Founded in 2008 by Brian Rodgers, Linda Curtis, and Albert Marino, ChangeAustin.org is a political action committee that reports all contributions and expenditures to the Texas Ethics Commission as well as the City of Austin. Those reports are online and open to the public for review. We invite your donations of time and money to make Austin a better place for ALL of Austin.
You can read more about Brian Rodgers here in the Austin Bulldog, though he is no longer considering running for the Austin City Council.
ChangeAustin.org is dedicated to the vast majority of voters and local businesses who lack representation. We began our focus at City Hall just following the narrow defeat of Prop 2 (to stop the Domain luxury mall taxpayer giveaway).
In 2007, local activists and Austin businesses gathered 28,000 signatures of Austin voters calling for a vote to stop the retail subsidies to a luxury shopping mall, The Domain. Despite the support from 500 local businesses and all local political parties — and everyone thinking that we were going to win– we lost by 2%. The Austin real estate “machine” (Chamber of Commerce, Real Estate Council of Austin, the Austin area Homebuilders, Simon Malls, individuals like Gary Farmer of Heritage Title and, of course, the developers of The Domain, Endeavor Real Estate), ponied up $400K for a last minute media buy with then Mayor Will Wynn using the slogan “Keep Austin’s Word”. The Austin Chronicle and a few big wheels in the local Democratic Party (Kirk Rudy, Endeavor Real Estate and Andy Brown, then Travis County Democratic Chair), despite the party’s support to end the subsidies, also played a role in defeating us. It was then that we realized that The Domain was just one of the ways in which Austin residents are subsidizing the real estate industry and we had a tiger by the tail.
We formed ChangeAustin.org in order to have a protracted battle with the proverbial real estate hogs at the public trough who continue to demand way more than their fair share. This — the subsidization of an industry that needs no handouts — is, in our view, to blame for longtime Austinites fleeing the city seeking an affordable way of life that is no longer in Austin.
In 2010, Brian Rodgers commissioned a study by Eben Fodor and Associates to find out who pays for Austin’s breakneck growth. This came on the heels of our efforts to expose the property tax burden of the 40% undervaluations of commercial properties, on average, throughout Texas. That information was released in a study by the Texas Association of Appraisal Districts in 2006. This information is parked at CostofGrowth.com.
Here are the things we think are fundamental to our right to better and more honest government:
1) A serious commitment to full transparency and greater public oversight of decisions with far reaching fiscal implications.
2) Champions for locally owned businesses and real leadership to keep our dollars from leaving the community — shoring up our local economy.
3) Policies requiring that development growth pays for itself and make those who benefit bear the costs.
4) Publicly supported plans for our region’s transportation needs (ending the “toll road war”).
5) Respect for the rights of citizens to petition city government, guaranteed by our City Charter and state constitution.
ChangeAustin.org is an amalgam of local activists and local businesses dedicated to activism (Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Greens, and independents who are working together!)-new and old-who believe the future determines the past. Can “we the people” put our deep differences aside for now and work for the common good?
Now that would be real change, wouldn’t it!
Where do we go from here?
ChangeAustin.org sparked the “10-1″ revolt that was passed by Austin voters in 2012. This brought us a new voting system with 10 single-member districts and the first independent citizens redistricting commission in the state of Texas. Now, the real war begins to take Austin back from the special interests who will be done with us when Austin’s real estate play is over and our affordability is fully a thing of the past. Austin sets the pace for central Texas, so if you don’t happen to live in the city, not to worry — you’re welcome here.
This web blog is dedicated to educating and activating you, yes YOU reading this blog. Please share your thoughts on any section of this site, don’t forget to sign in to get our emails, and please bring your friends to ChangeAustin.org to join this movement for a new direction for our great city and region!
Please comment on any portion of this web blog and contact us when you’re ready to get to work!