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News flash: Bond passage appears likely after early voting

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 by Michael Kanin

Early returns in a City of Austin ballot question that asked residents to approve $65 million in Affordable Housing bonds looked likely to pass early Tuesday evening. Early voting returns – accounting for nearly six percent of the population — had the measure up by 5,000 votes, with 16,223 cast for and 11,210 against.


Tuesday’s ballot marked the second time in two years that Austin voters have considered the question of financing City of Austin Affordable Housing efforts through voter-approved debt. Austin residents said no by a 3 percent margin to a 2012 ballot initiative that would have provided city housing staff with more than $78 million in project funds.


Some worried that a quick return could end in a quick rejection – and that a quick rejection could further complicate any future attempt to secure Affordable Housing dollars through a vote. Still, supporters and insiders were optimistic going into Tuesday’s election. As longtime political consultant David Butts told the Austin Chronicle last week: “If we continue to have the kind of turnout we’re presently having, we’ll win.”


Meanwhile, anti-tax activist Don Zimmerman announced to the media Monday evening that a member of his organization had filed an ethics complaint against the Austin City Council and Austin City Manager Marc Ott. In an email, Zimmerman reports that Travis County Taxpayers Union volunteer and “concerned citizen” Brad Parsons’ complaint charges “that the city is unlawfully distributing ‘political advertising’ in the form of its website materials, including their notorious flier, whose sole statement regarding the financial impact of this bond is ‘No increase in the property tax rate is anticipated as a result of this bond issuance.’”


In the email, Zimmerman later argues that the, “City flier statement clearly shows that the City is advocating for passage of the bond, violating its own statement that it is not advocating for the bond, and leading to a violation of state law regarding distribution and publication of ‘informational materials’ which are actually ‘political advertising.’”


City spokesman Kyle Carvel did not return a call requesting comment.


Meanwhile, the race to replace former State House district 50 representative Mark Strama appeared headed for a run-off between Democrat Celia Israel and Republican Mike VanDeWalle.

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