Naked City

Cofer Asks, Where Is Everybody?

E-mail and phone calls to council offices are running 99 to 1 against the city's proposed development agreement with Stratus Properties. That's according to George Cofer, a rare duck in the environmental community these days given his strong support of the proposal, which the council is expected to take action on today (Thursday). With so much riding on the Stratus deal, widespread opposition to the plan does not, of course, inspire a lot of confidence. Hoping to drum up more support for the agreement, Cofer sent out an urgent e-mail last weekend asking like-minded citizens to send letters and e-mail of endorsement to city officials.

In a similar move, the pro-deal Circle C Homeowners Association has urged its members to contact the City Council, send supportive letters to the American-Statesman, and vote in the daily's online poll, currently 10-1 against, according to the HOA.

Far outside the traditional lobbying efforts, 53 University of Texas scientists have also weighed in on the proposal. In a July 15 letter, they called on Mayor Gus Garcia "to restrict further development" over the aquifer, and offered their assistance in drawing up a plan to prevent further increases in pollutant-loading to the Barton Springs Watershed and to reduce pollution from existing developments.

Acknowledging they are not fully informed about the Stratus deal, the scientists nevertheless said they "question how city subsidies for such a large development ... one that includes a large job center and thus encourages secondary growth to follow ... can be consistent with a successful effort to halt and reverse" pollution in Barton Springs.

But it was Cofer who upped the ante in his plea to reverse the level of opposition to Stratus. He invoked a Richard Nixon catch-phrase by calling on the "silent majority" to speak up in favor of the deal. After all, if the phrase worked for Nixon in one of his most dire moments (his approval ratings shot up almost immediately), maybe it can work for Stratus, too (for more on Stratus, turn to p.24).

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Stratus Properties, George Cofer, Circle C Homeowners Association

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