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Success So Far in Spite of 'Chronicle'

RECEIVED Mon., March 4, 2013

Dear Editor,
    Okay, I will try again. The Austin Chronicle can help Austinites to transition to single-member districts. It should do so.
    The Chronicle opposed Proposition 3, but the voters of Austin approved the charter amendment anyway.
    The Chronicle predicted that it would be difficult to find enough qualified applicants for the Applicant Review Panel of auditors because the position was being offered at the same time as tax season. There are at least 80 applicants for the three-person panel.
    The Chronicle predicted that the eligibility requirements for the independent commission were too strict to allow enough applicants. More than 500 people have applied for the 14-member commission.
    The Chronicle predicted that eligible applicants would come primarily from central Austin. The applicants come from throughout the city, and Proposition 3 itself requires that the commission reflect the city's diversity.
    There is still much to do to see that the transition to single-member districts is successful. However, the process to this point could not have been better. Every Austinite should be grateful to the city auditor and his staff for their extraordinary effort, and to the organizations (such as the League of Women Voters, Austinites for Geographic Representation, League of United Latin American Citizens, NAACP, and Asian voter associations) for their successful outreach programs.
    Success thus far has come despite the opposition and sarcasm of the Chronicle. Please commend the work of the auditor and the organizations that has made the transition successful to this point. Please pledge your help going forward. The people of Austin deserve the Chronicle's trust and assistance.
Steve Bickerstaff
   [News Editor Michael King responds: Steve Bickerstaff persistently insists it's the Chronicle's obligation to promote his pet project, his unelected task of rewriting Austin's election laws. Just for the record, the Chronicle endorsed single-member districting each and every time (seven, in total) it was on the ballot, including this one. We differed over which plan (both of which won majorities) we thought would be better, but we're pleased that geographic districting has finally come to Austin. Bickerstaff's version of our reporting – not "predictions" – is tendentiously inaccurate, and his summary of what's happened so far is misleading. For glaring example, he fails to note that of the 81 applicants for the three-member review panel, all of 14 met the actual qualifications; we still don't know how many of the "independent commission" applicants will meet the baroque standards imposed by Bickerstaff and his collaborators for drawing the maps. Here's a prediction: Enough will do so, and eventually we'll get perfectly adequate district maps. It's true the city auditor and his staff should be applauded for having done their absolute best to turn these over-engineered lemons into lemonade – thereby directly contradicting the loudest 10-1 advocates, who continually insist that everything and everyone at City Hall is irretrievably corrupt, and only 10-1 can save us. Notwithstanding Bickerstaff's continuing sanctimony, that's still baloney.]
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