Simply put, the propositions' okay from voters will give downtown boosters one of the things they most want - a bigger convention center and a tourist-friendly creek; enviros will score on their front - city ownership of undeveloped land over the aquifer; and for good measure, a wide swath of East Austin will get relief from the threat of flooding. Privately, representatives from both business and environmental camps acknowledge some healthy skepticism about the other's agenda in this bond election - the expansion of the convention center would displace residents of nearby apartments, and aquifer land purchase would effectively drive up water rates. But both sides, nevertheless, have vowed to work together to pass all three propositions.
And if citizens are rattled about being left out of the process this time around, take heart: A city-appointed committee of regular folk has formed to educate and solicit feedback from voters about the September bond election. There are a number of meat-and-potato projects being considered for that ballot - among them a new downtown library and other library branch improvements, as well as a new EMS and fire station.
Early voting for the May 2 election runs April 15-28. More complete coverage of the three proposals is on pp.14-26 of this issue, and more details can be found at the city's website - http://www.ci.austin.tx.us - or from the Bond Election Hotline, 499-2663. (Also on the May 2 ballot are six AISD Board of Trustee races - including President and V.P. - and a vote on whether to discontinue the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District; more on that in future weeks.)
[Ed. note: This issue marks the beginning of Amy Smith's tenure as The Austin Chronicle politics editor. She succeeds Audrey Duff, who has left to work on Jim Mattox's campaign for state Attorney General.]