Naked City

Off the Desk

The City Council elections haven't even come, and people are already walking around with war-weary faces. Who was it that said the endorsement process is hell? The latest casualty happened April 12 when Brigid Shea severed her last link to the Save Our Springs Alliance, the group she co-founded and devoted much of her life to the past decade. Shea resigned from the group's political action committee, SOS Action, because its board of directors refused to endorse Kirk Watson for mayor, meaning the votes (roughly 50-50, we're told) didn't amount to the group's required two-thirds majority to endorse. Watson is running for a second term and faces no serious opposition. A "no endorsement" from the PAC board was designed to send the mayor a message of dissatisfaction with his imperial style. But Shea, a Watson loyalist since his days as a fledgling candidate stumping for votes, wanted no part of that message and quickly disassociated herself from the group. "I so thoroughly and fundamentally disagree with the board," Shea said Tuesday. "He's the best environmental mayor this city has ever had." Shea's departure from the PAC follows her resignation a month ago from the SOS Alliance board. Shea, along with former SOS chair Robin Rather, left the board after things got sticky over the Gary Bradley settlement with the city. Rather said Wednesday she supports Shea's decision. "She is absolutely right to defend the mayor's record on environmental issues," she said. "The mayor has done more ... than anyone's wildest dreams to protect Barton Springs. That the PAC chooses to be petty and mean-spirited about it is indefensible and obscene."

SOS Action board member Mike Blizzard defended the board's no-endorsement. "It wasn't as if the whole board snubbed [Watson], he just failed to get two-thirds of the vote. We had a very spirited and passionate debate about the mayor. He is going to continue to be the mayor no matter how [the board] votes." Regardless, Shea's departure is hard for many members to accept. "She's one of my heroes," Blizzard acknowledged. "There's no question."... Ironically, the SOS PAC entered into the same "no endorsement" discussions in the Place 6 race because of Council Member Willie Lewis' votes on environmental issues, which have sometimes run counter to the SOS. But while Lewis lacks strong environmental appeal, he makes up for it on neighborhood issues, said Blizzard, explaining the PAC's endorsement. Other endorsements were less surprising, with Raul Alvarez and Clare Barry winning the vote in the Place 2 and 5 races... Moving from green to gay issues, let's talk about that big Millennium March on Washington, for which Austin's own Dianne Hardy-Garcia has been organizing efforts for the past six months. Hardy-Garcia, executive director of the Lesbian Gay Rights Lobby of Texas, was called in to bring order to what was then a mess of political infighting between various gay and lesbian leaders. Now, Hardy-Garcia assures us all systems are go, and the April 30 march is expected to draw heaping handfuls of gays and lesbians from every corner, with a huge Texas contingent expected. With Hardy-Garcia leading the charge, we can expect the name of Gov. George W. Bush to be invoked several times from the stage. Despite Bush's claim that he's a better person after last week's meeting with the gay community, Hardy-Garcia isn't buying it. "I'm still devastated by what he did to us on the James Byrd hate crimes bill," she said. "He'll always put himself before us. He'll sell us down the river in a minute." For more info on the march, go to: http://www.mmow.org.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Brigid Shea, save our springs, sos action, sos alliance, kirk watson, millennium march on washington, robin rather, gary bradley, mike blizzard, dianne hardy-garcia, lesbian and gay rights lobby of texas, george w. bush.

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