Once again, this program saved my life and the lives of many others. I say thank you to the state of Texas for taking a chance on me and many others! We will not let you down!
Shirley Otto
Copperas Cove

Subrosa Union Is a Rocking Band

RECEIVED Sun., Aug. 10, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I was out bouncin' around town and dropped into Flamingo Cantina the other night, and I caught a local act by the name of Subrosa Union. They gave a high-energy performance with original sounds inspired and influenced by Jimi Hendrix, Santana, Marley, and Stevie Ray. The frontman, Mike Anaya, can play the hell outta the guitar, and the music they play keeps you rockin', or in their words, rasta rockin'! I bought a couple of their CDs, and in a literal sense they have many varied sounds reminiscent of surf and jam rock, with sporadic shots of reggae and a little Latin hip-hop mix. Nicely done, and hearing their story is another piece that is pretty cool too. They've been playing together since they were 14 in El Paso. I learned that these boys have a patriotic flair as well, spending more than eight weeks touring in the Middle East and Asia entertaining troops. Subrosa Union has a new fan and supporter, Austin-style. So if you are out and about, make sure you catch these hometown boys in their natural habitat … rasta rockin', on stage, playin' to live and livin' to play.
Anthony Michels

CMT Can Improve Public Transportation

RECEIVED Sat., Aug. 9, 2008

Dear Editor,
    While CapMetro and so-called transportation experts languish in a fantasy world where reality and customer input are not welcome, there is a better idea, invented by a fellow Austin citizen, offered free, with no strings attached. It is called Cellular Mass Transit, and detailed information is at www.cmt4austin.org. CMT is getting no attention from CapMetro board and staff or any other influential appointed or elected official or staffer. Why? Because it doesn't fit their consultant's mantra or a noisy minority's idea of transit utopia that has no regard for cost and service and customers. Yet an innovative combination of Curitiba, Brazil, and Cape Town, Africa's working, superior customer-serving, cost-effective transit systems are what the simplicity of CMT is based upon. If you folks out there really want to do something about improving people-mobility in Austin, providing better public transportation at less cost, with a 5- to 10-minute wait time, cutting the cost and travel time in half, from your doorstep or within a short walk, for everyone and to every job and recreation location in Austin, then study CMT and start insisting that CapMetro accept, embrace, plan, and implement it now. I have no stake in CMT and nothing to gain from it, nor does its inventor. All we desire is a better public transportation system for all of us to enjoy. CMT is the answer.
Skip Cameron

Generosity of Spirit

RECEIVED Sat., Aug. 9, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Just read over the Stephen Moser articles [“After a Fashion”] and letters concerning his need to commit vehicular homicide against bicyclists. Sounds like a perfect fit for a town where the county attorney sanctions murder against cyclists and the City Council sits solidly on their thumbs. Cancer couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.
James Hankin

Four Stars for 'Twister'!!

RECEIVED Sat., Aug. 9, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Marc Savlov has been under fire lately from several letter writers for being a poor movie reviewer. Frank Anderson Jr. came to Marc's defense in a recent letter [“Postmarks,” Aug. 8] in which he wrote of his liking Savlov's movie reviews and said of Savlov, "his comments and thoughts are insightful and helpful.”
    Well, in August 2003 [“Postmarks,” Aug. 1] the Chronicle printed this letter from me after a gentleman named Mark Guszak praised Savlov: "Mark Guszak thinks that one of the best movie reviewers in the country is Marc Savlov ["Postmarks," July 18]? Yeah, I guess the movie Twister was really deserving of four stars. I lost two hours of my life and over $5 on that piece of crap. Thanks Mark Savlov, you sorry bastard. Four stars? Twister? Four stars?? … I know, let it go, just let it go."
    What's odd is that Twister came out in 1996, and here I was in 2003 still being upset with Marc over a review. Well I've given it lots of thought. It was just plain silly of me to be upset with Savlov for giving a poor movie like Twister four stars. And I must say that although my reaction upon walking out of the theatre was one of shock and disbelief, Marc as a reviewer has a right to give stars any way he desires. Four stars does seem excessive, two and a half would've been more accurate, although I could have possibly accepted three. But four stars? Come on, how could you really give Twister four stars? Four? Twister? Savlov, you gave Twister four stars. It's OK, it's your opinion. … It's OK. … Really.
Thank you very much,
Patrick Zepeda

Mr. Moser's Hateful Attitude

RECEIVED Sat., Aug. 9, 2008

Dear Editor,
    While I agree that the actions of the Critical Mass cyclists in the automobile driver altercation in Seattle, as described by Stephen Macmillan Moser [“After a Fashion,” Aug. 1], are deplorable, his characterization of cyclists as children stands as an example of ignorance on the other side of the issue. It is a real shame that Mr. Moser was not able to continue his good childhood habit of bike riding into adulthood. It was also very disappointing to read the author pretend to understand the perspective of cyclists by stating that he would like to see bikes have their own lanes, but then suggest it would be better for cyclists to have a park, “like a dog park.” I hope Mr. Moser’s derogatory depictions of cyclists were formed based on the Critical Mass article alone and not his belief overall, and I hope that next time, he can think before he writes and create something worthwhile to help bridge the gap between cyclists and anti-cyclists. We live in a time where lifestyles promote sedentary behavior; obesity and diabetes are on the rise, as well as associated health care costs. The main benefits of regular exercise are undeniable. With the rising cost of fuel, fitting in your exercise by biking to work or school makes more sense than ever. This is only possible by sharing the road with vehicles. As Austin grows, I hope we can find a way to build a safer infrastructure for cyclists and educate those with hateful attitudes like Mr. Moser's.
Sincerely,
Amy Suders

Thumbs-Up on Firing Savlov

RECEIVED Fri., Aug. 8, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I was writing to defend Marc Savlov from the call to fire him (Dan McAllister's letter to the editor dated Aug. 1) [“Postmarks”] after Savlov's review of The Dark Knight film [Film Listings, July 18].
    But I can't. Having finally seen The Dark Knight, I have to give McAllister the "thumbs up" on this.
Respectfully,
Jeff Fisher

Will Bush Live Down This Incubus?

RECEIVED Fri., Aug. 8, 2008

Dear Editor,
    President Bush has apparently been reading deeply in Asian philosophy lately. I noticed he really took a shine to the old Confucian saying: Always poke stick in guest's eye before coming to house for visit. Will we ever be able to live down this incubus?
Patrick Judd

Why Has The 'Chronicle' Changed Its Size?

RECEIVED Fri., Aug. 8, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I've noticed that the size of the paper – the dimensions – has physically gotten smaller. Why is that?
Brian Martinez
   [Editor's and publisher's reply: The short answer is that daily papers are shrinking their sizes and the Chronicle is printed on their presses, so we have to change too. The longer answer: As of August 1, 2008, the Chronicle changed printers. After six happy years printing at the San Antonio Express-News, we're equally happy bringing our business back to Austin, to the Austin American-Statesman, where we printed for nine years before moving to San Antonio.

The most direct change will be a new paper size: a half-inch smaller than our current size, or about 5/8-inch of image size for a full page. There should be benefits as well – a crisper print job on a brand-new press, more color availability, and more reliable distribution. We've changed paper sizes a couple of times before; this is the smallest change we've made. But we had no real choice in the matter; the San Antonio Express-News is changing their press soon – to an even smaller size, an inch-and-a-half shorter than our current height, a full inch smaller than the Statesman. And there's no other printer in Central Texas who can do a paper of our size.]

Culinary Error

RECEIVED Fri., Aug. 8, 2008

Dear Mr. Black,
    Wes Marshall recently wrote an article featuring Roy's Restaurant and the chef Lawrence Kocurek [“Restaurant Review,” Food, Aug. 8]. The article was wonderful, and the picture of the food was tantalizing. However, there was one small error made. Lawrence actually graduated top in his class from the French Culinary Institute, not the Culinary Institute of America. This is a very important distinction, and he asked me to contact you about it. It is an easy mistake to make.
    Thank you for your time.
Kimberly Richardson
Roy's Restaurant

Austin = Gobi Desert

RECEIVED Fri., Aug. 8, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I just checked the stats. We are near or above 100 every day for months. We have had 5 inches of rain to date. What's funny is that every year, people, including me, whine and bitch about how hot it is and how we are starving for rain. It's funny because we complain like it is something unusual. It's hot with drought conditions every year. I am going to write the City Council today and recommend changing "Austin, Texas," to "Gobi Desert, Texas."
Sincerely,
Dan McAllister

Forgione Revises History

RECEIVED Fri., Aug. 8, 2008

Dear Editor,
    AISD Superintendent Pat Forgione revises history when he says "Liberal Arts was not a strong academic school. It was starting to lose it" [“Just Add Students,” News, August 8].
    Forgione has conveniently forgotten the successful challenge by Liberal Arts students to the district’s unconstitutional practice of assigning a portion of the “top 10%” of the class to students who were not in the top 10% at Johnston and LBJ High School. AISD’s bizarre policy was a result of its efforts to avoid accountability for the education of Eastside neighborhood students. To mask the performance of nonmagnet program students, AISD insisted that the school be unified with one principal and one Texas Education Agency accountability number, even though many parents of neighborhood and magnet program students had long advocated two separate programs, with separate TEA numbers, under one roof.
    In 2001, three Liberal Arts students challenged AISD policy because it violated the state’s top 10% law and the federal constitution by enabling students ranked below the top 10% to secure automatic college admission privileges. Federal District Judge James Nowlin agreed, and ordered AISD to stop the practice. The Fifth Circuit also agreed, in Malish v. Austin ISD.
    For Forgione to suggest that the Liberal Arts Academy was “not a strong academic school” is utterly false. LAA students were among the most academically accomplished in AISD. They were sent to the Science Academy after AISD successfully lobbied the state Legislature to create an exception to the top 10% law for LBJ High School.
    And as a direct consequence, exactly five years later (the maximum allowable time under the Texas Education Code for continued failure of performance), Johnston High School was shut down by the Commissioner of Education.
Bennett Brier
Betty Littrell
Patrick Roeder
Jeffrey K. Tulis
Phillip Walter

APD Overenforces Minor Rules

RECEIVED Thu., Aug. 7, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I want to thank the Austin Police Department for yet another shining example of how they are a giant waste of city resources. I work at a business on South Congress that stays open for First Thursdays, and we allow vendors to rent booth space in our parking lot. Since last fall, APD has harassed our vendors about some obscure permitting rules that apparently we were violating, ergo denying the city of Austin their slice of the tiny revenue pie we are able to create for local artists and merchants. This spring I hand made a sign for us to put out in front of our store announcing our specials, our clinics, whatever needs to be announced. Tonight, as the code enforcers made their rounds, making sure we have all jumped though the hoops of regulatory minutiae, an APD officer noticed our sign and decided to write our manager a citation for it, as it was on city property. A $455 ticket for a sign that cost me $40 to make. WTF? Seriously, do they really need to make life this good for us? Six APD officers to write one citation that is ridiculous to begin with. Needless to say, we had to remove the sign. Interestingly enough, the sign has been there for almost four months – just now noticing? I plan to protest this obvious attempt to (once again) get a piece from those of us struggling to stay independent in this day and age. Sigh. Maybe I should have applied for a grant for art in public places. Maybe next time I will.
Adrea Craft

Wake Up, Austin; Lower Animal Birth Rate

RECEIVED Thu., Aug. 7, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I guess no one wants to talk about the success many other cities have had in lowering their kill rates by lowering their intake [“Does Austin Need Fixing? Ask Reno.” News, Aug. 8]. Someone should go online and look at King County Washington's statistics (Seattle), www.kingcounty.gov/safety/AnimalServices/about/statistics.aspx, and look at the chart on final disposition. How did they drop intake by almost 50%? How did they drop DOA's by 80%? How did they lower the number of healthy adoptable animals that were euthanized to zero? They bit the bullet. They dealt with the controversy. They did what more than 30 other cities and counties have done. They did what San Antonio just did and should have done years ago. They did what Dallas just did and should have done years ago. They did what Los Angeles just did and should have done years ago. They passed a working, enforceable, and enforced spay/neuter ordinance. Yes it causes controversy. Every good idea that ever came along does. As someone who has worked in rescue and trap/neuter/return and maintain programs for years, I can tell you, cats and dogs do what cats and dogs do, and that is make lots and lots of kittens and puppies. They've been doing it for several hundred thousand years, and they've grown very good at it. In fact, they breed 700% faster than we do. There is simply no way that we as humans can ever create enough new humans to adopt all the kittens and puppies that are being born. I just wish FixAustin would focus on fixing Austin by helping us pass a working spay/neuter ordinance. You can set up adoption programs from here until Sunday, but until we find a way to lower the birth rate of cats and dogs, we will never, ever produce enough adopters. They can rant and rave about adoptions and shelter location all they want. They could move the shelter onto the grounds of the Capitol, but until we get around to lowering intake through lowered birth rates, there will never, ever be enough adopters. And even if there were, has anyone factored in the term "qualified adopters" yet? Are we to be so desperate to find adopters that we are willing to take a chance on sending a cat or dog out into a living hell just to find it a home?
    Sigh, the answer is so simple, and it lies right in front of us, but there are so many bruised egos at play that the solution is not even on the table. Wake up, Austin; quit trying to reinvent the wheel! So many other municipalities have already found the answer. Pass and enforce a working spay/neuter ordinance. Lower the birth rate.
Delwin Goss

Capital Metro Fare Increase Is Unfair

RECEIVED Thu., Aug. 7, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I ride Capital Metro every day back and forth to work, to save money (from Pflugerville to Downtown Austin).
    Now, Capital Metro is proposing a more than 50% rate increase, from $17 to $36 [“Committee Approves Bus Fare Hike,” News, Aug. 8]!
    This is nothing but price gouging and pure greed! As one of many state workers, we cannot afford this rate hike.
    I understand that in the Texas 80th legislative session, Sen. Jeff Wentworth and Rep. Dawnna Dukes placed an item in the House appropriations bill which contained a call to allow state workers to ride Cap Metro free; as is allowed for UT students and employees, city of Austin employees, etc. The content of this proposal failed. We can only hope that this issue is refiled in the 81st session.
    Texas state workers work hard for the state of Texas, and we are proud to serve. A 2% raise this September will not help us in this gas price crisis.
    The Austin-area metroplex has thousands of commuters, and as state workers, we deserve to ride the bus to work for the state of Texas without additional money coming out of our salaries.
Sue Spencer

Austin Underreporting Bicycle Accidents

RECEIVED Thu., Aug. 7, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I am an attorney who specializes in bicycle accidents. I am not trying to put myself out of work or anything; however, I receive a substantial number of phone calls regarding accidents and injuries in Austin involving cyclists.
    One 23-year-old victim's mother contacted our office today, following her discussions with the mayor's office and the phenomenally fast callback from newly seated Lt. Derrick Galloway. I know The Austin Chronicle has issued stories in the past listing statistics such as that out of 251 auto vs. cyclist collisions, only 62 of the motorists were cited in Austin [“Riding at Risk,” News, Nov. 10, 2006].
    Interestingly, as Austin moves to obtain the "gold status" award from the American Bicycling League, more often, motorists are not getting cited. A recent example is a client who was hit by a van on MLK. The young man suffered eight broken vertebrae, no citation issued, two eyewitnesses, and we have affidavits establishing motorist liability.
    We of course can only assume some sort of connection between Austin's goal to obtain gold status with the ABL as a partial reason for the lack of citations, as well as a lack of officer training. Nevertheless, regarding a less serious accident, the parent who contacted us has almost the entire staff from Urban Outfitters as eyewitnesses to another motorist running down her son. The officer on the scene, despite all of the eyewitnesses, failed to cite the driver and failed to take a single witness statement. This has a huge fiscal impact on the city such that motorists whose insurance should pay for the medical costs associated with these claims will be able to deny claims due to the officers' unwillingness to cite motorists; places like Brackenridge will have to eat the cost, or the city will pay through subsidies. Support and demand better officer training regarding cyclist accidents and injuries.
Lenore Shefman
Shefman Law Group

Moser Captured Steve Jordan's Magic

RECEIVED Thu., Aug. 7, 2008

Margaret,
    Re “Chac-Mool” [Music, Aug. 8]: Thank you for that excellent article. In it, you did capture many of the different aspects of Steve Jordan's musical career. I have known Steve for roughly four years – a brief period of time by Steve's standards – but in that time I've deduced that Steve as a young boy had a vision, and has been living, building, playing, writing, singing, abandoning, and rebuilding that vision ever since.
    From those of us who linger in Steve's universe, thank you for the generosity you have extended to him.
Pedro Villarreal

Does Your Favorite Band Suck?

RECEIVED Thu., Aug. 7, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I am writing in regards to Tom Bowman's Postmark "The Question: How Good Are the Musicians?" (July 25) in which he asserts that a glut of deluded, poor-quality local musicians are causing clubs to book out-of-town bands instead of offering employment opportunities to local ones.
    There are two obvious points to me here: 1) There will always be a market to see out-of-town bands because of the novelty of seeing a band from out of town, especially a famous one, and 2) a good deal of the out-of-town bands booked here fit the very description of knowing (far) less than the 10 chords that he decries.
    And why not? What's so great about being "great"? I'd rather see a fun and energetic punk band crank out one three-chord barrage after another and have an entertaining stage presence than watch someone who took music theory in college play some wanky set showing off all the (more than 10!) chords they learned and the progressions that they go in, because there are some very talented and skilled musicians "who think they rock, dude," when I personally think that they do not.
    Of course, I can make the distinction that that is just my own humble opinion and that there are people who are into that kind of music, and that's cool, too. On the other end of the spectrum, the pop charts tend to indicate that "insipid lyrics" still command a draw and suggest that strong musical skills may not be required to sell out shows.
    Let everyone have their turn, and the live music fans will ultimately decide if a band just gets booked at their friends' house parties or headlines at Emo's outdoors on a Saturday night or pulls off both in the same evening.
Gwendolyn Norton

Against Death Penalty and Abortion

RECEIVED Thu., Aug. 7, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I couldn't help but notice that while reading your otherwise excellent article on capital punishment (“Those Who Are About to Die") [News, Aug. 1], there was an advertisement for abortion services on the previous page describing its practice as “compassionate.” Does anyone else out there grasp the extreme irony in this? Where is the rationale for protesting the death of a human being who was once part of our society and chose to violate it, only to condone the death of another human being who is never even given a chance to participate in it? The reverse argument holds true as well – we cannot defend the death penalty while advocating a stop to abortion. If we are going to take a stand for the sanctity of life, we need to apply it universally. Anything less would be hypocritical.
Hans Falk
   [Editor's response: We imagine there are quite a few people out there who grasp the irony. Obviously, there are a number of very different positions on abortion, including one held by many that abortion is not murder. But it would be great if with one voice, anti-choice groups and activists came out against the death penalty.]

Administration, at the Very Least, Exploited Anthrax Episode

RECEIVED Thu., Aug. 7, 2008

Dear Editor,
    People were scared, sickened, and killed by the anthrax letter episode in 2001, but there's a larger issue that's missing from the current reporting. Now that the FBI is finally presenting us with its case against Bruce E. Ivins, we should remember the role anthrax played in starting the Iraq war.
    The anthrax scare came on the heels of the 9/11 attacks. The accompanying letters indicated Muslim perpetrators, and the media were quick to point to Saddam Hussein as a source. ABC News repeatedly stated that the anthrax in question contained bentonite and that bentonite was a fingerprint of the Iraqi biological weapons program. Neither assertion was correct or substantiated.
    The anthrax scare became a component of the conspiracy (sorry, Louis) of lies put together by the Bush regime to sell us the Iraq war. Remember Colin Powell's presentation, the bogus centrifuge parts, and yellow-cake uranium?
    Whether anyone in Bush's rogue gallery of criminal accomplices had a hand in obtaining and distributing anthrax spores, the fact that they used the resulting panic to pump up war sentiment is totally undeniable. The hundreds of thousands dead in Iraq are also indirect victims of the anthrax scare.
Ben Hogue

Savlov's Review Was Wrong

RECEIVED Thu., Aug. 7, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Re: The review for The X-Files: I Want to Believe [Film Listings, Aug. 1]: The reviewer Mr. Savlov is a liar. There was no two-headed dog and no malfunctioning hydraulics on a tow truck as he wrote in his review. This makes me question the veracity of his other reviews and the harsh half-star rating he gave to a fair movie.
Joseph Falco
   [Editor's note: The author stands by his review.]
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