Naked City

Funders gather at Kirk Watson's House, a new campaign finance reform group is born in Austin, and Club DeVille goes Republican.

The huge turnout at Ann Kitchen's Monday fundraiser surprised no one, as the event was held in the West Austin home of Mayor Kirk Watson. District Attorney Ronnie Earle, who is again facing Republican challenger Shane Phelps, worked a roomful of lobbyists that included Mike Kelly, Bettie Naylor, Carl Parker, and urban über-lobbyist Pike Powers. Judicial candidates Karrie Key and Scott Jenkins joined other local candidates making the rounds. Watson described Kitchen as his "candidate of choice," who will fight for a woman's right to choose an abortion, and a patient's choice of doctors in a healthcare system dominated by HMOs and PPOs. Kitchen served as an assistant attorney general trying consumer healthcare suits -- back when the Texas attorney general had an aggressive consumer affairs division under former AG Jim Mattox. She faces Republican Jill Warren in an election to fill the West Austin House seat Sherri Greenberg is leaving...

Campaigns for People would have approved of Kitchen's grassroots fundraiser, with donors dropping $15, $25, and $50 checks into a basket as they picked up nametags. The new, Austin-based group is pushing reforms designed to get big money out of politics. One proposal would require instant reporting of last-minute, high-dollar loans to political candidates -- like the $1.1 million that San Antonio millionaire James Leininger provided Lt. Gov. Rick Perry on the eve of the 1998 election. Other proposals pushed by the group include a $1,000 cap on individual and PAC contributions to candidates for the Texas House, a $1,500 limit for Texas Senate candidates, and a $2,000 limit for statewide candidates. In addition, individuals would only be allowed to give a total of $25,000 in each election. PACs would be limited to $50,000. The group also has measures aimed at soft money, coordinated contributions, reporting requirements, and out-of-state PACs...

The proposals are part of Campaigns for People's cyber-oriented Million Mouse March. The finance reform group, which has posted the "Had Enough?"signs around town, encourages reform-minded citizens to attend a legislative hearing at 10am, Monday, Aug. 28, at the Capitol Complex. The meeting, to be chaired by Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, will address campaign finance proposals that may be introduced in next year's legislative session. CFP can be reached at

Few drivers make it through the downtown bar-and-restaurant zone known as the Warehouse District without encountering at least one "Closed Until 2002" sign blocking a street. And most of the restaurants there -- north of the CSC/City Hall construction project -- operate in constant gridlock. So a waiter at a District restaurant got few laughs from Watson early this week, when the mayor was warned that lunch service was going to be slow. "I'm sorry, but due to some delays and rerouting in our kitchen, we should have your food out in about 2002," the waiter told Watson. The mayor "didn't think it was too funny"…

Club DeVille has been suffering something of an identity crisis since co-owner Mark McKinnon's political gender-change surgery, which turned the Ann Richards Democrat into a George Bush Republican. The club on Red River has long been a happy-hour stop for Austin Dems, but over the past year, more Republicans have moved in. At times, the two constituencies sit warily at opposite ends of the bar. Last Saturday, things got a little crazy as local Repubs did Karaoke versions of "We Are Family" -- in a mini-GOP convention. Not as many people of color as the Party had on stage at the convention in Philadelphia, but still a colorful event.

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    Vignette discusses its options for a planned move downtown.

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    Local singer-songwriter Lourdes Perez has become outspoken in the fight against the US bombing range in Vieques, Puerto Rico.
  • Naked City

    Council members announce Planning Commission appointments that promise to calm the harsh political winds that have blown through the commission of late.

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    Despite the many good arguments in their favor, Beverly Griffith's parks bonds and Raul Alvarez's housing bonds get shot down at council; meanwhile, Kirk Watson's $150 million transportation proposal glides through with nary a hitch.

    Naked City

    The Triangle Square plan gets approved at council, raising questions from Eastside activists about the fate of similar projects in their neighborhoods.

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Ann Kitchen, Kirk Watson, Pike Powers, Campaigns for the People, Rick Perry, Jim Leininger, Mark McKinnon, Club DeVille

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