We will say this about Steve Adler. He is anything but stupid, but he does appear to be struggling with a little addiction to the growth weed. What can you do about it? Contact Mayor Adler at 512.978.2100 or email him and the Council here. Tell the Mayor how you feel about the possibility of Amazon bringing 50,000+ new residents to the Austin area. Then ask him to make good on his 2014 pledge to enforce a 90% local hiring requirement (see his answer to question #3) for companies seeking economic development subsidies. But read this first.
Y’all may have missed this Statesman article posted in the Tech Section the day before Thanksgiving, Mayor Adler: Landing Amazon’s HQ2 could push Austin to find solutions to some key issues. Be sure to read the comments – a pretty good reflection of what most people we know think about the Amazon “deal” and are beginning to think about Mayor Steve Adler.
Over the holiday, our petitioners were out at the Turkey Trot, movie theaters, and Farmer’s Markets and heard it from the locals. They are–without much help from anyone else–connecting the dots between plans gone haywire, like CodeNEXT (a massive and reckless overhaul of the city’s development code — have you signed the petition yet?), and the continued pedal to the metal growth policies of the city of Austin.
Austin residents have begun to wonder if Steve Adler has any clue about how Austin’s affordability went off a cliff or if he just doesn’t give a damn.
When Steve Adler was running for Mayor in 2014, he agreed to a proposal by ChangeAustin.org requiring all future economic development deals to have to submit to a 90% local hiring requirement. This was a smart way to maneuver the local political establishment away from their main purpose— to grow the city as fast as it can through in-migration and to redirect economic development funds towards eliminating poverty by hiring those left on the unemployment line.
We hope you are asking yourself why has Adler and other council members, especially Greg Casar, who also made the same pledge and who speaks regularly on behalf of low income residents, failed to champion the idea.
The idea was spawned by ChangeAustin’s Brian Rodgers, a local developer who warned the city for years about the costs of growth, and served on the City of Austin’s Impact Advisory Committee. Rodgers helped lead the effort to finally implement water impact fees on new developments to save the city’s struggling water utility that was set to ratchet up water fees to pay for an unnecessary water treatment plant and other costly mistakes by the City Council.
Instead of giving Rodgers a medal, just before the utility was set to get some relief from water impact fees, the good Mayor helped concoct the Pilot Knob turkey. It was an illusory “affordable housing” deal that would have transferred water impact fees away from the water utility and package those funds as a giveaway to…you guessed it, the developers running the Pilot Knob deal! That fiasco began with an agenda posting that obscured what they were really doing – in violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act (TOMA). A court agreed.
What did Mayor Adler do in the face of that court decision? He allowed for yet another almost identical TOMA violation! As attorney Bill Aleshire said in our published account last week, “Some People Just Never Learn.”
Now, the Mayor appears to be perfectly happy allowing a private trade organization – the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce – to try to woo Amazon to the Austin area. But wait, this week the Mayor stepped in himself to wave Amazon in for a so-called “conversation.” Adler unabashedly claims that Amazon could help “solve some of Austin’s problems.” But, we would bet you whatever little money we have in the bank that most everyone – conservatives, liberals, radical left and right, regardless of party – would unite on this one. Stop incentivizing growth, Mayor Adler, and commit to that 90% hiring requirement as a sincere commitment to lower income Austinites — those who are miraculously still here. End of conversation.
One of the brighter comments in Statesman piece indicated this might be a very good time to have a conversation – as citizens – directly with Amazon.
We suggest you tell Bezos about Mayor Adler’s pledge for a 90% local hiring requirement to receive an economic subsidy package from the city. Send him this questionnaire: “Making Growth Pay for Itself” questionnaire in 2014. Be sure to tell Amazon how you feel about potentially 100,000+ people coming into the Austin area and what traffic is like now.
PS Do you agree with us that there’s no way out of this mess without building a cross-partisan independent political movement of citizens regardless of party? Please donate to IndyAustin and get involved!