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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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Austin Visions

RECEIVED Wed., June 2, 2010

Dear Editor,
    My vision for Austin: We need multiuse buildings: retail/restaurants on first/second floor, offices on third/fourth, residences on fifth/sixth, but in a less claustrophobic step pattern, not a straight vertical face from street level. Space for alfresco dining at sidewalk/second floor level; elevated bikeways on major streets for safety, speed, and comfort; elevated rail on major streets; creeks become greenbelts with bikeways; a bike-friendly Longhorn Dam; I-35 improved and widened; 360, 71, and 290 become freeways without stoplights; all roads need more right-hand turn lanes; all new construction must be superinsulated and have solar and rain collection systems; incentives for traditional Texas architecture elements: tall ceilings and windows, shiplap, limestone, porches, and bungalow decoration; Fredericksburg-style sidewalks; East Riverside turned into a San Antonio-style River Walk; bus stops recessed so stopped buses don't stop traffic; more rail and bus service, afterschool programs, pools, community gardens, and Stacey Park-like runoff controls; a cypress tree planting program where water collects; a 2,000-acre lake for wind craft called Lake Stevie Ray east of 183 on the Colorado; funding from taxes on corporate banks and gas stations in Travis County.
Gianmarco Conegliano

The Real Story Here

RECEIVED Tue., June 1, 2010

Dear Editor,
    So Stratus is kicking in on the reward for the supposed sewer vandals. Isn't that fresh? The two co-conspirators who created that leaky, failure-prone, vulnerable system – which anyone with a sufficiently anti-social streak can violate at any number of unsecured access points, as was so clearly demonstrated – are joining forces to "get" the people who exposed their poor choices. Why doesn't society instead offer that reward to those vandals for the service of highlighting the lunacy of having chosen to organize the system with this sort of vulnerability? Especially when you add on that by doing so, all this water – which they can conceive of only as a nuisance, rather than the resource we really need it to be – is piped "away,” over the recharge zone, and then they treat and pump a whole lot of potable water out there to water lawns and such. More to the point, why isn't the story reported on that level? Just because everyone says, "Hey, ain't that the way you do wastewater systems?" Let's hope that Bill Spelman finally gets it together to put that integrated water management plan out there so those who are making those choices might finally figure out that, no, in the 21st century, that ain't the way you do wastewater systems. Rather, we'll use decentralized treatment units with local-area nonpotable reuse, eliminating the cost and liabilities of all the infrastructure that takes the water "away” and greatly decreasing the overall water demands in the developments so served. Systems that can be planned and designed on a "just in time" basis to serve only imminent development, and largely installed with developers' funds, so minimizing the city's debt load for this function and freeing up those resources for other community priorities. That's the story here.
David Venhuizen

No Longer Can Support School System

RECEIVED Sun., May 30, 2010

Dear Editor,
    The only way I can protest the actions of this so-called board of education is to no longer support the system. I have sold my two homes. I will no longer contribute to idiocy. It's a big decision to sell but extremely effective to hit them where it counts most. Politicize that!
Vince Saporita

Equality Is Better for Everyone

RECEIVED Thu., May 27, 2010

Dear Editor,
    Michael Ventura’s “Letters at 3AM” column has been performing a valuable service with his continuing series on the American Oligarchy. His articles show how the United States has transformed from having a broad-minded establishment (think the Founding Fathers) to a self-serving elite (think Mexico or Pakistan), citing specific laws and trends that moved us away from the egalitarian spirit that animated our young republic.
    Mr. Ventura should know that a similar analysis was performed about Great Britain by Anthony Sampson in his Anatomy of Britain series. The final edition in 2004 somewhat wistfully rued the end of the rule of aristocrats, good ol’ boys, and civil servants. It wasn’t because the old order was great, it’s because they threw out the gentlemen and put in narcissistic financiers (think British Gordon Gekkos) and media-driven politicians (think Tony Blair) in charge.
    I highly recommend to all readers that they pick up the book The Spirit Level: Why Equality Is Better for Everyone. This book by two medical researchers shows how everything from crime, life expectancy, teenage pregnancy rates, conspicuous consumption, and depression is affected more by income gaps between the rich-middle-poor than by the absolute wealth of the country. First-world countries like Sweden (or even neighboring Canada) have high levels of equality and consequently have less violent crime and higher educational outcomes than unequal countries like the UK or USA. Did you know living in a more equal state like Vermont or Iowa will give you a longer life expectancy than if you live in unequal Texas or California? The same is true even in individual counties with poor distributions of wealth.
    If Ventura is looking for the scientific case for dismantling the Oligarchy, he should look no further. Curiously, the book (very popular in the UK) has yet to be reviewed in most of America … including his beloved Economist and New York Times.
Anand Bhat
Tower Hamlets, London
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