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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, follow this link, or email your letter directly to mail@austinchronicle.com. Thanks for your patience.

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Think of the Children's Theatre

RECEIVED Tue., Aug. 6, 2013

Dear Editor,
    Thank you for your update on what happened at the Scottish Rite Theater [“'Weird Rodeo' at the Scottish Rite," News, Aug. 2]. My 3-year-old absolutely adored the theatre's latest performance of Charlotte's Web – almost as much as she enjoyed Pippi Longstocking. Whatever Emily Marks was doing to bring those two stagings to life was important to my daughter, and thus important to me and my wife. It's disappointing the board of directors and Marks couldn't get past their differences. There is a need for good theatre for kids in Austin. We'll keep looking for a theatre doing work as good.
Mark Hammer

The Next Big Ban

RECEIVED Mon., Aug. 5, 2013

Dear Editor,
    “It's immoral to let a sucker keep his money.” These words of con-man Canada Bill Jones should be the motto of the bottled water industry. Austin’s tap water is among the purest nationwide, but people still pay thousands of times more for bottled water. Your recent article about the plastics industry makes this issue even more urgent [“Eastman Wins; Jury Still Out on Plastic,” News, Aug. 2].
    Imagine your bottled water included about an inch of crude oil; that’s how much is needed to make the plastic. There’s even more greenhouse gas created in shipping and refrigeration. And as the article stated, we know very little about what plastics really do to our health. Meanwhile the environmental hazards could prove to be catastrophic as millions of tons of plastic garbage break down into tiny bits in our oceans.
    Bottled water is bad for Mother Earth. It has been banished from government offices in San Francisco and national parks. Concord, Mass. has gone one step further, banning all drinks in plastic bottles smaller than one liter.
    We must stop coating the planet with plastic garbage. Communities like Austin will lead the way. We banned single-use plastic bags and the sky didn’t fall on anybody’s head. Now we should join the growing movement to ban bottled water.
Chris Jones

Required Reading

RECEIVED Fri., Aug. 2, 2013

Dear Editor,
    Michael Ventura's continuing articles “An Arbitrary Nation,” [“Letters at 3am,” July 26] rank with Thomas Paine's “Common Sense” pamphlet that the Founding Fathers of America hailed. This column should be read to all Americans once a year, especially starting with school children. Brilliant, poignant, and right on the money for a confused America. If we lose the essence of early America, it won't be Michael Ventura's fault.
Michael Brooks

Profits vs. Community Values

RECEIVED Fri., Aug. 2, 2013

Dear Editor,
    The so-called “Taco” Planned Unit Development (PUD) proposed for 211 S. Lamar, where the Taco Cabana is located, has generated much heated discussion about affordable housing in the city.
    Affordable housing is a high priority for our community and all seven city council members have expressed a strong commitment to it. At his last inaugural speech, Mayor Leffingwell said “working to keep Austin affordable has to be a top priority at city hall.” It is time for the council to stand behind these words!
    A PUD zoning gives developers extra height, density, and a larger building footprint in return for superior amenities to the community, such as significantly more affordable housing than would be required under the current zoning for the site.
    The developer is requesting PUD zoning for the site to bypass the Waterfront Overlay Ordinance and build a 96-foot building just yards away from Lady Bird Lake. The developer is offering less affordable housing for a 96-foot building under PUD zoning than a 60-foot building that could be built under existing mixed-use zoning and that conforms to the Waterfront Overlay Ordinance. How can this be considered superior? It’s clearly not. What is clear is that this out-of-town developer is using the PUD zoning to short-change affordable housing and pocket the profit.
    Is the economic gain for this California-based developer more important than our community need for affordable housing? Certainly not! If affordable housing is truly a priority for this Council, it should deny this PUD application and tell the developer to build under the current mixed-use zoning that will provide more affordable housing and will be a truly superior project that is consistent with Austin’s community values.
David King

Not a Deadline

RECEIVED Fri., Aug. 2, 2013

Dear Editor,
    Regarding “Redistricting Commission Moves On … With All Deliberate Speed,” [News, Aug. 2]: the Chronicle story is inaccurate in at least two ways. First, it incorrectly suggests that the U.S. attorney general's action under Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act before the three-judge court in San Antonio could affect the Austin redistricting commission's actions. The U.S. attorney general’s action is aimed only at state legislative acts. He is not requesting a ruling that would engulf the political subdivisions in Texas. Section 3 has been used only nine times since 1965. The Supreme Court has never decided a case under Section 3. It is doubtful that the issue of preclearance under Section 3 even for the state will be resolved anytime that affects the drawing of Austin districts.
    You also are mistaken that the commission must finish its work by December 1, 2013. When I drafted this provision in 2011, I used the date of December 1 just to assure that the new districts were finalized in ample time before the May elections. When it appeared that the election date might be moved, the following wording was added to Section 3(b) of Proposition 3: "If the date of the city election is moved, then the dates in this article shall be adjusted to ensure the commission has sufficient time to draw the lines prior to the election date." The city attorney has correctly said that the December 1 date is not set in stone and that the real dates that matter are those in 2014 that mark the election process itself (e.g. date for filing; date for soliciting contributions).
    The commission has made clear that it is planning to meet the December 1 date if possible, but it is also clear that, contrary to your story, the commission is not bound legally to finish its work by the December 1 date.
Steve Bickerstaff