reprinted with permission from the AdlerforMayor.com website:
REINSTATEMENT OF FREE CAPITAL METRO FARES
FOR SENIORS AND THE DISABLED
The State Sunset Commission was asked to review Capital Metro back in 2009 because its financial situation was bleak. One of the reasons Capital Metro’s financial condition was in such bad shape, as addressed by the Commission’s recommendations, was the spending of almost all the agency’s reserves (for various items including the Red Line rail, the biggest ticket item). The Commission recommended the agency cut expenses, stop the 22-year Austin tradition of free fares on fixed bus lines for seniors and the disabled, and build back reserves to about $27 million.
The Commission specifically noted that Capital Metro could reinstate the special accommodation for seniors and the disabled once the reserves were built back to that required two month operating reserve. Capital Metro reserves are now over $100 million and in FY 2015 the agency is anticipating a $21 million surplus.71 This free bus service could help more than 12,000 Austinites. The Austin American Statesman had reported that agency officials estimated that Capital Metro was collecting around $1.8 million annually from bus fares from seniors and the disabled.72 The historic accommodation could and should come back.
I understand the need for solvency and for increasing the percentage of costs covered by fares. But ridership today is down from where it was in 2006 and 2008 and the public wants to see a greater critical mass on board. Even seniors and the disabled will not really be getting a “free” ride because they pay for their rides with their sales tax (fares only cover 10% of the cost).73 Capital Metro gets the same sales tax revenue from City of Austin taxpayers as does the entire City government itself (one full penny of sales tax revenue for each). Capital Metro also gets additional sales tax revenue because it covers a greater service area. In a time of critical affordability issues, and given the slight impact on revenues and reserves this move would have, I think this is something we can afford to do for some of the most challenged of our fellow Austinites. The government can be lean without being mean.
The Adler campaign has assured us that they will fight to restore free bus fares for Seniors.
Where does the Martinez campaign stand on this issue? Martinez voted to raise bus fares for Seniors, does he still take this stand?
Mayor’s Race 2014 – austinmayor.com endorses Steve Adler in the runoff against Martinez
Experience: chief of staff/general counsel for state Sen. Eliot Shapleigh; attorney (has argued civil rights cases, focuses on eminent domain defense); Anti-Defamation League Austin Region board chair; Texas Tribune board chair
Issues: new 10-1 system, traffic, affordability, public education, poverty, water, environment
Facebook: Steve Adler for Austin Mayor
Occupation: City Council member (since 2006)
Experience: longtime civic activist; former firefighter and president, Austin Firefighters Association; Capital Metro board member and current chair
Issues: affordability, traffic and transportation, equity
Facebook: Mike Martinez
Candidates who lost in the primary election:
Sheryl Cole – lost in primary
Occupation: Mayor Pro Tem
Experience: Three-term City Council member; attorney and CPA; public schools advocate (former PTA president)
Issues: Affordability, transportation, water, diversity, equity
Facebook: Sheryl Cole For Austin
Occupation: musician; businessman
Experience: energy negotiations, lending projects, farming, ranching, property management; arts and film production
Issues: transportation, environmental protection, taxation, open space
Facebook: Todd Phelps
Occupation: aircraft mechanic; tech entrepreneur (CEO of AdBirds website)
Experience: Air Force veteran
Issues: campaign finance reform; transportation, small business development, short-term rental rights
Facebook: Randall Stephens for Mayor of Austin
Brigid Shea for County Commissioner, Precinct 2:
“Environmentalist Brigid Shea published a media-savvy package of glowing YouTube testimonials from state Sen. Kirk Watson, ex Texas Ag Commissioner Jim Hightower, former Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos, Austin NAACP President Nelson Linder, and Livable City Chair Ann Kitchen. Joining the effusive headliners were AISD Chair Vince Torres, environmentalist Robin Rather, and community activist Paul Saldana, all gathered for the Sunday grand opening of Shea’s campaign headquarters. ” – Austin Chronicle
Here are just some of the reasons why I will vote for Brigid Shea to County Commissioner and why I hope you will join me in supporting her:
We need to give citizen interests more power than special interests. Brigid has proposed major ethics reforms to severely limit the amount lobbyists and their firms can give to city council candidates.
Under Lee Leffingwell, the City Council has been more concerned with making big development deals than with maintaining the quality of life and affordability for the people who live here. Stop giving away unnecessary incentives like those to the Formula One race track outside the city and luxury hotels downtown.
The city uses less water than it did ten years ago, but our water rates have doubled and are set to rise another 19%.
Electric rates are are expected to rise 20%. Property taxes have gone up. Traffic is up. City fees have gone up. But for many people our quality of life has gone down.
Brigid believes that the protecting the environment is crucial to the economic health of the city.
Leffingwell’s first campaign report showed that 43% of his total campaign donations came from just 11 bundlers, representing lobbyist and city contractor interests. Brigid Shea said, “Just 60 days after announcing my candidacy, I’ve raised almost $100,000 from over 465 people. My contributions show that the people of Austin want City Hall to work for them, not just for the deep-pocketed insiders who are funding the incumbent’s race.”
Please help to spread the word to your friends and associates so we have an extraordinary turnout at the polls.
Message about Technology Leadership:
I believe Brigid Shea will make a great County Commissioner and I am asking you to please join me in supporting her. Here is what she has to say about Technology Leadership:
I was honored to be the Channel 6 host of the very first SXSW Interactive with my good friend, Dewey Winburne. He was my translator for helping folks understand the Internet. I also helped explore how the city could assist this growing industry through the Council’s early Technology Committee. It is amazing to see how the tech community has shaped Austin and made it the place it is today – an incredibly creative and lively place for all of us.
And while the mayor tries to take credit for all of it, I say it’s the people who make Austin so remarkable–not the mayor or council. I am so proud to have been at the beginning of the tech surge, and now I see all the creative media and entrepreneurs who are adding so much to the character and quality of Austin. And there’s so much more to do–imagine what we could do with all the dark fiber that’s lying unused under our streets. Or if the city really listened and acted on the tech community’s many recommendations for innovations. Let’s see what else we can imagine together!
According to a statesman.com article,”The [Tovo vs Shade] race’s outcome could have consequences beyond election day — subtly shifting the dynamics on the council, possibly making it tougher for Leffingwell to push an agenda, and shaping next year’s race for mayor, according to interviews with two dozen people who follow city issues.” The article compared the current Leffingwell, Martinez and Shade Council members to a cool kids clique that usually gets what it wants.
Council member Sheryl Cole is supporting Kathie Tovo for Council. Statesman: “”Sheryl has wielded a quiet, intelligent power on the council, especially on Waller Creek. She’s on the rise,” said Fred McGhee , a Tovo supporter and former president of the Black Austin Democrats . “If Kathie decides to overtly align herself with Laura and Bill, then Sheryl will be in a strong position.”
Kathie Tovo is in a runoff election on June 18 (early voting June 6) with Randi Shade for City Council Place 3, and AustinMayor.com supports her. Former Austin Councilman Max Nofziger, our contributor, also has directed his supporters to Kathie Tovo. Max was in the primary election with Tovo and Shade. AustinMayor supported Max in his 2nd place finish in the Mayoral election against Will Wynn, remarkable that he did so well considering he was outgunned financially. Likewise, Tovo was outspent by Shade but managed to win impressively and just shy of a majority in the primary.
Here is what Kathie supports:
1. Affordable Housing – all income levels should be able to live in all parts of the city
2. Completing Communities – places where people can live close to where they work and play
3. Neighborhood Schools – keep schools open and growing through city partnerships with neighborhood school districts
4. rebuild trust in City Hall
Election Day – May 14
Early Vote – May 2 – 10
Kathie Tovo website: KathieforAustin.com
Statesman – funds approved for Tovo runoff
LeeandBrew…sounds like a German beer…
The big surprise in the Mayoral election was that almost ALL of the large undecided vote went to Leffingwell. Brewster and Carole hardly budged from their pre-election poll numbers.
I thought Carole was showing some late momentun, and I felt sure she was really working the Stop Domain! mailing list. The other big surprise of this election was how little gain she got from that valuable campaign tool. Either she was unable to reach those specific voters, or they were not motivated enough to return to the polls in large numbers, as they had in November. Carole only needed a few thousand of them to turn out to support her on that subsidy issue, and she would have passed Brewster…who was/is a big supporter of the Domain subsidies…and would be in the runoff this morning.
Too bad…then we would have a race on our hands: outsider vs. insider. We would have a hot discussion of substantive issues, with the candidates highlighting real differences. This would have been good for Austin and good for Democracy.
With LeeandBrew, we have two sides of the same coin. Boring…very boring.
In fact, it would not be at all surprising if Brewster announced that he was dropping out of the race. It is going to be very difficult for him to raise money, especially because most of Carole’s voters will either not vote, or will vote for Lee.
It’s hard to campaign when you don’t have a chance to win. The month-long runoff campaign will feel like six months. Unless Brewster just loves campaigning and the camera (publicity) so much, he would be well-advised to follow Ronney Reynold’s precedent in 1997, when he dropped out of a runoff with Kirk Watson. I came in third in that race, and it was clear to everyone that my voters were going to go 90% for Watson.
I just don’t see much upside for Brewster if he continues the campaign only to suffer a resounding defeat. Maybe if he bows out, Lee will drop that criminal complaint he filed about Brewster’s (alleged) campaign fund-raising violation.
For Brewster to be competitive at all in the runoff, he would have to completely re-invent himself, which would only appear calculated and cynical to the voters.
Carole had the support of the Stop Domain! folks, and that was her only real hope of winning. But now they are 0-for-2, having suffered a narrow loss in November, and their horse in this race came in a distant third. I wonder what their next move might be?
I hope they don’t give up and go away, but Leffingwell sure does. The slow economy is turning out to be hard on the high-end retailers like those at the Domain, and it will become more and more obvious that Leffingwell was willing to risk taxpayer dollars…he must be held accountable for his folly and fiscal irresponsibility. The media sure isn’t going to do it…they support such special interest subsidies…so it is up to the citizens like Brian Rodgers and Linda Curtis to do it.
Carole was the underdog, and I like underdogs ( having been one most of political career ), especially when you can see a plausibe possibility for their success…a strategy that could really work. The elements for her success were there, but she was unable to assemble them in a winning strategy.
Her long career in politics is probably over, unless she tries to bring it full circle and run for school board. But she got only 12,435 votes, a pretty weak showing for someone with such high name ID coming into the race…and she spent a lot of money.
So Lee is going to waltz in, no doubt to continue his big-spending ways and his ignorance of substantive environmental issues…
Come on, Mayor!! Wake up and DO something!!
It’s amazing when I realize that I have accumulated 30 years of public policy experience!
Based on this, I humbly offer the solution to many serious problems facing Austin, America, and the World.
My plan will solve or a least substantially impact these enormous issues:
1) greatly reduces our dependence on imported oil
2) greatly enhances our National security
3) No more wars for oil
4) greatly reduces the price of oil and gas, permanently
5) saves the US auto industry
6) provides enormous economic development opportunities
7) greatly reduces greenhouse gases
8) enhances the environment in many different ways
9) greatly enhances public health ( less cancer, asthma, etc. )
10) begins an upward spiral of benefits, many of which we cannot foresee
One solution…The Silver Bullet…addresses all of these issues. The key is to spend money where all of these problems intersect: the Nexus. Instead of throwing huge sums of money at these individual issues, find the place where they all connect…one solution for many problems.
This is efficient spending, something we rarely see in government anymore. It is something we really need right now.
Here’s what we do…here’s where we spend:
1) Since we taxpayers are giving billions to the automakers, we can “work with” ( require ) them to produce vehicles which support our national interests. We can require them to set up production lines to make electric cars and trucks: 500,000 per year. This might cost $10 Billion, more or less, which is in line with what we have already given them ( I’m not sure what they did with all that money. With this plan, we would at least be able to see what we were getting for our money ).
This is a very direct and substantial incentive to the auto industry to produce products the buyers want.
2) To support the conversion to electric vehicles, the government should spend $2 Billion for research and development on batteries and solar energy. Research contracts would be awarded to leading universities like UT, MIT, Cal Tech, University of Chicago, etc. The government should commit to this level of spending for at least three years, a total of $6 Billion.
3) The Federal government should give a tax credit of $10,000 for the purchase of an electric vehicle. For 500,000 vehicles, that would cost $5 Billion. To sustain that for three years would total $15 Billion. This would make electric vehicles affordable for millions of buyers.
4) The Federal government should give money to the 50 largest cities to offer cash rebates to purchasers of electric vehicles, up to 10,000 vehicles in each city. At $5,000 per vehicle, this would amount to a cash infusion into each city of $50 Million. Do that each year for three years, and you get cleaner air and extra money circulating in the 50 largest cities in America. Total cost: $7.5 Billion.
5) Count electric vehicles at 100 miles per gallon for fleet mileage ( CAFE ) standards. This would make them very valuable to the automakers: the more electric vehicles they produce, the less they would have to bring up the miles per gallon numbers for the rest of their fleet. The automakers would save millions of dollars in not having to tinker with their internal combustion engines trying to get marginal increases in mileage.
Total cost for #5: 0
That’s it…that’s the plan. Five simple steps. Steps 1 and 5 are substantial, direct incentives to the manufacturers. Steps 3 and 4 are enormous, direct incentives to the buyers, bringing down the cost of electric vehicles so that millions of people can afford them.
A key to the success of this plan is that BOTH ends of the process are incentivized; the manufacturers AND the buyers. That’s why this plan will work!
Total cost: $38.5 Billion, most of it spread over three years.
Now, Dear Reader, go back to the start of this story to see what $38.5 Billion can buy: items 1-10. This is a huge bargain!! We can have all of those things we desperately need for the relatively modest sum of less than $40 Billion.
When you consider how much our government has already given to the banks and failed financial institutions…and for what? What have we gotten?? Not much…
This plan…The Silver Bullet…turns the corner from a century of the internal combustion engine ( look where that has got us ) to a new clean form of transportation…the electric vehicle. This is revolutionary. This is truly transformative. This will change the world, and much for the better.
Especially when we hook up our electric vehicles to renewable power sources like the sun and the wind.
One of our automakers should produce a sleek silver electric car and call it “The Silver Bullet”. They would sell millions of them, and solve many of the world’s problems in the process.