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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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Shouldn't the Animals There Be Protected?

RECEIVED Wed., Oct. 10, 2007

Dear Editor,
    Lindshire Park has a pond and is located in Tanglewood Forest. According to a sign posted there, this park is designated a wildlife preserve. Its residents are primarily ducks and geese of several different breeds. The Tanglewood Forest Limited District board of directors (Real Manage Corp.) had decided to dredge the pond to remove accumulated debris. I was able to meet with their manager and members of the hired construction team. The contractors described what would happen. The pond will be dredged and completely drained, removing the debris to an area of the greenbelt behind our houses. This process was described as taking six to eight weeks. Once dredging is complete, there are no provisions to refill the pond; they will rely on rain and runoff to do the job. This could take months. When asked of their plans to accommodate the birds losing their habitat for such a period of time, their response was that they would probably fly away, maybe to return. I questioned if they had even consulted with an environmentalist; there was no response, leaving me to believe they have little concern for the birds’ welfare. This seems rather heartless; most of these ducks and geese have lived there for their whole lives. What's more disturbing is that many of these birds are not even able to fly. The pond serves not only as a main source of food but also as a place of protection, allowing them to escape nightly predators.
    Lindshire Park with its wildlife preserve has served as a source of enjoyment for many South Austin residents. It is commonplace to see whole families come to watch and interact with the ducks, geese, turtles, and other wildlife. These birds are to a certain extent semidomesticated and have become accustomed to human care and kindness. If a sign designates an area as a wildlife preserve, shouldn't the animals there be protected or at least considered. Am I wrong in assuming this? Can you help my waterfowl friends?
Sincerely,
Denise Asmus

Let's Stop Incarcerating African-Americans

RECEIVED Tue., Oct. 9, 2007

To the Editor:
   Please let's stop incarcerating African-Americans, the new discrimination. Really, they were better off out of jail and out of the lunch counters. We imprison 100 times as many people per capita as the Europeans, the result of zero tolerance. The Republicans invented the War on Drugs, but it is the very nice liberals who keep building more jails for the very nice purpose of alleviating overcrowding. We need another hundred times as many jails if we want to throw all the lawbreakers, including the white ones, in jail as well.
   Let's quit building jails and put the money in health care and education, please.
Janet Gilles

Barthelmess, Not Gish

RECEIVED Tue., Oct. 9, 2007

Dear Louis Black,
    I'm sure I'm not the first to point out to you that it wasn't Lillian Gish who was "jumping from ice floe to ice floe" in D.W. Griffith's Way Down East [“Page Two,” Oct. 5]. It was Richard Barthelmess, in his attempt to rescue Miss Gish, who had merely passed out, exhausted, on the edge of the frozen river.
    Years later the two of them attended a revival screening of the film. Afterward they looked at each other and marveled, "Why aren't we both dead?"
David S. Ort

Spears Didn't Announce Retirement

RECEIVED Tue., Oct. 9, 2007

Dear Editor,
    Re: “Who Knew a Tax Collector's Race Could Be This Much Fun?” [News, Oct. 5]: In the last paragraph of the article: "only after Spears announced she would retire.” I never announced to any group that I was retiring. I discussed the possibility with friends and family but never announced it, and then reversed it. Never happened! That's a claim made by my opponent.
    Otherwise, great article.
Nelda Wells Spears
Travis County tax assessor/collector

Lack of Consideration Is a Real Problem

RECEIVED Mon., Oct. 8, 2007

Dear Ms. Alexia,
    Re: The Oct. 5 “Postmark” "Panhandlers Are a Real Problem": Do you know any of the homeless citizens' stories? In other words, how did they become homeless? What are their circumstances? What's their story?
    Not everyone who is homeless is without a job – there is such a term as "the working homeless.” And for those who cannot "work" in the traditional sense, have you asked why they can't?
    Finally, many of us have the luxury of privacy within our homes, where we can let our guard down, drink a beer, read a book, take a shower, etc., whereas the homeless citizens' "homes" are outside, where everyone can view their more "private" "downtime" moments, such as drinking a beer.
    Furthermore, when a person is stripped of all dignity such as access to showers, decent clothing, privacy, access to venues that stimulate the mind – sometimes all that's left to quell the monotony of an abrasive survival is to swig a beer.
    Resolving the homeless problem is not as simple as slapping a Band-Aid on it with the mantra of "get a job" or with removing these citizens from sight. Plus it's tough to get a job when a person has no permanent address, no access to a shower, and must recover from the post-traumatic stress caused from living on the streets. And with today's real estate market, getting a job still does not guarantee that the subsequent paycheck will put a roof over somebody's head.
Allissa Chambers

Gun Story Refreshingly Sensible

RECEIVED Mon., Oct. 8, 2007

Dear Editor,
    I would like to thank Jordan Smith for a refreshingly sensible and levelheaded article [“The Journey of a Gun,” News, Oct. 5] concerning local efforts to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, one which not only avoids the hysterical anti-gun hand-wringing so prevalent in more sensationalistic news outlets but also dares to present the obvious commonsense approach to effectively fighting gun crime: actually fighting gun crime.
    I did find it interesting that economist Philip Cook states that Chicago confiscates 10,000 guns annually and yet draws the conclusion that "Drug dealers in Chicago don't want to deal in guns because there is so much [risk]." It seems to me this indicates that drug dealers are continuing to bring in thousands of illegal firearms every year despite the Chicago Police Department's best efforts to enforce both federal firearms law and Chicago's blatantly unconstitutional handgun ban. Those figures don't differentiate between crack dealers and innocent citizens forced to illegally protect themselves from crack dealers.
    Thanks again to Ms. Smith for this logical and thoroughly researched article. Now concerned Austin residents who want more funding for the Austin Police Department's Firearms Review Unit can have one more issue completely ignored by the City Council.
Jason Meador

Supports States' Rights

RECEIVED Mon., Oct. 8, 2007

Dear Editor,
    I'm not sure if I'm writing this to you, Austinites, or the world. Are we evolving because we are putting a moratorium on potentially "cruel and unusual" punishment, or are we simply catching up with the rest of the world when it comes to outrage pertaining to this subject? Are we truly concerned with the proper application of the Eighth Amendment, while the 10th takes yet another back seat to the ever-swaying opinions of the masses and a judiciary that continues to overstep the bounds of its own courts? This may not be the Old West, but it is still the state of Texas. If persons are found guilty by a jury of their peers, then a punishment must be handed down. "Stays" and "executions" are two different things. Is lethal injection the "only" method of execution? If it is so cruel, then how about some other method? How about a firing line full of sharpshooters or a good-old-fashioned guillotine?
    Whether or not a person suffers on the way toward the inevitable seems a pointless cause to undertake. If what the opponents of this form of punishment ultimately desire is to see the end of capital punishment, then they should lobby their state's Legislature to do so. Stop monkeying around with courts, because the only true outcome will be the manipulation of states' rights and the process by which we as independent states go about legislating ourselves.
    I personally do not agree with capital punishment. What I do agree with is the 10th Amendment, which protects a state's right to create laws that fall within constitutional guidelines and enforce the laws it creates. If lethal injection is "cruel and unusual," then imagine how "cruel and unusual" the continued suffering of victims is it at the hands of judiciaries they never elected and opinions of masses that do not live in Texas.
Raymond Weaver

Who Needs the Capitol?

RECEIVED Mon., Oct. 8, 2007

Dear Editor,
    When I checked out the image of a possible city skyline [“Austin's Future Skyline?” News, Oct. 5], I noticed one thing missing: the Capitol building.
    Oh well, who needs that old eyesore anyway? Why let protecting views of that clunky hunk of junk get in the way of progress? What we need is more overpriced condos to welcome more yuppies from California?
    Maybe we can build a giant mall around that rickety old Capitol building and hang a waterslide off the dome. That would be awesome!
Thanks,
Ted Fero

Affordable Housing Here Doesn't Exist

RECEIVED Mon., Oct. 8, 2007

Dear Editor,
    Affordable housing in Austin does not exist [“Developing Stories,” News, Oct. 5]. It’s not just a problem affecting the Eastside. It’s everywhere. Small, unassuming homes in central Austin average $230,000 on the low end. If you are single and making less than $30,000 per year (as are many Austinites), you can forget your dream of homeownership in central Austin. You are stuck in perpetual renter’s hell. And if you are a single parent, good luck finding a decent place that leases for under $1,200. When did Austin only become available for the elite? I’ve noticed my generation specifically locked into a caste system where we are pinned by our socioeconomic status. Yet it’s members of Generation X who are now large contributors to the uniqueness of this awesome city. How the hell are we being weeded out of our own town? Austin is a progressive, feisty, beautiful, artistic, liberal, and forgiving city because of spiritual and mindful contributions by its citizens. Big business does not fit into this scenario. What is happening to our city, and why are we so paralyzed to stop it? Enough with the condos and McMansions, which, by the way, the average Austinite cannot even afford. Enough with urban sprawl in our vintage neighborhoods, enough with the hideous cost of living, enough with the desecration of our beautiful surroundings, enough with these greedy developers systematically destroying our city for their own personal gain. They are making it impossible for true Austinites to reside here. It all seems very wrong and a definite inappropriate course for the future of our city. I’m glad people are writing about it. We should do more. Take Austin back.
Yours truly,
Colette Michalec

Uniting Against Loan Sharks

RECEIVED Sun., Oct. 7, 2007

Dear Editor,
    You're not alone if you're having trouble repaying your student loans. What the lending agencies, aka collection agencies, don't take into account is that life happens. Things like disability, death, hurricanes, earthquakes, 9/11, etc. Billing and payment practices are a shamble! This has resulted in suicides, most recently in Illinois this summer. Go to www.studentloanjustice.org for help. We are organizing to fight these loan sharks who are above any consumer-protection laws.
Carol Jordan

No Real Public Input on Hiring New City Manager

RECEIVED Sat., Oct. 6, 2007

Dear Editor,
    In last week’s story on the city-manager hire [“Point Austin,” News, Oct. 5], Michael King wrote, "members are hoping that the official and public process parallels" that of the police-chief selection.
    Who’s kidding whom here?
    In the Aug. 23 daily, the mayor very clearly established we wouldn’t be involved even to the low-level, symbolic degree we were with the chief’s hire, saying, "The public role will be diminished in this process."
    The single planned public hearing took place Aug. 23 (a whopping five people weighed in). No meeting with candidates is planned, no “citizens advisory panel” is forming, no process considered for public input on a draft profile, and council isn’t soliciting our input on needed structural changes for that office.
    Council Member Mike Martinez recently claimed that because an elected body makes the hire, that’s as good as public input. That, of course, assumes council truly is representative.
    He also mentioned their “taking ownership” of the process. How about taking ownership of the lack of accountability with the current manager? The public has been calling for a variety of investigations. Start by cleaning up the mess, and work to change the dynamics such that the new hire has opportunity to build trust.
    If council considers Toby Futrell above scrutiny, how can the public trust them to make the right choice in her replacement?
    King also reported, "Futrell is now working amicably with the council on the search process." Whoa, Nelly! She’s helping her “boss” replace herself? The fact that this isn’t raising red flags typifies how she’s not just managed city business but her power to fool Austin into believing she’s the boss of the council.
    Council should replace her ASAP with an interim to create the space to deal with the liability so as not to pass it on to the new hire, and it is imperative the public watchdog the selection process to ensure we don’t continue “Futrell’s reign of terror.”
Debbie Russell

Cars, Cars, Cars

RECEIVED Sat., Oct. 6, 2007

Dear Editor,
    Regarding whether or not Austin is "safe for cycling," I have to admit it's not like it used to be.
    In fact … everyone reading this letter should start driving cars exclusively. Do not walk; do not take the bus; just drive, drive, drive. Because we all know that driving is the safest and most efficient possible mode of transportation – especially when the roads are clogged to the point of stasis. No movement means no accidents!
    Man … we'll all be so safe; utopia, finally, here in Central Texas.
    I'll be walking or biking around the parked hulks, offering to squeegee your view of the bumper sticker in front of you: "My other car is also destroying my children's future."
Robert Clayton

Panhandlers Are a Real Problem

RECEIVED Fri., Oct. 5, 2007

Dear Editor,
    I'm so tired of seeing people actually siding with Austin's homeless [“Beside the Point,” News, Oct. 5]. So here's a letter rooting for expanding anti-solicitation ordinances. Let's stop enabling the homeless, and let's actually make them work for their money like most people do. I'm tired of seeing Austin's city limits riddled with transients. Why? Because when I first moved here I had no vehicle, so my only means of transportation was the metro or my own two feet. My everyday commute to school or to work was an annoying encounter of smelly bums and panhandling scum, being rude or aggressive. Men and woman drinking beer at bus stops with the money they would gather throughout the day. I swear everyone wants to sugar this poop cake and state that the panhandling homeless are harmless and helpless. Why don't we print what actually goes on at those intersections? I'm horrified to know that no one wants to take responsibility for enabling these people to panhandle. There is a reason why you don't see them (homeless) in court fighting for their own cause, because they have better things to do, like drink their sorrows away, rant, and hate the society that's giving them their daily dose of food and money. All I have to say to the City Council is you got my vote on expanding anti-solicitation ordinances. Let's start cleaning up our streets and making this community safe!
Gina Alexia

Where Would Jesus Stand on the Jena 6?

RECEIVED Thu., Oct. 4, 2007

Dear Editor,
    I just wanted to send a message thanking you for detailing the entire controversy of the Jena 6 [“Austinites Mobilize in Support of the Jena 6,” News, Sept. 28]. I watched the national media for about an hour during a press conference, and they never once explained the controversy in the detail you provided.
    I heard the prosecutor talk about his lord Jesus Christ in the press conference and a pastor's rebuttal about the prosecutor's Jesus and his Jesus (the pastor's). The whole discussion made me think about where Jesus would stand in such proceedings.
    Was Jesus a powerful prosecutor (Pilate) or the accused? Did Jesus forgive sins or condemn others for their sins? Was Jesus imprisoned and accused or the accuser (prosecutor)?
    The one crime that Jesus ever held up to being worthy of the death penalty was harming a child (Mark 9:42). A self-inflicted penalty but a death penalty none the less. Is a 17-year-old a child? I don't have an answer for that.
    The prosecutor should not be trying to sanctify his work in the name of Jesus. God in his infinite wisdom made sure that no man could rightly justify any kind of oppression of any man or woman, just or unjust, in Jesus' name. A life of service and in the end oppressed and killed should make us all consider how we treat others and who we are most like.
    My thanks to the pastor for wisely asking the right question and making others consider the difference.
Kelly Trujillo
Round Rock

Completely Partisan Satire

RECEIVED Thu., Oct. 4, 2007

Dear Editor,
    We can't let the Republicans go on living in our fair country, can we? They stole two presidential elections and have permanently damaged the nation.
    Once we Democrats take over, we obviously can't go back to business as usual. It'll only be a matter of time before they game the system and start screwing things up again.
    Let's face it: America will never be safe until the right are driven from our country. Since the political right in America is a tiny minority of creepy white guys, it's only appropriate for them to move out and for us to stay.
    Here's my plan: We clear the cool people out of Texas and put the Republicans there. They could have their own country. Texas has already been totally messed up by conservative/libertarian policies, so the wingers would feel at home there.
    Radical as it sounds, this is a win-win proposition.
    "Wingnutistan" would be a country composed almost entirely of white males. It would have a closed border, you bet your ass. Taxes would be low, and there would be a whopping big deficit. Abortions would be handled by the mob, and the infant mortality rate would be through the ceiling. There would be no health-care system, no food-safety laws, no workplace-safety laws, no environmental regulations, no Meals on Wheels, no National Weather Service, no Medicare, and no liberals to rip off. Homosexuality would be illegal – yet there would be oodles of homosexuals. There would be no people of color, no science, no culture, no art.
    They would be dead within weeks. Like I say, it's win-win.
Perry Logan
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