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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Is Writing Elected Officials Pointless?

RECEIVED Thu., Oct. 1, 2009

Dear Editor,
    I keep writing congresspeople and senators, and the only things I get back from them are form letters. The letters have yet to address any of the issues that I bring up. The responses have yet to say anything other than, "Thanks for contacting the office of _______. We are glad you're interested in …." My friends look at me like I am crazy when I tell them I wrote our elected politicians. I try to convince them to write too, but they seem to think it won't do any good. I don't know why they would think that.
Ryan Cook

Musicians Just Trying to Get By

RECEIVED Wed., Sept. 30, 2009

Dear Editor,
    I have been a working musician in Austin for 11 years. The last nine or so, they have been barricading Sixth Street on the weekends. In those years, many times I have had to make my way to the venue to unload or load gear in and navigate these barricades (usually with the aid of an Austin Police officer). On Sept. 11 I had a show on Sixth just west of Red River. I was not able to get there before the barricades were put up, and it was raining like mad. So, when I moved the barricade to get to the venue like I had done numerous times before, I was pulled over by Officer B.C. Lutringer. I explained that I was just trying to get to my work and would be moving my car as soon as I had unloaded the gear. Not only did he give me a ticket for this, when passersby tried coming to my defense and said that I was just trying to work and that he should have sympathy for hard-working people, he made the comment that that's why he doesn't want my job, because he makes $96,000 a year doing his! (By the way, I made about $5 after paying for parking to play the gig.) When I asked him how he would suggest I get my gear into the club, he said walk it from my parking space. This was a Saturday night, and my parking space ended up being on Eighth and a couple of blocks farther west. As I was getting the ticket, another officer walked by and mocked me, asking if I was a rocket scientist and saying I should load in through the alley. Well, that alley was barricaded as well. Now, I understand why the barricades are there, but I wasn't some random drunk disregarding it, I was just working. Live music capital, indeed. The fine for this offense: $200. Thank you, city of Austin, for making your musicians so unwelcome and even poorer.
Aaryn Russell

Challenge Hate and Lies

RECEIVED Wed., Sept. 30, 2009

Dear Editor,
    My husband and I were just saying how the Republicans and Fox News are all inciting this angry moblike mentality, and we were both waiting to hear on the news that someone was shot, etc., who was either a liberal, Democrat, or someone affiliated with the government, and we weren't disappointed. I was not shocked to hear about the census worker being brutally murdered, and it pains me to know that the Glenn Becks and Rush Limbaughs of this world won't shut up until they've gotten some nut job to assassinate the president or bomb another government building. It's no longer harmless banter when you have your viewers believing that Obama is now the Antichrist.
    I just came back from seeing my father, and I watched Fox News and listened to the people complain about Democrats as I shrunk in my chair afraid that they may find out that I voted for Obama. I believe if this continues at this rate, things will only escalate. We used to be able to sit down and talk about our differences, but now anyone who dares mention that they may be a liberal is seen as having horns growing out of their heads, or better yet as in league with the devil.
    Liberals are being dehumanized, and anything you watch on the so-called fair-and-balanced side is repeated hyperbole which I later hear again spoken by the viewers themselves as though they are all reading from the same cue cards. Beck even had on his show schoolkids singing about Obama, and I watched on his show and at least five more times on Fox News how that was some evil plan to brainwash kids, "like Obama is the saviour" as Pat Buchanan put it. (I guess it was OK for us to sing about Bush since he was a rich white man.) I think they've all lost their minds, and nothing they say surprises me anymore. Next you'll be hearing that Obama secretly sacrifices children to Satan. I hope I am wrong, but I really think Rupert Murdoch and his minions are subliminally asking for this to happen, and if or when it does, I will blame not only Murdoch but most of the mainstream media for allowing them to spew such hate and lies unchallenged.
Tracy Haus

Learn From Becker Tragedy

RECEIVED Tue., Sept. 29, 2009

Dear Editor
    I've written before about events of fun, joy, and celebration in Austin. Today is very different. I am writing to honor the memory of Brianna Becker, who was killed in a tragic accident last Friday. I'm asking drivers to prevent something like this from happening again.
    Brianna, a student at UT, was struck down in Downtown Austin, a victim of the failure of a driver to recognize that Austin's streets are evolving exponentially into pedestrian thoroughfares. She was jogging along 15th Street, only two blocks from the Capitol, when a car hit her and ended her life.
    As someone who lives and works Downtown and walks to work, businesses, and events, every day I see drivers with an apparent lack of awareness and/or failure to exercise caution around areas with heavy pedestrian traffic.
    A careless look in one direction when pulling out of a garage or parking lot coupled with the failure to look back the other way before exiting resulted in the senseless loss of this young and promising life. I can only imagine the guilt and regret the driver will have to live with.
    My heart goes out to Brianna's family and loved ones. As a community, we can learn from this tragedy and honor Brianna by changing our driving habits: Take a few extra seconds to avoid injuring or taking the life of another wonderful person like Brianna. Stop. Think. Look – in both directions. Watch out for those who expect our Downtown "neighborhood" streets to be safe. Pedestrians must exercise caution and be on the lookout, too. Brianna's casual jog ended in tragedy. Let's pledge to prevent this from happening to someone you know and love.
David Weaver

People Poo, Too

RECEIVED Tue., Sept. 29, 2009

Dear Editor,
    I am writing to suggest that the Parks and Recreation Department or the city of Austin does not close the off-leash area of Bull Creek. I have been taking my dogs there to swim for years and years (unless, as lately, drought conditions prohibit safe swimming). It has been my experience that about 90-95% of the people who take their dogs there bring their own or use the city-supplied green pet-waste bags to clean up after their pets. Has anybody ever thought that the high E. coli numbers are from the dozens (if not hundreds) of human "poopy" disposable diapers left behind? I can't tell you how many times I have seen used, full diapers on the ground, on picnic tables, picnic benches, near the restrooms, etc. This disgusts me! Often there will be used diapers right next to the garbage containers! I am not a scientist, but I hope somebody has tested the water for E. coli in human feces. It can be found in human waste, not just dog waste! Please take this into consideration before the city of Austin decides to permanently close the off-leash area of Bull Creek. I'm begging you; my dogs are begging you, too. Down with dirty disposable diapers left behind by humans!
Cindy Melbie

Karen Slafter Responds

RECEIVED Tue., Sept. 29, 2009

Dear Editor,
    I first would like to thank all my clients for supporting me and blessing me with five wins in The Austin Chronicle [“Best of Austin 2009”]. I always do my best to please my clients and do the best job possible for them. I have been tattooing in Austin for more than 15 years and appreciate all the love! I would invite Marisha Hicks [“Postmarks,” Sept. 11] to get tattooed by me to see me in action and to know that I do care about my art and my clients. I would also like to defend myself on one issue: I do not nor have I ever written anything "flattering about myself" on the Internet to counter what people have written in about the win. I am just blessed with many clients that love me. If others work hard and do their best, they should be proud of their work, too! By the way, I think there are many very talented tattoo artists in Austin! Vote for your favorite!
Thanks and much love,
Karen Slafter

Don't Build Water Nuke

RECEIVED Tue., Sept. 29, 2009

Dear Editor,
    Special thanks go to Austin Chronicle Publisher Nick Barbaro for his compelling “Page Three” [Sept. 25] editorial pointing out that we don’t really have the water to put into the billion-dollar treatment plant the Austin Water Utility wants to build.
    The same day Barbaro’s column was published, the Lower Colorado River Authority issued a press release reporting that inflows to the Highland Lakes over the last two years were 400,000 acre-feet less than the average inflows during our historic record drought of the 1950s. By comparison, Austin currently uses about 160,000 acre-feet of water.
    The climate change models tell us that our region will be drier. LCRA’s past projections of “reliable” water ignore both current and future realities. We should be comforted by the idea that we can shift our economy to much greater water efficiency with community engagement and limited, cost-effective investments. But the time to act is now. Instead, our Water Utility and mayor are racing in the opposite direction, insisting on building a billion-dollar water plant that assumes we will have all the water that we want to waste for decades into the future. Water rates will skyrocket to pay for this boondoggle.
    It really is time for our council and our city manager to find new leadership for the Water Utility – leaders that will work hand-in-hand with Austin Energy to make Austin a leader in water and energy efficiency and sustainability. Building a water nuke we don’t need and cannot afford won’t put a single additional drop of water into the Highland Lakes.
Bill Bunch
Save Our Springs Alliance

Save KUT; Ditch Tomato Guy

RECEIVED Tue., Sept. 29, 2009

Dear Editor,
    Save KUT! Yes! Save Paul Ray! Yes, yes! Saturday nights are so much fun with him! Save Larry Monroe! Yes, yes, yes! Never let our man Bob Branson go … never. I mean traffic reports never sounded so warm and cuddly. I love those three guys. But the smarmy morning guy who rambles on about tomatoes, the color of his shirts and shoes … eh … please reconsider his hours.
Ravner Salinas

Insurance Questions

RECEIVED Tue., Sept. 29, 2009

Dear Editor,
    We all know that insurance companies would never lie. I mean, we are in good hands with one company, we can have it all with another, or we can talk to a foreign-born lizard in a third. I do have one question. A few of the major insurance companies are claiming that you save "X" amount of dollars if you switch to their coverage. So … if you switch coverages enough, will your premium eventually end up being zero? Or does it go on indefinitely and they will actually end up paying you money to insure your vehicle?
Steven McCloud

Why Can't Others Communicate as Clearly as Barbaro

RECEIVED Mon., Sept. 28, 2009

Dear Editor,
    Why can't all journalists and politicians communicate as clearly and cogently as Nick Barbaro? I was thumbing through last week's Chronicle trying to get to the content when I noticed a four-paragraph “Page Three" [Sept. 25]. What the hell? Oh, it's Nick. What does Nick have to say? In two or three sentences, Barbaro definitively settled the debate over Water Treatment Plant No. 4, locked the ballot box, and threw away the key. With lots of column space left to fill, he then devoted a little additional verbiage to crisply spanking the heinies of anyone who still thinks this is a good idea. Does it get any clearer than this? All we're trying to do with WTP4 is spend a billion dollars to stick another straw in a soda that was already slurped dry this summer. Now maybe the waitress, Mama N., will refill that soda for us, but you can be gottdang sure it's gonna get slurped dry again. There just ain't no room in this particular soda for any more straws. If we need more water, we're going to have to do what every other Texas city does: build a reservoir, most likely charged with treated storm and wastewater. On a brighter note, designed properly, this reservoir can subsequently be used to cleanly generate on-demand electricity using solar power. Here is a hint about how this would work:
    Now, Lee Leffingwell and company, look me in the eye when you tell me you're going to fire librarians; shut down afterschool programs; further reduce library, park, and pool hours; and all kinds of other mean and nasty stuff just to bankroll this boondoggle for another year!
Patrick Goetz

Unfair View of the Unfortunate

RECEIVED Sun., Sept. 27, 2009

Dear Editor,
    Re: “Panhandlers for God” [News, Sept. 25]: I used to own a business Downtown and encountered the panhandler issue often. The obstacle to addressing this situation was usually one of compassion and unfair persecution of the unfortunate.
    One possible intervention is for the city to post road signs at the popular panhandling sites that say: "The Central Texas community provides food, shelter, and services to the homeless and unfortunate. Giving them cash may undermine their recovery." This might help most donors overcome their momentary guilt while also helping to sell the idea to the community of more government assistance for tragedies that "there but for the grace of God go … any of us."
Paul Silver

Panhandlers Are Intrusive

RECEIVED Fri., Sept. 25, 2009

Dear Editor,
    Re: “Panhandlers for God” [News, Sept. 25]: Thank you, Jordan Smith, for writing this piece. I have dealt with these crazed folks for too long and am sick of having my space invaded every time I cross the bridge at 51st and I-35. They get in your window and sometimes yell at you for attention as if they are strung out or something and you owe them a look in the face. I have, on many occasions, called the police, and for two reasons. First of all, panhandlers are not allowed to come into the streets and into traffic. Secondly, some of the aggressive behavior seems almost threatening in nature. I am sick of this, and the city should outlaw all panhandling. The Salvation Army and firefighters can ask for money over the Internet and through special permits. Enough is enough! I have called 911 about five or six times and will continue to do so, as advised by the police. Walking into traffic and invading your personal space should not be allowed. I actually asked one lady if she would loan me a dollar, and she laughed. Who is collecting all of this money? Someone is getting so rich off these people. Kind of reminds me of Jim Jones and his followers.
Robert Tillotson
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