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2006ReadersPolitics & Personalities

Best Activist
TIE: Bill Bunch, Bettie Naylor

Our readers voted in equal measures for these two public service legends. Both leaders bring together disparate groups of people sometimes touting very different agendas with the goal of finding areas of agreement to achieve the greater good. Since the 1970s, Bettie Naylor has served as a working Texas feminist icon striving for human rights amid touchy topics like reproductive rights, fair wages, and the ERA. Naylor was one of the first "out" lesbians to lobby on behalf of gay rights in the Texas legislature and was an original founder of what has become the Human Rights Campaign. You can still find the amazing almost-octogenarian kicking up a ruckus on behalf of the community (Zach Scott, Atticus Circle, ASA, HRC, etc.) today. While no one-trick pony himself, Bill Bunch's name is almost synonymous in folks minds with his No. 1 cause: Save Our Springs. The Alliance's executive director is on a life mission to keep Austin's natural resources clean and pure so that future generations may enjoy their beauty.

Bill Bunch, PO Box 684881, 512-477-2320, www.sosalliance.org

Bettie Naylor, 122 Colorado #307, 472-3000, 472-3333

Best Citizen
Kinky Friedman

Richard S. Friedman. Author. Musician. Politician. And now citizen, visionary, and news story of the year. This double-triple threat has done the almost impossible: When state politics seemed too depressing to follow, everyone’s favorite Jewish cowboy gubernatorial candidate and his homegrown campaign made it all seem fun again. Plus, he managed to write two books, be turned into a talking doll, and get the Secretary of State to officially say that, yes, you can call him Kinky.

Kinky Friedman, John Jordan, 5010 Burleson Rd., 326-5116, www.kinkyfriedman.com

Best Effort to Improve Austin
TIE: Keep Austin Beautiful, Save Our Springs

Keep Austin clean. And beautiful. Between 'em, your top picks have it covered. One's by land; one's by lake. KAB's been at it since 1985, a nonprofit that doesn't mess with Texas. Litter bugs them. With clean-up, beautification, and education programs, these tree-huggers show Mother Nature the love. On the wetter side, SOS has been working through citizen-powered action to save and preserve Edward's aquifer. Tooth and nail, they've been fighting, bumper sticker after bumper sticker in traffic, the message clear: Save Our Springs. Somebody's gotta.

Keep Austin Beautiful, 55 N. I-35 #215, 512/391-0617, www.keepaustinbeautiful.org

Save Our Springs Alliance, 221 E. Ninth #300, 512/477-2320, www.sosalliance.org

Best Elected Official
TIE: Will Wynn, Lloyd Doggett

Three cheers for Lloyd Doggett! Our readers think you're a real champ. And, as you were against the war in Iraq from the very beginning, you stood tall as one of the only sane voices in a wilderness filled with screeching pro-war hawks and the quivering mice they ate for dinner. And for that, your constituents stand tall with you. And, hey, Will Wynn! Our readers love you, too, with your green-initiatives and whatnot. They just couldn't decide who they love more! And with a name like that, who wouldn't love you? Anyways. We're just glad the Hutch didn't win, 'cause then we'd have to quit this game altogether.

Will Wynn, 124 W. Eighth #113, 512/974-2250

Lloyd Doggett, 201 Cannon, Washington DC, 202/225-4865

Best Grassroots Group
Foodies

It began with some flirting on the Craigslist personals board. Then one brave regular posted a call out to all the women reading: Let's get together! With only a handful of attendees, those first few encounters solidified the base for what would become Foodies, a net-based social group for women who love women who love food. Now going strong in its second year, with more than 1,700 names on the mailing list, Foodies gets more and more creative: Think secret admirer love notes and bachelorette auctions. For those simply wishing to test the waters with a tentative toe, meet-ups often take place at casual joints like Nueva Onda, the Fox & Hound, and Jo's Hot Coffee. C'mon in; the water's wet.

Foodies, www.foodiesaustin.com

Best Job
Teacher

In previous years when this noble profession has earned your honor, we've weighed in on the meager wages, thankless duties, ceaseless devotion, and awe-inspiring humility of our wonderful instructors, private and public. This year, we'd like to specifically congratulate the union and the school board for coming together to present a landmark – and so well-deserved – pay raise for your favorite public school professionals. Here's to an 11.8% increase: 7.5% this year and 4% next. Plus, fully paid employee health insurance for both.

Texas State Teachers Association, 316 W. 12th, 877/275-8782, www.tsta.org

Education Austin, 316 W. 12th #202, 512/472-1124, www.educationaustin.org

Best Local Political Blog
PinkDome

The Texas Capitol was constructed of pink granite in 1885, and it's deconstructed, brick by brick, in 2006 by PinkDome. Solidifying itself as the gadfly on the rotunda wall, PinkDome catches all the whispers in the gallery, gauges them for absurdity or incompetence, and posts them for the rest of us to see.

PinkDome, www.pinkdome.com

Best Neighborhood
Hyde Park

Founded in 1891, Hyde Park was intended as an aristocratic suburb, away from the hustle of the rising city. Now a mix of artistic freewheelers, tech-sector families, and students escaping dorm life call its mix of tree-lined avenues, independent businesses, and historic housing home. Quiet, leafy, pedestrian-friendly, and (mostly) McMansion-free.

Hyde Park Neighborhood Association, PO Box 49427, www.austinhydepark.org

Best News Story
TIE: Kinky Friedman for Governor; Tamara Hoover v. AISD

Talk about your Austin stories! Always controversial, always on the scene, Kinky Friedman has turned politics and the media on its ear with his run for governor. Call it a travesty, or call it the Second Coming, Kinky will keep 'em talking long after the election, whether he wins or not. And speaking of controversy, Tamara Hoover kicked up a heap of Texas dust when she requested a hearing when her former employer, AISD, tried to get her to go away silently and/or threatened to pursue the revocation of her teaching certificate after online nude pictures of the Austin High teacher were revealed to the administration by a fellow teacher. Both local stories had the mainstream press and the Internets goin' nuts.

Kinky Friedman, John Jordan, 5010 Burleson Rd., 326-5116, www.kinkyfriedman.com

Tamara Hoover

Best Nonprofit Group
Big Brothers Big Sisters

Since 1904, Big Brothers Big Sisters has been enriching the lives and inspiring the minds of the next generation. This nonprofit helps children shine through mentorship, community action, and the knowledge of how much having a role model can mean to the life of a child. Shine on, shine on.

Big Brothers Big Sisters, 4800 Manor Rd., Bldg. K, 512/472-5437, www.bigmentoring.org

Best Scandal
Tom DeLay

Where were you when the Hammer fell? Once he was the king-maker, cutting up the Texas electoral map like it was his private domain. Now he claims he doesn’t even live here. Now that he's out of office and facing criminal indictments, his alleged malfeasance is less shocking to politics watchers than the fact that prosecutor Ronnie Earle even got near him.

Best Scenester/Mover & Shaker
Diane "Kitty" Murray

She's only one woman, but she affects more positive change than many organizations could ever hope to achieve. A networking dynamo, Diane "Kitty" Murray draws upon the same hyperactive multitasking mania she did back in her days in the film business to provide venues and events for Austin women (and especially women who love women). She is the woman behind the women of such Austin staples as Foodies, a casual social group based around Kitty's mailing list of 1,700 women, and Ultra-Ultra (theatre, comedy, mailbox dating events, etc.). Plus, Kitty accomplishes all the above, sometimes at great personal expense, while holding down a bona fide teaching job. Could it be that hanging out with Austin's sassiest, sexiest women is reward enough? It's a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it.

Foodies, www.foodiesaustin.com

Best State Legislator
Mark Strama

In his first term in the state house, Rep. Strama has been trying to undo some of the damage done to Texas democracy. After unseating Republican incumbent Jack Stick, the District 50 Democrat has championed state electoral and campaign-finance reform. As befits Austin’s voice in the House, he’s also backed tax breaks for hybrid cars and opposed school vouchers. And he's damn good-looking, to boot.

Mark Strama, P.O. Box 270263, 512/463-0821, markstrama.com

Best Visionary
Kinky Friedman

Richard S. Friedman. Author. Musician. Politician. And now citizen, visionary, and news story of the year. This double-triple threat has done the almost impossible: When state politics seemed too depressing to follow, everyone’s favorite Jewish cowboy gubernatorial candidate and his homegrown campaign made it all seem fun again. Plus, he managed to write two books, be turned into a talking doll, and get the Secretary of State to officially say that, yes, you can call him Kinky.

Kinky Friedman, John Jordan, 5010 Burleson Rd., 326-5116, www.kinkyfriedman.com

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