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Emergency! Emergency!

Why rush Formula One?

By Nick Barbaro, Fri., June 24, 2011

[Publisher's note: Okay, I've probably painted myself into a corner at this point, with nowhere really to put this, but given late developments and consequently changing copy, this is what I wound up writing on what I really think would be a terrible contract signing tomorrow.]

Really? After the decisive city election Saturday and with the brutal Austin-bashing ongoing in the Legislature, are we really still talking about approving contracts with Formula One and with the state comptroller on an emergency basis – today only! – just so we can get the benefit of Randi Shade's vote rather than Kathie Tovo's? Yes indeed, with the contracts still unfinished and still unread by council members and the city's lingering financial obligation still open to interpretation, it appears at press time that this may be enough impetus for a last-stand 4-3 council majority to move ahead with a vote tomorrow, damn the torpedoes.

Bill Spelman, normally a reliably skeptical wonk, says that if the proposal is as described, "I'm for it." That in itself should be enough reason to hold off on voting. If the deal is indeed as described, it'll still be there in the coming weeks and council will have enough votes to pass it. If it's not, we need to know that before, not after, we sign the contracts. Meanwhile, any time-related pressure the developers are under is not our problem; they've had more than two years to prepare this, and it was their choice not to bring it to the city until what they claim is the last minute.

In his "Point Austin" column this week, Michael King notes that the election "winners and losers are making all the right conciliatory noises about sitting down together and working things out," and concludes that, "I don't think we'll need to wait too long to find out" whether they can work together.

Indeed, we may get that answer tomorrow because any vote on F1 at this point would be irresponsible and would doubtless be viewed as a declaration of war by most Tovo supporters.

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