Follow the Money

RECEIVED Mon., Nov. 5, 2012

Dear Editor,
    I have written before to urge Austinites to vote against charter amendments No. 1 and No. 2 on the Nov. 6 ballot ["Nov. 6 Elections: The 'Chronicle' Endorsements," News, Oct. 19]. Proposition 1 would change elections to November, and Proposition 2 would lengthen terms to four years. I think November dates will turn local elections into partisan events, and that the November cycle will reduce run-off election turnouts to laughable levels. I also think four-year terms are too long for accountability,
    Since I last wrote, journalist Ken Martin of the Austin Bulldog has released an online story showing the Real Estate Council of Austin and the Austin Board of Realtors have given almost 90% of the money to the political action committee supporting these propositions, more than $52,000.
    Have these special interests suddenly turned populist? I suspect not. Rather they are looking for a system that can maximize their influence and reduce the chances for independent grassroots candidates. I believe the real estate lobby waited to the proverbial last minute to dump money in this campaign so their contributions would not become an issue.
Paul Robbins
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