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 Thanks for your patience.
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Lake Travis in Trouble

RECEIVED Wed., Feb. 25, 2009

    I have lived on Lake Travis since 1999, when my husband and I moved up here from Houston to fulfill our dream of owning a waterfront home. We have now seen our cove dry up three times since we built; our boat dock is sitting on the ground as of last July. The Lower Colorado River Authority is in the business to sell water and puts recreation at the bottom of its priority list, but many, many families rely on this lake for summer activities, and surrounding communities rely on the lake for business revenue [“Dumping the Water Pump,” News, Feb. 20]. If LCRA allows the deep-water intakes to suck more and more water out to be sold, Lake Travis will no longer be a sought-out destination for vacationers or homeowners. When lake levels are as low as they are now, weekend and summer traffic is at a minimum because cautious boaters know the lake becomes a hazard. The selfish revenue the LCRA seeks in the sale of our precious water will in the long run hurt tax values of our properties, weaken vacation destinations, and put local businesses that depend on that traffic out of business. Please help us get the word out to save the beautiful lake that Austin is most famous for!
Thank you for your time,
Tina Cargill

Reinvest Money in Mental-Health Care and Education

RECEIVED Wed., Feb. 25, 2009

Dear Editor,
    I was flipping through the channels on the new DTV converter box. After the novelty of the Retro Television Network wore off awhile back, I started wondering why the volume levels still keep changing. Not everyone goes to the bathroom or kitchen each commercial break. A couple of people I know mute the intermissions, forget what they were watching, and change the channel. Others get annoyed and change it regardless. Another channel has an audio lag reminiscent of a kung fu classic yet way too annoying to comprehend during Family Guy. I abnormally stopped on Oprah interviewing the octo-grandpa. He said he would like to have his daughter mentally evaluated. Helping the less fortunate is one thing, and abusing the system is another. This seemed to be the consensus of the studio audience as well. A breakdown of ethics for the almighty dollar. After a few minutes, I start flipping through again. I see Rick Perry having a pro-life rally on the Capitol steps. The consensus is against helping these welfare baby incubators right? It's more expensive for pro-life forced births raised by Child Protective Services. An ethical breakdown … this sonogram bill would force unneeded medical procedures on people that can't afford them, thus, forwarding the taxpayer the unpaid inflated bill – not to mention taking the time of expensive hospital personnel who could be saving someone from dying on the waiting-room floor. Excessive medical spending is a bad thing, Slick Rick. It's also a major reason for sex ed. A lot of Texans understand they can't afford investing time, knowledge, life skills, or the financial stability needed for parenting. Some folks don't know better. Some are just plain crazy. If you want prevention, reinvest money in mental-health care and public education.
Thank you,
Mike Homa

A More Collaborative Attitude Would Be Good for the Theatre Community

RECEIVED Wed., Feb. 25, 2009

Dear Editor,
    While I agree with much of what Mr. Daigle writes [“Postmarks,” Feb. 20] regarding paying artists for their work, I violently disagree with the notion that "There are too many theatre companies producing mediocre work, thereby scaring off potential long-term patrons. A purge, followed by a better consolidation of talents and effort, would improve the health and viability of the scene."
    Not only is that an elitist point of view; it’s flat wrong. To say you are an artist and in the same breath call for a "purge" within the artistic community is counterproductive in its reasoning. The incredible gift of art comes from its subjectivity, whether one is paid or it’s done for free. Why is it necessary to “purge” artists within this community so a select few receive the funding and recognition they feel they deserve?
    We are all suffering financial disappointments, but art in any variety is already viewed as dispensable by communities, school districts, and even our local, state, and national governments. One look at government funding for the arts (abysmal) and the number of fine-arts teachers out of work (reprehensible) illustrates how art and artists are already vastly undervalued.
    I serve on a committee which affords me the opportunity to see all Austin theatre has to offer, from large Equity houses with million-dollar budgets to tiny theatre companies skimming by on a shoestring, and I can tell you: Good work is good work, regardless of how much money is invested. Money, marketing capability, and reputation do not necessarily a good production make.
    I agree the Austin arts community is splintered, and I believe a more collaborative effort should permeate the theatre scene. I believe the intent of Karen Sneed’s initial letter [“Postmarks,” Feb. 13] was to foster a more collaborative attitude within Austin theatre, which, quite obviously, is needed.
Andreá Smith

Governor, First Concentrate on Your Own State

RECEIVED Tue., Feb. 24, 2009

Dear Editor,
    I have been reading about how Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is critical of Obama's stimulus plan. He has gone so far as to say that Louisiana will not accept any of the stimulus money. I have a couple of observations for Mr. Jindal. Louisiana is at the bottom of the barrel compared to all the other states. It ranks last or near last in just about everything. Hell, even Texas usually does better than Louisiana. So, a suggestion: Gov. Jindal, shouldn't you work on fixing your own state before telling us what should be done in the rest of the country?
Steven McCloud

Going After Marathon Is Uncool

RECEIVED Tue., Feb. 24, 2009

Dear Editor,
    To quote Jed Clampett, “Weee doggie!” Lady, you may have unleashed a shitstorm upon yourself like no other ["Marathon Community Needs to be More Considerate," "Postmarks " online, Feb. 15]! Going after our beloved Austin Marathon is very uncool. I am anxious to see whether the running community will be gentle with you, rip you a new one, or simply ignore you.
    What I know is that the marathon is a 26.2-mile race, and there is only one marathon per year in Austin. It happens like clockwork every year. You should plan accordingly or continue to be frustrated. Better yet, sign up to finish one yourself! The marathon changed this average Jane’s life, and I know it will do the same for you. You walked home, didn’t you? Well, that’s where it begins.
    The Austin Marathon is so beloved, spectacular, powerful, and produces so much positive energy that if this city crumbled down around us, thousands would still show up, around the second Sunday in February, to participate. Also, it shouldn’t be moved to some remote location. That’s absurd. Rather, I think it should be expanded to an ultramarathon!
    We watched from the sidelines this year. We saw the leaders, the final finishers, and everyone in between. I know I gained a pound of muscle just watching the darned thing. For sure my heart was made stronger seeing all those people achieve the dream!
    Finally, in regard to who gets listened to in this town, it better be this taxpaying citizen. I will take it to the streets if anyone tries to take away my Austin Marathon! Heck, I’m already planning for 2010, and I expect the marathon to be there, the second Sunday in February, when I show up. If not, there will be hell to pay!
Kinaya Ulbrich
Three-time marathon finisher

Why Splurge on Water and Ignore Solar?

RECEIVED Tue., Feb. 24, 2009

Dear Editor,
    In this week's issue, Wells Dunbar reports that some council members are balking at a solar-power purchase agreement that would cost the city $10 million per year starting in 2011 [“City Hall Hustle,” News, Feb. 20]. They believe that the resulting increase in electric rates of 1.5% will damage the energy-intensive semiconductor industry in a time of economic peril.
    In the same issue, Katherine Gregor reports that the city's water department is planning to embark on a massive capital project that would cost the city $494 million starting in 2010 [“Dumping the Water Pump,” News, Feb. 20]. They believe that the resulting increase in water rates of 10%-12% won't damage the water-intensive semiconductor industry in a time of economic peril.
    I hope council members will understand the causes of the cynicism with which their policy rationales are received.
Kedron Jerome Touvell

Water Treatment Plant No. 4 Is a Colossal Waste of Money

RECEIVED Tue., Feb. 24, 2009

Dear Editor,
    While Katherine Gregor’s article [“Dumping the Water Pump,” News, Feb. 20] on Austin’s proposed $500 million Water Treatment Plant No. 4 covered lots of ground, it missed a few critical points. The accompanying chart incorrectly labeled as “SOS Projection” is actually the city’s own projected increase in “peak day” water demands while starting from last summer’s actual peak day use of 219 million gallons per day. Simply looking at the chart reveals that summer peak-day demands are flat or declining as citizens and businesses wake up to the water, energy, and money to be saved by simply paying attention.
    We know there’s plenty more to be saved, at a tiny fraction of the cost of building and operating a new treatment plant. Our per capita water use is 25%-30% higher than the very modest state-recommended goal for municipal water use. Yet our “green” council refuses to even adopt this minimum recommendation. Fifteen percent of our water is lost to leaks, breaks, faulty meters, and water theft. Where’s the plan to stop this waste? City efforts to substitute nonpotable reuse water for peak summer irrigation and commercial cooling demands are stuck in first gear.
    Even if we needed extra treatment capacity, the city’s own consultants proposed a replacement for the Thomas C. Green Water Treatment Plant Downtown for one-fourth the cost of WTP 4 while providing almost twice the treatment capacity. The plan would still free up 80% of the Green site for much-needed Downtown condos.
    Anyway you slice it, WTP 4 is a colossal waste of money (aka boondoggle) that cannot be squared with the city’s proclaimed interest in sustainability.
Bill Bunch
Save Our Springs Alliance
   [Editor's note: The "SOS Projection" line in question comes directly from a chart ("Peak Day Projections") developed and provided to the media by SOS; it is posted on the SOS Alliance website. As stated in the article, SOS used the city's same peak-day use assumptions but created a different projection by starting from 219 MGD.]

Safeguard Lake Travis

RECEIVED Tue., Feb. 24, 2009

Dear Editor,
    During the drought of 2006, Lower Colorado River Authority General Manager Joe Beal said: "That lake is going to go empty the night before it rains. I mean empty. If this will have an impact on you, you better plan for it. It could be happening this year." Again we are in an "exceptional" drought category. Lake Travis not only supplies our water, but it cools our power plants. San Antonio became serious about conservation with its limited water supply. Austin's answer should not be going to the bottom of Lake Travis with its deep-water intake.
    Not only Water Treatment Plant No. 4 is planned for Lake Travis; the cities of Round Rock, Cedar Park, and Leander (Brushy Creek Regional Utility Authority) want to start construction of their Lake Travis water-supply project, another deep-water intake [“Dumping the Water Pump,” News, Feb. 20]. Round Rock's usage is more than 200 gallons per capita per day. The best the Round Rock council can do is implement a five-month peak-usage rate structure that targets consumption more than 215 GPCD. Conservation programs could save Round Rock and Lake Travis 30% of its water needs.
    San Antonio’s conservation plans cost $400 an acre-foot of water. What are the costs per acre-foot on these two $400 million water supply projects? What is the cost of driving out 2222 to the Oasis to be met with 92 acres of treatment-plant facilities? What revenue could that site have produced to the city of Austin?
    Lake Travis is the single most important economic and environmental driving engine of Central Texas. Stop the dependency on excess water usage, and give Austin’s residents a chance.
Judy Graci

Neglected and Ignored by the 'Chronicle'

RECEIVED Tue., Feb. 24, 2009

Dear Editor,
    On Saturday night, In Search of a Midnight Kiss won the John Cassavetes Award at the Film Independent Spirit Awards (best independent film of the year made for less than $500,000). As Austinite Alex Holdridge (director) approached the podium, Austin band Sybil's version of "Wind of Change" played in the background, heard by such attendees as Mickey Rourke, Penélope Cruz, Alec Baldwin, Lucy Liu, etc. In addition to being played before a hall full of L.A.'s glitterati, Sybil's cover was being broadcast across the globe by the AMC channel.
    Matt Brunson of the Charlotte Observer had this to say: "And while we've come to expect our indie-flick soundtracks to be suitable for the occasion, the one featured here is a real treat, highlighted by Sybil's remake of Scorpions' power ballad 'Wind of Change.' Tactfully employed in both the final scene as well as the end credits, it truly allows audiences to head home with a song in their heart."
    What did The Austin Chronicle have to say about this up-and-coming Austin band that has been heard around the world by literally hundreds of thousands of listeners? Nothing. Raul Gonzales flatly refused to even listen to our CD, Cold Drink, citing that it was "a matter of space and taste.”
Gordon Kahan
Lead guitar, Sybil
   [Editor's note: No relation between Raul Gonzales and Chronicle Music Editor Raoul Hernandez.]

Austin Shouldn't Make Water Too Cheap

RECEIVED Tue., Feb. 24, 2009

Dear Editor,
    Water Treatment Plant No. 4 is for the newcomers, the supposed next million people who are hungrily eyed and aggressively courted by that specific sector of Austin business which benefits directly from population growth and controls the levers of city government: the real estate industry [“Dumping the Water Pump,” News, Feb. 20]. The industry’s profits are taken along the development chain, but the costs of growth are off-loaded onto the rest of us.
    The true cost of public infrastructure for a new single-family house is estimated at more than $25,000, which is that house’s proportionate share of new and expanded schools, roads, water, wastewater, solid waste, drainage, police, fire protection, emergency medical services, and municipal buildings. Who pays the $25,000? The rest of us.
    Austin could charge $3,307 for each water tap, but it barely collects $900, not including the 30% of fees waived and exempted. Austin could charge $1,852 for a wastewater connection, but it settles for about a $600 average. Austin neglects to charge a road-impact fee of $2,000 per house like Fort Worth charges. Between city officials unwilling to charge the full cost of growth and the state of Texas' prohibition on charging developers for their impact on schools and certain infrastructure, the cost must be paid by the rest of us in staggering amounts. More than $520 million in bonds for new schools were approved by voters in 2004 and $567 million in infrastructure bonds passed in 2006 to cover many of these very costs.
    WTP 4 can clearly be postponed for many years at great savings – your savings – because that’s who will be stuck with the bill.
Brian Rodgers

Solar Power Way Too Expensive

RECEIVED Tue., Feb. 24, 2009

Dear Editor,
    The Chronicle described the proposed solar array in Webberville [“City Hall Hustle,” News, Feb. 20] this way: “When completed, it would be a major step in Austin’s ambitious renewable energy goals, generating 30 megawatts by 2010.”
    In truth, the array will generate 30 megawatts only at high noon on clear days. Austin Energy (our city-owned utility) has never told the public how much energy the array will produce per year, but nighttime cuts the output by half. Then there are clouds, humidity, and the attenuation of oblique sunlight. Reliable analyses predict 6 to 6.9 megawatt-years per year – much less than the 30 megawatt-years suggested by all the hype. This is only 0.5% of Austin’s needs. Since Austin Energy will burn a bit less natural gas, its carbon footprint will shrink by 0.5%.
    At what cost? A 1,000-kilowatt-hour residential bill will go up 60 cents. But 1,000 kilowatt-hours cost almost exactly $100, so this is a 0.6% rate hike. Since AE sold $919 million of electricity in 2007, the total hike is 0.6% of $919 million or $5.5 million per year, driven by a $10 million purchase of power.
    So here’s the deal. Gemini Solar deploys its solar cells, made in China, on city land that we give over to them. AE buys $10 million of electricity per year from Gemini for the next 25 years, paying twice what it can sell the electricity for or a bit more. AE passes its $5 million annual losses to everyone in rate hikes – $125 million over 25 years. At the end of the 25-year payout, the city won’t own the array. And what do ratepayers get in return? A reduction in AE’s carbon emissions by 1 part in 200 – just a drop in the bucket. It is no wonder that nobody else in the U.S. has been foolish enough to build an array even half this large!
Robert C. Duncan, Ph.D.

Stop Draining Lake Travis Dry

RECEIVED Tue., Feb. 24, 2009

Dear Editor,
    As a former member of the Lower Colorado River Authority Lake Travis Advisory Panel and a Lake Travis fan for many years, I want to register my extreme concern for the continued and increasing pressure on our lake as competing interests seek ever more water [“Dumping the Water Pump,” News, Feb. 20]. We are now witnessing a very easy to understand phenomenon with the lake, as follows: Lake Travis will fall further and faster (than in the past) between the infrequent rainfalls that return it to a full level. So, while the LCRA will argue that there is still enough water to meet additional needs, the use and desirability of the lake will now and forevermore be greatly impacted.
    If we do not suspend the actions that are placing greater demands on the resource, we will quickly move from the current deteriorated state to an even more significant scenario which will render the lake useless for recreation and enjoyment for extended periods of time. In the final phase of unbridled development of the resource, we will then discover that we are unable to depend on the lake for its primary function, to supply water for residents in the watershed of the Colorado River.
    Please remember that the LCRA is a quasi state agency that is allowed to lobby the Texas Legislature. The agency mission is to increase development and use of the resource and thus line the pockets of the LCRA, its board, and its employees with financial rewards. The mission of the LCRA is not to preserve our beautiful lake but to increase its usage to the maximum possible level, for development interests only. Please understand that when their models turn out to be in error and the development and water commitments have been made, we will have moved past the time and opportunity to solve the problem, and our only option will be to live with the result. We must create a moratorium on further development until a mission and a board for the LCRA that is more favorably focused on every aspect of preserving the resource, not using it, becomes the goal.
Steve Lesem

Stop Water Treatment Plant No. 4

RECEIVED Mon., Feb. 23, 2009

Dear Editor,
    Now is the time to put the brakes on Water Treatment Plant No. 4 [“Dumping the Water Pump,” News, Feb. 20]! Instead of spending more of the taxpayers' money on projects that aren't needed, we need to continue our water-conservation efforts and focus on reducing the usage even more.
Mark Balok

Stop WTP 4; Protect Lake Travis

RECEIVED Mon., Feb. 23, 2009

Dear Editor,
    Re: “Dumping the Water Pump” [News, Feb. 20], on the impact of water conservation and the necessity of Water Treatment Plant No. 4. While all the arguments for delay are valid, there was one point that was not mentioned, and that is the impact that WTP 4 will have on Lake Travis and the greater Central Texas community.
    The city of Austin proposes to pump 5 million gallons a day from the lake. We are currently in drought conditions with no forecast for significant rain in the near future! The current lake level is 654 feet. In 2006, the lake was at 643 feet, and the water level fell 1 foot a week based on the Lower Colorado River Authority requirements at that time. LCRA continues to oversell the capacity of Lake Travis. With WTP 4 at capacity, the lake is projected to fall an estimated 2 to 3 feet per week during drought conditions, and this is before the Brushy Creek Regional Utility Authority project for Cedar Park, Leander, and Round Rock is factored in. That project seems to be moving along as well. Is BCRUA necessary if conservation measures are implemented?
    Lake Travis is not only a source of water; it is a natural resource and tourist destination that provides recreation and brings tourist dollars to the Austin area. Boaters from all over the state visit Lake Travis. What happens when the lake is low? The boaters and their money stay home, and for the ones that are on the lake, there are increased safety hazards. That translates to an increase in accidents and/or loss of lives. And what about all the state, county, and city parks on the lake that provide recreation for our families?
    Lake Travis is a source of property, sales, and business taxes. Every restaurant, hotel, marina, and homeowner on or around the lake will be adversely affected by WTP 4, and tax revenues from these sources will decline as a result.
    The city of Austin should increase its water-conservation efforts and put WTP 4 on the back burner.
Rebecca Yeater

Conservation Instead of a New Water Treatment Plant

RECEIVED Mon., Feb. 23, 2009

Dear Editor,
    In your water article last week [“Dumping the Water Pump,” News, Feb. 20], Austin Water Utility Director Greg Meszaros stressed, "only to build Phase I.” Meszaros obviously does not have to pay the additional $400 million.
    Meszaros also said the new plant would allow the city to "take down" part of an old plant for repairs. If repairs were needed, why weren't they done before Green was decommissioned? Seems $400 million is a lot for us to pay for that oversight.
    "Davis and Ullrich draw water from the Colorado River. WTP 4 will draw from Lake Travis." Lake Travis is a part of the Colorado River just like Lake Austin. This is not a second source of water! The difference is Lake Austin has the additional benefit of inflows from Barton Creek and Bull Creek. Those will be lost with an intake in Lake Travis.
    What rate increase on water from the Lower Colorado River Authority? In the LCRA/City of Austin Settlement Agreement (June 2007), Austin does not have to pay another penny to LCRA for water until it reaches a trigger point of 201,000 acre-feet per year two years in a row. That might have happened by 2020 to 2025 if the current rate of conservation was not so good. Meszaros certainly skimmed over that fact! Another point for conservation.
    Producing less water reduces greenhouse-gas emissions. Again, conservation over a new plant wins again.
    The "other" Colorado River cities that Austin mayoral candidate Lee Leffingwell refers to beat us hands down on conservation. Los Angeles uses 125 gallons per capita per day compared to Austin's 172 GPCD. Austin has a long way to go in "selling conservation.”
    Lake Travis is the lifeblood of Central Texas. It is time the city realizes that fact.
    Save water. Save Lake Travis.
Connie Ripley

Water Situation Could Be a Crisis in a Drought

RECEIVED Mon., Feb. 23, 2009

Dear Editor,
    The Austin City Council really needs to look at the lake water situation and the severe low water levels before it approves more water to be taken out of Lake Travis ["Dumping the Water Pump," News, Feb. 20]. The Lower Colorado River Authority does not or cannot guarantee water to anyone. I am retired on the lake and see these severe droughts every couple of years and worry about the ones now depending on lake water to drink and if there will be enough during droughts like we are in now. The water supply is only dependent on nature's rain! This has been seen as a problem in other states and towns depending on one lake for the entire population's water supply with bad consequence.
    I hope Austin City Council will really think about its final decision. The city of Austin without enough drinking water and Lady Bird Lake dry!
Kay Adams

Don't Lose the Lake for the Water

RECEIVED Mon., Feb. 23, 2009

Dear Editor,
    After reading the “Dumping the Water Pump” [News, Feb. 20] article by Katherine Gregor, I would like to point out another aspect that should be evaluated. The increased demands on water from the Colorado River are a great revenue opportunity for the Lower Colorado River Authority. Thanks to our state government and LCRA lobbyists, the initial LCRA charter has been rewritten so even non-Colorado River basin water needs are dollar opportunities for the LCRA, such as the Leander Wholesale Potable Water Service Agreement and San Antonio Water System project.
    What should not be lost in the discussion seems to be the negative impact on one of the greatest lakes in Texas – Lake Travis. One of my first jobs after graduating from high school was driving ski boats at the Lakeway Marina on Lake Travis for vacationing families. I saw firsthand the beneficial impact the lake has on families as well as the significant economic benefit for Austin and Travis County. Twenty years later, I am worried one of Texas' most precious resources, the beauty of the Highland Lakes, is being lost in the discussion.
    As the lake level declines and volatility of the level increases due to increased water demand, the opportunity for my children and yours to enjoy the experience we have had at the lake over the years will be destroyed. Since conservation is working and you can save money by not building WTP 4, why would you build it? Find other shovel-ready projects that can create value rather than destroying value. Value will be destroyed as property values along Lake Travis drop and recreational revenue opportunities plummet if we continue on the current course of draining the lake.
Thomas Hunt

It Should Be Up to the Voters!

RECEIVED Mon., Feb. 23, 2009

Dear Editor,
    Last week's article about Water Treatment Plant No. 4, "Dumping the Water Pump" [News, Feb. 20], has missed several major points. The largest is that it should not be up to the City Council or the Water Utility as to whether the plant gets built. It is up to the voters.
    The Austin City Charter, Article 7, Chapter 11, clearly states, "All revenue bonds issued by the city shall first be authorized by a majority of the qualified electors voting at an election held for such purpose."
    I refuse to buy into the myth that Austin has become too big to allow voters a stake in decisions like a half-billion-dollar water plant. If the city government is so confident that building this plant is the best thing for Austin, it should have the courage to make its case to the public.
    As the City Council election nears, one of the questions that should be asked of all prospective candidates is: "Will you respect the citizens' right to approve or disapprove of Water Treatment Plant No. 4?"
Paul Robbins

Deporting Millions of Illegals Impractical; Get Them to Leave Voluntarily

RECEIVED Mon., Feb. 23, 2009

    Someone forwarded a recent column of yours where you contended it was impossible to deport millions of illegal immigrants [“Page Two,” Nov. 2, 2007]. I agree. But what about just enforcing laws currently on the books that would prosecute those who employ illegals. If unable to find work, most would voluntarily leave. And if we wanted further action in that direction, we could pass a minor stipulation requiring proof of legal entry in order to send money out of country. Those are the two reasons illegals undertake the risk to cross the border illegally. We profit from immigration on a long-term basis if limited to immigrants with skills that enable them to function synergistically with the rest of us. Current open-door policies are reported to result in costs of more than $100 billion per year and are demographically and sociologically disruptive in the long term.
Ed Middleswart
Pensacola, Fla.

... But Dick Cheney Is Evil

RECEIVED Mon., Feb. 23, 2009

Dear Editor,
    Thank you for a great article [“Page Two,” Feb. 13] – chock-full of ideas. The writing was so exciting, I did not even taste the Chinese food I was eating while reading the prose. I do, however, take issue on one point: Dick Cheney is evil. Wishing you the best.
Curtis Chubb

Don't Trust the Government

RECEIVED Mon., Feb. 23, 2009

Dear Editor,
    We are told to trust that the federal government is going to take care of us. After all, it's only trillions of dollars, and why should we worry? We can trust it, right? What does its track record indicate? Without going into the depth of corruption from the last eight or so administrations, without even talking about the illegal, false, and unwinnable wars on terror, on drugs, on poverty, on illiteracy. (That's a good one. We spend more on education than any country in the world and have almost the worst results.)
    Since most of us are only concerned about what's happening in our own front yard, I'll address only the things that affect our own body. The food has for the most part become unusable due to genetic modification and lacing so many of the products with aspartame and mercury and MSG (the list goes on). In most American municipalities, we are exposed to toxic levels of fluoride, a proven poison which is used in our toothpaste and in rat poison and of course in the water we drink, we bathe in, and we cook our food in. Your children play in it, and it's been linked to a myriad of life-terminating diseases. How stupid are we to allow this to go on? They are now trying to chip all the domestic animals, farm animals, and pets (yes, Toto too) similar to the real ID. It's called the real ID because you have to be a real ID-iot to let them do it. Before long they will simply move it from the card to the back of your hand or your forehead. Won't life be chipper? When will we say enough? Maybe when vitamins and herbs are outlawed? Or when we are forced to take their poisonous vaccinations? People, we gotta wake up. How dear can life be that we are willing to ignore these atrocities and live as brainwashed, drugged-down zombies forever dependent on the nanny state for our next fix of Prozac or any of the other chemicals posing as medicine. If anything is dear or remotely holy to you, wake up!
Thank you,
Mel Mason

Let the Marathon Be

RECEIVED Sun., Feb. 22, 2009

Dear Editor,
    I don't run marathons. I don't run unless I have to. I don't even like to exercise all that much or all that often. But I'd like to suggest that Anita Rice, in her letter arguing that the Austin Marathon be relocated from Central Austin to an area with less traffic ["Postmarks " online, Feb. 15], has it backward. Rather than whining about the violation of her manifest right to drive unimpeded at all times, perhaps she should relocate herself, if 364½ days a year of exercising said right are insufficient.
    Evidently, she is confused about where she lives, so let me try to help. It's called a "city," Ms. Rice. In exchange for the cultural vitality and opportunities for growth and enrichment created by diverse groups with diverse interests living in close proximity, its residents may be inconvenienced from time to time. One Sunday morning per year of heavy traffic in your neighborhood just doesn't seem all that unreasonable.
John Joyner

'Get Your Motor Running …'

RECEIVED Sun., Feb. 22, 2009

Dear Editor,
    "Get your motor running …" is the first thing that I think of when I see the name Ilan Mitchell-Smith [“A Hollywood Twist,” Screens, Nov. 8, 2002]. I never thought of Mitchell-Smith as being "the other guy" in Weird Science, rather as the guy who played Jim in The Wild Life. Sure, Anthony Michael Hall had previously landed some good roles in major films with major stars, but Mitchell-Smith reeked of certain honesty as an actor that would allow him to “get away with stuff.”
    I feel that Mitchell-Smith’s explanation of circumstances leading to his decision to leave his acting career behind has yet again shone upon us that same humble honesty that was once the “quality” he had been praised for in the film industry.
    It is rumored that Mitchell-Smith will once again be blessing us with his presence in an upcoming documentary about director and writer John Hughes, which will be ever so sickeningly titled Don’t You Forget About Me. And though it will not be a fantastic acting appearance, I feel that many will agree, seeing him again will be fantastic enough.
Joseph Otero
P.S. p.s. I am not now and have never been a prisoner of any sort nor do I look at pictures of shirtless men for arousal.

Marathon Part of City's Active-Lifestyle Events

RECEIVED Sat., Feb. 21, 2009

Dear Editor,
    I personally feel that the city of Austin does a great job in coordinating and promoting active-lifestyle events for our community. I’d rather see people using the streets for exercise and charitable causes instead of polluting the city with fossil fuels. Anita Rice ["Postmarks" online, Feb. 15], if it only takes you five minutes to drive to your destination, why don’t you walk or ride a bike and make a positive impact on your community? There were signs posted for more than two weeks along every route of the Austin Marathon warning of possible delays, which I guess blew by you as you drove your car along your daily route. Until Austin citizens realize that our city infrastructure should be available to all forms of transportation use, we will not become a greener and healthier community.
Dylan Coates
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