Category Archives: Humor

Ethics Complaint Filed Against Pro-Uber Campaign

By Bill Oakey – April 20, 2016

News Exclusive From AustinAffordability.com

All of us would probably agree on the need for safe, affordable transportation options here in Austin. But the heated debate between the “Pro” and “Con” folks fighting for your support in the upcoming May 7th Proposition One election has gotten a bit ugly. Regardless of which way you happen to be leaning, you have probably heard the shouting about the need for honesty, integrity and fairness. Today, this blog has obtained an exclusive advance copy of a formal ethics complaint soon to be filed against the Pro-Uber, Pro-Prop One campaign. That complaint appears in its entirety below:

Formal Ethics Complaint
Filed in the Umpteenth District of Travis County, Texas
In the Court of Public Opinion

On This Date Henceforth, April 20, 2016

The factual basis for this complaint arises from Against Prop One handing of Ethics Complaint #1 vs. Pro Prop One, and relies in part upon current information as well as ongoing cases of a similar nature.

The case at hand being on the matter of certain transportation network companies seeking to avoid specific regulations imposed by the City of Austin. To wit or without wit, be so however, the requirement of fingerprint-based criminal background checks. As well as other requirements set forth by City Ordinance.

We hereby accuse For Prop One of violating the basic standards of truthfulness, misleading the public, and committing acts of fraud and misrepresentation. The allegations regarding Pro Prop One’s conduct are summarized as follows:

  1. Numerous, multiple and repeated instances of unprofessional and unethical behavior
  2. Willful deception
  3. Unethical appropriation of Against Prop One’s main political action committee, “Our City, Our Safety, Our Choice,” by creating a copycat Facebook page labeled, “Our City, Our Safety, Your Choice.”
  4. Daring to place a prominent logo on the copycat page that says, “Don’t Believe the Lies.”
  5. Stating in public commentary that voting for Prop One will “keep transportation network companies in Austin,” and that those companies have “operated without incident” since they started here.
  6. Repeatedly and falsely claiming that a vote against Prop One will cause great harm and expense to Austin taxpayers.
  7. Other fraudulent, willful and contrived misrepresentations.

We dutifully wish to thank The Court for your consideration and anticipated cooperation.

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The views expressed in the ethics complaint above may or may not represent the views of this blog’s sponsors or its advertisers (of which there are none). Voters are encouraged to study the issues in the May 7th proposition election very carefully. Accepting the accuracy of any verbiage – in audio, print or video format without careful verification is not recommended. Regardless of your own personal viewpoints for or against Prop One, let’s keep in mind that the City of Austin maintained a proud public slogan for several decades, “Austin the Friendly City.” To those who support or condone highly negative and divisive discourse, on either side of a political issue, we would suggest that Austin is simply better than that. We should encourage proposition supporters and opponents to offer up clear and unambiguous facts to the public. And in the spirit of our great democracy, “may the best side win.”

What Will Happen If Uber Leaves Austin?

Thankfully, there is an innovative invention that solves that disturbing dilemma. Even before the results are announced for the national “Smart City Challenge,” Austinites can rejoice as we look forward to our single, united transportation and housing solution. In a rare cooperative effort by the City’s Transportation and Housing Departments, plans have been announced (but not publicly yet) to revive a 1925 invention by the Studebaker Automobile Company.

A modern version of the 1929 model of the Studebaker House Car is envisioned to be ready to roll on Austin streets and toll roads by 2021. City officials are even considering allowing them on free highway lanes as well. In its first year on the market, Studebaker sold 2,225 units. By 1928 an eight-cylinder model was introduced. By sometime in 2021, Austinites will no longer have to fret over sitting in traffic. Or having to pay high rent or high property taxes. The new fleet of house-cars will allow everyone plenty of time to enjoy themselves, no matter which road they are stuck on. We will have total gridlock by 2021 on most of our roads. So, why not just put people in these innovative house-cars, so they can live out their lives blissfully? Even if they are permanently stranded in traffic. While the average price for these vehicle-houses has not been determined yet, it will be a small price to pay for peace and comfort.

1929 Studebaker House Car

1929 Studebaker House Car

Musical accompaniment for this blog posting:

  1. “Riding In My Car (Car Song)” – Woody Guthrie
  2. “Cab Driver” – The Mills Brothers, 1968 or Hank Thompson version, 1972
  3. “Taxi” – Harry Chapin, 1972
  4. “This Ole House” – Stuart Hamblen, 1954
  5. “In the Middle of the House” – Vaughn Monroe, 1956
  6. “Come On-A My House” – Rosemary Clooney, number one song, 1951
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1943 “Welcome To Austin” Video, Plus A 1960 Shocker From Cactus Pryor

By Bill Oakey – April 14, 2016

Congress Avenue in 1943

Congress Avenue in 1943

Somewhere amongst the boxes tucked away in my closet are a few legal-sized envelopes from City officials, containing documents from the 1980’s era of my consumer activism. On the back of each envelope was the City of Austin slogan, “Austin, the Friendly City.” Today on the blog, let’s take a trip much further back, all the way to 1943. (When Austin was…affordable)! From the archives of the Austin History Center comes a Chamber of Commerce video about our friendly city. The opening scenes may cause you to howl with laughter. (My, how times have changed)! Enjoy the tour of the State Capitol, Barton Springs, U.T., etc. Then, take a long pause before even considering viewing the second video. I don’t have the words to describe it. Both of them will stay with you for a good long while afterwards…

“Austin, the Friendly City” – 1943

No search for parking is necessary here. Just sit back right where you are and enjoy this video.

Television Special Narrated by Cactus Pryor – 1960

Those of us who knew Cactus Pryor and remember him fondly from his days at KTBC / KLBJ radio and TV may not remember this stunning presentation. Cactus was a nationally known Austin humorist, who went on national speaking tours, authored books and kept the local citizens entertained for many decades. I never knew this video existed until recently. As mentioned above, I do not have the words to describe it.

R.I.P Cactus. I know that you’re up there smiling down on us! Despite this eerie video…

Musical accompaniment for this blog posting:

For the First Video

  1. “Remember Then,” scratchy original by the Earls, 1962
  2. “Remember Then,” great cover by Sha Na Na from their 1969 album, “Rock and Roll Is Here to Stay.”
  3. “Pistol Packin’ Mama,” Al Dexter, number one song, 1943
  4. “Paper Doll,” the Mills Brothers, number one song, 1943, covered by Hank Thompson, 1971 (stay with it till it swings)!

For the Second Video

  1. “Duck and Cover,” Bert the Turtle, 1951 Civil Defense Film
  2. “Hydrogen Bomb,” Al Rex, 1959
  3. “Eve of Destruction,” Barry McGuire, number one song, 1965 (stereo version)
  4. “Cry of the Dying Duck in a Thunder-Storm,” Cactus Pryor novelty song, 1950

John Kelso Nails Trump Exclusive, And I Have More!

By Bill Oakey – April 1, 2016

Amazing and sometime crazy things seem to happen here on the first of April. This time, Austin American-Statesman writer John Kelso broke the news on his Facebook page that Trump Enterprises has inked a deal to purchase the Austin Chronicle for $3.2 million. Kelso’s posting offered few details, except that Mr. Trump does not plan to make any “major changes” to the paper.

This news prompted me to ratchet up whatever sleuthing skills I could muster and try to dig deeper into the story. Insiders have confirmed that Trump spoke to the Chronicle staff by satellite in between campaign stops in Wisconsin. “He wanted to learn about Austin’s affordability problems,” according to a Trump spokesperson. Even without waiting for a full response from the Chronicle news team, Trump interjected by saying, “Excuse me, let me just say this. We’re gonna make Austin great again, Ok? There won’t be any more problems. We’ll start here at the Chronicle and move up from there. We’ll fix this affordability thing, Ok?”

Much to Mr. Trump’s surprise, however, Chronicle staff writer Michael King stood up and challenged him head on. “Mr. Trump, sir, you don’t seem to understand. Austin affordability is just like climate change. You don’t have to believe in it if you don’t want to. And by the way, just so you know. Climate change is real. But there is no affordability problem here. We’re doing just fine. Austin is already great.”

After finding himself in a difficult position, Mr. Trump quickly pivoted to another subject. “You people here at the Chronicle might as well be the first to hear this announcement. Today our company has finalized the purchase of the prime downtown site currently occupied by the Austin American-Statesman. We have great plans for the property. I mean, really! You’re gonna love it. Trust me on that. No…excuse me…I’m telling you. You’re just going to love it!”

“What we will be launching soon at our downtown site in Austin will be the envy of every other city in America. It will be a food lover’s paradise. Just think about this and you won’t be able to stand the wait. Forget about Trump Steaks and Trump Wine. We’re going to have Trump Tacos, Trump Barbecue, and…Excuse me!..,I’m not done yet. Just for you people here in Austin, we’re going to introduce Trump Dog Biscuits. Now, is that great or what?!!”

Totally Foolish Song List

  1. “April’s Fool,” Ray Price , 1970
  2. “Who Will the Next Fool Be,” Charlie Rich, 1961
  3. “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool,” Connie Francis, 1960

Dancing To The Taxpayer Blues

By Bill Oakey – May 29, 2015

A long tall Texan got into his pickup truck and switched on the radio. He listened to the following commentary from a country music deejay down in Austin.

Now folks, I don’t get into politics on this show, but I heard about something the City Council said that I think you should know about. They were talking about an unlevel playing field for property taxes.  Something about the system that isn’t quite right.

Maybe they have a point.  Have you ever sat down in a Texas dance hall and tried to hold onto a beer when the table wasn’t level? Worse case scenario, you would spill some of that beer on your best friend’s wife, right after you danced to “The Last Cheater’s Waltz.” I think we need the City to level our taxes.

I have a nutty friend who spends a lot of time reading City financial reports. Darned if he didn’t tell me that the City Manager is promising once again to “hold the line on the tax rate.” Man, they’ve been pulling the wool over our eyes every year on that stuff. Willie Nelson, Norah Jones and Wynton Marsalis nailed it with the song, “Here We Go Again.” Isn’t there supposed to be some kind of truth in taxation?

The high taxes have priced people so far out into the suburbs that it’s a wonder more of them don’t fall Asleep at the Wheel while sitting in traffic. I can see why the character in George Strait’s song, “All My Ex’s Live in Texas” now hangs his hat in Tennessee. He couldn’t afford his Austin taxes.

And it keeps getting worse. The end of year tax deadline is not a whole lot of fun. In 1974, Merle Haggard released a sad but hopeful tune called, “If We Make It Through December.” He must have known what was coming down the pike in Austin.

All right folks, it’s time for me to get off my soapbox and get back to some more hit music. Here’s one I think you’ll enjoy called, “When I’m Under the Table, I’ll Be Over You.”

hat

Time For A Laugh – What Is Austin’s “Aquatic State?”

By Bill Oakey – May 7, 2015

There I sat at City Hall, trying to make some sense of it all…

Last week, The City Council’s Open Space Committee was discussing Austin’s “Aquatic State.” This is not the water crisis – well, not exactly. It’s all about swimming pools.

The City has swimming pools in parks all over town that have not been properly maintained or renovated for 30 years. So the Parks Dept. staff did what all good departments do. They commissioned a study.

The Aquatic Assessment Study attempted to determine what “Aquatic State” Austin should have. That endeavor, of course, will require an Aquatic Master Plan.

But before going any further, let’s consider a few minor details:

1. It would cost $45 million to renovate the swimming pools that are in bad shape today.

2. It would cost another $28 million to fix the ones that will need it over the next five years.

3. Attendance at many of the pools has been declining. So, let’s ask the community how we can improve the facilities to make more people want to come.

But there is one unfortunate reality that is not in the Aquatic Study nor in the parameters for the Master Plan. This reality has everything to do with Austin’s “Aquatic State.”

THE TAXPAYERS ARE UNDERWATER!!!

This is not to say that swimming pools are not important. Certainly, they are. Many neighborhoods enjoy them and Austin deserves a Parks Department and City leadership that maintains the pools adequately. So, whoever is responsible for the poor management and willingness to allow it to fester this long should have their collective heads examined – after said heads are dunked in the nearest pool.

At this point in time it would probably be best to put the pool renovations into an upcoming bond package, even though we may be swimming in debt. There is no way we can afford to take a multimillion dollar direct cash hit to the City Budget.

As for the multitude of “Plans” that the City and County have in the pipeline, it is high time that all of them be pulled out of the archives and entered into a great big “Master List of Plans.” Summaries of these plans and the cumulative price tag for all of them should be posted online for the public to see. Then our elected officials need to set some priorities and determine how many of these plans we can realistically afford.

Did I imply that this blog posting was good for a laugh? Well, I hope that at least the first part of it was. As for the rest of it, you may want to seek relief and cool off in a pool that is still in good enough shape to open next month. If you can’t find one nearby, perhaps a cold shower would do the trick.

Imagine ONE Austin – Just Imagine!

By Bill Oakey – July 21, 2014

Imagine ONE Austin.  Just imagine.

No more weirdness, no more aging hippies or former flower children selling Armadillo music posters.  No more riffraff tax protestors fighting for their single family homes, quiet streets, and backyard barbecues.

Just one fully gentrified, hipster, “new urbanist” Austin.  With month-long festivals, loud all night parties and no parking anywhere.  For the rest of eternity.

But wait.  Instead of grumbling about losing the laid back, easy going, affordable Austin that we enjoyed for most of our lives, maybe it’s time to adjust our thinking. Maybe we should all join hands and embrace the changes.

So, let’s just imagine it.  Think of the pathway envisioned by the likes of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, Project Connect, and Imagine ONE Austin. Here is a smattering of the news headlines that we can expect to see in the coming years.

January 2023 – Austin Installs Cloned City Council

Austin will begin the bright new year with a smooth transition to the new City Council.  The bold experiment to clone all seven members of the 2014 City Council and advance their ages to adulthood was a perfect laboratory success.

After eight tumultuous years with Council members elected from ten districts, America’s Chosen City will return to an era of orderly progress.  Last night, the Chamber of Commerce and the Real Estate Council of Austin presided over the swearing in of the new Council.  Austin will soon be back in business with business as usual.

“I’m ready and eager to get back on track,” Mayor Bluffingwell announced.  “I’m grateful that the people listened and they voted exactly the way we told them to.  Everyone in the room today recognizes that our namesakes made Austin a booming city.  Now we can return to predictable 5-2 votes on every critical issue.”

June 2025 – Music Concerts Cancelled at Condominium Shores

As everyone expected since the renaming of the former Auditorium Shores, the City announced today that all remaining concerts there have been cancelled.  Dogs, frisbees and kites will also be permanently banned.  Leases for high-density development have been finalized for the last 100 acres of open space.  The new revenue from the leases will allow the City to reduce property tax increases from 10% down to 9.8% for most homeowners.

Beginning this September, ACL Fest will be held in the streets, along Congress Ave. from Lady Bird Lake to the Capitol, and along East Sixth Street from I-35 all the way to Lake Austin Boulevard west to Lake Austin.

March 2026 – City Adopts New Slogan, “Keep Austin Cleared”

Today marks the start of one of the most progressive initiatives ever undertaken in Austin.  The City Council has voted to have all trees removed from the City.  The planning consultants and staff advisers have determined that trees are a serious impediment to high rises and multifamily developments.  The new slogan, “Keep Austin Cleared” will be printed on all utility bills, which will include a new “tree removal fee” until the cost to obliterate every tree in Austin is recovered.

October 2028 – Austin to Revise Land Development Code

Octopus Consulting has been hired to guide the City in a new revision of the Land Development Code.  To be dubbed CodeLAST, the new zoning system will be streamlined to generate the speediest development permits ever provided by an American city.  “We have devised a plan that will accommodate every need,” stated a spokesperson for the Real Estate Council of Austin.  “The consultants will be able to formulate it even faster than they did with CodeNEXT.”

The heart of the plan is an innovative zoning category called “Vertical Combined Use (VCU).”  It will allow developers to construct multistory towers that completely surround single family homes.  In fact, in selected neighborhoods, entire blocks could be reconfigured with interconnected structures that consume almost all of the available space.  It has been suggested that some of the old fashioned homes could be turned into tourist attractions.  Others could be demolished, and a few could remain for families eager to experience the joys of onsite community living.

February 2030 – Austin to Host Circus of the Americas

The long battle over the fate of Lions Municipal Golf Course in West Austin has finally been resolved.  The Governor and the U.T. Board of Regents announced this morning that the site will be the future home of the Circus of the Americas.  All state and local taxes for the enterprise will be waived for 25 years.

The mayor has vowed to address any logistical concerns.  He acknowledged that international guests may encounter problems with limited neighborhood street parking, but he pledged to accommodate them with 24 hour helicopter service from anywhere in the City.

Once again, Austin has landed an economic development wonder that will be the envy of the nation.  It is certain to restore the circus industry to all of its former glory.  The owners issued a statement promising to satisfy any potential critics, “It is our firm goal not to abuse the animals any more than necessary to provide a rich and rewarding entertainment experience.”

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Imagine what a fabulous place our ONE Austin could become!

How To Open Your Tax Appraisal Notice

By Bill Oakey – March 26, 2014

Within just a matter of days, something will happen all over Austin that must be approached with utmost caution.  That thump and rustling sound that you hear outside your front door could evoke a cold sweat and the starkest feeling of sheer dread and fear.  “Could it be out there today?” you might wonder.  “Was that really the mailman, or just a bird trying to make another nest?”  “Should I actually go out there and look?”  “Do I have to?”

All of those are perfectly legitimate questions.  But sooner or later, you are going to have to open that door.  You are going to have to stick your hand in the mailbox, and find out if this is the day that you were hoping  would never come.  But I have a few suggestions that might help you get through the process.  There may be a way to do it and remain in one piece.

1. With any luck, the “bad envelope” will be buried inside a bundle of junk mail.  Grab the bundle and squeeze it tightly, so that you can take everything inside without looking at the envelopes.

2. Once your are safely inside the house, it’s OK to look through the envelopes.  But make sure you are sitting down first.

3. If you even think you see an envelope from the Travis Central Appraisal District, don’t open it right away and don’t panic!  Take a few deep breaths and look at the envelope again.  Make absolutely sure that you saw what you think you saw.  Our brains can play tricks on us sometimes.

4. If you are positively certain that what you are holding really is your tax appraisal notice, then you will have to make another decision.  When and how are you going to open it?

5. My advice is definitely not to do it alone!  If your significant other is not home yet, wait until you can share the memorable experience together.

6. If you don’t have a significant other, or if he/she is out with another significant other, just call a good friend.

7. Depending on your situation, you might want to pour a glass of wine or have some medication handy if needed.  I’ve always heard that aspirin is good for a stroke.

8. If the battery is low on your phone, plug it in.  You might need to call 911.

9. When you and at least one other supportive person are sure you are prepared, go ahead and get ready to open the envelope.  Do not attempt it with a sharp object like a knife or a letter opener.

10. Open your tax appraisal notice.

Sorry, I can’t help you any further.  We will all miss you when you leave.  Take those fond memories of Austin with you, and come back and see us sometime!