City Hall Hustle: Bored by campaigning? Don't show.
A funny thing happened on the way to the candidates forum
By Wells Dunbar, Fri., March 20, 2009
What if they held a candidate forum, and nobody came?
While it might sound like an absurdist, intellectual perturbation, this Kafkaesque conundrum conveys the mental state of potential candidates for your Austin City Council and mayor's office. Sure, at most meetings of the Redundant Neighborhood Association Forum and Imaginary Endorsing Democratic Club You Only Hear From Each Election, the candidates outnumber the audience members. But what happens when the candidates start bailing on the forums?
That was the curious position Lee Leffingwell found himself in Saturday, the lone mayoral candidate at the ChangeAustin.org forum. Brewster McCracken was out of town, attending to a family matter, according to a campaign rep, and was never on the list to attend. Carole Keeton Strayhorn, however, was. And one would have thought happily so, as her pseudo-populist brand of bootstrapping this go-round sounds tailored to the anti-subsidy, boondoggle-sniffing, big-gubmint-distrusting delight of ChangeAustin.org, the new nom de plume of Stop Domain Subsidies. However, Her Grandma-ness didn't show, sending a campaign spokesman in her stead, according to media reports. (Sadly, with South by Southwest in the heezy, the Hustle was unable to attend – he was off with seemingly every local TV news dude in town learning about this newfangled thing called "Twitter." It's on the Internet; check it out.)
Apparently Strayhorn was celebrating the birth of a grandson and sent the drone instead – which left Leffingwell the auspicious honor of vetting the forum's topics. Anyway, all this got the Hustle's gears turning on an idea he's long been mulling: All that's needed to boost the ratings on Channel 6 is what works elsewhere – a little sex, violence, and scintillation. So why not construct a second dais behind the real one in Council Chambers and staff it with gorgeous actors? Fit them with wireless devices that transmit the actual meeting on a 10-second delay, and have the thespians act out the meeting in real time – albeit with a certain degree of artistic license. It's a natural fit for forums, too, as Strayhorn is so trailblazingly displaying.
Thought this was short? Follow the Hustle at www.twitter.com/cityhallhustle.
Upcoming Candidate Forums
AUSTIN TEJANO DEMOCRATS FORUM Thursday, March 19, 6pm. Travis County Commissioners Courtroom, Granger Bldg., 314 W. 11th.
MONTOPOLIS NEIGHBORHOOD FORUM Saturday, March 21, 1pm. Ruiz Public Library, 1600 Grove.
BAT PAC PEOPLE'S FORUM Sunday, March 22, 1-3pm. First Unitarian Universalist Church, 4700 Grover, 452-6168. www.betteraustintoday.org.
CYCLISTS FORUM Sponsored by the Yellow Bike Project, the Austin Cycling Association, and the League of Bicycling Voters. Monday, March 23, 6-9pm. St. David's Episcopal Church, 301 E. Eighth, 389-2250. www.stdave.org.
NORTHWEST AUSTIN CIVIC ASSOCIATION FORUM Tuesday, March 24, 6:30-8:30pm. Murchison Middle School, 3700 North Hills.
TEXAS GREEN NETWORK FORUM Space is limited; RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. Wednesday, March 25, 5-8pm. Austin City Hall, 301 W. Second. www.texasgreennetwork.org/meetings.htm.
AUSTIN NEIGHBORHOODS COUNCIL FORUM Wednesday, March 25, 6-9pm. Austin Energy Building, 721 Barton Springs Rd.
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