Dear Editor, Michael King questions how we can afford to protect thousands of acres of land in the fragile Barton Springs Watershed and implement Open Government Online (Prop. 1) [“Point Austin,” News, April 21]. The real question is “How can we afford to spend billions of tax dollars paving and polluting the Barton Springs watershed and continue allowing our city to use closed-door negotiations to give hundreds of millions of our tax dollars to some of the wealthiest corporations?” It's simply cheaper to save Barton Springs than to pave its watershed. For a small fraction of the proposed $1.25 billion in toll and highway paving CAMPO has planned for the Barton Springs Watershed, we can protect thousands of acres, preventing an onslaught of traffic and sprawl in the Hill Country that will ruin Barton Springs and the Edwards Aquifer. Watch an animation of these two futures at www.sosalliance.org. City Council will soon finalize a bond package for the November election. The council should include $90 million for protecting land in the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Watershed. (Last year, San Antonio voters approved $90 million to protect land in the Southern Edwards Aquifer.) The city has in the past successfully purchased land, placed restrictions on the land that strictly limit development, and resold the land to private buyers. The city can recoup its investment while accomplishing long-held conservation goals. Likewise, implementing the Open Government Online charter amendment (Prop. 1) will save the city millions compared to the cost of secrecy. When you tally up the cost of secret deals the city has done over the last seven years, it's a staggering $700+ million (read the full list at www.cleanaustin.org). Businesses across the globe are moving to online information systems because it saves money. The same will be true for the city of Austin if voters approve Prop. 1.
Sincerely, Colin Clark Communications director Save Our Springs Alliance
[Michael King responds: Colin Clark and SOS continue to insist on this shell game arithmetic, but it still doesn't add up. They want real money to implement an instant online records system – they have been unable to wish away the city's initial $36 million estimate, or even attempt a counter-estimate – but promise "millions" in savings sometime in the cyber-happy future (no doubt powered by biodegradable AMD chips). They denounce CAMPO for planning roads that will certainly cost billions – but this city election has essentially nothing to do with CAMPO or that money. They demand real money ($90 million at the moment) for open space, from a council they first want to spend that $36 million (in the first year) on instant access to information that is already available, just not in cyber-happy "real time." And when they get broad public support for such initiatives – as has happened in the citizens bond committee outreach on open space – they earnestly begin burning bridges as fast as possible with natural allies who dare to differ with them on any detail, or to question their arithmetic.]