Amazon’s 300,000 reasons to sign CodeNEXT Petition

CNBC sites studies that have found that Amazon-sized tech companies create a “clustering effect.” This clustering, estimates conclude, could add 300,000 people and to Austin. That’d be an additional quarter million on top of the 50,000 employees that’d work in HQ2.

How would this be good for Austin? Everyone knows it wouldn’t. That is, everyone but Mayor Steve Adler, the Greater Austin Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Austin Growth Machine. The Growth Machine is an informal network of real estate entrepreneurs, Austin politicians, and organizations dedicated to Austin’s hyper-in-migration growth.

Rejecting Amazon, San Antonio’s Mayor Ron Nirenberg saw the truth. Meanwhile, Austin Mayor Steve Adler to the Austin Monitor that we need “more conversation about inviting Amazon here. He has left the door open for the Austin Chamber to woo Bezos.

Read what a Seattle resident recently wrote about Amazon, the home of its first headquarters to warn us about H2Q:

I hope that cities eager to lure Amazon’s second headquarters are ready for the Amazon fallout we’ve experienced in Seattle, skyrocketing housing costs that push residents out of the home buying and rental markets; worsening traffic gridlock; an increased gap between the rich, middle class and poor; and the dulling of any unique local character that the city is desperately trying to retain,” Susan Fairoof, Seattle Times letter to the editor published Sept. 15.

What CodeNEXT and Amazon Share

Both “deals,” Amazon and CodeNEXT, invoke that wicked “g” word: gentrification. Meaning the displacement of poor, modest income and elderly people. But what we’re hearing most from folks signing the petition for the right to vote on CodeNEXT is the other “g” word: growth. While the city obsesses over bringing the world here, it is driving Austin mad. But when we just mention Amazon coming to Austin, they all but dive into hissy fit.

If Amazon decides to land in Austin and Austinites win the right to vote on CodeNEXT in November, the City may ready for a mass voter revolt. And the City’s continued fight against transparency makes voter revolt even more likely. Read this week’s The Austin Bulldog, City of Austin Fighting Transparency.

CodeNEXT’s Third Draft Due Out on Monday

CodeNEXT’s third and last draft is due for release on Monday, February 12. But this the Chronicle’s article CodeNEXT: Outlook Bleak” highlighted gridlock due to decision-making among city commission appointees. Now, what might be the city’s solution? Though we won’t wager on Amazon coming to Austin, how’d you like to bet on the City bulldozing their commissioners and the rest of us on CodeNEXT? That is why, our best advice to you, dear Austin, is volunteer and bring your clipboards.

Picture of Kirk Watson perhaps in a teaching moment with Steve Adler

State Senator Kirk Watson and Austin Mayor Steve Adler

Adler’s Tutor Kirk Watson

Steve Adler has taken from Kirk Watson’s playbook. He says one thing to your face, while working behind the scenes, having others do the dirty work for him. While running for Mayor in 1997, Watson worked behind the scenes (unsuccessfully) to stop the citizen’s petition for campaign finance reform. We called it Austinites for a Little Less Corruption. Since Watson kept his fingerprints off all evidence, you’ll have to trust us, he was on the scene. Now, finally, Watson’s serious improprieties at Central Health have come to light. Serious wrong-doing has been alleged. It’s now in court. The Austin Bulldog puts the bite on it here.

It took city watchdogs about a decade to discover that Kirk Watson institutionalized open government violations at the City of Austin. Instead the “walking quorum” blew up on Mayor Lee Leffingwell, not Watson.

Handling CodeNEXT and Amazon, Adler again took a page from Watson’s playbook. While Austinites fight among themselves, density versus sprawl, really the growth machine wants it all. Although Adler repeatedly says he doesn’t support CodeNEXT yet, he opposes your right to vote on it. He says, “we need more conversation” about Amazon coming to Austin. See the Austin Monitor’s Whispers. Meanwhile, it appears that Adler has let the Austin Chamber operate behind closed doors to woo Amazon.

Amazon meets Austin Closed Government

Amazon is requiring that cities sign Non-Disclosure Agreements. This media report indicates that these NDAs, “largely bar them from revealing anything to the public about the next steps in the search process.” Given how often the City violates the Texas Open Meetings Act, even the behemoth Amazon should worry. 

Aleshire Files Public Information Requests
for IndyAustin

Therefore open government attorney, Bill Aleshire, on behalf of IndyAustin, has filed these public information requests with the City of Austin. We believe the city must provide by February 16th:

  1. A copy of any record (minutes, correspondence, resolutions, press releases, etc.) that shows action taken by the Austin City Council or by the Mayor or Council members individually to authorize, endorse, or coordinate with the City government any bid for Amazon to locate here, and
  2. A copy of any Non-Disclosure Agreements regarding Amazon’s HQ2 offices signed by any City of Austin official or employee.

    Hey Austin, quit smoking the growth weed.

    Hey Austin, quit smoking the growth weed

Do this, dear Austin!

It’s for our own good. 

Rodgers and Wendler made the destructive ways of the Austin Growth Machine very understandable for us. Lots of their work is parked at the League of Independent Voters Cost of Growth page here.

Read Bill Aleshire’s September 2017 Commentary: Austin tax incentives in the Austin American-Statesman.

For background on a local hiring requirement for companies receiving subsidies from the City, read our recent Klep Blog piece: “Message to Adler – Stop Smoking the Growth Weed”.

Austin, take back your town.

Join us on the petition trail, y’all.