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 Thanks for your patience.
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Thankful to All

RECEIVED Wed., Oct. 22, 2008

Dear readers of The Austin Chronicle,
    I want to, again, give a huge thanks to everyone who voted me Best Clothing Designer in the Readers Poll for the third year in a row [“Best of Austin,” Oct. 17]! I am so thankful and grateful for this recognition. I promise to keep up the hard work!
Chia Guillory

Why I Voted for Obama

RECEIVED Wed., Oct. 22, 2008

Dear sirs,
    I voted for Obama because he is the most honest and intelligent candidate out there. (I support the Green Party, but they are locked out of the debates by both parties.) Bush, I believe, stole the last two elections supported by the rich and major corporations. They are again trying to disenfranchise the old, poor, or new voters, and, of course, the minorities.
    McCain and Palin (the dumber one) both support the war at great expense while our country is falling apart.
    How in the hell did Palin become a governor? Oh yeah, every governor we have had in Texas has been dumb or crazy (including Perry) after Ann Richards. (Even many before her.) I guess it is true, Texas is full of dumb or greedy rednecks with the exception of a few major cities. (Austin being one.) It is time for the rich and the corporations to pay their fair share like the poor and middle class. That's why we have toll roads now and bus fares have gone up. And, that's why I voted for Obama instead of the other right-wing nuts that are running in the other party!
Julian Ward

If We Can't Play on Sixth Street, Where Can We?

RECEIVED Wed., Oct. 22, 2008

Dear fellow music lovers and supporters,
    I bring up a subject that may have escaped the radar because it brings in no money to Austin and may even take money from clubs and booked players. It's playing on the streets, and for some like myself who can't get a club to give me a slot, it is the only way I've found to "get out."
    This is what happened to me on Sixth Street Saturday night, There is one place musicians have been allowed to play, and that's between the planters on Sixth just east of Congress. While playing there with an acoustic guitar (no amplification), I was told by two security guards that I was loitering and a nuisance. They said if they had any more complaints, they would call the cops and have me arrested. Now I do get loud since the stores have loud speakers by their store windows that they turn up rather loud. So I left, since the cops will listen to a store owner, the cop I talked to didn't think there was a limit to the distance from a storefront that was defined in the city loitering ordinance, and I was tired.
    If we can't play on Sixth Street, is South Congress next and then Zilker Park? Granted, one crackhead on a drum can be a nuisance, but where do you draw the line, and how can musicians like myself get experience and practice in front of people?
    I bring up this issue because I believe that for every Stevie, every Townes, and every Blaze Foley, there is a mountain of players under them who will suck. Not to mention that everyone starting out sucks.
    Please help me understand this. I don't want to move to another town just to get started performing music.
John Hurgeton

Happy to Pay More

RECEIVED Wed., Oct. 22, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I just returned from Washington, D.C., on business, and I noticed a curious phenomenon as I perused the gift shops of D.C. for an Obama T-shirt for my son – the McCain merchandise was drastically reduced, while the Obama merchandise was still full price. For once, I was happy to pay more.
Karyl Krug

Despite Flaws, Prop. 2 Is Designed to Send a Much-Needed Message

RECEIVED Wed., Oct. 22, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Proposition 2 may not be perfect, but as a voter and a small-business owner, I am frustrated with a series of councils that in recent years have regularly voted for the developers even when they are actively opposed by citizen groups [“'Chronicle' Endorsements,” News, Oct. 17]. I don’t feel represented, except by Laura Morrison. Morrison is only one vote, and I am anxious to have three more like her as soon as possible. Meanwhile, I support Prop. 2 because it turns back an odious decision that wastes millions of tax dollars on the kind of project that developers all around the nation drool over.
    Council is supposed to take the time to deliberate over the details and the best language to serve the interests of our city. When they default on that responsibility, we must send them a message. Do we get to choose among three or four versions of this proposal to ferret out the perfect solution? No. Will we get another shot next month at voting for the perfect proposal? No. Prop. 2 sends a clear message that we are fed up with tax-dollar welfare for the fat cats. If council considers it a nightmare, it is of their own making. We elect them and pay them to fix these messes. I’m tired of the majority of council members forgetting who they work for!
Ron Coldiron

Nailing the Corrupt 'Chronicle'

RECEIVED Wed., Oct. 22, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Did the Chronicle's endorsement against Prop. 2 secure South by Southwest's $500,000 in city subsidies for next year's Festival, or is that something you guys have to earn every week ["'Chronicle' Endorsements," News, Oct. 17]? I've forgotten, is your headquarters on South Congress, Rundberg, or East 11th? For a so-called alternative paper, you certainly are predictable: Just find out which side the money is on, and you can be sure the Chronicle will be there. The Domain's developer has clearly not fulfilled the terms of their contract: No $35,000 average salaries, no 4 acres of open space, and the sales and tax revenues are not what they said they would be. Since they have not fulfilled their end of the bargain, we are under no legal or ethical requirement to pay them the $65 million. That is why they were forced to sign a settlement agreement with the city and Brian Rodgers saying that the city had no obligation to pay them this money. So, rather than unnecessarily give away $65 million to one of the wealthiest developers in the country, let's spend it on making Austin a better place. Vote for Proposition 2!
Russell Doyle
   [Louis Black Responds: Russell you nailed us on this one, but don't blame SXSW. We get direct cash payments. That's how we make every decision here at the Chronicle. Don't think for one second that sometimes reaching endorsement decisions is difficult, even leading to arguments among ourselves or that in situations such as this one that there are ongoing discussions even after we've "reached" a decision because of how problematic the situation is for any number of reasons. Cut to the chase, accuse the paper of corruption, ignore its commitment to the community. We are predictable, though as I have pointed out, we'll usually switch sides for the right amount of money, which may make us a bit less predictable. Anyway, thank you for your comments and your very thoughtful response to our concerns over Prop. 2 as we've expressed them. There's nothing like name calling and ridiculous accusations to get me to rethink things.]

Anti-Prop. 2 Gang Making False Claims

RECEIVED Tue., Oct. 21, 2008

Dear Editor,
    It is so typical of politicians – Mayor Wynn in particular – to tar their opponents with traits that really apply to themselves. Now the anti-Proposition 2 gang (the mayor, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Real Estate Council of Austin) is making claims that Austin will be hurt by passing Prop. 2, when the opposite is the truth [“'Chronicle' Endorsements,” News, Oct. 17]. Perhaps one day they will get a clue that if we don't protect our local economy, we're all going down the tubes together. Independent Texans, the only voter association in Texas for independent-minded voters (of which there are more than 4 million) has joined with all political parties to endorse Prop. 2. What's the value in keeping "our word" in order to preserve a bad deal (and future ones, too)?
Lynn Foster
Independent Texans – Austin

The Problem Is the 'Chronicle'; Vote Yes on Prop. 2

RECEIVED Tue., Oct. 21, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Michael King’s misleading attack [“Point Austin,” News, Oct. 17] on the Stop Domain Subsidies charter amendment is consistent with the Chronicle’s steady transition from City Hall watchdog to City Hall lapdog, from championing citizen demands for accountability to attacking those demands.
    King writes 1,000 words but never mentions that the Domain developer’s sales pitch for $50 million to $60 million in tax rebates was filled with material misrepresentations, which, in a private transaction, would be recognized as “deceptive trade practices” sufficient to nullify the deal.
    Not one word that the “honesty” campaign against Proposition 2 is full of lies. We’re told to keep our word when the developers failed to keep theirs. They lied about the pay scale of their retail jobs, about their expected sales and tax revenues, and about the public open space that would be provided (among others).
    King doesn’t mention that the original deal between the city and the Domain violated the Texas Constitution’s prohibition against tying the hands of future elected officials in allocating tax revenues. Or that a subsequent lawsuit settlement between the city, the Domain, and Prop. 2 leader Brian Rodgers specifically states that the city may withhold payments at any time and that, if it does, the Domain owner “shall not then be entitled to … recover any damages from the City.” Instead, King falsely argues that Prop. 2 would “backfire” and would not stop the Domain subsidies.
    Don’t be misled: Prop. 2 would stop the Domain giveaways. That’s why Domain owner Simon Malls (the self-professed largest real estate company in the U.S.) is spending heavily to mislead voters and keep 60 million of our tax dollars flowing into their pockets.
    Think of all the honest local needs that could be met with $60 million. Think how much more honesty there would be at City Hall if developers knew that their lies had real consequences.
Bill Bunch
Save Our Springs Alliance
   [Michael King responds: If attorney Bill Bunch (or anybody else) had a legal case for deceptive trade practices against the developers or owners of the Domain, he would be making it in a venue other than a letter to the editor of The Austin Chronicle. The developers have thus far fulfilled their contract with the city; if the city chooses not to do so, neither Bunch nor I can know the consequences, but it's certainly a roll of the legal dice. Voters should note that "the Domain" is referenced absolutely nowhere in the charter amendment that would be enacted by Proposition 2, and its restrictions would apply across the board to projects that have nothing to do with the Domain: the Mueller neighborhood, affordable housing or mixed-use incentives (if tainted in any way by "retail" of any kind), or any of the kinds of innovative projects the city has developed in recent years to improve neighborhoods and transit choices and to combat sprawl. Vandalizing the charter (and future land use) in the guise of punishing the Domain does not strike me as a bargain for the citizens or the city.]

Envision the Future; Don't Surrender to the Past

RECEIVED Tue., Oct. 21, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Sometimes the city anticipates the market and eases our way into the future. An example is the plug-in hybrid visible at the AltCar Expo [“Naked City,” News, Oct. 17] held at Palmer. Sometimes, however, the city does just the opposite. When it comes to Downtown parking, the city could 1) restrict the creation of new parking spaces Downtown (as Portland, Ore., did), 2) take a hands-off approach, or 3) require businesses, such as the Emerald City Press ["Emerald City Press," News, Oct. 3] to provide costly parking – the cost of which will be borne by all customers, even if they choose to walk, bike, or ride the bus. As the number of the city's Downtown residents soars, the city should encourage them to walk or bike. Forcing them to pay for parking spaces they don't use is hardly the way to do this.
Philip Russell

Lighten Up a Little and Laugh

RECEIVED Tue., Oct. 21, 2008

Dear Editor,
    In response to the two letters ["Postmarks" online, Oct. 17] about the “Register to Vote: Or the Kitten Gets It” cover [Oct. 3] that seems to have gotten the dander up on a few readers, I feel compelled to speak for the rest of us animal lovers who still have a sense of humor. I am one of those folks who prefer the company of animals to people any day. And I have six, count 'em, six cats who share my domicile. And I thought the cover was hilarious! It's a keeper. Don't you get it? It's irony, simple and effective. There is arguably nothing cuter in the world than a kitten, so threatening its furry little life with the cold end of a gun barrel if you don't register gets your attention, makes you remember, and, if you still possess a funny bone, makes you laugh at the absurdity of it. It wouldn't work with a baby. They are not that cute. The point is life is a good deal more enjoyable if you lighten up a little and laugh.
Mattie Matthaei

'Chronicle' Betrays Constituency

RECEIVED Mon., Oct. 20, 2008

Dear Editor,
    The Chronicle argument against Prop. 2 shares the same basic misunderstanding of real estate and finance that led the Austin City Council into its senseless $64 million subsidy of the Domain luxury mall in 2003 ["'Chronicle' Endorsements," News, Oct. 17]. The Chronicle’s own bad math severely understates the Domain obligation as “up to $25 million in subsidies, in 2003 dollars,” an error of $35 million over the 24-year life of the deal since the compounding rate is contractually 7.5%. That’s precisely where Endeavor hid their ill-gotten gains and exactly why columnists and council members are ill-advised to play retail subsidy games with sophisticated players in complex real estate deal-making.
    Michael King argues against Prop. 2 because he thinks the redevelopment of the city’s own Downtown 6- acre Green Water Treatment Plant and its retail component will “likely require city subsidies to make economically viable” [“Point Austin,” News, Oct. 17]. But with the land valued at $55 million, why is he already walking in the developer’s door with his wallet wide open? Our municipal tax system is too regressive to champion retail subsidies. Austin has a host of other measures to gain additional leverage like granting density bonuses or fee waivers. The city could also set its vision with restrictive covenants and sell the land at fair market value or skirt Prop. 2 entirely with a tax increment financing district.
    Mueller will carry on unharmed as Catellus would not walk away from a guaranteed 15% return. At the Domain, Endeavor failed to deliver the promised $35,000 average wages or 4 acres of public open space. They hid $26 million in additional compensation using sales-tax revenue projections of less than a Home Depot. A court-approved lawsuit settlement says we don’t owe the developer one red cent. Get the facts at
    The Chronicle built its business on Austin’s locally owned businesses who detest these subsidies, yet the Chronicle favors the position that will cause continuing harm to those same people. Retail subsidies are a mostly recent invention that came into vogue as a business model of Cabellas and Simon Malls. Let’s usher them back out the door and vote for Prop. 2.
Brian Rodgers
Stop Domain Subsidies
Vote for Prop. 2

Isn't It Time for Voters to Stop Letting Themselves Get Tricked?

RECEIVED Mon., Oct. 20, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I received a Republican advertisement in the mail today. The message was written by the National Right to Life Committee. On the back it has John McCain and Sarah Palin on the left with check marks by their names. On the right is Obama and Biden. The bullets under McCain and Palin are literally little hearts. Ah, isn't that nice.
    I have probably brought this up before, however, since they have picked the first day of early voting to deliver this to my mailbox, I will restate my opinion.
    Am I for abortions? Obviously not; no one is. If I knew someone that was thinking of having an abortion, I would try to help her find alternatives.
    However, in relation to politics, abortion is not an issue. The National Right to Life Committee has been around since the same year as Roe v. Wade. Ever since that year, it has campaigned for the Republican Party. We are talking millions of votes. Abortion, along with the other conservative, "moral" issues, has won elections in the past. Yet … after Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush, and Bush, nothing has been done about Roe v. Wade (27 years of Republicans). Think about it. Even though seven of the nine Supreme Court justices were appointed by Republican presidents, they have not overturned the decision.
    I am not trying to convince you to be pro-choice. I am not saying that abortions are good. I am simply saying that the Republican Party doesn't care about it other than to get your vote. Aren't you getting tired of being tricked?
Steven McCloud

Sheriff Does Not Deserve a 'Best of Austin'

RECEIVED Mon., Oct. 20, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Re: Best Law-Abiding Law Enforcers [“Best of Austin,” Oct. 17]: Although I applaud Sheriff Greg Hamilton's decision to implement the citation option, the sheriff still collaborates with Immigration and Customs Enforcement within the jail, which undermines trust between local law enforcement and the immigrant community, divides families, causes racial profiling of those suspected to be foreign born, opens the door to violations of the constitutional right to due process, and increases fiscal costs to Travis County.
    Even after public pressure and community dialogue, the sheriff refuses to identify these concerns as real problems and is unwilling to change his relationship with ICE. He does not deserve a "Best of Austin" award.
Caroline Keating-Guerra

'Chronicle' Is a Billboard, White Noise, Litter

RECEIVED Mon., Oct. 20, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I am really wondering what the Chronicle's core principles are aside from money. I am livid over your opposition to Prop. 2 ["'Chronicle' Endorsements," News, Oct. 17]. It is almost a given that the local alt-weekly will support something that the citizens and city will benefit from alike. And that is when it hits me … you are not an alt-weekly. You are an entertainment guide. You sell ad space. You are a billboard, white noise, ambient light, litter.
    Where are the stories about the specific landlords that taint this city (à la The Village Voice)? Where is the community action? Where is the fight?
    I am not saying the Chronicle has never printed anything worth reading; it has. There are some good writers here. I just haven't felt the pulse of the actual city of Austin in its pages recently.
    Opposing Prop. 2 is shortsighted and boring.
    Rethink it. Do the absolutely un-American thing: Admit you were wrong.
Jan Baker

Kudos for Having Anderson and Hartman on Cover

RECEIVED Mon., Oct. 20, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Kudos to the Chronicle for featuring C.J. Anderson and Avi Hartman's Carmadillo on the cover [“Best of Austin,” Oct. 17]! I was so proud to see my great friend and fellow native Austinite (Hartman) being given his (over)due. My ass is still vibrating from that first ride. Thanks!
Teighlor Darr

Vote for Prop. 2

RECEIVED Sun., Oct. 19, 2008

Dear Editor,
    The city of Austin is set to voluntarily start giving Simon Properties $65 million in sales- and property-tax rebates for the Domain luxury mall in Northwest Austin. That's public money for private profit. Where have we seen that before? And aren't we getting a little tired of it? We deserve better, much better. Vote against Domain subsidies by voting for Prop. 2. Then go buy your food from a local farmers' market. Support local businesses, and keep Austin in the green!
Tom Pedersen

Millions of Mickey Mouses

RECEIVED Sat., Oct. 18, 2008

Dear Editor,
    The accusations against ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) make me seriously worry about Republican IQs.
    Do they really think that millions of Mickey Mouses (or dead people) are going to show up on Election Day and steal it for the Democrats? Could this be some neurological problem?
Perry Logan


RECEIVED Sat., Oct. 18, 2008

Hey Editor,
    How's it going? Really? Man. I'm sorry. That sucks; I hope things improve for you. You know, as always, I wish you well. Anyway, if you'll excuse me, a brief reminder to myself: Self, early voting begins on Monday, Oct. 20. Self, get out there and cast your vote. Vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote vote. But anyway, Editor, what were you saying? Really? Man alive! Shit dude, call me.
Tom Lay

Old Austin Was a Nightmare

RECEIVED Fri., Oct. 17, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I thought that the Chronicle had called a moratorium on people complaining about Austin and Austinites, native and new. Why are we being subjected to this quasi-conservative, anti-intellectual drivel? Do we miss the bad comprehensive planning of the Eighties? Do we miss the Austin High School race riots of the Nineties? Do we miss the transportation planning that kept rich and poor people separated (yes, folks, there were always rich people here)? Sure, for some people, Austin was great. For everyone else, it was just a city. Now it's a changing city. What's wrong with all of us?
Stephanie Webb

That Prop. 2 Will Have Far-Reaching Consequences Is Great

RECEIVED Fri., Oct. 17, 2008

Dear Editor,
    That Proposition 2 will have effects far beyond just the Domain is the best thing about it ["'Chronicle' Endorsements," News, Oct. 17]. I know the favorite activity of liberal politicians is dreaming up new ways to engineer society in their utopian image using taxpayer money. But the benefit to the public from these "New Urbanist" "mixed-use" developments is highly suspect. Did the City Council design and subsidize South Congress? Or Sixth Street? Or the music and art scene that Austin is known for? Of course not. These subsidized projects reek of the same yuppie unhip stench of all the condo developments. And even worse, they smell of old-fashioned corruption.
Ben Aiken

Opposed to 'Chronicle' Position on Prop. 2, Will Rethink Advertising Contract

RECEIVED Fri., Oct. 17, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I am writing to express my concern about the fact that The Austin Chronicle has endorsed the "No" to Proposition 2 on the upcoming ballot ["'Chronicle' Endorsements," News, Oct. 17]. While having read your reasoning, I am, as an independent business owner and someone that has advertised with The Austin Chronicle every week for the last 18 years, very opposed to the everyday citizen having to subsidize shopping for the wealthy. Also, the awful misuse of the terrific "Keep Austin Weird" logo is just unbelievable. Talk about misleading and manipulating the voter. Also, the manipulation to have the "No" to Proposition 2, giving the Domain huge monies, also reflects that the voter will think he or she is saying "No" to giving the money, when in fact they will be voting to give the money. Originally, I believe these subsidies were optional. Has that changed? If it is optional, we should opt out of giving away huge sums of money to wealthy developers now or at any time. When do I as an independent business owner get a subsidy? The answer will be never!
    I know I am just one little advertiser, but I feel at this time I will have to rethink giving my hard-earned dollar to a publication that endorses this type of spending of Austin's tax dollars.
Very unhappy and disappointed,
Missey Morgan
Urban Living Furniture

To Take Wisdom From It or Not

RECEIVED Fri., Oct. 17, 2008

Dear Editor,
    The right to have an opinion is God-given, and a right of Americans to express themselves is constitutional; I call it privilege. So say to me this … and I will decide to take wisdom from it or not to listen and ponder thoughts of others never denying the submission on all counts: All of us are created equal, and together we stand, divided we fall. So let's try to make some sense out of all these things that are coming to pass and get on with better lives. Have a great day, and remember Texas in our prayers. Not forsaking the right and privilege to be called an American.
Billie Roach

Everyone Should See 'W.'

RECEIVED Thu., Oct. 16, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I have a major bone to pick about your film review of W. by Oliver Stone [Film Listings, Oct. 17]. I agree it's a 2½-star film, no quarrel there. But in the review, writer Josh Rosenblatt expresses that it fails to be an artistic masterpiece and says we've already seen the second half on the "news” and says, in effect: So, hmmmf, why bother seeing it? I say: Josh – pull your head out. You sorely underestimate the social import of this film! Who cares if it doesn't ascend to your bar of an artistic masterpiece! Don't you guys see that there is so much more at stake right now and so much more to films than artistic achievement? Sure, Stone is decidedly "partisan" and unflattering in his portrayal of the Bush administration. But if you think everyone in America already got to see this perspective on the evening news, you are out to lunch! Film is one of the very few mediums free to offer "counterspun" looks into politicians' lives. It has never been more important for we the people to take all our leaders off the pedestals and to stop giving them the unquestioned and unlimited power we have been apathetically handing over. This film is about snapping us out of the delusion that just because someone wears a nice suit and is on TV that this means they can be trusted. We so need this kind of shaking in America. I don't think Rosenblatt was paid off by neocons to deride the film. I think he was either trying too hard to be "fair and balanced" or taking himself too seriously as a lofty "critic of the arts" for all the South by Southwest folks that he falls into snooty shortsighted failure to see the potential social impact of the film. I applaud Stone for speaking his truth and his views through film, and I think everyone should see W.
Stephen Summers

Raising Objections to Dunbar's Reporting

RECEIVED Thu., Oct. 16, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I need to raise necessary objections to some of what Wells Dunbar reported on campaign finance reforms at City Hall [“City Hall Hustle,” News, Sept. 26]. There is an insinuation that there was "technically" some sort of collusion during the 2008 Austin City Council race. It is particularly offensive that this insinuation came from Council Member Mike Martinez. This talk of "thumb[ing] their nose at city law" is irresponsible malarkey. Once legally released from treasurer duties to my campaign and replaced, Rick Culleton was free to exercise his right to free speech, and so as a private citizen, he spoke out forcefully against the two incumbents. Of course, I was grateful for his independent advocacy and citizen participation. It is on the record that Mr. Culleton hired my former campaign manager, Jason Stanford. Mr. Stanford is a professional political consultant, and he was under no obligation or disqualification that would prevent him from earning a living after his management services for my bid had ended. Collusion is a serious charge – and it's disgraceful rumor-mongering for Mr. Martinez to publicly or privately suggest that anyone participated in a secret or illegal conspiracy with no factual basis. This is unacceptable gossip. Mr. Rick Culleton was a Randi Shade supporter, too. So why doesn't Mr. Martinez suggest there was collusion between Mr. Culleton and Ms. Shade? Because the truth is just inconsequential or not as politically expedient? This baseless accusation demeans our struggling democracy where only 8% of registered voters voted in the last city election. Let's give that sad fact some attention and improve our democracy.
Thank you,
Jason Meeker
   [Michael King and Wells Dunbar respond: Whatever Jason Meeker might mean by "technically," it is not at all certain that he can simply wish away potential campaign finance violations by third parties working on his behalf. Even if we accept his word that he knew nothing of Culleton's and Stanford's subsequent actions, the fact remains that as campaign treasurer and coordinator, respectively, they had been directly involved in his campaign before they began their "independent" activities, which – with or without direct collusion – appear at least to flout the spirit of the law. Moreover, independent, direct expenditures of more than $100 require the filing of campaign finance reports; to date, Culleton has filed no such reports with the city.]
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