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Austin City Councilman Voters Guide

Here is my guide to the May 1st ballot. Remember, early voting starts April 19th and goes through April 27th. Please go to this page to find early voting sites and other information.


PROP A - AUSTIN FIREFIGHTERS UNION CHARTER AMENDMENT:

"If the Austin Firefighters Association and the City of Austin reach an impasse in collective bargaining negotiations, if this passes, either side can force labor negotiations into binding arbitration." - Community Impact.


From what I know about the Austin Firefighters Union I don't typically agree with their politics, but I still want the city to save as much money as possible, and forcing an arbitration process rather than expensive legal proceedings should help accomplish this.


FOR


PROP B - HOMELESS CAMPING BAN, AND SIT/LIE AND PANHANDLING RESTRICTIONS:

It's clear the City of Austin has no intention of actually solving the homeless crisis that it created. There's lots of lip service as to what they want to do, what will and won't work, and on and on. We've given them hundreds of millions of dollars, with little to no say as to how it is spent, and we are worse off than when we started.


Allowing the homeless to camp wherever they please is an unacceptable situation, and disrespects our once beautiful city. The homeless have been elevated to a protected class above all others, essentially immune to city orders that the rest of us are legally bound to.


While this proposition does not solve the homeless crises, it does send a strong message to Adler, Casar, and others that we will not stand for their destructive policies. The passage of Prop B will be a blight on their record should they try to advance their political careers when their terms are up.


My one fear with this passing is that it may force the City of Austin to act recklessly fast, demanding more and more money to buy more hotels, develop more property, throw away into some non profit's pockets, or worse. Is fast and furious worse than incredibly slow? Perhaps we'll find out come May 2nd.


All that said, voting for Prop B is the right thing to do.


FOR


PROP C - OFFICE OF POLICE OVERSIGHT

This proposition will essentially give the City Council power over the Office of Police Oversight, as opposed to the City Manager. This proposition is the brain child of Greg Casar, so is a red flag that he just wants to politicize the office to his advantage.


With crime on the rise here in Austin and APD moral in the toilet, I can't imagine what advantages this would have.


AGAINST


PROP D - MOVE THE MAYORAL ELECTIONS TO COINCIDE WITH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

I have no opinion on this, but a little background for your consideration: Whoever is elected in 2022 would only serve a two year term, and the new system would take full effect for the 2024 election.


I don't think it's going to matter one way or another as far as getting a sane and sensible mayor into office. I tend to think that having the election in the off years might make that easier, but its difficult to say.


NO OPINION


PROP E - RANKED CHOICE VOTING

In ranked choice voting, voters will get to choose their top three candidates in order. If no candidate gets a majority of the first preference picks, then the third place candidate (based on first preferences) gets kicked out. From this point the second choices will be counted, and so.


It's a little bit of a complicated system, and there would definitely be voter confusion. I agree with the argument that it would give people more freedom to choose third party candidates without fear of upsetting the election, but in practice I don't think that necessarily holds up all the time.


An argument against it is that the leading party in the city, in our case Austin, could run several candidates and given the hyper partisan nature of politics today, would easily prevent any non Democrat candidate from having a chance.


AGAINST


PROP F - STRONG MAYOR

I look at this as mirroring the executive branch of the federal government, as it would essentially give the mayor many of the same powers that the president has, such as veto power, hiring and firing city staff, implementing policy, etc.


AGAINST


PROP G - ADDING AN 11TH DISTRICT

This was clearly meant to be coupled with the strong mayor initiative, but somehow the council screwed it all up. Should strong mayor pass, the mayor would leave his position as the 11th council member, leaving only 10 council members, and the chance for tie votes.


So this will end one of four ways:

1) Both fail and nothing changes

2) Prop F passes, Prop G fails, leaving 10 council members

3) Prop F fails, Prop G passes, leaving 12 council members (11 plus the mayor)

4) Prop F passes, Prop G passes, giving us 11 council members plus a strong Mayor


My preferences would be either scenarios 1 or 3, and coincidentally I think those are the most likely to occur. It wouldn't be awful for an 11th district to be created, but it would be an unnecessary expenditure of time and money.


AGAINST


PROP H - DEMOCRACY DOLLARS

Prop H sets up a system of vouchers where eligible voters would be able to receive two $25 vouchers to be used on a mayoral campaign and a council member campaign. Basically, the city will take your money, keep their cut, and give a little back to you as a pat on the head for being a good little soldier of democracy.


Here are the (some) red flags for me:

1) The program starts at $500,000 worth of vouchers in its first year, though there is nothing stopping the council from increasing this amount to whatever they deem necessary.

2) The city has said that it will cost $1.5 - $2 million to implement the program at $500,000. They'll take upwards of $2 from you and give you $.50 back as a reward to spend on a very specific thing that potentially benefits them.

3) There is a 1st Amendment argument here, as well, as the freedom of speech also means the freedom to not speak. This program gives your money to other people to speak in your name as they "donate" it to candidates that you do not agree with.

4) Money is fungible. As such, the likelihood that this becomes a cash grab for the political machine of consultants, etc, is high. When candidates collect this money, perhaps with the help of consultants, they will free up their other monies to spend on more consultants.

5) Greg Casar is already talking abut expanding the program to anyone that is allowed to donate, not just voters.


There are several more red flags, but I'll keep it short. I don't think there is anything positive about this program and will quickly (within 5 to 10 years) turn into a preposterously expensive program that benefits only the the most mainstream political ideologies.


AGAINST

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