Letters to the editor: Sept. 15, 2017

The proposed gigantic bond being floated for the Austin Independent School District this November — $1 billion — should perturb every Austin resident who pays rent or property taxes.

KIPP, IDEA, Harmony and other local charter schools — free to the public — all maintain high-achieving campuses with little or no public funding for their buildings. Their teachers are paid on a par with Austin ISD teachers. But we are expected to finance Austin ISD’s declining enrollment, poorly located locations and overpaid bureaucracy.

The success of public charter schools in Austin proves that there can be an efficient alternative to the monolithic Austin ISD, which has been allowed to survive without appropriate direction, sucking up ever larger amounts of taxpayer money and returning ever-lower results. Once a school district attains a certain size, it should be forcibly dismantled into smaller, independent entities, faster on their feet and unburdened by middle managers.

Vote “no” in November.


Introducing the newly Great America: a land of great and beautiful walls. A land that turns away young people and their dreams. A land where a segment of the populace breeds and espouses hate. A land whose president who behaves worse than a spoiled child. A land where the clergy practices, see, hear and speak no evil. I recall the distant dying agony of a man who cried, “Forgive them father, for they know not what they do.”


America truly was great once. If, that is, you happened to be born white and male.

Even if you were dirt poor, if you were these two things you were privileged enough to never be enslaved — or even be marginalized the same way every other group of Americans was marginalized. But then human rights and civil rights began to take hold and spread to other groups, and many white males began to believe they had lost their country.

As patriotic Americans, some of them now respond the same way their honored and treasonous Confederate ancestors responded: with bigotry and hatred and the terrorism and violence that is driven by that hatred. The effort to make America great again will always require blood. If they cannot have their country back, they can at least continue their heritage and tradition of making sure that you can’t have it, either.


Sixty are dead, and thousands of homes, apartments and businesses are flooded in Texas from the unprecedented, record-breaking rainfall. July was the hottest month ever measured on Earth, raising the temperature of the Gulf of Mexico and making Harvey wetter and stronger. The Gulf water was 2 to 7 degrees above normal causing more evaporation, which caused more rainfall.

President Trump rescinded Obama’s flood-risk rules that would make infrastructure more resilient against climate change. He tried to cut FEMA funding by $667 million and the National Flood Insurance Program’s mapping for flood-prone areas by $190 million while seeking billions for his border wall. He pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Perhaps instead of giving subsidies to the oil companies, the U.S. government could use that money to help rebuild from Harvey.


Re: Aug. 31 article, “Austin schools prepare to enroll thousands of Harvey student evacuees.”

Melissa Tabaoda’s article reminds me that in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, I experience familiarity.

Teaching students from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina opened my eyes to the devastating impact natural disasters have on children and families. What is not familiar to me are words recently tweeted by the National Weather Service regarding Harvey: “All impacts are unknown & beyond anything experienced.”

Children and families of Texas are experiencing firsthand the increasing power and devastating impact of hurricanes fueled by warming ocean waters. We can help reduce future risk for children and families by reaching out to our members of Congress to ask them to support a revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend national policy that reduces carbon emissions, allows fossil fuel companies to plan for their futures, encourages development of renewable energy and protects the consumer.


As the price tag for Hurricane Harvey approaches $190 billion and gas stations run out of gas, it’s a powerful time to ask our elected representatives to be as brave as the volunteer rescuers and take seriously the real cost of carbon.

They can most effectively do that by joining the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus in Congress — now with 26 Republicans and 26 Democrats — and support the market-based carbon fee and dividend program.

Houston has had three 500-year floods in the past three years. As oceans continue to warm, there’s no indication that will change. We were all taught in economics class that price should accurately reflect cost; we all just got a big lesson in the true cost of carbon. Now, let’s put a price on that.


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