Austin

KUT FM reports on Tax Protest Workshops

Listen to the report from KUT FM about how the community is coming together in workshops offered by Change Austin to help people learn how to protest their Travis County tax appraisals.

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Come Ye Austinites to Opal’s! Sat, Mar 27, 3-4 pm

Come ye Austinites to fill out a survey by the City on YOUR vision for Austin!

Comprehensive Plan – Imagine Austin
Saturday, March 27th, 3:00 – 4:00 pm*
Opal Divine’s on South Congress
3601 S. Congress, just north of Ben White

Yes, it’s called the Comprehensive Plan (Imagine Austin). It will serve as a guide to area officials for the next 40 years!

Here are the City’s questions and our translation:

City Speak:

What are the best things about Austin that need to be protected and carried forward?

ChangeAustin translation:

What cherished Austin values can be threatened to extort more tax money from us to subsidize more public infrastructure on behalf of the growth lobby? (Remember they want to double our area population in 16 years!)

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What Now After the Protest?

Thanks to all who protested with us last week at City Hall.

It took us a few days to think about our next steps.

Thanks to SouthernShift.com, you can watch this wonderful 5″ video on “Travis County’s Dirty Little Secret” on the residential property tax inequity that is driving Austinites out of their homes.

We love you KXAN!  Scroll down this page to watch the 2.5 minute piece they did that helped us reach thousands.

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Losers & Winners Unite!

Chuck Young (left), Carole Keeton Strayhorn and Wes Benedict

Thank you Carole for running.  Had you not, Lee and Brewster would not have been forced to explain their votes on the outrageous no bid $2.3 billion biomass deal, show serious support for local businesses or acknowledge the need for a more open City Hall.

Thank you to all our friends who worked on this campaign.  A very special thanks are due to Chuck Young (who came to us from the Ron Paul movement), longtime Libertarian Wes Benedict, Democratic activist Kathleen Green, Republican activist Dan McDonald, our data base guru Chris Hauboltd and the many Carole supporters from across Austin’s political spectrum.

We all knew that Leffingwell was likely to win this race.  We wish him and the new Council well.  His increasing commitment to locally owned business in the final weeks of the campaign was encouraging, and we know there remains much to be done.  

Thank you to Perla Cavazos & Sam Osemene for taking forward our cause.  Congrats to the winners we supported – Martinez and Spellman.  Congrats to Chris Riley & Sheryl Cole.  We look forward to working with you all.

We will be watching and participating!  (The Statesman piece yesterday made clear that Brewster will have to drop out or lose the runoff, but we’ll leave that decision to him and his supporters.)

We would be remiss if we didn’t thank the Austin Chronicle who has taken to repeatedly attacking us in their pages and not printing our responses.  Below is a letter to the editor that they failed to print last week from our own Brian Rodgers.  

PS Contrary to what you’re reading in the Chronicle, three of the founders of ChangeAustin.org (Brian Rodgers, Linda Curtis and Albert Marino) are not Libertarians.  We are all longtime independent minded progressives.  Brian and Linda supported President Obama, much to the consternation of our libertarian friends.

LOSERS and WINNERS UNITE! It’s better to be attacked than to be ignored.

Watch for a meeting soon or chat with us at the end of this article.

Dear Editor:

Wells Dunbar’s May 1st Hustle wrongly claims Carole Strayhorn as the mayor who “bought Austin into that mother of all boondoggles, the South Texas Nuclear Project”. But it was Austin voters who approved the STNP in 1973 during Mayor Roy Butler’s term and Austin voters who approved the issuance of additional nuke bonds in 1979 during Carole’s term. 

Dunbar belittles ChangeAustin’s struggle against RECA and the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce at the Texas legislature to keep petition signature requirements accessible, not just for Austinites, but for all 346 Home Rule Texas cities who enjoy that same right to petition their government that Dunbar dismisses. Dunbar’s fictional account of a Capitol rally and his no-nothing accounting that “the bill has already died an ignominious death in committee” lays bare reckless reporting and lazy sourcing reminiscent of the fictional Baltimore Sun character Scott Templeton on HBO’s ‘The Wire’ who concocted news stories and faked phones messages because he was too lazy and dim to do the serious work of investigation. 

Perhaps most pathetically, Dunbar characterizes Texans for Accountable Government (TAG) as a “faux” organization despite TAG’s raucous and righteous fight against Police Chief Acevedo’s Orwellian plan to collect and compile DNA from anyone arrested for a Class B misdemeanor or higher – such crimes as obstructing a sidewalk or stealing $1 worth of cable TV. TAG sponsored the overflow public forum on forced blood withdrawal by Austin police held on March 30th at City Hall and attended by over 200 civil rights advocates.

At ChangeAustin, we’re tackling serious issues affecting all citizens, and our members believe Carole is the best pick for mayor to address them. Calling our group ‘increasingly loony-libertarian’ is a feeble hustle exposed by Dunbar’s faux and flimsy reporting.
  

Brian Rodgers, ChangeAustin.org

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Our Radio Ad-Show These Dudes the Door!

Check out our radio spot-Show These Dudes the Door!
Two generous donors have pledged a total of $2500 to get this ad on KLBJ, 
but only if you help us raise the additional $2500.  
In other words, they will match whatever you give dollar for dollar.

Help us run this on KLBJ.
Donate!

Can’t contribute money, but wanna help?
We need help now through May 9th answering our busy phones.  
Call us or email us right away!

Early Voting is now through next Tuesday, May 5th! (polls here)
Volunteers Needed Now thru election day, May 9th! (polls here)
 get some fliers and give ‘em out (see below or we’ll get you copies)
*  come to our office and help answer the phones
 and please and invite folks to our Facebook page!

Watch the videos & Vote the Entire ChangeAustin.org Slate!
Carole Keeton Strayhorn for Mayor
Perla Cavazos, Place 1
Mike Martinez, Place 2
Bill Spelman, Place 5
Sam Osemene, Place 6

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City Council & Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire

Below is the questionnaire we used at our recent Mayoral and City Council candidate forum on March 14 and with virtually all the candidates running for Austin Mayor (Buttross, Ingalls, Leffingwell, McCracken, and Strayhorn) and City Council Candidates (Cavazos, Code, Martinez, Osemene, Quintero, Riley and Spelman).  Thanks to all the candidates who subjected themselves to our questions!  Be sure to watch the videos here, then come back and post a comment about any of the candidates.  Be nice and direct please.

ChangeAustin.org Candidate Questionnaire

1.  RECA, the Real Estate Council of Austin – who fought against Proposition 2 last fall with $56,000 in contributions to Keep Austin’s Word – is now at the State Capitol pushing a bill with Senator Wentworth to double the signature requirement from 5% to 10% of the registered voters to put a proposition on the ballot to amend the city charter.   If SB 690 passes, the new figure of raw signatures needed for Austin would be over 56,000.  Because petitioning is not allowed at grocery stores, malls, shopping centers, post offices, or anywhere else people gather – except dog parks – this RECA effort will effectively kill citizen sponsored initiatives in Austin and in ALL 346 Texas Home Rule cities – a right that has been in place for decades. Only big money and corporations will then be able to afford the greater hurdle. 

a. Will you go on record opposing Senate Bill 690?

b. Will you also commit to lowering the Ordinance petition requirements for initiatives from 10% to 5% by placing a council sponsored charter amendment on the next permissible municipal election? 

2.  Citizens feel that major financial decisions are finalized in the back rooms of city hall and trotted out to the public only as a formality with little transparency and no meaningful public input.  Particularly disturbing was Council’s hurried unanimous decision last August to pass a no bid, 20 year, $2.3 billion contract to purchase electricity from a bio mass generating plant in Nacogdoches.  City staff said we must hurry and sign because the equipment prices were good only through August. BUY NOW BEFORE PRICES GO UP!  (…of course, a week later prices plummeted as the economy began to collapse…)

a. Will you commit to STOP doing NO-Bid deals?

b. Will you commit to giving the public all of the information at least 60 days before making a decision, and give us two public hearings prior to a vote?

3.  Developers build their developments and new subdivisions, take their profits, and leave Austin taxpayers the bill to pay for new roads, schools, utilities, and municipal facilities. New growth and development in Austin should pay its own way instead of shifting that burden to Austin’s taxpayers. Texas law allows cities to collect road impact fees from developers.  Ft. Worth collects a $2,000 road impact fee per new home while Austin collects nothing, leaving those costs to the rest of us.

Will you support the adoption of a road impact fees that represent the “full and fair” cost?

4. Dollar for dollar, locally owned business provide far more jobs, far more tax revenue, far more income and wealth effects, far more entrepreneurship and charitable contributions, a better boost for tourism and smart growth – and a whole mess of benefits that outside companies cannot begin to give.

Will you support an ordinance to require all bidders for city goods and services to quantify the locally owned or locally sourced material and labor components of their bids so that city staff can compare each bid’s true economic value to the community? 

5.  Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo signed on to the Major Cities Legislative Agenda which allows forced blood withdrawal for DWI suspects who refuse a breathalyzer,  and for DNA collection from ALL suspects arrested for Class B misdemeanor or higher – including possession of one joint.  Do you agree with Chief Acevedo’s plans for Austin or will you put a stop to this invasion of our bodies by government?

Additional Question

What is your point of view towards single member districts?

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Welcome to ChangeAustin.org

On November 4, 2008, despite a $400,000 misleading ad bombing campaign fueled by one of the world’s largest corporations and a who’s who of Austin’s growth industry, 123,209 Austin voters (48%) voted for Proposition 2 to stop the Domain luxury mall subsidies. People had different reasons for voting for Prop 2 but the common refrain was:  ”We want our city back!”

On May 9 Austin voters will have an opportunity to elect 5 out of 7 new council members, including the Mayor, who will more honestly represent Austin’s voters and small businesses.

Last November Prop 2 garnered three times the number of votes needed to win the upcoming May election by a landslide.  Austin needs a new direction.  Let’s make it happen!

Join us by pledging your vote, your time and your financial support to elect a new City Council and Mayor who will:

1. Commit to full transparency and greater public oversight of decisions with far reaching fiscal implications.

2. Champion locally owned businesses and fight to keep our dollars from leaving the community.

3. Require that development growth pays for itself and make those who benefit bear the costs.

4. Develop a publicly supported plan for our region’s transportation needs.

5. Protect the rights of citizens to petition city government, guaranteed by our City Charter and state constitution.

Start by becoming a member &
signing our voter pledge now!

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