City of Austin, Texas
City of Austin, Texas
Change the name of Austin's Robert E. Lee Road
UPDATED Austin has no connection with the confederate general Robert E. Lee, and yet we have a prominent road near Zilker Park named for him. It is way past time that a progressive city such as Austin abandoned such a memorial to a confederate traitor, and used that space to commemorate a more local hero who was on the right side of history. We propose changing the name of Robert E. Lee Road. One possibility would be change it to Fritz Teneger Road. Teneger was the leader of a group of hill country Unionists who all refused to take an oath of loyalty to the Confederacy, and were then chased down and killed by confederate troops in battle. He would make a fitting figure to commemorate here. But the final name should be the result of community input. In light of the horrific events in Charlottesville, VA, now is the time. Please join us in urging the Austin city council to make this change.
Change Homework Policy
So when students get home from school, what is the first thing they do? As most of you probably said, homework is in their daily routine. However, if they were to not do their homework, no matter what excuse they might come up with, even most legitimate ones, you’d still be viewed the same. An irresponsible, incompetent, slacker. Because common belief is: “Well if you don’t do your homework, it shows just that.” If you don't believe me, all you need to do is read what Flip wrote on http://stophomework.com/ interview-with-kerry- dickinson-a-california-parent- who-successfully-changed- homework-policy-in-her- district/1322 She said "Raised 6 kids. Teachers get too settled in behind their desk. Same assignments year after year. For Example. My 5th grader had a 10th grade SAT score. The School board was going to hold him back because he had an F for homework grades. They passed him to 6th. The 6th grade told him if he would do his homework they would pass him to 7th midterm. The child did not. By 7th&8th grade we had monthly teacher(s) meeting with 7 teachers, me and the boy. No one could understand why he had passing Test Scores but F in Homework. This kid loved to read, but not what they assigned him. Why should kids read only the material the teachers like to read? They placed him in Remedial classes (special education for slow learners) He hated school. I eventually had him home schooled where he dropped out in the 10th grade. " As you can see this belief is firmly ingrained in our local communities and society as a whole. Some of you may be wondering why does everyone believe in assigning homework if we say it's so bad. Well let’s just take a second and back up. Why is homework assigned to begin with? Homework has held its spot in educational philosophy due to the common belief that it promotes responsibility and a better student. However, responsibility is often confused with obedience, as students are being forced to do homework. So far studies and surveys have only ever proven that homework for children in elementary school does more good than bad, in middle school anything over an hour becomes counter-productive, and in high school anything past two hours doesn't hold any benefit to the student. The college of education at the for-profit University of Phoenix recently took a poll asking Harris Poll to survey teachers about the hours of homework they require and why they assign it. The pollsters talked to 1,005 teachers in public, private, and parochial schools across the United States, a group designed to be a representative sample of the nation's 3.7 million teachers. High school teachers interviewed said they assign an average of 3.5 hours worth of homework a week. For students who study five days a week, that's 42 minutes a day per class, or 3.5 hours a day for a typical student taking five classes. Middle school teachers (grades 6-8) assigned roughly the same amount: 3.2 hours of homework a week, or 38.4 minutes a day per class. That adds up to 3.2 hours of homework a night for a student with five classes. K-5 teachers said they assigned an average of 2.9 hours of homework each week.I personally surveyed my school and found that on average people said they had 2 hours worth of homework every night, or about 100 minutes worth. The data reflects what anecdotally shocks many parents: homework loads jump in middle school, right when kids need the most sleep to grow and develop. The things they found too much homework leads to are: increased stress, let’s grades slip more easily, leads to sleep deprivation, and steers the students’ interests away from the subject in question. In fact, kids who do 60 to 90 minutes of homework in middle school and over two hours in high school actually do worse than average on standardized tests. When asked, the teachers who participated in the poll said they assigned homework for three reasons: to see how well students understand lessons, help students develop essential problem-solving skills, and show parents what's being learned in school. The worst part about that? Worksheets that teachers assign don't help with developing these skills. And assigning homework EVERY night just to show it the student's parents? Why not just have a quiz once a week over the subject you cover? Just 30 percent of teachers chose covering more content as one of their top reasons for assigning homework. So why do people still insist on implementing it? Why do teacher, parents, and society as a whole all believe in assigning homework? The answer is that there are 5 common beliefs that everyone still believes in. Most teachers provide homework because they believe that it can raise grades, promote responsibility and improve time management, also they believe that practice is necessary to reinforce the teacher’s lesson from the day. Then there is the 2002 Federal "No Child Left Behind,", which pushed States and then schools to higher standards and increased performance on standardized tests, leading to an increase of academic pressures on teachers, schools, and students. If teachers don't assign homework, they lose their job. Teachers are also pressured by the school to assign homework because the schools earn bonus money based on how good their students' test scores are. Of course if we listen to Ed Week, homework does not help the students' grades on tests. These beliefs are the main reason for people to assign homework, but not only are these beliefs just incorrect, they also lead to a destruction of the student's afternoons and healthy habits. (I will be quoting "Rethinking Homework" by Cathy Vatterott Chapter 1, "Laying Bare the Culture of Homework" for the next 11 paragraphs) Belief #1: The role of the school is to extend learning beyond the classroom. Many believe it is not only the inalienable right of teachers but their obligation to extend learning beyond the classroom. Inherent in this belief is the assumption that teachers have the right to control children's lives outside the school—that we have the right to give homework and that students and parents should comply with our wishes. Many teachers claim that homework keeps children out of trouble and that homework is better for children than television or video games. This view is rather dismissive of the judgment of parents to make good decisions about their child's use of free time. Is it really our job to be the moral policeman for our students' personal lives? Perhaps our role in extending learning outside the school is to instill in students the value of learning and the joy of learning, and to expose them to the vastness of the universe—how much there is to learn. Perhaps our role is to help students find something in life they feel passionate about and to help them find their purpose in society. Belief #2: Intellectual activity is intrinsically more valuable than nonintellectual activity. Many homework advocates believe that intellectual development is more important than social, emotional, or physical development. Intellectual pursuits hold an implied superiority over nonintellectual tasks such as throwing a ball, walking a dog, riding a bike, or just hanging out. This belief presupposes the limited value of leisure tasks. Concurrently, some worry that too much unstructured time might cause children to be less successful, less competitive with others. As with Belief #1, this view shows a distrust of parents to guide children in the productive use of free time and a distrust of children to engage in intellectual pursuits on their own. In reality, physical, emotional, and social activities are as necessary as intellectual activity in the development of healthy, well-rounded children. Belief #3: Homework teaches responsibility. One of the most resilient beliefs is that homework promotes responsibility and discipline. Even though there is no research to support this belief, many people continue to tout homework's nonacademic virtues (Kohn, 2006). Responsibility is often a code word for obedience. When we say we want students to be responsible, are we saying we want them to beobedient—to do what we want them to do when we want them to do it, to be mindless drones, blindly obedient to authority? One teacher said she thought not doing homework was a sign of disrespect for the teacher! When we say homework promotes discipline in students, does that mean being self-disciplined enough to do something they hate to do because it's their duty? Many teachers are fixated on homework as the way to teach responsibility, as though we have no other avenues. Yet we tend to neglect all the other ways students could be given responsibility in the classroom—involving them in decision making about their learning, teaching them how to self-assess, letting them design learning tasks, or allowing them to help manage classroom and school facilities (Guskey & Anderman, 2008). Even in the task of homework itself, children are rarely given responsibilityfor choosing how they wish to learn, how they might show what they have learned, or how they might schedule their time for homework. True responsibility cannot be coerced. It must be developed by allowing students power and ownership of tasks (Vatterott, 2007). (Chapter 4 presents more about how to do this.) Another supposed virtue of homework is that it teaches time management. Does time management really mean the ability to delay gratification—to work when we want to play? Homework does not reinforce time management if adults have to coerce children into doing it; if children are coerced, they are not in charge of scheduling the time or making decisions about the use of the time. If we are using homework to teach responsibility, won't 10 minutes of homework work just as well as 60 minutes? If we are using homework to teach time management, don't long-range projects that require scheduled planning do a better job of that than daily assignments? Belief #4: Lots of homework is a sign of a rigorous curriculum. Many people equate lots of homework with a tough school, regardless of the type or length of assignments (Jackson, 2009). Parents will often brag: "My child goes to a really good school—he gets lots of homework." If the mind is a muscle to be trained (as was believed in the 19th century), then more work must equal more learning. If some homework is good for children, then more homework must be even better. If 10 math problems for homework are good, then 40 problems must be better. This belief, more than any other, is responsible for the piling on of hours of homework in many schools today. Yet we all know that those assignments could be busywork, of no educational value (Jackson, 2009). More homework gives theappearance of increased rigor, and "difficulty is often equated to the amount of work done by students, rather than the complexity and challenge" (Williamson & Johnston, 1999, p. 10, emphasis added). Ah, if it were only that simple. More time does not necessarily equal more learning. The "more is always better" argument ignores the quality of work and the level of learning required. Rigor is challenge—but it is not necessarily the same challenge for each student. Given the diverse nature of students, challenging learning experiences will vary for different students. Belief #5: Good teachers give homework; good students do their homework. Probably the most disturbing belief is the belief in the inherent goodness of homework, regardless of the type or length of assignment. Homework advocates have believed it for years, never questioning whether it might not be true. This belief is born from both the belief that homework teaches responsibility and discipline and the belief that "lots of homework" equals "rigor." If good teachers give homework, it naturally follows, then, that teachers who don't give homework are too easy. This mindset is so ingrained that teachers apologize to other teachers for not giving homework! Yet we know that some very good teachers don't give a lot of homework or give none at all. Instead of being apologetic, teachers who don't give homework should simply explain that they do such a good job of teaching that homework is not necessary. The danger in the belief that good students do their homework is the moral judgment that tends to accompany this belief. To children who dutifully complete homework, we often attribute the virtues of being compliant and hardworking. To children who don't complete homework, we often attribute the vices of laziness and noncompliance. But is a lack of virtue the reason many children don't do homework? Therein lies the problem. Students without supportive parents (or with single parents overburdened trying to make ends meet), with inadequate home environments for completing homework, or with parents intellectually unable to help them are less likely to complete homework (Vatterott, 2007). Are these less advantaged students bad? Of course not. These beliefs form a dogma, a homework culture. The foundations of that culture are a trinity of very old philosophies. Homework culture is a complex mix of moralistic views, puritanism, and behaviorism. The beliefs that underlie the homework dogma have been fed by our moralistic views of human nature, the puritan work ethic that is embedded in our culture, and behaviorist practices that still reside in our schools. The five beliefs and these three philosophies are so well entwined, it's hard to tell where one idea begins and another ends. An exploration of these philosophies will illuminate the foundations of the dogma that is homework culture. (End Quote from Rethinking Homework by Cathy Vatterott) Now some of you may be going "Well I did homework when I was in school, it wasn't that much." and "Oh, it wasn't that bad." Well, a recent study shown on "The Race to Nowhere" shows the amount of homework assigned to kids from 6 to 9 almost tripled between 1981 and 1997. This amount continues to increase leading to the average assigned homework for a week increasing from about 44 minutes a week to more than 2 hours a week in the space of just 16 years! Then homework for kids aged 9 to 11 increased from about 2 hours and 50 minutes to more than 3 and a-half hours per week. Just think, these are third and fourth graders sitting still writing math problems for 3 HOURS! When we don’t have homework, it’s almost thought that we aren’t working to be smarter to those people. I will never forget what Mrs. Causey, our very own counselor said to me, “I wouldn’t want to work for a school where the students didn’t work hard and do their homework to achieve academic success.” These very words told me exactly how ingrained these common beliefs are in our society and our school system. They all believe that homework is essential, and this is exactly what needs to change because this hurts not only the students but their parents as well. Homework squeezes family life. All parents have educational agendas for their children. They want to pass on their cultural heritage, religious beliefs, and important life skills. They want to teach their children how to be good citizens and how to share in the responsibilities of running a home. More homework makes parents put their own agendas on hold even as they often struggle to help their children cope with homework assignments. Additionally, families need time to constitute themselves as families. According to a 1998 survey by Public Agenda, nearly 50 percent of parents reported having a serious argument with their children over homework, and 34 percent reported homework as a source of stress and struggle. Parents often have conflicting feelings about homework, viewing it as a way for their children to succeed but also as imposing serious limits on family time. On top of all that, most every student has some extracurricular activity, which they need time to practice, train, and work at. I surveyed my school, and found that only 1 in 100 students DON'T have extra-curicular activities, and most everyone has more than 1. On top of that, their activities lasted 1-3 hours every night! How many adults could juggle projects and papers given to them to complete AFTER their 9 hour work day; come home, and then go to 2 2 hour sessions to learn things not taught or covered, and then still manage to do all that work and help out in their family? If you work every student at this schedule, they won’t be able to keep it up. They won't have any life skills or hobbies for them to use or enjoy. Part of growing up is learning your interests and what you're good at. How can you do that while stuck doing homework? There is no time for play, family activities, or learning what you're good at. It all becomes centered around school. This is not something that should happen. This may also come as a surprise to some of you, but homework also affects our teacher's lives. As said on OPB by Aaron Johnson at Beaverton’s Westview High “I hate to talk about the grading workload, but grading this class’s unit test – just this one class – took me three, almost four hours. So, that’s a lot of time outside of class,” Johnson said. “Grading is this never-ending stress,” according to Angela Nurre, a health and English teacher at David Douglas High. According to Ed Weekly, classes there have often ballooned by ten or more students every year. And when you add more students to a classroom, teachers have a bigger grading load. Some of the teachers are even saying "I’m not even looking at it to grade it, to see if the answers are correct – it’s like, did they get it done? They got it done, I’m giving them points.” In fact, Clackamas High School principal Matt Utterback and the teachers at Clackamas High are approaching homework differently. They’re not grading it. In which case, why assign it? If you assign students homework to do during THEIR afternoon and then don't even look over it to see if they did it right, is that not their afternoon they spent working on it wasted? The whole reason homework is supposed to be assigned is to reinforce and to clarify the day's teaching, so if you don't look at it and tell the students what their mistakes were, what is the point of doing it? If there is no point in assigning it then why assign it in the first place. If the teacher's hate it, the students hate it, the families hate it, and it doesn't do any good, then why assign it? The effects of homework are so detrimental to students both emotionally and physically. In fact, a recent study shows the number of 7 to 17 year old's who visited the doctor for depression more than doubled from 1995 to 2002, when 3.22 million children were treated. This was during the same years that homework levels were increased. In fact, one in three American children suffers from depression and over 25% of adolescents have felt sad or depressed every day for 2 or more weeks at least once during a year's time. By age 15, however, girls are twice as likely as boys to have experienced a major depressive episode.which is up from the 1980's before they started increasing homework. Another nationwide survey of youth in grades 9-12 in public and private schools in the United States found that 15% of students reported seriously considering suicide, 11% reported creating a plan, and 7% reporting trying to take their own life in the 12 months preceding the survey. This just goes to show how much homework drags on our nation. An article on suicide by EMPS states "Suicide rates, for 15-24-year-olds, have more than doubled since the 1950’s, and remained largely stable at these higher levels between the late 1970’s and the mid-1990’s." Now suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15-24 year. In fact in the United States, a young person commits suicide every two hours. Homework has changed the student's, the teacher's, and the families of America's lives for the worse and prohibits and hinders the ingenuity and passion of our generation. With the time we could be using to play or read, we instead spend inside working the same math problems and equations over and over. If you want us to practice our skills, to reinforce the valuable skills we learn in the classroom, let us live our life. Let us live and call upon those skills when we need them in real life, where the work we do actually has a point. Let our passion to learn new things be found by ourselves. You cannot teach passion, so give us the chance to find our own. Homework cannot reinforce what the teachers teach, teach responsibility, make you time manage, or make you “smarter.” Only living and personal experience can truly do that, and we cannot experience anything while stuck inside, doing the same thing over and over again. If Isaac Newton had had homework, he’d have never seen the apple fall. If Galileo had had homework, he'd have never seen the stars. If Aristotle had had homework, he'd have never started to question life, science, or math. Maybe the reason our parents went to the moon, invented the microwave, the satellite, the fridge, the A/C unit, the radio, the TV, recorded video, the polio vaccine, and the millions of other major steps for mankind that have forever changed our life is not because they're smarter, but because the students had the time and opportunity to find their own interests and passions that they continued to pursue. Just think of what the 1.8 BILLION kids in school could find and discover if they had but the time to do it. Sign this petition to join me in making homework voluntary. Doing this would allow students to get in practice on what they think they need practice on and it allows them to learn time management, have responsibility, and would allow the student to spend more time learning skills and spending time with their family, not in their room doing homework. They would be able to work on what they need to work on, and make sure they were doing it right the next day. This also allows a student to plan their own schedule, a valuable life skill, and they would learn how to be responsible. The student's love of learning would grow with the absence of repetitive homework over things they already know and do, and they would be able to pursue their own interests, help out with their family chores/responsibilities, and grow up in a healthy way without homework. Help me create this change! After signing this petition spread the word. Demand change. Tell your teachers and your parents. Approach the PTA and talk to them about this. Talk about this at your next school board's meeting. Together we can take down homework as a mandatory monster and change it for good. We must make homework voluntary. Do not let homework continue to hinder our nation's ingenuity, stop it before it stops us. If you are still not convinced about our nation's plight, all you need to do is read the articles on the below website. To see my full argument and more back up and proof, visit http://tigerathlete.wixsite.com/ban-homework .
Allow Businesses to Provide Water Coolers in Austin Parks
EDIT: SOUNDS LIKE WE MAY HAVE VICTORY, EVERYONE! See the story below. THANKS FOR SIGNING!http://www.statesman.com/news/news/austin-parks-officials-say-theyll-work-with-runnin/nTSqF/ Recently the City of Austin, TX informed Rogue Running/Rogue Equipment, RunTex, and other businesses that they could no longer place water in coolers for public consumption without an expensive permit. Rather than bowing to common sense and allowing the coolers to stay in place (they have been there for years), the city is trying to extract fees from the same businesses who are providing this water free of charge and freshly stocked and chilled. Water fountains along the lake are notorious for being out of service, and these coolers quench the thirsts of pedestrians and athletes alike throughout the year. They are vital and an institutional part of the lake. This petition seeks to rectify that, and will be delivered to Mayor Lee Leffingwell who is urged to keep his bureaucrats at bay and give his blessing to the continued presence of these incredibly beneficial water coolers. ---Parks and Recreation has vaguely stated that the coolers could pose a health hazard, and indeed there have been extremely rare instances of vandalism or tampering, but the benefits of these far outweigh any risks. They are publicly located, and in constant view of people. The logic here does not hold up. If the city is worried about liability, then perhaps a disclaimer sign on a stick is necessary. Meanwhile: E-mail your council members! Direct contact is vastly more effective than any online petition. Light them up, even with a short message, and perhaps Sara Hensley of PARD will fold when pressured by elected officials.http://austintexas.gov/mail/all-council-members
Keep the lights on at House Park Skate until 12am
The problem is that the lights at house park skate park only stay on until 10pm. This is too early, and people have been breaking the light box to keep the lights on longer. This costs taxpayers every time to repair it. Also, leaving the lights longer can help reduce crime by giving teens and young adults something positive to do. By signing this petitions help to keep the lights on at house park skatepark until 12am.
Stop Animal Abuse on Factory Farms
Did you know that currently we have ZERO federal laws governing the conditions of which farm animals are raised in? Thanks to the lack of laws and enforcement, animals currently suffer through horrible conditions on factory farms. Animals are often given so little space and kept in severely cramped areas. Hens, for example, are kept in small cages, chickens and pigs are kept in jam-packed sheds, and cows are kept in crowded and filthy conditions. Antibiotics are used to make animals grow faster and to keep them alive in the otherwise unsurvivable conditions. Research shows that factory farms’ widespread use of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can potentially be very dangerous to humans. Majority of factory-farmed animals have been genetically altered to grow larger or to produce more milk or eggs than they naturally would, until it drastically affects their health. Some chickens are made to grow so large that their legs cannot support their bodies; they suffer from starvation or dehydration when they can’t walk to reach food and water as a result. When they’ve grown large enough to slaughter or their bodies have been worn out from producing milk or eggs, animals raised for food are crowded onto trucks and transported for miles through all weather extremes, typically without food or water. At the slaughterhouse, those who survived the transport will have their throats slit, often while they’re still conscious. Or, they’re plunged into the scalding-hot water for defeathering or hair-removal tanks or while their bodies are being skinned or hacked apart. The quantity of milk that dairy cows produce decreases substantially around 10 months after giving birth due to the fact that the cows only produce milk to feed their babies. In order to continue and maximize milk production, cows are annually impregnated which increases stress, and the likelihood of sickness and premature death. Each cow is genetically manipulated to produce up to 100 pounds of milk per day – ten times more than they would produce naturally. Dairy cows commonly suffer from a variety of illnesses because intensive milk production, including widespread lameness and mastitis, a painful and often fatal infection of the udder. Pharmaceutical products that are used to infections often have bad side effects. Dairy cows produce an average of 729 days of milk, which amounts to 2.4 lactations, before they are considered “spent”, and sent to slaughter. 3 million young dairy cows are slaughtered each year in the U.S. Dairy cows are typically killed between 2 to 5 years of age despite the fact that they can live up to 25 years. Newborn calves are permanently separated from their mothers, usually within 1-3 days, since the mother/calf bond intensifies over time and delayed separation can cause even worse emotional distress for the calf and mother. Nearly 100% of calves born to dairy cows in the U.S. are removed from their mothers within the first 12 hours of birth. As a result, dairy calves separated from their mothers are denied their mother’s milk, which contains all the essential nutrients and antibodies the calf needs.Calves are typically fed milk substitutes, often from a dried powder base, and raised without a mother to care for them. Mothers and calves form deep bonds, much like humans, which makes it inhumane to separate one from the other. In natural herds, the mother-calf bond is the strongest bond in a cow’s life. With the production of dairy also comes the production of veal. Veal only exists to help farmers make money from male calves born to dairy cows; they would otherwise be considered useless as they can’t produce milk. As a result, they are slaughtered and sold for veal at a few months of age. The corporations that run current factory farms are full of greed and driven by solely by money. Factory farms have become the leading method of food production in America. The U.S. meat industry is a multi-billion dollar per year industry and feeds millions of people around the world. In 2014, the U.S. meat industry, which processes cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, and turkeys, sold 186 billion dollars worth of meat. With the ability to gain great profits, factory farm corporations are motivated to get meat to domestic and international consumers as efficiently and inexpensively as possible. Today, only a handful of giant factory farm companies control meat production in the United States, all of which are wealthy, politically powerful, and take in no consideration of the animals at all. These companies provide cheap meat for people around the world and are only interested in keeping their high-production, low-cost. Why do nothing and let these animals suffer? How much longer before we take a stand and actually enforce change? If you care about all the innocent lives being tortured every day as factory farms inherit more and more money at their expense, then please sign this petition. My proposal to our state government is as follows: All Ag-Gag laws in Texas (which criminalize whistleblowers on farms) should be lifted. Surveillance around factory farms should be allowed and enforced. HB 1643, the act which makes it illegal to use a drone to take photos over a concentrated animal feeding operation, should be revoked. The 28 Hour law, which requires vehicles transporting animals for slaughter to stop every 28 hours to allow animals exercise, food, and water, should be modified to 14 hours and include poultry species as well. Animals on factory farms should not be genetically manipulated to produce unhealthy amounts of eggs, milk, etc to the point of which it affects their health. Killing and selling the young of any animal (especially veal) should become illegal, due to the fact that it is inhumane. Sign this petition and possibly save the lives of many animals who currently suffer under the hands of factory farms. Take a stand, and together we can make change,
Protect our wildlife and environment ban the release of Sky Lanterns
We are requesting that The City of South Padre Island, Texas, The City of Austin,Texas and the State of Texas policymakers consider banning sky lanterns due to the hazard associated with this product. Manufacturers and event promoters often claim that lanterns are a safe product. In reality, this is not the case. Sky lanterns have caused injury to wildlife and livestock. They have caused wildfires and structure fires. They create unnecessary risk for fire fighters and other emergency responders. We are not alone in recognizing the risk posed by the use of these products. Sky Lanterns have been banned across multiple countries including Austria, Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, Spain and Germany to name a few In America 29 states including California, Hawaii, Oregon, Illinois Minnesota, South Carolina and Ohio. In Ohio, launching a sky lantern is a misdemeanor, punishable by a $1,000 fine and In many instances; lanterns have been banned only after tragic and costly fires. We believe that the reasons below are evidence enough for regulating this product in Texas. Sky lanterns leave waste behind. Litter is more than just an eyesore- it can pose real threat as well. Sky lanterns have killed and injured livestock. Here in Texas, this a real threat with our vast ranches of livestock our multiple endangered species especially our coast line an area known to be a Sea Turtle Nesting ground. These Sky lanterns pose a great threat to these sea turtles as they can be confused as their food source Sky Lantern litter is also hazardous to motorists, an eyesore to tourists, and problematic for small business owners. Please don’t wait for Texas businesses, families and wildlife to pay the price for a few minutes of fun. Please regulate this product now! Sky Lanterns leave behind garbage, causes fires which become a hazard for communities and wildlife: o Waste in Public Areas: Recently, a Michigan family was involved in an injury accident when the driver of the vehicle swerved to avoid hitting a sky lantern that had landed in the road. The driver was rounding a curve, and saw the large pink lantern at dusk. She believed that it was a piece of furniture that was sitting in the road. o Waste in Natural Habitat: Lanterns pose a risk to wildlife and natural habitat due to the waste they leave behind. Wildlife and livestock can become entrapped in a spent lantern, or can inadvertently consume pieces of the lantern. These lanterns even have the potential to damage state and federally protected property. o Biodegradable Lanterns: It is important to recognize that “biodegradable” does not mean “safe” or “environmentally friendly.” Simply stated, it means that given the right conditions, over a period of time, a biodegradable lantern will eventually disintegrate into micro particles. Time, heat, oxygen, and moisture must be present and balanced to create optimal conditions for any substance to biodegrade. If any of these elements are lacking or imbalanced, the time required for a product to biodegrade may extend indefinitely. Even lanterns that have been gathered and disposed of through conventional means impact the environment as they become landfill waste Fire Safety Concerns: o Lanterns do not always burn out before landing: Manufacturers and event promoters state that lanterns are safe because they burn out before landing. In reality, there are several factors including wind and temperature that can affect the performance of a sky lantern. The use of sky lanterns has resulted in many documented fires and injuries. o Wildfire risk: The consequences of wildfires are significant. In addition to causing the loss of thousands of acres of natural habitat, wildfires can drive families from their homes and cause significant economic hardship for business owners. In South Padre Island where tourism can be a significant source of revenue for many, wildfire damage has the potential to cause economic damage that could take years to fully recover from. o Lanterns have been responsible for costly structure fires: At a large scale sky lantern release event hosted by the company Lantern Fest in Gaston, North Carolina, lanterns ignited a fire on a nearby cell phone tower. In addition to the risk posed to the emergency responders that extinguished the fire, the fire caused an estimated $500,000 in damage. o Damage to local businesses: In the UK, a sky lantern was responsible for igniting the largest industrial fires in the West Midlands area. In a plant security video, a single, lit sky lantern can be seen touching down on the property of a plastics plant. The subsequent fire caused significant damage and eventually led to a ban of fire lanterns in the area. o Risk to our Emergency Service Personnel: Should a fire occur, local emergency service departments will be responsible for responding to, and managing the situation. In doing so, emergency responders will be asked to put their own personal safety at risk. We feel that the potential risk emergency responders will assume in responding to a fire outweigh the benefits of any lantern release. For many of us, it is with regret that we request that this product be regulated. We recognize that sky lanterns have the potential for bringing entertainment, joy, or hope. We too appreciate the incredible beauty of a sky lantern disappearing over the horizon. We have loved ones we wish to commemorate. However, when we fully evaluate the risks associated with sky lanterns, and the potential for damage, we find that the costs outweigh the benefits. We hope that you share our concerns, and will consider regulating, or banning these products in Texas Let’s remove this dangerous product from our landscape! Want to know more? Check out these resources and articles: Sky Lantern Damages in the News: 800 Acre Fire at Myrtle Beach Likely Caused by Sky Lantern: http://www.southcarolinaradionetwork.com/2011/07/20/myrtle-beach-fire-caused-by-fireworks/ Cow Dies in Pain After Ingesting Fallen Sky Lantern: http://www.newmarketjournal.co.uk/news/latest-news/farmer-calls-for-ban-on-lanterns-after-cow-dies-in-agony-1-5184373 Festival Leaves Litter:http://globalnews.ca/news/1137402/vancouver-lantern-festival-lights-up-the-night-leaves-litter-in-the-day/ Gaston, NC Lantern Fest Fire: http://www.gastongazette.com/article/20150602/News/306029947 Kentwood Fire at Locally Owned Business: http://fox17online.com/2014/09/10/chinese-lantern-may-have-sparked-business-fire/ Michigan Family Recovers after Crash Caused by Sky Lantern: http://www.mlive.com/news/jackson/index.ssf/2012/08/family_recovers_from_crash_lik.html West Midlands Fire: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2352224/On-edge-Armageddon-Staggering-pictures-firefighters-battle-contain-6million-blaze-sparked-Chinese-lantern.html Emergency Service Personnel, Elected Officials and Policy Makers on Sky Lanterns: Charlevoix, MI Bans Sky Lanterns: http://www.petoskeynews.com/charlevoix/news/city-ordinance-bans-sky-lantern-use/article_9a628cbd-d2ce-5900-8b53-f4bd78d86568.html Fire Marshals Want to Ban Sky Lanterns: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/11/04/sky-lanterns-ban/3433273/ Ludington Fire Chief: http://www.shorelinemedia.net/ludington_daily_news/news/local/article_c5a8530e-4650-11e3-90b2-0019bb2963f4.html Sky Lanterns Illegal in Ohio: http://fox8.com/2015/07/02/police-remind-residents-before-holiday-weekend-that-sky-lanterns-are-illegal-in-ohio/ Fort Myers Florida bans Sky Lanterns https://fortmyersbeach.news/sky-lanterns-beautiful-but-dangerous-and-now-illegal/
Let the flags at Hyde Park Market stay!
The flags at Hyde Park Market (a.ka."The Flag Store") have been ordered to be taken down because the city is classifying them as a sign, which Hyde Park Market does not have a permit for. These flags have occupied the space for around five years without complaint, until recently. In order to avoid a $2,000/day fine, the owner of the store has taken down the flags. The is a landmark in Hyde Park, and Austin as a whole. Would Austin be the same if "I Love You So Much" was taken down? It's a part of Austin, Hyde Park, and the culture to "Keep Austin Weird." The application for a sign permit (http://www.austintexas.gov/sites/default/files/files/Planning/Applications_Forms/sign-permit-app.pdf) does not specifically classify a flag as a sign, and the language is vague as to a sign falling under the need for a permit. The flags should stay up until this situation can be resolved through the proper channels, not by levying a fine and causing an Austin landmark to be stripped of its character. Let the flags stay!
JUSTICE FOR CARLOS
https://www.google.com/url?q=http://www.statesman.com/news/crime--law/man-gets-years-toddler-death/Yj1OfRyQywz0Ive42QkS5O/&sa=U&ved=0ahUKEwjF_NfC7K_RAhUD_4MKHeMyBngQFggfMAE&sig2=-N4_j25fHCR_J95FBLZkpg&usg=AFQjCNGnRuqXu7yvVKJYCbEcOTpE4jib1w Why are the anti-abortion laws getting more attention than the child abuse laws?? Why are the drug dealers getting life sentences for selling narcotics to people who choose to do the drugs?? November 2010, 2 year old Carlos DeLaRosa received a life sentence that no one can appeal. His young life was taken by his own uncle, some one who he trusted an looked to as a father. Mark Paniagua was sentenced to ONLY 13 years in prison for the murder of Carlitos. He'll be able to walk free, an continue on with his life, watching his kids grow an become young adults. He'll be able to do all the things that we will never be able to do with Carlos. Mark comes up for Parole in May 2017, after serving only 7 years of his 13 year sentence. Why was there no justice for Carlos?? How many other kids are going to have to loose their innocent lifes before somebody stands up an says 'This is enough'!! Carlos didn't have a chance to fight back... It may be too late to save him, but it will never be too late to fight back, for Carlos, an all the other children out there who have been or who could become the next victims of child abuse. 13 years is not long enough. MARK IS A BABY KILLER.. Don't give him a chance to hurt another child. ··DO NOT FREE MARK PANIAGUA··
Make Austin's Flyovers Safer!
Dear Austin Mayor Adler, City of Austin Council Members, Interim City Manager Hart, Austin District Engineer McCoy, and the City of Austin Public Works Department; In February 2007, a male motorcyclist died when he lost control of his vehicle and fell off the southbound Mopac flyover to southbound Hwy 183. In June 2012, a 50-year-old male motorcyclist died when he had an accident that caused him to fall off the flyover at US 290 East and Interstate 35. In June 2014, motorcyclist Rae Ripptoe-Blair died when she fell off the North Mopac flyover to southbound Hwy 183. In July 2014, a male motorcyclist died falling off the flyover from northbound Interstate 35 to westbound Ben White. In February 2017, 38-year-old motorcyclist Alicia Romo died when she fell off the flyover from westbound US 290 to southbound Interstate 35. Most recently, 28-year-old motorcyclist Megan Brennan died Tuesday, April 25th of this year, when she fell from the flyover from northbound Mopac to southbound Hwy 183. In many of these accidents, there was no indication of why the motorcyclist lost control of their bike and news reports often cite a lack of evidence that the cyclist was speeding or driving under the influence. In all of these deaths, the common denominator was being on a motorcycle on one of Austin’s many flyover highway interchanges. It should be noted that some of these interchanges have seen more than one such motorcyclist fatality due to falling off a flyover. Considering that, 1) this is a recurring cause of death for motorcyclists in Austin, with at least six motorcyclists dying in the last decade as a result of falling off flyovers; 2) that wind speeds increase on the average of a mile per hour for every ten feet above ground level and these flyovers are equal to or in excess of 100 feet off the ground, which means that wind speeds and gusts are at least ten mph stronger at the tops of these flyovers than on the ground; and 3) there are no precautionary measures in place to keep motorcyclists, people ejected from cars, or others outside of an enclosed vehicular cabin from falling off the flyovers; We call for a safety review of our flyovers, and seek proposals for rectifying this dangerous and deadly situation. Whether that means placing fences above the minimal concrete barriers along these flyovers, extending the height of the concrete barriers, situating safety nets outside the barriers, and/or some other safety measures, it is clear that our highway interchanges are not safe for motorists outside of a cabin and need safety features installed. This will not stand! Please act before we lose another beautiful Austinite. Thank you.
DEMAND BETTER ANIMAL WELFARE LAWS IN TEXAS
WHAT WE WANT ACCOMPLISHED: BETTER ANIMAL WELFARE LAWS, that protect Texas dogs, cats, and other animals. Laws that limit backyard breeders and Puppy Mills, while protecting animals from abuse. Efforts to humanely reduce the enormous stray/homeless/abandoned animal population across the state of Texas. What can be done?: Here are some of the things that can be done to make a difference. 1. Limit rehoming fee: Pets sales (specifically puppies, kittens, cats, dogs, bunnies) over $100 to be banned regardless of the breed, unless licensed as a breeder in Texas. This should include pet stores, auctions and flea markets. These animals are sold, on the side of streets, on Craigslist, online, with no rules are regards for their health and wellbeing. This needs to stop.. 2. Statewide spay/neuter efforts: 2a. provide free spay/neuter and vaccine vouchers to all Texas residents with household income under $60,000. 2b. Provide free microchip program to all Texas residents. 2c. February is recognized as Spay/Neuter Awareness Month. Have free spay/neuters and microchip every year in February, across the state of Texas, that may be done at any vet. 2d. Provide free spay/neuter to bully breeds. Bully breeds are #1 most killed in Shelters. Chihuahua's are #2 most killed in Shelters. 3. Better laws protecting animals from abuse and neglect. An Animal abuse hotline and task force could be initiated, to report abuse or neglect, etc anywhere in Texas. It should be illegal to intentionally dump an animal or abandon an animal, this should be at least a felony. 4. Every county should have animal control coverage, and a shelter that has capacity and funding to properly care for unwanted and stray pets. More funding for overcrowded shelter is needed and more space. Did you know that there are many areas in the state of Texas that does not have animal control services, animals are left to wander the streets and there is not any authority to call to help them. Many of them end up dead in the streets. 5. Initiate, Fund and support EFFECTIVE TNR PROGRAMS across the state. These programs could consist of paid TNR officers, in which people can report strays that need to be TNR'd. This is important as TNR is a proven effective way to humanely control the stray and homeless animal population. BACKGROUND AND WHY WE WANT THIS ACCOMPLISHED: These laws could help animals from terrible situations such as these: * The SPCA of Texas seized 72 allegedly cruelly treated dogs and puppies from an alleged puppy mill—including 12 deceased animals—from a property in Canton * The SPCA of Texas removed 140 dogs, including 21 puppies, and two cats from a puppy mill. https://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/SPCA-of-Texas-Seizes-140-Animals-from-alleged-Fannin-County-Puppy-Mill-468230253.html Growing evidence supports that dogs and cats do have feelings, they feel pain, they have memories. https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/09/dog-brain-feelings-mri-gregory-berns/ They understand when they are in danger, when they are brought to the shelter, when they are killed for whatever reason. Shelters are having to kill thousands of animals everyday, due to lack of space. The animal overpopulation situation is out of control, and without help the problem is only growing. Texas has a huge stray and homeless animal population, which seems to be a problem that is ignored. This issue needs to be addressed in a humane and effective way. One big question is, why does the law continue to allow BYB's and puppy mills to breed and sell thousands of puppies/kittens for huge profits (when many of these animals end up in shelters or homeless by the time they are full-grown), meanwhile Puppy mills and irresponsible owners are adding a significant amount of unwanted or neglected animals? Many of these pets are left to roam or spend their life on a chain. There is not doubt this problem is out of control and that current animal welfare laws are not protecting animals as good as they could be. TEXAS SHELTERS AND RESCUES are overwhelmed, over-burdened and over-capacity. Resources are scarce and limited. The implementation of an effective spay/neuter program across the state could have lasting economical benefits in the long-run. We are putting resources into a system that isn't working! The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates there are about 10,000 puppy mills in the entire United States, which produce what's thought to be around 2 million puppies each year. Homeless animals outnumber homeless people 5 to 1. Every year, approximately 2.7 million adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized only because shelters are too full (and have limited resources) and there aren't enough adoptive homes. It doesn't matter what your beliefs are or what your party is, compassion and humanity is not a lot to ask for. These demands are fair, reasonable and obtainable. We ask our elected Texas officials to consider taking action to humanely handle the animal overpopulation. TELL GOVERNOR GREG ABBOTT HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT PET STORES AND PUPPY MILLS: https://gov.texas.gov/apps/contact/opinion.aspx EMAIL GOVERNOR GREG ABBOTT: Info@GregAbbott.com CALL GOVERNOR GREG ABBOTT: (512) 463-2000