Category Archives: Uncategorized

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. …

Think about this…

I really don’t know who to vote for for Mayor.  I’m not interested in telling you who to vote for…I want to provide information and perspective to you so you can make a good decision…

Here’s something I’d like to ask the Mayoral candidates:

Do you know that diesel exhaust is a carcinogen?

If the answer is “No, I didn’t know that”, then that candidate may be too poorly informed (ignorant) to be Mayor.

If the answer is “Yes”, then the question is “Why haven’t you done something about it?”  Especially Lee and Brewster, who have recently sworn oaths to protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare ( Carole’s oath, last taken in 1981, has probably worn off by now ).

This morning, I went for a walk in the park, my daily constitutional.  As usual, I had to dodge the UPS and Fed-ex trucks that constantly criss-cross the neighborhood, spewing toxic clouds of exhaust, poisoning the air wherever they go

Why do we tolerate this?  It’s another sign of weakness in the environment movement.

Here’s what a Mayor…or city councilmember…who truly cared about the environment  or the health and welfare of the people would do:  write a letter to UPS, Fed-ex, and Dhl, explaining that it is unsustainable for them to continue to drive their polluting, carcinogenic behemoths all over town, every day, fouling the people’s air and contributing to global warming.  The city could work with them to convert to smaller, battery-powered vehicles.  The city could urge them to be the first one to enjoy the competitive advantage of “going green”.

Big Brown…what can you do for me today?  Go Green!!  Stop spreading that Big Brown toxic cloud coming from your vehicles!

Fed-ex…the citizens of Austin are “Fed-up” with your trucks polluting their air and poisoning the planet.  Let us help you make $$$ without poisoning everyone!

The city, which has launched a climate protection program with much fanfare, should calculate the carbon-footprint of these delivery companies and actually DO SOMETHING about it.

But Will wynn doesn’t really care…he’s already gotten what he wanted: his picture in the paper and a puff-piece saying how “green” he is.  In the 70’s and 80’s, you actually had to DO SOMETHING to be an environmentalist.

I doubt that any of these Mayoral candidates will do anything about it, either.

We haven’t seen any good strong environmental public policy since I left office in 1996…only a lot of greenwashing.  And the big problem with greenwashing, in addition to the hypocrisy, is that the people think something is being done…when it isn’t.  The people are lead to believe that things are getting better, when they are really getting worse!

Time is a luxury we can no longer afford!

“Who should I vote for?”

So I’m sitting in my favorite coffee shop when this guy walks up–a stranger–and says, “Max, who should I vote for in the Mayor’s race?”  This happens a lot.

I tell him that I don’t know, I haven’t decided who I’m supporting yet…and since I vote on election day, I still have time to make up my mind.

Here’s my problem:  I’m a strong environmentalist AND a fiscal conservative…there’s no candidate in the race like that.  Lee and Brewster are both big spenders…huge spenders!  In their years on the city council, they have only spent more and more money.  They can’t tell anyone “NO”!  Why?  Because the way you make friends in politics is by spreading money around.  That’s why they hire all these consultants, and want to build all these projects we can’t afford.  Their political ambitions and their wild spending have put the city in a very precarious financial condition.  We are really out of position to deal with the economic conditions we find ourselves in.

Carol is “right on” to run against their unsustainable spending.  What were  Lee and Brew thinking when they gave $60+ MILLION to the wealthiest retail chains in the nation to come to Austin ( The Domain ).  If (when) those stores start pulling out, it will be clearly revealed how reckless they were with our money.  And how much have they spent in subsidizing the Second street retail area?  And how much did they give to the Marriott Corp. to destroy Las Manitas?

Lee and Brew have spent nearly $100 MILLION to turn Austin into Dallas.

How much have they spent on protecting the environment?  On reducing the city’s carbon footprint?  Very little cialis prix pharmacie en france

As Molly Ivins used to say, “Watch what they do, not what they say.”  That is, watch where they spend money…that reveals their true priorities.   Talk is cheap…

The Problem with Carol is that she doesn’t care about the environment…never has, and obviously still doesn’t.  In fact, her choice of Louise Epstein as her campaign treasurer is a clear signal that she is hostile to the environment.  ( I served with Louise on the City Council, and she was a disaster for the environment, fighting every effort to protect the land, air, and water ).  

If elected, Carol would be much better on fiscal issues, which are front-and-center right now, but she would take this opportunity to dismantle the environmental programs that I and many others have fought for over the last thirty years.

On the other hand, Lee and Brew have records as Big Spenders, and we can no longer afford that.  Our financial crisis is only going to worsen, and they are still talking about bond elections for hundreds of MILLIONS…They are still oblivious to the new economic reality.

So pick your poison, Austin.  If you are an environmentalist who also is concerned about the ever-escalating cost of living here, you have no one to vote FOR…

I can hardly believe it has come to this…


what the polls say

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Austin voters are split three ways on who they want to support for mayor, with only single-digit percentage points separating the top three candidates, according to a KXAN-sponsored poll released late Tuesday.

And with the May 9 election just over two weeks away, nearly a quarter of local voters are still undecided.

City Councilman Lee Leffingwell edges ahead with 27 percent of support. He is followed closely by Mayor Pro-Tem Brewster McCracken at 24 percent. Former mayor Carole Keeton Strayhorn has 21 percent.

A full 22 percent are still undecided