By Roger Baker
Just when we might have imagined that CAMPO’s history of generating developer-centered transportation planning couldn’t possibly produce a result worse than their previous plan, they have managed to pulled it off.
CAMPO has just gotten the results of its latest planning, and it predicts nightmarish peak hour congestion throughout Travis, Williamson, and Hays Counties in 2040, even if we spend $32 billion on roads and transit by then. And now this vision is likely to become Austin’s legally binding growth blueprint. How did this happen?
To review the current planning situation, CAMPO is the regional, federally sanctioned, transportation planning body for Austin and the surrounding six county metropolitan area. Every five years, CAMPO is required to come up with a new long range plan to get federal and state (mostly gas tax) money for regional road and transit projects. The new 2040 Long Range CAMPO Plan now being debated, modified, and must be approved in time to take effect in May 2015, replacing the CAMPO 2035 Long Range plan that is currently in effect.
CAMPO of course outranks the City of Austin in its bureaucratic pecking order, since it is a federally sanctioned planning body that controls the local spending of federal gas tax money. Given Congressional gridlock, and the fact that federal supervision of both the FHWA and the FTA are weak and chronically starved for money. There isn’t much federal planning supervision except that the local MPOs, the federally assigned planning bodies, have to follow the very explicit rules and deadlines in the federal code which govern the allocation of the shrinking federal money. Meanwhile TxDOT, controlled by Rick Perry’s road-centric appointees, is in a strong position to control CAMPO and other MPOs because of their control of the local allocation of Texas fuel tax revenues for roads.
See the light green area? That’s 735 acres of parkland that the City Council & Mayor are rushing to hand over to private interests for two high-end golf courses until the year 2105. It’s an area twice as big as Zilker Park and larger than Mueller.
They want to ram it thru on November 20th. Email the Mayor & Council: Hell No to the Decker Lake Golf Courses!
“A golf course closes every 48 hours in this country. Golf is dying on a limb.”
NBC Sports Anchor David Briggs
“Golf has been a crummy business for a long time,” said Paul Swinand, an analyst at Morningstar Inc. in Chicago.
Bloomberg quoted the National Golf Foundation as saying 200,000 players ages 35 and younger “abandoned the game” over the past year.
The City of Austin just bought the Grey Rock Golf Club in March for $9.8 million in Circle C and our municipal courses are running at only 35-40% capacity. Why give up precious parkland for a declining sport?
PS We helped bring you 10-1 to stop these farcical giveaways. Polls are open from 7 to 7 and you can now vote at any location!
To celebrate the start of early voting for the first time under the new 10-1 system, join us this coming Monday the 20th, from 6 to 7:30 pm, at Big Daddy’s Burgers and Bar, 9070 Research map here.
Between beers and burgers, we will entertain discussion about the candidates and how you can help ChangeAustin.org inform more voters using Facebook. Sam Davis will show us how.
We have $100 to spend on ice-tea and beer, so come early before we run outta cash.
We sparked and helped lead the battle for “10-1”.
We did it for one reason — to give Austin voters a chance to take back our city from the real estate lobby “growth machine” that is driving up the cost of living and continues to offload hundreds of millions of dollars in public infrastructure costs onto the backs of current residents to pay for all the new developments.
They can’t get people to move here fast enough, while we try to figure out how we can afford to stay here.
This ain’t about the bag ban, it’s about sacking those who have made our town just one big real estate play — at our expense!
If you think it’s worthy, please share it!
Let’s take our city back, once and for all of Austin, y’all!
Though the vote on Tuesday by the Travis County Commissioners Court was no surprise (4 to 1 for the Schwab deal), what did take us by surprise was the sleight of hand by the Court majority on the Schwab “claw back” clause. Austin media missed it too!
A claw back clause is supposed to protect the taxpayers by requiring companies who take public dollars and promise x, y and z, actually meet those promises. If they don’t, they have to give the money back.
Thanks to the due diligence of local developer, Ed Wendler, Jr., a longtime proponent of tax incentive reform, we got to see these magicians at the County in full action and they’re on tape!
Here’s how it went down.
At the beginning of the meeting, County Judge Sam Biscoe, who saw Wendler coming, asked the County Attorney, “Is the claw back clause there?” The County Attorney, dutifully answered in the affirmative. No questions asked.
In his testimony, Wendler raises the issue of the claw back stating that it’s there but it’s gutted because it’s only good for years 6 through 10. What about the first five years of the contract? It ain’t there, folks!
Then Commissioner Gerald Daugherty steps in and asks Schwab (not the County Attorney mind you), what their opinion is! What do you think they’re going to tell you, Gerald? Schwab’s response, “it’s ridiculous”.
Former Mayor Bruce Todd, who was appointed by Biscoe to temporarily fill the vacancy in Precinct 2 when Sarah Eckhardt decided to run for County Judge, completed the trick stating that the County needed to keep its word. Hmmm…where have we heard that one before?
Wendler’s most important testimony: giving these incentives in the midst of unparalleled growth is inflationary.
You warned them, Ed.
Now our only question is whether YOU, Austin voters, are ready to claw back our city!