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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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What Am I Missing About Auto Industry Bailout?

RECEIVED Wed., Dec. 3, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Re: Proposed auto industry bailout: Working in Austin as a construction superintendent, I was making a decent living and looking forward to saving enough for a down payment on a home. After nearly two years, my boss came to me with bad news. I would be laid off, because the housing market was flattening in Texas and his company was suffering. I knew about the economy in Austin; everyone in the business talked about it. It was simple: no buy houses, no build houses.
    Why are we even considering bailing out the auto industry? I recently heard the news talking about this and, moments later, on the same broadcast, heard of the crazy deals car dealerships are offering to attract customers. They are desperate to sell cars, but no one is buying them. What do carmakers need the “loan” for … auto workers? What do they need workers for if no one is buying cars? My real question is: “Why them?” Why the auto industry? If no one is buying cars, why should the taxpayers pay so they can build cars? Why not the construction industry so they can build houses that no one will buy? I know the concept of “good times ahead,” but enough cars and houses are already sitting empty. Who is next? Should we bail out the Halloween-costume industry since no one is buying costumes?
    If we need to pay the auto industry employees unemployment, then so be it. I think all auto-related industries should have to adjust and tighten their belts just like I did. Why shouldn’t our economy run its course? Why should I, but not they, have to diversify? If autos are all these employees know, I want to pay for their re-education or their unemployment now, instead of paying for them to build more unwanted cars then later paying for their inevitable unemployment and re-education. What am I missing here?
James J.G. Craft
San Marcos

Article Was Fair, but RAMP Isn't

RECEIVED Wed., Dec. 3, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Thank you so much for Laurel Chesky’s well-written and fair article “Not in My Graveyard: RAMP vs. Covenant Presbyterian” [News, Nov. 28]. Ms. Chesky gave equal balance to both sides of the issue and managed to make a somewhat dry “land use” story lively and entertaining.
    However, I feel Sharon Blythe’s portrayal of the Rescue Austin Memorial Park Cemetery organization is very misleading. Her organization of “about 700 members” is a sham. RAMP is, in fact, nothing more than Ms. Blythe and a lengthy e-mail list. In a manner known to political groups as “push polling,” Ms. Blythe approached grieving families visiting Austin Memorial Park and asked them if they wanted the graves of their loved ones disturbed. Of course, many of these family members signed on to “protect” the graves of their family members. RAMP is simply a cover for Sharon Blythe to appear to be more representative than she really is. Why were no other RAMP members standing alongside Ms. Blythe in the photo?
    Ms. Blythe’s comment, “Once the cemetery is gone, it’s gone,” is simple fear-mongering. Does she not understand that the proposed gift of a $2 million columbarium would have extended the life of the city cemetery through the creation of many more resting places? That such a building would improve access, beautify the space, and be a zero-cost-to-taxpayers enhancement of the graveyard? Perhaps not.
    To be frank, Blythe’s actions in dealing with the city and the church much more resemble those of Samantha Stephens' Bewitched neighbor Mrs. Kravitz, than they do that of a concerned citizen attempting to protect a historic property.
    In the interest of full disclosure, let me say that I am a member of Covenant Presbyterian. But I must also point out that the grave of my full-term stillborn nephew lies within the grounds of Austin Memorial Park and is visible from the building in which I often teach Sunday school. My family is certainly in a position to see both sides of this issue. From our vantage point, Ms. Blythe should stand aside.
    Final question: If Mrs. Blythe’s husband was an American Indian with tribal burial sensibilities, why is he not buried alongside his ancestors on tribal ground? I must have missed that part.
    Thank you again for the article.
Whitney Milam

Buzz Words Blind Us to Truth

RECEIVED Tue., Dec. 2, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Much like the "commie" red-herring tactic of old, both the Bush administration and corporate media have been quick to fire out the Pavlovian-loaded "conspiracy theorist" accusation anytime a true whistle-blower or investigative journalist dares to question the official 9/11 story, false pretenses for going to war, or even asserts that both presidential candidates in the recent election were controlled by the same hidden hand of the military industrial complex (as illustrated by the same recycled CIA spooks and war hawks in the new Obama cabinet).
    Readers and editors, please consider how certain buzz words are drilled through the public psyche in order to shut down a brain's analytical process – the next time you dismiss Alex Jones or any other intrepid muckraker with the tired, old establishment accusation "conspiracy theorist."
Mike Rieman

Too Many Valet-Only Parking Spaces Downtown

RECEIVED Tue., Dec. 2, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I was Downtown last weekend and took note of all the parking spots taken over by valet companies. I understand that the company pays the city for the use of these metered parking spots, but I'm wondering if anyone could do this? Can a citizen just buy an after-hours parking spot? I think they charge the valet companies $250 a year … hell that's less than a dollar a day! I could get a vinyl hood made up that says "Reserved Parking for Steven." Or even better, one that says, "This space for rent on a daily basis, please call 555-5555."
   Then again, I suppose our taxes provide for the upkeep of the street and parking spots … so maybe we should just get rid of all the reserved valet spots.
Steven McCloud

Didn't Like Trashing of 'Fuel'

RECEIVED Tue., Dec. 2, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Thank you for publishing the much-needed article "Sustainable Biodiesel: Made in Austin" [News, Nov. 28] about the biodiesel bandwagon that more and more Austinites, including yours truly, are joining.
    That story was a breath of fresh air after your earlier "movie review" of Fuel, by Josh Rosenblatt [Film Listings, Nov. 21]. I gotta say that diatribe was one of the single most bizarre "movie reviews" that I have ever had the displeasure of reading. If I had read it before I saw Fuel, I may have missed one of the most important movies of the year (if not the decade). I wonder how many other people were dissuaded from seeing this excellent documentary because of Josh Rosenblatt's trashing of the film.
    The most schizophrenic thing of all about this "review" is that – if you were quickly perusing it – it would appear that Mr. Rosenblatt agrees with every point the movie makes. In fact, I agree with much of the wording of the review. I fully agree that "put[ting] Big Oil out of business" should be one of the top priorities that we as individuals, as a society, and as a species, should be working on to save this planet, which is, indeed (in Mr. Rosenblatt's own words), a "noble venture." If the "pet project" of these “evangelist[s]" can get one more person to just say no to Big Oil, then it belongs in every single "actual movie theatre" on this planet. I can't think of a higher and better use of movie theatres – or churches, or schools – in fact.
Sam Mitchell

Down Fan Chastises Powell

RECEIVED Tue., Dec. 2, 2008

To Austin Powell,
    I'm writing regarding your review of the Metallica/Down show in Houston [“Off the Record,” Music, Nov. 28]. Your dismissal of Down was uncalled for and misinformed. To say they should have been axed from the show is discounting all of the people who came to see Down and Metallica. Why do you think Down was on the bill? These men are lifers; they have all played in credible bands before (Pantera, Corrosion of Conformity, Crowbar, Eyehategod) and continue to make music that people want to hear. Hardcore, metal, punk, hellbillys, all types of people are attracted to this band, and it brings all of us together. If anyone knows about dancing with death, it's got to be Phil Anselmo. He speaks for a generation of fans who refuse to go away.
    Down is not "sludge.” Have you listened to their CDs? “Stone the Crow,” “Stained Glass Cross,” “Lies,” “Landing on the Mountains of Meggido,” “Nothing in Return (Walk Away)” … none of these can be called sludge. “Stone the Crow” is more reminiscent of old Southern rock if anything. They are well-thought-out songs with something to say, look up the lyrics. Give some respect for the work put into them. You can have your opinion, but I would like to read an actual review of the show, not a one sentence dismissal of a band that obviously has a lot of love from their fans, fans like Metallica. That's why they were on that bill. Because they make the music they love no matter what and we appreciate them for it.
Jeanne Lemieux

Babich Against Excessive Air Conditioning

RECEIVED Mon., Dec. 1, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Austin's excessive use of air conditioning does a vast amount of environmental, as well as cultural, damage. Thanks to the widespread use of air conditioning, Austin's population is unsustainably large and still growing. Most of the people who move here will spend their time in climate-controlled buildings and air-conditioned cars. And some of them will deride people who go outdoors, open windows, or walk and bicycle instead of driving an air-conditioned car as “sweaty” and “smelly.”
    It's a bad idea to divorce ourselves so strongly from the world outdoors. The outdoors, and our local climate, are our environment. We need to adapt to our environment, not crank up the AC and ignore it.
    Car air conditioners let people in cars ignore the poisons and heat they're producing. Air conditioning lets people ignore the weather. People who live isolated from the weather are not good at noticing climate change or taking it seriously. Why worry? Just turn up the AC.
    Without such excessive use of air conditioning, people who could not endure hot weather would live elsewhere. That in itself would give our local environment a break. And many of the folks who continued to live here would walk or ride a bicycle for transportation. We wouldn't have so many cars or parking lots. The air would be much nicer, and the temperature several degrees cooler.
    Air conditioning has done and continues to do a great deal of harm to Austin and the surrounding region, both environmentally and culturally.
Yours truly,
Amy Babich

Time Warner Removing Quality Channels

RECEIVED Mon., Dec. 1, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Your article in this week's issue regarding Time Warner's removal of yet another of the very few quality channels from its standard cable package shows yet again TW's lack of commitment to the public [“The Cable Channel Shell-Game Shuffle,” News, Nov. 28]. You noted the most recent casualty, KLRU2, and the first major loss, the National Geographic Channel, but you left out what I think is the most significant loss, that of 24-hour radar (Channel 44), which they pulled last spring. This was arguably the most important information available on our cable system, as many whose living is critically impacted by weather relied on it.
    I suggest that those such as myself who are concerned about TW's attempts to force us to pay more to get these channels back write directly to the FCC. If you write to the city of Austin's Telecommunications and Regulatory Affairs, as I have done, they will pass the buck to TW, who will send you a pagelong letter of lies about how the removal of these valuable channels is a benefit to the consumer.
    Last time I checked, however, the Soap Opera Channel was still available, thank God. And if you downgrade to the basic package, which I highly recommend, you'll still get QVC!
Guy LeBlanc
   [Editor's note: "Media Watch" reported on the Channel 44 switch by Time Warner in the May 23 Chronicle.]

Falsely Maligned in Postmarks

RECEIVED Mon., Dec. 1, 2008

Dear Austin Chronicle,
    I greatly appreciate your excellent coverage of the evolution of passenger rail in Central Texas. I was disappointed to see, however, that you chose to publish the portion of Skip Cameron's letter to the editor that was nothing more than a personal attack on me as an advocate of passenger rail [Postmarks, Nov. 28]. Not only am I not paid to advocate passenger rail, such accusations do nothing to advance the discussion of this important topic and only serve as a distraction.
    I hope I can continue to advocate my positions on civic matters without concern of being falsely maligned in the one news source I have come to appreciate in this city.
Respectfully,
John Langmore
   [Editor replies: The Chronicle, in the weekly issue and online, tries to share all the letters we get with our readers (short of those filled with outright libel or excessive name-calling). We hope that readers understand that the opinions expressed in a letter are that of its writer and do not in any way reflect an official position of this paper. If we were to consider the content of each and every letter to determine if we should print it or not, what standards would we use, and how would we vet it? In the best of circumstances, such a policy would be capricious and inevitably significantly cut the number of letters published.]

Instead of 'Stooped' Use 'Leached'

RECEIVED Mon., Dec. 1, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Re: "Texas Gets 'Stooped': Look It Up!" [The Score Chronicle Sports blog, Nov. 30]: As a writer for your paper, maybe you need to learn a new line for your paper: You just got Leached.
Wayne Arnold
Spencer, Okla.

Disappointed by 'Fuel' Review

RECEIVED Mon., Dec. 1, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I was disappointed to read the Chronicle's negative review of the film Fuel [Film Listings, Nov. 21]. The content of the movie is very educational and timely, and I consider it a "must see" for everyone concerned about the damage we are doing to our Mother Earth. As an alternative newspaper for Austin, I feel discouraging people from seeing such a wonderful film is irresponsible. In addition, it's just a plain good movie. It's well-edited and put together. As someone who has spent several thousand dollars advertising with your paper this year, I felt especially let down. I understand that some folks enjoy taking an oppositional approach to everything just for attention, but I question whether or not the reviewer actually saw the movie.
Jean Stokes

Mistaken Impression That U.S. Racism Problem Is Fixed

RECEIVED Mon., Dec. 1, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Regarding Jason Metzler’s letter in the Nov. 28 issue of the Chronicle ("Why Do We Always Have to Hate?") [Postmarks]: I must take issue with Mr. Metzler's comment that "since we don't hate African-Americans anymore, we have come out in droves to hate gay and lesbian Americans." Since the elections, many of us seem to be under the mistaken impression that by electing Obama, we have somehow "fixed" racism in the U.S. Such a belief is dangerous not only because it no longer positions racism as something we need to continually work against but because it ignores the very real subtle acts of racism and race bias that we as white Americans are oblivious to or perpetuate every day. Furthermore, the assertion that "gays are the new blacks" is dismissive and naive. Among other things, it falsely implies that the oppressions faced by these communities are so similar as to be interchangeable, and it also leaves no room for those who live at the intersection of those communities and might not find it so easy to draw a line through the center of their identity. Mr. Metzler, while I share your pain at the outcome of these anti-gay ballot measures, I would challenge you to look beyond the easy dichotomy of your letter.
Katie Mahoney

Missing Items From 'Horror Story'

RECEIVED Mon., Dec. 1, 2008

Dear Editor,
    My wife does not understand why, but I love horror stories. I especially enjoyed “Campfire Horror Story” [News] in the Nov. 21 issue of the Chronicle. There did seem to be some important items missing from the story.
    Here is what I think was missing:
    1) Current interviews with the kids who were at Woodside Trails when it was shut down.
    2) Follow-up by Carole Keeton Strayhorn to show that the kids thrown back into the regular foster-care system were better off after being forced to leave.
    3) Studies cited that prove a grandmother's intuition and fervor is more accurate than the systems and plans of trained professionals.
    4) Apology by Strayhorn to Betty Lou "Bebe" Gaines and Jack Reynolds for ruining their professional lives.
    5) Documents from Strayhorn proving that her staff at the time were all trained investigators.
    6) Statistics from 1982 to 2004 proving that Woodside Trails and therapeutic camping is no better off for kids than being in the hands of abusive and negligent parents.
    7) Strayhorn to agree to be a foster parent for one year to a "tough care" child and try out her "grandma knows best" therapeutic system.
    Other than those items missing mentioned above, I thoroughly enjoyed the article.
Sincerely,
Max Gallegos
Round Rock

Appalled by Review

RECEIVED Sun., Nov. 30, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Having seen Fuel this weekend, I am appalled by Josh Rosenblatt's review in the Chronicle [Film Listings, Nov. 21]. I found the movie to be entertaining, informative, compelling, and inspirational. Mr. Rosenblatt seems to think it doesn't belong in theatres, but to me it's just as legitimate as Michael Moore's movies, An Inconvenient Truth, or any other documentary. It makes me wonder if the reviewer's daddy works for Exxon or he drives a Hummer or what? This is a great show that is definitely worth watching. Discouraging people from seeing it only perpetuates our addiction to petroleum.
Tom Rebstock

About Bikes and Pedestrians

RECEIVED Sun., Nov. 30, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Hear! Hear! Thank you Ms. Moon for jump-starting this discussion with some "hot" comments [Postmarks, Nov. 28]. Here's a note for pedestrians who are afraid of bicyclists: Walk to one side of the sidewalk instead of planting yourself in the middle, and if a bike comes, don't do anything! Continue walking (to one side), and let the cyclist do the navigating. Any experienced bicyclist will tell you that near-collisions with pedestrians happen when they make feeble attempts to "get out of the way," when in reality, they just need to relax, stay on course, and let the cyclist do the swerving if swerving is indeed necessary.
    This banter between pedestrians and cyclists must stop – we're on the same team! Cars are more dangerous than bikes, period. Cars are more poisonous than bikes, period. Passionate peds should help cyclists lobby for better road conditions. More bikes on road = less cars on road = safer conditions for all of us.
Brian Birdwell

Hiring Unqualified People Among Worst Offenses

RECEIVED Sat., Nov. 29, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Of the countless things I am sick to death of from the past eight years of the Bush administration, the one that sticks out as the most devastating to the strength of our nation is the inappropriate hiring/appointment of unqualified people to positions of governance. Katrina, the wars, etc., all have roots in mismanagement from unqualified people placed in leadership positions, and now public education suffers from the same incompetence at the highest level. Again, people who are not scientists, who apparently aren't familiar with science, the scientific method, nor the scientific community, are deciding how and what science will be taught in public schools. I have nothing against religion or religious people. If they want their kids to learn Hebrew mythology in place of science, they are free to enroll their kids in private religious schools. They are not free to dictate, against expert advice, what our kids learn in public school.
    The same logic they use to support intelligent design would extend also to teaching the revisionist history theories of white supremacists who claim the Holocaust was made up. Hello, school board! It's bogus! Can we please get rid of these idiots and hire qualified people to educate our children or should we change the name to State Board of Stupidity?!
Gary Morris

Bicyclists Also Have Responsibilities

RECEIVED Fri., Nov. 28, 2008

Dear Editor,
    At the risk of channeling Ricky Ricardo, I have to say to Emily Kate Moon, in response to her letter ("Bicycles Are the Solution, Not the Problem") [Postmarks, Nov. 28], "You got some splainin' to do!"
    Her assertion that "'[b]reaking the law' for bicyclists often means putting safety first" is ludicrous at best. Are you specifically writing about riding on the sidewalk? Because I can't fathom that breaking the law by running through stop signs or red lights as if they're not there, riding between lanes of motor vehicles ("splitting lanes," as the police term it), or turning without signaling could possibly make you any safer on your bicycle. I drive for a living, 40-plus hours a week on the streets of Austin, much of it in the Downtown area, and I see these infractions occurring daily. I've been trained to watch out for bike riders, and I do so – the last thing I ever want to do is cause injury to anyone.
    Bicycle messengers are the worst offenders Downtown – they give a cursory look when they approach an intersection, and if they don't see any police presence, they zip through red lights and stop signs as if they don't exist. I see cyclists weaving between lanes of cars regularly – all it would take for a serious injury to occur would be for someone to open their car door for a moment, for whatever reason. Signaling for a turn is extremely important – communicating your movement is the first step in completing it safely. I've witnessed cyclists blowing through pedestrian crosswalks, almost leveling people attempting to cross the street – you're "traffic," folks, so you're required to stop for them. I once saw a bicyclist on the sidewalk on Congress Avenue run into an elderly woman alighting from a bus. I've seen vehicular accidents caused by one motorist making a sudden attempt to avoid hitting a cyclist who apparently thought he was exempt from traffic laws.
    The traffic laws should be enforced on anyone who uses the street. It's inarguable that we need to share the road – but there are responsibilities on both sides, for motorists as well as cyclists. For either group to maintain that they're above the traffic laws creates a danger for everyone.
Larry Looney

Review the Politics Not the Film

RECEIVED Fri., Nov. 28, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I am starting a petition to have Josh Rosenblatt fired or at least banned from printing film reviews or at least banned from reviewing films that have anything to do with social-political subjects. His pan of the film Fuel borders on criminal [Film Listings, Nov. 21].
    Josh – what the fuck are you thinking?! Here we are in the midst of a time where we are mired in hopelessness and despair about our future and a film comes along with a message of hope, positive possibilities, potential creative solutions that most have not heard about – something to uplift us and spark our own creativity – and you discourage us from seeing it based on your pissy attitude and cynical mind. You are pathetic in your shortsightedness. Please keep your petty little opinions to yourself in the future. At the very least – when reviewing a film about social or political subjects – please ask yourself: "What will serve the greater good? For more people to see this and get this information or for it to remain hidden from us and our time spent filled with 'entertainment' that meets your high standards?"
Stephen Summers

More 'Fuel' on the Fire

RECEIVED Thu., Nov. 27, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I just saw the movie Fuel despite the horrible review given by your paper [Film Listings, Nov. 21]. I am shocked and amazed that this review made it past your editing department. Did he even see the film? Everyone in the audience applauded and was inspired. This was an ugly, almost vindictive, review and had no justification for calling the film an infomercial. The Chronicle is "supposed" to be a paper of the people. Which people does your reviewer work for – the Bush administration or perhaps the oil industry? Is there some sort of kickback or advertising with your paper that conflicts with alternative-energy ideology? I feel an apology should be given or another review (by another person on your staff) to fairly evaluate this film! This review borders on the libelous side. I will make it my personal mission to make sure that your reviewer is exposed for the small, bitter person he is.
Terrie Resler

Hooray For Mincemeat!

RECEIVED Thu., Nov. 27, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Hooray for mincemeat [“Mincemeat,” Food, Nov. 28]! My mom made pies every year for Christmas, and I do, too. You can buy it premade in blocks that you mix with water or in jars. I love it, but I always encounter folks who have never tried it.
Katy Kappel

It's Wrong To Make Fun of People Who Don't Use Air Conditioning

RECEIVED Thu., Nov. 27, 2008

Dear Justin Andrews,
    Although it is your option to use air conditioning whenever you feel like it, to make fun of Pete Wall for not using AC is just plain wrong [Postmarks, Nov. 28]. I did not use AC this last summer, because I couldn't afford it. I rode my bicycle everywhere (I don't own a car). I kept my clothes clean, bathed daily, sweat a lot, but didn't stink. I'll just bet that on the rare occasion that you work up a sweat that, "You sir, are a sweaty, smelly fool."
Cliff Hexamer
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