Monday, September 4, 2017

#atxcouncil: #TroxRox two wins while Adler suffers multiple setbacks....

"Therefore keep the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do."
Deuteronomy 29:9

OK, before we go any further, we have to discuss last thursday's council meeting.  Ellen Troxclair passed two items UNANIMOUSLY.  Mayor Adler, meanwhile, saw his latest complicated real estate scheme receive an...unenthusiastic reaction.

Troxclair's first success was an item to increase employment opportunities for the homeless population by partnering with local non-profits.  It would pay panhandlers to do currently unmet maintenance work for the city instead of begging in the street.  This is similar to a very successful early welfare reform measure that Rudy Giuliani implemented in New York City.  We had yet to arrive when this item was considered, but by all accounts it went well.  You can learn more about the program here.

Item #60 was Troxclair's item to redirect a portion of hotel occupancy taxes away from corporate welfare and towards maintenance of city parks.  This was a small, tangible, step for council to take in using existing funds to cover core services without asking the taxpayers for more.  We testified as such:

But here's where things get interesting: Kathie Tovo was a co-sponsor!  Beyond that, Save our Springs also testified in favor!  For this website to testify on the same side of an issue as Kathie Tovo and Save our Springs just proves that if you live long enough, anything is possible.

As for Adler, he clearly sees this new policy as a threat to his convention center expansion scheme.  He offered an amendment to gut the policy at the beginning of discussion, but following public testimony he withdrew that amendment and offered another to conduct a study alongside the new policy.  Troxclair accepted Adler's second amendment, solidifying Adler's cave.

Speaking of Adler's convention center expansion scheme, that was the subject of Item #101.  This proposal is a hot mess of bad ideas, including tax increases and wildly unfair corporate welfare mechanisms we think should be abolished at the state level.  While the state level question is an issue for another day, we certainly don't think Austin should expand this practice locally.  Then there's the fact that seemingly every city in the country is expanding their convention centers (eg. Vegas is about to put a football stadium in theirs), which renders this project a fools errand in pursuit of an arms race we can never win.

And that's pretty much what we said:

In Adler's second setback of the night, council took no action on the item and postponed consideration until September 28.

They also took testimony on the budget and the tax rate, but we didn't stick around after we finished testifying on Adler's item at 10:30.

Finally, we have to comment on a representative from the hotel industry who took the opposite position we did on the two issues.  That means they testified against using existing funds to cover core services then testified for a tax increase on their own industry.  We're sure that has nothing to do with the big hotel chains protecting themselves from competition.

Bottom Line: Long day, but good one.

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