Only a Few Liars Oppose Props. 1 & 2 – For the Righteous They Are No-Brainers

RECEIVED Tue., April 18, 2006

Dear Editor:
    In response to your analysis of the Proposition 1 and 2 charter amendment ballot-language rewrite session, and the line, “The angry tone ... largely ... confirm the shortcomings of the petition-driven initiative and referendum process” [“Ballot Battle,” News, April 7]. Hardly. The problem is not with democracy, but the stifling thereof.
    More than 2,000 entities in the state allow misconduct records on police officers be revealed upon request, but not Austin. The state itself has online access to officials' schedules and archived electronic communication, but not Austin.
    The need for open government is highlighted by the city (and developers and former council members working as lobbyists) continuing to tout what are now illegal lies since Judge Yelensky ruled against the city on its initial ballot language on the props.
    So a loud, corrupt few are desperately striving to protect their secrecy: case in point of why we need access to specific documents, schedules and archived communication (not “live”: that's a lie). So for a healthy government, look past the subjective hype of "bad language" (the judge said the ballot language was bad, not ours) and "too costly" (even at the inflated cost analysis already deemed a flat-out lie in court, it still cost less than one bad back-room deal).
    Would the ACLU support a measure that invades privacy? Hello! The McCracken lie of "limit the ability of citizens to keep private details of communications” unfortunately remains in the ballot language – in violation of the court and in disrespect of the 20,000-plus signers of the petition. The same laws that apply now in open records requests will apply after the passage, and in fact, Prop. 1 preserves such in its language.
    “[U]nintended consequences,” Chronicle? The intentions are clearly laid out in the amendments, and the city holds the key on how to efficiently and honestly implement the measures (unfortunately, but we'll stay on 'em!).
    Prop. 1 will make Austin a 21st-century city in transparency and online so we can follow the money before our money is secretly spent, and Prop. 2 will enforce our SOS ordinance by phasing out “grandfathering” and preventing toll expansion over the watershed, a no-brainer for those who wish to keep the soul of Austin intact!
Debbie Russell
ACLU Central Texas
   [News Editor Michael King replies: Although the Prop. 1 proponents continue to insist that any disagreement with their own interpretation of the charter amendments is not just mistaken but "a lie," the actual language of the amendments is in fact inconsistent and unclear on both the "real time" posting requirements and the question of privacy protections. Simply declaring the ACLU's supposed good intentions as self-determining is both insufficient and arrogant.]
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