Letters to the editor: Oct. 22, 2017

Re: Oct. 17 article, “As jump in water bills riles Circle C residents, few answers from city.”

I laughed out loud after reading Austin Energy spokesman Robert Cullick’s statement that “we have very accurate meter readings.” In February, they misread my water meter by transposing one number and then overbilled me for 2,700 gallons of water usage.

A simple problem caused their error: The meter reader read the meter upside down. Instead of standing on the sidewalk and reading the meter numbers right side up, the reader stood in the street and read the numbers upside down. How do I know? I not only read my meter on the same day they read it, but I also photograph the meter reading and I have security cameras that recorded the meter reader.

Unbelievably, they’ve read it upside down twice more since then. I’m guessing Cullick has no idea how their contracted meter readers are reading the meters or if they are read at all.


Re: Oct. 13 commentary, “Let’s stop blaming mental illness for mass shootings” and “Why we should talk about toxic masculinity and mass murder.”

Can we draw a mass killer portrait?

Yes, if we’re willing to look at the larger social context.

The U.S. mass murder rate is the highest of advanced, industrialized countries. While there is no single explanation for the increasing number of mass shootings over the last 10-plus years, common denominators merit attention:

• Male gender.

• Radicalization whether by maligned ethnicity, commonly undiagnosed mental illness in some form or fashion, real or perceived marginalization.

• Easy access to — and widespread desire for — guns.

What’s missing from this accounting and seldom discussed? Limited social cohesion and an increasingly high level of socioeconomic disparity. If we truly aspire to be the United States of America, let’s challenge ourselves and one another to move beyond our tribal mentality and implement solutions to these social pathologies.


Re: Oct. 16 commentary, “Stop development deals. Get Amazon with the ‘Texas Model.’”

James Quintero says Austin shouldn’t offer Amazon an incentive package for HQ2 because “soaring property tax bills are making Austin unaffordable.” Making his case, he only cites recent increases in city taxes, though much blame for high property taxes lies with our Legislature.

While cutting funding for infrastructure, the environment and other state responsibilities, Republicans have also been eroding the constitutionally mandated state support for public schools since taking control of the Legislature. Austin Independent School District taxes are more than half of our local property tax bills; then the state recaptures 40 percent of that.

Our often inequitably accessed property taxes continue to rise faster than income. Decrease or eliminate property taxes and place a tax on home sales and income if you want to keep Austin and other Texas cities affordable.


Re: Oct. 18 article, “Travis DA clears officers in 3 shootings, without grand jury review.”

Black Lives Matter, those who “take a knee” have it wrong. While it is important to make your voice heard, you need to do something.

When police misbehave, they need to know there are consequences. You should be picketing at the police station and the prosecutors’ offices. They are the ones who are responsible. Not shoppers, drivers and football fans. You may alienate people who would otherwise support you.

District Attorney Margaret Moore’s decision to use “prosecutorial discretion” is the wrong one. She can be voted out of office. The ballot box is the best use of one’s voice — and it can work. Her re-election is her priority. Not the law, which is hopefully only third behind keeping the police happy.


Blaming an individual for systemic misogyny allows us to feel morally cleansed while patriarchy remains in place.

Patriarchy produces predators, including the current president, who act out what they have been taught: that they may use females as objects for their pleasure.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “in at least 80 percent of cases, the perpetrators of sexual abuse are known to the child.”

“It was my grandfather,” a fellow student said during a graduate class break.

“It was my father,” said another. “It was my uncle; my cousin; my brother.”

Five women out of eight spoke out.

Vulnerable girls become vulnerable college students, vulnerable wives.

Patriarchy — whose legal institutions support the victimizer and not the victim — means that date and marital rape are underreported.

Merely throwing stones at Harvey Weinstein gives patriarchy a pass, which dehumanizes all of our daughters and puts all of them at risk.


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