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Letters to the Editor – Gambling in Texas, Housing First, USS Harder, distressing news

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The data is definitely there

Re: “A bad gamble for Texas — Arguments against casinos are strong, morally and empirically, but they will be ignored,” by Joshua Whitfield, Sunday Opinion.

Thank you for bringing both morality and data to the discussion of gambling in Texas.

Sociological data is available regarding the damage done by gambling. I would liken it to saying ultra-processed foods do no damage, while the increases in disease such as diabetes and cancer follow right along with the increases in ultra-processed foods.

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We scream for those things we are addicted to — ultra-processed foods, for one — but worse, those activities that provide no moral or educational benefit to us personally, nor to our society. They promise to satiate our hunger for filling the emptiness inside us, but they never do. They bankrupt our ability to aid society by eating our resources mentally, morally and financially — not to mention spiritually. The reason gambling has historically been seen as bad is that it is!

Once again, amen to Whitfield!

RaeLynn Shattuck, Balch Springs

A home run

Whitfield hit a home run with his column about the negative effects of casinos and gambling in Texas (or any state). If Texas used statistics like baseball does, casinos and gambling would be a shutout.

Mike Kelly, Plano

Not likely soon

Whitfield doesn’t pull any punches in his destruction of any notion of casinos in Texas. He acknowledges he’ll get some pushback from many who prefer he butt out. Claims of ruined lives and the end of pro sports leagues seem overly sensational coming from someone I’d wager has never bought a scratch-off lottery ticket.

Given the anti-gaming posture of the Texas Legislature, legalized gambling in this state seems far away. Point spreads and prop bets are not going away though, Fr. Whitfield, so pull up a chair and remember to always split aces and eights.

Jon Hasenohrl, Corinth

No, it doesn’t work

Re: “Housing First doesn’t work — Flawed federal policy without wraparound treatment services has boosted homelessness,” by Robert G. Marbut Jr., Sunday Opinion.

I totally agree with Marbut’s op-ed. Our shelter, Soul’s Harbor, was established in 1956 and I am honored to run the shelter since 2009. We only take homeless men with alcohol or drug problems.

Over 60% of chronic homelessness is due to substance abuse. After our former homeless residents graduated from our six-month holistic recovery program, we used the housing vouchers from Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance, the predecessor of Housing Forward.

That was a disaster, as all the men relapsed within months because there were no “wraparound services” like those Marbut discussed in his column. My men were kicked out of the housing unit because of either their continual drug use or excessive alcohol consumption.

Over 10 years ago, we came up with an Exit Plan Strategy at Soul’s Harbor that encompasses many sober-living houses like the Oxford Houses along with a 12-month detailed plan to help residents maintain their sobriety.

Soul’s Harbor has found that residents who graduated from our six-month program and the 12-month Exit Plan Strategy maintain their long-term sobriety. This is the way to tackle homelessness — with services, not housing vouchers.

Brent Burmaster, Southeast Dallas

More numbers to consider

Re: “Homelessness trending down,” May 1 news story.

Marbut’s column claiming Housing First doesn’t work is contradicted by the recent success in Dallas. According to this May 1 story, Dallas and Collin counties’ overall homelessness fell by 19% and unsheltered homelessness fell by 24% since 2021. Housing Forward, the lead agency of Dallas and Collin County’s homeless response system, is aiming to cut homelessness by 50% by 2026 (compared to 2021).

Marbut counts only “unsheltered” homeless, while standard procedure is to include those housed in shelters.

He downplays the lack of affordable housing, while most experts put that near the top of causes of homelessness.

Emory Burton, McKinney

Not the term we use

Re: “A watery resting place — Navy submarine helmed by heroic Dallas native found nearly 80 years after sinking,” Monday news story.

“Navy submarine helmed by … ” Really? U.S. Navy ships are not helmed, they are commanded. Cmdr. Sam Dealey was the commanding officer of the USS Harder.

Incorrectly phrasing his role does not, however, diminish the extraordinary war record Dealey and his crew established. I remember studying his exploits at the Naval Academy.

This retired sailor is pleased the wreck of the Harder has been discovered and that Dealey’s contributions were recognized on Memorial Day.

David B. Robinson, Dallas/Uptown

‘Hell in a handbasket’ moment

I often feel compelled to write a letter to the editor to comment on a national or state issue. I was overwhelmed with the amount of distressing issues during the last few days and couldn’t decide on any single one.

Issues such as a Supreme Court justice flying his flag upside down in seeming support of violent insurrectionists; Gov. Greg Abbott pardoning a man convicted of killing a protester, saying it was a stand your ground issue; a picture of a service dog with his head on a sniper rifle at the National Rifle Association annual meeting; insults hurled at fellow members in the U.S. House of Representatives; and more. Surely we have arrived at a “hell in a handbasket” moment.

Phyllis Vaughn, Sherman

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