Re: Jan. 6 article, “They didn’t know that they were great shepherds of Austin’s lake.”
Thanks for the article on the various people who helped to put together the hike-and-bike trail. One should also thank the people who began to use this trail in the late 1970s. It has since become an important element of the public spaces available in Austin.
My great fear now is that as new construction occurs along this trail it will change a public space into one only accessible to the very rich West Austin residents in the city. Note how Oracle’s new plant is positioned close to the trail — or how the Butler Shores Metropolitan Park site is now being seriously considered for a major new soccer stadium. Austin residents, like those in other cities, must always be vigilant about the intrusion of private enterprise into our common public grounds.
ANTHONY M. ORUM, AUSTIN
Re: Jan. 3 article, “Cornyn: Trump’s tweets undermine agenda, but gains still made.”
I’m not sure what bubble Sen. John Cornyn is living in, but perhaps he needs to burst it and join those of us who are not millionaires or billionaires and not in favor of the recent tax bill the Republicans just passed. This bill, in addition to making the rich richer, effectively takes away health insurance for millions and increases premiums for all who desire to have health insurance coverage.
The Republicans have done everything to keep Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals from being taken care of and Sen. Orrin Hatch has already said there are no federal funds for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. It appears the funding will be from destroying Social Security and Medicare.
Several federal judges have been approved but look at them. Qualified judges nominated by President Obama at least had some vetting by fellow lawyers and they had actually been in a courtroom but the Republicans blocked them.
GLADYS KENNEDY, GEORGETOWN
Re: Jan. 7 commentary, “Herman: How come there’s a cross on your Austin city utility bills?”
Ken Herman’s article about the Latin cross on the Austin City crest discusses the 1991 case opposing use of the cross decided in Austin’s favor by the 5th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court has used two tests to decide such cases. In the case of Lemon v. Kurtzman, a practice is unconstitutional if it lacks a secular purpose, its primary effect is to either advance or inhibit religion, or it fosters an excessive entanglement with religion.
Another test used in the case of Lynch v. Donnelly prohibits government practices from having “the effect of communicating a message of government endorsement or disapproval of religion.”
The cross on the Austin crest both advances and endorses the Christian religion. Would a Christian be comfortable if the crest substituted the Islamic crescent moon and star for the cross, which is a “preeminent symbol of Christianity?”
LAMAR W. HANKINS, SAN MARCOS
Re: Jan. 2 letter to the editor, “1031 exchange loophole deserves to be axed.”
You can tell who wrote this law and who it is intended to enrich by looking at what you can and can’t do. You can only use this loophole if you are trading up. If you don’t have the cash to buy that bigger house, you need a mortgage. That should be your first hint. Your next hint is that you cannot use the cash from a house sale to pay down your existing mortgage on another property nor to improve an existing property to bring in more money. So it is not designed to get you out of debt.
Put all that together and it’s clear that 1031’s were written by Big Banking to keep “We The People” in debt to them. Now comes the Republican’s estate tax break that allows tax-free trading up and up until the biggest properties are passed on to heirs whose capital gains taxes are … zero.
RITCHIE MINTZ, TRAVIS COUNTY
Whereas, in 1988, the US Congress passed the McKinney Act to help people experiencing homelessness declaring that homelessness had reached a crisis level in this nation, and
Whereas, tens of thousands of people and families end up homeless on the streets of America every year, and
Whereas, due to the lack of affordable housing through traditional means, people continue to remain un-housed for many years, and
Whereas, periodic natural catastrophes render many families and individuals without housing, and
Whereas, the Federal Government through the Federal Emergency Management Agency FEMA, already activates tremendous amounts of resources to help people during these declared disasters,
Therefore be it resolved, that anyone, or any family, that presents themselves to be homeless within the impacted area should be able to avail themselves to all resources offered in all forms, including housing.
RICHARD R. TROXELL, HOUSE THE HOMELESS PRESIDENT, AUSTIN