Runoff: LeeandBrew

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!!

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…

Mayor’s race in dead heat! – KXAN

It looks like Brian Rodgers support for Carole may be reaping dividends, Brian represents the voters than nearly upset the Domain subsidy applecart in the last Austin election.  Carole, despite less campaign funds, has drawn close to McCracken and Leffingwell in the Austin mayor’s race.  Maybe McCracken’s war with St Louis and Leffingwell’s campaign contribution mud slinging at McCracken have played a role in the tightening race as well.

excerpt from KXAN’s article on the latest poll.

AUSTIN (KXAN) – With the big vote for mayor this Saturday,  Austin’s top three Mayoral candidates, according to a most recent KXAN Austin News poll, are in a statistical dead heat.

Carole Keeton Strayhorn, Brewster McCracken, and Lee Leffingwell, are all within the margin of error as front-runner in a KXAN Austin News mayoral poll released Wednesday, conducted by Constitiuent Dynamics.

Lee Leffingwell garnered the most overall support with 27 percent of those polled, Carole Keeton Strayhorn is close behind at 26 percent, and Brewster McCracken came in at 25 percent.

Carole Keeton Strayhorn made the biggest stride from the previous poll, especially with younger voters. Her overall support rose by five percentage points, whereas Brewster McCracken gained one percentage point, and Lee Leffingwell stayed even.

The poll queried 1,000 people in Austin, with a margin of error of plus or minus three percent.

The Silver Bullet

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.

Austin mayor candidates in the news

Mayor’s races heating up in 4 big Texas cities

Houston Chronicle
By ANGELA K. BROWN AP Writer © 2009 The Associated Press FORT WORTH, Texas — Mayors will be elected Saturday in four of the state’s largest cities, …
McCracken broke campaign finance law, Leffingwell camp says

Austin American-Statesman -
By Sarah Coppola | Sunday, May 3, 2009, 08:47 PM A dispute over campaign donations has flared up in the final days of the Austin mayor’s race. …
Mayoral candidates kick campaigns into high gear

CBS 42 -
Election day is less than a week away, and mayoral candidates are out vying for your vote. Major candidates Carole Keeton Strayhorn, Brewster McCracken and …

Mayoral candidates push into final week

News 8 Austin – ‎
More handshaking and less sleep is what the last week of city election campaigning is all about. The countdown to Election Day has begun, and though the …
Mayor’s races heating up in four big Texas cities

KDBC – ‎
AP – May 3, 2009 1:15 PM ET FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) – Voters head to the polls Saturday in 4 of the state’s biggest cities to cast ballots in mayoral races. …

Decider’s extremely shallow guide to the Austin mayoral race

Decider Austin – ‎21 hours ago‎
by Dan Solomon May 3, 2009 Austin’s upcoming mayoral race has been generating a resounding “That’s this year?” from many Austin residents, to which we can …
Money in the bank, Austin candidates near Election Day

News 8 Austin – ‎May 2, 2009‎
Austin City Council candidates reported how much campaign money they’ve collected since the start of April, and how much they’ve spent. …
Leffingwell, McCracken enter home stretch with cash to spend

Austin American-Statesman – ‎May 1, 2009‎
By Marty Toohey Mayoral candidates Lee Leffingwell and Brewster McCracken headed into the final stage of the campaign with a hefty lead in cash over the …
St. Louis Won’t be Backin’ McCracken

Riverfront Times – ‎May 1, 2009‎
By Chad Garrison in Follow That Story, Politics That headline courtesy of News 8 in Austin, Texas, where mayoral candidate Brewster McCracken has launched …
Brewster McCracken

Austin Business Journal – ‎May 1, 2009‎
This election comes at a critical time in Austin’s economic history. The foundation of our economy — the semiconductor industry — is moving overseas. …
David Buttross

Austin Business Journal – ‎May 1, 2009‎
My top priorities include providing good quality basic services like good roads and utilities, maintaining public buildings and spaces and ensuring that our …
Lee Leffingwell

Austin Business Journal – ‎May 1, 2009‎
I believe the race for mayor should be a contest of ideas for a city of ideas. That’s why I’ve proposed the broadest and most specific platform of any …

St. Louis won’t be backin’ McCracken

News 8 Austin – ‎May 1, 2009‎
The situation is much like a boxing match. In one corner is Austin mayoral candidate Brewster McCracken. The City of St. Louis, Mo., is in the other. …

St. Louis Declares War On Austin, And Vice Versa

Wonkette (satire) – ‎May 1, 2009‎
Austin mayoral candidate Brewster “Phil” McCracken has ENRAGED the entire city of St. Louis by talking about how horrible they are, vis a vis the completely perfect city of Austin (which many an Austinite will assure you is “not like the rest of Texas” because they “keep it weird” with their single charming homeless man who parades around bus stops in a thong). Anyway, here’s a link to the offending campaign ad. (McCracken is “keeping it weird” by not allowing YouTube embeds, because why would you want people to look at your video all time?)So of course folks in St. Louis, as well as McCracken’s mayoral opponent, have rushed to the defense of the fair midwestern city of hoboes and snakes.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch – ‎Apr 30, 2009‎
By Jake Wagman As already discussed in our Talk of the Day blog, the Austin, Tex. candidate for mayor has a commercial — confined, for the moment at least, …
McCracken ticks off St. Louis with YouTube video

Austin American-Statesman – ‎Apr 30, 2009‎
By Sarah Coppola | Thursday, April 30, 2009, 12:33 PM It’sa good thing that Austin mayoral candidate Brewster McCracken isn’t running for mayor of St. Louis …
Hey Brewster: Here’s some advice for YOU about dissing St. Louis

St. Louis Post-Dispatch – ‎Apr 30, 2009‎
By Amanda St. Amand If your name is Brewster McCracken, you might have had a hard time at recess when you were a kid. Maybe people still pick on him — and …
Brewster McCracken “St. Louis” Ad Causes a Stir

Burnt Orange Report – ‎Apr 29, 2009‎
On it’s face, I think it is a fair comparison and critique. The St. Louis of today is not that of 1904 (nor is Austin for that matter). …
Mayoral candidates take to the airwaves

Austin American-Statesman – ‎Apr 29, 2009‎
Timing their final push to the start of early voting this week, Austin’s main mayoral candidates have begun airing TV ads. …
WATCH: Austin mayoral candidates sound off on budget plans

KVUE – ‎Apr 29, 2009‎
By STEVE ALBERTS The economy will be a big challenge for Austin’s next mayor. He or she may face a $30 million to $40 million budget shortfall. …

Brian Rodgers endorses Carole

Brian Rodgers and changeaustin.ORG endorse Carole Keeton Strayhorn for Mayor as someone who will shake things up. Brian criticises Leffingwell and McCracken’s overspending, and cites numerous examples (eg. the Domain). Carole is committed to “sunshine and open government” and responsible spending, as Brian says.

Now, if Carole will make a committment to the environment . . .