Page Two

Welcome to summer in the new Austin.

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Old and new residents alike are sick to death of hearing how much better Austin was in the old days. I'm not offering up any lament here but just noting how it used to be that nothing happened in Austin during the summer. You could count on the slowdown, your energy slowed to match the speed of heat. Now, of course, summer is just like the rest of the year, only hotter (and not even so much that lately). This past Monday really brought that home. July 3 was a shockingly normal work day, positioned as it was in the middle of a potential four-day weekend. Instead of essentially dead, the city was alive and working. Take that as a warning sign. August -- once the laziest of months -- is going to be exploding with activity.

Pay especially close attention to city government. Over the next year the city has to deal with any number of major issues that will impact Austin throughout the next century. Not the least of these is Mueller redevelopment and downtown development/redevelopment (see Mike Clark-Madison's article "Impulse Buying"). Perhaps the most serious issue facing us, the voters, will be light rail and roads. These are important decisions that will affect our future.

This council has perfected the tactic of introducing motions at the end of a process, not the beginning. The old days of council-watching are over. The city government has grown too big, events are moving much too quickly. A lot of what will be introduced in the fall will come to maturity this summer. It is more important than ever to keep an eye focused on and an awareness of the political process.

This is not an inherent criticism of the council. We are very optimistic about this council, but simply the amount of work that faces them invites concern. This city is growing and changing. A compact city means a completely different downtown. Who knew? The question isn't will the city change, but how? Still, more wrongly than rightly, council will be blamed for the massive city-defining change.

Wanting to move ahead, the Watson council will enthusiastically dig into this massive amount of work, of not just decision-making but also vision-defining. One can't help but think that so many decisions being made so quickly is bound to be a flawed process. Clark-Madison's article illustrates the problem with done-deal legislating. Welcome to the summer -- in the new Austin, the new season is the same as the old one.

Letters, we got letters. We try to print most of them, and probably 85% end up running. We do not print open letters to the community, complete versions of letters censored by the Statesman, letters about articles in and/or issues raised by the Statesman, letters sent to every publication for which the author can find an address, explanations from guests of the American prison system as to why they are innocent, even a small percent of the letters we get attacking capital punishment (see mass mailings sub-clause above), endlessly long letters about how you were done wrong by the system. We are delighted by letters about the Chronicle or about issues we consistently addresses. Whether you love us or hate us, the dialogue is the thing. So let's get to it. end story

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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