Nov. 4, 2020 - RIP Austin?

I won’t speak much on the national election - all I will say is this: it certainly seems like there’s some shenanigans going on. Unfortunately, Travis County might be in the same boat.

No matter how you cut it, Austin lost big last night. There are some silver linings here and there, but we’re in for a rough ride.

I’ll start with the positives, and there are only three:

  1. Mackenzie Kelly has forced a runoff in District 6.

  2. Jennifer Virden has forced a runoff in District 10.

  3. Your Minute is Up, the organization collecting signatures to recall Adler and 4 council members, seems to have gathered a significant amount of support while stationed at polling places.

I think, historically, “underdogs” in Austin runoff elections do pretty well, and if you assume, like I do, that a significant portion of those that voted against the incumbents will do the same, then we might be able to win District 6 and District 10. This would be great in Mackenzie Kelly’s case, but I don’t know much about Virden, though I would bet she’d be better than the status quo.

Now to the bad news. We’re going to be stuck with Casar for a while longer, as well as Leslie Pool, and in District 2 we will now have Vanessa Fuentes. While I don’t know much about Fuentes, she labels herself as a progressive democrat, so I don’t have much hope.

The biggest news in my opinion is Prop A passing. If you listen to my recent interview with Roger Falk about what this will do to Austin, and he’s even only partially right, things aren’t looking too bright.

And all of the arguments made for prop A fall flat on their face when given even the smaller amount of scrutiny. Climate Change? It will only service 1% of transportation needs at full capacity by 2040, which is not enough to affect our environment in any meaningful way, and that’s not taking into account the environmental damage that building it will cause.

It will be affordable and save you money? A significant increase in your property taxes of 25% or more, which will most certainly rise over time as budgets get bloated, federal monies don’t come in, and, again, it will only serve 1% of our transportation needs, which means that 99% of us will still be driving and paying for cars or other transportation, while also paying for this boondoggle.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this will not cost Austin $7 billion as predicted. It will be significantly more. My guess is closer to $15-20 billion, but only time will tell. Make me proud Austin, and prove me wrong!

My question is how this: how in the world did this pass? Effective advertising and marketing, to be sure, but how much of our tax dollars went into the effort to sell us on giving up more of our own money? And, looking at the numbers, 607,354 ballots were cast in Austin races, yet only 392,547 voted on Prop A. Thats about 35% of voters NOT voting for or against Prop A. That’s a pretty big gap, and based on some reports, its not been all above board with the Travis County Clerk, Dana Debeauvoir. According to Jennifer Fleck, former Texas Congressional candidate who served as a poll watcher, reports this.

So there’s evidence that things don’t smell right, but I don’t have much confidence that it will amount to anything. What I do want to know, is even if we can’t beat it before it starts, what is our recourse going forward? In a hypothetical scenario, say we get a majority of City Council against moving forward with Project Connect, what could they do? Could they get on the ballot in the near future a proposition to cancel Project Connect? Certainly we’re not stuck with this forever regardless of the consequences, right?

I will dig deeper on the matter and reach out to attorneys, and report back.

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