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2012ReadersPolitics & Personalities

Best Activist
Antonio Buehler

No spit! No wipe! And no question that this upstanding citizen, Iraq war veteran, and Austin watchdog deserves "Best Activist." Buehler's quest for police accountability since witnessing a woman's arrest on New Year's Eve has drawn the ire of the Austin Police Department and the support of the streets, not to mention our readers. Thank goodness for camera phones and civic mindedness.

Peaceful Streets Project, PO Box 244, 512/981-7675, www.peacefulstreets.com

Best Austin Icon
Leslie

Earlier this year Austin prematurely lost her unofficial mascot. Albert Leslie Cochran radiated such a passion for life and Austin that he left a permanent panty line on the city. He was always there to creep out visitors, crack you up, or to fight for the rights of his homeless brethren. To him, being homeless meant pure freedom, and he used every free minute he had to make a difference, whether it was turning a frown into a smile, charming that $20 bill out of your pocket, or running for mayor thrice. He is a shining example of how to live without fear. It is up to us to keep his legacy glowing forever. Shine on you crazy diamond. Rest in peace, dear friend.

Best Behind-the-Scenester
Barbara Rush

Ah, where to begin? She's fought for workers as an AFSCME rep, helped Austin firefighters win collective-bargaining rights, and managed political campaigns for a who's who list of officeholders, including her current boss, Council Member Laura Morrison. Without question, Barbara's a tough, in-the-trenches political veteran and a steady advocate for the poor and downtrodden. Bottom line: Barbara gets things done. The best part? She's as friendly as all get-out.

Laura Morrison, www.austintexas.gov

Best Campaign Fail
TIE: Rick Perry, David Dewhurst

Who'da thunk that ol' Guvernor Goodhair and Double D wouldn't be reactionary or crazy enough for Republican primary voters? Perry's presidential ambitions had already fizzled out before he oops!ed his way into satirists' hearts, while Dewhurst face-planted against wild-eyed ideologue Ted Cruz in the U.S. Senate race. But what’s scarier? That the gruesome twosome won’t be clogging up D.C., or that even worse got past them?

Rick Perry, www.rickperry.org

David Dewhurst, PO Box 12068, 512/463-0001, www.ltgov.state.tx.us

Best Council Member
Mike Martinez

In Martinez’s re-election campaign, he talked about the importance of understanding the disparity of “the Austin we show, and the Austin we know.” What he’s done since then is continue his work on the City Council to bridge the gulf between the two through community outreach, hosting the Eastside 300 Challenge, and everyday support of what keeps our neighborhoods vital — la gente.

Mike Martinez, City Hall, 301 W. Second, 512/974-2264, www.mikemartinezforaustin.com

Best Elected Official
Lloyd Doggett

Longtime Austin Congressman Doggett has been targeted so many times by GOP redistricters that he has his mail sent to "General Delivery, Texas." This time they strung him out along I-35 to San Antonio – where he inspired a new generation of loyal Doggett supporters. We're happy to share him with the other River City, as long as his roots remain here – and we can celebrate the defeat of the DeLayers one more time. Doggett's been under sustained political and personal attack all those years, while still fighting the good fight for health care, education, and the interests of all Texans – it’s understandable he’s now won “Best Elected Official” seven times. The elephants have failed to defeat him, and more importantly, Doggett continues to fight for peace, justice, and equity – always with relentless energy and real courage.

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

Best Election Success
Lloyd Doggett

Longtime Austin Congressman Doggett has been targeted so many times by GOP redistricters that he has his mail sent to "General Delivery, Texas." This time they strung him out along I-35 to San Antonio – where he inspired a new generation of loyal Doggett supporters. We're happy to share him with the other River City, as long as his roots remain here – and we can celebrate the defeat of the DeLayers one more time. Doggett's been under sustained political and personal attack all those years, while still fighting the good fight for health care, education, and the interests of all Texans – it’s understandable he’s now won “Best Elected Official” seven times. The elephants have failed to defeat him, and more importantly, Doggett continues to fight for peace, justice, and equity – always with relentless energy and real courage.

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

Best Environmentalist
Brandi Clark Burton

You know that old American standard by the Carter Family, "Keep On the Sunny Side"? Don't hate us Brandi, but that should really be your theme song. The uplifting rendition sums up how Brandi approaches the environmental challenges of the day – not just by trying to turn lemons into lemonade, but by promoting a cleaner, healthier, happier planet so we end up with fewer lemons. Period. You want in on the mission? Check out the Brandi-inspired Austin EcoNetwork, a virtual clearinghouse of what's what. You'll see that sunny side shining through.

Austin EcoNetwork, PO Box 684641, 512/850-5895, www.austineconetwork.org

Best Grassroots Movement
Peaceful Streets Project

Those people over there, filming you getting arrested? They aren't with Cops, and they aren't doing it for their own jollies. You’ll be glad they’re there if Officer Jimmy gets too rough. Accountability at all levels of civic service is key, and Peaceful Streets knows it’s our civic duty to enforce it.

Peaceful Streets Project, PO Box 244, 512/981-7675, www.peacefulstreets.com

Best Green Program
Food Is Free

This collective installs low-maintenance, drought-resistant garden beds made from salvaged materials in front yards, schools, businesses, and wherever else they can fit one. Local food gets a lot of lip service in fancy restaurants, but FIF brings it into the day-to-day, where it belongs.

Food Is Free Project, 5608 Joe Sayers Ave, 512/919-9012, foodisfreeproject.org

Best Local Politics Blog
Burnt Orange Report

The eyes of Texas may be upon the rest of us, but the Burnt Orange Report has their progressive/liberal/Democratic eyes focused on the Capitol. This largest group political blog in the state offers a platform that reaches way beyond our borders. With grassroots that burrow deep in the heart of the Lone Star State, BOR stands at the ready to uncover and report the dirt of Texas politics.

Burnt Orange Report, www.burntorangereport.com

Best March or Rally
Occupy Austin

It's a unique category, but it makes sense for this winner: Occupy might well be described as a permanent "march or rally" against economic injustice and in support of basic democratic rights. Since its beginnings as Occupy Wall Street and as it spread nationwide and into Austin, Occupy has turned the national discussion to questions of social justice and equity, and also generated reconsideration of police power and public engagement. Austin's Occupiers are small in number but large in persistence and public impact – as Chronicle readers enthusiastically confirm.

Occupy Austin, occupyaustin.org

Best News Story
TIE: Planned Parenthood Defunded; Occupy Austin

It may not be the best story, but it's really a sad one: With the state's move to cut millions from the family planning budget and to cut Planned Parenthood out of the state-run Women's Health Program, the real losers are the tens of thousands of women who rely on Planned Parenthood's clinics for basic health care. That said, if any group can rise from the rubble intact and stronger than ever it's the nearly 100-year-old nonprofit – so they may be down right now, but with supporters like those in Austin, it would be foolish ever to count Planned Parenthood out. Tying for the best story this year we have the tale of the Occupy Austin movement, which has seen its fair share of highs and lows this year – including the recent revelation that undercover APD officers may have induced protesters to use at an action in Houston a device that would see a handful of them arrested on felony charges. Still, while getting punked with the rap might dampen the day for many, for the optimistic souls of Occupy there is still an insistence that the world can – and must – be a better place.

Planned Parenthood, 1823 E. Seventh, 512/477-5846, www.ppgreatertx.org

Occupy Austin, occupyaustin.org

Planned Parenthood, 201 E. Ben White, 512/276-8000, www.ppgreatertx.org

Planned Parenthood, 9041 Research #250, 512/331-1288, www.ppgreatertx.org

Best Nonprofit
TIE: Planned Parenthood, Texas Freedom Network

Despite the near-constant teabaggery backlash, Planned Parenthood still fights to provide quality health care for women. Its president, Cecile (yes, yes, yes, daughter of Ann) Richards, also happens to have founded this award's co-winner, the Texas Freedom Network, a nonpartisan state watchdog that patrols a multitude of civil rights and education issues.

Planned Parenthood, 1823 E. Seventh, 512/477-5846, www.ppgreatertx.org

Texas Freedom Network, PO Box 1624, 512/322-0545, www.tfn.org

Planned Parenthood, 201 E. Ben White, 512/276-8000, www.ppgreatertx.org

Planned Parenthood, 9041 Research #250, 512/331-1288, www.ppgreatertx.org

Best Scandal
Lance Armstrong Doping

Did he or didn't he? Odds are we'll never know – for sure – whether hometown favorite Lance Armstrong is guilty, as charged by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, of illegally enhancing his performance on the way to those seven Tour de France titles. But truth be told, it ain't looking so good for Armstrong's protestations that he's done nothing wrong, especially in light of the October release by USADA of a report in which numerous of his teammates say not only that Lance doped, but that they did, too. Ouch! He's stepped sown from his role at LiveStrong. Double ouch! At least he's still got Austin … right …?

Lance Armstrong, Lance Armstrong Foundation, 2201 E. Sixth, www.lancearmstrong.com

Best Social Program
CASA

That's Court Appointed Special Advocates for children. You already know about the problem: Abused and neglected kids can get lost in an overworked, ineffective foster system. CASA is part of the solution. With special training provided by the organization, Austin adults become friends and advocates for children desperately in need of both.

CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Travis County, 7701 N. Lamar #301, 512/459-2272, www.casatravis.org

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