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
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RECEIVED Wed., March 7, 2007
What a refreshing piece of good news it was to see that Australia, an entire country, is phasing out old-style light bulbs. This will save enormous amounts of energy and prevent tons of global-warming pollution. What a simple idea! There's really no reason why we shouldn't do the same. Switching to fluorescent, energy-saving bulbs will help the environment and prevent the building of more coal-fired power plants, and, for many of us, our electricity bills will be lowered by as much as 60%. Everyone wins!
The bulbs we typically use now have not changed that much since the 19th century. About 20% of the energy they use is lost in heat. A gradual phase-out of these energy hogs is long overdue. This idea has been proposed in California, and New Jersey is considering doing the same for their government buildings. Texas should follow their lead, or perhaps Austin or Travis County could implement something similar. In the fight against global warming, this is one simple, positive step that we must take. How many Texans does it take to change a light bulb? Let's find out!
RECEIVED Tue., March 6, 2007
The problem with the T. Don Hutto Residential Center situation is not that we are locking up children there, but that some of us think locking up children, even toddlers is OK [“National Spotlight Shines on Detention Center,” News, Feb. 16]. Yes, babies behind bars. Are toddlers in leg irons next? Rep. John Carter says that the residents at T. Don Hutto get humane treatment. Sounds like he’s talking about dogs and cats in an animal shelter. Never in our history have we incarcerated little children, even babies. We’ve had debtor’s prison and stocks that shackle adults to be teased and taunted and other failed mechanisms for detention and punishment. But we have never locked up children. What is happening to coarsen us so much that we don’t react with outrage?
RECEIVED Mon., March 5, 2007
I keep hearing about traffic impact analyses going on in different parts of town. At the same time, I keep seeing people who live Downtown and work Downtown not taking the bus. To the citizens who think that any TIA is going to solve traffic problems, think again. Austinites are making a choice. If you live Downtown and drive to work and home again, with no kids to pick up and no business to conduct, you are making a choice. Even worse, you are making a choice for me, a citizen who chooses to take the bus. The bus can't go through the cars, so you keep the rest of the citizens behind unless they, too, get cars and join the traffic problem. Traffic gets worse with more cars on the road. Period. There's no reason to think that if we build more roads and keep making it easy for cars to drive, people will stop driving and start taking the bus. That's irresponsible, and no matter how many TIAs are done, if people keep driving, traffic will get worse. Austin is getting bigger, and those of you who live in quaint, quiet neighborhoods are naive not to expect growth. Cars are simply not going to cut it all the time anymore.
RECEIVED Mon., March 5, 2007
Barack Obama and John McCain have both recently apologized for saying that more than 3,000 American lives have been wasted in the Iraq war. In my opinion, they hit the nail on the head and have nothing to apologize for. The commander in chief of those dead troops manipulated the fear and confusion following the 9/11 attacks to build public support for an invasion and long-term occupation of a country that had nothing to do with attacking us. Saddam Hussein was actually suppressing al Qaeda because they represented a threat to his regime! The Iraq branch of the group only came into existence after George Bush gave them the best recruiting fair they could have asked for. The bravery, patriotism, and honorable intentions of our military personnel cannot change the end result that they died in support of an asinine foreign policy and corporate greed. It is a sad commentary on our society that a presidential candidate cannot express such an opinion without feeling compelled to apologize for it.
RECEIVED Mon., March 5, 2007
The Domain luxury shopping center will be open for business with much fanfare. Good for them. What the Domain developers won't feature in any press statement is that the Domain is a Trojan horse of enormous tax subsidies whose final cost may reach $65 million.
Through a series of false assumptions and steeply discounted future cash flows, Endeavor Real Estate cloaked the true cost, convincing city and county officials to grant a stunning sum to underwrite a high-end retail development of low-paying jobs. Endeavor’s own projections showed a very profitable development even before the incentives. But now, with 80% of the city’s sales tax collected at the Domain given back to Endeavor and Simon, the giveaway is off the charts. Sixty-five million dollars is a lot of taxpayer money to induce Neiman Marcus and Tiffany & Co. to provide expensive goods to well-to-do customers.
Here is the good news. A lawsuit I filed on the subsidy matter was settled in June 2004, and that settlement agreement stripped away the city subsidy guarantees for the Domain.
The developer and the city agreed in writing that the city may choose to not appropriate funds with no recourse, no damages, and no monetary return.
Most of the city elected officials have moved on since the incentive deal was inked. Our current City Council should give this deal the boot or else the citizens must force the issue by bringing it to vote through petition or yet another lawsuit. Let's welcome the merchants but say goodbye to the subsidies.
RECEIVED Fri., March 2, 2007
What happened to King George's smirk? Maybe he lost it during his Iraq adventure along with several thousand lives and hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars. He can be proud, though, as he was able to eliminate taxes for the top 1% and give the oil companies windfall profits. Thanks too to the "Christian" right who brought us George II.