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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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Don’t Fund the Barton Springs Master Plan

RECEIVED Wed., Sept. 12, 2012

Dear Editor,
    Amy Smith touched upon what I believe is the heart of the matter [“Then There's This,” News, Aug. 31]: Certain parties in high places, including some of the leadership of "Friends of Barton Springs Pool," wish to gentrify the park. I think they are preparing it for private management, dressing it up for the highest bidder to rent out for special events like the ever-expanding Austin City Limits Music Festival, which keep the public from using and enjoying the area.
     The “grounds improvement” plans for the south lawn directly contradict the specification in the Barton Springs Pool Master Plan:
    "The huge pecans on the South Lawn towering over the lush lawn [offer] one of the most inviting vistas of Barton Springs. Because the South Lawn is such a beloved feature, care should be taken to avoid temptation to either re-imagine it or to use it to solve functional problems. (Handicapped accessibility or maintenance truck accessibility come to mind.) It is a tree-covered lawn today. It should be a tree-covered lawn going forward. It should not be a tree-covered lawn with accessways cutting through it."
    The "stakeholders" review process for the Barton Springs Pool Master Plan has been a sham. The design options that have been presented to the public have offered only choices of several undesirable "enhancements" – without ever presenting an option to do nothing.
    It is an expensive, disruptive, inappropriate plan that will destroy much of what is now the bucolic setting of the pool. When other pools, libraries, and schools are being shut down due to a lack of funds, it will be a sad day for Austin if/when council approves funding for this unnecessary boondoggle.
    The Parks and Recreation Department should just focus on maintaining a clean facility and tending to the plants that are there now.
Karen Kreps

Gov. Perry Gets Taxpayers to Finance Vacation

RECEIVED Tue., Sept. 11, 2012

Dear Editor,
    Taxpayers are supposed to believe that Rick and Anita Perry are in Italy for one week only to promote the Formula One race. Yes, we all know what a boon to the economy the F1 racetrack will be for Texas and wealthy entrepreneurs.
    However, what a con job Perry is performing in front of hardworking and hardly-working Texans to milk more money from taxpayers so Perry and the missus get a free weeklong Italian vacation.
    Isn't it difficult enough to fathom that Texas Gov. Rick Perry is the highest paid part-time governor in the nation? Haven't taxpayers been ravaged enough by their frivolous and uncaring governor?
    When will Texans become fed up with the governor’s ongoing costly shenanigans, see wealthy, special-interest driven Perry for what he is and then come out in droves to vote in a better candidate for governor?
Peter Stern

Texas Deserves Better

RECEIVED Tue., Sept. 11, 2012

Dear Editor,
    Re: “Texas Planned Parenthood Supporters Decry New Rules for Women’s Health Program” [Newsdesk blog, Sept. 5]: The new regulations for the Women’s Health Program defy logic – and the suffering they cause will be a lasting legacy to lawmakers’ shortsighted and incredibly cruel political decisions. It’s the same gag rule that hurts women around the world every time it’s reinstated.
    In a time when more than half of Texas births are paid for by Medicaid, the last thing any fiscally responsible lawmaker should do is slash family planning funding. Yet that’s exactly what Texas lawmakers have done. Family planning prevents unintended pregnancy. It helps prevent abortion. And it saves money – an estimated $4 in Medicaid expenditures for every $1 invested. Why does Gov. Perry oppose any of those things?
    Meanwhile, on Nov. 1, 50,000 Texas women who’ve relied on Planned Parenthood will be left with no health care provider. How many of those women will have unintended pregnancies, undiagnosed infections, and untreated cancers? How much will that cost in suffering and deferred medical expenses? Only time will tell. And lower-income women lucky enough to still have providers will receive partial information at best when their doctors are forbidden to even utter the word “abortion.”
    Just like it does overseas, the new rule disqualifies one of the most experienced and effective providers, interferes with the doctor/patient relationship, and forces health care providers to make an impossible choice. They can either deny their patients complete and accurate information about all options, or they can sacrifice the funding necessary to provide family planning services. Either choice hurts the people they serve – women and families who are already struggling.
    They deserve better.
Amy Phillips Bursch
Media relations manager
Population Connection, Washington, D.C.

Ventura Column a Must-Read in Election Year

RECEIVED Sat., Sept. 8, 2012

Dear Editor,
      Please thank Michael Ventura for "Why Not Chicken Fat?" ["Letters at 3am," Sept. 7]. It brilliantly poses a question that every American should be asking, and I don't know why so few are. This should be widely read in this election year, and I've shared and posted it everywhere I can think of.
Robert Adams

Allow Both Skateboards and BMXs

RECEIVED Fri., Sept. 7, 2012

Dear Editor,
    Shaylah Dame Skate Park is located in Round Rock. The city of Round Rock says that bikes are not permitted in the skate park supposedly because of the damage they cause to the cement sidings. They say the park was designed for skateboard use and not BMX use. Their excuse for not letting bikes in the park is that the chains and gears of the bikes damage the edges of the park, and require more frequent repair and maintenance of the park. Additionally, they say that there is a huge difference between wood grinding and metal grinding the cement edges.
    Austin BMX and Skate Park, on the other hand, allows skateboarders and BMX riders! I don't see any reason why the Round Rock park does not let bikes in like the Austin does. Austin BMX and Skate Park was able to successfully combine both, and both parks are the same. They are both designed the same way; they just have a different setup. When skaters and bikers meet up at Round Rock, they are very friendly. The skaters know that the BMX riders just come to learn tricks like the skateboarders, and not to break stuff.
    And by the way, skateboards aren't just wood – they have metal trucks on the bottom and they can grind just the same as pegs on a bike! Unfortunately for skateboards, there is no such thing as plastic trucks for the boards. Luckily, bikes do have such things. Some bike riders use plastic pegs and pedals, that cause a lot less damage compared to skateboard trucks. Most of the edges where people grind are already re-enforced with metal. If anything, I think skateboards can cause if not more then the same wear as bikes, not less. It is disappointing that city government officials can't even make a well-reasoned response to the expressed need for allowing BMX riding at the skate park. People are already riding bikes at the Round Rock skate park anyway. They do it all the time. They need to change the rules, don't you think?
Sincerely,
Martin Medina

Voter Photo ID Way To Keep People From Voting

RECEIVED Thu., Sept. 6, 2012

Dear Editor,
    Thinking people know better than to believe voter photo identification is needed to prevent voter fraud and with good reason ["Point Austin," News, Sept. 7]. It’s not true.
    There is a strong commitment, particularly by “red” states, to push for voter photo identification. As minority populations (e.g., Hispanic, black, etc.) are significantly increasing in the South they are becoming the new majority and will change the political structure and status for many years to come. However, more than half of this population does not vote. The political climate will change slowly, and the GOP is fearful of losing its tight hold.
    Consequently, those currently in charge are going to do whatever possible to keep the increasing minority populations (potential Democrats) from voting. Texas is one of the Southern states that is trying to keep the political status quo. So, what better way to keep Hispanics, blacks, and other populations from voting than to create and push the platform to curb voter fraud by forcing voters to present voter photo identification cards.
    The GOP has the most to lose since the minority-majority are not Republican nor potential Republican voters. For now, “voter fraud” is the battle cry of the GOP in order to maintain its control.
    However, if voter fraud was truly a significant platform, the GOP would do well to monitor more closely the integrity of the voting machines and also the process of counting mail-in votes.
    So, the reality is that the GOP will continue to push for voter photo IDs in the hope of maintaining its power and control in an ever increasing minority population, especially in Southern cities. While the ploy may work well in the short term, it is only a matter of time before the political status quo will change. Voter photo ID cards are merely a postponement of inevitable political changes.
Peter Stern

'The Greatest Geek Who Ever Lived'

RECEIVED Thu., Sept. 6, 2012

Dear Editor,
    Re: "Geek Gift Giving" by Kimberley Jones [Screens, Sept. 7].
      Matthew Inman is a very smart (oatmeal) cookie. Thanks to Inman for promoting the greatest geek who ever lived, Nikola Tesla. And, in tandem with that, thanks to Inman for the fastest ever fund drive to build a museum so that Tesla may finally be recognized as the genius inventor who gifted us with the AC electricity we all take for granted.
      The late Neil Armstrong has very deservedly received much praise for being the first man on the moon. So, while we're winking at the full moon and Neil Armstrong, we should also give another wink at the stars and the great genius inventor, Nikola Tesla, who lit our world.
Liz Milanovich
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
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