Letters to the editor: Jan. 23, 2018

Jan 22, 2018

Re: Jan. 18 commentary, “TEA must commit to an overhaul of its special education practices.”

I love Texas. That’s why we moved here in 1979. But I am very sad that we have not kept up with services for those with developmental disabilities.

Capping the number of students who can receive special education services is beyond ridiculous in a state that encourages jobs and growth. Parents with education and needed skills also have children who may need special education. Texas continues to house more people in state-run institutions than any other state, and I have spoken out for services in the community for all these years. Our 52-year-old daughter has lived in a community home for 28 years, and I know that these services are needed for so many families. I hope that many people will read Elizabeth Lewis’ commentary and speak out against these injustices.

JACKIE ROBERTS, BURNET

Re: Jan. 18 commentary, “With its legal arguments in shreds, Austin should release records for manager search.”

Kudos to the criticism of recent ridiculous (and now ruled illegal) activities by the Austin City Council in the city manager search. As unfortunate as the council’s actions were in that particular instance, it is only part of a worrisome path chosen by the first group of leaders under the new 10-1 council system.

As a former resident of San Antonio, which has a successful municipal government structure of 10 single districts, I was an enthusiastic supporter of Austin’s move from at-large to single districts in 2014. Now, however, I am disappointed in the council’s lack of progress regarding fair taxation, affordable housing, intelligent traffic management, etc.

Instead, the council is expending its energy on promoting ever more development and the associated population growth. Council members and the mayor should focus more on enhancing the lives of their current constituents than on attracting the latest big event or hot business.

CHRISTINA JONES, AUSTIN

The structure of our political process does not function. Look at Europe, where they have strong political parties.

There, the nomination process is done by the organized political party. The candidate must support the published party platform. It is much less expensive, and you can hold the party responsible for the outcome.

Here, how do I decide which candidate to support? It becomes extremely expensive to tell me why I should vote to nominate you. How many Republicans do you know who voted to nominate Trump? How do I hold any candidate responsible for his or her political promises?

In the 1960s and ’70s I was active in liberal Democratic efforts over the race issues. We got the nominating rules changed to “get the process out of the smoke-filled rooms into the hands of the people.” I ask you, was it for the better or for the worse?

PHILIP CEZEAUX, HOUSTON

Is it just me, or has every homeowner observed the injustice of the property tax evaluation process? I know many people have been affected, because I see and hear the same comments from other homeowners every year.

Home taxes either increase due to rate hikes or property evaluations. The main way that taxes are raised is through the appraisal. If the tax rates increased every year by 10 percent there would be a revolt. By alternating the increased rates with increased values, the ridiculous increases are “hidden.” It is impossible to win.

The appraisal district simply uses the “we followed the evaluation rules” excuse. Therefore, no one can be blamed. They even state, “Sell your home.” My home is only worth what I paid. I do not want to sell. Where would I live? The system is flawed. I urge all to write their state representative and demand a change.

CHARLES STEWART, NEW BRAUNFELS

Re: Jan. 17 article, “Gov. Abbott unveils property tax plan with a 2.5 percent revenue cap.”

Reading the front-page story about Gov. Greg Abbott and his campaign goals and promises, I had to wonder what the word “exceptional” means to him. After all, he is quoted as stating that he wants to “ensure that Texas remains the most exceptional state in the nation.”

Here are the numbers: Fourth-highest teen pregnancy rate in the country; ranked 49th in high school graduation rate; 29th in percent of citizens with a bachelor’s degree; 33rd in percent of citizens with an advanced degree; and 41st overall in well-being of children. Governor, which of those statistics make us “the most exceptional state in the nation”?

JEFFREY LAZAR, LAKEWAY

Re: Jan. 17 commentary, “How Austin is proving its dedication to clean energy.”

Luke Metzger’s op-ed is full of welcome news about state and local government initiatives to combat climate change by replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources. Metzger also mentions a private-sector initiative —Luminant’s retirement of Texas’ three dirtiest coal-burning power plants — which was motivated not by climate considerations but by coal’s poor economics.

Given the current rate of climate deterioration, actions like Luminant’s, which improve the climate as a byproduct, must be accelerated by putting a price on carbon emissions. If my elected representatives — Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn and Congressman Michael McCaul — would investigate the Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s carbon fee and dividend proposal, they would find a revenue-neutral market-based plan, supported by such respected conservatives as James Baker, Henry Paulson and George Schultz, which would spur innovation and boost the economy without increasing the size of government.

HAMILTON RICHARDS, AUSTIN