Politics & Media
2018 Readers Poll
2018 Critics Picks

Photo by David Brendan Hall

Best Hostile Takeover by a Highly Invasive Aerial Species

Starting this summer with the deployment of a fleet of California-based Birds, Austin's scooter craze has divided the city neatly into joyriders and killjoys. While they're nearly as plentiful, unlike the zebra mussels ripping their way through Austin waterways, electric scooters at least have the utility of getting you from Point A to Point B – and with some breeze in your hair.

Best Campaign Video

TX-31 congressional candidate MJ Hegar’s combat memoir is called Shoot Like a Girl, and the title could also apply to campaign ad "Doors," featuring her military and activist service – saving comrades on the battlefield and fighting for women’s rights in D.C. The Putnam Partners production gave Hegar a national presence, and (with its follow-up, “Tattoos”) could well escort her through the door of the U.S. Capitol. Meanwhile, filmmaker Richard Linklater's anti-Cruz "Tough as Texas" (and its several follow-ups) have made a viral star of local actor Sonny Carl Davis and his venomous tagline: "C'mon … Ted." Might as well have said, "Bless his heart."


"Tough as Texas"

Photo by Jana Birchum

Best Mobile Mental Health Heroes

Having a mental health crisis – or know someone going through it? Who you gonna call? Integral Care's Mobile Crisis Outreach Team – MCOT for short. This team of master's-level clinicians is trained to travel into the community to help folks in need of mental health services where they’re at. What’s more, a visit from MCOT is not a one-and-done deal. Instead, the program offers follow-up counseling and medication services for up to 90 days, with the goal of connecting folks to long-term care. Proof that not all heroes wear capes – capes would just get in the way anyway.

Integral Care

Best Bubsy-Centric Retro Video Game Rating System

The problem with old video games is you need long-extinct hardware to relive the memories. Luckily Danny and Alex of Retro Pals have them a vast collection of dated tech, and they showcase favorites and forgotten gems on Twitch several times a week. Get transported to a time when Chuck Wagon dog food felt emboldened to make a video game. A time when former presidential cat Socks battled Gerald Ford on the Super Nintendo. Experience something from the bonkers bin of vintage gaming with background provided by your hosts. Lesson No. 1? Any game's worth can be answered in one question: Is it better than Bubsy?


Photo by Bret Brookshire

Best Hero in a Crisis

When the separation of families at the border reached new, horrific levels this past summer, RAICES, the largest immigration legal services provider in Texas, rose to the challenge and became the resilient nonprofit at the center of the response. Supported by over $20 million in donations, RAICES was able to put this money towards legal representation, along with bail, to reunite parents with their children. Though family reunification has largely left the headlines, RAICES continues to serve on the front line of legal aid to immigrants in Texas and along the border in their time of need.

2800 S. I-35 #215

Best Efforts to Save Our Pools

It's no secret that Austin's oft-neglected and sprawling network of neighborhood and community swimming pools is in dire straits. And part of the reason that's common knowledge is because of the efforts of grassroots group Love Austin Pools, which formed in 2017 to advocate for pools threatened with closure, and the long-running Forklift Danceworks, which has focused its everyday-life-inspired dance productions on specific Austin communities and what their respective pools mean to them. Through My Park, My Pool, My City, its multi-year collaboration with the city's Aquatics Division, the company explored Bartholomew and Dove Springs pools, and has its sights set on a third East Austin pool for next summer. Meanwhile, Love Austin Pools will continue to advocate for increased funding and maintenance at City Hall and throughout the community.

Love Austin Pools

Forklift Danceworks
2023 E. Cesar Chavez

Photo by Miriam Conner

Image via Getty Images

Best #MeToo Warriors for Institutional Change

This summer, eight brave sexual assault survivors decided enough was enough. In light of what they identified as systemic issues with the city and county’s handling of sexual assault cases, they jointly filed a scathing class-action lawsuit against the current and former district attorney, the current and former Austin police chief, the Travis County sheriff, the city of Austin, and Travis County. It’s not money they’re looking for; it’s institutional change. As anyone following the #MeToo conversation around rape survivors at the national level knows – it’s about damn time major changes were made, at every level.

Best Wishes and Bon Voyage

A sincere tip of the Chronicle hat to a baker’s dozen of departing Statesman editorial employees who accepted buyouts from GateHouse Media, the hedge-fund affiliate that bought the paper earlier this year, and last month began the inevitable reorganization (or worse). The headline farewell names include longtime editor Debbie Hiott, wise-elder States-woman Alberta Phillips, DIY transportation reporter Ben Wear, PolitiFact-er Gardner Selby, tech culture reporter Omar Gallaga … and a brace of others. Whoever and whatever survives in the Bat Cave going forward, these experienced hands will be missed.

Photo by Jana Birchum

Trevor Scott and Taylor Ellison   Photo by David Brendan Hall

Best Morning Pick-Me-Up

Naturally we tune in every Friday morning to catch Chronicle Marketing Director Sarah Wolf chatting up We Are Austin’s super-charismatic anchor duo, Taylor Ellison and Trevor Scott. But there are plenty of other reasons to turn the channel to CBS Austin weekday mornings, including Music Monday’s live performances and Wednesday Friends’ adoptable-pet cuteness overload. They get us through the workweek and pumped for the weekend, and we’d watch these guys eight days a week if we could.

CBS Austin
10700 Metric

Best Sound of Cinema

Click! Whirwhirwhirwhir! The sound of an old projector firing up is the signal that it's time for Lights Camera Austin, Robert Sims' weekly one-hour guide at KOOP Radio to what's happening in Austin's cinemas and filmmaking scene. From reviews of what titles are hitting the silver screen this week, to interviews with both international superstars and local up-and-comers, this is the best way to hear about movies in the ATX.

3823-B Airport

Photo by Bret Brookshire

Lisa Hause Photography

Best Alternative to a Night in Jail

Public intoxication accounts for more than 2,000 jail bookings a year in Travis County; the Sobering Center aims to change that. Receiving referrals and transports from police and EMS and open 24/7, the center offers both a safe place to sober up and a potential first step to recovery, for both one-time party-too-hards and those with chronic substance use problems. A joint effort of the city of Austin (which funds the annual budget) and Travis County (which owns the building, the former medical examiner's office), the Sobering Center's opening in August followed a nearly 20-year-long effort by local leaders and law enforcement.

Austin Sobering Center
1213 Sabine

Best Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired

Standing up for workers’ rights – and not to mention protecting public health – Work Strong Austin fought to ensure Austinites wouldn’t be forced to make the tough choice between recovering from an illness at home or showing up to work so they don’t get docked pay. The coalition, including the Workers Defense Project and UNITE HERE, succeeded this February when Council passed an ordinance requiring most business owners to allow employees 64 hours of paid sick time per year. But thanks to anti-worker conservative groups and state officials, the ordinance has been tossed into legal limbo. So in the meantime, let’s throw some extra love to the groups still fighting for our rights to be, well, human.


Image via Facebook

Photo by John Anderson

Most Committed Commission

CodeNEXT, the city’s failed attempt at rewriting Austin’s land use code, took its toll on everyone it touched, from city staff to local reporters, but no one group put in more time and elbow grease to improve the project and move forward than the Planning Commission. The 13 unpaid commissioners spent numerous late nights – and a few weekends – learning, unpacking, and debating the proposed rewrite(s). By May, they were pulling twice-a-week marathon meetings to author nearly 1,000 amendments to the final draft. As a thank you for all their hard work, City Council killed CodeNEXT and eight commissioners were sued by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton for violating the City Charter’s rule that only four (not eight) be "directly or indirectly" tied to real estate. We would suggest a bottle of wine, maybe a fruit basket, instead.

Austin Planning Commission

Best Monthly Playlists

Stepping back from the endless stream of constant content, independent music blog Portals crafts careful, spaced-out features on rising acts from around the world. The site’s steady drip includes a monthly playlist from Portal’s Austin-based creative director Tyler Andere. As an A&R rep for Father/Daughter Records, the influential local has a knack for picking the best song by somebody who’ll be the hottest new thing on Pitchfork in a year or two. The deliberate, forward-thinking mixes, available on SoundCloud, include an affinity for Texas talent and accompanying illustrations by Baltimore artist Laurent Hrybyk.


Most Environmentally Conscious Lifestyle Mag

Going vegan is one thing. Eradicating the use of conflict palm oil is another. But to apply the two to beauty and lifestyle coverage is another thing entirely. We raise our kombucha to the women of Selva Beat, who reimagine the concept of the lifestyle magazine through the lens of environmentalism and ethics, with a diverse and truly Austinite staff.

Selva Beat
P.O. Box 6320, Austin, TX 78762

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