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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 Capital (Metro) Idea

RECEIVED Wed., Feb. 28, 2024

Dear Editor,
    I read with some interest the letter about Cap Metro considering having unarmed security riders ["Opinion: Cap Metro Must Safeguard No-Cost Transit for Unhoused Austinites," Feb. 16]. I noted that the opinion of the (I take it currently homeless) native is one of opposition to the proposal. I am an Austin native, with 10 years of homelessness in my past – two of which were on the streets; outside. I live on the edge currently, one bad decision and/or instance of bad luck away from the street today. I'm in favor of unarmed security on buses, but with a couple caveats and one suggestion. First, let me say I feel anyone weighing in should use Cap Metro for, say, a month before opining. Perhaps unarmed security, with neutral (non police-like, but clearly identifying) uniforms, trained perhaps in conflict resolution and maybe mental health issue resolution, with very clear responsibilities – as in safety, not drug enforcement. In this day where even many homeless possess better smartphones than myself, perhaps everyone could feel safer, and even perhaps tourists might be riding. Of course security riders should be diverse ethnically, and with clear mission and some crisis management – but, here's an idea – why not start by hiring actual homeless to do the job? We need jobs – I'm looking for one now; perhaps it could be a stepping stone to housing? I am certain there are many who could and would do a great and fair job – I think rigid standards and qualifications could still be met hiring homeless. No system will be perfect; there will always be some problems, but I think security could work for everyone.
William Kelley

Clarification: Bus Stop Not Illegal, Just Busy

RECEIVED Wed., Feb. 28, 2024

Dear Editor,
    [Re: "Safe on the Bus," News, Feb. 23:] First sentence, first paragraph reads: “On a cool fall day last year at a heavily **trafficked** bus stop …”
    This is the dictionary definition of the word “trafficked”:
    traf·fic
    verb
    past tense: trafficked; past participle: trafficked
    1. deal or trade in something illegal. "we must vigorously enforce our laws against those who traffic in drugs"
    Please correct. It looks like you’re saying that all Cap Metro bus stops have illegal activity happening at them.
    What illegal activities were occurring at this particular bus stop?
George McCoy
   Editor Kim Jones responds: While you are correct that is *a* dictionary definition of "trafficked," we were referring to its more common usage here – "to travel over" or "to visit as a customer." Apologies for any confusion.

Only the Wisest and Stupidest Never Change

RECEIVED Wed., Feb. 28, 2024

Dear Editor,
    I love, love, love the print edition of the Chronicle. Always have, always will. It lets me enjoy the world around me without glaring at a computer or cellphone. It’s been my go-to for activities for years. If I want to see a play, I go to the theatre listings (opening, continuing, closing). Want to see some music, the music section. Comedy, the comedy section. Drag brunch, the Qmmunity section. You get the idea. Now let’s talk about your new events format. If I want to see a play, I must page through the whole edition. Maybe a community event, let’s go back and page through again. So, it’s not really reader-friendly. And, 99% of the event blurbs don’t include URLs for more information or running dates for events that go on for more than a day. I’m worried it signals the demise of the print edition. Is this true? Remind your advertisers how fast we click past ads in an e-edition. Remember when we thought streaming was a great idea? Sorry, but change is not always good.
Pat McKeever

Opinion on Opinion

RECEIVED Mon., Feb. 26, 2024

Dear Editor,
    I deeply appreciated the contributor in the Opinion piece last week describing the concept of Tzedakah, affirming “Jews’ inescapable obligation to fight for the rights of every human being facing any form of discrimination” and rejecting Israel’s atrocities [“Dear Israel: I’m Stuck in the Middle With You,” Feb. 23].
    An important missing piece of context, though, is the settler colonial nature of Israel. The founder of political Zionism himself, Theodor Herzl, called it a “colonial idea.” This ethno-nationalist vision resulted in what Palestinians remember as the Nakba or “catastrophe,” the ethnic cleansing that took place during the formation of the state of Israel. 750,000 Palestinians were displaced, 78% of historic Palestine seized, and about 15,000 killed in a series of mass atrocities. These massacres occurring after the Holocaust constituted tragedy on top of tragedy. The ethnic cleansing continues today.
    Considering the overwhelming history of antisemitism as well as contemporary upsurge, I understand the author’s statement, “… Jews must have some place to go.” However, I question whether the solution to antisemitism is a Jewish ethno-state, which will inevitably continue to result in apartheid. I believe we must fight antisemitism and all forms of oppression together rather than trading one person’s oppression for another’s.
    I join in the author’s conviction to “treat everyone with respect, kindness, and dignity.” Of course, to me, that means an immediate cease-fire to end the genocide and collective punishment of Gazans. It requires restoring funding to UNRWA and an end to U.S. military aid to Israel. Ultimately, I believe the solution is a secular, democratic, decolonized state. In the words of Jewish Voice for Peace, “We choose a future where everyone, including Palestinians and Jewish Israelis, can live their lives freely in vibrant, safe, equitable communities, with basic human needs fulfilled.”
Christopher Kennedy

Can't Help Ya There

RECEIVED Sat., Feb. 24, 2024

Dear Editor,
    Why no endorsements for the Republican primary? I have not yet decided which primary to vote in, but would like to have the full picture going in. Don't we want the best possible candidates, no matter the party?
M. LaRue

Gentrification Scholar Weighs In

RECEIVED Fri., Feb. 23, 2024

This is in response to the article "Austin at Large: Lowrider Knows Every Street," [News, April 2, 2021.] In particular, it is in response to the writer's last paragraph as they critique Peter Holley's statements on displacement and gentrification, arguing that these characterizations are overblown. However, I argue that this is a wrong and dangerous assumption to make that a) displacement is not happening and b) it is everywhere else so why should we care? As a scholar on gentrification, many people are doing great work on how we can expand our understanding of gentrification as a process. We should not think of gentrification as only physical displacement or an increase in ground rent. Yes, these are hallmarks of gentrification first proposed by Neil Smith, but scholars now see gentrification beyond this lens. Gentrification can also be social displacement (i.e., can original inhabitants practice social and cultural traditions, or are these threatened by the gentry class?), labor market shifts (is the labor market in the area attracting different people?), the shifting of aesthetics (what kinds of food, drinks, services, etc. are being brought in to attract affluent consumers?), bike lanes, etc. Having the view that for gentrification to occur there must be displacement renders other processes of gentrification invisible. When we include these more nuanced understandings of gentrification, places like East Cesar Chavez are at a much larger threat than previously understood – this is why we should care.
Colt Pierce
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