Making growth pay for itself!

Category Archives: News

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.)

Make 1 phone call before Thursday

Every Texas House Representative is expected to vote on House Bill 3298 — a $2 million study for a water grid (aka “Gridzilla) of pipelines across Texas — as early as Thursday.

WaterGridMapSimply make 1 phone call before Thursday, to your Texas House Member. Ask her or him to vote NO on HB 3298.

Here’s where you can find your rep.

The stated purpose of HB 3298 by its author, Rep. Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio), is to bring masses water from across Texas to the “triangle” — DFW, Austin and San Antonio — to “meet the needs of population growth”, projected out to 2040. In other words, this is to enable developers to continue building out in areas that don’t have local water supply.

The water will come from the mining of nearby rural area aquifers — Lee and Bastrop counties in our case. We will also see long opposed projects for costly and wasteful reservoirs flooding prime farm and ranch land in NE Texas. Food and timber will be sacrificed for more rooftops for the real estate lobby.

Rural and urban citizens put up a road block in the Senate last week by making 1 phone call to their Senators. Consequently, Rep. Larson is pushing the bill to the House floor as early as this Thursday.

Are you fed up with the off-loaded costs of unbridled growth (roads, public safety, schools, etc.) for all the newcomers, while you get priced out of your homes and apartments? We are!

Don’t bring the “California model” to Texas — it’s a proven disaster.

More facts on HB 3298  

Thank you Austin!

PS While you’re at it, you can also call your State Senator, just in case it gets back to the Senate.

Let’s say your city council decides to…

Do you think Mark Twain writing about the Texas Legislature?
Do you think Mark Twain was talking about the Texas Legislature?

Let’s say your city council unwisely decides to subsidize a shopping mall and you try to overturn it by petition.  The mall developer can sue to stop your petition drive under House Bill 2595, now pending in the legislature, because it hurts the mall developers private property rights if you strip away the subsidies!

In fact, House Bill 2595 kills all petition drives if someone’s private property gain is affected. This foolish bill cuts both ways. It stops citizens from enacting their own legislation if their city government is unresponsive – as long as the city can trot out someone who claims “waaaah, I’m hurt!”

The problem is that every damned thing has that potential. This is just bad policy yet it was just unanimously passed the House Urban Affairs Committee. The bill is now in the House Calendars Committee and could go to the floor of the Texas House at any moment.

ACTION REQUEST: Click here and please call Calendars Committee NOW.

  • Tell them that you oppose HB 2595. If you live in Austin, please make sure to call Rep. Eddie Rodriguez. Let Eddie know that Austin City Attorney, John Steiner, spoke against this bill.
  • Then click on each member’s name and you’ll be taken to their website where you can see their district. See if you know folks who live in those districts. Reach them and ask them to call in their opposition to HB 2595.

We can also use your hard earned dollars to run a campaign
to stop this attack on citizens petition rights.
See the donate button on the right? ===>

MORE GORY DETAILS, IF YOU REALLY WANT TO KNOW:  The only reason we can figure that HB 2595 was introduced is that it is — purely — a retribution bill by the oil and gas lobby. They are out to do great harm to the over 100 year legacy of citizens petition rights because they’re still upset about the Denton “frack ban” passed by Denton voters –who are, by the way, largely Republicans. Even despite the passage of HB 40 last week that may well undo Denton’s frack ban.

HB 2595 is a tricky little bill that says that no city can accept, certify or otherwise approve of any petition that, “would restrict the right of any person to use or access the person’s private property for economic gain.”

City of Austin Attorney, John Steiner (with whom we’ve been on opposite sides for years), to his credit, pointed out that because HB 2595 requires the city to stop petitions before a public vote, virtually guarantees that the city will be sued by someone — either the proponents or the opponents. Historically, and properly so, it is the courts that have dealt with these disputes if and when they happen after passage.

Two more examples of why HB 2595 is really bad for ALL citizens:

Example 1:

Your city council decides to use $100 million in tax dollars to support a sports stadium. Once you’ve spent enumerable hours and money getting your signatures, and then submit it to your city clerk’s office, your city council can keep it off the ballot if they believe that the property owner’s “right” to use his or her property for “economic gain” would be impeded. And, if they don’t keep it off the ballot, the property owner who feels harmed could sue the city!

Example 2: (the cake-taker)

Let’s say you want to reform eminent domain in your city to stop private entities (like a privatitized toll road vendor) from taking your property for their own economic gain. It’s a coin toss as to whose property rights trumps in this situation, eh?

Don’t let them get away with taking away our rights, as citizens, to petition and reign in our city government.

We never would have passed 10-1 without it!

Make your calls today