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Dunkerley forms PAC to fight Stop Domain Subsidies campaign

Thursday, September 11, 2008 by Austin Monitor

Former Austin Mayor Pro Tem Betty Dunkerley and local business owner Bobby Jenkins have founded a new political action committee designed to fight the Stop Domain Subsidies campaign. The new PAC, called Keeping Austin’s Word, will campaign against Proposition 2 on the November ballot, which would not only prohibit the city from offering tax breaks to recruit new retail development but also force the city to abandon its current agreement with the developers of The Domain.


Organizers of Stop Domain Subsidies want the city to back out of its agreement to provide tax rebates to the developers of the upscale shopping center in northwest Austin. The developers are eligible for those rebates if the shopping complex meets certain conditions under an agreement approved by the City Council in 2003. “The real question isn’t whether voters like the Domain…and it isn’t whether they like retail incentives,” said Bobby Jenkins, owner of ABC Pest and Lawn. “The real issue is whether voters support terminating legal city agreements that were made honestly and publicly, and only after the other party has met all of its obligations.”


Jenkins and Dunkerley warn that the Stop Domain Subsidies charter amendment could lead the city into lengthy and expensive court battles over existing economic development agreements. Dunkerley further argues that it is unnecessary, since the City Council has adopted a policy prohibiting tax rebates for new retail projects. “Proposition 2 would not change a single word of any current city policy regarding economic development,” Dunkerley said. “That means it is only about terminating agreements that were negotiated in good faith years ago.”


The two hope to raise money for the PAC between now and the charter amendment election on Nov. 4.


In addition, this week, the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce has announced its opposition to Proposition 2. “This ballot initiative is about fairness…and whether Austin should keep its word,” said Mike Rollins, President and CEO of the Chamber. Rollins and other Chamber officials say the wording of the Stop Domain Subsidies amendment could force the city to scrap existing agreements used to promote desired development at the site of the old Robert Mueller Airport.


The organizers of the Stop Domain Subsidies campaign will shift their efforts into high gear this weekend. There will be a party, concert, and art auction on Saturday to raise money for the Vote For Prop 2 campaign. The Political Art Auction will feature work from more than 30 local artists and music from the South Austin Jug Band. It starts Saturday at 5pm at the Austin Art Garage on South Lamar.

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