Making growth pay for itself!

Stop this sneaky deal, Austin.

FB_robberPostFront page news — Housing Deal Could Cost the City $50M!

While it appears Austin Mayor Steve Adler was hoodwinking his trusting Council by diverting $50 to 80 million from the struggling water utility to subsidize 650 houses outside of the Austin city limits, one wonders where the hell the City Manager was.

The City Manager, Marc Ott, is required by law to prepare a “fiscal note” on each reading of a proposed ordinance stating its economic impact on the City’s budget before submitting it to the council. Ott failed to do so on all three readings — leaving the fiscal notes completely blank every time. This misled the Council to think there was no fiscal impact.

After a 22% water rate increase last year alone to cover costs, you would think Mr. Ott would lift a finger to protect the utility and its customers from this latest looting which will cause further rate increases. Not so.

Enough is enough. City Manager Marc Ott needs to be replaced and the 10-1 Council members deserve their own handpicked city manager who will respect their authority and shoot straight.

Ott’s performance review is in the next few weeks. Tell the Mayor and City Council you want this Pilot Knob deal nullified and to have the ordinance process repeated legally with the true costs discussed openly.

Read and don’t weep — share it with others and contact the Mayor and your Council member.

Get to work Austin. Stop this sneaky deal.

Our friend, Richard Franklin

Richard Franklin,  likes to remember our friends who were there when we needed them. One of them is Richard Franklin. He was there when we asked for Eastside community leaders to step up to pass 10-1. He came to almost every meeting for two years!

Richard is running for the Travis County Commissioner’s seat being vacated by Ron Davis – that’s Precinct 1 (see map here in yellow).

You’re invited to this tomorrow. But, please take a few minutes to read the rest of this message.

Richard Franklin Fundraiser
Monday, Nov. 30, 6 to 8 pm
Midtown Live, 7408 Cameron Road
Click here for Richard’s website to give online

Richard was there when his neighbors in Del Valle were forced to pay through the nose for water because the city refused to serve them, throwing this low-income community to the dogs in private water business. When the city expanded and paid for a water line to the billionaires at Formula 1 and provided a trigger to the use of state funds for F1, Richard was there along with us, equally incredulous. And, when Travis County gave road improvements to Formula 1, guess who was there?

Austin has a lot of things to be ashamed of these days. We are rated the most economically segregated city in America. We are the only fast-growing city in the country losing African-Americans.

The Mayor recently spoke at an event in Bastrop, attended by at least one Travis County Commissioner – Richard was there too. The Mayor’s apparent message to Bastrop was to get ready for the people fleeing Austin’s affordability crisis. No questions were allowed from the floor.

The Austin regional real estate lobby, at this very moment, is actually fighting lobby reform at City Hall – practically the same rules that we already have at the state level.

What does all this tell you, hmm?

That both the City and County have some new leadership has given us some hope. But truthfully, the pedal-to-the-metal growth policy door has been open for a long time now. Austin has already changed – and not for the better.

Stepping up with Richard Franklin is but one thing that we can do. But we’re into this for something bigger. We are utilizing Richard to continue building a movement in Austin for citizens to take back their government. In other words, dear Austin, 10-1 was just the beginning.

Richard has put himself out there for years to be “used” in this way – to better this community, not pad his resume.

ChangeAustin will soon change our own strategy to support YOUR development of an on-the-ground populist movement of citizens. That is what is most needed now and Richard – we know – will be there too.

Growth machine says you don’t care about lobby reform

Since the 2008 fight to stop the Domain shopping mall subsidies, we’ve seen enough dog and pony shows at City Hall to choke a horse.

We hear tell that the growth machine, some of Austin’s biggest advocates of unbridled growth, subsidized by your tax dollars, are claiming that you don’t give a hoot about lobby reform.

The Ethics Review Commission is hosting a public comment session this Wednesday at 6:30 pm at City Hall on some basic lobby reforms needed at City Hall. (Free parking.)

It wouldn’t surprise us to see the Chamber, RECA and other assorted special interest hogs at the public trough, packing this hearing. At the least, their arguments about this will be entertaining.

Folks, the new law is based on what the state requires for state lobbyists. Nuff said?

Can you show up at this, please? If you want to testify, please do or sign a card that you support these basic reforms.

Click here to see City Councilwoman, Leslie Pool’s, resolution for lobby reform.

Click here to see the FAQs about these reforms (written by reform attorney friend, Fred Lewis).

If you can’t make it, please call or email your council member and Mayor Adler here. Tell them you care about lobby reform and you support the Pool resolution.

Please share this message (see the buttons below?)
and contribute to our efforts!

PS BTW, we think lobby reform is just one of many reasons Austinites finally passed a new district voting system now called “10-1”. Prove us right, please.

What part of open government does city management not get yet?

Brian Rodgers testified against rate hikes for Water TreatmentIt’s that dastardly duo for open city government at it again. ChangeAustin’s Brian Bill AlshireRodgers, represented by Bill Aleshire, is suing the city for violations of the Texas Public Information Act.

Apparently, the city still hasn’t gotten it right, even under the new 10-1 Council. We hope the new Council will figure out how to use the suit as a tool to press for continued reform from within.

Read all about it from Austin’s premiere investigative journalist, Ken Martin, who’s on this story like a tick on a hound dogthe Austin Bulldog, that is.

Gridzilla is back — Call your Rep & Senator NOW!

gridzillaaloneWe thought we had a deal with the author of Gridzilla (HB 3298) to include some of our concerns about protecting aquifers for future generations. Turns out that this was just a “prevarication” — a fancy word for lie.

We are sorry to impose, but we want to ask you to write an email or to make a quick phone call tonight or tomorrow before noon. (Instructions are at the end of this message.)
This letter, from East Texan, retried teacher, Martha Estes, to her State Representative, says it all.

Dear Representative:

TODAY Representative Larson (R-San Antonio) used a BAIT and SWITCH tactic in “adding an amendment” to Senate Bill 1301. This transformed SB 1301 into a study of a statewide water marketing and transfer system at a time when so many bills are being heard in the House facing an imminent deadline. (SB 1301 had been a simple bill to reduce the number of directors of the Texas Water Resources Finance Authority.)

Apparently many representatives didn’t even realize what the amendment was, and it passed overwhelmingly!

My request of you, when this comes up for a final vote in the HOUSE tomorrow, is to refuse to approve it unless Representative Larson’s amendment is stripped out.

As a body I believe that you should resent Rep. Larson’s attempt to “pull a fast one” on the TX House members and slip this by you.

If he cannot do it in a forthright manner he should not resort to trickery! It represents an insult to the process of deliberating the serious mandates before the members of the Texas House.

At my age, having observed many generations of Texas legislators at work, I have no respect for such actions when the results can impact generations to come.

Honorable behavior matters! Hold him accountable to a higher standard.

Cut him off at the pass!!

Martha Estes, Waller County

Write your own letter or call your Rep & Senator tonight
(you can leave a message anytime) or tomorrow before high noon!  

(Here is the unofficial record vote from today —
our Austin area Reps need to hear from you!)

 Find your State Representative and Senator here.
Call your State Representative and your Senator to urge him or her to vote NO on SB 1301 unless the water marketing amendment is stripped out.
If you prefer email to phone calls, you can email your legislators using this formula:

If you use email, keep your subject line short and clear: “Oppose SB 1301’s water marketing amendment”

Get after it Austin pals!

Our Petition Rights and Affordability Are Under Attack!

gridzillaaloneOur petition rights are under severe attack! And, it’s at the very same time that plans are underway for mass movement of water (“Gridzilla”) to aid developers to continue building in areas without local water supply.

Why are we so opposed to these bills? Simply put, these two bills together sum up the most important battle in this session for citizens of Austin to have any mechanism to challenge the “growth at all costs” mentality that is burying our region in unaffordability, traffic gridlock and soaring costs for housing.

Isn’t in time to stop the monkey business? fef689c6-b4d8-4b7b-ad0c-a5b5b79aca96

Read these fact sheets, then contact your State Senator TODAY to OPPOSE these bills!

Find your State Senator here. (If you want to email them use their first name dot last name

We would also love to see you at the Capitol — come on over to back us up!

MONDAY: (May 18) 

  • 10 am    Meet at the Capitol Grill, E1.1002. (Come in the main Capitol and ask for directions). We will get you fact sheets and update you, then set up teams to go visit legislators before these hearings begin.
  • 2+ pm?  HB 3298 (Gridzilla) is on the Ag Committee Agenda but towards the end – hearing notice here. Rm. E1.012. Come sign up against the bill at a kiosk or testify. We’ll help you.

TUESDAY: (May 19)

  • 9 am – Sign in against House Bill 2595 to protect your petition rights. Come testify! Rm. E1.012. Notice here. (Sign in on kiosks or come to the meeting rooms to meet us.)