Making growth pay for itself!

Category Archives: Elections

Elections in Central Texas

The Score on Eckhardt v. Brown: from inside the Democratic Party

Here’s a letter from Democratic precinct chairs, a comparison from Reuben Leslie (a 20+ year Democratic Precinct and and party activist), and a fundraising report — all very instructive, in our view, on why Andy Brown should not be our next Travis County Judge:
Letter Pct Chairs Signed
FROM REUBEN LESLIE, Democratic Precinct Chair #259:

Sarah’s record

  • 14 years of public service experience, 6 years as County Commissioner for Precinct 2 and 8 years as a prosecutor and civil attorney in the Travis County Attorney’s Office.
  • Leadership roles in regional intergovernmental bodies. Adjunct professor at the UT LBJ School. Named outstanding elected public official by the American Society for Public Administration in 2013.
  • A true progressive good-government-practicing and liberal democrat with the ideas, passion and skills to engage all stakeholders and work out solutions in the public interest.
  • She is the daughter of Bob Eckhardt who was my Congressman when I was a student at Rice University in Houston.
  • Sarah, like her father, is one of those amazing public servants who take on the most difficult work and make it look not only easy but also a lot of fun. She was recognized early this year by the American Society for Public Adminstration for epitomizing ASPA’s principles, which are (in reverse order of importance):

Advance Professional Excellence; Promote Ethical Organizations; Demonstrate personal integrity; Fully Inform and Advise; Strengthen social equity; Promote democratic participation; Uphold the Constitution and the Law; and Finally, the most important principle, not only for public administrators but for elected officials and citizens too, is Advance the Public Interest:  promote the interests of the public and put service to the public above service to oneself. I know of no one else who better epitomizes these values, especially putting the public interest first.

Andy Brown’s record

  • No elected public office experience.
  • Record of ineptitude, resulting in unprecedented dissension and dysfunction during his 2 and a half terms, in conducting party business meetings in compliance with the law, something a county judge must do well.
  • Outrageous record of putting donors’ and his own personal interests above democratic process and community interests.
  • Dishonesty and delay disclosing party finance information to the governing body of the party.
  • Deliberate sabotage of democratic reform efforts. Failure to follow through on commitments and basic unfairness in committee appointments. Exclusionary cronyism, bullying, and bossism in running the party.
Travis County Democratic Party Fundraising Reports
TCDP Cash on Hand Spend Contribs
Nov-10  $130,113.00  $104,612.00  $75,392.00
Dec-10  $59,770.00  $98,919.00  $24,907.00
Jan-11  $45,307.00  $22,436.00  $7,710.00
Feb-11  $33,544.00  $25,377.00  $6,674.00
Mar-11  $36,557.00  $19,645.00  $22,299.00
Jan-12  $57,812.00  $12,984.00  $52,754.00
Feb-12  $106,666.00  $54,378.00  $66,702.00
Mar-12  $120,304.00  $12,805.00  $9,602.00
Apr-12  $114,346.00  $13,816.00  $7,298.00
May-12  $114,914.00  $21,611.00  $16,220.00
Jun-12  $127,322.00  $24,921.00  $27,755.00
Jul-12  $114,466.00  $21,417.00  $11,260.00
Aug-12  $114,549.00  $21,212.00  $17,912.00
Sep-12  $94,370.00  $38,881.00  $22,293.00
Oct-12  $127,163.00  $46,910.00  $80,679.00
Nov-12  $122,352.00  $91,599.00  $84,525.00
Dec-12  $45,052.00  $122,900.00  $48,658.00
Jan-13  $30,349.00  $25,453.00  $8,500.00
Feb-13  $25,271.00  $8,615.00  $8,778.00
Mar-13  $29,135.00  $8,273.00  $12,023.00
Apr-13  $23,858  $9,385  $3,530
May-13  $14,870  $9,797  $6,337
Jun-13  $25,086  $10,500  $20,260
Raised for TCDP Thru June 2013  $30,668.00
Raised for Andy Brown thru June 2013  $178,413.00
TCDP Spend 2012  $495,903.00
TCDP Raise 2012  $401,404.00

The Fight for Geographic Representation: Mark Your Calendars! constructed maps that pinpoint the residential location of every mayor and council member elected over the last four decades. It will tell you all you need to know about why citizen organizations, from across the spectrum, are coming together to push for a public vote on geographic representation. Read it here, share it, and consider a matching fund donation to the feisty (and hungry!) Bulldog to help counter the Statesman’s on-going efforts to stop us.

Meanwhile…please plan to join us at our next meeting of

What Citizens Must Do As the City Budget Hearings Begin Soon!

Come Find out!
Monday, August 15th, 6:30 to 8 pm
Manchaca Library, 5500 Manchaca (@Stassney)

Guest Speaker:  Bill Oakey

Bill is one of the most effective citizen activists in Texas who got the Texas legislature to enact two bills into law.  One was the over-65 freeze on school property taxes.  The other was a “truth in taxation” law, which reformed the guidelines for public hearing notices on property taxes published by all statewide taxing entities.  Currently, Bill is working on plans to address out-of-control property tax and utility rate increases in the Austin area.

For more information call us at 535-0989 or email us at

Sign the Petition/Voter Pledge – No Abusive Formula 1 Subsidies!

School $ vs Formula 1 $ . There's no money for Austin schools, yet Formula 1 is after your tax dollars. Tell Randi Shade NO! Vote for Kathie Tovo.Sign the Petition/Voter Pledge to Abusive F1 Subsidies!

The Austin City Council vote on the F1 subsidy was postponed to next Wednesday! Even if the Austin City Council manages to keep city money out of the deal (we doubt it), their vote will still trigger STATE tax dollars — at least $250 million.  Please call the Council at 974-2000 on Monday or Tuesday and simply ask them to vote NO on F1.  Or you can email them all here:  And, don’t forget to ask friends and family to do the same.  Thank you Austin!

[emailpetition id=”1″]

No time to rest on Tovo victory, Contact the council NOW – postpone the F1 vote!


Congratulations to Kathie Tovo and Austin voters. We don’t have time to rest on this victory folks!  The Austin City Council is rushing the Formula 1 vote without allowing the public to see the documents.“It’s done in a week’s time to avoid public scrutiny, and that’s exactly the opposite of what would be in the public’s interest.” Bill Spelman criticizing the 2003 rushed Domain Mall subsidy voteCity staff is playing hide-and-seek with the Formula 1 contract and economic has called Austin City Council members to postpone a vote on Formula 1 this Thursday.   The vote is only 72 hours away.  We can’t honestly tell you what and how much City money is still involved in this deal.  There’s no reason to rush a decision that would — regardless — trigger a $25MM per year for 10 years taxpayer subsidy by the state of Texas that the Comptroller continues to push.

Read our press release below.  Then please either call the Council at 974-2000 (ask for each by name, Mayor Leffingwell and Council members Martinez, Cole, Shade, Morrison, Spelman and Riley OR email them all here.

Watch the news tomorrow on Formula 1 for additional news!

Message to City Council

Postpone the Vote, Let Tovo deliberate, Respect the Voters!

Richard Viktorin, of Audits in the Public Interest in Austin, Texas, is a CPA and a former director at Texas Department of Commerce who worked in economic development. Vitktorin offered critical and well documented testimony to the Austin City Council on June 9.  Viktorin’s points were that State Comptroller Susan Combs “gamed” the numbers to justify the plan for the state to subsidize Formula 1 racing and did it in violation of the spirit of transparency in government.  Viktorin is now‘s call upon the Austin City Council to delay Thursday’s vote on Formula 1 until newly elected member, Kathie Tovo, takes her seat on the Council in late July.

Viktorin’s point is, “The public has not yet seen the F1 contract nor F1’s economic impact study which was promised no later than last week. Council may vote this Thursday to allow the City Manager to both negotiate and execute the contract with F1.  Once the city signs a deal, this will trigger $25MM per year for 10 years from the state of Texas, with the possibility of amounts much higher than $25MM going to F1 annually.  City Council is ducking the issue and passing the buck to the City Manager.  They are dodging their obligation to the citizens of Austin.  Delay the vote.   This will also respect Saturday night’s election results and allow Kathie Tovo to deliberate on this important issue.” founder, Brian Rodgers, broke the story last Spring on the City Council’s open meetings violations, one reason for Randi Shade’s defeat last Saturday.  Rodgers said, “If Formula 1 is such a good deal, surely it can withstand a thorough review by its critics.  Let’s allow Kathie Tovo a chance to deliberate on this, out of respect to the voters of Austin.”


City Hall’s Rigged

You thought the political game at City Hall was rigged, right?
Austin City Council and Mayor
Respected investigative journalist, Ken Martin, at the Austin Bulldog, has exposed the Austin City Council’s behind-closed-door meetings that have taken place  (and possible violations of the Open Meetings Act) since Kirk Watson took the helm in 1997.  The Statesman has just confirmed that the County Attorney is now investigating.  Read it and don’t just weep – read the rest of this message and take action!

Thanks to all the folks who packed it to the Alamo Drafthouse January 24th to see the film, Gerrymandering, including our somewhat “strange bedfellows” (Democrats, Republicans and those pesky independents) below who are on a shared quest for open government and fair representation.

(l to r) Rudy Williams, Gavino Fernandez, Debbie Russell, Sen. Jeff Wentworth, Chris Nielsen, Roger Borgelt & Marcelo Tafoya

Action Request!

1.  Contact your state legislators (Texas House & Senate) now! Ask them to pass Sen. Wentworth’s bill, SB 380 that would simply require a November 2011 vote of Austinites on a fair representation plan. (see bill below).  Go here to find your legislators.

2.  Contact Mayor Lee Leffingwell to tell him you want to vote on a fair representation plan this year — no foot dragging for a 2012 ballot.  (If he wants to put some other real reforms on the ballot he has ample time to do that for November 2011.)

3.  Come to our next meeting – Thursday, Feb. 3 at 6:30 pm.  The location is TBA.  Please reply to this message and let us know you’re coming – we’ll make sure to have a room large enough.

Share this message with your Austin voting friends here.  Stay tuned for more punches at and from City Hall!