Our civil liberties must be exercised to stay strong. Just like our muscles, if we never use them, they weaken and atrophy. So I want to strongly encourage you to do your duty as a citizen and VOTE. Also, I encourage you to VOTE EARLY. Early voting begins TOMORROW, October 22. It does not cost any more than waiting till Election Day on November 6, and it will be a lot more convenient for you.
I urge you to vote early because the ballot is LONG, and it will take a while to fill it all out. There will likely be long lines on November 6, and you will do yourself a favor and better fulfill your civic responsibility if you vote early and take the time to do it right.
The ballot in Austin is TWELVE PAGES LONG. There is a lot of stuff in there, and it is all important. In addition to the voting for President, Senators and all the other elective offices, there are a number of propositions, mostly dealing with bond issues. These are important and should not be skipped.
One bond issue I want to recommend to you is Prop 15, dealing with housing. It is supported by iAct, the interfaith organization to which St. Austin Parish belongs, and by Micah 6, the local ecumenical group that runs a food pantry and also a drop-in for street youth on Sundays. St. Austin Parish also belongs to Micah 6 and was one of the founding congregations.
Proposition 15 funds affordable housing and rental units in the city. Six years ago a similar bond issue was passed, and it did a great deal of good. Both of the properties of Saint Louise House, which provides housing for women with children, were purchased with some of those funds, but those monies are now spent and gone. To continue to help people, especially the elderly, repair and remain in their homes, another bond issue is necessary. AISD reported 1,635 homeless students in the schools in 2011. So affordable housing is also a great need for the young. I understand that this bond measure is “tax neutral,” that is it does not require an increase in taxes. I take this to mean that the taxes imposed six years ago for the previous set of housing bonds would just continue but there would be no increase. Given the positive track record of the city using housing bonds in the past (you can get more info on the PowerPoint presentation at yesforhomes.com), given that Federal Funds for housing have dried up, and given the continuing need, this is a worthwhile effort. Our parish is justifiably proud of having served as the incubator for the wonderful work of Saint Louise House in offering affordable housing to homeless women with children. Saint Louise House is under a financial crunch, even more so now than usual. This is one way to assist them. So I offer to your consideration support for Proposition 15: Housing.
In other news, on this very day, October 21, Pope Benedict XVI is canonizing seven new saints, including two Americans! The new American Saints are: Kateri Tekakwitha, (1656–1680) the first Native American to be canonized, often called “Lilly of the Mohawks,” and Mother Marianne Cope of Molokai (1838–1918) who joined Sisters of St Francis and worked for many years among the lepers in Hawaii. She cared for the dying Fr. Damien, and succeeded him in caring for the outcasts on Molokai for 30 years until her death. St. Kateri and St. Marianne, pray for us!