Tuesday, October 29, 2019

#atxcouncil: Homelessness and the FASCINATING Political Geography of Abbott's Jurisdiction

"[R]edeeming the time, because the days are evil."
Ephesians 5:16

We've obviously said our piece about Greg Abbott and Austin homelessness.  We think Abbott's talked a lot more than he's acted.  Furthermore, the modest actions coming this week don't really solve anything.

Last night, however, we we discussing all of the above with a friend who lives in North Austin.  We explained why we think there's less to Abbott's announcements than meets the eye.  This person didn't disagree, but then said something we hadn't considered:
You're probably right...but if all Abbott does is use TxDOT to clean out the area under highway overpasses, it'll take care of everywhere [the homeless] congregate in my neighborhood.

[Note: Emphasis added.]
Not a bad point.

The primary place the State of Texas (and thus Abbott) has jurisdiction is highways.
Given that, consider how highways intersect Austin city council districts.  Specifically in North Austin:

  • MoPac is entirely within district 10 and the most conservative parts of district 7.
  • US-183 snakes through districts 7, 10, and 6.
  • Even I-35 gets in on the act in district 7.
Districts 6 and 10 have elected Republicans in recent memory.  District 7 has never been seriously contested.  In the current climate, however, it really ought to be (*).

None of this, of course, is to say that TxDOT moving homeless individuals away from highway overpasses really solves the problem.

But it is to say that it could make a visible difference in the lives of the type of people who are swing voters in local elections.

Maybe even enough to change turnout models...especially for December runoffs.

Bottom Line: Given where everything's located, even underwhelming changes could have an oversize impact.


* - By Republicans AND sane Democrats.

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