Supermask Instructions

So you want to be developer hatchet man Richard Suttle?

Supermask Instructions

We can't think of a better occasion than Halloween to mark the 20th anniversary of the original "grandfather" law and, most importantly, the man behind it: Richard T. Suttle Jr. This hometown boy drafted the bill and lobbied legislators on behalf of builders looking to skirt city development rules designed to protect water quality and neighborhoods. Twenty years and 11 Wal-Mart Supercenters later, Suttle is still busier than a one-armed tree hacker, terrorizing citizens, neighborhood groups, and small Mexican eateries on behalf of big development. In the past year alone, he's been the horse whisperer in the ear of city staff for the North­cross Wal-Mart, the Las Manitas ouster, the Town Lake supercondos, and a half-dozen some­what less notorious but equally heinous proposed blights. If you have a really bad development plan, he's the friend you need at City Hall.

So here's your chance to be Richard for a day. Think you've got what it takes to cut through the red tape at City Hall? Let's go to work.

1) You'll need a large bulldozer. Grease the wheels. In this business, it's important to move quickly and quietly.

2) Wait a minute. You can't possibly work with the size of this mask. It would be cost-prohibitive and extremely onerous. Plus it's not fair.

3) Expand the outline tenfold. Tell people if it's not done your way, and right this minute, another developer will come along and make it bigger, uglier, and with no retention ponds.

4) Convince city staff that the changes you need don't require council approval, on account of – hey, wanna grab some chilaquiles at Las Manitas?

5) Lay the newly expanded Supermask face down, and add a layer of concrete. Pour it on thick. Do the same thing with the other mask, and repeat the process 17 times. What do you mean "what other mask"?

6) Return to City Hall to request another variance. You'll need 19 more masks exactly like this one.

7) Once you've completed this "development process," seek out a few allies with crossover appeal in the neighborhood and enviro communities. An AstroTurf website might help: How does www.extendourmask.org sound? Convince them you're "doing the right thing" with a wider and taller set of masks. Because one mask doesn't fit the density bill. Plus you're donating that mask to charity.

8) Now all you have to do is get the Statesman editorial folks on board. That's the easy part. Just tell them Bill Bunch is leading a "small but vocal" opposition effort against Supermask, and Arnold Garcia will sniff that the city's effete liberals are opposed to masks for everyone!

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