Naked City

Off the Desk

Funny how the American-Statesman's memory lapses when it comes to recounting our environmental history of the past decade. Now, most everyone familiar with local green lore knows that -- love him or hate him -- Bill Bunch deserves much, if not most, of the credit for getting the SOS water-quality ordinance on the books. But Bunch got nary a mention Wednesday in the daily's 10-year recap of the June 7, 1990, marathon hearing that led to the City Council's rebuff of Jim Bob Moffett's proposed megadevelopment on Barton Creek. The all-night hearing ignited a grassroots-powered movement that turned Austin on its ear, pitting the newly formed Save Our Springs Alliance against the likes of the Chamber and the Statesman -- the institutions that used to run this town. Back then, when business leaders were trying to woo new industry here, it was Bunch and SOS cohort Brigid Shea who were selling SOS as a quality of life issue -- an issue they said would be of utmost concern to any business considering laying down stakes here. To make a long story short, they were right and the naysayers were wrong. Now, for better or worse, we're in the midst of a boom like no other...

To celebrate how far we've come since the 1990 environmental uprising, the SOS Alliance will hold its annual "Soul of the City" live music celebration on Sunday, June 11, at La Zona Rosa. This year's Soul of the City award goes to Mary Arnold, for obvious reasons; the visionary award honors Whole Foods, and the business leadership award goes to Lee Walker. Walker was one of a few business leaders who took the SOS plunge long before SOS was cool. Just for the record, some other business bravehearts back then included Sterling Information Group co-founder Chip Wolfe, mortgage banker and Republican honcho Julian Zimmerman, and developer Perry Lorenz...

So many mailers, so few recipients. How did only 7,000 of 21,000 political fliers for Rafael Quintanilla end up in local mailboxes, while the rest sat out the June 3 runoff election at the U.S. Post Office? Sounds like a job for the police. As it happened, the Austin Police Association had ordered the print-n-mail job on behalf of Quintanilla, the APA's pick for the June 3 City Council runoff, but knew something was amiss when the mailers hadn't arrived in mailboxes by Wednesday, May 31. By Friday of that week, the cops knew their goose was cooked when they learned only a portion of the fliers had been received. On Monday, after Quintanilla lost the runoff by a mere 201 votes, APA reps found the forgotten fliers in mailbags at the main P.O. Contacted Tuesday, APA president Mike Sheffield confirmed the snafu, saying, "Somewhere between the printer's and the mail house, the ball got dropped. They apparently weren't tagged properly as political mailers." Sheffield said APA will likely be reimbursed for the costly screw-up. Maybe next time, the APA will choose to do business here at home, instead of with a Dallas print shop, although it was a union shop. Sheffield said the Dallas outfit offered the best rate for the job...

There's talk around town that the route for the proposed light rail may be undergoing some serious rerouting, or at least some serious rethinking. The idea now is to make the airport the starting point for the rail line. That would make the dollar-rich tech segment of the light rail campaign happy, but what does the mayor think? We might find out Monday, June 12, when Kirk Watson lays out his transportation vision at a noon luncheon at the Shoreline Grill. His audience will be members of the Chamber, Vision 2010, the Austin Area Research Organization, and anyone else with a spare $20 to cover lunch. For reservations call 322-5626, or e-mail

  • More of the Story

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    CAMPO's 25-year plan is scheduled for approval next Monday, but few are still paying attention.

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    Some Hays County residents are up in arms about a proposed road over the EdwardsAquifer, which they say was moved westward under suspicious circumstances.
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    TNRCC is up for review by the Sunset Advisory Commission, but major changes don't seem likely.

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    West Papua declares independence from Indonesia.

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    Raul Alvarez wins by 201 votes over Rafael Quintanilla, confirming that Austin's green machine is only weakened, not defunct.

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American-Statesman, Bill Bunch, Brigid Shea, Jim Bob Moffett, Save Our Springs Alliance, Lee Walker, Chip Wolfe, Julian Zimmerman, Perry Lorenz, Rafael Quintanilla, Austin Police Association, Mike Sheffield, light rail, Kirk Watson, Whole Foods, Mary Arnold

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