Saturday, June 27, 2020

"You're going to be disappointed": An open letter to Peter Rex about Austin Texas

"Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me:
Ezekiel 3:17

Dear Mr. Rex,

I read, with great interest, your Wall St. Journal op-ed "I’m Leaving Seattle for Texas So My Employees Can Be Free." You sound like me a decade ago. The only difference is that I moved to Austin from New York City, not Seattle.

Allow me to break some news you need to hear: If perceived differences in public policy are your primary reason for relocation to Austin, you're going to be disappointed. VERY disappointed. It's not 2006 anymore. Dazed and Confused was a quarter century ago.

I understand the urge to flee the Seattle city council. Unfortunately, Austin's city council is no better. Where Seattle has Kshama Sawant and her allies, Austin has Greg Casar. Austin today is Seattle five years ago.

And the trend lines are, unfortunately, identical.

Allow me to illustrate: In 2019, the Austin city council passed an ordinance to encourage camping by the homeless. Homelessness predictably skyrocketed. Sound familiar?!?

Unfortunately, homeless encampments are just the most tangible, visible, manifestation of misgovernance in Austin. They're hardly alone. Over the past decade, Austin has been a laboratory in how to NOT run a city.

Off the top of my head, within recent memory Austin has seen:
  • Multiple attempts at rewriting our land use development code that, while laudable in intent, have descended into lawless farce in practice.
  • A coordinated assault on the integrity of police chief Brian Manley, the only remotely competent official in the entire city government.
But at least they got their boondoggle soccer stadium...and they want to spend $10 Billion on some trains.

Again, you're from Seattle, does any of this sound familiar?!?


But a ha, you say, Texas is a Republican state. And surely the Republicans at the state level will protect me from Democrats at the local level!!!  Right?!?


The only difference between the Travis County Democrats and the Texas GOP is that the former will stab you in the front.

When you observe it up close, you will rapidly discover that the Texas legislature is a uniquely wretched collection of cowards, drunks, imbeciles, and perverts. Far too many Texas legislators are more interested in sexually harassing young women than in protecting entrepreneurs and taxpayers. To be fair, there are also plenty of run of the mill financial criminals. Carlos Uresti was all of the above.

The Texas to which you think you are moving is a figment of the collective imaginations of Fox News, Political consultants, and the self-serving politicians who hire them.

Speaking of self-serving politicians, Governor Greg Abbott is worthless and weak.  He has no core convictions beyond Dave Carney's tracking poll. There is a lot that could be said on this topic, although the fact that Greg Abbott put a lobbyist named Mike Toomey in charge of Texas' COVID policy encapsulates it all.

While Greg Abbott's poll driven COVID dithering brought his fecklessness into public view, it's hardly the only example. When Austin passed the afore mentioned homeless camping ordinance, Greg Abbott vowed swift and decisive action. Unfortunately, by Greg Abbott's standards, swift and decisive action means nothing more than running his mouth on Fox News. Greg Abbott could have called a special legislative session to override the Austin ordinance. But Greg Abbott didn't. And Greg Abbott won't. Because Greg Abbott is worthless and weak.

If you're looking for a visual manifestation of Greg Abbott's callow failure, check out the intersection of Burnet Rd. and U.S. Hwy 183...and understand that the state of Texas has 100% jurisdiction over this right of way:

In terms of grandiose rhetoric accompanied by meager results, Greg Abbott is the right-wing Bill DiBlasio.

The less said about Lt. Gov Dan Patrick and house speaker Dennis Bonnen, the better.


There you have it.

That's not to say that everything is bad in Austin anno 2020. Longhorn baseball looks solid. One of these years, the football team is going to click.  Evil MoPac has his moments.

Then again, for one of the highlights to be a parody Twitter account that was founded to ridicule our leaders' inability to fix Austin's endemic traffic speaks volumes.

I wish I had better news to report. I really do. But that's reality. And that's what you're getting yourself into if you relocate here.

Consider yourself warned.

Adam Cahn
East Riverside
Austin, TX

P.S. Do feel free to forward this letter to Elon Musk and Joe Rogan.

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