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Proposition 4 Campaign Reports Finances

Proposition 4 Campaign Reports Finances

Late report lists $2,685 raised in last three months
but fails to provide details about campaign expenses

by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog 2012
Posted Wednesday, October 10, 2012, 7:54pm
Corrected Thursday, October 11, 2012 1:34pm

Austin Community for Change (AC4C) submitted its latest campaign finance report after the 5pm deadline to reach the City Clerk’s office yesterday.

A copy obtained this morning indicates the political action committee (PAC) favoring the 8-2-1 plan for electing council members collected $2,685 in the past three months. Combined with the previous reported total of $1,907 brings the AC4C PAC’s total fundraising to $4,592.

The amount of campaign contributions netted by the Proposition 4 supporters is swamped by the competing Proposition 3 plan for geographic representation. Austinites for Geographic Representation (AGR) has raised nearly $90,000.

As reported yesterday, AGR raised $40,662 in the latest reporting period and nearly $70,000 to date. AGR also reported receiving an additional pledge of $20,000. That will bring the PAC’s total fundraising to almost $90,000, with nearly four weeks remaining before election day.

Proposition 3 Campaign Reports Finances

Proposition 3 Campaign Reports Finances

10-1 campaign proponents raised more than $40,000,
Proposition 4’s 8-2-1 advocates’ report not submitted

by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog 2012
Posted Tuesday, October 9, 2012 9:23pm
Corrected Thursday, October 11, 20129:57a

Austinites for Geographic Representation (AGR), the proponent for Proposition 3 on the November 6 ballot, reported raising $40,662 from July 1 through September 27. However, The Austin Bulldog’s tally of the contributions totals $37,882. Campaign treasurer Stacy Suits was in Dallas today and not able to resolve the discrepancy. (The report was correct as submitted. The Austin Bulldog regrets the error.)

The AGR total does not include the $29,131 previously reported in the January and July campaign finance reports. The latest report brings total campaign contributions to nearly $70,000.

Austin Community For Change (AC4C) the proponent for Proposition 4, did not submit its PAC report by today’s 5pm deadline. AC4C’s only previous report showed the organization had raised $1,907.

AGR’s largest donation was the $15,000 received from “Home PAC Corporate,” a political action committee operated by the Homebuilders Association of Greater Austin. Home PAC gave two donations, one for $11,000 and another for $4,000. (Home PAC also donated $1,000 during the previous reporting period that ended June 30.)

Proposition 3 Rally Draws 150-200 People

Proposition 3 Rally Draws 150-200 People

Crowd hears fiery speeches by proponents of
 the 10-1 system for electing council members

by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog 2012
Posted Monday, October 8, 2012 10:13am
Corrected Thursday, November 1, 2012 10:35am

The rain-delayed “Trust Austin” rally honoring civil rights leader Arthur DeWitty, originally scheduled for a week earlier, drew a Saturday audience that event organizers Austinites for Geographic Representation (AGR) estimated at 150-200 people to the Park Place Pavilion in East Austin.

It was the latest in a string of Proposition 3 campaign activities that included multiple in-house fundraisers and a garage sale, as well as numereous appearances at neighborhood association meetings. Funds raised so far have been used to print 100,000 door hangars, plus yard signs and fliers to be distributed by volunteers.

Representatives from numerous community organizations spoke in favor of the 10-1 plan, leaving no doubt of their passion for electing City Council members from geographic districts, instead of the all-at-large system that’s been in place since 1953.

Gonzalo BarrientosNoting that some form of geographic representation had been on the ballot six times before and failed, retired State Senator Gonzalo Barrientos said, “Politicians put it on the ballot and then sat on their hands. We want geographic representation.”

Barrientos said Mayor Lee Leffingwell and Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole asked him to sit on the 2012 Charter Revision Committee, which he chaired. “Hundreds of people said what they wanted, and we recommended the 10-1 plan” to the City Council. “Did they pay attention? No!

Attorney Bickerstaff Addresses Critics’ Concerns

Attorney Bickerstaff Addresses Critics’ Concerns

His September 24 article drew numerous comments about the
Proposition 3 Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission

by Steve Bickerstaff
Posted Friday, October 5, 2012, 3:30pm

Editor’s introduction: Proposition 3 is on the November 6 ballot. If it gains voter approval and garners more votes than Proposition 4, Proposition 3 would require 10 council members to be elected from geographic districts and the mayor to be elected at-large. Proposition 3 requires an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission to draw council districts the City Council would have no choice but to adopt.

It is important that Austin voters have a thorough understanding of the Citizens Independent Redistricting Commission before casting ballots in this important election. To that end, on September 24, The Austin Bulldog published attorney Steve Bickerstaff’s scholarly study of the strengths and weaknesses of various systems used for redistricting throughout the nation, including 50 cities. (Bickerstaff’s extensive legal experience with redistricting was detailed in the introduction to that article and need not be repeated here.)

That article drew 20 comments, some of which needed a much fuller response than could be accommodated through posting replies in the comments section. Bickerstaff wrote this piece to address the concerns raised in those comments—specifically the points raised by Proposition 4 advocates Julio Gonzalez Altamirano and Richard Jung. Proposition 4 provides for electing eight council members from geographic districts and the mayor and two council members at-large. Districts would be drawn as determined by a later ordinance.

Steve BickerstaffThank you for the opportunity to join the dialogue on the possibility that the voters of Austin will adopt an independent redistricting commission.

I am not a member of Austinites for Geographic Representation (AGR). My clients in the past have utilized essentially every form of election system [e.g. single-member districts, at-large elections (Austin), and hybrid systems using a combination of at-large and single-member elections (Houston)]. Each of these election systems has advantages and disadvantages.

Feisty Debate Over How to Elect Council

Feisty Debate Over How to Elect Council

One panelist argues for no change to the
at-large system for City Council elections

by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog 2012
Posted Thursday, October 4, 2012 6:40pm

The University of Texas Law School provided the venue for a fourth public debate over the question of whether—or even if—the Austin City Charter should be amended to allow for some form of geographic representation on the Austin City Council.

Sherri GreenbergThe September 28 debate was emceed by Sherri Greenberg, a former state representative who is director of UT’s Center for Politics and Governance at the LBJ School of Public Affairs.

All five panelists were members of the 2012 Charter Revision Committee that voted by a narrow 8-7 majority to recommend that 10 council members be elected from geographic districts and only the mayor continue to be elected at-large, that is by all voters.

Ken RigsbeeKen Rigsbee, an independent oil and energy professional, voted to recommend the 10-1 plan and explained why. “It looked to me like the Charter Revision Committee would have a tie vote, after six months of arguing and debating,” he said. “I voted for 10-1. That doesn’t mean I wanted it—I just wanted to stop the meetings.”

Rigsbee said he told Mayor Lee Leffingwell, who nominated him to serve on the Charter Revision Committee, “I said, ‘Lee, what is it about ‘no’ you don’t understand?’

He was referring to the fact that the voters of Austin had six opportunities between 1973 and 2002 to adopt geographic representation and the majority had always voted no.

“Is it worth spending $2 million for 11 council members vice seven, to force political horse-trading between council members?” Rigsbee asked. “Is it really imperative we do that? My answer is no.” (The city’s assessment of fiscal impact for the four additional council members and their staffs under Propositions 3 or 4 calls for $888,350 for construction and build-out for the additional offices, and an additional ongoing annual cost of $1,396,000 a year.)

The other panelists all agree that the at-large system in use since 1953 must be changed, but disagree on how to do that.