Category Archives: environment

Austin Mayor Leffingwell

Brewster McCracken has bowed out of the runoff gracefully, facing a 20 point vote deficit and Lee Leffingwell is Austin’s new mayor.

I’m sure Max will be along soon – when he gets back in town – to give his viewpoint on the Mayor’s race and the future prospects for Austin.

McCracken withdrew just two days after he finished second in the polls behind council member Lee Leffingwell. McCracken made his decision Monday after talking to his supporters, but he says it became apparent on election night that winning a runoff was just too much of an uphill battle.

McCracken received 27 percent of the vote. Leffingwell led with 47 percent, just short of the “50 percent plus one vote” rule, that would have put Leffingwell into a runoff with McCracken.

McCracken said Monday a runoff would have required a tough fundraising drive in tough economic times and that the runoff itself would have been costly for taxpayers to the tune of about half a million dollars.
“I believe that pursuing a runoff election would not be in the best interest of Austin, so that’s why I’m doing it,” said McCracken. “I thought it would have been a distraction in a time when Austin needs to get to work tackling our challenges.”

McCracken offered his support and help to Leffingwell, who will be sworn in next month.

“We know there are some very difficult budget decisions ahead of us,” said Leffingwell. –”It will not exactly be a pleasant time to be mayor, but it’s an important time to be mayor.”

Mayor-elect Leffingwell said his priorities include tackling the budget and establishing a cabinet of community leaders to help advise him.

McCracken had reached his term limits as a council member. He says leaving elected life will give him more time to spend with his 5-year-old son and his new wife. He plans to stay involved with renewable energy issues like the Pecan Street Project.

Leffingwell said Monday that he will consider withdrawing his criminal complaint against McCracken if the issue can be resolved another way, such as by an attorney general’s decision or by city council action.

Stick around Austin Mayor blog for some thoughts and comments from Max Nofziger about Austin’s future bestecasinonorge.com.

How McCracken can win

Lee Leffingwell has nearly half the votes. If you added Carole Strayhorn’s and Brewster McCracken’s votes together they would add up to the same total as Leffingwell. McCracken trailed Leffingwell by 20% in last nights vote.

So, can McCracken turn this around? Not likely. But there is a scenario by which he could make up this gap by the June 13 runoff election. It would be like the Mavs coming back from a 3-0 deficit where they are in the playoffs now, it’s never been done before.

So how can McCracken come back? He’s going to have to do a cold reboot, a complete rebirth. He will need to pick up the Carole / stop domain subsidies/ changeaustin.org vote, woo the environmentalists led by Max Nofziger, dig deeper in to his social networking / social media base, and sharpen his green / high tech message.

McCracken is going to have to revisit his position on corporate subsidies, or he’ll never get the support of Brian Rodgers and Linda Curtis powerhouse mailing list and website. He needs to do some soul searching here and have a one on one with Brian (who should have run for Mayor because he’s the Austinite most deserving and qualified for this post). He doesn’t stand a chance without the support of this major power broker who delivered the votes in the StopDomain referendum and supported Carole Keeton Strayhorn.

McCracken used Michelle Greer ( @michellegreer ), the Statesmans top social media person in Texas, and a team of social networking mavens to build up a modest following on twitter, facebook, myspace on on his blog and website. Now he needs to increase this following a hundred fold and there are social networkers in Austin like @springnet, @perrybelcher and others who have to clout and expertise to help with this.  He may have to reach out to the local team that supported Obama with a social networking strategy.

McCracken needs to re-evaluate his platform on the environment.  Max Nofziger won more votes than any other white guy in Austin election history running on an environmental platform with real substance.  McCracken has come out in support of high tech, green energy iniatives.  Now he needs to really address Austinites environmental concerns.  It would help to meet and discuss these issues with Max and other local environmental groups and leaders.

Is it possible for Brewster to come back?  Sure, it’s possible that the Mavs will win their playoff round too.  He’ll have to seriously consider the factors above in order to rise from the ashes.  It’s possible.  But it will require a complete rebirth and some major changes in his positions that encompass a wider electorate.

And here’s Michelle Greer’s take on Brewster McCracken:

This is harsh, but it just means we need a leader who actually listens to the tech community because although we often don’t realize it, our feedback is incredibly valuable and vital to the Austin economy. We need a leader who wants to expand other industries like the biotech, energy, and film sectors too, because a diversified economy is much more recession-proof. We depend on each other, believe it or not. Brewster McCracken is listening to the leaders in these communities and we need to make sure he’s elected.

Lee Leffingwell wants to focus on key city services like roads, police, etc. That’s great, but I’m sorry, the tech industry is getting more and more competitive each day. Do we want a leader who isn’t really paying attention to this stuff, or do we want someone who will actually foster relationships with business leaders to make Austin a global leader in technology, biotech, energy, music and film?

If you are with me, please consider the following actions:
1.) Remember to vote on May 9th. June 13th.
2.) Express your ideas for Austin at www.ideasforaustin.com and encourage others to do the same.
3.) Consider volunteering for Brewster. You can keep up by subscribing to the email, Twitter, and Facebook updates available at Brewster’s website.

RUNOFF: Leffingwell vs Strayhorn

Start the Presses!!  I’m making the call:  Strayhorn edges past McCracken to enter the runoff with Leffingwell, who leads going in.

This one is so close that any two of the Big Three could make the runoff.

I think Leffingwell’s challenge to McCracken’s fundraising violation effectively stalled out McCracken’s campaign, and it probably got a little mud on Lee, too!

Carole did well and gained some ground in that little dust-up, remaining above that bout of mud-wrestling.  Every little thing makes a difference in a tight race like this.

But the big plus for Strayhorn is the Stop Domain! mailing list, which is very fresh.

She should be mining that list and turning out those voters big-time!  It is a huge financial issue in tight financial times, and Carole is running hard on fiscal resronsibility.  That is the key issue against two big spenders like Leffingwell and McCracken, and the nation’s weak economy has clearly revealed how recklessly they risked the taxpayer’s money in investing in the high-end  chains of Domain.

Another factor that favors Carole’s late surge is the fact that her Old Guard voters tend to vote on election day, while Brewster’s younger supporters tend to use the convenience of early voting.  Carole’s Crowd has been voting for decades on Election day, unless they were going to be out of town.

The polls are open…GO VOTE!!!

Your Democracy needs you now…

Vote Tomorrow!! But for Whom??

This race is tight!  And the undecided vote is huge, so late in the campaign…some say the undecideds might stay home, but many, like me, will decide who to vote for while walking to the polling place.

As an Austin Environmentalist for 30 years, this is a key issue for me.  I decided to check out Lee Leffingwell’s website, since he claims to be the environmentalist in the race, and has the endorsement of some enviro groups.  I wanted to see Lee’s position in his own words.

I googled him ( which is legal in this state ) and found his campaign website easily.  There under “Issues”, Lee posted a lengthy column on May 6, in which he “spells out how the three major candidates differ” on key issues.  He discusses several issues, none of which are the environment.  Down at the bottom, under the heading “other issues”, he still doesn’t use the word “environment”.  

In fact, strangely enough, in an article written specifically to point out the differences, he mentions two issues where he and Brewster are the same: ” We both supported investing in alternative energy sources, like biomass and solar.  We co-sponsored the Austin climate Protection Plan…”  These are the only two environmental issues he mentions, and there is no difference between him and Brewster.  In almost 2000 words detailing his position on key issues, only 19 ( about 1% ) are about the environment!!

In fact, the only time Lee uses the word “environment” is at the very end, and he is talking about the “political environment”, not the natural one!!!  Amazing, for someone who considers himself to be the enviro. in the race.

But there’s more…

Under “My Record”, he says he is “most proud” of his enviromental accomplishments.  He lists four: 1) “a new citywide conservation plan to cut water leaks…and save money”.  This must refer to the EPA-mandated replacement of water and sewer pipes that is finally nearing completion.  He didn’t really “accomplish” this…the Federal Environmental Protection Agency required the city to do this, at enormous cost.  In fact, all of the heavy diesel equipment used to complete this project spewed pollution and greenhouse gases into the air for YEARS!!

2) Lee worked with folks to reduce the use of coal tar sealants on parking lots.  He didn’t do anything to reduce impervious cover–which is the key to protecting water quality–but he changed the coating for some of the impervious cover.  This is insignificant in terms of actually protecting water quality, but Lee got a lot of “Greenwashing” out of it.

3) He worked to enable developers to re-do their developments over the aquifer, enabling more impervious cover than the SOS ordinance allowed.  The fact that he is claiming this highly-questionable action as a benefit to the environment shows how thin his record really is.

4) And finally, he tried to reduce the number of plastic bags going into landfills…

That’s it!!  The candidate’s environmental record in his own words…check it out for yourself!

That record is anemic…pathetic…laughable!!

By contrast, allow me to mention four of my environmental accomplishments when I served on the city council:

1) Put an item for action on the agenda that began the discussion of Endangered Species in Cenral Texas, culminating in the setting-aside of 30,000+ acres of habitat…that is HUGE!  And unprecedented…

2) Put an item on the agenda that directed the city staff to write a non-degradation ordinance to protect water quality.  This became the SOS ordinance, which was passed overwhelmingly by voters in 1992, and later was upheld by the Texas Supreme Court.  Again, this was unprecedented…

3) Together with the LCRA and the State Land Office, we did the first wind power project in the State of Texas.  Now Texas is #1 in the nation, and the wind power industry is growing rapidly around the world.

4) We instituted city-wide recycling, expanding a small pilot project.  Austin was one of the first cities in America with city-wide recycling.

All of those accomplishments were enormous,,,no greenwashing there.

Compare those four to Lee’s, and you get an idea of how much environmentalism in Austin has slipped in the last 12 years.

Lee doesn’t say ONE WORD about air quality!  Is it because he doesn’t care, or because he doesn’t have a clue of what to do?  Air quality is a huge issue…and especially this week the air is very foul…and the leading environmentalist in the Mayor’s race doesn’t even mention it, let alone offer a solution???

Amazing..

If you want to vote for Lee because you like your Grandpa, that’s fine…just don’t vote for him under the illusion that he is going to do anything to protect our environment.

The bottom line in this Mayor’s race: the developers have three candidates in the race, the enviros 0.

Pick your poison…