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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Better Advocate on the Outside Than the Inside

RECEIVED Wed., Feb. 13, 2013

Dear Editor,
    Re: “A Failure to Communicate” [News, Feb. 8]: While I appreciate Richard Whittaker’s perspective on the Austin Independent School District and the Department of Public Relations and Multicultural Outreach, I offer my own perspective as staff member 25 out of the 26 who quit.
    For 11 months in 2012, I proudly served as the assistant director of community engagement and multicultural outreach. I was charged with leading a team of seven professionals to actively engage all of the district’s constituencies in real and meaningful ways. I ultimately left the position last November after a period of medical leave brought on by exhaustion and overwork.
    Some might say that my departure was the fault of the district or my boss, Alex Sánchez, but I know better. It was a perfect storm made up of my own passion for education coupled with a hard work ethic common among the children of immigrants. Added to that foundation was an unwavering department-wide focus on equal access in an out-of-date bureaucratic structure struggling to meet 21st century demands. This all took place in a district haunted by the trauma caused by a reduction in force and extreme austerity measures imposed by the state.
    While I appreciate Whittaker’s note on the “engagement” efforts of individual staffers from the communications side of the PRMO shop, he failed to highlight the comprehensive portfolio of engagement that extends far beyond those of media relations.
    Every person I worked with at AISD was a committed professional eager to serve all children, parents, and caregivers. Attempts to do so in this day and age with an outdated infrastructure and the reeling impact of cuts to education dollars make for the messy and chaotic work detailed in this article. Whittaker’s depiction is not necessarily false insomuch as it is incomplete.
    As a native of El Paso, the desert is my home terrain. Even so, I recognize the gargantuan effort it must take to right the course of an ocean liner, especially when that ship holds the key to our collective future and our most precious resource.
    As No. 25, I will continue to extend one hand to the district and the other to the community, and I know I will be an even better advocate on the outside than on the inside. I hope others will do the same.
Marisa Y. Limon

'Infowars' Is Extremist Literature

RECEIVED Wed., Feb. 13, 2013

Dear Editor,
    I've noticed that stacks of free copies of Alex Jones' fearmongering rag Infowars have popped up everywhere around town from Dragon's Lair to Pluckers. Annoying, but not surprising, as Austin is his home turf. What is surprising is how many storefronts are so readily willing to distribute extremist literature on their premises. Let's face it: That's all Infowars is, and it sure isn't helping bridge the bitter political divide we all have to deal with. I encourage anyone of a similar mind (or just a working one) to offer polite feedback to establishments handing out this divisive crap. Of course, free speech goes both ways, and if Infowars is your bag, well, let them know and grab your free copies before Obama overturns the First Amendment.
Jay Davis

It's Time to Deal With Climate Change!

RECEIVED Tue., Feb. 12, 2013

Dear Editor,
    In the State of the Union address, President Obama promised to take action to address climate change if Congress refused to. Considering the vast damage climate change is already inflicting in the form of droughts, wildfires, and worsening storms, along with even more severe impacts predicted in the future, he is right to step up in addressing the situation in any way he can. However, it would be a terrible mistake for Congress to do nothing and thus allow this crisis to be addressed solely through executive means, when legislative alternatives exist which would be more effective, more affordable, and more economically sound. For example, a steadily rising revenue-neutral fee on carbon is a solution favored not only by conservative economists such as Greg Mankiw, but also by oil companies themselves, such as BP, Shell, and Exxon. A simple and clear carbon fee would give these companies a clear path to plan around for the future and a strong incentive to invest in renewable energy, thus benefiting everyone. Climate change is a serious problem, and we have the means – politically and technologically – to solve it, while also creating green jobs and without damaging the economy. The only thing standing in our way is partisan bickering. We should let our representatives know that it's time to come together and move forward on this issue.
Juliana Kunz

Remember Radio Ranch's Bass Player

RECEIVED Tue., Feb. 12, 2013

Dear Editor,
    Quick correction regarding the courtship of Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis [“The Bandera Way,” Music, Feb. 8]. The bass player in Radio Ranch with Mas Palermo, Mike Hardwick, and David Murray was Brad Fordham. The band lasted quite a while including a lot of touring and the MCA record years. Full disclosure: I am now married to Brad but I saw the band quite a bit during that time.
Lisa Pankratz

Enemies of Public Education

RECEIVED Mon., Feb. 11, 2013

Dear Editor,
    Thanks for printing this article pointing out the truth [“Judge: Texas School Finance System Unconstitutional,” Newsdesk blog, Feb. 5].
    Rick Perry and Bill Hammond are dirtbags and thugs, simply put. They know what they are doing, and it's a shame they have been getting away with it for the past decade. If you recall … Hammond was the guy who said that in order to save money on public education we should increase class size. In trying to shut down public education, these guys are idiots. Whatever happened to tarring, feathering, and running degenerates out of town? These two should be first on that list!
Peter Stern

Governance Changes?

RECEIVED Mon., Feb. 11, 2013

Dear Editor,
    The Austin City Council should consider a governance change for the Austin Water utility and engage the community on this discussion in 2013.
    Any governance change to Austin Energy should only be done with the support of informed and engaged ratepayers who understand the potential benefits as well as the consequences.
    Will these decisions move us forward, hold us in place, or cause us to move backward in terms of affordability and sustainability?
    Your thoughts?
Gib Jensen

Specific Concerns About How He Was Represented

RECEIVED Mon., Feb. 11, 2013

Dear Editor,
    I have several concerns about "A Failure to Communicate” [News, Feb. 8] but I am limiting this letter to the way I’m represented.
    I am quoted as "Former Trustee Mark Williams." I would like to point out that I have not spoken to Mr. Whittaker since I left office in November. Nor have I been “openly critical of PRMO's results.” I did comment in late 2011 that the district's process regarding IDEA was poor. But I didn't attribute that all to PRMO [Public Relations and Multicultural Outreach]. Further, I didn’t ever make a blanket statement or criticism about the district’s public outreach, as seems to be implied in the article. In fact, while there is certainly room for improvement, I believe there has been much effort and good work by PRMO to better reach out to all of the district’s diverse stakeholders.
    I also believed that there was (and likely still is) a workload imbalance for PRMO. As indicated by Mr. Whittaker, Mr. Sánchez's department is understaffed relative to other urban districts, especially with the increased demands placed on the current PRMO staff – demands that are far more than was expected (or thought capable of being delivered) by his predecessors.
    Finally, I am described as a "rules martinet.” I realize that snarky criticism can play well to audiences, but I do think that term is intentionally misleading. For the Citizens Communications over which I presided for six years, I think you'll find that I was not “hanging on the clock" - I let speakers go over their allotted time on numerous occasions (too often, some have said). I did believe that persons who signed up should speak for themselves and not take a slot to just let someone else speak. But I only had to deal with that issue a few times, and the issue only escalated during the IDEA deliberations.
Mark Williams

What Happened to 'Running Man' Statue?

RECEIVED Sat., Feb. 9, 2013

Dear Editor,
    What happened to the iron "running man" statue that popped up on the south side of Cesar Chavez just west of the Buford Tower right after Christmas? And for that matter, where did it come from? Has it returned to its own planet?
Brad Blodgett

Need 3-D Printers?

RECEIVED Fri., Feb. 8, 2013

Dear Editor,
    Re: “Letters at 3AM: The Revolution Will Be Printed” [Feb. 8]: I need these [3-D printers] to make my car insurance, mortgage, electricity, and gasoline. If they can make my bed and make my kid do algebra at grade level, I'm all for it. What terrifies me the most is that local governments will use them to make more taxes.
Meredith Poor

Second Amendment a Sop

RECEIVED Thu., Feb. 7, 2013

Dear Editor,
    Re: thirty-round magazines: If you can actually shoot, they're irrelevant. They do let people who can't really shoot just spray the area, so they're a boon to homicidal maniacs.
    The Second Amendment was a sop to slave owners in case of a slave revolt. The reference in the amendment is to a militia, not an individual. Slave owners would need a militia in such an instance since they would be outnumbered by the slaves. Slaves did revolt periodically; everyone knew that. That's why it was written in.
Jim Harris
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