The Austin Chronicle

Naked City

With Friends Like Mike Levy ...

By Amy Smith, May 30, 2003, News

City Council candidate Brewster McCracken started the week trying to distance himself as far as possible from a letter penned by Texas Monthly publisher Mike Levy that attacks McCracken's Place 5 run-off opponent Margot Clarke. Any hopes that McCracken had of appealing to Central Austin progressive voters in the June 7 run-off may have been diminished by Levy's letter, sent to thousands of Austin residents and urging to vote against Clarke. The letter never mentions McCracken by name.

"I had nothing to do with that letter," said McCracken. "We're running our own campaign and working very hard to get my own message out." McCracken said he didn't know whether Levy's letter would hurt him in Central Austin -- the one area of town that consistently votes in run-off elections. Though McCracken led Clarke by 8% in the May 3 general election, Clarke captured most of the central-city boxes. While McCracken has tried to reiterate his support of environmental and other progressive causes, Clarke picked up an additional environmental endorsement last weekend with the backing of the Save Our Springs political action committee.

In his letter, Levy cites a number of ills plaguing Austin's core city services and blames "a deficit in intelligent and rational leadership" as the primary source of the problems. He goes on to call Clarke a clone of former Council Member Beverly Griffith and warned that she would be an ally to Mayor Pro Tem Jackie Goodman. Though voters have seen fit to send Goodman to City Hall four times, in Levy's mind she brings the "level of sheer goofiness in Austin city government to even higher levels." (Levy wrote a similar letter attacking Griffith when she ran unsuccessfully for re-election -- against McCracken and eventual winner Betty Dunkerley -- last year.)

McCracken said that after reading Levy's letter last Friday, he called Goodman's office to let her know he did not share Levy's views. He said he also "had a long talk" with Clarke over the weekend. Both McCracken and Clarke have said they would look to Goodman for guidance on the City Council.

Clarke's campaign staff first heard about the letter when a woman called to volunteer her services. The reason? She was "fuming," having just received a copy of Levy's letter. Clarke herself had no comment.

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