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October 13, 2005

Best of Austin, Again

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

boa2005.jpg I don't think I could ask for a better present on this day of my 21st birthday. The Austin Chronicle has come out with the 2005 Best of Austin awards and Burnt Orange Report has been honored with the Best Local Blogger in the readers poll!

Hat tip to PinkDome on earning a tie with us in that category and for filling our shoes as we vacated the Best Local Political Blog spot which BOR earned last year. Heck, cheers again for us being mentioned as a runner-up in that category alongside In The Pink Texas and Grits. Which brings me to give congrats to ITPT for garnering the critics poll Best "Blushing Blog" spot.

So for a second year in a row, I think our BOR crew has proven to be your best source for much of the state's happenings, keeping an eye (or a couple of dozen of eyes) on the State of Texas. Our traffic has continued to grow beyond what we thought might have been a peak with last year's election. Thanks to Byron, Jim, and Andrew who were the crack writing team that got this whole project started and for bringing me on board as a bright eyed freshman, and thanks to every writer since then, all of whose voices make BOR the reporting engine that it is. And lastly, you the readers, our biggest critics, and the reason why we do this. Thanks for making us the Best of Austin once again. With your support, we'll be sure to stay that way!

Now the clips...

Best Local Blogger

Tie: Burnt Orange Report & PinkDome

Ooh, snap! That's right, they said it! Pink Dome and Burnt Orange are often so sharp and critical, it is actually possible to hear our Guvna' cringe all the way from Lavaca. Establishing themselves as the pre-eminent Austin-based anti-red state blogs, they're helping to keep the Capitol accountable and the rest of us well-informed.

Local Political Blog


It's time to polish the Dome. Thanks to their staff of writers, their eponymous head, Bluebonnet, and Rawhide, PinkDome has, in short time, become one of Central Texas' most popular political blogs, taking the Republican piss with their salacious, slanderific prose. And don't get us started on their clothing line and "Adios, Mofo" gear. The Dome, and for that matter, all her stellar runners-up (Burnt Orange Report, In the Pink, Grits for Breakfast), makes us recall a quote from that lone star populist Molly Ivins "Good thing we've still got politics in Texas, finest form of free entertainment ever invented."

Blushing Blog

In the Pink

InThePinkTexas.com or "Politics on the Lege of Reason," gives an insider's view to the goings-on at the state Capitol and beyond. Eileen Smith's blog is controversial, often offensive, mostly nonpartisan, and totally thought-provoking. The photos and text are updated many times a day, and a loyal group of commentators keeps the conversation going beyond the daily installments.

There are a ton of really great standouts in this year's BOA awards, a couple are listed below, though I'm incredibly proud of my State Representative, Carter Casteel, for her critic’s poll award!

Bipartisan Kids Legislator

Rep. Cartel Casteel

Carter Casteel is a rare bird in Texas politics these days. She's a Republican who refuses to toe the party line on public education issues. If the GOP leadership had its way, the state would scrap public ed altogether and hand it off to profiteers. Republicans, the dangerous ones at the top, think corporates and/or Bible thumpers can do a better job of running schools than educators. Rubbish, Casteel says. The House member from New Braunfels is a former schoolteacher who knows a thing or two about teaching kids. Trying to educate her party bosses is a bigger challenge. Casteel's best-of-show came in May, when she delivered a fire-and-brimstone argument against private school vouchers that threatened to put public schools out of business. You got a problem with public ed? Casteel asked fellow lawmakers. "Look in the mirror! We are what we are, and we have created it!" The voucher bill died, thanks to a dozen brave Republicans like Casteel who bucked the bosses and voted their conscience.

Use of Recycled Material

Carole Keeton Strayhorn

The highly marketable "One Tough Grandma" campaign slogan worked so well for Carole Keeton Strayhorn in her 2002 bid for state comptroller, she's taking the catchphrase out for another spin, this time in her candidacy for governor.

State Legislator

Mark Strama

We knew politics could get hot, but we never knew it could be this hot. Mark Strama: HOT (wink, wink). Yes, we know there is more to consider, such as: his unseating of Republican incumbent Jack Stick; his involvements with initiatives "Rock the Vote" and KidsVoting USA; not to mention his founding the first company to register online voters. He is so much more than a pretty face. We heart you, Mark (tee hee)!

Dream Finally Realized

UT Gender & Sexuality Center

After seven years of planning, one of the largest universities in the nation finally acquiesced to student and faculty demands for a gender and sexuality center. Combining elements of an LGBT safe-space headquarters and a women's resource center, the little office in the SSB (Student Services Building, for you non-Horns) has been offering counseling, mentorships, and good ol'-fashioned advice to UT students and faculty. Director Ana Ixchel Rosal and crew aren't stopping there, either. Plans to resurrect the Safe Space program and institute faculty training sessions are just the first step. Yet, with the undeniable success GSC has had and since Michigan's version has existed since the Seventies, one question remains: What took so long?

Way With Words

Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston

"I have listened to the arguments. I have listened to all of the crap. ... I want you to know that this amendment [is] blowing smoke to fuel the hellfire flames of bigotry." Rep. Senfronia Thompson, who delivered an impassioned argument against a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages and civil unions. Following her remarks, the Texas House voted overwhelmingly in favor of the ban.

Loot/Booty Free-for-All

West Campus Curbs and Dumpsters

At the end of every semester, West Campus looks like the furniture section of a Goodwill – except everything is free. Dumpster diving is never better than when students move out of their apartments. Whatever doesn't fit in daddy's SUV goes on the curb and is free for the taking – usually by other students. Most of their stuff was used when they got it, but a lot of it is still fine, functional furniture. Folks have been known to discover and salvage entirely decorated Christmas trees in their West Campus quests – just in time for the holidays!

Glen Maxey picked up a couple of BOA's, for best GLBTQ leader as well as his No Nonsense in November campaign. Kinky Friedman picked up Best Visionary in the readers poll, but then again, was listed next to Leslie Cochran, our local, wo/man about town. How appropriate.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at October 13, 2005 01:11 PM | TrackBack


We're awesome. I'm sure my work in the last two months is why we won. And the best bday gift you're going to get is MexiMarts at Trudys.

Posted by: matth at October 13, 2005 01:26 PM

Congrats to all, and happy 21st, K-T! I wish I could be in Austin for the occasion to help you celebrate! :)

Posted by: Andrea Meyer at October 13, 2005 01:26 PM

Well BOR gets the Baby Snooks award for Best Blog also. I'm very picky about where I post.

And cheers to you on your birthday. 21. Last time I saw 21 was on the elevator panel. Along with 31 and 41. I stopped the elevator at 41.

Posted by: Baby Snooks at October 13, 2005 01:36 PM

Congratulations, you young whipper-snappers. And get off my lawn.

Posted by: norbizness at October 13, 2005 03:12 PM

Be sure to take a cab home tonight. You wouldn't want to screw this up. Just kidding. Good job.

Posted by: Trooper Dan at October 13, 2005 03:26 PM

Congratulations! Very well done.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner at October 13, 2005 10:56 PM


Posted by: Free Funny Videos at October 14, 2005 01:02 AM
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