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Reporter’s Notebook: More tales of the city

Monday, November 5, 2018 by Austin Monitor

The tale of the errant Prop K sign… Mayor Steve Adler’s former law partner, Mike Barron, found it hard to believe when a reporter from the Austin Monitor informed him last Thursday that there was a sign promoting Proposition K in the right-of-way next to his driveway, next to a sign supporting Adler. “We did not put it there,” Barron insisted. After the phone call, he went around the office making sure that no one else in the law firm had done so. They had not. That was around 2 p.m. on Thursday. “No one here authorized that sign to go up. Someone’s idea of a bad joke probably. I’m taking it down now,” wrote attorney Christopher Oddo in an email at 4:36 p.m. Barron confirmed Friday that the sign had been removed. Jim Wick, Adler’s campaign manager, told the Austin Monitor via text, “Not clear to me if sign placed by an actual voter or if by Prop K campaigners. They have been dropping signs in ROWs all around town.” Adler, who is opposed to Prop K, also texted this response: “Could be intended to confuse… or gain K support. Impossible to know.” City code prohibits posting signs in the right-of-way between the street and the sidewalk, and “between the street and the first expansion joint in a driveway,” among other places. Proposition K would require the city to hire an outside auditor at an estimated cost of up to $5 million. The ballot reads: “Without using the existing internal City Auditor or existing independent external auditor, shall the City Code be amended to require an efficiency study of the City’s operational and fiscal performance performed by a third-party audit consultant, at an estimated cost of $1 million – $5 million?”

Complaint filed against PAC fighting Prop J… Fred Lewis, an attorney and ardent supporter of Proposition J, filed an ethics complaint Friday against the political action committee known as No on Prop J. According to the complaint, the committee was required to file a special report on Oct. 25 showing that it had received a $10,000 contribution from the Real Estate Council of Austin on Oct. 22. If approved by Austin voters, Proposition J would require a one- to three-year waiting period and a public vote on any new land development code. In a press release, Lewis said, “The PAC actually filed (such a report) on October 26, but failed to report the RECA contribution. RECA’s contribution makes up about half of the PAC’s funds, so it is difficult to believe this was an oversight.” Lewis alleges that the PAC knowingly failed to report the contribution from RECA on the specified date in order to keep voters from knowing about the contribution during the first week of early voting. The No on Prop J committee also received $5,000 from the Austin Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 19. John-Michael Cortez, a top aide to Mayor Steve Adler, loaned the committee $1,000 and was repaid half of that amount on Oct. 23, just one day after the RECA contribution. Lewis is the campaign treasurer for the Let Us Vote Austin PAC, which supports Proposition J. The other political action committee pushing Prop J is IndyAustin, as the Austin Monitor and its reporting partner, KUT, reported. Angela De Hoyos Hart, treasurer of the No on Prop J PAC, told the Monitor via email, “At this time, all we can tell you is that we believe the No on Prop J campaign is in compliance with City of Austin disclosure rules. We do find it odd that an ethics complaint was filed by Fred Lewis, who supports the massive amounts of illegal, dark money behind Proposition K, and who is running the campaign to support Prop J, which was also funded by dark money funneled through billboard companies and the Save our City non-profit, which is of course, also run by Fred Lewis. If there have been any questionable ethics, we believe they relate to the actions of Fred Lewis and his collaborator, Linda Curtis of IndyAustin, who earlier this week used racist symbols in an attack on Mayor Adler, and whose employee harassed a council candidate with transphobic comments.”

This week’s Reporter’s Notebook comes from the notebook of Jo Clifton.

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