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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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Further Dirt on Food Waste

RECEIVED Tue., Feb. 25, 2020

Dear Editor,
    While I compliment the city of Austin and ARR [Austin Resource Recovery] for crafting an Organics Diversion Ordinance that is reducing the amount of organic matter that ends up in the landfill, it’s very sad that no extra effort has been made to keep food still suitable for human consumption from being wasted. The current ordnance only suggests this high-value food be donated and picked up by one of several food recovery/food running nonprofit organizations here in Austin. 
    The current ordinance has no incentives to donate short-dated, imperfect food or surplus food due to overproduction and has no disincentives for sending it to the landfill.
    Every week tens of thousands of pounds of perfectly good food are going to the landfills and compost piles … still. 
    If our City Council would only have a new ordinance crafted that overlays the existing Organics Diversion Ordinance and has any food-related business that creates a significant amount of potential food donation contact a nonprofit like Save the Food, Keep Austin Fed or the Central Texas Food Bank, all this food could go to needy communities.
    The ordinance could read that if they did do this (contact a nonprofit) they could receive some kind of tax break or reward or if they didn’t (if they insisted on continuing to throw away perfectly good food) they would be penalized in some way.
    When this new ordinance is written, then and only then will a significant amount of the food waste and corresponding food insecurity problem in Austin be reduced. 
    25% of Austin’s children live in households that experience food insecurity. 
    Our City Council giving food-related businesses the flexibility to throw away perfectly good food is shameful. We’re better than this, aren’t we?
Allen Schroeder, Founder of Save the Food

Stop the Negative Attacks

RECEIVED Mon., Feb. 24, 2020

I’m disappointed that a super PAC from outside Texas that supports Pritesh Gandhi is attacking Shannon Hutcheson. I live in TX-10, and I’m fed up with all the nonstop attacks on women by Trump and others in politics. I’m voting for Shannon because she grew up in Texas in a working-class family, and as a congresswoman, I know she’ll fight for everyone in Texas’ 10th district. She will protect the Affordable Care Act, lower health care costs, protect a woman’s right to choose, and get big money out of politics. She’s not taking any corporate PAC money. Pritesh Gandhi – tell your dark money PAC friends in Washington to stop the negative attacks.
Kelly Hines

California Knows How to Compost

RECEIVED Mon., Feb. 24, 2020

To Lina Fisher,
    With regard to citywide composting, you might want to look at what Sacramento, Calif., does. I just moved from there, and the cities have a number of similarities. I found their composting program to be quite easy to use. It does entail having one more bin marked “yard waste” per household.
Regina Bahten

Hoggin’ the Resources

RECEIVED Mon., Feb. 24, 2020

Dear Editor,
    Rusty Middleton commented (Feb. 21, p.8) [“Opinion: LCRA’s Water Marketing Ambitions Could Lower the Colorado River Below Austin”] on the close relationship between water wells, aquifers, and rivers and on how wells can affect rivers without actually pumping water from them.
    We have an example of that close to home. Some homeowners in Tarrytown have drilled wells into the Edwards Aquifer so they can water their lawns in times of drought.
    If the wells did not exist, the water they pump would flow into Lady Bird Lake via springs and then on down the river. Thanks to the wells, water goes on to St. Augustine instead.
    Legally, this is permissible. Hydrologically, it means more water must be released from the Highland Lakes to maintain legally mandated downstream flow in the Colorado River. Morally, it raises the question of whether wealth should allow certain individuals to hog a scarce resource.
Philip Russell

Follow That Plastic!

RECEIVED Mon., Feb. 24, 2020

Dear Editor,
    Thank you for the thoughtful and thorough cover story [“A Banana Peel, a Diaper, and a Plastic Bag Walk Into Austin’s Composting Program,” Feb. 21] last week about how to compost properly using Austin’s green garbage bins. It is inspiring to see how waste is reused to create jobs and food.
    Now, please continue the story about the end life of our plastic waste.
    I have stopped recycling plastics since I read the “Public Notice: Total Garbage” story by Nick Barbaro in your July 12, 2019, issue. I have not been able to learn the whole story from the city’s Resource Recovery department about where our recycled plastics go. I fear they are shipped to China and then dumped into the sea to enlarge the plastic garbage gyre.
    I fear that well-meaning plastic recyclers are contributing unwittingly to more pollution.
    Please follow the plastic story, from fracked gas to the belly of a whale.
    Now if only H-E-B would honor the plastic bag ban in all of their Texas stores, like they continue to do in Austin.
Thank you!
Jenny Clark

Warren Warrants a Win

RECEIVED Mon., Feb. 24, 2020

Dear Editor,
    He betrayed our Kurdish fighters against ISIS. He defended Putin and disparaged our intelligence agencies, which unanimously reported that Russia interferes in our elections. He replaced dedicated professionals with political puppets in our nation’s Intelligence, Justice, and Treasury departments. He’s lied to us over 17,000 times. He obstructs justice, coddles Russia, and extorts our allies.
    These crimes, and so many more, should motivate fair-minded Republicans as well as Independents and Democrats to vote against such traitorous corruption. Any Bernie, Biden, Buttigieg, Bloomberg, or Klobuchar could win and remove him from office. But only Warren can win AND govern effectively to cleanse the putrefaction.
    Elizabeth Warren has the competence and courage to restore integrity from Trump’s corruption. Warren has the compassion and commitment to repair the social safety net. Warren has the smarts and moderate demeanor to win a political majority for the comprehensive changes that most Americans want and need.
Sincerely,
Bruce Joffe

Join the Garden

RECEIVED Mon., Feb. 24, 2020

Dear Editor,
    Your excellent and timely February 21 cover feature article, “The Dirt on Compost” [“A Banana Peel, a Diaper, and a Plastic Bag Walk Into Austin’s Composting Program”] was a good first step in addressing our solid waste issues and taking responsibility for our environment.
    The city of Austin is to be commended for embracing the vision of reducing food waste. However, many Austin residents who live in apartments or in the city’s ETJ (extra territorial jurisdiction) do not have access to this program for those who would like to compost.
    Community gardens like ours offer an option for these residents to join our gardeners in donating their kitchen scraps. We have a three-bin composting system, second Saturday/month workdays, and plots for rent. Connect with us via our Facebook page, Gardens at Gus Garcia, for more information.
Thank you,
Julie Wasserman

Concerned High School Students

RECEIVED Sat., Feb. 22, 2020

Dear Mayor Adler and City Council,
    We are a group of Austin High School students investigating the issue of homelessness in Austin. While we recognize many efforts made by the city of Austin to accommodate the homeless and agree with the Council’s policies that decriminalize their existence, we believe they lack the direct perspective of homeless people. After interviewing several homeless individuals in the community, we realized Austin citizens need to hear from people experiencing homeless directly or, as noted by David Lynch, an Austinite experiencing homelessness, “people out here on the front line.”
    One main issue mentioned by our interviewees was housing. Diego has a solution: “Get those storage containers and make those into housing for the homeless.” Storage containers are not fit for a permanent residence, but they could provide a place to start.
    A more prominent issue is mental health. Because of hidden trauma, many resort to drugs. “We want to suppress these feelings,” says Bradley. According to Austin ECHO, 70% of homeless people experienced past abuse or trauma that has played a part in them becoming homeless. These experiences can scar individuals for life and make it difficult to find a healthy way to cope. Some might say, “Why don’t they go to the homeless shelter?” In reality, Austin’s ARCH shelter isn’t as effective as it seems. Upon asking our interviewees about the shelter, many of them reported it a place of violence they were scared to visit.
    We encourage you to listen to the perspective of those experiencing homelessness, to increase the budget on health care and education for the homeless. We believe if citizens of Austin better understood what individuals experiencing homelessness are going through, than our community would be able to better understand, and eventually solve, Austin’s homeless problem.
Sincerely,
Concerned high school students

Positive Primary Campaign

RECEIVED Sat., Feb. 22, 2020

To the Editor,
    That Dr. Pritesh Gandhi and his Washington super PAC would send me incendiary mailers attacking Shannon Hutcheson is very upsetting. Shannon is running a positive primary campaign for Texas’ Congressional District 10 that is focused on what she’ll do for Texas families. She’s not accepting any corporate PAC money. Shannon Hutcheson is a mom, like me, and a lawyer for Planned Parenthood who will stand up for families and protect a woman’s right to choose. I depend on the Affordable Care Act for health coverage and I know Shannon will protect the ACA for families like mine – rather than bow to corporate interests.
Lisa Duchon
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