Category Archives: Election Endorsements

Linda Guerrero Supports Major Reforms At City Hall

By Bill Oakey, November 3, 2022

This is Part 2 of this blog’s endorsement of Linda Guerrero for City Council, District 9. In my interview with her, I learned that she wants to fix many of the longstanding problems at City Hall. She supports reforms that some of us have been clamoring for, as far back as the 1980’s.

Linda’s Reform Agenda Starts With Public Engagement

i asked Linda how she felt about public engagement at City Council meetings. Did she support much better clarity on when the public can expect to be heard at public hearings. And would she reform the chaos that keeps people in wheelchairs and parents with small children outside, waiting for hours to speak on an agenda item. Her response was crystal clear. “Absolutely. I am one of those people!” She has been there, done that, and she’s ready for a change. She supports the Austin Neighborhood Council’s recent public engagement resolution. And, she is interested in my City Council public engagement proposal, that was endorsed by the American-Statesman editorial board on January 29, 1988. That proposal will see its 35th anniversary, shortly after Linda is sworn in, if we can get her elected. Linda also told me that she wants to see more opportunities for citizens to speak to the Council, from the comfort of their homes over Zoom.

Transparency Is a Cornerstone of Linda’s Reform Plans

Lack of transparency is a persistent, nagging problem at City Hall. The City has been dragged into court, only to lose, on more than one occasion, for not complying with all the requirements for posting agenda items and providing proper backup materials. Citizens are often given vague or fuzzy answers to public information requests, and are often met with frustrating delays. We long for the good old days, when every mailing envelope from City Hall carried the slogan, “Austin, the Friendly City.” Linda has seen transparency issues, while serving on several City Boards and Commissions. She told me that she would like to see much better transparency at all levels of the City administration.

We Can Count On Linda to Hold City Officials Accountable

Most City employees are genuinely passionate about their jobs, and they  try to do their very best to help the City Council and the public. But it’s in the nature of a bureaucracy for things to slip through the cracks. City resolutions often carry requirements for things to be done by a specified date. Unfortunately, there is no system in place for citizens to easily find previously passed ordinances and resolutions.

In the worst case scenario, citizens will triumphantly depart City Council Chambers, after getting a hard-fought resolution passed. Let’s call it Resolution X. Then, a year or two later, the same problem that prompted Resolution X pops up again. The City Council approves an action that was supposed to be forbidden under that resolution. Why? Because the resolution was never officially acted upon, or else its existence was forgotten. There is no reliable tracking or enforcement system. In the absence of organization, disorganization prevails.

In 2015, I wrote a blog piece called, What Happens When “The City Manager Is Directed To,” And He Doesn’t? Those explicitly worded directives are printed on many resolutions, and they “must be” carried out by a certain prescribed deadline. But if that date comes and goes, and no response ever comes, does anybody at City Hall remember it and follow up? Well, sometimes…or…sometimes maybe not. That little thing called politics can get in the way. Or else it can simply happen as a result of disorganization. Either way, Linda told me that she wants to see ordinances and resolutions better cataloged, and have tracking and enforcement measures put in place for those funny, familiar, forgotten directives.

Linda is aware that some of these reforms will come with a price tag. Staff time would be required to carry them out. And, of course, she would need majority votes on the City Council to get them adopted. But a nice slice of hope is much better than the status quo. Midnight should be a time for hoot owls and prowling coyotes. Citizens should not be expected to join them on their way home, after endless hours of waiting at City Hall. That’s the way I felt about it, back in 1988. Maybe Linda can finally fix it in 2023.

Senior Discounts – Linda Can Deliver Real Affordability Relief!

Linda won’t be sitting around at City Hall, wondering what to do. She is ready to hit the ground running. She likes my proposal for a broad range of senior discounts, on various City and City-related services. It’s too soon for her to know which ones are the most feasible, and what the budgetary impact might be. But she assured me that she wants to explore this exciting opportunity to help older folks, living on fixed incomes. Bravo for Linda! She will stand by us, if we can put her on the dais! Click here to read Part 1 of my endorsement, and see links to volunteer and donate.

A Closing Poem

If you have any friends who are District 9 voters
Give them some news that will rev up their motors
Tell them that Linda is the candidate of choice
She is the one who will lift up their voice

We need a problem-solver who will get things done
Your pitch for Linda will deliver a home run
For transparency, accountability and public engagement
It’s well worth your time to pound the pavement

As the campaign winds down in the final days
We must support Linda in all kinds of ways
Imagine what she could do for City Hall
With long-overdue reforms for once and for all!

A Very Dated and Hilarious 1943 Chamber of Commerce Video

”Austin, the Friendly City” – The fun starts after the opening roll of  scrolling inscriptions.

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Linda Guerrero Is The Affordability Candidate For District 9

By Bill Oakey – October 21, 2022

The first time that I spoke with Linda Guerrero, one thing stood out right away. Everything she says comes straight from the heart. She’s as down to earth as they come. Her values are the Austin values that so many of us remember and cherish, and want to hold onto. Those values, like family-friendly, affordable park events, sensible neighborhood and environmental protections, and our quality of life now face daunting threats and challenges.

Kathie Tovo has been our strongest and smartest advocate for many years in District 9. Now, her vacant seat is up for grabs. It is a seat that powerful, big-money special interests would love to take over. We simply can’t let that happen! Having Linda Guerrero down at City Hall would be like having your favorite neighbor or best friend as a City leader. There would be no invisible wall between you and her, when you sit down in her office. With typical politicians, you can walk out of a meeting, and never quite know what to expect or believe. People who have known and worked with Linda throughout her many years of public service will tell you that her passion for Austin is real. We need to do whatever it takes to get her elected. This blog enthusiastically endorses her, and you should too.

Linda Guerrero – The District 9 Affordability Candidate

Linda’s Background Is Hard to Beat

We don’t need a new Council Member who arrived a couple of years ago, and suddenly decided to run. With Linda, we’ll be getting a lifelong Austinite with a stellar record of public service. Here’s her list of distinguished accomplishments:

Chair, Austin Environmental Commission
Chair, Austin Parks Board
Co-Chair, I-35 Coalition
Member, City Bond Oversight Commission
Vice Chair, Austin Downtown Commission
Executive Officer, Hancock Neighborhood Assn.
Member, South Central Waterfront Overlay Commission
School Teacher (28 years), AISD

Linda is the daughter of Roy G, Guerrero, a longtime employee at Austin Parks and Recreation, with a long list of honored accomplishments. You can visit the 363 acre South Austin park that was named after him. Linda certainly takes after her dad, and then some. So, you might be wondering, where does she stand on affordability?

Linda Is Ready to Turn Affordability From Words Into Action

I looked up the 2023 Austin City Budget and did a document search for the word, “affordability.” The results showed 1000+ occurrences. It has become one of the most popular buzzwords at City Hall these days. But, there is one big problem – Where are the concrete plans to make Austin more affordable? The Budget certainly doesn’t offer a clue. Taxes, fees and utility bills are soaring to record levels. Inflation is at a 40 year high. Rents and property taxes are unbearable. Who has offered any sort of comprehensive plan for affordability?

Linda takes affordability seriously, and recognizes the need to address it head-on. She understands that long term residents are some of the hardest hit. We are the ones who paid our taxes, worked hard at our jobs, and volunteered, to give Austin the prized quality of life that makes it so special. And yet, we see our neighborhoods being turned into destination opportunities for big investors, from California and New York, to Dubai and beyond. Unless the City brings a balance of diversity to the table, we could see neighborhoods filled with nothing but wealthy residents, no on-site parking, and little to no drainage protections for surrounding areas.

Linda embraces the study, published in the journal, “Urban Studies” that debunks the myth about high density neighborhood development. Instead of making housing more affordable, the data shows that it only makes housing more expensive in desirable areas. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Austin developers would simply build more luxury units per lot, if the gates were thrown open for higher density. All you have to do is try a Google search for phrases such as, “high density more affordable,” “high density affordable housing.” or “missing middle housing more affordable,” etc. You won’t find a single example on our particular planet. You can read about the study in this Bloomberg article. And download the study by Googling it.

Linda believes in practical, pragmatic solutions. She wants to work with all sides, to approach the complex issues with diligence and fairness. She has a proven record of doing exactly that. In terms of affordability, she told me that she is open to considering senior discounts for some City services. She would like to see more family-friendly, affordable events at Austin parks. Too often we see park events designed for VIP’s, with elitist, Cadillac prices. That’s fine for the tech engineers and startup founders, who can afford to casually tap out those payments on their phones. But what about the rest of us?

I get choked up when I mourn the loss of the wonderful, free Zilker Garden Festival that was held every year. Community non-profits gathered on the grounds to sell plants and flowers. Did you notice that I used the word, “community?” Austin has lost a lot of its old fashioned community spirit. Linda has not forgotten that spirit. It is big part of the fabric of her being.

in 2014, I wrote an op-ed for the American-Statesman on affordability. I recommended that the City appoint a formal group of representatives from the various taxing entities, to meet and formulate an affordability action plan. Later that year, the Regional Affordability Committee was created. In 2016, they produced a draft of an official Affordability Strategic Plan.

It stayed in draft form through March 2020, when the pandemic hit. Then, the regular meetings of the committee came to a screeching halt. Ever since then, both the committee and the strategic plan have been tucked away in the virtual equivalent of mothballs. Linda has told me that she would like to bring the strategic plan out of hibernation. That would be a very tall order for sure. I would be pleased if the City Council put it on the agenda, and identified certain initiatives that could be formally adopted and put into action. Take a look at this one:

Initiative 3: Government Efficiency

The committee members saw the possible opportunity to improve collaboration between government jurisdictions with a discussion on perhaps eliminating duplication in services between agencies for potential cost savings. With that in mind the Committee identified the following outcome.

Outcome 1: Identify all Costs for Residents (Taxes, Bills, & Fees) and calculate cumulative impact on affordability

● Strategies:

  1. Identify all costs for residents (taxes, bills and fees).
  2. Calculate cumulative impact on affordability.
  3. Establish a Cumulative Affordability Goal that identifies cost-reduction
    opportunities by consolidating services, contracts, and/or benefits.

Objective: Develop a consolidated list that identifies possible cost-reduction opportunities; for example in facilities maintenance contracts, healthcare services, public safety services and capital projects.

Can Affordability Be Ripped Away From Theoretical Hyperbole, and Thrust Into the Amazing Realm of Actual Reality?

I recommend that we work like hell to elect Linda Guerrero, and give her a chance to try! You can go to her website and sign up to volunteer. And go to this link to make a donation. Linda checks all the other boxes that neighborhood and environmental progressives want, to replace the incomparable Kathie Tovo. If you live in District 9, send in your mail-in ballot, if you haven’t already. Or vote early, starting on Monday. Contact your neighbors, fellow workers, friends and social media outlets. Let’s carry Linda over the threshold and into a magnificent victory!

A Poem for Linda

The special interests have lots of gall
They dominate the dealings at City Hall
Now we have a chance to blunt their rambling
Linda Guerrero will send them scrambling

We have ideas that we’d like to discuss
And we can count on Linda to fight for us
Her practical approach will help with mobility
And, wow, she’s a champion for affordability!

Like a scientist who gets high on quasars and quarks
Linda is passionate about our parks
They’ve become a cash enterprise for entrepreneurs
Linda wants more of them to be mine and yours

Developers ask for too much high density
Linda wants to slow down that propensity
Would it make housing affordable? Well, probably not
They would just build more luxury units per lot

Before they’re given a neighborhood to trample
Let’s ask for some proof, with a concrete example
If there’s a place on earth where that myth is reality
Let’s try out their model with impartiality

Until then, you can hardly blame the skeptics
Linda will insist on hard facts and metrics
We’re all going to miss our loyal Kathie Tovo
The best one to replace her is Linda Guerrero!

A Fun Song for Linda

“Linda” –  Jan & Dean, 1963. Originally recorded by Ray Noble in 1946

Don’t Forget to Vote – Here’s A Quick Guide

By Bill Oakey – February 22, 2022

Early voting is still underway
So get prepared before the last day
The first thing to do once your pen is handy
Remind yourself to vote for Brandy

Brandy Mueller deserves our support
For the 403rd District Court
Her Project Engage is such a wonderful success
That we should settle for nothing less

Now that that one’s out of the way
Let’s move on to Brigid Shea
Why send Brigid into retirement
When she’s done so much to protect the environment?
To challenge Brigid seems really strange
Look at her record on climate change

Don’t let me forget that other strong gal
Of course, I’m referring to my good friend, Chantal
Chantal Eldridge should be our selection
For District 331 Court re-election
I’ve seen all those papers spread out on her table
Her experience and compassion prove that she’s able

Now for the matter of Lloyd Doggett for Congress
I cannot imagine who better could serve us
To lose him now would be a doggone pity
We need him on the Appropriations Committee

His challenger is young, feisty and hardy
She is the future of the Democratic Party
But there is no need to fill a void
So I recommend that we stick with Lloyd

You are welcome to share this advice with your friends
We need to keep working till the voting ends!

Kathie Tovo For Austin Mayor – Wouldn’t It Be Great!

By Bill Oakey – January 18, 2022

Is your voice being heard at City Hall? If it isn’t, there’s a pretty simple reason. The special interests are the ones with all the connections. While you and your family are busy out working, the Big Money lobbyists and their cronies are always lurking at City Hall. Some are arrogant and some are real friendly. But their concern for you doesn’t add up to diddley.

So, many of us are wishing and hoping that Kathy Tovo will run for Mayor. Word has it that she is very close to a decision. If she doesn’t want it, we really can’t force her…

But if she does, I’m ready to endorse her!

Kathie Tovo

With Kathie Tovo in the Mayor’s chair, we could finally start chip-chipping away at that big thick wall that separates us regular folks from the insiders at City Hall. So, if she decides to run, what would you want her to include in her campaign platform? Let’s start thinking about that, just in case. I would propose some ideas on affordability. Then I would work with her office staff, and urge them to launch a couple of big initiatives right away. All I need is for her campaign to give me the word and start me up!

How Tough Would It Be To Get Her Elected?

This probably wouldn’t be an easy race for us to win. Every square inch of our City that hasn’t been nailed down is up for sale to the highest bidder. It’s too late to bring back the unique hometown ambiance and funky weirdness that helped the marketers lure more people here. The new Austin is still a wonderful place, but it’s fraught with many challenges. Not all of us drive Teslas and toss away $25 to $50 a pop to park at a soccer stadium. Some of us care more about a tasty down home meal than an overpriced joint with a fancy chef from Paris or Milan. Kathie Tovo is our strongest voice at City Hall. Don’t get me wrong, though. She has proven that she can bring all sides together and reach consensus on reasonable solutions to big, contentious issues.

So, if Kathie runs, how can we help her win?

In a nutshell, it’s up to you. We have elected grassroots candidates for Mayor before. But it’s a lot of hard work. You and your friends and their friends would all need to pitch in and help. If Kathy Tovo ran and won, she would be our first woman elected Mayor since the election of 1981. That was 41 years ago! Kathy supports the current development code requirement that neighborhoods must be notified in advance on proposed zoning changes. She can be counted on to work out a plan that allows more density in some areas, but not nearly as threatening to as many existing neighborhoods as what’s in the latest draft of the revised code.

Kathie did not vote to slash the police budget. As part of the City Council majority, she approved streamlining the operations, with much better handling of mental health related cases, and a whole host of other impressive reforms. The lack of officers on the job is largely caused by a backlog of new hires needing to complete the cadet training classes. The revisions to the cadet training program, which led to some delays, will pay off in the long run with much better protocols and safer outcomes during arrests. We need to share that message widely.

Here’s the Final Big Question…

Trustworthy grassroots candidates for Mayor with an amazing staff of experienced, knowledgable and responsive people are hard to come by. We might have to wait a million years for the next opportunity. So, if she runs here’s the big question. Can compassionate Austinites unite to support a proven leader who feels strongly about bringing people together to solve problems, and help heal our economic divide? I believe there’s a song that answers it – Yes, we can…can!

Musical Accompaniment for This Blog Posting

  1. “Wouldn’t it Be Great” – Loretta Lynn, title song from her 2018 album, recorded at age 85
  2. “Wishin’ and Hopin'” – Dusty Springfield, 1964, written by Hal David & Burt Bacharach
  3. “Chip Chip” – Gene McDaniels, 1962
  4. “Start Me Up” – The Rolling Stones, 1981
  5. “It’s Too Late” – Carole King, 1971, from her 13X platinum album, “Tapestry”
  6. “It’s Up to You” – Ricky Nelson, 1962
  7. “I’d Wait a Million Years” – The Grass Roots, 1969
  8. “Yes We Can Can” – The Pointer Sisters, 1973, their first hit single. Listen joyously to the positive, unifying message in the lyrics! It fits so well today that it could have been written yesterday. it was written by the legendary New Orleans pianist, singer, songwriter and producer, Allen Toussaint.

Lyrics – Yes We Can Can

Now’s the time for all good men
To get together with one another.
We got to iron out our problems
And iron out our quarrels
And try to live as brothers.
And try to find peace within
Without stepping on one another.

And do respect the women of the world.
Remember you all have mothers.
We got to make this land a better land
Than the world in which we live.
And we got to help each man be a better man
With the kindness that we give.
I know we can make it.
I know darn well we can work it out.

Oh yes we can, I know we can can
Yes we can can, why can’t we?
If we wanna get together, we can work it out.
And we gotta take care of all the children,
The little children of the world.
‘Cause they’re our strongest hope for the future,
The little bitty boys and girls.

We got to make this land a better land
Than the world in which we live.
And we got to help each man be a better man
With the kindness that we give.
I know we can make it.
I know darn well we can work it out.
Oh yes we can, I know we can can
Yes we can can, why can’t we?
If we wanna, yes we can can.

Run, Run, Run From The “Strong Mayor” Deception!

By Bill Oakey – April 9, 2021

Let’s keep this simple. What is a “strong mayor?” It is a local oligarch who has so much power, that he or she could veto almost anything that the rest of your elected City Council tries to do. Like so many things in politics and life, it comes down to simple numbers. Right now, we have 11 equal Council members, including the Mayor. It takes 6 votes to pass an ordinance. If you support protecting neighborhoods and other progressive issues, you can fight for or against any proposed ordinance and win, by convincing 6 Council members.

But Under a Strong Mayor, You Would Need 7 Votes to Override the Mayor’s Veto

Please understand that it takes two-thirds of the Council members to override a strong mayor’s veto. We are taking about two-thirds of 10, because the Strong Mayor does not participate in the override votes. Two-thirds of 10 rounds off to 7. So, now your neighborhood association or progressive organization suddenly faces a much steeper hill. You would need to secure 7 votes instead of 6 for every critical issue. And get this…The Strong Mayor doesn’t even have to attend the City Council meetings! He or she could fire any City department heads, and hire a band of personal cronies. Don’t bring The Swamp to Austin!

Don’t Be Fooled By the Smooth Talk and Hype – A Strong Mayor System Would Benefit the Special Interests, Not You!

It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out who must be backing this so-called “progressive reform.” The Big Money special interests would like to install your next mayor. So, vote No. And while you are at it, vote against their entire package of propositions. We don’t need to change any of our current election standards. What we do need is better transparency, tougher ethics policies and more accountability for some of the missteps under our Council-Manager system. Those are reforms worth fighting for.

Prop F Gets an F From Austin’s Real Progressives! Vote Early, Starting Monday April 19th – Click Here for Polling Locations

This will be a low turnout election. Please share this blog link with as many people as possible.

Yes, there Is a “strong mayor” song, and the messenger is literally Strong:

1. “Money (That’s What I Want)” – By Barrett Strong. He was the first artist signed to a Motown label, and this was a #2 R&B hit in 1960.
2. “Money (That’s What I Want)” – By the Beatles, from their second album

Vote Against Proposition A, But For Props J And K

By Bill Oakey, November 1, 2018

It has been a long while since I updated this blog. But I wanted to get the word out about the propositions on the ballot. There is one day left for early voting, and if you miss that, be sure to vote on Tuesday.

Vote Against A Quarter Billion Dollars For Affordable Housing!

The City Council really went over the edge on this one. Remember when affordable housing bonds were in the $50 to $75 million range? Or at the most, not much over $100 million? If this quarter-billion bonanza passes, you can be sure that it will become the new standard. If it doesn’t, then it would be going even higher! We simply cannot afford to allow that kind of precedent to get started.

I don’t even know what the City Council was thinking! We had a $720 million mobility bond election in 2016. Then, just last year AISD hit us over the head with $1 billion in bonds. And they did that during a period of rapid declines in enrollment. It’s as if our local officials have decided that money is no longer an issue for taxpayers. We all have so much money, that we hardly know what to do with it. If that’s the case, I wish somebody would show me what rock to look under to find my extra pile of cash.

Here’s the problem with spending a quarter-billion on affordable housing. The City has tried for years to set up “density bonus” programs and so-called Smart Housing initiatives. But none of them have ever been very successful. So, now it appears that they have simply thrown in the towel. Just let the taxpayers pay for it. We need to encourage all of our family and friends to reject that notion with an exuberant, resounding NO vote on Proposition A.

Vote Yes on Prop J – Let the Public Decide on Our Next Major Building Code

The whole CodeNext debacle was a developer-led effort to turn Austin into San Francisco or Portland. It stands as one of the most colossal boondoggles in the City’s history. Across the city, various groups of citizens spent weeks, months and years hovered over maps and charts as they worked with City officials to develop their individual neighborhood plans. The developers made no secret of the fact that they wanted CodeNext to completely obliterate those neighbored plans.

The hodgepodge of a report that finally emerged from CodeNext was so confusing and marred by lack of trust, that the City Council abandoned it in time to keep it from ruining some of their re-election plans. This was unquestionably the fact with our mayor. There is also little doubt that whatever the City Staff does with CodeNext, it will probably come back to the Council as merely an attempt to dress up what the consultants tried to foist upon us to begin with.

Our best solution is to vote for Prop J, to require voter approval of all major updates to the Land Development Code. This would ensure that the City Council recognizes that it isn’t just the real estate industry and the developers who matter when it comes to such a major change. It is the well-being of current residents in their cherished neighborhoods that matters most.

Don’t Listen to the Fear-Mongers – Vote For Prop K!

Think real hard when you ask yourself this question. When has efficiency ever caused calamity in a City? Who has ever been chased down and attacked by a menacing creature, threatening to make the City most efficient and cheaper for the taxpayers? You have heard the fear-mongers wail about “dark money” and raise the evil specter of the Koch Brothers. I seriously doubt is those guys have ever heard of Prop K. And even if they have, it doesn’t matter. The independent efficiency audit will be completely under the control of the City Council. They get to decide who gets hired to run the audit. They get to decide what elements of the recommendations get adopted. And all of us will get a chance to provide our input throughout the entire process.

There are both prominent liberals and conservatives backing Prop K, including David King and Ed English. Should there be better transparency with regard to contributions to these PAC’s? Absolutely! If dark money was used and somebody wants to tighten the transparency requirements, or even challenge the lack of disclosure in this case, we should be all for that. But it has nothing to do with the validity of the audit.

Citywide efficiency audits are not carried out by internal audit staff. They do not have the time or the specialized skills. That’s why numerous cities and states across the country have had positive results from these types of audits. The usual crowd of go-along-to-get-along naysayers are opposing Prop K. They are using whatever fear tactics they can conjure up. Of course the City employee unions are scared to death of it. They are worried about layoffs. It may well be that Austin needs to do some serious streamlining of operations. But that doesn’t mean that employees couldn’t be transferred. And positions could be eliminated by attrition rather than layoffs. And the cost of the audit? It would be made up probably ten times over by the good efficiency recommendations.

Don’t be scared of efficiency. There is no evil monster hiding in the closet! Bogeymen do not lurk in the shadows for the pursuit of saving money for taxpayers. Lon Chaney would never have even considered it.

 

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

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.

circle

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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

Records