Making growth pay for itself!

Category Archives: Open Meetings

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!

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. 

Insist on an Open Review of the City Manager

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 11.13.11 AMTomorrow and Thursday, the Austin City Council will begin discussions about the process for the performance review of City Manager Marc Ott. We must insist on an open review.

Will the City Council decide to do Ott’s performance review in Executive Session, out of the public view?

Or, will they allow YOU, as a city resident and affected party, to see and hear their deliberations on the performance of the City’s top executive?

As you know, we have been urging new management for the 10-1 Council. That will be Council’s decision.

But, will Austin – we, the people – have the open government we deserve on this important decision?

We still believe in this Council as much as we do 10-1. But withholding this process from the public, especially now, is unacceptable.

This a great test for the 10-1 Council.

It’s also a great test of YOU, dear Austin.

Contact your Council member and the Mayor. Urge them to OPEN UP THE OTT REVIEW. (For more details on the review read the 7 points below our signatures.)

Don’t know who your council member is, go here.

Mayor Steve Adler:, 512-978-2100

District 1 Councilmember Ora Houston:, 512-978-2101
District 2 Councilmember Delia Garza:  512-978-2102
District 3 Councilmember: Pio Renteria:, 512-978-2103
District 4: Councilmember Greg Casar:, 512-978-2104
District 5: Councilmember Ann Kitchen: 512-978-2105
District 6: Councilmember Don Zimmerman: 512-978-2106
District 7: Councilmember Leslie Pool:, 512-978-2107
District 8: Councilmember Ellen Troxclair:, 512-978-2108
District 9: Councilmember Kathie Tovo: 512-978-2109
District 10: Councilmember Sheri Gallo: 512-978-2110

Don’t be sheeple, that is herded, Austin.

Austin Deserves an Open Review of the City Manager

1. Hold the Council discussion with the City Manager on his evaluation in public. There is no legal reason Council cannot do that. At a minimum, if there are some truly confidential issues that need to be discussed, the Council can retire to executive session just for that, and return to the public session.

2. Require the City Manager to complete a written performance evaluation and have Council put it’s individual and collective evaluation of his performance in writing.  Make it available to the public for comment.

3. The citizens of Austin deserve a chance to review the manager of the city, a city in an affordability crisis. A time certain is guaranteed by a public hearing.

4.  Performance metrics should be tied to the outcomes laid out in Imagine Austin.

5. A major responsibility of the City Manager is to inform the council on major projects. Have the City Manager explain his performance on projects that have affected Austin’s affordability like Biomass ($2.3B), Water Treatment Plant #4 ($1B), Waller Creek, Seaholm, and just recently, Pilot Knob $100M and a host of high tech company recruitment incentives whose high paid employees have driven up housing costs dramatically.

6. The city is a $3B per-year corporation. Most corporations in America, this size or larger, routinely evaluate their chief executive officer with a 360-review. The same can be said for many public institutions including our own UT-Austin and Huston-Tillotson University. The City Manager should be reviewed by those who work under him – anonymously. Allows them to comment on his performance, just like HT and UT students do of their faculty.

7. What does the City Manager do to enhance the city’s relationship with other government entities and other civic organizations?

8. Is the City Manager providing information to the council requested of him in a timely manner for making decisions?

City Sued on Pilot Knob Open Meetings Violation

Brian Rodgers filed this lawsuit against the city yesterday for clear violations of the Texas Open Meetings art_bailing_water_from_boat_md_clrAct on Pilot Knob.

The city failed spectacularly on the Pilot Knob agenda posting in what former County Judge Bill Aleshire calls,

“One of the grossest examples of failure to give sufficient notice – when they say they’re doing zoning and buried inside is an $81 million fee transfer from a struggling utility.”

The heart and soul of the Texas Open Meeting Act meeting notice requirement is that the notice itself must “sufficiently alert the general public to the topic to be considered.”

Meanwhile, the Mayor is quadrupling down on the ‘righteousness’ of his cause by calling for $400 million to be hijacked from the Austin Water Utility while the City Manager is busy practicing “management by hindsight”.

We are fairly stunned at the magnitude of this sophomoric mess.

The Mayor and City Manager should protect, not raid, the all-important impact fees designed to plug a hole in the sinking boat of affordability in Austin.

One way or another, we will not let the Pilot Knob $106 million diversion deal stand.

Let’s see what the Council does today.

If you want to help, send the Mayor a message that you don’t agree with his senseless plan to expand the hole in the boat, nor do you appreciate the Open Meetings violation.

PS Stay tuned for City Manager Ott’s review. It’s time for him — and some other senior management people to go.

Criminal complaint filed on SH-45


Criminal Complaint

Save Our Springs Alliance filed this criminal complaint this morning concerning Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty’s alleged violations (based on Daugherty’s own sworn testimony) of the Texas Public Information and Local Government Records Act. It appears that Gerald has been withholding and destroying records, holding committee meetings without notice to the public and not even taking minutes of these meetings, related to the SH-45 project.
Also today, Statesman transportation writer Ben Wear had this piece in paper (minus the criminal complaint). This confirms we’re looking at a 2-3 minute relief in drive time for Hays County commuters and piddling relief to Brodie. That’s what your $100M investment in SH-45 (the so-called toll road over the aquifer) gets ya!
This is the lunacy and legacy of traffic “relief” brought to you by your local and state officials. They are in our humble opinion, rolling over for Hays County land speculators and developers.

If you want to do something, you can send an email/letter from this site to Keep MoPAC local, but mark our words, your best bet is to start getting ready to clean house next November in the City Council races.

Join us in Taking Back Austin! Forward this message or forever hold your peace!

Please join us in taking back our great city of Austin.  Forward this message to your Austin voting friends or send it out through your online social networks:

My friends at endorsed Kathie Tovo for Austin City Council.  Saturday, June 18th, is your last chance to vote in this runoff election.  Polls are open 7 to 7.

I am supporting Kathie Tovo because I agree with that we cannot afford another term of Randi Shade who has shown zero fiscal restraint, voting for every property tax and utility hike put before her.  Meanwhile, Council Member Shade is taking contributions from developers who who are reaping great benefits by offloading the costs of growth on to Austin residents.  And, least we forget, her contributors include the promoters of Formula 1, owned by billionaires, who are continuing to seek a taxpayer subsidy while telling us otherwise.

It’s time for a new voice on the Council — Kathie Tovo — who has already helped save the city $40M, facing down a portion of the Formula 1 giveaway.  We look forward to doing so much more with Kathie to take back our city and the taxpayer dollars needed for basic city services.

Find your poll site here.