Letters to the editor: Nov. 11, 2017

Nov 10, 2017
The Texas State Cemetery held a Memorial Day Service sponsored by the Texas Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution on Monday. RALPH BARRERA/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

As we give thanks for those who have served our country in the military, let us remember the 65,000 “war widows” whose spouses died of service-connected causes and who are being ripped off by our Congress through an offset that denies us the monetary benefits we paid for but are not receiving.

For years while our spouses were alive many of us paid into an annuity, the Survivor Benefit Plan, monthly money we would receive for support when our spouses died. However, because of something called the Dependent Indemnity Compensation (which is earmarked by the Congress as compensation for spouses of those who died of service-connected causes) we receive the larger of the two sources of income, or $1,568 per month. To add insult to injury, if the Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance is not extended, our income could be reduced by $310 per month in May 2018, leaving us with an income of $1,258 or $15,096 annually.


Re: Nov. 4 commentary, “We failed Austin with overbuilding.”

Professor Thomas Palaima laments our traffic congestion and “what Austin has become,” even quoting Bob Dylan and W.H. Auden, but offers no ideas except his bleak headline — we shouldn’t have “overbuilt.” But what is “overbuilding” and how should we have dealt with growth and its challenges?

Austin’s population density is actually low compared to many cities, and much of our traffic problem is self-inflicted. Examples abound of ideological planning that ignored facts and avoided hard choices. We failed to create adequate crosstown thoroughfares or to adequately size major traffic arteries (rebuilding MoPac for two additional lanes); we insisted 360 must “never be a freeway” and cancelled the Barton Skyway Bridge, which would have saved millions of car miles annually. Rail proposals have been impractical and as a result unacceptable to voters.

We’re still growing. Perhaps a less ideological approach going forward will make for a better Austin.


Re: Nov. 6 article, “Sheriff Lupe Valdez is listening to pleas that she run for governor.”

A sentence in the article reads: “The month-long filing period for candidates for the March primary opens Saturday.”

It should read, “The month-long mourning period for the state of Texas opens Saturday.” Although the mourning period has been open for years and will likely remain open for at least a few more election cycles.

We as Texans should be mourning because we have no better candidates in either party than Greg Abbott on one ticket, and a sheriff who is barely capable of doing her job on the other.


Re: Nov. 6 letter to the editor, “Loss of Arbor Regal would be a real shame.”

I couldn’t agree more with the letter writer. I drive from Liberty Hill to the Arbor Regal theater several times a month. It’s one of the only reasons to fight the Austin traffic. I consider this theater a quality of life benefit. I was crushed when I read it would be demolished to make way for yet more condominiums.

Austin seems determined to destroy any and all reasons for those of us in surrounding communities to drive into town to spend our money. I guess that’s why there is so much massive construction both residential and commercial all around the outskirts of town. Eventually there will be no reason to venture into Austin at all.


Re: Nov. 7 commentary, “Herman: Another mass shooting, another search for answers.”

The Supreme Court held that reasonable gun regulation is constitutional. It seems reasonable to prohibit these semi-automatic weapons and the large magazines that are used in virtually all mass murders in the U.S. It worked in Australia.

As Sen. Chris Murphy said, the paralysis and helplessness we are feeling is a fiction created and cultivated by the gun lobby. We can’t have laws to make America safer because they would hurt the gun manufacturers’ profits. We should put the well-being of all Americans ahead of profits and pass reasonable regulation of weapons intended only to kill other human beings.


Amid the commemorations of Veterans Day, those veterans who are often forgotten are those who have committed suicide. Those veterans should be honored for their service.

Many valid reasons have been given for the epidemic of veteran suicides. But the underlying cause is war itself. A These men and women have been mortally wounded as surely as those who have been killed in combat.

Instead of being buried under a cloud of shame, they should be honored! Such recognition would be a meaningful way of honoring their service and of helping their loved ones bring closure to their loss.


Looking through the Saldaña family archives, I came across the following story in the Statesman: “Flags unfurled to every breeze, thanks to an Austin Marine.” The story was about my husband, Moses. I found out from the article that he had finally accomplished his mission, donating six flags to our Austin City Council. Not an easy task as he finds out, but all he was attempting to do was honor his fellow veterans from all wars by having all these beautiful flags, one of each branch of the armed services and the black and white banner of POW-MIAs in the council chambers for all to see and admire. That was 12 years ago, Nov. 11, 2005.