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Kitchen petition watch continues

Wednesday, February 3, 2016 by Austin Monitor

At last word yesterday, the Austin Monitor was still waiting to hear that a petition to recall City Council Member Ann Kitchen had been submitted to the Office of the City Clerk for verification. But, as was the case on Monday, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t news.

On Tuesday afternoon, Texans for Accountable Government put out a call for more signatures. In an email to its members, the group wrote, “There is a unique opportunity to balance power in Austin and for the Council to officially be put on notice. If you infringe on our freedom, you’re next. There is a budget to get paid per signature, and more importantly, this is within our sphere of influence to achieve. So turn off the Presidential race that we can do nothing about, and let’s get busy holding government accountable – right here, right now.”

In an email to the Monitor sent late Tuesday, TAG Executive Director Justin Arman said that Austin4All – the group behind the petition – had reached out for help mobilizing the people in Kitchen’s District 5. He wrote, “From what I understand, Austin4All recently organized to push back against some of the egregious behavior we’ve seen lately from the Austin City Council. Many of us believe that Austin’s culture and thriving economy are in harm’s way.”

As for TAG’s role in the drive, Arman explained, “You always want to collect more (signatures) than what’s needed. … It’s quite an arduous process, and you want to make sure to validate everyone and follow all the rules. We’re offering further assistance collecting the surplus.”

Arman also said he believed that the goal had been met for the number of signatures collected, but he could offer no estimated time of arrival for those petitions. “I don’t speak on behalf of Austin4All, so I can’t say exactly,” he said. “Ann Kitchen knows we’re not bluffing, and this recall is going to be historic regardless of the outcome. When thousands of people from your own district want you out, that’s pretty embarrassing regardless of how she tries to spin this.”

When asked to comment on the new push, Kitchen told the Monitor, “It’s a secret new group, they won’t tell us who they are, they won’t tell us who is their contributors, so I have no reason to believe that anything they’re saying now about the number of signatures they have is accurate.”

At the moment, the city of Austin is not holding a May election. Feb. 19 is the last day the city could call that election, so if that election is going to occur, a petition would have to be submitted before that date.

This story was written with help from Elizabeth Pagano, Caleb Pritchard and Jo Clifton.

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