Letters to the editor: July 6, 2018

Re: June 28 commentary, “Court’s plastic bag ban ruling creates a mess for cities and June 22 article, “City bag bans violate state law, Texas Supreme Court rules.

Consumers and socially responsible businesses can still promote green practices despite the state’s effort to promote pollution.

H-E-B was first to comply with the Austin ordinance — and it can continue being good stewards. They can adopt the bag ban in all of their stores and improve the environment in Texas. Shoppers can choose to patronize green businesses. Restaurants can join the effort by banning Styrofoam containers in favor of recyclable tin and compostable paper for orders to-go.

Per the June 22 article, two justices strongly “urged the Legislature to directly tackle the problems caused by disposable bags.” Lawmakers should amend the law so that the intention of the Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act actually supports a cleaner Texas. To avoid a patchwork of rules in different cities, the state should enact the plastic bag ban statewide.

Sadly, Gov. Abbott has proven he does not care about protecting the environment in Texas.


Re: June 28 commentary, “Court’s plastic bag ban ruling creates a mess for cities.

The Statesman’s editors would have readers believe that Austin residents heavily support the local plastic bag ban, but their own facts imply otherwise.

In 2013, the bag ban led to a very large reduction in the use of plastic per year. However, a 2015 report found residents were throwing away 23 tons of reusable bags — and were paying for the privilege of doing so — nearly offsetting the gains realized in 2013.

That doesn’t sound like Austin residents are strongly in favor of the plastic bag ban. And, yet, the Statesman is calling on retailers to take the new legal, thicker bags away from customers, whether the residents want those bags or not.


President Trump is under investigation for potential crimes he may have committed, including conspiracy and obstruction of justice. It will be the Supreme Court that rules on what testimony he must give — and whether he and others may or may not be prosecuted.

The president now wishes to name a new justice to the court. This would amount to his naming a judge in his own case — and he apparently sees nothing wrong with this. No democracy can tolerate such a blatant conflict of interest.

The president should refrain from nominating until such time as he has been cleared of wrongdoing. Should he move forward with a nominee; then, every senator, regardless of party or politics, must take a stand for democratic principles and refuse to consider the confirmation of anyone named by a president whose own personal fate could possibly be determined by the person he appoints.


A heart-filled thank you to Peter Bay and Mela Sarajane Dailey for having a dream, producing it and sharing it with your community.

Seeing “Mass,” and the sadness and hope it includes, was a special Austin experience. And a dress rehearsal, free and available to some of our students, was significant for Leonard Bernstein’s emphasis on our children as our future.


I operate a small bed and breakfast in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York.

For over 10 years, my primary marketing vehicle was a wonderful local Austin company called BedandBreakfast.com. They were terrific — and I did strong business.

The entire market has been enormously disrupted and essentially destroyed with the coming of Airbnb. When I started my business, there were around 25 “real” B&Bs in the area. Today, there are over 300 Airbnbs glutting the market.

But BedandBreakfast.com was swallowed up by Homeaway.com, which was swallowed up by the huge Expedia, which also owns Hotels.com, Trivago and multiple other travel sites so that it looks like they are competitors. And Expedia is now raising my annual cost from $700 to over $4,000 due to new pricing policies. So, I may now need to shut down.

This will be the end of the traditional B&B.

Quite sad.


What wisdom is there in the claim of oneself being smarter than all the others? A victor in every encounter however small?

The easiest fight to win is the one you never have. The self-touted boaster will always lose because they never saw the battle coming. It was over before it started.

A leader of one will always go in circles — and probably never notice his long flowing golden locks have been cut to down to his scalp.


It would surprise most Americans to know that slavery still exists — it surprised me. In fact, right now, more than 40 million people are someone else’s property, enslaved in factories, fishing boats and brothels.

On June 28, the U.S. State Department released the 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report, which shines a spotlight on human trafficking, and ranks more than 180 countries on their efforts to bring an end this crime within their borders. It is essential that this annual report tell the truth about slavery, so we can effectively work towards a world where everyone is free.

The Trump Administration and Congress should utilize U.S. diplomacy and foreign aid to combat slavery, specifically by protecting the integrity of the report, reauthorizing the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, appointing a new ambassador to head the Trafficking in Persons office and fully funding U.S. efforts to bring an end to this dreadful but stoppable crime.


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