Making growth pay for itself!

No news is good news…

No news is good news. That’s our reading on the continuing saga of City Manager Marc  Ott’s performance evaluation. We have been urging the new 10-1 council to hand pick their own new city manager and replace Mr. Ott, whose record of costly mistakes, poor management and mad pursuit of growth at any cost is wrecking our quality of life — that’s the sad truth. We need a paradigm shift in thinking at the top which is not possible with Ott in charge.

What we do know is this. The Council has been intensely debating the issue of Ott’s performance, thanks in large part to the ruckus you’ve helped us raise with your emails and phone calls. We know that support for Mr. Ott has weakened substantially That’s why, for weeks and weeks now, you haven’t heard anything about it. Even the media has been mute. These discussions continue in Executive Sessions and the Council has yet to schedule a “retreat” to finish their performance review, leaving Mr. Ott’s future hanging in the balance for months.

As rumor has it (and we underscore the word rumor), the Council is considering giving Ott a six month extension for him to find another job. IF this is true, this is a big win for you, for Austin and gives us faith in what we all worked so hard for — geographic representation and the 10-1 Council.

Did you see this recent Statesman article about the latest on the Pilot Knob fiasco?

The Council is continuing to follow the advice of their law department that advised them to fight Brian’s lawsuit. Remember, all Brian was asking for was for Council to go back and do a proper posting of the Pilot Knob deal, followed by an open debate of its fiscal impact, especially for the water utility and its ratepayers.

Keep in touch with Mayor Adler and your Council member and remind them you are counting on them to fulfill the promise of 10-1.

Please share this message!

Ott to Go Update – Action Please!

The good news is that – because of YOUR efforts — the Council spent many hours at last Tuesday’s work session

Austin City Manager, Marc Ott, receives a present from Formula 1
Austin City Manager, Marc Ott, receives a present from Formula 1

evaluating the performance of City Manager Marc Ott. Their discussions will continue in this Tuesday’s work session.

Unfortunately, their entire discussion was behind closed doors in executive session. So far, Councilman Zimmerman (District 6) is the only member who has promised to make his review public.

Why is the review of the city’s top executive being held behind closed doors? Our best guess is the “growth at any cost” culture at City Hall remains unbroken. Witness, The Grove – in Rosedale (Council Districts 7 and 10):

1.  This is how Marc Ott lost $18 million and a beautiful park — he sat on this City of Austin Offer Letter.

2.  The Grove appears to be another Pilot Knob in the making. The terms are even worse for Austin’s current residents. Watch for a 100% waiver of all development fees if only
5% of the housing is “reasonably priced”, according to city affordable housing guidelines for a land trust.

3. Rosedale resident and architect, Chris Allen, wrote about The Grove’s abuse of the public process:

“By perverting the public process, cutting back-room deals and withholding public documents, Milestone/Topfer and its allies, along with person(s) at the top of our City Government have declared an all-out WAR on our neighborhoods, folks.” Read Allen’s full statement here.
With negotiations like this, who needs a City Manager? Why not rid us of all pretense and just let developers directly run the city?
Do this, please!
  1. Reach your Council member and the Mayor before Tuesday and tell them to replace Marc Ott and to put their review into writing or to just release it.
  2. If you haven’t yet, please review our last email with videos, then fill out your own performance review at Manage Austin Better here.
We’ll say it again. 10-1 is in real danger. Geographic representation only opened the door for Austinites to take back our city. Don’t let the door be slammed shut because we didn’t go the distance. If we have to reboot 10-1, we will.

Barrientos at Hearing on City Manager Performance

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On Austin City Management: Right Hand Not Knowing What Left Hand is Doing,
says Barrientos at Citizen Hearing on City Manager Performance

Last Thursday night, as the City Council met at City Hall, some of Austin’s leading civic activists in neighborhood, housing, affordability, environment and fiscal accountability efforts held their own citizen’s hearing decrying city management’s failure to effectively address major problems. One of those testifying led the Austin Charter Revision Committee and the 10-1 movement, former State Senator Gonzalo Barrientos. Barrientos, pointing to the City’s wasteful Circuit of Americas subsidies for Formula 1 racing and the mismanagement of the costly Waller Creek development said,

“Who is the boss? The people are supposed to be the boss…I’m amazed at the maze of bureaucracy…and the culture of [city] government.

Brian Rodgers, a whistle-blowing commercial real estate developer and founder of ChangeAustin.org, called the city manager “Gentrifier-in-Chief,” explaining how the city manager “promoted a growth at any cost” agenda causing rapid housing inflation and a virtual collapse in affordability for existing residents. He noted that Austinites are paying $54 million a year for an unused biomass plant – a no-bid, no analysis, last minute rush deal on the council. On the Seaholm Power Plant conversion, Rodgers said,

“Ott’s economic development team pushed a software company, subsidized with city tax dollars, to come and take one of Austin’s crown jewels. It was heart breaking.” Rodgers reviewed $4 billion of bad decisions under Marc Ott. Video here.

Brandon Reed of the Black Improvement Association denounced the lack of economic development and employment opportunities in East Austin. He condemned the Ott’s African-American Quality of Life Initiative, which so far, has,

 “Utterly failed to address the city’s mass exodus of African-Americans and needs of those still here.” Further, Reed stated, “as a felon who has turned my life around, I’m here to tell you that there is nothing for felons to find a better way.” Video here, third speaker.

Fred Lewis, an attorney and organizer of Manage Austin Better, discussed the Zucker Report. Lewis said,

“The City paid for this report last year. Zucker is highly paid and highly respected. He said the city’s planning and zoning department was the worst managed in the country, with the worst performance metrics, worst stakeholder dissatisfaction, and worst employee morale. Yet the city manager placed the rewriting of the city’s new Land Development Code under this department’s staff; the result, Code Next process is months overdue, grossly over budget, and still has produced no draft code after 3 years.” Video here, second speaker.

Other speakers and topics discussed:

Jane Hayman on the failure to reform Austin’s historic landmark program, resulting in continued giveaways to million dollar mansion owners. Video here – second speaker.

Jeff Jack, architect, former Council aide (a founder of the Austin Neighborhoods Council — for identification purposes only) on failure to address affordability, environment and the push for growth by not providing the Council with the information they need to make good decisions. Video here, first speaker.

Ed English, Audit Austin, on the need for an independent audit of Austin’s budget.

Bill Bunch, Save Our Springs Alliance (for identification purposes only), on failure to provide metrics and studies related to major capital projects such as Water Treatment Plant Number 4, transportation planning and more..

Karen Kreps, on Barton Springs (second speaker).

Larry Akers, on the redevelopment of Auditoruim Shores (third speaker).

Mike Hebert, Manage Austin Better, on the plan to rezone Austin with little concern for protection of neighborhoods.

Debbie Russell on the bloated Austin Police budget while continued failure to curb racial profiling. See here.

Mike Levy, who was unable to attend, but shared these written comments on Austin EMS and Fire.

Couldn’t make it last night?

For y’all who couldn’t make it last night — more on Monday — it was rich! 

Here’s one big reason for Ott to go — just sent to the Council and Mayor.

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Here’s Brian Rodgers’ message this morning to the Mayor and Council — one big reason Ott should go.

Click here to send your message to replace Ott — Council deliberates on Tuesday!  

Mayor and Council,

Marc Ott and his staff team of privateers colluded with Gary Farmer and the Austin Chamber of Commerce to put Athena into Seaholm at taxpayer’s expense and heartbreak. It’s unforgivable. “Marc, please explain in detail why you gave away a crown jewel of Austin?”

Brian Rodgers

The original plan for Seaholm was public space just like just like Boston’s Faneuil Hall — a public market place for local business treasured by Boston residents and a major tourist attraction. Instead, Ott and the previous Council slapped a corporate logo on Seaholm and fattened the giveaway with public money.
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PS Yes, we need a political revolution, but don’t expect it to be televised. Share and stay tuned.

 

Why we want Ott to go. Show up Thursday!

We rarely ask you to show up, do we? This one’s a must do.

This Thursday, March 24, 6:30-8:30 pm  Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 6.13.52 AM
Austin Energy Community Room
721 Barton Springs Road

Plenty of seats are left, so just come!

We, the people of Austin, deserve a public hearing on the hiring or firing of the chief executive officer of Austin BEFORE the City Council makes their decision on March 29th. We have been denied a hearing, so we’re holding our own. Show up if you care about:

* Austin’s affordability crisis.
* Open government.
* Lobbyists running your city and running over your neighborhoods.

It is no coincidence that City Manager Marc Ott’s performance review comes simultaneous to a jaw-dropping defiance of open government.

Last week, City Legal counseled the City Council to fight Brian Rodgers’ lawsuit under the Texas Open Meetings Act related to their Pilot Knob decision. Rodgers is asking the Council to void and re-post their decision to transfer $50M in water impact fees away from our struggling water utility to the Pilot Knob “affordable housing” scheme.

Even the City Manager has admitted that the agenda wording gave no clue to the Council about what they were voting on.

You do understand what this means, right? Every seemingly innocuous agenda item can be a Trojan Horse.

Show up Austin – and bring your neighbors!  

Share this message across our wonderful, but nonetheless troubled city from here or on this Facebook event page.

We’re counting on you, Austin!

PS Why are we staying 10-1 is in danger? Geographic representation will be rendered hollow without open government. 

Citizens Hearing on City Mismanagement

Please attend a Citizen’s Hearing on City Mismanagement and why the 10-1 Council needs new management.

Is Austin going in circles or just thinking about how to get out of this mess?
Is Austin going in circles or just thinking about how to get out of this mess?

Why we’re holding this event is because the City Council turned down our request for a public hearing.

Thursday, March 24, 6:30 to 8:30 pm
Austin Energy Community Room
721 Barton Springs Road
Reply to reserve a seat now or !

This event comes just before the performance review by the City Council of its chief executive officer, City Manager Marc Ott on March 29th.

This hearing is an attempt to advance the 10-1 movement by urging that the 10-1 Council get its own new management. (Learn more about the issues here at Manage Austin Better. Be sure to read excerpts from the Zucker Report here too.)

Marc Ott has been City Manager since 2008. He is up for review and a raise, while he has presided over mistaken projects that are costing Austin residents far too much for THIS (10-1) City Council to ignore. In his first year, the City gave stunningly short notice to a $2.3 billion deal for biomass (aka the “wood chip burner” in Nacogdoches), resulting in a $54 million dollar per year payout by Austin Energy ratepayers for 20 years — with no electricity in return. The City of Austin cannot get out of this 20-year contract! How has this and other decisions under Mr. Ott affects YOU and your neighbors, is the subject of this hearing.

The results of which will be given to your city council member and Mayor before they deliberate, likely in private, on Tuesday, March 29th.

Listen up citizens! Austin is in crisis with no foreseeable way out without a new course.

We must insist that the 10-1 Council seriously address the affordability crisis and the gross mismanagement of our city…because they are intimately related.

Reserve a seat by replying to this message  
or feel free to call us!
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Share this message across our wonderful, but nonetheless troubled city from here or on this event page on Facebook.

Come ready to have your say and to fill our your own evaluation of the City Manager’s performance.

PS Under Marc Ott’s leadership, we see the promise of 10-1 slipping away. If you’re OK with that, don’t show up at this hearing.