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2013ReadersPolitics & Personalities

Best Activist
Cecile Richards

She may not be loud and rowdy like her mama, but man oh man, this tall drink of water with the platinum bob can light up a room. That's saying nothing of her commanding presence under the giant pink dome during the abortion debates, or her kickass organizing skills as the national leader of Planned Parenthood. Her fighting spirit started at a young age: Legend holds that after her family moved to Austin in 1969, Cecile was sent home from junior high school after showing up one day wearing a black armband in protest of the Vietnam War. She's been fighting for justice ever since.

Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood of America, 434 W. 33rd, New York, www.plannedparenthood.org

Best Austin Icon
Willie Nelson

No longer the red-headed stranger, old Smokeout Willie has become our endearing friendly neighbor. Through high times and low, Nelson has been here to fight for your right to party, to live green and free. At 80 years old our beloved midnight rider is still riding strong and singing his song. It's no wonder Austinites are frequently, openly fond of Willie Nelson.

Willie Nelson, www.willienelson.com

Best Behind-the-Scenester
Karina Davis, Senate Parliamentarian

While one Davis was making headlines for voicing her opposition loud and clear, another Davis got her 15 minutes by whispering. Whether named by our readers as the "woman in white," "the lady puppet master," or "the woman at the state capitol who sustained the challenge to the vote after ridiculous falter challenges," Karina Davis is clearly the most famous senate parliamentarian in the world. We're still buzzing about all of her sweet nothings.

Texas Legislative Council, 1501 N. Congress Ave., 512/463-1155, www.tlc.state.tx.us

Best Elected Official
Sen. Wendy Davis

How did a Fort Worth state senator become the most popular politician in Austin? By standing on her feet for 13 hours without a break, filibustering the GOP’s latest round of anti-women’s health bills. Davis knew what she was getting into – she did the same thing when Republicans tried to slash school funding in 2011. And it doesn’t matter how many times the repressive hordes of the anti-choice movement call her Abortion Barbie. Our voters know that this smart, cool, single mom could be the next Ann Richards.

Office of Sen. Wendy Davis, PO Box 12068, Capitol Station, 512/463-0110, www.davis.senate.state.tx.us

Best Environmentalist
George Cofer

It's easy to talk green. Longtime Hill Country Conservancy Executive Director George Cofer really makes things happen. From helping landowners preserve their property in its natural state to working with the city on comprehensive transport solutions, Cofer has a way of bringing everyone together in the green places we all love.

George Cofer, Post Office Box 163125, 512/328-2481, www.hillcountryconservancy.org

Best Grassroots Movement
Stand With Texas Women

The bumper sticker goes, "Well-behaved women rarely make history." Perhaps that's why so many of those standing with Texas women didn't mind being called an "unruly mob." When the powers that be refused to listen to an outpouring of public testimony against the sweeping abortion restrictions bill, there was little left to do than to stop playing by the rules. Dixie Chick Natalie Maines, singing to the crowd at the movement's largest rally, may have said it best. Whether behind the scenes or in front of the Capitol, the feminist army was "Not Ready to Make Nice."

Stand with Texas Women, www.standwithtexaswomen.org

Best Green Program
Eastside Compost Pedallers

This genius compost recycling program was built on four core values: sustainability, community, simplicity, and creativity. When members sign up, they're given everything they need to start turning their compostable waste into a rich resource. Then once a week, pedallers pick up the compost using specially designed compost-churning cargo bikes and haul it to neighborhood gardens and nearby farms, where it will be used to nourish the soil and grow more food. ESCP works to connect neighbors and presents an inspiring new way to support Austin's local food movement.

East Side Compost Pedallers, 2921 E. 17th, 512/436-3884, www.facebook.com

Best Legislative Movement
Wendy Davis Filibuster

13 hours. That's how long it took for a previously little-known Texas senator to become an international sensation. That she didn't quite make it to midnight mattered very little in the end. By the time Sen. Donna Campbell called the third point of order, Davis' filibuster had moved beyond being simple parliamentary procedure. It became the stuff of lore – a highlight in the long tradition of Texans drawing lines in the sand. Something tells us we'll never have to say "let her speak" again.

Office of Sen. Wendy Davis, PO Box 12068, Capitol Station, 512/463-0110, www.davis.senate.state.tx.us

Best Legislator/Lawmaker
Sen. Wendy Davis

How did a Fort Worth state senator become the most popular politician in Austin? By standing on her feet for 13 hours without a break, filibustering the GOP’s latest round of anti-women’s health care bills. Davis knew what she was getting into – she did the same thing when Republicans tried to slash school funding in 2011. And it doesn’t matter how many times the repressive hordes of the anti-choice movement call her Abortion Barbie. Our voters know that this smart, cool, single mom could be the next Ann Richards.

Office of Sen. Wendy Davis, PO Box 12068, Capitol Station, 512/463-0110, www.davis.senate.state.tx.us

Best Local Politics Blog
Burnt Orange Report

Kid bloggers no more: As many of BOR’s alumni become movers and shakers in the Travis County Democratic establishment, over the last year Editor-in-Chief Katherine Haenschen and Publisher Karl-Thomas Musselman have recruited a new pack of progressive bloodhounds and investigative rabble-rousers. Right-wingers and bigots beware: These pups have teeth and a sharp sense of social justice.

Burnt Orange Report, www.burntorangereport.com

Best March or Rally
Stand With Texas Women

The bumper sticker goes, "Well-behaved women rarely make history." Perhaps that's why so many of those standing with Texas women didn't mind being called an "unruly mob." When the powers that be refused to listen to an outpouring of public testimony against the sweeping abortion restrictions bill, there was little left to do than to stop playing by the rules. Dixie Chick Natalie Maines, singing to the crowd at the movement's largest rally, may have said it best. Whether behind the scenes or in front of the Capitol, the feminist army was "Not Ready to Make Nice."

Stand with Texas Women, www.standwithtexaswomen.org

Best News Story
Wendy Davis Filibuster

13 hours. That's how long it took for a previously little-known Texas senator to become an international sensation. That she didn't quite make it to midnight mattered very little in the end. By the time Sen. Donna Campbell called the third point of order, Davis' filibuster had moved beyond being simple parliamentary procedure. It became the stuff of lore – a highlight in the long tradition of Texans drawing lines in the sand. Something tells us we'll never have to say "let her speak" again.

Office of Sen. Wendy Davis, PO Box 12068, Capitol Station, 512/463-0110, www.davis.senate.state.tx.us

Best Nonprofit
Planned Parenthood

In these dismal days of slashed funding and religioun-pandering lawmakers running amok, those of us who have benefited from the basic health services of Planned Parenthood are left wondering how our lives may have played out if we hadn't had access to their care. Though the state of women's health care in Texas is the source of much hand-wringing and heartache, history suggests that Planned Parenthood and its supporters are in this for the long haul. When the Komen Foundation cut funding last year, for example, there was significant public outrage and a subsequent outpouring of support and donations. Then this summer at the filibuster showdown at the Texas Lege, PP President Cecile Richards was reverently received by the crowds in the gallery and in the halls as the golden glowing Goddess of Women's Rights. So even though these days are dark, there is still hope for victory in the fight for the health of Texas women. And we can take this fight lying down – and in stirrups.

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

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

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

Best Scandal
TIE: Time-stamp Change, Lehmberg DUI

Austin may be a laid-back town, but occasionally we have to check our blood pressure. Case in point: When we all found out that Travis County D.A. Rosemary Lehmberg wasn't praying when sheriff's deputies found her in that church parking lot. What followed were headlines usually reserved for Lindsay Lohan. Lawsuits! Rehab! A creepy paternal figure (ahem Rick Perry) using his influence in improper ways! For a moment, all of our local news stations became TMZ. Meanwhile, GOP lawmakers might have wished they were soused. At least that would be some sort of explanation for the decision to forge the voting time stamp on the night of Wendy Davis' star-making filibuster. To be fair, we should have seen it coming. The Lege made no bones about wanting to send women's health care back to the Fifties. What's a few minutes more?

Best Social Program
Planned Parenthood

In these dismal days of slashed funding and religioun-pandering lawmakers running amok, those of us who have benefited from the basic health services of Planned Parenthood are left wondering how our lives may have played out if we hadn't had access to their care. Though the state of women's health care in Texas is the source of much hand-wringing and heartache, history suggests that Planned Parenthood and its supporters are in this for the long haul. When the Komen Foundation cut funding last year, for example, there was significant public outrage and a subsequent outpouring of support and donations. Then this summer at the filibuster showdown at the Texas Lege, PP President Cecile Richards was reverently received by the crowds in the gallery and in the halls as the golden glowing Goddess of Women's Rights. So even though these days are dark, there is still hope for victory in the fight for the health of Texas women. And we can take this fight lying down – and in stirrups.

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

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

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

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