After a nearly 16-year hiatus from public office, environmentalist and former Council Member Brigid Shea is challenging incumbent Mayor Lee Leffingwell for the city’s top spot on election day May 12.
Known largely for her public feuds with high-power developers in the early ’90s, Shea said she hopes to bring a fresh leadership approach to City Hall.
“There’s nothing personal in this,” Shea said. “I’ve known Lee Leffingwell a long time. We’ve worked on projects together. But City Hall needs a new direction.”
In an effort to educate Austin residents in the months leading up to the May 2012 city elections, The Austin Bulldog researched the personal and political backgrounds of the City Council incumbents and their major challengers. We used an organized plan to find locate, copy and publish every public record we could find, and compiled links to relevant news articles from local publications.
We invite readers to review our latest report and documents on Shea, and let us know if there are any details we overlooked or items that warrant further investigation.
City of Austin and LCRA pay Shea six figures for consulting
Shea launched an environmental consulting practice in July 2000 called Brigid Shea & Associates and has worked for a number of businesses and governmental entities, including the Lower Colorado River Authority, City of Austin and firms with city contracts.
Just how much money Shea has made as a city subcontractor over the years, and whether she has misrepresented her views about the construction of Water Treatment Plant 4, have recently emerged as campaign issues.
The topic was raised publicly at a March 27 candidate forum, when Leffingwell asked Shea to disclose how much money she made on city contracts over the years. Shea replied that she made about $40,000 a year on these contracts.
On March 29, the Burnt Orange Report posted a story stating that the City of Austin awarded Shea’s consulting company more than $500,000 in city contracts over about 9 years for a number of major water and wastewater projects. If true, that would equate to an average of slightly more than $55,000 a year.
The story also stated that Shea bid to work as a communications and public relations sub-consultant for building Water Treatment Plant 4—the same plant Shea spoke out against on multiple occasions and cited as a differentiator between her and Leffingwell, who voted with the 4-3 majority to authorize construction.
“Brigid Shea’s words against the construction of a new water treatment plant in 2012 contradict her actions in support of its construction in 2002,” the BOR post stated. “At the very least, (voters) are owed some sort of explanation by Shea on what she believes and when she believed it.”
Leffingwell campaign consultant Mark Littlefield echoed a similar sentiment in a March 30 In Fact Daily follow-up story, saying, “It appears to me that Brigid the city contractor had a very different view of WTP4 than Brigid the mayoral candidate. I’m having a hard time reconciling her past actions with her current position on the plant, which I know is a fundamental issue for a lot of her supporters.”
Shea sent a response to The Austin Bulldog and others stating that the Burnt Orange Report story “seriously misrepresented the facts on WTP4 to the point of deliberate distortion” and “the contract proposal in 2002 related to a preliminary engineering site assessment and environmental study.”
“It was nothing like the enormously expensive project that the council voted on in 2010,” Shea told The Austin Bulldog.
She stated that in 2001, the city reached its highest water use ever, and citizens thought at the time the plant might be necessary. However, by 2010 Austin’s water use had leveled out, and she felt the city did not need to invest in construction of another plant.
Shea added that she did not apply for any contract in 2010 when the project was put out for bid, and insists she has been consistent in her criticisms of the project.
Shea’s largest city contracts—totaling nearly $473,000 over about eight years—related to work on the Austin Clean Water Program. She acted as a consultant for the project, triggered by the Environmental Protection Agency’s reaction to a massive sewage spill on Brushy Creek that contaminated well water and made about 1,400 people sick. Shea said she helped secure $3.7 million in federal grants for the program.
Shea also received $126,250 from the Lower Colorado River Authority between July 2002 and May 2005 for “environmental leadership consulting services,” according to documents obtained by The Austin Bulldog via an open records request.
Shea said she was hired as a consultant to work on a “broad environmental leadership initiative” with the goal of helping the LCRA “become the leader for sustainable development for all of Central Texas.” She elaborated on that idea in the written proposal she made to the LCRA April 17, 2002.
Shea said she opted to end her contract work with the LCRA after disagreeing with its decision to extend a water line into western Travis County, in the Hamilton Pool Road area.
Joe Beal, the engineer who was general manager of the LCRA when Shea consulted for the organization, verified Shea’s statement about her reasons for terminating her work with the organization.
“I do recall that Brigid felt very, very strongly we should not build that line to Hamilton Pool Road,” Beal told The Austin Bulldog April 7. “We did not terminate her. … She probably just gave up trying to change what we were doing.
“I wanted her advice and input before making decisions because I sometimes had a blind spot for what the environmental community was thinking. I genuinely wanted her input, but made my own decisions.”
Beal said the agency went ahead with the line because it made sense “from an engineering and hydraulic viewpoint.”
“She had her convictions and she acted on them” Beal said.
Shea apparently never did any work for Capitol Metro. That agency stated it had “no responsive records” after The Austin Bulldog submitted a Texas Public Information Act request for records of contracts related to Shea’s consulting services.
As a consultant, Shea also worked for a mitigation plan for Green Mountain Energy’s offices near Barton Creek, and a plan for software company Vignette Corporation to complete a project—similar to San Antonio’s River Walk—adjacent to its planned new offices on Waller Creek. That project fell through after Vignette hit a slump. The building was never constructed, and the company was sold.
As The Austin Chronicle pointed out in an April 6 article, Shea worked with Vignette in 2000 to help the company secure $25 million in economic incentives from the city to move its offices downtown and away from their current location on South MoPac over the aquifer. Leffingwell consultant Littlefield said in the article that it appears Shea also has conflicting views on issuing subsidies: She lobbied to secure economic incentives for a development, yet has been highly critical of more recent subsidies the mayor and council have approved.
Shea told The Austin Bulldog that she is not against issuing subsidies, as long as they are smart and strategic investments. Shea said she worked with Vignette and the environmental community to develop an incentives package that was environmentally responsible and provided community benefits.
As a part of the approved deal, Vignette would invest $8 million to complete the lower portion of the Waller Creek hike and bike trail, and require that a certain percentage of employees live within walking distance of the downtown office, helping to reduce traffic congestion and drive housing projects, Shea said.
When asked if she feels her prior work as a consultant would be a conflict of interest if elected mayor, Shea said, “Frankly I think everyone should have the experience of working on city projects so they can understand how the city operates. … Certainly if any firms I worked with come before the council—and if there’s any question of it being a conflict—I’ll recuse myself.”
More recently, Shea co-founded Carbon Shrinks LLC, a company that helped Texas Lehigh Cement Company’s cement kiln switch from using coal and petroleum coke to the more eco-friendly wood chips and shredded tires, radically lowering carbon emissions.
Shea founded the business, filed with the Secretary of State’s office in 2008, with Terry Moore, who has lobbied local governments to adopt policies addressing climate change.
Shea lags incumbent mayor in fundraising
Although well known in Austin political circles, Shea, 57, faces the challenge of catching up with the significant campaign contributions made to Leffingwell, 72.
Shea did not announce she was definitely running against Leffingwell until her February 1 kickoff event, leaving her just 100 days to mount a campaign against an incumbent mayor who has served on the City Council since 2005.
She appointed a campaign treasurer December 5 to explore a possible campaign run and raised $4,200 from that date through December 31.
Leffingwell reported raising $87,624 from November 14, 2011, when he appointed treasurer Kathryn “Kitty” Clark, to December 31. He reported spending $7,913. Leffingwell still has a $60,911 debt from his 2009 mayoral campaign.
The candidates’ latest campaign finance reports, due April 12, will paint a more accurate picture of the candidates’ finances.
Shea’s only reported political expenditure was $1,000 for a poll conducted by Opinion Analysts Inc. According to a February 8 Austin Chronicle article, an exploratory committee for Shea hired pollster Jeff Smith to conduct a survey gauging support for City Council incumbents and potential challengers. The survey, given to 400 likely voters between December 5 and 7, showed Leffingwell “well inside the vulnerable range,” with 36 percent saying they would like to see Leffingwell re-elected, 32 percent preferring someone else and 32 percent saying it would depend on the candidate.
Bundlers—individuals who solicit and obtain campaign contributions of $200 or more from five or more people—play a significant role in a candidate’s ability to raise campaign funds. Shea did not report any bundlers in her January 17 report, compared with Leffingwell, who reported contributions from nine bundlers totaling $37,800. Three of the bundlers are registered city lobbyists who collected $18,050 of that amount.
At a press conference March 20, Shea called for more limits on contributions to City Council candidates by limiting lobbyists and their firms to a total of $1,750 in bundled contributions. These restrictions are similar to the recommendations made by the Charter Revision Committee.
She also wants the same restrictions applied to firms that have professional services contracts with the city of more than $100,000, a restriction not addressed by the Charter Revision Committee.
“It taints the process (when) those who are financing the incumbents’ campaigns are the same ones getting millions in city contracts and deals,” Shea said at the press conference.
Not everyone agreed with Shea’s proposal, such as Paul Bury of Bury + Partners Engineering Solutions, who has bundled contributions for Leffingwell and Council Member Mike Martinez, and Peck Young, a former long-time Austin political consultant.
As The Austin Bulldog reported March 20, Bury said the reforms are unnecessary because information on campaign contributions is already easily accessible to the public.
Young argued that the current city restrictions prohibiting contributions of more than $350 have already created severe limitations on a candidate’s ability to communicate with voters.
“Money is the means by which you communicate in politics,” Young said. “If you strangle money in campaigns, you strangle the ability to explain what you stand for.”
From outspoken activist to a stint on City Council
Shea became a well-known name in Austin’s environmental scene in 1991 when she co-founded the Save Our Springs Coalition, which successfully petitioned to get an ordinance on the ballot aimed at protecting water quality in Barton Springs. The SOS Ordinance, approved by voters in 1992, limited development around the Barton Springs area.
“We were literally up against a company that owned the world’s largest gold mine. I mean, it was this incredible David and Goliath situation,” Shea said at a campaign fundraiser in March. “I felt like I knew what the French Resistance was like all throughout SOS” (campaigning).
During the SOS Ordinance campaign, Shea engaged in several heated exchanges with Austin developers, most notably Freeport-McMoRan Inc. CEO Jim Bob Moffett, who threatened to bankrupt the city with litigation if the SOS Ordinance passed, and Circle C developer Gary Bradley.
Shea has since reconciled with Bradley. The Austin American-Statesman published an article on October 23, 2011, stating that Shea and Bradley had quit fighting, something emblematic of the maturing of both these individuals.
“I’m probably able to see the humanity in my opponents better than I did in the past. That’s really all it was with Bradley. … He’s a human being and he has strong views and we disagreed, but he’s still a human being. I wouldn’t have been able to say that in the past,” Shea told The Austin Bulldog. “I’m very able to work with people I disagree with.”
Shea also engaged in heavy debates with Joe Beal during the SOS Ordinance election campaign.
Long before he rose to general manager of the LCRA, Beal was a partner in Espey, Huston and Associates Inc., the engineering and environmental consulting company that did the first studies of the Barton Springs portion of the Edwards Aquifer for the City of Austin. Because of his knowledge of the science of the Barton Creek system, Beal wound up being a lead spokesman for the alternative ordinance the City Council had proposed to get voter approval, instead of the citizen-initiated SOS Ordinance.
“I spoke as an engineer—not a developer’s engineer—and scientist,” Beal told The Austin Bulldog February 4.
“We debated on TV,” Beal said, referring to Shea. “I found her to be a very good opponent, extremely bright and competent, and one of the best thinkers on her feet I’ve ever seen.
“The debates were pretty rough. We were not kind to each other, but personally I never disliked her. I had a lot of respect for her, which is why I asked her to work for me at the LCRA.”
Shea, a former National Public Radio education reporter who moved from Philadelphia to Austin in 1988 to head Texas Clean Water Action, had only lived in Austin for four years at the time the SOS Ordinance was passed. The victory helped solidify her role in the city’s environmental community.
“We passed the strongest water quality ordinance in the nation by citizen initiative, and I’m convinced that’s the reason we can still swim in Barton Springs today,” Shea said. “We created a new political consensus that protecting our environment is good for the economy.”
The SOS Ordinance went before voters on August 8, 1992, winning 64 percent in favor, while the alternative ordinance championed by the council majority and Joe Beal got only 35 percent approval. Lawsuits ensued but ultimately the Texas Supreme Court upheld the SOS Ordinance.
Shea’s leadership in the SOS Ordinance fight helped her win a seat on the Austin City Council in 1993 in a runoff election against incumbent Bob Larson, one of the four council members who had opposed the SOS Ordinance.
A month before her council victory, Larson publicly asked Shea to release her campaign’s bank statements to prove that she did not use SOS funds to run for office without reporting it as required by law, according to a May 19, 1993, Statesman article. Shea’s campaign ignored the challenge, but denied the allegations, and won the runoff with 54.35 percent of the votes.
As a council member, Shea and fellow environmentalist Jackie Goodman, who also won a council seat in 1993, successfully pushed to kill a $3 million contract to build a major sewer that would have served areas over the environmentally-sensitive aquifer.
In 1995, however, Shea was on the losing end of a battle to stop the extension of service over the aquifer to provide water to the Lantana tract, where Advanced Micro Devices later built its new corporate headquarters, despite heavy environmental opposition.
Shea’s council term was marked by then-Mayor Bruce Todd’s push to sell the city’s electric utility amid the legislative restructuring of the electric industry in Texas. Shea was one of five council members who voted in March 1996 not to sell the utility.
Shea also served during a time the council had to consider raising electric rates—similar to the Austin Energy rate increase council members are considering today. According to a September 15, 1994, Statesman article, Shea led an attempt to reduce the proposed 14.5 percent increase on household rates. However, she ultimately decided to support the agreement because, according to the Statesman report, several parties had already agreed on the plan, and warned that reopening negotiations could result in an even larger increase if appealed to state regulators.
Shea left the council in June 1996 after serving only one term, opting to step down from the position due the recent birth of her first son. Shea returned to the Save Our Springs Alliance as executive director and later communications director, a position she left in September 1999 to spend more time with her then two young children.
Shea remained politically active by serving on the SOS Political Action Committee, but resigned from that position in 2000 after the board of directors refused to support the re-election of then-Mayor Kirk Watson, who went on to win a landslide 84 percent of the votes against token opposition.
Shea has supported many local politicians over the years, including current Council Members Bill Spelman, Laura Morrison, Kathie Tovo, and even Mayor Leffingwell, former chair of the city’s environmental board.
Shea target of criticism on council
Shea was the target of considerable criticism during her council term. A February 3, 2012, Statesman article said, “Shea was a polarizing figure who became known by the nickname ‘Rigid Brigid’ in the 1990s.”
”If Jesus, Gandhi and Martin Luther King got elected to the council tomorrow, I guarantee you that in a month their names would be dirt. They’d be trashed all over the city,” Shea said in a February 20, 1996, Statesman article. ”There is no way to prepare for the unbelievably inappropriate level of personal attacks that take place.”
A year after Shea left office, several environmental activists sent a petition to the Federal Communications Commission asking the agency to cancel the broadcast licenses of three Austin-area radio stations for allegedly making personal attacks on air.
Shea was one of nine people who complained about verbal attacks on themselves and others—such as alleging Shea cheated on her husband in a radio parody—on the ”Sammy and Bob Show” and on John Doggett’s afternoon talk show, according to Statesman reports.
Nevertheless, in March 1998, the FCC renewed the licenses of the stations in question—KVET-AM, KVET-FM and KASE-FM—for several more years.
A May 13, 1996, Statesman editorial criticized Shea, who was a sitting council member at the time, for working May 4, 1996, as an election-night reporter on the city’s Channel 6 television station, the month before she left office after not seeking re-election.
“Commentary is one thing, but Shea was allowed to push the envelope as a reporter,” the editorial stated. “Shea should get the point after her bad reviews as Channel 6 reporter that elected officials practicing journalism is an ethical issue. But like most purists, Shea has ended up buried in a hole of her own making, blaming everyone but herself.”
Sued state over carbon emissions
According to Travis County District Court records, Shea and her oldest son are involved in a lawsuit against the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The lawsuit, filed July 21, 2011, includes as plaintiffs Karin Ascot on behalf of her two children and Brigid Shea on behalf of her teenage son, Eamon Brennan Umphress, a minor.
The plaintiffs asked that the court review TCEQ’s denial of their petition to initiate rulemaking to implement a plan reducing fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions by at least 6 percent a year.
In a signed letter denying the petition, TCEQ Chairman Bryan Shaw stated that the plaintiffs’ proposed standards for regulating carbon dioxide emissions have “not been developed through the proper mechanism under federal statute,” the federal Clean Air Act.
The lawsuit is part of a nationwide campaign involving the nonprofits Kids vs. Global Warming and Our Children’s Trust. Youth from across the nation, with the help of pro-bono attorneys, sued state and federal governments to implement climate recovery plans.
A final hearing on the merits of the TCEQ lawsuit is scheduled for June 11 in the 200th District Court of Travis County.
The TCEQ lawsuit was not the first time Shea and her son participated in civic affairs together. According to a May 27, 2010, Statesman column, Shea and Eamon were kicked out of a State Board of Education meeting for applauding a legislator’s request to delay voting on proposed textbook changes.
Shea took Eamon and four of his classmates to the meeting as a part of a field trip, and the group brought protest signs made out of pizza boxes left over from lunch.
Chairwoman Gail Lowe ordered Shea and three of the boys to leave for applauding, which Lowe said is against board meeting rules.
Shea and the boys left, but Shea said in the column, “I thought afterward I should have said, ‘No, if you want to stop us from expressing our opinion in a public meeting, you’ll have to drag us out.’”
Shea’s real estate investments
While on the council in 1995, Shea and her family moved into the Rainey Street Historic District neighborhood that is now home to a number of thriving bars, including a house they own and lease to Clive Bar at 609 Davis Street.
According to a January 5, 2001, Statesman article, Shea tried to persuade fellow Rainey Street landowners to sell their properties to Dallas developer Gordon Dunaway, who wanted to “build hotels, condominiums, apartments, shops, offices and possibly even a sports arena in downtown Austin’s last historic neighborhood.” The project was scrapped when he could not get all 34 property owners to sell.
”A number of people had unrealistic expectations about what their land was worth, or what they could get for their land,” Shea said at the time.
According to the article, Dunaway would have paid homeowners an average of $400,000 for their lots. The average lot at the time was appraised at $84,000.
Shea told The Austin Bulldog that she initially wanted to keep the neighborhood residential. But after a neighborhood survey showed the other residents preferred to sell rather than watch Rainey Street slowly gentrify, she decided to become part of a neighborhood committee that would review proposals and meet with potential buyers.
“It was a very democratic process,” Shea said.
In 2003 Shea bought another house at 73 Rainey St., which is currently rented. She now lives at 2604 Geraghty in north central Austin.
The three homes she owns are worth a total of $1.28 million, according to the Travis County Appraisal District.
Bringing a ‘new voice’ to Austin
Although preserving Austin’s environment is still a top priority, Shea said she also hopes to return to City Hall to help make Austin more affordable, increase water conservation efforts, and do more to help Austin schools.
Shea said Austin property taxes, city fees, and water and electrical rates continue to rise, putting a strain on residents’ and small business owners’ budgets.
“The city has also been irresponsible in spending our tax dollars,” she said. “There have been too many giveaways, too many bad deals, and too much bad management.”
As an example, she cited a $4.3 million incentive package granted June 29, 2011, for construction of White Lodging Services Inc.’s JW Marriott Marquis hotel (corrected Monday, April 16, 2012 11:19am) at Second and Congress downtown “the owners were going to build anyway” while the city could not afford to keep open all community swimming pools and were forced to cancel the Trail of Lights.
Leffingwell also signaled his support to give the Manchester Financial Group a similar deal to build another downtown hotel at Cesar Chavez and Red River, after developer Perry Lorenz said in a June 23, 2011, Statesman article that the project would not require subsidies.
“We have a very lucrative hotel market. … We shouldn’t be subsidizing them to come downtown,” Shea said. “It’d be like paying hotels to locate next to Disneyland.”
However, the Statesman quoted Leffingwell as saying at a March 27 candidate forum that, “Anyone who says (the hotel) was coming here anyway, frankly, they don’t know what they’re talking about.” Leffingwell said the hotel incentives were in the form of waived fees—“no money changed hands.”
According to the approved ordinance, the city agreed to waive $3.8 million in development fees and contribute no more than $500,000 to help pay for relocating a wastewater line associated with construction. In return, White Lodging Services will construct a 1,003-room hotel, invest $215 million in construction costs, and create 715 permanent jobs with an average annual wage of $38,000.
Leffingwell also said during the Austin Neighborhoods Council candidate forum that, “I just talked to one of the principals at the other hotel and asked, ‘Did you say you guys say you didn’t want fee waivers just like the other hotel guy?’ And he said, ‘Absolutely not. If we don’t get them, we’re really going to be mad about that.’”
Shea said she is not completely against all subsidies, but she would set the bar much higher than it is now.
“I want people to know that there’s a very, very smart negotiator in the mayor’s office, instead of a pushover,” Shea said.
Shea, who has been critical of how the City Council has handled Austin Energy’s current proposed electric rate increase, said as mayor, she would tell the utility to implement an interim small increase and then “look for opportunities to stretch our money.”
The Austin City Council is still researching Austin Energy’s proposal through a series of work sessions and won’t make any final decisions until after the May 12 election.
Shea, who is vice president of the McCallum High School PTSA, vowed to work closely with the Austin Independent School District to save neighborhood schools, which she said are key to healthy property values and strong neighborhoods.
“I will organize mayors across this state to send that same message to the Legislature,” she said, “and urge full funding of our schools.”
Leffingwell leads in endorsements
Shea’s campaign kickoff attracted a significant crowd, but Leffingwell also drew a big crowd to his February 25 fundraiser and has a broad coalition of support.
Leffingwell now claims on his campaign website to have garnered 18 endorsements from Austin organizations, including the Austin Central Labor Council and several local Democratic groups.
Shea has three major endorsements so far: the Better Austin Today political action committee (BATPAC), the Austin Neighborhoods Council, and the Austin Sierra Club. The League of Bicycling Voters chose to endorse both Shea and Leffingwell.
Leffingwell was the overwhelming favorite in a straw poll conducted March 27 at a candidate forum hosted by the Real Estate Council of Austin, the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, and ten 10 other real estate organizations. About 500 of the organizations’ members attended the event, according to the Real Estate Council website. Ninety-one percent favored Leffingwell, while five percent voted for Shea and four percent voted for Clay Dafoe, Leffingwell’s other challenger.
Savy Buoy, owner of Savy Realty and Acquisition, who is involved with the Network of Asian American Organizations that endorsed Leffingwell, came to show her support for Leffingwell at his February 25 fundraising event, saying, “He stays connected with people. He doesn’t just brush them away. Everything with economic development, I’ve been very impressed with.”
Still, many environmentalists say they strongly support Shea to be the next Austin mayor.
“Brigid is a person of great conviction, and she is getting into public service to serve her principles,” said Robin Rather, a one-time board chair of the SOS Alliance who currently serves with Shea on the Liveable City board. “I feel we need more of that.”
Editor Ken Martin contributed to this report.
Mary Brigid Shea
Birth date: January 9, 1955
Current elected office: None
Office sought: Mayor of Austin
Previous elected office: Austin City Council member from June 1993 to June 1996
Office salary: $75,420 a year plus a $5,400 annual car allowance
Campaign e-mail: [email protected]
Campaign phone number: 512-524-1466
Career: Shea came to Austin 1988 to start the Texas chapter of Clean Water Action, after working as a journalist at NPR stations in Minnesota and Philadelphia. In 1991 Shea co-founded the Save Our Springs Coalition (predecessor to the Save Our Springs Alliance), and served on the Austin City Council from 1993 to 1996. She has worked as an environmental and community advisor to several entities, including the City of Austin, LCRA, Seton Medical Center, and Green Mountain Energy. She is co-founder and principal of Carbon Shrinks, LLC, a consulting company specializing in carbon reduction.
Boards/organizations, current: Serves on the national board of Clean Water Action, the Liveable City board, and is a member of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce Clean Energy Council, vice president of the McCallum High School PTSA.
Boards/organizations, past: Served on the Texas Solar Energy Society board from 2008-2010, the Solar Austin board from 2007-2011, Texas Campaign for the Environment board from 2011-2012, and is co-founder of Save Our Springs Alliance
Business records: Shea founded environmental consulting firm Brigid Shea & Associates as a sole proprietorship in 1999. According to Secretary of State business records, Shea filed to create Brigid Shea & Associates as a limited liability corporation in May 2008. She said the LLC was meant to be a “green radio network,” but the venture fell through. In October 2008 Shea renamed Brigid Shea & Associates LLC as Carbon Shrinks, LLC, a firm specializing in carbon reduction.
Shea co-founded Responsible Growth for Northcross Inc. The organization, which has since dissolved, fought to oppose plans for a massive 225,000-square-foot Walmart store in the aging Northcross Mall at Anderson Lane and Burnet Road. The Walmart was ultimately built at 99,000 square feet, less than half the size originally proposed.
Campaign finance reports
2012 election campaign, nine pages (through December 31, 2011)
Danette Chimenti, campaign treasurer, who has supported Council Member Kathie Tovo and Laura Morrison’s past campaigns
Amy Parham, campaign manager
John McNally, field director
Vanessa Crook, in charge of scheduling and social media
Jeff Smith of Opinion Analysts Inc., pollster
Dean Rindy of Rindy MIller Garcia Media, consultant
Austin Clean Water Program, 18 pages
Barton Creek Lift Station, 6 pages
General Watershed Engineering Services, 13 pages
Lower Colorado River Authority contracts and payments, 42 pages
Travis Water Treatment Plant, 3 pages
Education: Shea earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies at the College of Saint Benedict, where she graduated in 1982.
Marriage record: Shea married John Umphress, a green building specialist with Austin Energy, on December 31, 1993, according to the Travis County Clerk’s website.
Personal financial statement, seven pages
Political Party: Shea voted in all Democratic primaries dating back to 1990.
Travis County Grantee Records (property acquired), 37 pages
Travis County Grantor Records (property sold), 144 pages
Travis County Property Tax Records, 3 pages
Campaign website: http://brigidsheaformayor.com
Stories involving Shea
Links to stories (most recent first). Note: Most Austin American-Statesman articles are linked here through the Austin Public Library online databases. Access is free but requires a library card number to view. You must log in on the library site for these links to work. Or, alternatively, Statesman articles can be accessed by searching the newspaper’s online archives and creating a user account.
Shea’s contracts at issue: Questions raised about candidate Brigid Shea’s work as consultant and lobbyist, The Austin Chronicle, April 6, 2012
Consider the source: Boring into BOR: A little less orange, a little more transparent, The Austin Chronicle, April 6, 2012
Brigid Shea Received $500,000+ in City of Austin Contracts, Bid on Water Treatment Plant, Burnt Orange Report, March 29, 2012
Austin council candidates spar over incentives, other issues, Austin American-Statesman, March 27, 2012
Shea Wants More Contribution Limits and Disclosures, The Austin Bulldog, March 20, 2012
PolitiFact: Brigid Shea says Austin water rates doubled in decade and Austin water costs are greater than costs in the state’s other biggest cities, Austin American-Statesman, March 5, 2012
A Piece of the Poll, The Austin Chronicle, February 8, 2012
Who does Austin want to lead the way? The Austin Chronicle, February 3, 2012
Let’s talk about an affordable Austin, Austin American-Statesman, February 3, 2012
Brigid Shea Supporters Loud and Proud: Former Council Member Packs Threadgill’s for Rousing Mayoral Campaign Kickoff, The Austin Bulldog, February 2, 2012
Shea’s rebellion, The Daily Texan, February 2, 2012
Ex-council member Shea to run for mayor, Austin American-Statesman, January 31, 2012
Shea Exploring Run for Mayor: Cites Differences in Vision and Leadership But No Specifics While Mulling Her Candidacy, The Austin Bulldog, December 6, 2011
An unlikely reconciliation for two ‘development wars’ foes, Austin American-Statesman, October 22, 2011
Joseph McCarthy, we’re sure, would have sat quietly, Austin American-Statesman, May 27, 2010
Local kiln blazes an eco-friendly trail, Statesman archives, March 20, 2009
As bankruptcy case bears down, SOS seeks rebound, Statesman archives, April 20, 2008
Austin big-box debate fires up, Statesman archives, December 4, 2006
Northcross Mall to be transformed, Statesman archives, June 20, 2006
Battle of the Big Box: Enviros and Southwest neighbors find a common cause: fighting Wal-Mart, The Austin Chronicle, July 11, 2003
In search of a happy ending; Rainey Street has a historic designation, sky-high taxes and no idea where it’s headed, Statesman archives, July 8, 2003
Did SOS matter? The Austin Chronicle, August 9, 2002
Developer dumps Rainey Street deal, Statesman archives, January 5, 2001
Shea goes into business, Austin Business Journal, July 23, 2000
Shea resigns SOS post over snub of Watson, Statesman archives, April 19, 2000
Petition against stations rejected: FCC finds KVET didn’t violate personal-attack rule on Shea, others, Statesman archives, March 20, 1998
Shea leads Save Our Springs, Statesman archives, February 20, 1997
Shea joins leadership of Texas Citizen Action: Activist will work for election of candidates endorsed by organization, Statesman archives, August 22, 1996
Shea oversteps TV role, Statesman archives, May 13, 1996
Brigid Shea takes to airwaves with weekly radio segment, Statesman archives, April 2, 1996
Ugly politics cost Austin a good one, Statesman archives, February 20, 1996
The Wrench is Back: The return of Brigid Shea, The Austin Chronicle, January 26, 1996
This report was made possible by contributions to The Austin Bulldog, which operates as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit to provide investigative reporting in the public interest. You can help sustain this kind of reporting by making a tax-deductible contribution.