Thursday, October 4, 2018

#atxcouncil: There's no good reason to oppose an Independent Audit (aka. Prop K)

"And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them."
Ephesians 5:11

Last night, TPPF hosted a discussion about Prop. K, the independent audit on this fall's ballot.

Art Martinez de Vara, the former mayor of Von Ormey, TX, spoke of his time in government.  He explained how budgets are typically written by department head, not elected officials.  Too often, bureaucrats control the budget process.

Fred Lews, a well-know Austin activist with whom we have both agreed and disagreed over the years, supports an audit.  Lewis spoke about how, in dealing with the city over the years, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that the city is poorly run.  It can do better.  As someone on the left, Lewis explained that "the government has to be effective" if it is to have public credibility.

Speaking in opposition was council candidate Bobby Levinski.  He's a former staffer to three council members and has an insider's insider resume.  Levinski made the standard arguments about how an outside audit is redundant because the city has in-house auditors.  He also literally accused audit supporters of wanting to kill puppies (through animal control) to beliittle the idea of government efficiency.

Even if Levinski's argument were valid [Note: It's not, internal and external audits measure different things], it doesn't change the fact that sometimes having a fresh set of eyes take a look helps.  People who aren't invested in a situation sometimes see things more clearly.  As Martinez de Vara explained: "It's very difficult to audit yourself."

To further this point, we asked Levinski a question premised a cynical hypothesis.  Based on our observations, we cynically hypothesize the real reason Mayor Adler opposes this with such vehemence is because his friends and cronies are getting rich off of city government (*).  We asked Levinski, point blank, if he could come up with any less cynical objection to a fresh set of eyes.  Levinski dodged the question with the same talking points about an independent audit being "redundant."

Bottom Line: Whether your goal is lower taxes OR more city services, an independent efficiency audit has something for everyone.  That's why it's widely supported across the political spectrum.  That opposition only seems to come from those with a financial interest in the status quo is becoming increasingly difficult to overlook.


* - We have no specific evidence, but we have A LOT of unresolved questions about the 2016 "transportation" bond, the 2017 "downtown puzzle," and the recently passed soccer stadium that an independent audit could help answer.

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