Politics & Personalities
2002 Readers Poll
2002 Critics Picks
Best Scandal

From the "Well, duh!" files came the juicy tabloid-ready tale of a certain energy-speculation firm (and their crafty accountants) with ties to Commandant Dubya. Corruption? Letting stocks fall where they may? Giving plenty of bail-out warning to their rich buds? Well, duh! What's more scandalous? That or our fearless president's ensuing "Corporate Reform" feel-good tour? Odd footnote: The Kennedy assassination got one vote.

Enron
1400 Smith
Houston
713/853-5106

Most Important News Story

We'd like to offer this space for a moment of silence, please …

Best State Department

What makes TxDOT the Best State Department in Austin? Seems like the answer might be either (1) they provide secure employment to a large number of citizens, or (2) they provide asphalt surfaces for the use of hundreds of thousands of Central Texans. Whatever the reason, Austin loves TxDOT.

TxDOT
125 E. 11th
512/463-8585
www.dot.state.tx.us

Best Council Member

Why do we like Will Wynn? Maybe it's because he's got the fresh-scrubbed All-American thing in spades -- can't you just see him walking down Congress Avenue arm-in-arm with his wife, kids scampering nearby, enjoying a fine Saturday afternoon? Maybe it's because he knows how to tell a joke -- remember his spoof send-off of Mayor Kirk? Maybe it's because he speaks his mind -- even when it ain't so popular. Or maybe it's simply because he reminds us of the kind of Austinite we'd like to be.

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

Best State Legislator

Our local man in the dome, Senator Gonzalo Barrientos (D), served in the Texas House beginning in 1975 until 1985. That year he won his first seat in the Texas Senate, where he has served ever since. Last year, Barrientos won the first-ever Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas Lifetime Achievement Award. This year, he won the Texas Public Employees Association Lifetime Achievement Award. And we don't mind adding our little prize to the pile, as our District 14 dude takes props from our readers as well.

Gonzalo Barrientos
P.O. Box 12068
512/463-0114

Best City Service

We are all about the blue bins. Recycle and reuse: That's where it's at! We love to feel good about our consumption. But what makes us feel better is finding that perfectly useable, albeit a tad smelly, sofa in dark chocolate brown to match the rest of our tattered aesthetic, lying on the side of the road the night before Bulky Item Pick-Up Day.

City of Austin Solid Waste Services
512/494-9400
www.cityofaustin.org/sws

Taylor Holland

Best Effort to Improve Austin

"Waste not, want not," our mother always told us. As kids we shrugged it off, but nowadays we understand that the wastefulness of our culture's auto-obsession and sprawling homes and impermeable driveways are a sure path to self-destruction. Kudos to all who consider light rail (or any public transportation for that matter) and the Save Our Springs movement worth the fight. May these efforts not be in vain.

Light Rail Now!
107 W. Eighth
www.lightrailnow.org

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

Best Effort to Keep Austin Weird

Everybody knows Leslie, right? He's Austin's top-notch boho homo hobo, a queen among men. We've heard rumors of his westwardly migration (West Lake Hills?!?), but hey, he and his homemade sleep/cart are still downtown institutions.

Best Eccentric

Everybody knows Leslie, right? He's Austin's top-notch boho homo hobo, a queen among men. We've heard rumors of his westwardly migration (West Lake Hills?!?), but hey, he and his homemade sleep/cart are still downtown institutions.

Best Activist

While some know Amy Babich as a math professor, bicycle dealer, or politician, most Austinites know her from her Chronic letters to the editor. The vision expressed in each letter is practically (morally?) equivalent to what Austin aspires to be, or at least to the reputation our city has: Bicycles, so pure and kind, rule over cars, so trashy and rude. Amy can mathematically prove this: While our excessive use of cars creates huge problems, increased use of bicycles would solve those problems, therefore we should all use bicycles instead of cars – q.e.d. She speaks for all of us. We hope that Amy Babich perseveres in leading more of us to emulate her inspirational lifestyle.

Amy Babich
PO Box 49084
512/453-0438
www.easystreetrecumbents.com

Best Employer

While it's certainly the largest employer in our fair town, size alone doesn't matter so much to Austin. The richness of the community of over-educated colleagues and the diversity factor are enough to make for a favorite employer. But we think it's more than that. Like our state government, UT has a certain ubiquitous charm. They are everywhere. Who hasn't applied, at least once, for a job at UT? North Office Building A 101 E. 27th www.utexas.edu/employment

University of Texas at Austin
727 E. Dean Keeton
512/471-3434
www.utexas.edu

Best Nonprofit Group

The U.S. Dept. of Justice reports that, statistically, a woman is raped every two minutes in America (which doesn't even account for the men and boys who also fall victim). SafePlace's mission is education, prevention, intervention, and advocacy regarding issues surrounding sexual assault and domestic violence. Tied is last year's winner, the Texas Freedom Network, an ever-growing organization of faithful Americans (their scope is now national) that strives to temper religious extremism in politics and education. Promoting a grassroots base for religious centrists, they protect personal and religious liberties, countering the Religious Right in such issues as textbook censorship and school vouchers.

SAFE Alliance
1401 Grove Blvd.
512/267-7233
www.safeaustin.org

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

Best Unsung Hero/Heroes

Standing ready to risk their lives for ours is a force of emergency workers dedicated to being there, no matter how dire the call. Not only that, but, as one worker pointed out, if you squint and sort of make your eyes go out of focus when you look at "EMS" on the emergency workers' shirts, it sure looks like the word "Elvis."

Austin Fire Department Headquarters
4201 Ed Bluestein
512/974-0130
www.cityofaustin.org/fire

Travis County EMS
15 Waller
512/972-7200
www.ci.austin.tx.us/ems

Best Mover & Shaker

Alex Jones of Infowars.com fame matched with Lonny Stern of KOOP radio's Outspoken and every-gay-cause-you-can-think-of fame? Talk about your strange bedfellows. One fella stands up for what he believes in at the risk of being ridiculed for his whacked-of-center views, and the other stands up for what he believes in at the risk of being ridiculed for fighting for everyone's right to love whomever. Hey, maybe there is room in that boudoir for both of these true believers.

Alex Jones
www.infowars.com

Lonny Stern
7101-B
512/454-8646
www.projecttransitions.org

Jana Birhcum

Best Visionary

While some know Amy Babich as a math professor, bicycle dealer, or politician, most Austinites know her from her Chronic letters to the editor. The vision expressed in each letter is practically (morally?) equivalent to what Austin aspires to be, or at least to the reputation our city has: Bicycles, so pure and kind, rule over cars, so trashy and rude. Amy can mathematically prove this: While our excessive use of cars creates huge problems, increased use of bicycles would solve those problems, therefore we should all use bicycles instead of cars ? q.e.d. She speaks for all of us. We hope that Amy Babich perseveres in leading more of us to emulate her inspirational lifestyle.

Amy Babich
PO Box 49084
512/453-0438
www.easystreetrecumbents.com

Best Local Online Personality

This film industry gadfly has earned his share of detractors (there was a sizable "anyone but Harry" voting contingent) for his oddly reflexive writing style and his network of shadowy informers who keep the film gossip and movie spoilers rolling in. Enough of our readers, however, love him for it, and are proud to call Harry Knowles one of Austin’s own.

Harry J. Knowles
P.O.Box 180011
512/467-8747

Best Sexiest Austin Personality

If the readers of The Austin Chronicle were casting directors, hometown sweetie Sandy Bullock would be in the pink for quite some time. Of course that comes with a price, for those same reader/casting directors would most likely cast themselves as our sassy gal-next-door's romantic lead. Honestly, we can't think of a more sexy Austinite, either. Although, Andy Langer did get one vote.

Sandra Bullock
310/288-4545

 
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