Fair Representation

Austinites for Geo Rep Petition Kickoff Success!

We had a great kickoff rally and party at Mexitas.  The Austinites for Geographic Representation (AGR) Petition Drive is on!

Special thanks to Daniel Llanes, who performed at this event and made two very nice banners, and Steve Speir, who helped with lots of organizing to get folks out. Thanks to Frances McIntyre (not pictured) and Mary Krenek who worked the entire event on very short notice.

We are parking petition materials here, but in a few days, you can go directly to AustinGeoRep.org for these materials and more:

Click here for our Kickoff Press Release.

Click here for the AGR Flier & Supporters.

Click here for Talking Points for Petitioners.

Click here for Petition Instructions — read them carefully!

Click here for the AGR Petition!  Make sure you have the petition language attached to the petition grid pages — print as many grid pages as you wish and attach them.

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Occupying Austin Permanently! Austinites for Geographic Representation

Brian Rodgers Poses as Magician on Where the Money WentWe’ve been working quietly to help forge a new broad-based electoral coalition of neighborhood, political and civic organizations from across the spectrum from the NAACP and LULAC, to leading Republicans. (see flier below)

Our goal?  To file 20,000 signatures in January for a public vote for geographic representation on the Austin City Council.

Austinites for Geographic Representationsupports a simple 10-1 (10 single-member districts with the Mayor elected at-large, by the whole city), combined with a non-partisan independent citizen’s redistricting commission, as the way to go.

Let the people draw the maps and let our citizens, not the campaign contributors, run the show!
(for details visit AGR on Facebook here)
PS  Will geographic representation solve all our problems?  It won’t solve any, if we don’t use it in our ongoing effort to take back Austin of, by and for its residents.  This is but a tool!
You’re Invited!
Press conference @ City Hall

Austinites for Geographic Representation Kicks off Petition Drive!
Wednesday, October 19th
High Noon!  Don’t miss the showdown at City Hall!


Don’t Miss the Kickoff Party & Rally! (flier below)

Saturday, October 22, 3 to 5 pm   
Mexitas Restaurant, 12th and E. IH-35
(Food is provided with a Cash Bar)
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Pull the Shade – Elect Tovo – Stop F1 Subsidies

Help us Pull the Shade, elect Kathie Tovo, and defeat yet another shameful tax dollar giveaway, this time to the billionaires at Formula 1.

There’s a BIG uptick in early voting in this runoff!  It IS a meaningful race with clear differences.  Here’s our take:

We’re getting into the race to Stop F1 Subsidies, Elect Kathie Tovo for Austin City Council & Help Pull the Shade!

Kathie Tovo

ChangeAustin.org proudly endorses Kathie Tovo against current Austin City Council incumbent Randi Shade in the runoff election for City Council, Place 3. Our endorsement is based on Shade’s refusal to oppose a taxpayer subsidy to Formula 1 racing and her opposition to fair geographic representation for Austin voters.   Read more here.

Wanna help us pull the Shade, tell F1 to pay its own way and to elect Tovo?

1.  Click here, print out the flier and take it to your neighbors.

2.  We’ve got tons of phone calls you can do from home — call us to help! (Need to make some extra money — call us!)

3.  Early voting locations — pass to all your friends.

Or just forward this message to help rattle the bones of Austin voterswho haven’t been voting, who were looking for a reason to!

Breaking news: This article, by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, David Cay Johnston, just hit the news about the F1′s plan to “skim” off our tax dollars.

 

Here’s Bill Aleshire at the West Austin Democrats last week on F1.  (Thanks to Todd Wroblewski for the filming.)

PS   Go here for information on polling sites. Shade’s big money supporters in Austin’s growth machine are running negative and misleading ads — tell your neighbors to pull the Shade!

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We proudly endorse Tovo, Pull the Shade, Stop F1 subsidies

ChangeAustin.org proudly endorses Kathie Tovo against current Austin City Council incumbent Randi Shade in the runoff election for City Council, Place 3 based on Shade’s refusal to oppose a taxpayer subsidy to Formula 1 racing and her opposition to fair geographic representation for Austin voters.

The endorsement acknowledges Kathie Tovo’s opposition to city subsidies for Formula 1 and her enthusiastic support for fair geographic representation (single-member districts) combined with a process that would take the redistricting process out of the hands of the Austin City Council and put it in the hands of a non-partisan redistricting commission.

ChangeAustin.org was co-founded by Brian Rodgers who fought the Domain Mall subsidies and most recently broke the story on the Austin City Council’s “round-robin” open meetings violations. Rodgers said, “It is clear to us that Council Member Shade supports subsidies for Formula 1 and can’t see past the cockeyed economic projections put forth by State Comptroller Susan Combs and the promoters and billionaire owners of Formula 1.  Spending $290 million of taxpayer money on a sports franchise in the midst of school closures and social service cuts is a despicable act of runaway government.  In addition, Shade does not support geographic representation for city council elections, even though all council members live inside the central city.  ChangeAustin members living outside the central city feel politically marooned and have shown enthusiastic support for single member districts while Councilwoman Shade has been pushing a process to keep just another version of the at-large system in place.”

In contrast, Kathie Tovo has run commercials alerting Austinites to the proposal to help divert tax dollars to Formula 1.  She also enthusiastically supports single-member districts and believes changing our current system will ensure more geographic representation on the City Council and produce more economic diversity among candidates. She believes Council races have become very costly and time-consuming, which discourages many excellent candidates from pursuing public office. She has also said she will work with the City and community stakeholders to hold a series of public hearings across the community to allow the public to decide what Austin’s new system should look like. This includes a non-partisan redistricting process to take the politics out of drawing district lines.

ChangeAustin.org has a flier they’re asking voters to circulate in their communities and on the internet which can be found here.  Live phone calls are now underway to reach thousands of Austin voters who opposed the Domain subsidies in 2008.

Linda Curtis, co-founder of ChangeAustin.org, said, “We are calling on ChangeAustin.org’s supporters to help us break through the cynicism that Austinites feel about their officials — a big reason why they’re not voting.  It will take neighbors talking to neighbors to help get folks to the polls.  We need your help to reach 12,000 of our supporters!”

Early voting starts today, June 6th and runs through Tuesday, June 14th.  Election day is Saturday, June 18th.  Polls are open 7 to 7.  Early and election day voting polls and information for Travis County and Williamson County are here.

 

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City Hall: Bringing Us Together Whether We Like It or Not!

Newly elected State Representative Paul Workman, an Austin Republican, is helping Austin voters from across the geographic and political divide call the city’s bluff on their claim to support fair geographic representation, also known as single-member districts.  HB 1175 would mandate the City to implement single member districts by May 2012, despite the Mayor’s determination to put off a vote until November 2012.

Wednesday night, the Urban Affairs Committee in the Texas House, heard testimony from one lone voice from the City, Austin City Councilwoman Sheryl Cole, the only African-American on the Council, urging a defeat of HB 1175.  Cole stated that, “we have a very specific charter provision that prohibits us from changing the form of government absent a voter election,” arguing for “local control.”

Rep. Harold Dutton, a Houston Democrat who chairs the Urban Affairs Committee, caught Cole off guard by offering to amend the bill to have the state pick up any legal costs for the City.

Luis Figueroa attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF), which has brought single-member districts to cities across Texas said, “We strongly support this legislation…The number one call that we consistently get is a cry for single-member districts from the Latino residents of Austin.”

Gavino Fernandez, Director of LULAC 12 and El Concilio in Austin said, “There is precedence for this kind of legislative intervention established by former State Senator Gonzalo Barrientos when he led passage of a bill forcing AISD to go to single-member districts back in 1991.”

Marcelo Tafoya presented a petition from LULAC councils across the state, “The city has lied time and time again.  They pledged in the last session to put it on the ballot and they did no such thing.”

Roger Borgelt, Vice-Chair of the Travis County Republican Party, pointed out that huge swaths of the City have no representation whatsoever and that, “the council has repeatedly said they are for this and want to do it.  All the bill does is give them a deadline.”

Roscoe Overton, Sr., of the Blackland neighborhood in NE Austin, who is African-American, testified that, “In 2007 they [the City of Austin] had a committee, the demographer and maps and the demographics.  They still didn’t put it on the ballot, yet 90% of people attending these meetings said they supported it.  It’s not about color, it’s about whether you have a representative – for better or for worse.”

Linda Curtis of ChangeAustin.org offered written testimony that, “We see the passage of HB 1175 as encouragement to Austin voters to push for a more rigorous plan which we may ultimately have to do ourselves by citizen petition.”

Rep. Workman wrapped up the testimony stating, “There was an agreement two years ago with Senator Wentworth [who introduced a similar bill to force the city to implement geographic representation] that the City of Austin would put this up for a vote.  They did not.” He ended with this question, “Now if you were one of 5 of the 6 members of the Austin City Council who would be out of a job if the voters passed single-member districts, would you vote to put it on the ballot?”

Peck Young, veteran Democratic political consultant now Director of Austin Community College’s Center for Public Policy in response to the Councilwoman Cole’s claim said, “Everyone knows that state law rules. But Council Member Cole did get this right – it is about local control, but maybe not her version. It’s about a local clique of downtown Democrats, and the fat cats from the Westside who are funding them, controlling local Austin voter’s opportunities.”

The hearing can be viewed on video, starting at 2:10 at: http://www.house.state.tx.us/video-audio/committee-broadcasts/committee-archives/player/?session=82&committee=480&ram=11041310480

 

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6 Dynamite Candidate Questions

Thank you for your tremendous and thoughtful responses to our request for your questions to the Austin City Council candidates.  We have sifted them down to 6 dynamite Questions for Austin Candidates 2011.  Question #1 will tell you where all the money for schools and basic city services went and continues to go so far!

Candidate’s responses come next Tuesday.  Then we’ll ask you to forward a message across the city.

We have posted a sampling of the remainder of your 2011 City Council Candidate Questions.  Sorry we couldn’t include them all!  The Austin Neighborhoods’ questionnaire answered many of these questions.  Click hereand here.

Get out to the Candidate forums, y’all.  Keep checking this site for upcoming forums:   http://councilforums.wordpress.com/.  (Thanks to Robert Singleton for doing this site.)

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Bill Aleshire on Open Records

 

">Click here to watch Bill Aleshire on Open Records:  former County Judge and local attorney Bill Aleshire gave this inspiring talk about Open Records and Open Meetings at the ChangeAustin.org meeting held on February 17th. Unfortunately, due to technical problems, this was only the first 12 minutes of Bill’s 40 minute talk with us.  Thanks Bill!

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