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Reporter’s Notebook: On the case

Monday, May 2, 2016 by Austin Monitor

No tweet too small… Each side in the Proposition 1 debate has accused the other of fudging the facts, and your Austin Monitor team is dutifully doing what it can to keep everyone honest. On Friday, for example, we noticed City Council Member Leslie Pool shoot out a tweet accusing Uber of electioneering at one of the city’s early voting locations. Faster than you could say “PolitiFact,” we jumped on the case to verify the details. We learned through a city public information officer that the city’s Chief Communications Director Doug Matthews sent an email to Council members on Thursday notifying them of an “issue today regarding electioneering at one of our library polling locations.” Matthews went on to indicate that in fact the “[r]epresentatives of Uber and Lyft” were handing out campaign materials more than 100 feet away from the voting area, thus what they were doing was not technically “electioneering” under state law. However, a long-standing city policy does prohibit solicitation at public libraries, so it’s still possible for this story to raise the hackles of Prop 1 opponents. When informed of the results of this groundbreaking investigation, Pool – who has had worse days on Twitter – graciously retracted her accusation of electioneering.

Get out… Fair or not, the merits of Prop 1 in many voters’ minds are taking a backseat to the public images of the two ride-hailing companies – Uber and Lyft – that are pumping millions of dollars into the campaign to pass the measure. Uber in particular has an infamous reputation for being the definitive “bro-grammer” corporation, thanks to comments by the company’s CEO as well as to the company’s use of an escort service as part of a promotion to lure riders in France. To say that Uber isn’t exactly on the bleeding edge of intersectional feminism is to say something very accurate. However, lest voters assume that objectification is the sole domain of the pro-Prop 1 crowd, dig this unaired ad created by Get Me, the try-hard transportation network company embraced by opponents of Prop 1 for its embrace of fingerprint-based background checks. In the video, two fathers are harried by a group of kids who seem to enjoy shooting water guns at the ground and knocking hockey sticks into paternal crotches. This literal emasculation won’t stand, thanks to the tech innovators who created Get Me, which apparently also provides delivery service in conjunction with its rides-for-hire. In a desperate bid, one of our dads whips out his phone and punches up a request for, what else, a sexy nanny. Enter from screen right, shot from the ground, hips and butt and legs. After the camera lingers for several seconds, and one of the dads drools, we find that these anatomical features are connected to a human female with a face and head. Her arrival – the providence of Get Me, don’t forget – liberates the men from the pesky perils of parenting so that they can do what all of us lovable oafs desire: sip piña coladas in a hot tub. It’s not in the Austin Monitor’s habit to editorialize, so we’ll withhold judgment for now. However, we will safely assume that Get Me’s anonymous CEO probably isn’t a woman.

OK, noted… Though last week’s Austin Energy Utility Oversight Committee offered very little news, aside from some grumbling on the dais about City Manager Marc Ott’s absence during a discussion about the candidates for Austin Energy’s general manager position. However, one moment did offer a small (OK, very small) change for Austin’s hearing-impaired community. Committee Chair and City Council Member Sheri Gallo made it clear that closed captioning should be made available for all presentations in her committee, and she said that her preference would be to make that service available during other Council meetings – such as upcoming budget talks – as well. Previously, closed captioning was offered on an explicit opt-in basis, not as a default.

This week’s Reporter’s Notebook comes from the notes of Caleb Pritchard and Elizabeth Pagano

This article has been modified to correct an editing error that accidentally retained an overzealous description of the GetMe advertisement.

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