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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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City Needs Stronger Environmental Ethic

RECEIVED Wed., April 23, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Your Green Crush issue was welcome and overdue. It may be the only time an enviro has made the cover.
    Katherine Gregor's Austin Climate Protection Plan story [“Cool Austin, Cool Planet,” News, April 18] references welcome local progress on the issue, but Austin Energy and the city face many internal challenges on program implementation. First, many city field employees don't have an environmental ethic and needlessly idle vehicles and leaf blowers and wastewater without any consequence. Second, the city does not promote their own programs well enough. I have worked closely to support AE, the Parks & Recreation Department, and the Fleet Department initiatives, and progress is uneven. An activist mentality is needed. The plug-in hybrid initiative does have an activist element to it. The standard and unimaginative promotional efforts of tabling and direct mail will not be enough. Third, there are rarely economic incentives and never disincentives for managers and employees based on the effectiveness for environmental programs. Fourth, the CoA should only help facilitate ACPP's community plan and then quickly refocus their attention to municipal operations.
    The Municipal Buildings – Sustainability update states: "Initiative to ensure minimum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver (level) for city buildings, greater consistency, etc.” This was already accomplished by Council Resolution (No. 000608-43) passed in June 2000. An update from the city manager's office last year said every CoA project since then has met this mark and some such as City Hall have exceeded it.
    The Energy Efficiency Retrofit Task Force is meeting bimonthly instead of the stated biweekly. The second part of what the ordinance will do is uncertain based, in my opinion, on a lack of commitment to the original goal setting and unfamiliarity among the task force participants to each other.
    Finally, the fleet component of the Municipal Plan is flawed. The CoA had in their possession dedicated compressed natural gas garbage trucks well before they had a fueling station for them. Currently, they are waiting on an ethanol (E85) refueling station for already received E85 capable vehicles.
    Most importantly, the adoption of corn-based ethanol (E85) as a major fuel source for Austin Police Department cruisers last year will help wreak havoc with world food supplies. Buying APD cruisers that are dedicated to run on gasoline, but which get greater miles per gallon, would have been a better decision for the climate, as I advocated to the city in 2007.
Regards,
Scott Johnson
Original member, Green Building Task Force (1999-2001)
Alternate, CoA Energy Efficiency Retrofit Task Force (2008)
   [Editor's note: Scott Johnson's lawn mower program was also featured in the Green Crush issue. See "The Outdoorsy Type" for more.]

Don't Lose the Faith!

RECEIVED Tue., April 22, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I commented on Grist and other blogs about what a big deal Earth Day is, and I guess I'll say it here. The last Chronicle has three great News articles about how Austin is a leader in reducing emissions [“Cool Austin, Cool Planet,” “Austin Climate Protection Plan Year One Highlights,” and “The Local Politics of Climate Protection,” April 18].
    I found all three to be well-written and concise and wondered why everybody is worried about politics when that “doesn't mean boo to a tree.”
    The articles not only show wonderful progress, but also you get a sense of how hard it is to reduce greenhouse gases.
    If this were an easy job, we'd leave it to a bunch of do-nothing mullets. Come on folks, don't lose the faith!
Respectfully,
Sam Wells
South Padre Island

Congratulations on Ronnie Earle Coverage

RECEIVED Tue., April 22, 2008

Dear Editor,
    If I served as city editor of the Austin American-Statesman, I'd be kicking my ass after reading Michael King and Jordan Smith's take on Ronnie Earle (whom I know) before I assigned Statesman reporters to write his history [“District Eternity,” News, April 11]. Congratulations.
Robert Heard

Yet Another Bad Air Day

RECEIVED Tue., April 22, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Today [Tuesday, April 22] is Earth Day, and the air is bad again in Austin. It's not even the maximum load time, and already the particle matter 2.5 reading is at 67. That's what they call "moderate.” Moderate used to be a lower number. For me, I can tell by the burning of my eyes and throat that it's a bad air day. But going to the website www.airnow.gov confirms it.
    It saddens me that after nearly 20 years of trying to convince my City Council, state reps, governors, and others that we need to take serious action in Austin to reduce air pollution, we're faced with days that are consistently unhealthy to be outdoors. And instead of getting better, it's just gotten worse.
    Our city won't even take action against their own gas-powered mowers, blowers, and other handheld equipment. We're paying to have all the leaves, pollen, toxic metals, and other contaminants blown down into our sewers and our watershed – and into our cars if we dare have the windows open on "landscape" days. And no one seems to take notice. Apparently it's more important to spend time wheeling and dealing with condo developers and silicon manufacturers – or giving more rights to dogs. I don't have anything against dogs in general, but I do feel my city should represent [me] based on priorities, not popularity. Call me cynical, but I care about my health.
    I must admit, Earth Day has always saddened me a bit. It makes me have to think about how little the average person knows about pollution and its effects on our health.
    Thinking of taking the kids outside for a stroll in that polluted air? It's just like letting them smoke, from what recent studies have reported. When you are old and gray and they ask, “Why didn't you do something?” I wonder what you'll say. I know I will say: "I tried. I really tried."
Kelly Hayes

Innovative Transportation Ideas Should Be Tried

RECEIVED Tue., April 22, 2008

Dear Editor,
    As a follow-up to Skip Cameron's letter [“Postmarks,” April 18], I would like to note that the website he referred to (www.cmt4austin.org) mentions Curitiba, Brazil, but does not elaborate on a key component of Curitiba's success – bus boarding platforms. Paying at the bus door, as is done in Austin, forces passengers to enter through one narrow door – a process that takes several seconds per passenger. When the bus is full, these several seconds translate into substantial delays.
    The boarding platform involves people paying to get onto a raised platform. The bus then arrives, and four wide doors open, as on a subway car, to allow large numbers of people to enter and leave in a few seconds.
    Transport systems such as Curitiba's can be installed in stages, as Mexico City did. If large numbers of people are moving along one route, as from North and South Austin to Downtown, the Capitol, and the University of Texas, a single bus line with dedicated bus-only lanes can enormously relieve congestion and cut travel time. In Mexico City, the single line was so successful that cross routes are now being installed, fleshing out the system, as was done in Curitiba and in Richard Schultz's model.
    Before spending millions of dollars on sleek buses on Lamar, which will be little used because they will be stuck in traffic, I would like to extend an invitation to the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization and Cap Metro members and their staffs – I will accompany you to Mexico City and set up an interview with their transit authority so you can witness a proven, cost-effective method for urban transport. After that, you can make an informed choice on spending our tax money.
Philip Russell

Worried About Additional Fuel Costs for AISD Buses

RECEIVED Tue., April 22, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I heard on the radio the other day that the Austin Independent School District must budget an extra $500,000 next year to pay for gas for school buses. I'm not sure whether this includes administrative or maintenance vehicles. It was hinted on the program that there may have to be another hike in property taxes to pay for this. "Fuck that!" I scream. This cost should be passed directly to the supplier. If our lawmakers can't hold big oil responsible for at least paying to fill up a school bus, they should all be marched down to the Alamo and lined up against the wall.
John Nordstrom

Transplants to Austin Should Register Their Cars

RECEIVED Tue., April 22, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Re: Congestion in Austin: I am no longer surprised by the volume of people moving to Austin from California, Arizona, Missouri, Nevada, Louisiana, etc., seeking a better quality of life. But isn't there a sense of duty and obligation on their part to register their vehicles? After all, they are using, but not contributing to, the infrastructure that they are burdening. Austin was once a charming city without traffic, pollution, and attitude. Obviously that has changed, but the least these folks can do is to invest in Austin's future. Imagine if last year's 67,000 new residents registered their cars with the county. At plus or minus $75 a vehicle, that would amount to more than $5 million, which could help maintain the roads, bridges, hike-and-bike trails, etc. Is that too much to ask for?
Angus Tilney

McDonald Honestly Enlightened and a Guardian of True Compassionate Humanism

RECEIVED Mon., April 21, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Yes, again Louis Black does exactly what he condemns others of doing. But that is the least of what he insinuates in his recent “Page Two” article [April 18]. Indeed, his piece cunningly presents a deadly spirit of moral nihilism delicately wrapped in the pavement on hell’s road – credulous good intentions. This is exemplified in his article’s professed life premise of accepting ourselves and others for what we are, obscuring moral clarity and freedom’s champion – America.
    He effectively advocates an unenlightened status quo existence where true evil is not openly identified and fought and human misery is preferred as the consensus measure of equality. His mindset ignores the need to defeat those who would commit genocide, torture, and world enslavement, e.g., Islamist and Marxist fascists. And this is to say nothing of the crucial necessity of reinforcing the existential moral values of Western civilization and American exceptionalism. Black is representative of an acute societal pathology – insidious moral relativism.
    Conversely, moral clarity requires protecting humanity from these evils and sublimely enlightening our species. And ironically, this is an amazingly simple process. Moral action is advocating and spreading what we practice daily – individual accountability and freedom, respect for others and expecting them to reciprocate, and condemning all vestiges of lethal envious resentments while practicing the greatest virtues – humility, gratitude, and defending the precious freedom that results. These precepts are what John Kennedy meant by proclaiming that liberty be defended at all costs.
    Black attempts to conceal his real ideological sympathies – moral retreat, aka neo-leftism. But through the filter of objective ethical and intellectual reality his diversions do not work. Sadly, Black, his progressive ilk, and their Democrat political water carriers have no interest in honest enlightenment. That is why they must never be counted on as guardians of true compassionate humanism.
Vance McDonald

No Longer an AMR Shareholder

RECEIVED Mon., April 21, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Jim Hightower's April 18 article [“The Hightower Report”] was right on target regarding CEO pay. Getting close to home here in Austin, you might remember or may have been involved in the American Airlines cancellation of more than a thousand flights just two weeks ago. The reason was the powers that be failed to comply with a simple Federal Aviation Administration airworthiness directive. The powers that be had laid off many licensed airframe and power-plant mechanics that could have performed this check. A whistle-blower at the FAA blew the whistle. This resulted in American canceling a thousand flights and stranding and disrupting thousands of passengers (customers). Some passengers waited in line for more than four hours to get a hotel voucher and meal voucher (when some of the express hotels didn't have a restaurant).
    A week later, after AMR had complied with the airworthiness directive, the parent of American Airlines announced on April 16, a loss of $328 million for the first quarter, this doesn't factor into the huge loss they'll announce later for the second quarter, since the cancellation revenues and expenses are in the second quarter.
    The same day of the $328 million loss, the CEO announced that $40 million in executive bonuses based on performance would be distributed among this elite group of underperforming executives.
    On April 16, 2007, AMR's stock was about $30.64; a year later on April 16, 2008, the stock was $8.54. I would equate this with fleecing the shareholders and the traveling public that relied on American Airlines.
    Am I an AMR shareholder? Not anymore.
Richard Gilliam

Bikes Are Traffic

RECEIVED Mon., April 21, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I am writing to respond to Carl LoSchiavo, the fellow driving his car behind me on Guadalupe the other day [“Postmarks,” April 18]. First of all, by the passive-aggressive and then defensive tone of your letter, Carl, I can tell I made you very angry. For that, I am sorry. But I feel obliged to inform you that driving a fuel-efficient car does not prevent you from being part of the No. 1 cause of air pollution in Austin. And while you seem aware of the fact that the city offers many options on bike routes, you lacked the ambition to check a city bike map (they just came out with a nice new one). If you had, you might have noticed that bike routes Nos. 47 and 33 go right down Guadalupe. As far as accusing me of blocking traffic, check the law; the state of Texas says a bike is a vehicle which I must ride as far to the right as is practicable, and on some sections of bike route No. 33, that is in the middle of the lane, of which there are two. I am traffic. So next time that happens, just put on your turn signal, change lanes, and pass me. Pretend I'm your grandmother in a big ol' Cadillac. And if you find a little ambition, try riding a bike. Not only is it fun, but you save gas, too.
Pete Wall

Don't Blame Your Frustration With Congestion on Bikers

RECEIVED Mon., April 21, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Re: "Dear Bike Rider, Wake Up!" ["Postmarks," April 18]: As a bike commuter, this subject is near and dear to my heart. Every time I ride, I am aware that drivers may be deflecting their frustration with congestion on the visible target that is the biker who temporarily slows down traffic. It is not my desire to alienate drivers from the positive virtues of bicycle commuting, nor would I ever choose to bike during rush hour if I could avoid it. Of course, quite often I find that the cars also hold me up, their sheer numbers creating massive congestion around red lights.
    Bikers wish that Austin offered decent, safe routes around town, but the sad reality is that they don't really exist. Never mind the bumps, glass, and gravel along the sides of the roads or that there is usually no bike lane. Avoiding heavy traffic is akin to zigzagging down side streets and alleys, waiting at stop lights that aren't triggered by a bike, and cutting along ill-maintained sidewalks, while maintaining constant awareness for negligent drivers. Fortunately, I find that most drivers are respectful and patient, and I do my best by biking hard when I know that I'm slowing down cars behind me. I'm very aware that many drivers would prefer I weren't biking, but I don't have the money to buy a car or afford the gas, don't know where I would regularly park even if I did, and don't want to live that way even if I could.
    Some people live too far from their jobs to bike or require cars for their jobs. But the impact of biking on the environment is negligible compared to that of driving, idling cars withstanding. Each of us contributes to the world that we have before us. I imagine that Carl LoSchiavo's letter will provide ample grist with which a vocal minority can continue to alienate bikers and drivers from one another rather than facilitating cooperation to achieve a better transportation system. I feel that the anti-car resentment that bikers have is primarily due to a few bad apples, and the anti-biker angst tends to be fueled by those with egos and a sense of entitlement. I hope LoSchiavo will also vent his frustration constructively by advocating for more bike lanes.
Jeff Paine

McCain Not a 'War Hero'

RECEIVED Mon., April 21, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Everyone needs to know that those who call John McCain a "war hero" have been brainwashed. McCain flew a bomber and dropped napalm on thousands of innocent Vietnamese people of all ages and both genders. The Vietnamese people did nothing to threaten or harm the USA. Heroes do not kill women and children; instead, they exercise the courage to refuse to kill women and children. McCain has stated that he feels no remorse for all the misery he caused. Vietnam was an unlawful and immoral war, celebrated only by dreadful fools. Supporting McCain is a way of supporting the worst aspects of the American establishment. He does not have any business representing the American people in the White House. It's time for some major changes like: peace, truth, and justice, not more war, lies, and barbaric imperialism. It's also time for ol' Hillary Clinton to get out of the way of the Barack Obama movement.
Sincerely,
John O'Neill

City Needs to Support Clubs

RECEIVED Fri., April 18, 2008

Dear Editor,
    It's clear why very few bars were not enthusiastically supporting the smoking ban. They were losing money big time. Why doesn't the city work with the clubs to provide exemptions or financial assistance? Instead they worked to reverse a sensible ruling by Judge Sam Sparks [“Off the Record,” Music, April 4].
Ted Christopher

The Krayons Were/Are for Real!

RECEIVED Thu., April 17, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Since my early days of the punk and hardcore scene in Austin, the Krayons played to packed houses, clubs, and warehouses [“Texas Platters,” Music, April 18]. This may be before your time; this was back in the days of the Cavity Club and, after that, the Blue Flamingo. This was a time when skateboarding was a crime. This was before punk was cool, fashionable, and marketable. Granted the Krayons may live on in retrospective CDs and reunion shows only, but for this aging punk rocker who grew up in an Austin that despised punks and their music, the Krayons were/are for real!
James Coffill

Neoconservatives Not Fans of Rand

RECEIVED Thu., April 17, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I was disappointed with the comment that Ayn Rand influenced neoconservatives [“Naked City,” News, April 4]. Many modern Libertarians do acknowledge her influence.
    Neoconservatives have generally attacked her viciously. This was especially the case of the founder of National Review, who died recently. Their review of Atlas Shrugged is one of the most vicious attacks on the book and easy to find on the Web. William F. Buckley Jr. was a vocal critic of Rand throughout his life, and his 1982 obituary for Rand showed just how classless a person he was.
    In her interview in Playboy in 1964, Rand called National Review the "worst and most dangerous magazine" in America. Unfortunately for the country, history has proven her right.
Chris Baker

The Children Are Suffering for the Misdeeds of Men

RECEIVED Thu., April 17, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I agree with Ms. Payne [“Postmarks,” April 18] that the state's handling of the situation in Eldorado, Texas, has been disastrous for the very people it intended to protect. Why traumatize the children by wrenching them away from their mothers and homes when they are not accused of any crimes? It is the men of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints compound who are suspected of crimes, and it is the men who should be removed and questioned, not the women and children. Once again, it is the children who suffer. Tragic.
Annie Hartnett

Love for Whitman From Buffalo!

RECEIVED Thu., April 17, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Re: The Whitman CD review [“Texas Platters,” Music, April 11]: I absolutely love this band! I think this album is one of the best albums I have ever heard. It is rock solid from beginning to end. I think the reviewer needs to take a harder listen to this album. If he still doesn't like it, then he has no soul. When this band is touring the Northeast, I will be drivin' across two states to see them play. Soon enough, the world will know the might that is Whitman!
Eric Toye
Buffalo, N.Y.
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