The Austin Bulldog’s 11th anniversary

HomeCommentaryThe Austin Bulldog’s 11th anniversary

“I know of no human being who has a better time  than an eager, energetic young reporter.”

— H. L. Mencken.

“Or a not-so-young reporter,” I would add.

Personally, at 81, being decades past the age when most journalists have been laid off, bought out, or pushed out to pasture, here I am, still plenty able and more than willing to dig into whatever seems most in need of being investigated. I’ve spent half my life doing this work and I can’t imagine anything more exciting and satisfying. (I owe much of my longevity to my passion for bicycling, as I ride every chance I get, including riding my age in miles every year to celebrate my birthday.)

The Bulldog’s reporting launched on April Fool’s Day 2010. I finessed the inauspicious date by saying, “We don’t take ourselves too seriously but we take our reporting very seriously.”

If you’ve been following our work over the years you may agree that our work is indeed serious, from exposing the Austin City Council for its institutionalized practice of violating the Texas Open Meetings Act in 2011 to breaking the story last week about a nonprofit involving city employees getting a no-bid social services contract for $650,000.

But this isn’t an occasion to recount the Bulldog’s greatest hits. It’s the 11th anniversary of The Austin Bulldog. It’s time to pause and reflect.

It’s a time to express gratitude for still having a platform to serve my community by delivering the best reporting I’m able. And doing so on a lean-and-mean budget. Because the Bulldog has never been about the money. It’s about providing our special brand of investigative reporting to supplement what other organizations, in this media saturated city, usually do not offer.

The Bulldog’s survival is remarkable in an age when the ranks of journalists have been decimated: By rapacious investors employing slash-and-burn tactics to extract profit. By ruthless Internet aggregators who rob the publishers, who actually produce news, of the advertising revenue that once sustained them. The cumulative effect of which is to offer the public far fewer options to get reporting that matters.

The Bulldog owes a big thanks to donors whose financial support makes this work possible. Chief among those is the Kirk Mitchell Public Interest Investigative Journalism Fund. To Kirk and each of you who contributed money to keep this work going, I owe my deepest gratitude. Every donor is permanently listed on the Bulldog website, which is updated annually.

Your support made it possible to hire part-time reporter Daniel Van Oudenaren, who started a year ago and added immensely to our coverage, especially during the 2020 local election season.

Bill Aleshire
Bill Aleshire

We also owe a tip of the hat to our volunteer legal advisor, Bill Aleshire, who represents the Bulldog in each of our public information requests. He frequently helps to clear roadblocks that impede the free flow of information that’s vital to our reporting. Bill sought me out in the early days of Bulldog reporting after I had exposed a Georgetown City Council member for taking nearly $14,000 of taxpayers money to which she was not entitled. I’ve so far filed more than 700 public information requests and he’s been there with me every step of the way.

So, to Kirk, Bill and to all of you, whether donors or readers who may someday choose to boost our reporting budget, thank you. Thank you very much.

Trust indicatorsBulldog editor Ken Martin has been covering city hall and local government in the Austin area since 1981.

Congratulations. It looks like you’re the type of person who reads to the end of articles. Now that you’re informed on this topic we want your feedback.

Related Content

I’m still an idealist

"I still believe that if your aim is to change the world, journalism is a more immediate short-term weapon." — Tom Stoppard “You’re an idealist,”...

Broadband Access Sure Way to Spur Economic Growth

Posted Wednesday June 30, 2010 8:31am

Broadband Internet Is a Sure Way
to Help Spur Economic Growth

But Do All Texans Have Access?
Commentary by Luisa Handem Piette

Luisa Handem PietteThe long-awaited broadband map of Texas was released to the public on June 16—well over a year since the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Stimulus Package) was signed into law, with $7.2 billion in funds earmarked for broadband expansion. The map boasts the use of new interactive broadband mapping platform, BroadbandStat, which allows a street-level view of broadband availability. It also provides the ability to continually enhance and upgrade the data, and gives users the ability to search by address and see the type of technologies used in their service areas, as well as their choice of providers and costs.

The Texas broadband map was created by Connected Texas, a subsidiary of Connected Nation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., that was hired a year ago by the Texas Department of Agriculture and the Public Utility Commission of Texas.

A fundamental requirement for the distribution of stimulus funds has been the determination of need and the geographical location of those who lack broadband access, particularly in rural and remote communities. Connected Texas says that the Texas broadband map—which includes data from 123 state providers—indicates that 3.5 percent of Texas households, approximately 257,000 residences, mostly in rural regions, do not have access to home broadband service. This, says Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, hinders opportunities for business development and access to telemedicine, higher education and e-government.

Broadband mapping errors

The much-anticipated findings are, at best, inaccurate and, in the worst case scenario, may be deceptive, due to multiple errors. One of the problems the map presents is that, in some instances, it shows coverage where there is none, and lack of coverage where there has been broadband presence for quite some time. Another difficulty the map presents is that it indicates wireless presence where there has never been any known provider, as is the case in Hood and Somervell counties.

Perfect Storm for Austin Transportation?

Posted Tuesday June 1, 2010 2:47pm
A Perfect Storm for Austin Transportation?
Commentary by Roger Baker

Roger BakerThe announcement that Capital Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) Executive Director Joe Cantalupo is leaving to go back to his old private consulting firm after only two years may be a telling sign. This comes only a few months after Senator Kirk Watson (D-Austin), a smart and persuasive politician who supported many toll roads, stepped down as chairman of CAMPO and was succeeded by Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe.

Depending on how you might define a perfect storm, when you look over the recent news and transportation funding situation, it is getting hard to find grounds for optimism. It seems wherever you look—federal, state or local—the Austin area is facing worsening transportation funding troubles. Let us count the ways.

TxDOT is almost broke
Funding prospects look bleak for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). State Senator John Carona (R-Dallas), chairman of the Texas Senate Transportation Committee, and


What's really going on in government?

Keep up with the best investigative reporting in Austin.

* indicates required

Donate to the Bulldog

Our critical accountability journalism wouldn't be possible without the generous donations of hundreds of Austinites. Join them and become a supporter today!