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Reporter’s Notebook: Chasing geese

Monday, May 16, 2016 by Austin Monitor

Endless election… A quick survey of social media reveals that even more than a week after Prop 1’s landslide defeat, feelings are still a little tender over the fact that Uber and Lyft picked up their apps and left town. Mayor Steve Adler’s social media team, in violation of one of the oldest laws of the Internet, published on his website a collection of the mostly obscene tweets he had received in the days after the election. (That post has since disappeared.) His office also handed out to reporters at City Council’s meeting on Thursday a physical stack of negative reactions, an act that was countered by Council Member Ellen Troxclair, who distributed her own collection of notes expressing support for her pro-Prop 1 positioning. However, Council Member Delia Garza made the biggest splash in post-election litigating by publishing a lengthy Facebook post. In it, Garza forcefully argues that Uber and Lyft left of their own accord but tried to get the last laugh by siccing outraged customers on Council. Garza’s diatribe was met with a blog post on Medium written by Jeff Kirk, a proponent of the failed Prop 1. Kirk’s piece suggests that the low turnout on election day sinks any sense of a mandate and that the region’s 100,000 college students’ voices weren’t heard. (We’re not exactly sure why Texas State students who live in San Marcos should have a say in Austin elections, but OK). Anyway, all of this is to say that the election is over and please shut up about it.

Get Me a break… Uber and Lyft’s swift exit from Austin in the wake of Prop 1’s landslide loss on May 7 would seem like a jackpot boon for companies desperate for a toehold in the lucrative ride-hailing market. Unfortunately for residents who rely on app-based rides-for-hire, the only significant player in town is Get Me, the Dallas-born company that seems to be the Jar Jar Binks of its sector. From complaints that its app simply doesn’t work to complaints that its service simply doesn’t work, Get Me has been operating in Austin since December with little fanfare. The company did, however, end months of speculation on Friday by revealing the identity of its interim CEO, attorney Michael Gaubert, who has been noted in various articles as being one of Get Me’s co-founders. Still unknown, however, is why Gaubert kept his role secret for so long. Indeed, during a Twitter conversation between two dashing, talented and hardworking local reporters, the question was raised about Gaubert’s previous on-the-record denial about being the CEO. That query was picked up by Derek Dunlop, who, through his firm projekt202, served as senior product director for Get Me. Dunlop replied, “we all knew no business of YOURS, he didn’t lie, he’s NOT CEO, he’s the Interim CEO #pathetic [sic].” So, that’s cleared up.

Homer the Homeless Goose gets display case… Homer the Homeless Goose, the local goodwill ambassador for the homeless, made his way to City Hall on Thursday, along with Lori Renteria, who describes herself as the goose’s godmother, and people who are intent on bringing his message to the public. City Council Member Pio Renteria, Lori’s husband, hosted Homer in his new display case along with Antonio Madrid and Emily Swinson, who donated the plastic case. The case is the first component needed for Homer the Homeless Goose’s Road Show. IMG_3758 Lori Renteria asked Mayor Steve Adler if he would do a proclamation for Homer as she and representatives from the Challenger Street Newspaper, which advocates on behalf of Austin’s homeless population, stood beside Homer in his case. Adler agreed readily. The Renterias discovered that the display case, which is 36 inches wide, did not fit down the Council hallway. The door opening is only 35 inches wide, Lori Renteria said, adding that the goose would have to start advocating for the disabled at City Hall. She pointed out that the Americans with Disabilities Act requires that doorways be 36 inches wide. The goose will soon have his own trailer and presentation display boards, she said, noting that they have already raised enough money for the stuffed, formerly homeless mascot’s travel equipment. In the future, she said, Homer will have his own place in the Austin History Center when the center moves into the old Faulk Central Library. He will be able to visit students and other people who invite him to talk about the needs of the homeless, Renteria said.

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