About Us

Tax protest a the Travis County Appraisal District, 2009

Tax Protest at City Hall Budget Hearing (2009)

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).

IMG_0558In 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?

Former Travis County Judge, Bill Aleshire, with Austinites for Geographic Representation outside City Hall.

Former Travis County Judge, Bill Aleshire, with Austinites for Geographic Representation outside City Hall.

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!

We love hearing from you!

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7 Responses to About Us

  • elias anderson says:

    can you please put me on your list to receive your news letters. I am a business owner here in Austin and 100% oppose subsidizing any for profit business. I look forwrd to hearing from you.

    Thank you,
    Elias Anderson

  • ljcurtis says:

    Hi Elias:
    Yes, we will stay in touch with you. If you could please go to our “Take Action” section and click on the petition and sign up, that would also help us. Please list your business there too, if you wish. We’ll give you a call real soon too. Thanks! Linda, CA.org team.

  • Melanie Michel says:

    Apparently, I have a lot to learn about what has been going on in Austin. I was really surprised when the toll roads passed, although I thought it was supposed to be used by the big semi’s to be able to bypass Austin. I have since heard that many can not fit through the toll booth areas! Then, at the budget meeting, I was appalled at the proposed cuts which all seem to be aimed at the most needed areas. Do we want to go the way of a third world nation in this country, let alone in Austin!

  • Linda Curtis says:

    Thanks for your comment, Melanie. In a downturn, the last people to cut are the people at the bottom. Hope to see you at an upcoming event. Watch your email for an announcement and get involved! Linda, ChangeAustin.org

  • Melanie Michel says:

    My first comment, somehow disappearred and it said there was an internal server problem? I hope that we can do something about some of these budget cuts that are proposed because I feel they are going to have a lot of kids and animals w/o the services that America should be providing. We are not a 3rd World Nation!! Nor do I think that should be a goal of anyone who calls themselves an American. The oil companies cannot lobby away our rights as citizens…Do we want it to come to where they kill the teachers that teach the poor to read so there will be noone to oppose them. Changes have been slowly erroding the rights of us all and as in the days of the Nazis it starts quietly and abtrusively. Move the south day labor site so we only have one. 45 people/day get a job their daily! That is 225 people/week! Do we want 225 more people at intersections with signs or robbing banks or more homeless, jobless people because they haven’t the transportation to get to the north day labor and what about the time involved in the busride itsself? The other ideas are very elitist and not in the spirit of America. Is this what they did to people during the depression or the dust bowl? I was raised in the Northwest and I never thought of Texas as part of the south, but they are starting to act like all the stories I have heard of the corruption in Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, etc.

  • M.J. Taylor says:

    Please create a section of press releases, especially for events like your tax protest(s). PDF’s are nice for local postering, but are basically useless for other websites to run as “events to attend.”

    When you do, please drop me a line.

    Thanks,

    M.J. Taylor
    Publisher
    from Reason to Freedom

  • Tom Brown says:

    Looking for information on yr group, founders, and leadership to help understand where you are coming from. Could not find anything on yr website concerning how the organization is run or what/who it consists of. Also any information on your budget and funding would help transparancy. Would hate to see the city try to discredit your organization by attacking the underlying motives or any hidden agendas espoused by your group. Don’t see you mentioned in the local press, although there may be instan ces. Do you have a PR or press activity. At any rate there appears to be room for vocal groups in Austin to resist the way the city is run in many ways, esp when it comes to spending money. Now I imagine you are going to get on the AE rate increases. Good luck.

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ChangeAustin Supporters holding signs that spell Voter Revolt Dog and pony show ChangeAustin.org at the 2009 MLK March Water Treatment Plant #4 Debate, 2009. 10-1 revolt Lorri Michel Bill Alshire Austin CIty Council Brian Rodgers with then Travis County Chief Appraiser, testifying at the Travis County Commissioners Court. Tax protest a the Travis County Appraisal District, 2009 Tax protest a the Travis County Appraisal District, 2009
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