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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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A Destructive Sham

RECEIVED Wed., June 10, 2020

Dear Editor,
    Regarding Mike Clark-Madison’s Austin at Large May 22 edition of the Austin Chronicle [“Austin at Large: Chronicles of Deaths, Foretold,” News] – he was right on!
    GOP no longer stands for Government Of the People. It has become a destructive sham – and for the survival of America, must be defeated in November – just as a rabid dog must be put to death.
    The GOP has taken America out of the Climate Accord, an organization she helped establish, has tried to reduce Medicare, has increased pollution through Executive Orders – favoring corporations over public health, using its goons (ICE) to pull respectable people out of their homes in the middle of the night because they had no citizen papers and send them on planes to God knows where or keep them in horrible camps without visitors.
    The GOP has caused our 200-year democracy – once the hope of the world – to lose face globally.
    The people of the world no longer look upon us as their last hope. In fact many look upon us as their worst nightmare – all because of the people we have put in office under the banner of the GOP.
    To quote from Mike Clark-Madison referring to the Trumpites: “Engaging with madness now is madness itself; we have lots of ways, and lots of power, to replace what’s broken and rotten in our society with a sturdier frame built of justice and, yes, love. Our lives now literally depend on it.”
Victoria Taylor

What Passes for Justice

RECEIVED Wed., June 10, 2020

Dear Editor,
    When criminals rule, their justice will be criminal.
    What passes for justice here in the great state of Texas, has a nasty habit of throwing the innocent into prison by the tens of locked-down thousands. Poor citizens who plead their actual innocence, but can’t afford the bail, are routinely kept in their respective county jails for a year, and more. With no hope of defense, jobs lost, cars lost, families unravelling, they may get a second visit from their so-called defense: “Take the plea, or else.”
    With judges and defense working for the glory of the prosecutors, off go the innocent to prison. Maybe one in five is actually innocent – some say more, and some say way, way more!
    Now confined to bunks for days on end, living on white bread and peanut butter, 24/7, for days on end. No commissary, no library, nothing, nada.
    A moment of silence with this slaughter of the innocent ongoing.
Bob Schroeder

Unpresidented

RECEIVED Wed., June 10, 2020

Oh Editor, dear!
    Unprecedented!! For only the second time in recorded history, this week’s issue had no cover-sidebar “message.” The only other time this happened was the Jan 22nd, 2016 issue with Paul Ray on the cover.
    No “message” from you actually sez a lot. Back then, you did give us what was going to be printed. Dare to share what this one was going to be? A “slug” is what you called it. I’ll bet you thought we weren’t paying attention. Are you kidding? With all this time on our hands! Curious, who sez I’m curious?
A fan,
Jack Pott

Time to Defund

RECEIVED Tue., June 9, 2020

Dear Editor,
    I am writing to demand that Mayor Adler and the City Council take immediate steps to defund the Austin Police Department and to fire police “leadership,” including Chief Manley, his Chief of Staff Troy Gay, and Assistant City Manager [Rey] Arellano, whose civilian “management” of APD has been abysmal.
    The violent behavior meted out by police in Austin’s communities of color on a regular basis was on full display for the whole city to see 10 days ago as cops violently and ruthlessly attacked peaceful demonstrators, injuring more than 50 people. The cops who shot two young men in the head and the medics who were attempting to help are still on the job because, according to the chief, they followed guidelines. This is unacceptable and illustrates a serious lack of leadership on the part of Chief Manley. I urge the Council to call on the city manager to fire him and other members of his “leadership” team.
    I also call on the Austin City Council to commit to decreasing APD’s budget by $100 million starting on October 1, 2020, and to allocate those funds to desperately needed social services. Please do this at your next meeting on June 11th. I can think of quite a few places where the intervention of armed individuals with badges is counterproductive and dangerous: schools, family disputes, mental health crises, wellness checks, drug overdoses, and with unhoused people. That $100 million could be used to deal with the urgent needs of the communities in our city that now bear the brunt of excessive policing. And as Austin builds new strategies as alternatives to policing, such as community-led initiatives for violence prevention, funding for police must continue to decrease and be transferred to community-oriented programs. The time for “reform” is over. Incremental efforts to improve APD have failed. It’s time to defund.
Amy Mashberg

Fox in a Bad Way

RECEIVED Mon., June 8, 2020

Dear Editor,
    Mayor Steve Adler is a fox.
    That’s not a compliment. He’s a fox in the sense Malcolm X meant when he condemned racist conservatives and liberals in America. The one, Malcolm said, was a snarling wolf: openly dangerous. But the other was worse, a smiling fox, kind on the surface but more destructive for its deception.
    Adler wrote a letter on June 7th entitled “The systemic killing of Black Americans must stop.” Who could disagree with this title? Liberal White voters, in normal times, would shame conservatives who didn’t lap it up. But normal is past. His words ring hollow now.
    Just days before, Adler voted to accept a $500,000 grant to fund “APD staffing.” This, amid enormous pushback against the systemic oppression of Black people by our national militarized police force. A central spearhead of the movement is to DEFUND the police. Adler’s move is at best tone deaf. At worst it entrenches the redlined status of our Black and Hispanic communities east of I-35.
    In Adler’s own words: “We can’t work on a more affordable Austin … without confronting our systemic inequities. Until the color of a person’s skin and their zip code is no longer a predictor of early death, we will be unable to make true progress on any other issue.”
    No, we can’t work on a more affordable Austin while the lion’s share of city monies goes to APD. Meanwhile, tiny slices of that pie trickle to underserved housing, health, and education programs in those neighborhoods. These would nourish and sustain communities, not punish them for the results of being undernourished.
    Mayor Adler would do well to search his motives. He doesn’t act in the best interests of all Austinites. And it’s on us to educate ourselves, make way for change, and call out foxes.
KB Imle

Reach Out on Ratios

RECEIVED Sun., June 7, 2020

Dear Editor,
    As a teacher in an AISD Title I high school I find it curious that you report a regular classroom teacher-to-student ratio of 22:1, in the May 5 article by Beth Sullivan, “AISD Will Resume Classes in August, but What Will They Look Like?” At the school where I teach, our classroom ratios are only 22:1 when our attendance rates wane due to our students’ difficult circumstances. On a normal teaching day, if all my students are in attendance, I can have classes of 32:1. At which schools in the district is a ratio of 22:1 normal? The Austin Chronicle can help by shining light on inequity in our public school district. For instance, how do schools within AISD compare with respect to private donations to sports teams, involvement in PTAs, and the number of substitute teachers requested per day? Do students enrolled in the early-college program through ACC receive the same quality of teaching compared to students in high schools with AP/IB classes? Reach out to Title I school teachers and we will help; we have all summer.
Jessie Bell

We’ll Be Watching

RECEIVED Fri., June 5, 2020

Dear Mayor Adler,
    I am writing today to urge you to speak out clearly and take action to begin to redress our country’s 400-year history of racial violence and oppression.
    In addition to the condemning the recent excessive use of force by APD during peaceful protests and its continued history of violence against persons of color, you must publicly recognize the fundamental role that police and the criminal justice system have played in this history of oppression and systemic racism. Unfortunately the Austin Police Department continues to play that role today!
    At a minimum I would expect you as an elected official of “progressive” Austin to do the following:
   
    • Take the Obama.org pledge to address police use of force policies
    • Support the common sense recommendations of the Police Use of Force Project:
    • Require officers to de-escalate situations before resorting to force
    • Limit the kinds of force that can be used to respond to specific forms of resistance
    • Restrict chokeholds
    • Require officers to give verbal warning before using force
    • Prohibit officers from shooting at moving vehicles
    • Require officers to exhaust all alternatives to deadly force
    • Require officers to stop colleagues from exercising excessive force
    • Require comprehensive reporting on use of force
    • Freeze all increases in spending on additional equipment for APD – (they need commitment to community policing not additional military equipment)
    • Stand up to the Police Officers Organization, which refuses to accept civilian oversight and accountability. The citizens of Austin will support you!
    Like many thousands of Austin voters, I will be watching your responses and actions to this issue of police use of violence and continued racism. We will not be able to vote for any current politicians, bond issues, or approve any tax increases UNTIL our government begins to take actions to end systemic racism in our city and especially our police department.
Sincerely,
Stephen Dock

Think Globally, Act Globally

RECEIVED Thu., June 4, 2020

Dear Editor,
    The International Affairs Budget is a topic that can not be ignored, even in today’s political climate. This budget allocates a certain amount of money to foreign diplomacy and development initiatives. With the ever-increasing interconnectivity of our globalized world, global poverty and instability have a huge effect on the United States in more ways than one. Places with extreme poverty allow for instability that creates forced migration, national security threats, and puts a strain on international economic markets. As we have seen with the COVID-19 pandemic, what happens on one side of the world can cause a ripple effect that affects us all. I am urging Senator Ted Cruz and Senator John Cornyn to continue to pioneer U.S. leadership in international affairs by protecting the International Affairs Budget. Worldly problems are no longer far away. In this strenuous time, we can not turn our backs on the estimated 500 million people that could be pushed into poverty during this time, on top of the more than 3 billion people that already live on less than $2.50 a day.
Haven Barton-Knabe
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