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Tweak Texas vot­ing

The race is now over, but I’m still com­plain­ing re­gard­ing the win­ner-takes-all ap­proach Texas chooses for al­lot­ting its Elec­toral Col­lege votes. Although elim­i­nat­ing the Elec­toral Col­lege it­self would be de­sir­able, our con­sti­tu­tion is dif­fi­cult to amend. In­stead, our state Leg­is­la­ture has the power to im­prove on this sit­u­a­tion. The best so­lu­tion would be to dis­trib­ute Texas’ votes pro­por­tion­ally based on the pop­u­lar vote.

Repub­li­cans hardly needed the votes of their fol­low­ers to win all 38 votes, and a voter who fa­vors the Demo­cratic can­di­date is hardly mo­ti­vated for a fu­tile en­deavor. Nei­ther side has in­cen­tive to vote. A Repub­li­can-con­trolled Leg­is­la­ture may not feel in­clined to share any of Texas’ 38 elec­toral votes.

But with rapidly chang­ing de­mo­graph­ics, per­haps, it would be in their best self­in­ter­est for Repub­li­cans to share now, so their votes will still count when they are no longer the ma­jor­ity.

Fort Hood de­lay

Re: Dec. 4 ar­ti­cle, “Judge out in Fort Hood case.”

Along with the re­cent plethora of let­ters to the ed­i­tor and com­men­tary com­plain­ing about judges here in Texas, I would add this one.

It’s been re­ported that the mil­i­tary judge in the case of the Maj. Ni­dal Hasan mur­der spree at Fort Hood has been dis­missed, which I fully sup­port. The slaugh­ter of the sol­diers at Fort Hood was put on the back-burner while the judge wran­gled with whether Hasan — a Mus­lim — wore a beard or not. Sure, maybe it’s against mil­i­tary reg­u­la­tions, but so is mur­der, and Hasan should have been dis­hon­or­ably dis­charged from the Army long ago. Who cares if has a beard? The ev­i­dence against him is over­whelm­ing and will be shown to be be­yond a shadow of a doubt. And he’s shown ab­so­lutely zero re­gard for mil­i­tary pro­to­col by his ac­tions. This de­lay in jus­tice has been in­ex­cus­able. Get on with it.

Fight cli­mate change

Re: Dec. 3 ar­ti­cle, “Sed­i­ment buildup cuts ca­pac­ity of lakes.”

I was alarmed to read about how our reser­voirs are los­ing ca­pac­ity due to soil runoff. Fac­tor in a Novem­ber with­out a drop of rain and a De­cem­ber off strong with record high tem­per­a­tures, and it’s enough to drive a per­son to de­spair. The hot­ter it is, the more mois­ture evap­o­rates from the soil, the more runoff you get when you do fi­nally get rain, the more dra­matic the storms when they do hap­pen thanks to the ex­tra mois­ture in the at­mos­phere, the more dirt they carry off, and so on.

But we can put the brakes on cli­mate change right this minute, and push our pol­i­cy­mak­ers to get the ball rolling by lev­el­ing a rev­enue-neu­tral fee on car­bon at the source (well, mine, bor­der), re­turn­ing the pro­ceeds to Amer­i­cans to help off­set costs. What other signs do we need?

House the home­less

At no point do we know as much about our ci­ti­zens as we do when they en­ter our so­ci­etal in­sti­tu­tions. As peo­ple en­ter and then exit our in­sti­tu­tions like our youth ag­ing out of fos­ter care, or ex­it­ing our shel­ters or leav­ing our jails and prisons or leav­ing our hos­pi­tals and men­tal health fa­cil­i­ties, or when our ser­vice men and women exit mil­i­tary ser­vice, they should be dis­charged only into a safe hous­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

By em­brac­ing this mo­ral/ eth­i­cal tenet, dis­charge no one into home­less­ness, we en­cour­age our fa­cil­i­ties and our so­cial work­ers to as­sess the hous­ing needs of our peo­ple and then to re­spond. If they are only able to say that they don’t have enough re­sources, then so be it. But that can be our first blow in the bat­tle to pre­vent home­less­ness. Learn more at www. HouseTheHome­

Learn from train tragedy

Re: Nov. 19 ar­ti­cle, “Pa­rade used route for 3 years.”

The hor­ri­ble train/float col­li­sion in Mid­land on Nov. 15 that killed four dis­abled war veter­ans re­vives a sad al­most sim­i­lar oc­cur­rence that hap­pened in our city more than 25 years ago. On a Sun­day morn­ing, a high school teacher and her mother were on their way to church. As they at­tempted to drive over the rail­road tracks (mi­nus an over­pass at the time), they were struck by a fast-mov­ing north­bound freight train. They died upon im­pact.

I, then chair­per­son of a very ac­tive South Austin neigh­bor­hood coun­cil or­ga­ni­za­tion, sprung into ac­tion, re­quest­ing the City of Austin and Texas High­way De­part­ment, in con­junc­tion with rail­road com­pa­nies that trav­eled on th­ese tracks, to build an over­pass on this ma­jor thor­ough­fare. A few years later, the re­quest was re­al­ized and the over­pass at this dan­ger­ous rail­road cross­ing was fi­nally built. Un­like most hol­i­day sea­son of­fer­ings, wishes don’t cost any­thing. Do you have a wish for some­thing that would make this year spe­cial? Why don’t you share it with the rest of our read­ers? We’re so­lic­it­ing your hol­i­day wishes for this year for publi­ca­tion on Dec. 25. Please limit your sub­mis­sions to 150 words. Send your sub­mis­sions by Dec. 14 to let­ters@ states­ or to: Let­ters to the Ed­i­tor PO Box 670 Austin, Texas 78768 Please put “Christ­mas let­ters”in sub­ject line of emails or on the en­ve­lope. The Austin Amer­i­can-States­man en­cour­ages email and faxes from read­ers. Please in­clude a full name, ad­dress and day­time and evening phone num­bers.We edit let­ters for brevity, gram­mar, style and clar­ity. Edited let­ters ad­dress a sin­gle idea and do not ex­ceed 150 words.Anony­mous let­ters will not be pub­lished. Let­ters be­come prop­erty of the Austin Amer­i­canS­tates­man. Send emails to let­ters@ states­ Mail to: Let­ters to the Ed­i­tor, P.O. Box 670,Austin,TX 78767.

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