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Griffith files,

Tuesday, March 19, 2002 by

Clerk verifies

Plenty of signatures for ballot

Goodman, Slusher to file on Wednesday

City Council Member Beverly Griffith on Monday became the first of the three incumbents to win a spot on the May 4th ballot by turning in the thousands of signatures required by the term-limits provision of the City Charter. Griffith turned in her boxes of signed petitions shortly after 12:00 noon, and City Clerk Shirley Brown’s crew of signature-counting deputies finished the laborious task of numbering signatures at about 7:00pm last night. Brown said Griffith had turned in 25,942 valid signatures—far more than the 18,263 needed to fulfill Charter requirements allowing two-term incumbents to seek a third term in office.

Brandi Clark, Griffith’s campaign manager, said she did not sleep Sunday night, but kept counting signatures until they were carried to City Hall shortly before noon yesterday. Clark said she believes the campaign turned in 26,683 signatures, and that some of the invalid names may have been from last-minute petitions turned into the campaign by volunteers. However, only 741 names were deemed not valid, less than three percent.

Griffith, surrounded by a dozen supporters on the steps of City Hall, said submitting the signatures was only the first step in the process to win re-election to Place 4 on the Council. “This means we get to try to get elected,” Griffith said. “This means we have a shot at completely refilling the coffers in terms of financial resources . . . we have to stick together. We have to keep those thousands of people together, organized, motivated and focused in order to take it over the top.” She also offered her thanks to the volunteers and campaign workers who began collecting the signatures in November. “It’s the most inspiring effort I think I’ve ever seen since I’ve been watching this kind of operation,” Griffith said. She was joined by some of the neighborhood and environmental activists who have been her most ardent backers, including SOS Executive Director Bill Bunch, environmentalist George Cofer and bicycle activist Robin Stallings.

In accordance with state law, the City Clerk’s office did not have to verify the validity of each signature, but instead had only to count the total number and ensure that they were properly notarized. (See In Fact Daily, Jan 16, 2002 .) Verifying all of the signatures, along with the thousands expected on behalf of Council Members Daryl Slusher and Jackie Goodman, would have been a monumental task for the clerk’s office. Slusher and Goodman are putting the finishing touches on their signature drives and are expected to submit their signatures in time to meet the Wednesday afternoon deadline. Slusher said last night he has about 22,000 signatures. A call for all outstanding petitions brought in perhaps as many as 3,000 yesterday, he said.

Griffith’s filing on Monday, along with the upcoming Wednesday deadline, will force several other announced candidates to decide which Council place they will seek. Former Assistant City Manager Betty Dunkerley and lawyer Brewster McCracken have both said they would not run against either Slusher or Goodman if they obtain a spot on the ballot. Retired police officer Billy Sifuentes officially filed his paperwork on Monday to run for the Place 3 seat currently held by Goodman, and frequent candidate Jennifer Gale filed several weeks ago to run for the Place 1 seat held by Slusher. Zoning and Platting Commissioner Vincent Aldridge has also indicated he would be interested in running for the Place 1 seat. As always, there could be some last-minute filings from citizens with little political experience anxious to make the leap into city government.

Aulick says neighborhood input to be included in MoPac study

The Austin Neighborhoods Council is calling for a “more sophisticated effort” from CAMPO (Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization) to include community input into the study of congestion relief on MoPac.

The CAMPO Policy Advisory Committee received feedback last night on amendments to the region’s current Transportation Improvement Plan. Amendments included the designation of Metropolitan Mobility Funding, formerly known as STP 4C Funding, on projects that relate to air quality, HOV lane study and congestion monitoring. CAMPO sets aside $500,000 a year for such projects, which could soon include the study of Loop 1.

The advisory committee will vote on the amendments next month. The Austin Neighborhoods Council has no problem with the study of Loop 1, but they do have issues with the process. Will Bozeman, who serves on the mobility working group for ANC, is calling for more interaction from local neighborhoods, a recurring theme regarding what ails MoPac.

“Forty years ago from this year, CAMPO—or really the predecessor to CAMPO—proposed more than a dozen new roadways, freeways, expressways and arterials that would connect what is now MoPac to Interstate 35,” Bozeman said after the meeting. “That plan was overreaching for its day, and it’s mostly failed.”

That plan almost four decades ago led to the creation of many of the neighborhood groups that now line MoPac, Bozeman said. The current plans present the same threat for upheaval. Even 40 years after the fact, the residential issues surrounding both I-35 and MoPac have remained largely unaddressed. Instead of reaching out, it’s a case of labeling protests as “those recalcitrant neighborhood organizations.”

“If they’re going to try to make improvements to the east-west links, let’s also deal with the other half the problem, which is the impact to residents and residential neighborhoods in Central Austin.”

Bozeman referred to the peer review study that recommended that neighbors and neighborhoods be considered as serious stakeholders in the analysis and technical work behind MoPac. Federal transit guidelines, however, have failed to give neighborhoods, or even CAMPO, stakeholder status in the long-term expansion plans of the regional arterial.

CAMPO Executive Director Michael Aulick said any feasibility study of MoPac would include neighborhood involvement. The $150,000 CAMPO study of High-Occupancy Vehicle lanes on MoPac between Sixth Street and Barton Springs is already slated to include public involvement.

CAMPO will appear before the Texas Transportation Commission next Thursday to present projects for funding in FY 2007. Aulick said the region faces serious long-term transportation funding challenges. Growth in the three-county area has exceeded census projections by 94,000 people.

Charter proposals up today . . . The City Council will hold the first of this week’s three Council meetings beginning at 3pm today at City Hall in Room 304. It could be a replay of the last such discussion, or Council members may have different concerns once they see the proposals in ordinance form . . . Filing and fundraising . . . Former Assistant City Manager Betty Dunkerley plans to file for a place on the ballot Wednesday, and will hold a fundraiser from 5:30 to 7:30pm that evening. She said she will file against Council Member Beverly Griffith unless an open seat occurs . . . Happy Birthday Kirk Watson! . . . If you want to make our former Mayor really happy, you can attend his birthday party/fundraiser Thursday from 7-9pm at the Paramount Theater on Congress. For contributors of $1,000 or more, there’s a also a reception and chance to meet Greater Tuna star Jaston Williams between 5 and 7pm at the home of Eddie Safady. Safady’s Congress Avenue home, just north of the intersection of 8th and Congress has gotten a lot of use from Democratic candidates recently. The refurbished upstairs home is an amazingly modern contrast to the rest of the historic building . . . New leadership for West End Austin Alliance . . . Melissa Gonzales, owner of Morning Star Trading Company, has been elected president of the West End Austin Alliance. Michelle McDonald of Jones Lang LaSalle is the new vice president. Perry Lorenz, immediate past WEAA president, is now treasurer, and David Rockwood, of GSD&M, is secretary . . . Giggles . . . Zoning and Platting Commission Chair Betty Baker brought down the house with her inadvertent misreading of an agenda item. The Intergroup Arlington Arms Co. was asking for zoning changes at 6815 and 6821 Enterprise Court and on Highway 290 East. When Baker read a street address as Intercourse Drive, the normally serious panel and their audience broke into laughter . . . Rejected . . . A request by the Austin Police Association to overturn the city’s term-limits rules has been rejected by the 3rd Court of Appeals here in Austin. The court upheld the ruling of State District Judge Suzanne Covington (see In Fact Daily, Feb. 11th, 2002 ) that the city charter provision requiring two-term incumbent Council members to gather signatures to run again does not conflict with a state law regarding signatures to file for a spot on the ballot. Get the full text of the decision at http://www.3rdcoa.courts.state.tx.us/opinions/casesrch.asp —case No. 03-02-00092-CV. . . Other court action . . . Travis County District Judge Margaret Cooper ruled Monday that the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA) is authorized to issue $75 million in contract revenue bonds to provide water to Buda, Kyle, Fair Oaks Ranch, Bulverde and Canyon Regional Water Authority. Friends of Canyon Lake had sued the GBRA, alleging, among other things, that the water agency had failed to abide by the Texas Open Meetings Act. Judge Cooper had previously dismissed other claims and ruled on the Open Meetings issue yesterday. Bill West, GBRA general manager, said, “Pending an appeal to the State Supreme Court by FFCL, we are ready to move ahead with funding and construction of the Western Canyon Water Supply Project.” The water, he said, would assist many people who are dependent on wells in the Trinity and Edwards Aquifers. The project could be completed within two years, West concluded.

© 2002 In Fact News, Inc. All rights reserved.

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