'Rush Limbaugh-Style Name-Calling' Instead of Informing

RECEIVED Tue., Aug. 2, 2011

Dear Editor,
    Michael King’s latest screed makes clear he prefers Rush Limbaugh-style name-calling to informing his readers. King seeks to inoculate his fact-free know-nothingism by accusing opponents of the billion dollar (counting interest payments) water plant with charges of “moral absolutism,” “demagogic environmentalism,” and not caring about the plant workers who would lose their jobs if the boondoggle plant was postponed for a decade or more until we actually need more treatment capacity.
    Building the plant was never about funding jobs – until every other reason for the plant was shot down as being wholly without merit. At this point, it’s not about jobs but about lining the pockets of contractors and engineering firms, with most of the high-paying jobs located out of state.
    If it’s jobs we care about, we can employ more local workers at a fraction of the cost per job by addressing our real water problems: replacing hundreds of miles of old, failing pipes that leak billions of gallons of water into the ground all around our city; extending our reclaimed water system that’s barely been started; and investing in water efficiencies that will pay dividends immediately to current ratepayers, both residential and commercial.
    These investments will help us build a water efficient economy, protecting hundreds of thousands of jobs from severe droughts that will only grow worse with a hotter, drier climate. By contrast, wasting hundreds of millions of dollars adding water treatment capacity when we aren’t using the capacity we already have won’t give us a single drop of additional water.
    While wrapping himself in the flag of workers, King doesn’t bother to notice that the many thousands of Austin water customers who use the least amount of water and can least afford water rate hikes now face a single year water-rate increase of 65%. If King or any of his colleagues at the Chronicle care one whit about workers or keeping Austin affordable for working families, please report the facts.
Bill Bunch
Save Our Springs Alliance
   [Michael King responds: I did not and would not presume to compete with Bill Bunch in the art of name-calling, as he so deftly demonstrates here. As for "facts": As long as one understands the term as Bunch characteristically uses it – "an opinion that coincides with that of Bill Bunch" – I suppose the column in question is indeed "fact-free." What he certainly does not acknowledge in this case are facts on the ground, e.g.: the city's decommissioning of the Green WTP, the current reliance on two aging treatment plants, the many official decisions to go forward, the city's contractual commitment of hundreds of millions of dollars, and major construction both completed and under way. Similarly, his attribution of any and all potential increases in water rates to WTP4 is arithmetic "factual" only in his own imagination.]
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