Sunday, April 23, 2006

Negative mailer misrepresents Prop 1

Over the past few days, Austin voters got a big, colorful card in the mail making the same old false claims about Prop 1--in particular, it repeats the false claim that the charter amendment would cost $36 million and requires email to go online. We've debunked this falsehood on numerous occassions, so this time I'll just remind readers that email is among the "categories that must be produced in response to a public information request" (Section 4, first sentence), not on the narrow, specific list of things that must be put online.

Think about it: If email was online, there would be no need for a public information act request. All the language about email in this amendment merely ensures that email will be retained so that if a citizen files a request for Brewster McCracken's emails related to Stratus/Freeport, they will still exist.

Instead, Prop 1 will put the following basic information online: development agreements, tax abatement agreements, big city contracts, policies and procedures that affect the general public, the records of our public meetings (agendas, minutes and transcripts or audio recordings), the city's legal docket, and a calendar of meetings and calls about official business for our city's top officials. That's all good stuff, the kind of thing that will really change the way the city does things--for the better.

Because it does so many good things, Prop 1 is endorsed by the Sierra Club, the SOS Alliance, Tx PIRG, the ACLU, the Gray Panthers, the SEED Coalition, Texans for Public Justice, the Greens, Save Barton Creek Association, Consumers fact almost all of our good, local advocacy groups back it.

Who opposes it? The Real Estate Council of Austin (RECA), Stratus/Freeport, Temple Inland, and the developer lobby law firms. Mike Blizzard, a paid consultant for Stratus/Freeport, has been the lead voice for the EDUCATE PAC that sent that big card. Does this sound familiar? It's the same special interests lining up once again to keep Austin's citizens from exercising control over Austin's government.


At 7:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know it's a lot to expect for this blog to be the least bit objective or balanced, but you forgot to mention that both amendments are opposed by a wide variety of groups not associated with the entities you mention, including American Federation of State County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Capital Area Progressive Democrats, Central Austin Democrats, West Austin Democrats and the Austin Parks Foundation.

So all these groups are the "special interests" you rail about but SOS, ACLU and the "Greens" are not? That doesn't make a whole lot of sense unless you are blind to the fact that the progressive community is split on these amendments.

At 8:05 PM, Blogger Mick O' said...

So where do Kirk Mitchell and Ray Goodrich get all their money? It looks like your committee got 2/3rds of your cash donations from these two gentlemen, including $30,000 from Mr. Mitchell. Can you tell us more about them?

Also, isn't Perry Lorenz the developer of the Nokonah and the Spring project that Old West Austin and Zilker Neighborhoods opposed? Why is he giving you free office space?

At 6:50 AM, Blogger Gritsforbreakfast said...

The list of progressive groups supporting it is FAR longer than the few opposing it, some of whom like AFSCME have a particular dog in the fight.

Bottom line, the mailer was irrefutably misleading. Like Arnold Garcia's Statesman op eds, it shamelessly repeated an inflated cost estimate and lies about emails going online that the City's own witnesses refuted in court. Opponents obviously know they can't win telling the truth and so must resort to these sleazy tactics.

That's why I think Austin voters will see through the self-interest and vote for the OGO in the end on election day. Both sides have the resources to debate the issue fully, and when the issues are fully aired, as in the debate with Slusher, Garcia, et. al, the arguments for openness always prevail.

At 3:10 PM, Blogger The Truth said...

also opposed by the city council, former mayors and council members with nothing to gain, the Statesman, the Austin Chronicle, APD, and thousands of regular citizens that enjoy privacy.


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