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Reporter’s Notebook: The more you know

Monday, October 29, 2018 by Elizabeth Pagano

Today in unsurprising news… The Circuit of the Americas has issued a statement on its position and involvement in the ongoing petition drive that could impact the city’s ability to complete a deal to build a soccer stadium on a piece of city-owned land. On Friday the blog on the COTA website published “A Statement on the IndyAustin Petition” that said it “strongly supports” the drive that seeks to require voter approval on any lease, sale or other deal the city strikes that allows an entertainment venue to be built on city-owned property, as is the the case with the 20,000-seat soccer stadium deal approved in August by Council for the McKalla Place property in North Austin. The main tenant of that stadium would be a Major League Soccer club that will compete for the dollars of a United Soccer League club slated to begin play at COTA next year. That competition has caused owners of COTA to be characterized as silent opponents to the MLS stadium deal, though principal COTA and USL team owner Bobby Epstein has denied providing funding or any other assistance to groups who opposed the push for the deal to use McKalla Place. IndyAustin, the activist group leading the petition drive, recently disclosed it has received $20,000 from Irv Kessler, who was one of the early investors in COTA.

Speaking of petitions… The Real Estate Council of Austin and Austin Chamber of Commerce, two business-first groups that tend to take stances against taxes and government regulation, have made endorsements in favor of the city’s $250 million affordable housing bond and against a ballot proposal that would give residents a say in approving broad revisions to the city’s Land Development Code. Those stances were the most notable in the two groups’ recently released positions on city contests heading into the Nov. 6 election. The Proposition A housing bond has definite impacts for Realtors and the business community because it would fuel $100 million in land acquisition development and $150 million in assistance and rehabilitation programs. The chamber endorsed only the affordable housing and the $160 million transportation bond propositions but did not support the other components of the $925 million in total bond proposals on the ballot because of an overall stance against property tax increases, while RECA supported four of the seven – propositions A, E, F and G – and was neutral on the others. On Proposition J, RECA simply stated it is against the measure, while the chamber’s announcement said a possible wait of three years to update the city’s land use policies would be too long because of the speed of the expansion of the city and its economy.

Get to know me… And, though our coverage has focused mainly on the two front-runners in the campaign, mayoral candidate Alan Pease contacted the Monitor recently to remind us of his extensive biography, which was only touched upon in our recent roundup. Here is his bio, as submitted to the Monitor:

“Alan Pease was born in Washington, DC, and grew up in the DC area, attending both public and parochial schools in DC and suburban Maryland. After graduating high school, Alan joined the Marines, serving honorably in Vietnam as a Marine artilleryman in 1968-1969.

Following his service in the Marines, Alan attended the University of Maryland for a year, and then later Shasta College in California, using the GI Bill for both. In California, he played on the inter-collegiate water polo team for Shasta College

Alan worked in Alaska, training and driving sled dogs for a year. He then went to work for Yellow Cab of Anchorage for 18 months driving taxi cabs, dispatching and re-organizing the Yellow Cab fleet of cabs, commercial passenger vans and commercial bus operations into one compatible and efficient operation.

Alan also worked four summers and two winters for the National Park Service. Two of those summers were spent at Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, outside of Redding, California, as a part time lifeguard the first summer, and then as Lifeguard Supervisor the following summer. He was then recruited by, and worked a third summer season at Lake Mead National Recreation Area outside Las Vegas where he was Lifeguard Supervisor and Training Officer. At Lake Mead, he was also one of two National Park Service rescue and recovery scuba divers. Alan worked an additional summer season at Lassen Volcanic National Park.

His work for the National Park Service included two 6 month winter assignments in Death Valley National Monument (now Death Valley National Park) performing various maintenance responsibilities, and as one of the first two Emergency Medical Technicians in Death Valley.

Alan founded Wild West Motorcycle Adventures in Chico, California, which operated and led commercial motorcycle tours for domestic and international tourists for 10 years. He later partnered with Edelweiss Bike Travel of Austria to expand US and Canadian motorcycle tour operations, as well as motorcycle rentals. While in Chico, Alan hosted a three-hour weekend blues program, “Blues People”, on KCHO public radio, an NPR affiliate.

Alan’s experience in the motorcycle tour business led him to design and produce over 300 individual automobile and motorcycle press events for BMW, Jaguar Cars, Aston Martin, General Motors, and Ford Motor Company as an independent contractor.

In addition, Alan reported on the permitting process, construction and opening of the Circuit of the Americas racetrack for Autoweek magazine. For this assignment, Alan attended meetings often the Austin City Council and Travis County Commissioners Court, in addition to multiple other public hearings. Alan continues to follow both the current Austin City Council work sessions and public meetings, and can frequently be found at City Hall on council meeting days.

When not attending city council work sessions or meetings in person, he watches the city council on ATXN or listens to it on KAZI radio. Alan has been known to speak occasionally, in public at council meetings.

lan Is a long standing member of the Austin Aquatics Advisory Board, and the Texas Auto Writers Association. He currently writes – on a regular basis – for He can be found most mornings throughout the year, along with his dog Clark, at either Barton Springs Pool or along one of Austin’s many hiking trails.”

This week’s Reporter’s Notebook comes from the notebooks of Elizabeth Pagano and Chad Swiatecki.

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