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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Poor Tactics

RECEIVED Mon., Feb. 1, 2016

Dear Editor,
    While student teaching elementary school full time for no pay (to be certified) I await my first child in March and work for the Uber Cartel weekends to cover basic expenses. While hardly possible, this is less discouraging than being misled by Uber. Emails to me cheerfully declaring new minimum fares of $5.60 don't mention that I receive just $3.20. They decry Council's fingerprinting program, claiming driver segregation, while they offer some drivers hourly minimums for working 12mid-3am, but deny them to me. Then, they hire canvassers to lie to the public, painting their profit maximization schemes as public services to get signatures on petitions; as if profit margin were an issue for a company with nearly no overhead, or drivers would quit over a $25 fingerprinting fee all taxi drivers and pedicabbers pay. How insulting. Is Trump their PR person?
Ethan Vlah

Grossly Underpaid

RECEIVED Mon., Feb. 1, 2016

Dear Editor,
    This city calls itself the “live music capital of the world.” Austin’s world-class musicians, many of whom can be seen almost any night of the week, made that title possible. While the city and its venues are getting fatter on that pie, the musicians settle for crumbs.
    I don’t know if Austin music fans here or abroad know this, but when a sign says “No Cover” it doesn’t mean that the venue is paying the musicians and is generously providing free entertainment. It means that musicians are being paid close to nothing and are expected to earn their pay by donations from patrons in a famous “tip jar” [see "Playback: Tip Jar Etiquette," Music, July 4, 2014]. That “tip jar” has become as famous to Austin musicians as “live music capital” has to Austin.
    I am a three-decade-plus Austin singer-songwriter with many qualifying credentials. I recently played a well-known North Austin honky-tonk. My band was promised a $100 guarantee. (Terrible, I know.) The owner claimed that although that amount is low, her staff are aggressive tip jar passers and bands do great. We drew a full house. The famous “staff” never once passed the tip jar. I paid my band out of my pocket. I earned nothing for my work. The bar made out like bandits.
    When I inquired about the lack of “tip jar passing” at the end of the night I was rudely explained by the bartender that, “If you were any good people would have tipped anyway.” Later the owner informed me that 650 bands have played there before and never complained.
    Well, I’m complaining now. I hope my voice is heard. I believe I am not alone. That the very hallmark that gives Austin its famous claim have to rely on the whim and insult of bar staff, can’t afford to live in this city, need to be “helped” by HAAM and SIMS, have to work almost every night in order to make ends meet, have to rely on tips for income – is just not right. This is how it really should read: “live music capital of the world … and most of its hardworking musicians live in poverty.”
Tish Hinojosa

Disconnect at Cap Met

RECEIVED Sat., Jan. 30, 2016

Dear Editor,
    Dedicated bus lanes were part of the original MetroRapid proposal; however, Watson and then-board chair Martinez proposed items they were legally not allowed to implement.
    MetroRapid service has low ridership because Capital Metro implemented premium fare – which was not part of the groundbreaking at the Chinatown Station.
    The agency did not critically examine a consultant proposal before voting on it. They also resisted public comments and concerns about an additional category.
    Our peers in San Antonio, El Paso, and Houston offer similar vehicles – but local fare is payment.
    Capital Metro's own internal figures show that the 801 line performs 1,000 riders below expected levels. People most needing public transit chose the cheapest methods because we do not have money to spare.
    Disconnect of Capital Metro staff from functional and economic realities of public transit is extremely embarrassing. These people need to leave Austin.
    Additional people will start riding Capital Metro when this agency is thoroughly cleaned out and completely reformed.
Robin Otlowski

Never Forget

RECEIVED Fri., Jan. 29, 2016

Dear Editor,
    I was just at a restaurant waiting for some breakfast tacos to go, standing by the Chronicle paper rack. A young couple about 20 looked down at the cover with a drawing and article by Mary Tuma, showing four judges raising the flag over a pregnant woman's stomach ["Roe's End?" News, Jan. 29]. One said, “Is that Roe?” Probably trying to be entertaining. I was standing there and said it was a caption about the flag raising on Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima, in February 1945. I pointed to the bottom guy and said, “That’s Harlon Block from Weslaco, Texas.” There were five Marines and one Navy Corpsman named James Bradley. Harlon Block, Franklin Sousley, and Michael Strank never made it off the island. I ended it with, “It’s because of those people we have freedom of press, let’s try and not forget.”
Richard Gilliam

No Time to Speak

RECEIVED Fri., Jan. 29, 2016

Dear Editor,
    I am very disappointed in the continuation of late night meetings by Austin City Council. When Council stacks a number of subjects on the same night when it is known there will be a lot of speakers, meetings go very late at night (as all are aware). This effectively takes away the ability of the regular citizen to speak to Council. Not only do most of us have to work the next day, but if we rely on public transportation, we cannot go home, after the bus stops running. It has become clear to me that my emails to Council have no effect (I don't think they are even read), and other than standing up and speaking at a council meeting, there seems to be no other way for one's voice to actually be heard.
    I ask the council to stop stacking contentious issues on top of each other and instead spread them out: There are plenty of times I have watched meetings when there are few people in attendance and meetings are over at a reasonable time. Having over 100 speakers signed up to speak on a topic that starts at 11pm does not serve the people of Austin in any way.
Erin McGann
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