Category Archives: Uncategorized

Let’s Support Eliza May For City Council District 8

By Bill Oakey – June 16, 2014

As many of you may know, I am privileged to serve as the Campaign Treasurer for Eliza May, who is running for Austin City Council in District 8. We need Eliza May on Council. Here is why I am asking you to support Eliza.

Eliza has a distinguished history of public service, dating back over 25 years to her days as a Legislative Aide.  She is the person who helped me the most on the Over-65 School Tax Freeze and the Truth In Taxation bills that passed in the Legislature.  I have always admired her ability to tackle complex affordability issues with dedication and attention to details.

Over the years since then, she has continued to serve in many positions with integrity and distinction, including her stint as President of the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. She chaired the A.I.S.D. Bond Oversight Committee where she ensured that the money approved was spent on projects approved by the voters.

With our new 10-1 City Council structure, we are going to need candidates with the experience and vision to hit the ground running next January.  Eliza has committed to supporting several important affordability reforms, including the ones below followed by her thoughtful comments.

– A general homestead exemption for Austin homeowners.  “A homestead exemption would provide immediate tax relief.  We need to take action as soon as possible to help allow people to stay in their homes.  The City Council has the same authority as the County to provide a homestead exemption.  It can be phased in over a few years, to ease the transition for the City Budget.”

– A comprehensive audit of all City Departments.  “We need to find ways to make City offices run more efficiently.   And we can learn from other Texas cities how to make improvements.  My goal is to put more resources where we need them and cut back in areas where there is waste or duplication.”

– Better transparency and accountability for the taxpayers.  “The public deserves to know what the City is adding to the budget and how much it will cost.  It’s time to stop hiding behind the tax rate when tax appraisals are rising.  We need to inform taxpayers what the true percentage of a tax increase would be, and lower the rate when necessary to keep Austin more affordability.”

-Make City Hall more open for citizen participation.  “Citizens should not have to wait up to 6 hours to speak on agenda items and public hearings.  We must find a way to schedule topics closer to the actual time they will be heard, and allow people to come and speak after normal working hours.”

I encourage you to do three things to help elect Eliza:

1. Join her campaign and learn more about Eliza May on the website.

2. Spread the word to your friends in District 8 and on Facebook and Twitter that Eliza May needs our support!

3. DONATE to the campaign. Your early investment will make it possible to for our campaign to not only have the necessary resources to deliver our message of change and engage the residents in our community, but also to provide the support needed to address the issues our community faces. Austin is changing rapidly and these changes will affect the quality of life in District 8.

Thank you for your action in supporting Eliza May today.

Sincerely,

Bill Oakey, Treasurer

Eliza May for Austin City Council, District 8

@Elizamaydist8  Facebook.com/Elizamayforaustin elizamayforaustin.com

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You Have Been Summoned By the Austin Bulldog

By Bill Oakey – May 4, 2014

If you are reading this blog, the chances are pretty good that you would be interested in an online publication that thrives on investigative reporting about public officials.  It’s called the Austin Bulldog, and you really need to check it out.  In addition to detailed profiles of current local officeholders, you will also find hidden truths and occasional skeletons pulled out of the closets of candidates who are seeking those offices.  The good news about these candidates is up front as well, based on extensive research and interviews with associates who are intimately familiar with their backgrounds.

The mad dog behind this publication is Ken Martin, who originally started In-Fact Daily as a weekly.  In-Fact is a subscription based newsletter that delivers detailed coverage of the hottest agenda topics at Austin City Hall and Travis County.  The publication is now edited by Jo Clifton, and has recently been renamed the Austin Monitor.

But you can read the Austin Bulldog for free.  They are currently examining many of the candidates running for the ten new district-based City Council seats.  And of course, you’ll find coverage of the mayor’s race.  Ken Martin has just published Part Two of his in-depth analysis of mayoral hopeful, Steve Adler.   I encourage everyone to follow this series on Mr. Adler.  Steve is much better known for his work at the Texas Legislature and for educational nonprofits than he is for direct involvement with City of Austin political issues.  The latest Bulldog piece quotes numerous sources as having high praise for Adler.

At this early point in the mayor’s race, all of the candidates deserve our attention.  But the buzz on the street among progressives is that business as usual at City Hall is not working out very well these days.  Unless one of the experienced, currently serving candidates comes up with some form of bold action to counter their previous voting records, we may be looking for new leadership.

One place to look for clues about the backgrounds of both the current and aspiring new officeholders is the Austin Bulldog.  And if you like what you read, you might consider making a voluntary donation.  Then hold onto your seats for a wild and crazy ride, from now all the way to November.  As many in our community have stated, Austin is at a crossroads.  We’re at that proverbial tipping point, where renters, homeowners, medium-skilled job seekers, and longtime Austinites are collectively shaking their heads.  Affordability is a major issue.  This upcoming election may well be the most important one we have faced in several decades.

Let’s Get to Know Steve Adler

By Bill Oakey – April 16, 2014

As I waited for the appointment at Cafe Josie’s on Monday, I had no preconceived notions about Steve Adler.  Most of us have heard by now that he is running for Mayor.  The other primary “heavyweight” in the race is current City Council member, Mike Martinez.  I had met Steve briefly on two other occasions, and was quite curious to meet him and learn about him.

Prior to the meeting, I had emailed him 10 candidate questions on affordability.  That list has gone out to several announced candidates in various district races.  When Steve arrived at the table, he opened a portfolio with my question list ready for discussion.  But before getting into that, he pulled out a spreadsheet that he had obtained by doing some research at City Hall.  He had picked up my cue on an unexplained $6 million fee waiver for U.T. that was mentioned in this blog.  Steve discovered through Council Member Bill Spelman’s office that the City has since renegotiated that fee waiver down to $3.57 million.  This is welcome news on a cost savings for the taxpayers.

Like me, Steve believes that the City needs a fee wavier policy that is fair and consistent.  There are plenty of challenges and unanswered questions on this affordability topic.  But progress is being made.

Steve and I had a very interesting and cordial meeting.  His background as an attorney in civil rights cases and cases defending workers sounds impressive.  On current City issues, he agrees with me that citizens should not have to wait six hours to speak to their elected City leaders at Council public hearings.  And his interest in the various affordability issues seems encouraging.  A decision on an endorsement from this blog in the mayor’s race will come after careful consideration of the leading candidates.

Mr. Adler does not have a well established name in all of the circles of local civic activism.  But he has lived in Austin since 1978.  It would be my recommendation that folks should try to attend forums and organizational meetings where Steve will be speaking.  I plan to ask him if he would be interested in setting up one or more town hall meetings, so that plenty of people can get to know him better.