Letters: Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Next Time, Ask

To the editor: With regards to Kultur’s perplexing attitude toward the two-year-old Fa$ci$t Watch film series and 1919 Hemphill — where to begin? First, I applaud the Weekly’s printing of the name — a first, since it usually opts for the original “1919 Hemphill Film Series.”

Let’s be clear: Fa$ci$t Watch is a political documentary film series. If Fort-centric filmmakers made political documentaries, we would welcome them with open arms. We’ve supported other Texas documentary directors like Patrick Phillips, as well as Texas expatriates like Nick Cooper and David Redmon, whose highly acclaimed Mardi Gras: Made in China received its North Texas premiere at 1919 — and started the Fa$ci$t Watch series.

Every year that the traveling Gadabout Film Festival has come through 1919, we have featured local filmmakers’ shorts, including those by James M. Johnston and The Chaotic Cong. At least one of The Chaotic Cong’s shorts was filmed at 1919! We’ve also hosted Maria Garcia’s Film Fatale series in past years.

We’ve shown films on gentrification, affordable housing, military recruitment controversies, eminent domain abuses, peak oil’s effects, living wage battles, vegetarianism, family farm struggles, corporate governance, media corruption, and indigenous rights, as well as clean air, water, and soil issues. I’m perplexed that “Kultur” seems to think these issues don’t “have anything to do with Fort Worth.”

Aside from film, some 1919-kateers are very active in their representative government and have appeared at city council chambers numerous times protesting the Trinity Parkway, neighborhood gas drilling, and increases in square footage minimums for newly built houses — among other policies of interest.

An amateur reporter’s tip to a paid one: Next time, ask!

Ramsey Sprague

Fort Worth

Path to the Weekly

To the editor: Congratulations on your 10-year anniversary. Starting any business, large or small, is difficult — and surviving more so.

Because your recent report on the history of your newspaper included some errors regarding its embryonic stages, I thought I’d pass along the accurate information.

Robert Camuto had the idea to start an alternative weekly while working for us at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Our idea — his and mine — was to have the publication financed by Capital Cities/ABC, which later was acquired by Disney. While we didn’t intend to hide the truth about the weekly’s ownership, we planned to downplay it and to operate the new publication autonomously, out of a separate office. It was to be an independent voice in the community — an alternative to the Star-Telegram.

We knew we needed to know more to start our own alternative weekly, so I agreed to pay for Robert’s education: We sent him to at least one conference of alternative newspapers.

As you reported, I was completely supportive of the project. But times had changed at the Star-Telegram, and I no longer had the autonomy under Disney that I had enjoyed with Capital Cities. The idea was nixed by the president of the publishing division. I explained this to Robert and was enthusiastic for him to leave the Star-Telegram and become an entrepreneur with this venture. I still considered him a nice and talented fellow but, from that point on, a competitor. I believe that surprised him and may have hurt his feelings.

Did we compete for ad dollars? Yes. Did we offer discounts for advertisers not to support the alternative weekly? No.

And one final note. Startime was started in the mid-1980s. It had been in existence long before Robert left, and it had been improved constantly since 1986. It became even better after Robert started his paper. (Startime is the reason Friday is second only to Sunday for single-copy purchases of the Star-Telegram.)

Your business appears to have done well, and you seem to have helped make the Star-Telegram’s better as well. Thanks for setting the record straight.

Richard L. Connor

Publisher, Fort Worth Business Press

Starving the Parks

To the editor: In “Shutting Up The Scientists” (Static, April 12, 2006), the Weekly made an excellent point about politics and science: Politicians should legislate based on the best available information, not generate data to support their legislation.

You don’t have to look to Washington to find examples of real harm caused by ignoring scientific fact. In 2001 Texas Tech University released a study showing that, to protect our water, air, and quality of life in general, Texas needed to acquire hundreds of square miles of new park lands and natural areas. Instead, our legislature slashed the Texas Parks and Wildlife budget by $2 million last year, forcing unprecedented layoffs of park staff, delaying essential maintenance, and even forcing the agency to consider selling off wilderness lands to pay for upkeep elsewhere. Many parks are now closed for several days each week. So politicians in Austin and D.C. have guaranteed that city dwellers will have more and more difficulty in finding a little space and a little quiet in the land that belongs to all of us.

Aaron Mercier


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