Election Ticker: Down to the Wire

What you need to know before voting on Nov. 5


Austin FC stadium groundbreaking ceremony on September 9 (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

Not in the Pool

City Proposition A – a since-orphaned remnant of the fight over the McKalla Place soccer stadium deal, to which it no longer applies – would appear to impose burdensome costs and election requirements on virtually any sports or arts program that uses city-owned land ("Parks, Arts, Culture, Enter­tainment," as the PACE Political Action Com­mit­­tee calls itself) and is therefore opposed by organizations from the Long Center to Ballet Austin to the Zilker Kite Festival (AllAustinAgainstA.com). It's also explicitly opposed by many public officials, including several state reps, AISD trustees, Mayor Steve Adler, and all City Council members, save one: District 7's Leslie Pool (who energetically opposed the proposal for the stadium now being built in her district). Asked the significance of her omission from the opponents' list and for any comment on the measure, a Pool spokesperson replied: "Council Member Pool is neutral on Prop A."...

MLS Moola

The required eight-days-out campaign finance reports for the Nov. 5 election were posted to the city clerk's website on Tuesday. On Prop A, the Major League Soccer folks are not taking any chances, even though the proposition as drafted should not apply retroactively to the McKalla Place stadium deal and almost all of that deal's foes have abandoned Prop A to its fate. Still, Austin FC team owners at Austin TeamCo LLC are spending $200,000 on the Austin United PAC, with $95,500 cash on hand as of Oct. 25 (an insider reports: "That's a lot less now"). The PAC's initial report was a bit confusing, in that it duly listed its purpose as opposition to Prop A – accompanied by the description of Prop B (the anti-convention center initiative). Campaign consultant Mykle Tomlinson said it was a "copying and pasting" mistake, and a corrected report has since been received and posted by the City Clerk...

Bold-Faced Name$ For

Quite a few big checks have dropped into the Prop B campaigns – pro and con – in contributions submitted after earlier reports. Selected big contributions to the Uncon­ven­tional Austin PAC – supporting Prop B and thus opposing expansion of the Convention Center (and seeking to reallocate its hotel tax funding) – include former Texas Monthly publisher Mike Levy ($1,000), anti-rail "road warrior" Jim Skaggs ($9,000, in two increments), and retired investor and frequent GOP contributor John Markham Green ($20,000, in two increments). Green's address is listed as 98 San Jacinto – the Four Seasons Hotel, which is apparently a hotbed of anti-Convention Center sentiment: "There goes the neighborhood," perhaps. Five other contributors at that address pitched in a total of $14,500. Overall, the PAC reports raising $62,000 in its most recent fundraising cycle, with $16,600 cash on hand as of Oct. 25. It also reports "$26,0000" in outstanding loans (see our Oct. 11 report) – although the extra zero on the form is presumably a mistake, or they're really in the hole...

Bold-Faced Name$ Not-For

There are also several recent big checks reported to PHAM PAC (opposing Prop B). Among them, the PAC's eight-days-out report includes event venue 800 Congress, owned by Parkside restaurateur Shawn Cirkiel ($5,000); Austin Hotel and Lodging Assoc­iation ($5,000); entrepreneur/investor Jonathan Coon ($10,300); consultant and former Assistant City Manager Rudy Garza ($1,000); Notley Ventures CEO Dan Graham ($4,000); investor Brett Hurt ($5,150); Visit Austin CEO Tom Noonan ($1,000); and commercial Realtor Tom Stacy ($1,000). The PAC reports a total of $57,300 collected, $44,500 spent, $15,000 on hand...

Trump v. Trump?

Continuing the recent reconfiguration of local political alliances, the Prop B campaigns reportedly feature Republicans on both sides of the Convention Center debate. The most prominent Prop B backer in that regard is John Markham Green, with many past contributions to GOP candidates and committees, including $45,000 in 2016 to the Trump Victory fund (at the time making him Trump's largest Austin donor). On the other hand, in response to a query about an ethics complaint filed against Unconventional Austin, the PAC claimed that certain unnamed "directors of organizations opposing Proposition B have contributed over $1 million in campaign contributions to Repub­lican candidates and organizations, including Donald Trump." (We've asked for more precise identification and will update if we get it.) Anti-Prop B campaign manager Jim Wick shot back: "They hired a past and current Trump consulting firm [Vici Media] and paid them to run Facebook ads, hid the expenditure for three weeks in violation of campaign finance laws, and the best they can come up with is that unnamed 'directors' of unnamed organizations opposing Prop B donated to Trump? Give me a break. These guys are out of touch with Austin values, and it shows."...

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

November 2019 Election, Proposition A, Prop A, McKalla Place, PACE Political Action Committee, The Long Center, Ballet Austin, Zilker Kite Festival, Steve Adler, Leslie Pool, Major League Soccer, Austin FC, Austin United PAC, Proposition B, Prop B, anti-convention center initiative, Mykle Tomlinson, Unconventional Austin PAC, Mike Levy, Jim Skaggs

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