Vote Today, Party Tonight

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Local Elections today across the state. Here in Austin, we're apparently struggling to be more than a student council election with TV ads, as Austin American-Statesman editorial columnist Arnold Garcia Jr. wrote yesterday:

Elections are supposed to be a competition of ideas, but aren't really. Nationally, elections are actually fundraising competitions. Ever since a ridiculous campaign contribution limit was imposed on Austin city elections, council races have turned into student council elections with a few TV commercials thrown in.

No word yet on what the Statesman editorial page plans to do to make its Austin City Council coverage little more than student newspaper reporting with a few good bloggers thrown in (Omar, my man — I got your back). After all, their endorsement today contained this oft-repeated lie:

Council Member Lee Leffingwell, another mayoral candidate, is a steady hand who has been successful in bringing disparate groups to the table and hammering out compromises. He has an excellent record on environmental issues and has steered numerous projects through City Hall. However, Leffingwell, 69, is too close to the public safety unions, whose salary demands could handcuff the city next year.

A lie that Leffingwell, of course, has tried earnestly to rebuke:

Indeed, despite the Statesman’s string of fact-free editorials in recent weeks, I have never said “hands off public safety.” I have never said that police, fire or EMS should be “last in line for budget cuts.” I have never said that our public safety departments should be “exempt from trimming.” I have never said that I want “to hold the police and fire departments exempt from budget cuts.” I have never said I “would rather ask companies to sacrifice their tax incentives than have police officers and firefighters give up their raises.” I have never said I want public safety employees “to have their millions of dollars in raises and overtime at any cost.” Yet week after week, the Statesman editorial board mysteriously continues to advance these fictions. As far as I know, I’ve only been “criticized as beholden to the powerful public safety unions” by the Statesman editorial board itself (which, as you’ll no doubt recall, dubbed me “a longtime union leader” even though I’ve never been any kind of union leader), and by people actively supporting another candidate for mayor in this election.


Hopefully most of you living in Austin have already voted or are preparing to do so soon. Here are our endorsements, in case you've somehow missed them:

– Mayor:   Lee Leffingwel
– Place 1: Chris Riley
– Place 2: Mike Martinez
– Place 5: Bill Spelman
– Place 6: Sheryl Cole

Best of luck to all the campaigns!


About Author

Phillip Martin

Currently the Research and Policy Director for Progress Texas and the Texas Research Institute, Phillip Martin writes occasional long-form pieces for BOR that promote focused analysis and insight into Texas politics. Born and raised in Austin, Phillip started working in politics in 2003 and started writing on BOR in the summer of 2005. Phillip has worked for the Texas Democratic Trust, the Texas Legislative Study Group, and now the Progress Texas family. He is a lifelong Houston Astros fan, a loyal Longhorn, and loves swimming at Barton Springs Pool.

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