Public Notice: Endorsements (Ouch)
How could we be so stupid?
By Nick Barbaro, Fri., Oct. 24, 2014
Well, the comment-osphere has spoken regarding the Chronicle endorsements published last week – and remarkably, it appears that we got every single race wrong, due to our left-wing commie pink glasses, and our lock-step support of developers and their toadies, in conjunction with anti-growth neighborhood cranks. Dang. You can't win 'em all, but I guess sometimes you can lose 'em all.
Beating a Live Horse: You may think you've heard the last of the moaning over transportation network companies, but in fact, the three biggest remaining questions were all punted down the road by City Council this week, with the gaps in enforcement defined, but responsibilities shifted downward from the TNCs to the drivers themselves, who will almost certainly ignore the regulations and continue to operate illegally, with a wink and a nod from the city, until something goes wrong:
• TNCs are not supposed to operate at Bergstrom Airport, until airport administration figures out how to charge them the same sorts of fees all other ground transportation services pay to operate there. But with no such system in the works, and no enforcement mechanism available, expect drivers to ignore this provision, if they're even aware of it.
• Language was added from the dais Thursday requiring TNCs to inform their drivers that "the driver's personal automobile insurance policy may not provide collision or comprehensive coverage" on cars used for business purposes – but again, it's up to the driver to monitor and provide that coverage (or not). This one won't be clarified until the first test cases involving uninsured drivers are litigated.
• Another late amendment clarified that cars used for TNC purposes are considered business property, and are thus subject to ad valorem property taxes; how these might be identified and billed, however, remains a mystery, since Council rejected a proposal that TNCs send their list of registered autos to the Appraisal District.
Expect these issues, among others, to continue to be hotly debated when the whole mess returns to Council with reports from both the TNC task force, and an ongoing taxicab task force. By the time that gets sorted out, it'll be up to the newly seated City Council to try to wrap its arms around the whole mess, sometime in the new year.
Bikefest: This Saturday, Oct. 25, 10am-5pm, Bike Texas will showcase "everything bicycle" at this inaugural event. A ribbon-cutting for the new multiuse South Walnut Creek Trail will start the day, followed by rides, prizes, food, and exhibits. Austin B-cycle's mobile station will be on-site for check-in/out. www.biketexas.org.
The Hill Country Alliance 2014 Rainwater Revival promises a festive day, filled with entertaining presentations, water conservation-related vendor booths, rainwater system displays, plus food, shopping, live music, plus much more! Saturday, Oct. 25, 10am-4pm at Dripping Springs Ranch Park. www.rainwaterrevival.com.
Viva! Streets, a free festival in the Mueller development, invites you to bicycle, play, get fit, people-watch, and celebrate good health. On Sunday, Oct. 26, a two-mile route through Mueller will become a car-free and tobacco-free playground for thousands of Austinites, in the third local take on the ciclovia, which has become an international phenomenon.
A public visioning session for Town Lake Metropolitan Park – commonly known as Auditorium Shores and Butler Park – will be held Monday, Oct. 27, from 6-8pm at the Fiesta Gardens Building and Patio, 2101 Jesse E. Segovia St. This session, hosted by Austin Parks Foundation and Tur Partners, was rescheduled from Oct. 1, and is expected to be the last visioning session.
Friends of Pine Street Station will gather at the October Public Hearing of the Historic Landmark Commission (7pm Monday, Oct. 27, at One Texas Center, 505 Barton Springs Rd.), to support Reji Thomas and the structure that houses her art studio/event venue. Last week, we posted a gallery with captions (austinchronicle.com/photos/ pine-street-eviction) about the recent eviction notice Thomas received to vacate the building she owns on land that belongs to Capital Metro. The property is slated for development by the Endeavor Corporation, the firm behind the Domain. Interested supporters are asked to contact Pamela Booton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512/468-7597.
Texas Comptroller debate: He may not get as much ink as Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte, but Mike Collier may just be the most deserving Democrat on the statewide ballot. Current Comptroller Susan Combs has been a disaster – both for her freewheeling goodie dispensary and her ludicrous annual revenue estimates – and GOP hopeful Glenn Hegar, who touts his experience as a farmer but has no financial background, wants to follow exactly in her footsteps. The sole scheduled debate in the race will be televised live at 7pm on Wednesday, Oct. 29 on Time Warner Cable News, as well as online at sanantonio.twcnews.com/content/politics.
The Voting App – a product of Austin-based ThinkVoting, in conjunction with the League of Women Voters – promises everything from a find-your-precinct function to sample ballots, plus the LWV non-partisan voters' guide. It's available now from the Apple Store, and within days from Google for Android; for more info see www.thinkvoting.com.
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