Page Two

Page Two
You can hear it. Quiet, just listen. There, do you hear - the pounding of the drums, the blare of the horns? You can hear it on local talk radio, see it on ever-sprouting yard signs, and read it in flyers that come in the mail. Vote No on the propositions. Let's rip control of this city away from the environmental minority that controls it at the ballot box and return the power to the people.

Listen to it, know what it is clearly saying. There are incredibly legitimate arguments about every aspect of the propositions and the way they came about. The opponents keep raising these issues, but if you really listen, you'll hear one organizing thought. Here is a chance to slam Mayor Watson and the council at the polls. Pissed about annexation? Find this long-term planning talk so much crap? Does "smart growth" make you crazy? Well then, vote no. Let's go out and take control away from the evil, tree-hugging forces that want to destroy this city.

This is ridiculous nonsense. What this city demands is long-term vision accompanied by more than anemic implementation. To move quickly in the body politic is to stir everyone up. Watson and the current council have shown more concern for the future of the city than they sometimes have to the processes of development, and the presentation of plans and propositions. It is your decision on how you will vote, but you should stop to think that there is an impressive, widespread grassroots movement to get out the vote and bash the environmentalists and their salamander agenda (see this week's "Naked City").

These propositions are visionary, and that's always a risky thing. Looking too far into the future makes it hard to give detailed answers to current questions. I am going to vote yes for all three. I find it simply unimaginable that the city buying huge chunks of land to protect water quality is ever going to look stupid by any scenario. In fact, I expect to hear the grandchildren of Bob Cole, Sammy Allred, and John Doggett on their respective radio shows chastising the city leaders for not buying more land when they could have years before. Don't fool yourself - though for now we have the leisure of pretending it is not crucial, water quality will be one of the central issues Texas faces in the coming century.

The fiction of a war between the environmentalists and the economic health of the community is sad and dishonest. All sides should realize that a long-term commitment to the environmental integrity of Austin is to everyone's advantage. Economic growth is dependent upon it, not impeded by it.

It is time to stop having fake villains, and I mean developers as well as environmental leaders. The problem is not evil people with nefarious agendas. The problem is the effects of long-term growth and how they impact on the environment and on the city and its services. These are not distinct groups of concerns; they are all woven together. Watson and the gang have done more towards long-range planning than any council in memory. Sure, they make easy villains - both this publication and I have lot of criticisms both of substance and style. But this vote is not about political victories nor about punishing the Council. It's about our city's future.

Given that there is an election seemingly once a week in Austin - each, admittedly, for the future of the city - it may be hard to work up the enthusiasm or the concentration needed for making it to the polls. The current city government is committed to executing planning, not just talking about it. This has made them easy targets. The nay-sayers are thrilled and smell blood. Instead of offering constructive suggestions, they hope to tear down the restrictions we've achieved. To what end - slamming politicians and defanging environmentalists? I hope that those who support the propositions will turn out in sufficient numbers to reassure the Council that they are headed in the right direction.

I've been missing from this column for the last few weeks as the discussion over the Propositions swirled. Next week I'll do some catching up.

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