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(3 votes, average 4.67 out of 5)

Social Media’s Impact on Open Government

Few government organizations have dealt with
how Facebook, Twitter use affects compliance

Part 2 of a 3-Part Series

by Ken Martin
© 2013 The Austin Bulldog
Posted Tuesday, April 23, 2013 2:00am

“A popular Government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”
— James Madison (1751-1836), Bill of Rights author and fourth president of the United States

By far the most lively panel discussion covered by The Austin Bulldog during the City of Austin’s Open Government Symposium held March 17 dealt with how social media and trends are affecting governmental organizations and how those organizations comply with open government laws. A standing room crowd witnessed the discussion in the Board and Commission meeting room at City Hall.

Jason KingJason KingA panel moderated by Jason King, senior attorney and deputy ethics advisor in The University of Texas System’s Office of General Counsel, included the government official in charge of the Texas Attorney General’s Open Records Division and an attorney whose firm represents and advises numerous small Texas cities on matters of open government.

Alan BojorquezAlan BojorquezAttorney Alan Bojorquez of the Austin-based Bojorquez Law Firm PLLC serves as attorney for 22 general law and home-rule municipalities across the state. He is the author of the Texas Municipal Law and Procedure Manual (5th Edition).

Bojorquez said, “Social media technology is always changing and the law can’t keep up with technology.”

“Public officials are trying to conduct business but don’t know how to do it. The answer should be simple, but it’s not. It’s gray, and has been for many years.”

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(4 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

City Hosts Open Government Symposium

Lawyers attending for education credits abound,
much of day has little to do with city practices

Part 1 of a 3-Part Series

by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog 2013
Posted Monday April 22, 2013 8:40am

“Under the fundamental philosophy of the American constitutional form of representative government that adheres to the principle that government is the servant and not the master of the people, it is the policy of this state that each person is entitled, unless otherwise expressly provided by law, at all times to complete information about the affairs of government and the official acts of public officials and employees. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.”
Texas Public Information Act, Government Code Section 552.001(a).

Last week, the City of Austin demonstrated its renewed commitment to let citizens in on the process of governing. The City hosted a groundbreaking effort to focus public attention on the issues related to open government.

Hosting the symposium was a big step into the sunshine for a government agency that has gone through some traumatic experiences over the last couple of years.

Those experiences included a criminal investigation for violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act, which resulted in deferred prosecution agreements signed by the mayor and council members (except Kathie Tovo, who was elected after violations occurred), and a lawsuit filed by The Austin Bulldog that triggered major reforms in the city’s handling of electronic communications during the county attorney’s investigation. (More about that later.)

Lee LeffingwellLee LeffingwellMayor Lee Leffingwell read opening remarks Wednesday morning to a nearly empty City Council chamber. (Click link for video.)

“We believe that transparency fosters the public trust and it's very important to us,” Leffingwell said. The symposium offers “an opportunity to talk about the law and the process of open government and to learn from each other....”

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(9 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

City Spent $157,636 to Defend Council Violations

Payments for private lawyers for mayor,
council members in criminal investigation

Investigative Report by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog 2013
Posted Monday April 8, 2013 3:33pm

On the eve of the City of Austin’s Open Government Symposium slated for April 17, The Austin Bulldog’s investigation found that the City of Austin quietly paid $157,636 for attorneys to defend six elected city officials (not including Council Member Kathie Tovo) and former Council Member Randi Shade during County Attorney David Escamilla’s 21-month criminal investigation of the City Council’s violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act.

These expenses—plus $444,000 the Austin American-Statesman reported June 17, 2012, that the city had authorized to spend with three law firms for advice on matters related to complying with the Texas Open Meetings Act—means taxpayers have shelled out more than $600,000 since The Austin Bulldog broke the story of these violations January 25, 2011.

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(5 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Dafoe Offers to Settle for $40,000

 Settlement invitation for Mayor Leffingwell would avoid
lawsuit, depositions, and trial for Election Code violations

by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog 2013
Posted Thursday March 21, 2013 1:26pm

Clay DafoeClay DafoeClay Dafoe—who along with former Council Member Brigid Shea ran unsuccessfully against Mayor Lee Leffingwell in his 2012 reelection bid—has invited the mayor to settle without litigation Dafoe’s claim for damages by paying him $40,000.

This in lieu of the potential for more than $65,000 in statutory damages that could be awarded if Dafoe were to prevail in a lawsuit over Leffingwell’s failure to timely file accurate campaign finance reports as required by the state Election Code.

Lee LeffingwellLee LeffingwellMayor Leffingwell did not respond to an e-mailed request for comment about the settlement offer or to a voice message left with his chief of staff, Andy Mormon.

Election Code Section 254.231 makes a candidate who fails to report campaign contributions or campaign expenditures that are required to be reported liable for damages to opposing candidates in twice the amount that was unreported and reasonable attorney’s fees incurred in the suit. (If judgment should be rendered in the defendant’s favor the defendant is entitled to reasonable attorney’s fees.)

The Austin Bulldog’s investigative report, published March 5, showed that Leffingwell’s 2012 mayoral campaign did not account for $32,716.54 in funds. In addition, his 2009 campaign left more than $40,000 unaccounted for. (See Lee Leffingwell 2009 and 2012 Campaign Finance Reports Analysis .)

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(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

City Hosting Open Government Symposium

 Follows county attorney’s investigation
of City Council open meetings violations

by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog
Posted Tuesday March 19, 2013 2:59pm
Updated Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 3:27pm

The City of Austin is taking a giant step into the sunshine by hosting its first-ever Open Government Symposium April 17, an all-day event featuring six panel discussions.

The symposium comes six months after the county attorney concluded a 21-month investigation of the mayor and council members, in which he “found probable cause to believe that multiple violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act had occurred,” according to the Travis County Attorney David Esamilla’s Press Release of October 24, 2012.

That investigation—triggered by The Austin Bulldog’s investigative report of January 25, 2011 and a formal complaint filed by civic activist Brian Rodgers—resulted in these elected officials (excluding Kathie Tovo, who was not on the council at the time of the violations) signing deferred prosecution agreements, also called compliance agreements.

David EscamillaDavid EscamillaIn a Monday interview, Escamilla said of the symposium, “I’m happy to see the city move forward in this direction. I think it's a needed initiative given that during our investigation we identified a lack of understanding and education in this area.”

The open government symposium comes two years after The Austin Bulldog sued the City of Austin over its refusal to release e-mails about city business that the mayor and council members exchanged on private accounts.

That lawsuit, The Austin Bulldog v. Lee Leffingwell, mayor, et al filed March 1, 2011—five weeks after the county attorney launched his investigation—not only triggered release of those e-mails about city business exchanged on private accounts but led to new policies for how the City Council, city employees, and board and commission members handle electronic communication in accordance with the Texas Public Information Act.

City’s efforts aim to boost openness

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(5 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Dafoe Hires Law Firm Over Mayor’s Misreporting

Clay Dafoe, third-place finisher in
2012 mayoral election, first to act

by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog 2013
Posted Thursday, March 14, 2013 9:12pm
Corrected Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 9:45pm

Clay DafoeClay DafoeClay Dafoe has followed through on his previously stated intent to take legal action against Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell.

Bill AleshireBill AleshireThis afternoon, Austin attorney Bill Aleshire of Riggs Aleshire and Ray PC told The Austin Bulldog, “Our law firm has been retained by Clay Dafoe to hold Lee Leffingwell accountable for violating the state campaign finance laws in the mayoral campaign of 2012.”

In a phone interview this evening Aleshire added, “We will let the facts take us where they go and we will not take any action that’s not in good faith.”

“That’s all we have to say at this point,” Aleshire said, “but there will be more later.”

(Disclosure: Aleshire is The Austin Bulldog’s attorney in a Texas Public Information Act lawsuit that is still pending.)

Lee LeffingwellLee LeffingwellAttempts to reach Mayor Leffingwell this evening for a comment were unsuccessful. A listed home number has been disconnected. A phone call to his chief of staff, Andy Mormon, was not answered. A text message sent to Mormon’s cell phone requesting a comment from the mayor was not promptly answered.

Two phone messages left for Dafoe were not returned. Aleshire later informed The Austin Bulldog that, “Mr. Dafoe will not be commenting directly.”

Grounds for lawsuit

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(4 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Mayor Responds to Red Flags Report

Leffingwell’s amended reports address
his unaccounted for campaign funding

by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog
Posted Tuesday, March 12, 2013 1:06pm

The Austin Bulldog’s investigative report exposed the fact that more than $72,000 in campaign funds were not properly accounted for in Leffingwell’s two mayoral campaigns and the true source of a $30,000 loan the mayor reported making to his 2012 campaign may have been concealed.

Lee LeffingwellLee LeffingwellIn response to that investigative report Mayor Lee Leffingwell filed two Correction/Amendment Affidavits March 6.

More than $40,000 in campaign funds were unaccounted for by offsetting reported expenditures at the end of Leffingwell’s 2009 mayoral campaign. The Lee Leffingwell 2010 Correction/Amendment Affidavit addresses that defect by reporting that he reimbursed part of the $100,000 he had loaned his 2009 campaign with $39,039.07 in unspent funds. Schedule F included with the Affidavit shows that payment was made July 29, 2009.

More than $32,000 was unaccounted for after the mayor’s 2012 reelection campaign. The Lee Leffingwell 2012 Correction/Amendment Affidavit addresses that defect by reporting $32,675.83 in expenditures that were not properly included in the mayor’s final 2012 Campaign Finance Report due to a bookkeeping error. Five expenditures that total that amount are included in the revised Schedule F (see details at the end of this article.).

The Lee Leffingwell 2012 Correction/Amendment Affidavit also included a change in the lender’s address in Schedule E for the $30,000 loan to his campaign. The revised Schedule E reflects the mayor’s own home address, in lieu of the address of Thomas Coopwood, M.D., who Leffingwell personally nominated for reappointment to the Central Health Board of Managers.

The filing of these Affidavits do not alter the fact that Leffingwell’s mayoral opponents who ran against him in 2009 and 2012 can still sue him for damages. (More about that later.)

Mayor’s consultant responds

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(4 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Mayor’s Campaign Reports Raise Red Flags

Problems could subject mayor to double damages
in civil lawsuits and triple damages payable to the state

Odd address entry on one report also
raises possibility of a criminal violation

Investigative report by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog
Posted Tuesday, March 5, 2013 12:27pm

Lee LeffingwellLee LeffingwellA total of more than $72,000 in campaign funds were not properly accounted for in Lee Leffingwell’s two mayoral campaigns and the true source of a $30,000 loan the mayor reported making to his 2012 campaign may have been concealed.

These defects were discovered in The Austin Bulldog’s analysis of more than a thousand pages of Campaign Finance Reports filed by Leffingwell during his first run for mayor in 2009 and in his 2012 reelection bid, along with related public records.

The Austin Bulldog’s written request for an interview with the mayor outlined the general nature of our findings and the possible legal implications. The mayor, through his chief of staff, Andy Mormon, declined to be interviewed.

The defects in Leffingwell’s reports may make him legally responsible for hundreds of thousands of dollars in civil damages and attorney’s fees if his 2009 and 2012 mayoral campaign opponents choose to file lawsuits authorized by state law.

These defects could also result in a substantial damages payable to the Texas Ethics Commission.

Further, if the source of the $30,000 loan to his 2012 reelection campaign is not Leffingwell—as he attested in a sworn statement—then he and the actual lender could be vulnerable to criminal charges as well.

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(4 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Light Turnout for City Auditor’s Meetings

Five scheduled meetings drew fewer than ninety
people, but keen interest shown among attendees

by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog 2012
Posted Tuesday January 29, 2013 3:47pm
Correction posted 4:29pm Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ken MoryKen MoryCity Auditor Ken Mory and his staff are doing their utmost to reach out to the public and provide information that would encourage Austin voters to apply to serve on one of the two bodies that will shape Austin’s future for decades to come.

The action is a result of voter approval November 6 of Proposition 3, which orders the implementation of 10 geographic council districts from which Austin City Council members will be elected in November 2014. Another charter amendment approved by voters dictates that council elections will be held in November of even-numbered years, council members will serve four-year terms (instead of three years), and will be limited to two terms (instead of three). Incumbents can run in spite of term limits if they gather signatures of 5 percent of registered voters to gain access to the ballot.

The auditor hosted five application public information meetings over an eight-day period starting Saturday January 19 and ending Saturday January 26. A total of about 87 people attended those meetings. About 14 of those were Bowie High School students who attended the January 24 meeting at Gorzycki Middle School as part of a government class. So at most the meetings drew about 73 people who might have been eligible to serve.

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(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

City Auditor Kicks Off Info Sessions

Drawing maps for 10 City Council districts
attracts citizens who want to get involved


by Ken Martin
© 2012 The Austin Bulldog
Posted January 22, 2013 2:33pm

The historic opportunity to draw districts from which 10 Austin City Council members will be elected in November 2014 was enough to draw a Saturday morning crowd to the Carver Branch Library. The end result will be to change the election of council members from and all-at-large system that has existed since 1953 to elect council members from geographic districts.

Ken MoryKen MorySome 30 people interested in learning more about opportunities to serve on the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (ICRC) or Applicant Review Panel attended City Auditor Ken Mory’s first public application information session. Four more such meetings are scheduled for this week (see schedule below).

Information supplied by Opinion Analysts Inc. indicates that 35,418 people meet the minimum requirements to serve on the ICRC by having been registered to vote for five years and having voted in three of the last five May elections. (That number will be reduced somewhat once conflicts of interest that bar service are taken into account.) The City Auditor’s office will mail two invitations to apply to serve on the ICRC to each of these.

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(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Bumpy Road to Implementing 10-1

Council refuses to pay for child care, mileage.
Applications to serve taken Jan. 19 to Feb. 22

by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog 2013
Posted Thursday January 17, 2013 4:30pm

The citizens group that got Proposition 3’s 10-1 plan for electing council members approved by voters is feeling betrayed by the City Council's decision to deny reimbursement of virtually all out-of-pocket expenses for people who serve on the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (ICRC).

The City Council passed a Resolution this morning that applies existing policies for city employees to govern reimbursement of members of the ICRC and the Applicant Review Panel.

Fred LewisFred LewisAttorney Fred Lewis, who drafted the final version of the Proposition 3 Ordinance that voters approved said, “The Charter amendment passed by voters said we would have citizen commissioners and personal expenses would be reimbursed. At the time the petition was underway it was made clear that we would pay for child care and mileage. And now the City Council has decided to jack with us.”

The provision for reimbursement was included in the Proposition 3 Ordinance approved by voters November 6. (The Ordinance is now incorporated in the City Charter, Article II, Section 3 titled “Redistricting.”)

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(5 votes, average 4.20 out of 5)

Mayor Hosts ‘Opulent’ Formula 1 Reception

City spent more than $20,000 for a
two-hour party leading up to track events
 

by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog 2012
Posted Thursday, December 20, 2012 5:46pm 

Austin’s first Formula 1 event November 16-18, 2012, drew more than 100,000 people to attend the grand finale. By all accounts the race itself was a major success, though news reports indicated some downtown businesses suffered from the impact.

Lee LeffingwellLee LeffingwellTwo days before the race events started Mayor Lee Leffingwell hosted a lavish reception at City Hall in honor of this county’s first Formula 1 race in many years.

The city spent more than $20,000 for two-hour event billed as the Mayor’s Formula 1 Reception that started 5pm Wednesday, November 14, according to records obtained by The Austin Bulldog through a public information request.

An F1 race car was brought in and displayed and a photographer was hired to take pictures of guests by the exotic vehicle. Food and bar drinks were free for the taking. Three bands provided entertainment.

When a billionaire’s coming to your party you probably want to serve something a cut above the fare you would normally lay out for a few friends and neighbors.

The City of Austin certainly did that.

Although attendees said that crab was among the “custom hors d’oeuvres” served for the reception, the specific kinds of food included in the menu are not specified in the invoices. The Austin Bulldog has submitted an additional public information request to obtain more details.

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(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)
  • Massive Interest in Redistricting
  •  
  • City auditor’s forum draws standing-room
  • crowd to brainstorm how to attract applicants
  •  
  • by Ken Martin
  • © The Austin Bulldog 2012
  • Posted Wednesday December 5, 2012 9:38pm

The city auditor’s forum drew some 120 peopleThe city auditor’s forum drew some 120 peopleAny doubts about the public’s interest in establishing the 10 council districts to take effect in the November 2014 City Council elections were put to rest Tuesday night as some 120 people attended a jam-packed program at One Texas Center.

Proposition 3’s 10-1 plan for council elections was put on the November 6 ballot through a petition drive led by Austinites for Geographic Representation and approved by 145,910 votes (60.15 percent).

Now comes implementation.

Larry SchoolerLarry Schooler“We’re at the beginning of what for some is too long a process,” said Larry Schooler, a community engagement consultant in the city’s Public Information Office. “Tonight is the beginning of that process.”

“How do we attract applicants with the qualifications the charter amendment sets out: relevant analytical skills, ability to be impartial, and appreciation of the city of Austin’s diverse demographics and diversity?

“This is the beginning of a journey. It has many parts. This is the first of those parts, “Schooler said.

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(3 votes, average 4.67 out of 5)
  • Proposed Districting Timeline Draws Flak
  •  
  • Redistricting expert says schedule does not
  • allow enough time for federal approval process
  •  
  • by Ken Martin
  • © The Austin Bulldog 2012
  • Posted Tuesday, December 4, 2012 3:37pm

Ken MoryKen MoryCity Auditor Ken Mory and his chief of investigations, Jason Hadavi, briefed the Austin City Council in this morning’s work session, including proposed dates for accomplishing major tasks related to establishing 10 council districts, as approved by voters November 6. (The core of the briefing is contained in the City Auditor’s Slides for City Council Briefing.)

The briefing took place in advance of tonight’s related public forum that starts 7pm in One Texas Center, 505 Barton Springs Road, Room 325. (To see a map, click here.) The purpose of the forum is to encourage participation in the Citizens Independent Redistricting Commission (CIRC) and secure a large and diverse pool of qualified applicants.

The schedule proposed by the City Auditor indicates that the CIRC would adopt a final plan for the 10 geographic districts by April 1, 2014.

Attorney Steve Bickerstaff, who has represented more than a hundred jurisdictions on redistricting in his long legal career, told The Austin Bulldog that April 1, 2014, is not soon enough.

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(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)
  • Citizens Redistricting Forum December 4
  •  
  • City auditor invites public input for citizens redistricting
  • panel and how best to identify applicant qualifications
  •  
  • by Ken Martin
  • © The Austin Bulldog 2012
  • Posted Monday, November 27, 2012 7:15pm

Ken MoryKen MoryCity Auditor Ken Mory today announced a public forum will be held to encourage participation in the Citizens Independent Redistricting Commission (CIRC) and secure a large and diverse pool of qualified applicants.

Once formed the 14-member CIRC will hire consultants, conduct public hearings, and draw 10 council districts the City Council will have no choice but to accept, subject to federal approval under the Voting Rights Act.

Peck Young is the volunteer political consultant who provided strategy for Austinites for Geographic Representation (AGR), which got Proposition 3 on the ballot through a petition drive and won voter approval.

Young said he was encouraged by the auditor’s quick action to seek public participation.

Peck YoungPeck Young“My reaction it that’s a very good first step,” Young told The Austin Bulldog. “AGR members will be encouraged to participate. I think that’s an excellent approach on Mory’s part.”

Elections scheduled for November 2014 will be held under the new system with 10 council members elected from geographic districts and only the mayor elected at large.

The forum starts 7pm Tuesday December 4 in One Texas Center, 505 Barton Springs Road, Room 325. (To see a map, click here.)

Overview of the process

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(4 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)
  • Prop 3 Proponents to Monitor Implementation
  •  
  • Austinites for Geographic Representation form
  • committee to help guide work on 10-1 system
  •  
  • by Ken Martin
  • © The Austin Bulldog 2012
  • Posted Sunday November 25, 2012 8:56pm

Fresh off a major victory in the November 6 election, some three-dozen fired up members of Austinites for Geographic Representation (AGR) packed the meeting room at the Austin Firefighters Hall last Monday evening to map out how to stay involved during implementation of the 10-1 system for council elections.

Volunteer political consultant Peck Young, who provided the strategy for the winning campaign, roused the crowd.

Peck YoungPeck Young“We need to remember we won a campaign. We created districts. We have changed something a half century old and changed it for the rest of this century,” he said.

But he added a note of caution.

Young said, “The work to keep this fair and honest isn't over. I promise you we have work to do so this process is not perverted or corrupted by people who never wanted this in the first place.”

“We've got at least another year of hard work to be sure it's implemented correctly.”

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(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)
  • City Hustles to Initiate Prop 3 Tasks
  •  
  • Auditor coordinating with proponents of 10-1 plan
  • to begin what will be a lengthy transition process
  •  
  • by Ken Martin
  • © The Austin Bulldog 2012
  • Posted Thursday, November 15, 2012 1:25pm
  •  
  • Faced with a December 1 deadline to announce a call for volunteers to serve on the Citizens Independent Redistricting Commission (CIRC), and a panel of auditors to screen applications, the city auditor’s office has shifted into high gear.

  • The deadline was set by Proposition 3: Ordinance No. 20120802-015 to implement what was approved by 145,910 voters, or slightly more than 60 percent of those who cast ballots on this proposition November 6.

The CIRC will ultimately draw 10 council districts that the City Council will have no choice but to adopt for the November 2014 elections, subject to approval by the U.S. Department of Justice under the Voting Rights Act. Only the mayor will continue to be elected at-large.

The city’s Fiscal Impacts for Propositions 1-10 estimated that Proposition 3 includes a one-time cost of $888,000 for construction and build-out of new offices and additional ongoing costs of $1.4 million a year to operate the four additional council offices.

But the cost of the conducting the work necessary to draw council districts and get federal approval has not been determined.

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(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)
  • 10-1 Plan To Rule Council Elections
  •  
  • Both propositions for geographic representation pass
  • but grassroots group dominates election results
  •  
  • by Ken Martin
  • © The Austin Bulldog 2012
  • Posted Wednesday November 7, 2012 3:21am
  • (Updated Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 3:08pm)
  •  (Updated Wednesday, November 7, 2012, at 5:48pm.)

Austinites for Geographic Representation’s Proposition 3 won a thumping victory Tuesday with its plan for electing 10 council members from geographic districts and electing only the mayor at-large.

Gonzalo BarrientosGonzalo Barrientos“This is a historic moment,” said retired State Senator Gonzalo Barrientos, who chaired the 2012 Charter Revision Committee. He told the crowd made boisterous when the early voting results were announced, “I have never seen the people of Austin come together like they did on this campaign—that is truly American.”

Some five hours later the Travis County Clerk’s report posted at 12:17am this morning indicates that Proposition 3 got 142,615 145,910 votes (60.02 60.15 percent) while Proposition 4 (the 8-2-1 hybrid plan) got 118,855 121,366 votes (51.08 percent). (Updated Wednesday, November 7, 2012, at 5:48pm.) Because Proposition 3 got the most votes it will be implemented and Proposition 4 will be rejected.

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(5 votes, average 4.60 out of 5)
  • Mayor: My Commission Beats Your Commission
  •  
  • Mayor Lee Leffingwell lifts idea for citizens to draw
  • council districts and undercut opposing proposition
  •  
  • by Ken Martin
  • © The Austin Bulldog 2012
  • Posted Friday, November 2, 2012 6:22pm

Lee LeffingwellLee LeffingwellOn Wednesday Mayor Lee Leffingwell's automated telephone calls rang the phones of thousands of Austin voters to criticize the Independent Citizen Redistricting Commission for City of Austin that's part of Proposition 3’s 10-1 plan for electing council members from geographic districts. (More about the transcript of that call later.)

Today, the mayor held a noon-hour press conference at City Hall to propose his own version of a “Citizens Committee to Review Redistricting” that would be used if Proposition 4’s 8-2-1 plan passes and gets more votes than the Proposition 3 plan put on the ballot through a petition drive led by Austinites for Geographic Representation (AGR).

The chief difference between the two redistricting proposals is that Prop 3’s Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission would draw council districts the City Council would have no choice but to adopt.

The mayor’s proposed committee would only be advisory and the City Council would be able to reject, revise, or adopt the committee’s recommendations.

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(4 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)
  • Prop 3 Fundraising Outpaces Prop 4
  •  
  • Financial support for 10-1 council elections
  • far outstrip dollars donated for 8-2-1 hybrid
  •  
  • by Ken Martin
  • © The Austin Bulldog 2012
  • Posted Monday, October 29, 2012 9:11pm

Austinites for Geographic Representation (AGR), proponents of Proposition 3’s 10-1 plan for electing council members, continues its lopsided advantage in fundraising compared with Austin Community for Change (AC4C), which is backing the 8-2-1 hybrid plan for electing council members.

Through the previous reporting period that ended September 29, AGR had raised a total of $69,793. That’s 15 times the $4,592 raised by AC4C.

Today’s reports indicated that AGR raised an additional $54,058, bringing its total to date to $123,851. AGR still has $13,856 left on hand for the sprint to the finish.

AC4C’s latest report indicates the 8-2-1 hybrid plan backers raised $14,600, bringing its total to date to $19,192. AC4C still had $1,227 on hand through today’s report.

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