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Reporter’s Notebook: Sore losers and sour grapes

Monday, November 14, 2016 by Austin Monitor

Ghosting on reporters… It’s probably never fun to take reporter’s calls after losing an election, but usually candidates are good sports about it. However, former City Council District 7 candidate Natalie Gauldin managed to ignore more than five phone calls throughout the day from multiple reporters at the Austin Monitor (and several other news outlets). Nearly 24 hours later, Gauldin managed to respond to a text message, saying she’d “decided to write a blog post (linked to (her) fb). Thanks for understanding. Sorry we weren’t able to get in touch.”

A Texan-American speaks… In other news from the less-than-victorious, City Council Member Don Zimmerman (who did speak with the Monitor, despite barring the Austin Chronicle from his party) released a statement on Wednesday. Here it is, in full: “The rainy weather fits the mood around Zimmerman campaign headquarters this evening. However, a break in the clouds is all but guaranteed. After accepting the results of the Austin City Council election, District 6 City Council member Don Zimmerman said losing his bid for re-election will make two things very clear. ‘For one,’ Zimmerman said, ‘supporters of lower taxes and fewer regulations will have to work harder and organize better if we’re to represent the taxpayers fairly in future elections. This I know we can do if we put our talents and
resources together. … Secondly, it’s going to get very expensive to live here, and very soon. It won’t be long before our political opponents will understand what we’ve been saying all along about the burgeoning size and scope of city government into our daily lives. They will have no choice but to leave or form alliances with those of us who have said all along that we’re spending ourselves into oblivion.’ Zimmerman added that while the rest of the nation and Texas embraced restrained government and transparency, the majority of Austin voters, instead, aligned with New York City-style politics. ‘I will continue fighting for our values as a Texan-American,’ he said. Zimmerman congratulates his opponent, Jimmy Flannigan, on a hard-fought, second campaign for election. ‘I’m sure he’ll feel right at home at City Hall.'”

Sour grapes and gripes… Austin Community College Board of Trustees Place 5 candidate Thomas Miranda also had some things to say after his loss to Nicole Eversmann. We note this paragraph in particular: “This past Tuesday, Travis and surrounding counties voted in (by a razor thin margin) a 21 year old, ACC female student representing the Green party who raised ~ $100 and did not campaign. Given the enormity of the 5 county 2 Million person region, I’m fairly confident that at least 90%+ of voters who voted for my opponent didn’t know she was a 21 year old student who had not yet graduated from ACC with an associates degree. Moreover, voters likely had no clue about my experience or background either. I wish ACC, the Austin region and the newly elected student all the success. I highly recommend ACC consider moving to a district model to attract great candidates and achieve better education outcomes over an enormous 5 county, 2M person region.”

Horrendous mental picture… Before Monday’s special meeting, Austin Independent School District Superintendent Paul Cruz, along with trustees Ann Teich and Kendall Pace, held a press conference about the situation at T.A. Brown Elementary School. Brown Elementary was abruptly shuttered Oct. 27 after a regularly scheduled engineering audit revealed that the floors underneath some classrooms and the cafeteria had deteriorated so badly that they could possibly collapse. And while kids now go to nearby Reilly Elementary and the former Allan Elementary — and Cruz assured everyone that the facility will not be used again — no one calls the situation like it is like Teich. Brown Elementary is within Teich’s district. “The structure is 59 years old and built on shifting ground. It’s built on steel beams that’ve been eroded over time. If you can imagine, (it’s like) water dropping on limestone and creating a cave,” she said. Teich suggested that listeners complete this terrifying mental exercise by imagining wire mesh and supports holding up the floor of the school over this cave. “We were concerned about a sinkhole effect occurring in the main parts of the building, so we are not going to take any chances on that. I mean, I don’t want anybody’s classroom dropping the hole,” she said. Teich ended her update by blaming the problem on the state. She said the state has given AISD less and less money to maintain its facilities, and AISD has prioritized paying for education with slimming funds. However, it should be noted, the majority of facility updates are funded by voter-approved local bonds. That being said, the state does take a lot of local property tax revenue away from AISD that is commonly used for day-to-day “operations and maintenance”  under its school finance system.

This week’s Reporter’s Notebook comes from the notebooks of Courtney Griffin and Elizabeth Pagano.

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