The Spelman proposition
By Wells Dunbar, Fri., April 10, 2009
On the stump lately, Brewster McCracken's taken to name-checking unopposed Place 5 City Council candidate Bill Spelman. With the city financially strapped, McCracken says Spelman has echoed his call for police officers to turn down their next scheduled round of raises. "We don't know what the next budget year's going to look like," Spelman told the Chronicle. "I think it's real likely that we're going to have to make further cuts. If we do make further cuts, we have to have a community conversation as to what's really a basic service, what we really need to fund and to do – and what is a luxury item that's a little less important, that we can put off doing for a couple years."
To Spelman, an additional raise for the police – already the best compensated force in the state – is a luxury. Still, that doesn't mean such a step would be easy: "Every time you renege on a contract, there are consequences," he says, noting that if the cop contract is broken and reverts to basic civil service requirements, "that means we're gonna lose a lot of the concessions we've picked up over the last 10 years. The police oversight board might be one of them, and I certainly wouldn't want to lose that." Still, Spelman says he's "not sure we're going to renegotiate the meet-and-confer [contract]," as he assumes the public safety unions, whose endorsements he has received, understand the city's dire financial situation. "This is what I told the public safety unions: 'If we have to make a choice between making good on those contractual obligations and laying off parks employees or librarians, I'm not going to lay anybody off.' And I think that may be the choice we have to make."
Hmmm ... focusing on the fundamentals, like public safety, parks, and libraries – could Spelman be sounding like yet another candidate in the mayor's race?
Forward Into the Past
Dog bites man, or man bites dog? The editorial dictum prizing the unusual applies to endorsement reporting and perhaps a little unfairly: Lee Leffingwell continues his steamroll, procuring 30 group endorsements by his campaign count. But this bullet is about an endorsement by political dissidents ChangeAustin.org of none other than long-ago former Mayor Carole Keeton Strayhorn. The nod brings Strayhorn's tally to three (Building Owners and Managers Association, Small Business Group of Central Texas), raising the question: Has she officially outstripped Brewster McCracken in group endorsements? (Whether McCracken garners some endorsements from last weekend's combined urban forum may answer the question.) ChangeAustin.org, the referendum-happy, quasi-libertarian goo-goo group, arose out of last year's unsuccessful Stop Domain Subsidies (Proposition 2) campaign and has aimed a similarly jaundiced eye on a potpourri of so-called boondoggles (Water Treatment Plant No. 4, toll roads, etc.).
In an e-mail announcing its endorsements (Perla Cavazos in Place 1, Mike Martinez in Place 2, Bill Spelman in Place 5, and Sam Osemene in Place 6), the group noted, "Some opposing candidate camps are explaining our endorsements as for those 'willing to pander' to us," likely a reference to Strayhorn receiving the group's endorsement despite missing its candidate forum (except on video). "Is that because they see open government, fiscal prudence, and putting an end to the gravy train for special interests as 'lower tastes and desires' of the people of this City?"
AUSTIN AREA HUMAN SERVICES ASSOCIATION
Thursday, April 9, 11:30am. Mexican American Cultural Center, 600 River St.
COMBINED ENVIRONMENTAL FORUM
Thursday, April 9, 5:30pm. Council Chambers, City Hall, 301 W. Second.
YOUNG EXECUTIVES OF AUSTIN
Thursday, April 9, 7pm. Driskill Hotel, 604 Brazos.
NORTHEAST AUSTIN NEIGHBORHOODS FORUM
Saturday, April 11, 10am. East 19th Street Missionary Baptist Church, 3401 Rogge.
NORTH CENTRAL AUSTIN NEIGHBORHOODS CANDIDATE FORUM
Monday, April 13, 6:30pm. Wozniak Hall, St. Louis Catholic Church, 7601 Burnet Rd.
EAST AUSTIN CANDIDATE FORUM
Tuesday, April 14, 6pm. Southwest Key Community Center, 6002, Jain.
CAPITAL AREA DEMOCRATIC WOMEN LUNCHEON
Thursday, April 16, 11:30pm. Nuevo Leon Restaurant, 1501 E. Sixth.
ETHICS REVIEW COMMISSION FORUM
Thursday, April 16, 5:30pm. Council Chambers, City Hall, 301 W. Second.
Also on the Ballot in Travis Co.
• City Council seats in Bee Cave, Cedar Park, Lakeway, Leander, Pflugerville, Rollingwood, Round Rock, Sunset Valley, Village of the Hills, and Volente
• School board seats in Del Valle, Eanes, Lake Travis, Leander, Round Rock school districts
• Sales-tax authorizations in Bee Cave, Sunset Valley, and East Travis Gateway Library District
• The creation of the Anderson Mill Limited District
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