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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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Praise for UMC Brackenridge Trauma Center

RECEIVED Wed., Nov. 14, 2012

Dear Editor,
    I was thrilled to see the UMC Brackenridge Level I Trauma Center noted in this year's "Best of Austin" poll [Nov. 9]. I would like to add, however, that their recognition should be much, much greater than "Best Motorcyclist's Pal."
    I began my summer in the Brackenridge ICU after an elderly man fell asleep behind the wheel, plowed head-on into my truck, and almost killed me. Despite this being one of the most horrific experiences of my life, I look back at my time at Brack fondly, especially those first days in ICU. Sure, I was on some pretty good drugs, but still, the level of care, compassion, professionalism, and attentiveness I received humbles me to this day. My nurses became my friends and took such good care of both me and my stressed-out, worried-sick family (who did not have the privilege of being on some pretty good drugs). From ICU to IMC and up to the top floor, I was always in good hands.
    To do what they do is so far beyond most of our abilities, but not often celebrated or even recognized. So for what it's worth, however minute, I'd just like to give the Brackenridge Trauma Center (and the Austin Fire Department, and the city of Austin EMS, and St. David's Rehab, for that matter) one more shout out: You guys are the best, and I'll never forget it. I even have a potted plant named after one of you. (The result of the aforementioned pretty good drugs? Probably. But the sentiment's all the same.) Thank you, forever, from the bottom of my heart.
Magali Pijpers

More Water for Rice Farmers?

RECEIVED Wed., Nov. 14, 2012

Dear Editor,
    It is unbelievable that the Lower Colorado River Authority would vote to sell rice farmers another 121,500 acre-feet of water from lakes only 43% full! Everyone has warned LCRA against this action: Sen. Troy Fraser, Sen. Kirk Watson, numerous Travis, Burnet, Blanco, and Llano county officials. Lake Interests presented petitions with thousands of signatures. Greg Meszaros warned of a drought worse than the 1950s. Mayor Leffingwell cited the rates: $161/ac-ft for firm customers and $6.50/ac-ft for “interruptible.”
    Is it possible that this is about selling hydroelectricity while pushing water downstream? LCRA’s 2011 hydroelectric sales peaked over $400/ac-ft. But that was 2011, when electric prices were capped at $1,500/MWh. Energy prices are on the rise: $5,000/MWh for 2013, $7,000/MWh for 2014, and $9,000/MWh for 2015. In October 2011, staff reported that hydroelectric revenues would no longer be reported as a line item, but would still benefit LCRA’s electric customers, not the firm water customers who subsidize “interruptible.”
    How can LCRA sell more “interruptible” at a 95% discount with storage less than half full, price signals on the rise, and their own meteorologist predicting continued drought?
Mary McAllister

Thanks for "Best Of"

RECEIVED Tue., Nov. 13, 2012

Dear Editor,
    I knew something was up, but was surprised to see the kind comments in your “Best of Austin” issue [Best Ballot Box Brain, Nov. 9]. I'm not sure who is responsible, but I do want to say thanks! It occurs to me that the Chronicle itself and many staffers would merit a win in several categories. It's been a real pleasure to have the opportunity to work with you through the years.
Best regards,
Mary Fero

Sexuality Not a Campaign Issue

RECEIVED Mon., Nov. 12, 2012

Dear Editor,
    As for newly elected AISD board member Jayme Mathias "keeping mum" to being gay ["The AggreGAYtor: November 9," the Gay Place blog], none of the other candidates felt that a declaration of their sexuality was a campaign issue and therefore necessary. Mathias' statement was partly in response to "street rumors" actively put out by Sam Guzman supporters in District 2.
Danny Camacho

'Chronicle' Thoroughly Discredited Itself

RECEIVED Mon., Nov. 12, 2012

Dear Editor,
    Well, Chronicle, you thoroughly discredited yourselves with that shameless 8-2-1 endorsement over the winning citizens' 10-1 single-member districting petition and ballot item. Maybe now you all can redeem yourselves with accurate, honest, and helpful coverage of the 10-1 implementation process. Do spare us the snarky remarks from Mayor Lee Leffingwell and his gang of City Hall consultants. Thanks, yeah?
Brad Parsons

Bill Hammond's 'Absurd Suggestions'

RECEIVED Mon., Nov. 12, 2012

Dear Editor,
    Perry-puppet Bill Hammond wants more businesses to move to Texas so that he and his organization become more important. Big businesses (not small) in Texas already have the government in their pockets.
    Characteristically, Perry and Hammond want the same things: to beef up business and get rid of the remnants of the middle class by hiking fees and penalties and increasing car registration fees.
    Hammond's consistent ignorance is astounding. Perhaps he and Perry should go on the toll road together to campaign for president and vice president in 2016. Both are arrogant, willful, and self-centered, and neither could care less about average Texans and public education. The nation would be very entertained by a Perry/Hammond team, which would never win.
    Motor vehicle registration already is one of the highest in the nation. Fees and penalties have been increasing for the past decade since Perry became governor. The state diverts its constitutional responsibility for the public education budget onto local government via higher property taxes.
    It's time businesses pay their fair share. The business climate in Texas is already one of the best in the nation. Texans stand to get nothing from Hammond’s absurd suggestions besides more cobwebs in their wallets where dollar bills once thrived.
Peter Stern

Shocked by Accommodation Prices

RECEIVED Mon., Nov. 12, 2012

Dear Editor,
    I am a business traveler to the Austin area and would like to express my shock over the pricing of accommodations that have skyrocketed due to the U.S. Grand Prix race coming to Austin this weekend. I am forced to leave the area on Friday morning because my room rate is increasing from $65 to $449 a night. That's nearly seven times the normal rate.
    This is not an aberration, as I have checked the rates at the other motels and have found similar hikes, the lowest of which is four times the normal room rate. After the devastation visited on the East Coast by Hurricane Sandy, price gougers were lambasted for such practices. While my need to stay in the area doesn't rise to that level, it certainly leaves a bad taste in my mouth and belies the lauded Texas hospitality that is so universally accepted as the standard in this fine state.
Dave Perry
Seaside, Calif.

Cars Much More Dangerous to Public Safety

RECEIVED Sun., Nov. 11, 2012

Dear Editor,
    You recently wrote, "Blasé and entitled auto drivers are just as much a public threat as cyclists who run stop signs, stealthily sidle past rows of waiting cars, and don't use their damn hand signals" [Best at Safely Gesticulating, “Best of Austin,” Nov. 9]. Not! The truth is that cars are actually a much larger threat to public safety than bicycles are or ever could be. Think about it: Of the 320 cases of failure to stop and render aid in Austin so far this year, or the dozens of deaths of innocent road users on Austin streets, exactly how many do you think were caused by bicyclists? (Hint: zero.) And how many were caused by drivers? All of them! Law-breaking drivers cause about 30,000 wrecks in the Austin area each year, and in about half of those, a vehicle is towed away or someone goes to the hospital. Nationally, drivers running red lights kill about a thousand people annually and injure another quarter-million.
    Both drivers and cyclists break the law, but the difference is that the drivers are the ones actually killing people. Chronicle, drivers aren't "just as much a threat" as cyclists “who don't use their damn hand signals." They're a fantastically bigger threat. When you're out driving around, which would be worse: getting T-boned by an SUV or by a Schwinn?
Michael Bluejay
Bicycle Austin

Small 'd' Democracy Is a Work in Progress

RECEIVED Thu., Nov. 8, 2012

Dear Editor,
    For once, I agree with you, Michael [“Point Austin: Elections and Consequences,” News, Nov. 9]. Perhaps you also mean to say that small "d" democracy is a work in progress.
    What happens going forward is dependent on who organizes to use the new system, whether they're home builders, environmentalists, etc.
    10-1, together with the first independent citizens commission in the state of Texas, simply opens the door for more grassroots activity and more competitive elections.
    Small "d" democracy and a level playing field is for everyone, even those dastardly Republicans.
Linda Curtis
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