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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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If a Candidate Makes Outlandish Promises, Remember '… It's Not Going to Be Free'

RECEIVED Wed., Nov. 19, 2008

Dear Mr. Black,
    I assume you have started breathing again [“Page Two,” Nov. 14]. With oxygen having refreshed your mind, can you now see the irony of your exaltation of “unity” juxtaposed with your denigration of certain media personalities and politicians and, by implication, the tens of millions of Americans who support and agree with them?
    The unity that you think Sen. Barak Obama is capable of creating is a dangerous canard. If the people of this country move forward in lockstep, they march to either one form of totalitarianism or another. Disagreement, debate, and petitioning our government are codified as fundamental rights in our Constitution. They also make our nation a healthier place, contrary to what your column implies.
    As to the idea that government might be working well, I am again hopeful that respiration has restored your mental faculties. The government we have today mocks the constitutional premise that individual liberty is innate. You're thinking of the PATRIOT Act and its spawn. Yes, but I'm also thinking of the myriad intrusions into our personal economics, businesses, and lifestyles. The government, in these regards, has rendered our Constitution a tattered relic of history.
    Your Postcard IV says that the idea of this country is that we all share the exact same rights in relationship to our government. Of course the relatively few who pay the majority of the taxes would be justified in wondering why that idea is not in practice. Why do they have less right to their own work product than someone who produces less? Other examples of the same underlying contradiction abound.
    And need I remind you that our government, despite ever-increasing taxation, continues to make exorbitant promises that even those taxes are insufficient to support? Wall Street obviously has its share of idiots, but the stupidity of our current government in spending money we don't and are unlikely to be able to produce is unequaled in the history of the world.
    It is timely to quote Gene Healy, author of The Cult of the Presidency: “If we need heroes in our lives, we shouldn't go looking for them among professional politicians, for God's sake. Because in politics, wherever there's a promise, there's an unspoken threat. And when a presidential candidate promises to save the world and solve all your problems, it's not going to be free.”
    Breathe deeply, sir. The government is not working well, unless your ideal is the moral superiority of the state over the individual. Of course, that is the exact opposite of the vision of our Constitution.
Sincerely,
William H. Graves

Hold Those Responsible Accountable

RECEIVED Tue., Nov. 18, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Goldman Sachs executives shouldn't be applauded for the foregoing of bonuses in the light of the nearly trillion dollar “bailout” of the banking industry and Wall Street investment firms.
    These men took hundreds of millions of dollars home in salaries, options, bonuses, loans, and other perks while their companies were teetering on the brink of failure.
    These men should not only forfeit their bonuses but a percentage of their salaries covering the problem periods and going forward until the crisis is resolved; after all, they are responsible for creating the problem.
    We should hold the senators and representatives accountable who had oversight over the banking industry, as well as the heads of regulatory agencies.
    They should be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for defrauding the people of the United States, not patted on.
The Rev. J. Lafayette Breedlove II

Union Thanks King for the Support

RECEIVED Mon., Nov. 17, 2008

Dear Editor,
    As a member of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1091, I wanted to thank Michael King for his honest reporting [“Point Austin,” News, Nov. 14] on the labor dispute between our labor union and Cap Metro CEO Fred Gilliam. After getting blasted in the Statesman and KEYE News, it was great to see someone in the press say out loud that we weren't just a mob of greedy blood-sucking leeches. We got so much support on the picket line from people passing by that we knew we had support in the community, but it is nice to see it confirmed in print. Thank you.
Clifton Smith

'Keeping Kids Together' Is a Concern of All Parents

RECEIVED Sun., Nov. 16, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I am writing to comment on the article “Proposed Southwest School Boundaries Spark Concerns” [News, Nov. 14]. I am a big fan of The Austin Chronicle and value your informative articles.
    However, I would like to add information to the story, as it appears that only Mills Elementary representatives were interviewed for the story. There are several other schools/kids that will be very affected by this boundary matter, and we would appreciate a more balanced view of this important issue.
    Like many Mills families, our family lives in a section of Circle C. We have fifth- and second-grade sons that attend Kiker Elementary and are directly affected by the boundary discussions. One of the proposals on the table, being heavily lobbied by the Mills representatives, would split Kiker families – some classmates would attend the new middle school, and others would attend Bailey Middle School. Just like Mills, we don’t understand why classmates would need to be split between schools, but one of our main goals is safety for our children. If all of Kiker attended the new school, many of our kids could cycle to the new school and avoid MoPac altogether.
    Although “keeping kids together” is very important for all families involved, the same issue affects both schools. The task force has stated that although they would like to keep families together if possible, the primary criteria in their decision is safety, distance, and school capacities.
    If Kiker families were split at Escarpment as Mills has recommended, Kiker students would need to travel approximately six miles to Bailey Middle School through some of the most deadly intersections in all of Austin – several fatalities have occurred at MoPac and LaCrosse alone. Yet the same families would only need to travel as little as two miles to the new middle school, through mostly neighborhood streets – a much safer alternative.
    On the contrary, Mills families only need to travel about three miles to Clint Small Middle School. Furthermore, Clint Small would be severely under capacity if it lost Mills students. One argument is that even more of the Mills families should attend Clint Small Middle School to put Clint Small at ideal capacity.
    Thank you for listening and giving me the chance to bring additional information to your story.
Best regards,
Bill Blagdan
Kiker Elementary parent

Texas: Totalitarianism Over Freedom

RECEIVED Fri., Nov. 14, 2008

Dear Editor,
    I hope Texans will not be deceived by government officials who demonstrate by their actions that they favor totalitarianism over freedom. Random driver checkpoints were popular with officials in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union for the same reasons. Sure, it is cheaper to assume all citizens are guilty of crimes than it is to do investigative work to target only those who are guilty. The cheap way is seldom the best way in any situation. Police will routinely arrest people they find asleep in a car in a parking lot who are there because they know they have had too much to drink to be driving. I know because I have personally seen this happen on several occasions in various parts of Texas. (I have no axe to grind on that issue because I have no interest in alcohol.) It would be far better for everyone concerned if the police leave such people alone as long as they do not attempt to drive, but that would not fill the government's moneybags. In one Williamson County case I know of, the police actually broke out the window of a car in which a driver was sleeping in a bar parking lot to arrest him for DUI! Do not be deceived by Gov. Perry and other officials who want to steal your liberty in the guise of protecting you. Those government checkpoints will not target drunken drivers but will attempt to find some crime of which they can convict every single driver they stop, and new crimes will be invented to fill the coffers. That is obviously an egregious violation of your Fourth Amendment rights.
Sincerely,
Max Minor

Rail Plan Does Not Address Needs of Community

RECEIVED Fri., Nov. 14, 2008

Dear Louis,
    I feel that the placement of two MetroRail Red Line stations in such close proximity as in Capital Metro's current plan does not address the needs of potential commuters in the Crestview area. The stations that I feel are too close to one another are the Highland Station and the Crestview Station. The Crestview Station located at the congested intersection of Airport and Lamar would be more beneficial to the neighborhood as a whole had it been placed centrally between the Highland Station and the Kramer Station. This station's placement exhibits poor planning and an inherent desire of the city leaders to support new concepts in housing and living regardless of the consequences. It appears to me that they intend to help a developer and ignore the overall needs of the neighborhood. Hopefully, the city and Cap Metro will realize this fault in their plan and build another station at Woodrow and Anderson Lane. An Anderson Lane Station is in the center of the area to be served and would reduce the need to commute to the station in a car. The Crestview Station, because of its location on the edge of the neighborhood at a congested intersection, will be more of an impediment to ridership than an aid.
Charles Lokey

Don't Throw Out Passenger Rail With the Bathwater

RECEIVED Fri., Nov. 14, 2008

Dear Michael,
    Re: Michael King's "Point Austin: Nobody in Charge" [News, Nov. 14]: While I respect your support of labor in its dispute with Capital Metro, I regret that in your anger with the board, you chose to disparage passenger rail. Being already far behind other progressive cities (and even less progressive cities) in expanding public transportation to include rail, Austin can't afford to burden this critical initiative with every other dispute that invokes our ire.
    Your criticism of passenger rail as being taxpayer subsidized ignores the fact that buses are also taxpayer subsidized. Yet surely neither one of us would advocate doing away with buses on that count. Furthermore, passenger rail is the perfect antidote to suburban sprawl, as opposed to supporting it as your comments imply. The new development taking shape around the Leander rail stop – dense, walkable, and mixed-use – clearly makes that point.
    Because change is difficult, we need all the help we can get convincing the region of the merits of passenger rail as it is hopefully put before voters next May. I would like to think we can count on you and the Chronicle to support something that is so consistent with your historic support of the environment, public transportation, sustainable development, and reduced auto dependency – all hallmarks of an effective passenger rail system.
Sincerely,
John Langmore
   [Michael King responds: If the political and economic posture of Capital Metro and related agencies continues to be millions for suburban rail/commuters and pennies/divide-and-conquer for Cap Metro workers, I will personally find it very difficult to continue to support commuter rail, whatever the rationale.]

APD Should Monitor Bikes and Cars

RECEIVED Thu., Nov. 13, 2008

Dear Editor,
    A biker-for-transportation myself, I fully support the Austin Police Department cracking down on bikers breaking traffic laws [“APD vs. Cyclists,” News. Nov. 14]. However, I would like to see APD crack down on cars creating unsafe transportation issues for bikers. In the past week alone, I have had cars get in the left lane to turn right around me (clipping my back wheel), turn left in front of me, and push me dangerously far right on the road. Yes, unsafe bikers are a problem; however, cars creating unsafe situations are much more likely to cause fatalities. Priorities, APD?
Riley Lym

Naming a Building After William Randolph Hearst Is a Bad Choice

RECEIVED Thu., Nov. 13, 2008

Dear Editor,
    It is certainly ironic, if not comical, that the University of Texas has chosen to name a journalism building after William Randolph Hearst. In case they have forgotten, Hearst represented perhaps America’s greatest advocate of unashamed “yellow journalism.” One of his proudest stunts was to get the U.S. involved in a war with Spain over Cuba. His style of “journalism” even called for making a story up when the facts did not fit the image he wanted to portray. One would think that he represents everything that UT should be warning its budding journalists to avoid, at all costs, rather than honoring him by naming the building in which they will learn the profession of journalism after him. This surely suggests that if you give UT enough money, they will gladly overlook history. What’s next? A Vlad the Impaler medical building?
E. Brian Graham

Legalization and Decriminalization!

RECEIVED Thu., Nov. 13, 2008

Dear Editor,
    It is amazing to think that marijuana legalization isn't supported as much as the movement for decriminalization [“Reefer Madness,” News, Nov. 14]. Why do we as citizens still allow ourselves to be called criminals and think it great to only pay a "small" fine if caught? Our collective "stash" money continues to go to the black market, divided among a few, and the amount of time and money wasted on abstinence policies instead of a tobacco/alcohol-like information and regulatory system is draining our already shaky economy. Wouldn't our efforts be more effective by getting what we can out of a commodity that is not going away? It is, after all, only our rights and economy that are in jeopardy.
Matt Kaemmerling
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