There are two words we forget to say too often. Thank you.
In that regard, I want to thank the Burnt Orange Report community for your enthusiastic endorsement. I want to thank so many of you for donating your time and hard earned dollars. Your support is appreciated and the momentum you have created is humbling.
This campaign has been a tough, long endeavor, but your support has made the difference. And with only a handful of days remaining, you continue to energize and impress me.
When we started this race, we knew it would be hard. To win we would have to create a strategy, stay organized, and actively reach as many voters as possible. And our campaign has been committed to doing the hard work, and because of supporters like you, we are within striking distance of winning this race.
Your endorsement alongside the Austin Chronicle, every democratic club that has made an endorsement, the Austin Labor Council, the Austin Firefighters Association, law enforcement, and many others, have given us momentum going into March 2nd.
We have been endorsed by District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, Senator Kirk Watson, State Representatives Eddie Rodriguez and Mark Strama. Also, Mayor Lee Leffingwell and city council member Mike Martinez along with County Commissioner Karen Huber support our campaign and vision for County Court at Law 3. We have been endorsed by over 1,000 people in Travis County because we have made it a point to talk about helping people and not just simply punishment.
You have made this campaign a success up to this point. You have knocked on doors, called voters, voted at club meetings, written letters, signed postcards, and (hopefully) will vote early or on Election Day.
With the election only a week away, I want to make sure to say thank you one more time for all your hard work and support.
So, thank you.
Candidate for County Court at Law #3
Part 2 of a 2-part series. These observations compiled from the last several months of involvement regarding Austin Energy's Generation Plan, 2010-2021. Austinites are invited to engage in town hall discussion on the subject this Monday, Feb. 22, 6 to 8:30pm @ Palmer Events Center. Currently I believe the debates around this issue have a lot to do with communication problems. Here's some insight into "how we got here" --
Part 2. * Moving Parts
* Un-opposed Forces?
* Eyes on the Ball
Moving Parts Costs are Constantly Changing: One thing our local press seems yet to have voiced accurately is costs in relation to these various electricity generation scenarios. Granted, there are literally thousands of data points and potential interpretations, but more to the point: Austin Energy's total costs are always changing, and --
a) Austin Energy is in $$ trouble http://burntorangereport.com/d... The business itself is currently losing money and will likely go belly-up within the next 10 years if AE doesn't start recouping for its transmission costs. How they got into arears here I don't know, but energy bills are going up no matter what. Sorry folks, sorry local press -- it's not the green stuff that's raising our bills -- the utility is spending more money than it makes. (3)
b) More Squishy #'s: Proxy Data causes confusion
As mentioned in Part 1, all of the modeling AE has been doing regarding its electricity plan, 2010-2021, has been based off of proxy info. Two types, basically: how much our electricity has cost in the past and how much it'll cost in the future. This allows AE to say, "We just don't know" what things will cost in the future and say "Bills will increase by 25% if we do nothing, 20% if we follow the greener, Staff Recommended Plan" and say "Bills may increase anywhere from 0% to 50%" over the next 10 years regardless of which plan we take. It stinks, and makes me wonder why AE spent so much money (4) on the damn modeling...
Either way, the Staff Recommended Plan does an admirable job of incorporating all of the specs it was assigned, i.e.: minimal bill increase to all rate payer classes, consistently reliable electricity for a growing local economy, at least 30% renewable generation by 2020 (not my favorite spec, believe it or not - 5), and strategic positioning of the utility's generation mix so that it avoids having to take on additional expenses after 2020 caused by new/likely greenhouse gas regulation. Take Away: bills are going up no matter what. Green generation, if properly timed and integrated, can cost (a lot) less and help stave off future expenses. (Times have changed.) AE's current generation plan is focused, somewhat conservatively, around all of those realities. Unfortunately Austin Energy and City Hall have done a very poor job of communicating those strengths in relation to AE's plan and the big picture. Friends in the press, please help untangle some of that confusion.
Un-opposed Forces? The Factions May Not be Fighting: Generally speaking, there are two concerns regarding Austin's generation plan, 2010-2021: some activists believe Austin Energy has not been rigorous enough with their financial management and want better guarantees that their interests will be protected, some activists believe that before a new General Manager is brought in at our utility Ausitinites need concrete guarantees regarding the utility's next 11 years commitment to environmental protection.
This has been portrayed as a battle -- but is it?
Austin Energy's business model is in serious trouble, both now and long-term. (6) Now is the time for the whole community to educate itself as best it can, and get involved in building the community-owned electric utility 2.0 it wants. Austin needs its community-owned utility to continue to provide affordable, reliable electricity and a significant general fund transfer to the City, so that we have parks, police, traffic lights, and all the rest. We've also made a commitment to leading the nation in climate protection. We've got to work together to find ways to implement greenhouse gas reduction that make sense for each of our community's stakeholders. (7)
I don't hear anyone involved in this process debating any of these ideas: that low income folks need to be cared for with respect to electricity costs, that the environment is in crisis largely because of unintended consequences related to electricity generation's impacts, that Austin should help lead the world out of that crisis, that AE's big investments should be made carefully and in the open, that AE's business model needs to begin evolving now, that large employers should have confidence in AE's financial management and be able to expect reasonable bill increases as the economy changes, that AE itself needs to become solvent -- priority one, that our City needs its general fund transfer to continue in order to provide a high quality of life to Austinites, that electricity generation is in many ways an ethical issue connected to global personal religous and spiritual convictions, that we accept these challenges and integrate them into the ways we work from now on.
Eyes on The Ball My view: I'm supporting my friends and colleagues http://cleanenergyforaustin.org/ who believe the current AE Plan needs to be voted-in by Council, but I believe there's a better scenario out there; one that does a better job of reducing costs, keeping bills stable, and implementing carbon reduction. I hope we continue to engage. Uncovering that scenario would require paradigm shift, but in many ways Austin can either lead or follow on that front. More to the point, note that Cary Ferchill, chair of Solar Austin, spearheaded the creation of a generation scenario which shut down Austin's coal plant -- our dirtiest, most toxic, most destructive, and most affordable form of reliable electricity, in the year 2020. The scenario was first run at UT's LBJ School of Public Affairs before being added to Austin Energy citizen review process last year. The results of this scenario are ground changing: Cary's "quit coal" generation plan costs less than the current Austin Energy Plan (which keeps the coal plant open). Why? Cary's plan exchanges variable (and highly volatile) fossil fuel generation costs for a portfolio of cleaner capital costs, i.e. well-timed purchases of solar and energy efficiency equipment. (8) Cary's plan also assumes geothermal base-load generation comes online in a few years, Austin Energy's plan assumes biomass becomes more viable as baseload. Both are unknown.
The net result? According to Austin Energy's analysis: Cary's plan provides a 62% reduction in CO2, tremendously greater local economic investment, and a lower annual cost during each of the next 11 years compared to AE's plan.
I am in Washington, DC at the new organizing institute learning cutting-edge new media tactics. This is one example of how the progressive community continues dominate online organizing.
The 60 participants, selected from over 600 applicants, are charged with creating and executing simulated campaigns for Mayor of DC. The difference between normal DC campaigns and the New Organizing Institute's mock campaign is the candidates' are comic book superheroes.
One of those superheroes is "The Atom." Members of The Atom for DC Campaign work diligently to create a website, Facebook page, Myspace, and twitter account for their superhero featured in DC comics. In the following days the six campaign staffers for The Atom will create and execute their campaign strategy to attempt win the online election to be held on Friday, July 10th, from 7a.m. EST to 6p.m. EST at www.neworganizing.com/superherovote.
"The candidates may be fake, but the issues are real and we encourage DC residents and the online community to join our online election on Friday," said Judith Freeman, Executive Director for the New Organizing Institute.
This is another example of how young progressives are on the cutting edge of online organizing through social networking sites, and sophisticated outreach tools. Our website integrates YouTube videos we created, in addition to a constituent database that allows us to target our e-mail and social network campaign with the hopes that our content will go viral.
In addition to The Atom for DC Campaign, staffs for opposition superhero candidates prepare to make their case. To take a candidate "viral" staff members work to increase the number of website views, friends on Facebook and e-mail signups through their websites.
(Bill Spelman is endorsed by BOR. - promoted by Karl-Thomas Musselman)
We're in a recession, and unemployment is still rising. Should Austin offer tax incentives to bring in new businesses? If sales tax revenue doesn't turn around, should we cut public safety, parks and libraries, or something else? Shouldn't you be involved in making these decisions?
I believe the weak economy and the tight budget are the most pressing issues facing Austin today. Please join us next Tuesday evening for a town hall meeting to discuss them.
COMMUNITY TOWN HALL "Budget & Economy"
Tuesday, April 14
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
First Unitarian Universalist Church
4700 Grover Ave
Austin, TX 78756
RSVP on Facebook
You're invited to share your ideas and be a part of the solution. Austin faces some tough challenges ahead, but by working together, we can leverage our city resources to get the most bang for our taxpayer buck. If you can't make the event, then please share your ideas online.
Thanks for your support. I look forward to meeting with you personally to hear how you think we can best improve Austin.
(We are lucky to have elected officials like Rep. Coleman. - promoted by Matt Glazer)
"Now, in 2003, I guess you could say a 20 foot hole was dug and the needs of the State of Texas were reduced by that 20 foot hole, the money that pays for those needs. Since then, there's been a little bit put back, and a little bit more put back there, and a little bit more put back there and now the hole is only 10 feet deep [. . .] I don't believe that it is the measurement of what's good for the State of Texas to still have us in a hole in the ground."
- Rep. Garnet Coleman on HB 1, the state budget for 2008-09
You'll find the full text of my remarks below the jump. Be sure to check my website for more updates on state government in Texas.
When I was a 17-year-old high school student in Austin, I volunteered for Congressman Jake Pickle, the legendary Texas Congressman who held the CD-10 seat for 31 years, from 1963 until he retired in 1994. Back then CD-10 was known as "LBJ's District" because a young Lyndon Johnson had held it. LBJ used the seat to lead implementation of FDR's New Deal, and his efforts brought electricity to central Texas.
Congressman Pickle was a worthy heir to the LBJ legacy. His work to reorganize Social Security has kept the program solvent and functioning into the present. He also brought a great deal of research and technology investment to the area, and was a strong and effective advocate for higher education and the University of Texas.
Now I’m running for that seat myself. And though the district has changed dramatically (thanks to Tom DeLay and his partisan allies), the promise of public service I learned in Congressman Pickle's office still holds true today: honor the past and imagine the future.
(David begins a great conversation. The Republican Party wants the people's voice. It will cost the people some money, you have to be a certain type of person, and you have to take off work to get to Fort Worth, but if you are one of the worthy... you are important to the TRP. Which party is the real part of the people? - promoted by Matt Glazer)
UPDATED, 3/30/07: Yesterday I sent an email to the TDP asking if they were planning or had thought about holding a straw poll this summer or fall. No response yet but when one comes, I'll post it here.
Do you think the Texas Democratic Party should considering holding a Democratic Presidential candidate straw poll, similar to the one that the state Republican Party is holding on August 31?
I think it could be a good idea but, if we decide to do it, we should do it differently than the Republicans.
Republicans are charging between $50 and $75 to participate. Obviously, that is WAY too much money for us to charge if the TDP decides to do it.
They are also holding it in Ft Worth, making it hard for Texans who are from all across the state to attend.
... Following months of heated debate, commission members issued a formal opinion, on a 5-3 vote, that interprets an open-government law requiring disclosure of gifts worth more than $250. ... [C]ommissioners in earlier discussions agreed that not requiring the disclosure of a gift's value was an egregious loophole. ...
The issue has been a fierce battle since last year when Bill Ceverha - a friend and appointee of House Speaker Tom Craddick - reported on his personal financial disclosure form that he had received a "check." Mr. Ceverha, a former House member from Dallas, sits on a board that oversees the $20 billion state employee retirement fund.
After public furor, Mr. Ceverha and his benefactor, Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, told The Dallas Morning News that Mr. Perry had donated $100,000 to Mr. Ceverha, who had declared bankruptcy because of lawsuits over his involvement with a Republican political action committee....
(I can't believe this. - promoted by Karl-Thomas Musselman)
From Al Stanley's diary on DailyKos, we have learned that last night's episode of NOW was blacked out on KNCT, the PBS affiliate serving the community surrounding Fort Hood. The episode featured a report portraying "the contrast between (Rep. John) Carter's staunch support of the war and the fact that (Democratic challenger Mary Beth) Harrell has enjoyed much acceptance in the Ft. Hood community despite questioning the war's premise and execution."