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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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Should Be Vote on Rail

RECEIVED Tue., March 5, 2013

Dear Editor:
    Regarding "Spring Train-ing: Warm-up for another urban rail campaign" (News, Feb. 22): The baseball metaphor found in this article needs to be carried even further, in that voters haven't had the chance to "step up to the plate" (i.e., participate in a required public urban rail vote) since 2000. Political promises to have an urban rail vote have been broken (most notably by Mayor Lee Leffingwell, who somehow apparently is the sole decider on when a plan for urban rail is ready to take to the voters) – but even more damning, rail planners haven’t been able, in the 12 years since the 2000 referendum, to arrive at an urban rail proposal deemed ready to go before the voters. Twelve years! (And, actually, urban rail was first presented to the Austin City Council in 1973 – and approved for further study – so in reality there have been 40 years to plan!) I am one of those “Transit advocates continu[ing] to push for trains, but … disagree[ing] on the proposed routes” mentioned in the article. A number of prominent transit advocates question the current initial proposed route of urban rail from Downtown to Mueller and wonder why millions of dollars were spent on a joint federal/city study prior to the 2000 vote that determined the best route for an urban rail line was on North Lamar and Guadalupe (which has almost twice as much projected ridership as the current proposed route to Mueller). This one big route question – and others – has been asked by advocates and citizens in the most recent federal/city Environmental Impact Statement study … and has gone unanswered. As yet another urban rail “campaign” gears up for this spring/summer, will this question and others be answered? Or, to use another metaphor, will they be “steamrolled?”
Andrew Clements

Ban Some Dog Ownership

RECEIVED Tue., March 5, 2013

Dear Editor,
    Is there any way we can propose a city ordinance to ban ownership of pit bulls, rottweilers, and other nuisance animals in the city of Austin and Travis County?
    I know Denver and Miami-Dade, among others, have done this, and they do not have any problems with these animals.
    Has the City Council considered this yet?
    It just makes sense to me given that more and more of these animals are posing a threat to public safety.
Douglas Jackson

Protecting the Environment Important

RECEIVED Mon., March 4, 2013

Dear Editor,
    After reading the article “Environment: Don’t Hold Your Breath” [News, Dec. 14, 2012] I was both hopeful and disappointed, but mostly disappointed. I was hopeful that new policies in regards to the environment and ocean can make a positive change and help prevent the Earth from further damage. However, I was greatly disappointed that there are only a few people trying to pass new policies in order to protect our environment. Including various ways to help save the environment in more articles – such as how to reduce our carbon footprint by using public transportation and recycling – will help people understand that they can be of help. I strongly believe it is important to raise public awareness on the issue of environmental damage. People need to see the damage we do to our environment and understand that each person can make a difference, whether it is big or small.
Sincerely,
Nuanpan Mongkolpumirat

Success So Far in Spite of 'Chronicle'

RECEIVED Mon., March 4, 2013

Dear Editor,
    Okay, I will try again. The Austin Chronicle can help Austinites to transition to single-member districts. It should do so.
    The Chronicle opposed Proposition 3, but the voters of Austin approved the charter amendment anyway.
    The Chronicle predicted that it would be difficult to find enough qualified applicants for the Applicant Review Panel of auditors because the position was being offered at the same time as tax season. There are at least 80 applicants for the three-person panel.
    The Chronicle predicted that the eligibility requirements for the independent commission were too strict to allow enough applicants. More than 500 people have applied for the 14-member commission.
    The Chronicle predicted that eligible applicants would come primarily from central Austin. The applicants come from throughout the city, and Proposition 3 itself requires that the commission reflect the city's diversity.
    There is still much to do to see that the transition to single-member districts is successful. However, the process to this point could not have been better. Every Austinite should be grateful to the city auditor and his staff for their extraordinary effort, and to the organizations (such as the League of Women Voters, Austinites for Geographic Representation, League of United Latin American Citizens, NAACP, and Asian voter associations) for their successful outreach programs.
    Success thus far has come despite the opposition and sarcasm of the Chronicle. Please commend the work of the auditor and the organizations that has made the transition successful to this point. Please pledge your help going forward. The people of Austin deserve the Chronicle's trust and assistance.
Steve Bickerstaff
   [News Editor Michael King responds: Steve Bickerstaff persistently insists it's the Chronicle's obligation to promote his pet project, his unelected task of rewriting Austin's election laws. Just for the record, the Chronicle endorsed single-member districting each and every time (seven, in total) it was on the ballot, including this one. We differed over which plan (both of which won majorities) we thought would be better, but we're pleased that geographic districting has finally come to Austin. Bickerstaff's version of our reporting – not "predictions" – is tendentiously inaccurate, and his summary of what's happened so far is misleading. For glaring example, he fails to note that of the 81 applicants for the three-member review panel, all of 14 met the actual qualifications; we still don't know how many of the "independent commission" applicants will meet the baroque standards imposed by Bickerstaff and his collaborators for drawing the maps. Here's a prediction: Enough will do so, and eventually we'll get perfectly adequate district maps. It's true the city auditor and his staff should be applauded for having done their absolute best to turn these over-engineered lemons into lemonade – thereby directly contradicting the loudest 10-1 advocates, who continually insist that everything and everyone at City Hall is irretrievably corrupt, and only 10-1 can save us. Notwithstanding Bickerstaff's continuing sanctimony, that's still baloney.]

Texas Turning More Red All the Time!

RECEIVED Thu., Feb. 28, 2013

Dear Editor,
    I'm glad Gov. Perry ain't letting those rascally commies at the Capitol take away my rights to text and drive. Why, it's bad enough I can't go to school with my gun and drink Schlitz while I'm driving my truck. What's next? I can't jack off while staring at porn on my iPhone and driving my pickup at the same time? All I can say is, Texas is turning more red all the time.
Mike Luther
Lockhart
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