Rate Hikes

Endorsing Sarah and a little truth telling on Andy Brown

We’re going to step on a few toes. We’re endorsing Sarah Eckhardt for Travis County Judge and we’re going to do a little truth telling on her opponent Andy Brown, a story which we’ve been sitting on since 2008.

This is the hottest race in Travis County and everyone knows this critical position will be decided in the Democratic primary. Moreover, we think Brown will bow to the same powerful interests donating to his campaign that seek tax subsidies, tax breaks, and special favors.Let us explain and please pardon the length of this message.

Sarah Eckhardt served 6 years on the Commissioner’s court with integrity, honesty and in the spirit of cross-partisanship. We may not agree with every vote Sarah’s ever taken – but she is not bought and paid for and she has stood firm while the rest wilted.

Watch the debate between Sarah and Andy. It’s very clear that Brown is not up to the job. He has no experience, unless you think that being a chair of a political party counts as the “experience” needed to be the chief executive of a county with an annual budget of $850 million. No matter how many times Brown says, “I’ve had 20 years experience bringing people together for progressive causes to get things done,” we remain unconvinced. (Again, watch the video on our home page, you’ll see for yourself.)

Here’s what we haven’t talked publicly about:

Brown played a particular role in defeating Proposition 2 in 2008, the effort to stop the Domain shopping mall subsidies supported by 26,000 signatures and 500 local businesses and all 4 political parties. Despite the overwhelming endorsement of the Travis County Democratic Party Executive Committee (by a 58 to 7 vote of the precinct chairs), Brown found various ways to sabotage the endorsement and prevent it from reaching the party’s enormous list of supporters. The precinct chairs had specifically asked Brown for an immediate press release of the endorsement, which he assured them would happen.


Instead, Brown stonewalled the promised press release for a month until early voting was almost over. He refused to allow Prop 2 literature at events and wouldn’t even allow a sign up with all the other endorsements at the headquarters building. Brown either participated in, or stood by and watched others create such confusion about the party’s endorsement, that many of the hundreds of volunteers that year who hit the streets and doors for Obama thought the party’s position was to defeat it. Many of these good people were at the early polls asking people to vote against Prop 2. It was defeated by just 2%.

Friends, we hope you will agree that Travis County Judge is not an entry-level position or suitable for political operatives. Next email we’re going to tell you more about where Andy’s money is coming from, so hold on to your hats.

ChangeAustin.org has our own campaign we’re running for Sarah. We’re going to run some inexpensive ads on the internet and, if we raise enough money, some sassy radio ads. If you can give, please do so!

We also encourage you volunteer directly with Sarah’s campaign — contact Sarah here. They need your help distributing literature and making phone calls — as usual!


Energy Rate Hike Hearing Thurs. – y’all come!

This just in from our Austin Energy Ratepayer Watchdog, Bill Oakey who is urging you to come to the public hearing this Thursday at City Hall at 6 pm: (you might call or email Council too, see below)

“Austin Energy’s latest “revised” proposal does nothing to reduce the utility’s spending, reduce fixed charges for residential customers, stop the shifting of costs from industrial to residential customers, and keep a rate design that rewards energy conservation and low usage.  The $22 in fixed customer charges is still in place for this year.  The 200 kWh of electricity that is included does next to nothing to soften the impact of the high charges.

And in a new and shocking twist, the new plan includes the ‘Leffingwell Subsidy,’ which provides a 6.1% discount for out-of-city ratepayers.   This would exacerbate the existing problem of Austin citizens paying for growth, instead of growth paying for itself.  And on top of that, Austin Energy just last year signed a 10 year agreement to pay a 3% franchise fee to several suburban communities served by the utility.   No other municipal utility in Texas offers an out-of-city ratepayer subsidy.  The Austin Energy service area is twice the geographic size of Austin.  Providing an electric rate discount would stifle future annexation strategies and set up a war with developers over inside versus outside Austin building plans.  It would lead to a serious erosion of our tax base.  One more nail in the coffin of unaffordability for Austinites!

Come out to the public hearing and tell Mayor Leffingwell that we reject his plan, and ask the rest of the City Council to turn it down flat.  There is some support on the City Council for a delay in the rate case to allow for better analysis of the facts and time to prepare a fair and equitable plan.  That’s what Austin Energy customers deserve.”

Here’s how you can contact the Council:

Mayor Lee Leffingwell (512) 974-2250, Lee.Leffingwell@ci.austin.tx.us

Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole (512) 974-2266, Sheryl.Cole@ci.austin.tx.us

Council Member Mike Martinez (512) 974-2264, Mike.Martinez@ci.austin.tx.us

Council Member Laura Morrison (512) 974-2258, Laura.Morrison@ci.austin.tx.us

Council Member Kathie Tovo (512) 974-2255, Kathie.Tovo@ci.austin.tx.us

Council Member Bill Spelman (512) 974-2256, Bill.Spelman@ci.austin.tx.us

Council Member Chris Riley (512) 974-2260, Chris.Riley@ci.austin.tx.us


Stop the Rate Hikes!

Are you ready to pay $25 per month to Austin Energy, before you even flip on a light switch?  Had enough!?

Show up at City Hall at 6 pm tomorrow, Thursday, January 12th and sign up against this and speak out! OR, email or, better yet, call the City Council and tell them to stop these unfair increases.  (See email and phones of Council at the bottom of this email.)

Read Bill Oakey’s article here that explains these outrageous increases.


Join us at the Martin Luther King Day Celebration 

Next Monday, Jan. 16th, anytime 10 to 4 pm.  We’ll be gathering petition signatures at the Austinites for Geographic Representation booth at Huston-Tillotson University and at the march, which begins at UT at 9 a.m. and then goes to the state Capitol.  Send us a note if you can help anytime that day.

Thursday, Jan. 19th, Charter Revision Committee meeting in north Austin at 6:30 pm at Lord’s Church of Austin, 301 W. Anderson Lane.  The focus will be on an independent redistricting commission to draw the lines for geographic districts!


Austinites for Geographic Representation meets on Saturday, January 28th, 3:30 to 5:30 pm.  Interested in attending, reply to this message or call Linda.

Thank you Austin — get up, stand up!

PO Box 42053, Austin, TX 78704* 512-535-0989, 657-2089

Mayor Lee Leffingwell (512) 974-2250, 

Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole (512) 974-2266, 

Council Member Mike Martinez (512) 974-2264,

Council Member Laura Morrison (512) 974-2258,

Council Member Kathie Tovo (512) 974-2255, 

Council Member Bill Spelman (512) 974-2256,

Council Member Chris Riley (512) 974-2260, 

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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