The mood was relaxed and self-congratulatory at this month's Real Estate Council of Austin awards luncheon on Wednesday, Dec. 15, at the Four Seasons Hotel. The crowd of about 150 developers, real estate agents, bankers, and others in the land business enjoyed a steak meal and the banter of KVET's Sammy Allred and Bob Cole, who appear to be making an annual gig out of RECA's holiday awards luncheon. For the second year in a row, the pair took turns poking fun at each other and some of their favorite targets, including Smart Growth, Cap Metro, light rail, and Vice President Al Gore's anti-sprawl platform.
At one point, Sammy and Bob not-so-respectfully disagreed on whether Mayor Kirk Watson has been doing a good job. "I think Kirk Watson is to Austin just as Ronald
Reagan was to the country," said Bob, expressing admiration for Watson's leadership; Sammy countered, "He's a socialist!" When attendees were asked informally to vote for or against the mayor (with a show of applause) they split nearly down the middle, with Watson's supporters making just a little more noise than his detractors. "That wasn't as convincing as I thought it was going to be," said Bob. Other targets of criticism included the Austin American-Statesman, as well as television and radio news, the apathetic voting public, and SOS.
As a joke, outgoing RECA president David Armbrust was awarded with a pair of white doves said to symbolize the nature of his tenure. Texas Turnpike Authority Chair Pete Winstead replaces Ambrust as president in 2000.
Finally, RECA also recognized former Austin City Council member and outgoing Lower Colorado River Authority manager Mark Rose with its Commendation of Excellence for helping seal a series of contentious long-term deals designed to ensure Austin's water supply years into the future -- thereby keeping the city safe for development. For his part, Rose (who will be taking a job as head of Public Strategies Inc., a private consulting firm, next year) offered that Austin faces many infrastructure challenges if the city is going to cope with growth, ranging from a functional transit system to school improvements. "It's going to take tremendous leadership to make that happen," he said.