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Environmental advocate Robin Rather said Thursday she has definitely ruled out running for Mayor this year. She declined to comment further yesterday, but during a conversation earlier in the week, she told In Fact Daily that she had supported Will Wynn three years ago. “I want to be the kind of person who puts friendship before politics—and I’m not sure that’s possible . . . I don’t think what Austin needs is a knock-down drag-out . . . bloodbath.”

Friday, December 20, 2002 by

So, it’s just a matter of time. Council Member Will Wynn will either announce his intention to seek the job of Mayor today—or tomorrow, or Sunday. As soon as Wynn makes his statement, Brewster McCracken will tell the world that he is running for Wynn’s Place 5 seat. McCracken, who came in third for the Place 4 seat that Beverly Griffith ceded to Betty Dunkerley last spring, told In Fact Daily yesterday that he expects to make his informal announcement on Saturday.

Josh Allen, Wynn’s executive assistant, said Wynn was still considering his options. But McCracken seemed certain that he and Wynn would be making serial announcements this weekend. He said he has hired James Aldrete of the political consulting firm Message, Audience & Presentation (MAP). McCracken noted that Dunkerley had employed MAP in her campaign against him and Griffith. McCracken, an attorney with Dubois Bryant Campbell and Schwartz, indicated that he would name a campaign manager by tonight.

“Obviously the economic anxiety, with a possible net job loss this year,” would be one focus of his campaign, McCracken said. He also listed planning, regionalism and prioritization of budget considerations as major elements of his platform.

Mayor Pro Tem Jackie Goodman is still officially “considering” whether to make the race. But Goodman has no personal fortune, nor does her family. Although there are legal ways for those with connections to raise more than the $100 limit, the city’s campaign finance laws make it difficult. The wealthy have a distinct advantage. Also, it’s been less than a year since she ran in the signature-collection marathon, so Goodman is not spoiling for a campaign.

Max Nofziger and Jennifer Gale are the only other candidates to have expressed an interest in the top City Hall job. With Ben Bentzin confirming that he would not run, conservatives were left wondering whether to jump on the Wynn bandwagon or wait to see who else steps up to the plate. Since Rather is not running, liberals may be facing a similar choice.

Capital Metro board to hear Details of planning RFP

Complaint from East Cesar Chavez resident heeded

The Capital Metro board of directors has scheduled a work session to hear details of a controversial request for proposal (RFP) for a Master Plan of a large part of East Austin. Several board members called for the briefing after hearing complaints from Lori Renteria of the East Cesar Chavez neighborhood. That meeting has been scheduled for January 8 at 2pm, dashing the hopes of some staff members who planned to issue the RFP by the end of the month.

Renteria addressed the board during citizens’ communications at Monday’s Capital Metro meeting. Cap Metro has had numerous meetings with various East Austin groups to solicit comments and explain the RFP, which begins with master planning of an area bounded by 4th Street, 7th Street, I-35 and Pleasant Valley. Representatives of the East Cesar Chavez neighborhood say they want economic development in the area, but point out that they already have a neighborhood plan.

Renteria said the scope of the work to be done—encompassing about 11 acres of property Cap Metro owns, plus all the privately-owned land in the area—“is scary to me.” She also complained that the Cap Metro staff had promised to give her more specifics, such as the amount of money that would be involved in the RFP, but had failed to do so.

“They’re saying that they have community involvement. That is bass-ackwards. They’re going to master plan, do the implementation, have it ready to go and then market it to get community buy-in. Look at Mueller—there was community involvement to design the master plan,” she said.

“I am begging the board to direct your staff to give you a copy of the RFP before they release it. You need to take a look at it. The city didn’t do Mueller without having community involvement in developing the RFP. That is what we are asking for. Please take a look at the contract because what you are about to do is going to change East Austin forever and I want to be your partner in making it so,” Renteria said.

After Renteria spoke, there was an exchange between Board Member John Treviño and Sallie Crosby, the board’s attorney. Crosby’s interpretation of board rules and state law was that the board could not discuss Renteria’s remarks because the matter had not been part of the posted agenda. Treviño noted that in that case, “the board will always be at a disadvantage.” Chairman Lee Walker said he was grateful to Renteria for bringing the information to the board.

Board Members Daryl Slusher and Fred Harless said they would like to hear about the RFP at a work session and Walker agreed.

Representatives of other neighborhoods and groups, including the Holly neighborhood and El Concilio, have been more receptive to Cap Metro’s explanations. Holly neighborhood leader Gavino Fernandez, who is also a member of El Concilio, will probably be part of a team that evaluates the proposals. Sam Archer, assistant director for community involvement, told In Fact Daily there would be at least five representatives from the community and six members from the City of Austin and Capital Metro on the review team.

Archer said Capital Metro would likely spend $200-$250,000 for a project of this size, which he compared to the Seaholm Master Plan. Since the first announcement of the RFP, East Cesar Chavez neighborhood members have expressed concerns that local businessman Andy Ramirez would get the contract. But Archer said Capital Metro would be looking for a company with a broad range of experience. “It certainly won’t be limited to just the Austin area. You want to get the most qualified candidates from throughout the universe,” he said. He said he expects the planning to take from nine months to a year.

Asked why there was a rush to put out the RFP, Archer said, “There’s interest in getting something going—just getting a project underway that the community could collectively buy in on. We’ve had a huge turnout over the course of the eight or nine meetings we’ve had.”

Cap Metro President/CEO Fred Gilliam said he had not yet seen a rough draft of the RFP and thought the amount would be less than $200,000. He also said that the Cap Metro property would be the focus of the planning, but “our acres will influence the other (properties). We don’t have any say over what occurs in something we don’t own. We want to make sure it’s consistent,” with the rest of the neighborhood. “Unfortunately, communications internally were not, I guess, very good because the board does desire to see it and I have promised them that they would see it.”

Walker said Thursday, “I’m positive there’s no insider deal going on.” He said he is a strong neighborhood advocate and would feel nervous if an outside group were to do a plan for his own neighborhood. Walker said the board rarely gets involved with RFPs, leaving such matters to the staff.

Monday

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Thursday

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

Not guilty . . . A member of the local electrical worker’s union was pronounced not guilty yesterday after a trial on a trespassing charge. IBEW President Michael Murphy said Judge Frank Maloney found Johnny Sanders innocent of the charge. Sanders was arrested while picketing Titus Electrical Contracting at Palmer Auditorium. Titus Electrical is an “open shop,” which hires both union and non-union workers. (See In Fact Daily May 17, 2002.) . . . Thoughts on the Live Music Capitol . . . Mayor Pro Tem Jackie Goodman said yesterday that she is taking steps to improve the Music Channel “right now. I’m going to put a meeting together . . . call a bunch of people from different music venues and see if they can list out what some of the really critical issues are for them and see what city incentives or encouragement can do for them.” After that, Goodman said she hopes to meet with local musicians to find out what could be done to improve their lives. She said she is sure the music channel’s problems can be resolved. “There’s plenty of potential,” Goodman said. “We just have to tap the potential” . . . ‘Tis the season . . . This holiday season has been filled with political news, but all that should taper off after this weekend. In Fact Daily will be on vacation until January 10. Best wishes, peace and prosperity to you for this year and 2003 . . . GBRA chief disappointed . . . Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority General Manager Bill West expressed disappointment yesterday upon learning that the Friends of Canyon Lake had asked the Texas Supreme Court to review their case against GBRA. Friends of Canyon Lake failed to convince a district court or the Third Court of Appeals in a challenge to the GBRA’s amended water rights permit. The amendment will increase Canyon Reservoir’s water deliveries from 50,000 to 90,000 acre-feet per year. That water will be used in communities such as Bulverde and Fair Oaks Ranch, according to the GBRA. The authority is moving forward with construction of the water supply project to provide those communities with a reliable source of surface water.

©

2002 In Fact News, Inc. All rights reserved.

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