Category Archives: Election Endorsements

Vote For Jeff Travillion For Travis County Commissioner, Precinct 1

By Bill Oakey – May 19, 2016

After studying the employment and community backgrounds and campaign commentary of Democratic candidates Jeff Travillion and Arthur Sampson, this blog recommends that voters of Travis County Precinct 1 vote for Jeff Travillion. This is a runoff election for the Democratic primary, and election day is this coming Tuesday May 24th. The winner will face a Republican opponent in the November general election, to replace retiring Commissioner Ron Davis. Voter turnout in this Tuesday’s runoff will be extremely important. So if you do not live in Precinct 1, but have contact with people who do, please feel free to share this blog link.

Vote for Jeff Travillion on Election Day, this Tuesday May 24th

Jeff-Travillion

Jeff Travillion

A Very Brief Rundown On the Candidates’ Backgrounds

In the March primary, Jeff Travillion came out in first place with 41.6% of the vote, to 18.5% for Arthur Sampson. Both candidates are well established in the community, with Travillion having worked as an administrator at several City of Austin departments, and Sampson being a retired project manager at the City’s Public Works Department. Travillion is currently a division manager in the City’s Code Department.

Where Jeff Travillion Stands On Affordability

In a recent blog interview, Mr. Travillion started the conversation by emphasizing the need to address the displacement of residents from the central core out to the outer layers of the County. He made the following comments:

“We need to build density in the transportation corridors, to justify the creation of better transportation options.”
“We need improvements in bus service. There is no bus service at all in Pflugerville, and very little bus service in Manor.”
“The outer areas of the County do not have a series of health clinics like they have in the City.”
“Half of the people moving to the outskirts of the County are not doing so by choice. They are being forced to move because of the high costs in the City.”

Throughout the discussion, Mr. Travillion stressed that there is a strong correlation between affordability and economic development. Many of the problems that he described have existed in Precinct 1 for quite a number of years. In terms of solutions, Jeff suggested that our local officials should work together to develop a Park and Ride Master Plan. This would help facilitate better opportunities for both rail and improved bus service. He also recommended the building of secure treatment centers for citizens who face mental health issues. He made a strong case that his employment experience doing problem-solving at the City level would prepare him to help deliver the needed improvements in Precinct 1.

What About the Mud and the Muck In the Runoff Campaign?

Attacks are going to happen in political races about as often as ants will get into your sandwich if you leave it near the grass too long while on a picnic. You can read about that kind of stuff elsewhere, if you are interested. My favorite quote from Jeff Travillion is a comment that he made to the Austin American-Statesman, which endorsed him in the March primary election. In the face of some strong criticism from his opponent, Mr. Travillion said of him, “He’s a great man and has had a great career. but I’ve been involved in a number of public policy areas.” That’s not exactly a ringside counter-punch or media ratings-grabber of a comment. But it’s a big part of the reason that I would vote for Jeff Travillion if I lived in Precinct 1.

To learn more about Jeff Travilliion, volunteer or make a donation, visit his website and his Facebook page.

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Musical Accompaniment for This Blog Piece:

“Pflugerville” – The Austin Lounge Lizards, 1984

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Pants On Fire – Lies, Shame And Sleepless Nights

By Bill Oakey – May 1, 2016

Back in the 1920’s, the famous humorist, Will Rogers stated that “America has the best politicians money can buy.” Here in the 21st century, we can count on that being true. Especially since the Supreme Court ruled in the Citizens United case that a corporation is a person, and that contributions to political campaigns should be considered “free speech.” Much closer to home is Austin’s May 7th Prop 1 election. The folks who run the top ridesharing companies have already dumped an obscene and breathtaking $8.1 million into their campaign so far. That amount is OVER 6 TIMES MORE than the previous record for any Austin election in history! Somebody needs to calculate how many drivers could be fingerprinted for $8.1 million and / or how much more the companies could pay their drivers.

As pointed out previously on this blog, the Pro-Prop 1 campaign has flung a whole pack of lies at the voters from the start. (Is there no shame? How do they sleep at night?) The Big Money Machine would have you believe that voting “yes” is not only as good as apple pie and motherhood, but even better. And, in keeping with the Federal court rulings allowing unlimited campaign spending, the same court system has upheld various forms of public lying. When Congress got fed up with shysters wearing fake military medals and claiming to be war heroes, they passed the Stolen Valor Act (2005). But the Supreme Court struck it down in 2012 as a violation of free speech rights. (It’s still not a good idea to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater unless the building really is on fire. But it could very well be legal).

Pants

So, without any legal remedies against bald-faced lying, we are left with one other thing. If you are reading this on Sunday, you may have been in a building where they talked about this. Check out the ninth item:

10 Commandments_M

Vote Against Prop 1 During Early Voting Or Next Saturday, May 7th. Click Here to Donate to “Our City, Our Safety, Our Choice.”

Extended Song List for This Blog Posting, “Pants On Fire – Lies, Shame and Sleepless Nights” (Beware of certain political commercials when you click on these songs)

  1. “Lies,” – The Knickerbockers, 1965
  2. “Liar, Liar” – The Castaways, 1965
  3. “Mama Didn’t Lie” – Jan Bradley, 1962
  4. “It’s the Truth Ruth” – The Big Bopper, 1959
  5. “It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie” – Somethin’ Smith & The Redheads, 1955
  6. “Lie No Better” – Delbert McClinton, 1997
  7. “Little White Lies” – Annette Hanshaw, 1930
  8. “Your Nose Is Gonna Grow” – Debbie Peters, 1962
  9. “Tossin’ & Turnin”” – Bobby Lewis, 1961
  10. “You’re The Reason” – Gerry & The Pacemakers, 1964
  11. “Another Sleepless Night” – Jimmy Clanton, 1960
  12. “Wake Me, Shake Me” – The Coasters, 1960
  13. “Musta Notta Gotta Lotta” – Joe Ely, 1990
  14. “Don’t Sleep In The Subway” – Petula Clark, 1967
  15. “Ain’t That A Shame” – Fats Domino, 1955
  16. “Shame, Shame, Shame” – Jimmy Reed, 1963
  17. “What A Shame” – The Rolling Stones, 1965
  18. “Shame On You” – Willie Nelson & Asleep At The Wheel, 2009
  19. “Shame On Me” – Bobby Bare, 1963
  20. “Lyin’ Eyes” – The Eagles, 1975
  21. “Little Lies” – Fleetwood Mac, 1987
  22. “Don’t Lie To Me” – The Rolling Stones, 1975
  23. “All Men Are Liars” (??) Nick Lowe, 1990
  24. “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” – Elvis Presley, 1960, or Al Jolson version, 1950 (One spoken line is taken from “As You Like It” by William Shakespeare. The song was written in 1926, first recorded by Charles Hart, 1927)

(The song, “All Men Are Liars” should be taken with a huge grain of salt. For something closer to the truth, listen to what this woman has to say)!

If Prop 1 Passes on May 7th, Look Out For What Comes Next!

By Bill Oakey – April 27, 2016

Austin is well-known for its highly educated work force. We have a population that reads more books than in a lot of other cities. For that reason, George Orwell would draw a good crowd at Book People if he could time travel over there in a few weeks. What’s happening now in the Prop One election campaign is like something straight out of Orwell’s classic, “Animal Farm.” My favorite line was the big message that appeared on the side of the barn one day, “All Animals Are Created Equal, But Some Are More Equal Than Others.”

You could pick any number of taglines from the deceptive Pro-Prop 1 ad campaign, and see the eerie similarities between the messaging laid out in George Orwell’s novels, and the real-life future that he predicted so well. But this time there is one big difference. You have a chance to change the ending of the story. You can get out there and VOTE AGAINST PROP 1 before it’s too late. Early voting is already underway. And in case you were wondering if this would happen…well, sure enough it did! Lyft is now offering free rides to and from the polls. Travis County officials apparently believe that it’s legal. Drivers will receive $10 credits for each ride.

Vote Against Prop 1 and Click Here to Donate to “Our City, Our Safety, Our Choice”

After my last blog piece on this subject, one commenter wondered what this issue has to do with affordability. Well, for one thing, the City estimates that running the election will cost between $500,000 and $800,000. Not only that, I scratch my head every time I read about a less- than-sober Uber rider who wakes up alive the next morning…minus upwards of $150 to $200 against his credit card for a “surge pricing” Uber tab. (Sometime next year, we can all look forward to “surge pricing” on toll roads, starting with the new lanes on North MoPac. The CTRMA calls them “managed toll lanes.” More on that at another time).

So, What Comes Next If the Voters Fall for the Misleading Ads and Vote for Prop 1?

We would have to wait two years for the next eligible time for a petition-initiated election. But just imagine what is probably already being cooked up in some conference rooms around Austin. Who knows which corporations will be first in line for the next referendum ballot. Maybe it will go something like this. The large industrial and other big business electric customers could write a new City policy for the management and control of Austin Energy. In the new policy, these corporations would hand-pick the board of directors for Austin Energy. Then they could set their own electric rates and build the least environmentally friendly power plants.

Your mailboxes, your radios and your TV’s would be filled with positive, cheerful Orwellian messages:

“Vote Yes for clean, affordable and reliable energy in Austin”

“Keep the high tech Job engine roaring in Austin. Vote Yes!”

“I want the lowest electric rates in the State of Texas. That’s why I’m voting yes.”
“I’m voting yes too, Sally. Let’s ask our friends to join us. We all need to vote yes.”
“Yes! Yes!…Ohhh…Yes!

restaurant scene from "When Harry Met Sally"

Meg Ryan in the restaurant scene from “When Harry Met Sally”

Austin’s Prop 1 Ridesharing Debate – Who’s Telling The Truth?

By Bill Oakey – April 25, 2016

With early voting already underway for the May 7th election, some of you might still be asking, “Which way should I vote?” Well, in times past I might have suggested that you keep an eye out for good information in your mailboxes. Or, you might have been able to listen to some passionate statements from former Austin officials, and have confidence that you could believe them. But not this time…not even close!

Let’s Get One Thing Out of the Way First – We Should Vote “No,” As In “Against” Prop 1

We should support the position of our current mayor, Steve Adler, who came out against Prop 1 on Monday. Mr. Adler, who has consistently pushed for compromise in the contentious battle, stated that a vote against Prop 1 would be “” The ordinance offered by Uber and Lyft in Prop One would block the City from mandating fingerprint-based background checks for at least two years. Adler called a vote for Prop One “a false choice.” Then he made this comment,

Watch Out for Your Mailboxes, Your Radios and Your TV’s

The $2 million plus special-interest ad campaign in favor of Prop 1 marks the lowest level of deceit and outright falsehoods in any Austin political campaign that we’ve seen in decades. It is well beneath our dignity and our values as a community. That alone is reason enough to vote against the proposition. To heap a mountain of false claims upon the unsuspecting voters in the manner that has been done in this campaign is simply appalling. The oft-repeated drivel consists of bogus statements like, “If Prop 1 Fails, Taxpayers Pay.” Or, “Vote for Prop 1 – Uber and Lyft Keep Paying. Vote No – Taxpayers Pay.” The truth is that the ordinance adopted by the old City Council specified that administrative fees for Uber and Lyft would be spelled out in a separate ordinance. Then they left office without passing such an ordinance. So, if the ridesharing companies were to continue paying what they are currently paying, that amount would be zero.

What About the Issue of Public Safety?

It is not true, as Prop 1 supporters have claimed, that the ridesharing companies have been operating here “without incident.” Multiple sexual assaults have occurred, which has prompted the victims’ shelter organization, SafePlace, to come out in opposition to Prop 1.

How Can We Find Out What We Are Really Voting On?

Austin American-Statesman transportation writer, Ben Wear, really distinguished himself for informative, balanced, and accurate reporting in an article over the weekend entitled, “Q&A: What Austin Voters Need to Know About the Prop 1 Election.” If you are not a subscriber, it would be well worth your while to seek out this piece and read it carefully. You can also watch the video online to the recent KUT-Radio debate over the issue. Just do a Google search for “KUT Watch our debate.” The number of sparks seen flying back and forth is almost breathtaking.

Both the Statesman and Chronicle Have Endorsed Voting Against Prop 1

Both publications make compelling and convincing arguments. But to save space in this blog piece, I will only repeat 3 brief sentences from the Austin Chronicle, “First, defy the laws. Second, rewrite the laws. Finally, buy the elections.”

What Happens to Good People Who Don’t Tell the Truth? And Is There Anything We Can Do About It?

Besides voting against Prop 1, there is something else we can do. We may wonder how they can look themselves in the mirror. Or how they can sleep at night. But, it isn’t up to us to judge other people, especially some of our political friends who have been swept up in the Pro-Prop 1 campaign. Perhaps we can all join together in a great big circle and offer support to those folks who slipped up on one of the Ten Commandments. And as we join together, we can all sing along to this fine song.

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Do it right now, using this link.

Further musical accompaniment for this blog posting (dancing is permitted):

  1. “Lies” – The Knickerbockers, 1965
  2. “It’s the Truth Ruth” – The Big Bopper, 1959
  3. “Liar, Liar” – The Castaways, 1965
  4. “Your Nose Is Gonna Grow” – Johnny Crawford, 1962
  5. “Mama Didn’t Lie” – Jan Bradley, 1962
  6. “Tossin’ and Turnin'” – Bobby Lewis, #1 song, 1961
  7. “You’re the Reason” – Bobby Edwards, 1961, or British Invasion version by Gerry & the Pacemakers, 1964
  8. “Another Sleepless Night” – Jimmy Clanton, 1960
  9. “I Never Go Around Mirrors” – Merle Haggard, 1976
  10. “Man In the Mirror” – Michael Jackson, at the Grammy Awards (remastered), 1988
  11. “It Isn’t Fair” – Sammy Kaye, featuring Don Cornell, 1950
  12. “Why Don’t You Believe Me?” – Patti Page, 1952

TV clips for your viewing pleasure:

  1. “To Tell the Truth” – Dr. Seuss appearance, 1959
  2. “Truth Or Consequences” – Daytime show debut, introducing Bob Barker, 1956

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Vote For Chantal Eldridge – A Rare Opportunity!

By Bill Oakey – February 24, 2016

If you haven’t voted yet in the Democratic primary election, be sure to keep one name in mind – Chantal Eldridge for the 450th District Court. This is one of those “under the radar” races, but it’s very important that we take this opportunity to support Chantal.

Chantal Eldridge

Chantal Eldridge

With just a few days to go before Tuesday’s election, we need to let our family, friends and neighbors know why Chantal is the best choice for the 450th District Court. She brings over 25 years of experience as a criminal defense attorney and other legal positions in California, Tennessee and here in Travis County.

Why Am I Supporting Chantal?

One of her strongest platform issues pertains to mental health. Of course her experience is broad and covers a lot of areas. But on the mental health front, Chantal explained that the County jail functions as our biggest mental health provider. She would like for that to change. A much more efficient, affordable and compassionate approach would be to implement a medication compliance program. Chantal says that Travis County should follow the successful examples in Seattle and Miami. As she explained it, “We need a voluntary program where people with mental health conditions could store their medication at a local facility. The staff at those facilities, and even group homes,  could monitor the patients’ compliance with administering their medications.”

For my previous interview with Chantal and why you should support her, see my previous blog endorsement here.

Where to Go to Learn More About Chantal

Watch her YouTube video here.

Visit her campaign website for more information and to make a donation.

This is a unique opportunity to elect a strong reform candidate to the 450th District Court.

Ignore the False, Misleading and Disappointing Negative Attacks!

In a most unfortunate development and as an act of desperation, Chantal’s opponent in the primary has sent out very negative campaign mailers in the last few days. We deserve better. As you head to the polls to cast your ballot, turn your back on these baseless attacks and stand tall with Chantal’s positive message!

Support Chantal Eldridge For 450th District Court Judge

By Bill Oakey – September 10, 2015

In case you haven’t noticed, candidates have started lining up supporters for next year’s Travis County elections. The first step will be to choose your party’s nominees in the spring primaries. In recent weeks I have come to know Chantal Eldridge, who just happens to be the best person running in the Democratic primary for the new 450th District Court Judge position. Not only have I decided to endorse her, but I am quite excited about what she has to offer.

Chantal is a reform candidate, and that’s exactly what we need. I like to describe her platform as “Smart Justice Reform.”  But first, a few words about her background. Chantal brings over 25 years of experience to her candidacy. She has spent the last ten of those years in her own law practice, representing criminal defendants here in Central Texas. Prior to that, she has enjoyed a long career in criminal, civil rights and family law cases involving children. For an extensive look at Chantal’s resume, please check out this link on her campaign website.

A Conversation With Chantal About Her Reform Goals

I sat down with Chantal to talk about her ideas for improving the criminal justice procedures. Here is a summary by topic:

Pre-Trial Release Services – “Right now someone without a permanent address is not eligible for a personal bond. This means that homeless people have to sit in jail to await trial. If they are employed, they often lose their jobs. One of the best ways to keep people out of the criminal justice system is to keep them employed. If they don’t have a permanent address, there is an assumption that they won’t show up. That is not necessarily true. I support allowing homeless people to be eligible for release on bond. As it stands, it costs $50 to $60 per day to keep them in jail, and the jail is being used as a homeless shelter.”

Mental Health Issues – “Travis County has a misdemeanor mental health docket and a mental health public defender’s office for misdemeanors. We do not have a district judge assigned to felony mental health cases. I think there needs to be a felony mental health court. We have one felony mental health prosecutor. But not all of the cases go to her court. Habitual offenders are not reviewed in terms of whether their criminal history is directly related to their mental health issues. I think those cases should be admitted onto a mental health docket.”

Medication Compliance Programs – “The biggest problem with mental health defendants is keeping them on their medications after they are released. Most people are fairly stable when they stay on their medication. But that can be difficult. Homeless people have more pressing concerns with food and shelter. And sometimes people will start feeling better and think they don’t need to stay on their meds. One Austin non-profit is experimenting with a medication compliance program on-site that could serve as a good model if it is proven successful. If it works there, then hopefully we can expand it into other organizations and agencies that work with mental health clients.”

Rehabilitation and Job Training – “When people are placed on probation or deferred adjudication, the focus needs to be on rehabilitation. These people should be evaluated to determine what their basic needs are. Most of these people are poor. They are much less likely to re-offend if we can help them become productive members of society. One area of assistance might be temporary housing. Or, we could help them get enrolled in ACC. There are also apprenticeship programs that accept people with criminal convictions. These basic needs should be given priority over risk-based programs like anger management or substance abuse classes. Right now we do not have enough attention in the court system towards addressing those needs.”

Let’s Get Behind Chantal Eldridge and Ask Our Friends to Support Her!

Please email, Facebook and Tweet this blog link to your contact lists. Chantal is a progressive voice that may not get the rubber-stamped endorsement of the Old Guard political crowd. This is a down-ballot race that would be easy to overlook. So, let’s spread the word about Chantal. We need her reform efforts working to improve the justice system in Central Texas.

You can go to her campaign website with this link. Sign up to volunteer, request a yard sign, and make a donation. Sign up for her mailing list to find out about special events. Let’s get Chantal elected in the primary!

Chantal Eldridge

Chantal Eldridge