Endorsements

There's an election coming up on November 4. Voters will be asked to consider 14 propositions to amend the Texas Constitution and eight propositions to spend nearly $100 million of bond money on such things as roads, criminal justice, and parks. On a separate ballot reserved for city voters will be a single proposition to change Austin's charter to regulate political fundraising and expenditures in city elections. Early voting continues through Friday, October 31. For a list of early voting locations and polling hours, call Travis County Elections Division, 473-9553 or visit the Travis County website at http://www.co.travis.tx.us/election.

The following are the Chronicle's endorsements: Travis County Bond Propositions Proposition 1: YES

This package provides $36 million for repair of substandard roads and bridges throughout the county.

Proposition 2: YES

This $19 million would go to creating and maintaining much-needed parks in Travis County.

Proposition 3: YES

This will allow the county to build a 100-bed "intermediate sanctions center" at the Gardner-Betts Juvenile Justice Center to house young offenders where they can begin receiving preventive counseling and treatment.

Proposition 4: YES

This measure would provide $1.6 million in bond money to carve out a 4.5-mile trail in a historically under-served area of East Austin.

Proposition 5: NO

Prop. 5 is a cart-before-the-horse scenario in which Travis County would provide a $4 million down payment on its $62 million share of the right-of-way costs for the proposed SH130, a six-lane, 90-mile-long freeway that we are told will run parallel to (and east of) I-35 from Georgetown down to Seguin. Unfortunately, we can't be sure because the state has yet to finalize the route's design. Although this highway is still being marketed as a bypass of I-35, its design so far suggests that it will more likely serve, at least in the near future, as another route from Austin's suburbs into its central city. Design uncertainties also mean there is no guarantee that traffic will not be allowed to shoot into town through East Austin neighborhoods.

Proposition 6: NO

How many times do we have to say it? No roads over the Aquifer. To alleviate truck traffic on Brodie Lane, let's invest in traffic-calming measures, not spend $3.5 million in bonds to subsidize sprawl in the environmentally sensitive southwest.

Proposition 7: YES

$2 million in bonds would go to build a new hangar for Starflight's two $5.8 million helicopters, as well as crew quarters and a training area.

Proposition 8: YES

This $13.7 million proposition will allow for the second phase of construction at the county's Del Valle jail. If we don't fund this, the results will be inadequate services, a lack of safety for the inmates and the guards, and federal lawsuits down the road making us pay for all these things we didn't want to pay for, with lawyers' fees to boot. State Constitutional Amendments Our blanket position on the 14 propositions to amend the Texas Constitution is to scrap the whole darn thing. We wish we could claim credit for coming up with this brilliant solution to what ails our state constitution, but we are just one among many groups and individuals crying out for our elected leaders (the Legislature) to take this unwieldy amendment process off our shoulders.

An excellent place to educate yourself on these props is at the League of Women Voters' website at http://www.main.org/leaguewv/home.html, where you will find not only the full text of the propositions, but also arguments pro and con. Also, a League voter's guide is now available in local public libraries.

Of the three charter endorsements the League bothered to make, we would like to add our endorsement to Proposition 3, which would give local jurisdictions optional methods to promote water conservation and reuse of water. The other two endorsements made by the League were against Proposition 10, which would turn existing crime victim statutory funds into dedicated funds, and Proposition 11, which would, according to the League, be a redundant proposal to limit the amount of state debt payable from general revenue.

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