Calling for a Public Vote on the Soccer Stadium

Calling for a Public Vote on the Soccer Stadium

IndyAustin is calling for a Public Vote on the Soccer Stadium. Some things are complicated, this isn’t.

When you finish reading this, please reply to let us know you want to help. We’ll be calling a meeting VERY soon.

If you were around in 1995, you might remember the “emergency baseball stadium.” Back then, the city couldn’t run up new debt without a public vote. That is, unless it was an “emergency.” Then Mayor Bruce Todd invoked the emergency clause in the city charter. We had great fun dubbing it the “Emergency Baseball Stadium.” Fifteen thousand signatures later, the city caved, put it on the ballot and it went down 2 to 1 at the polls.

If the city hadn’t been in such a hurry, it might have been able to bring the Phoenix Firebirds to Austin. In this current stadium “deal,” maybe there are real reasons for this hide-and-sneak game to rush things by the public that we cannot learn about until the deal is inked.

That is the main reason we are calling for a public vote on the Soccer Stadium.

Just a Few More Good Reasons to Call for a Public Vote on the Soccer Stadium:

  1. Precourt Sports Ventures is being sued by the State of Ohio for attempting to leave Cincinatti (Correction: Columbus!] According to Bill Aleshire (see our post of July 12 – Sucker Not Soccer), it’s not at all clear the city can deal with Precourt until the suit is resolved. Will someone please explain why we want our City to jump into bed with people who could be illegally pulling out of another deal?
  2. The Stadium is planned for the McKalla Place property, one of the city’s prime locations designated BY the city for affordable housing.
  3. The city is rushing this plan for August 9 and answered NO questions at the “input session” last week!

Read this quick report of last week’s City sponsored “input session.” See if you agree that this deal has a stench that won’t go away until we win the right to a public vote.

The McKalla Place Input Session

The City of Austin allowed Precourt Sports Ventures to put huckster-lobbyist, Richard Suttle, front and center of the “McKalla Place Input Session.” After Suttle verbally chastised anyone in the audience opposed to the deal, he told us what a unifier soccer is with a video invoking Nelson Mandela. We are not kidding!

The good news is that there were some very smart and diverse folks who raised serious questions about the deal. The bad news is that they received literally NO answers.

Our take was that the design of this “input session” was just a good old-fashioned bait and switch game to get the audience to buy-in to the “community benefits” like free tickets to games, etc. We also thought the audience members weren’t buying it.

Soccer is a fine sport and can be a unifier when its purpose is honest and clear. However, this Precourt-Suttle-Mark Littlefield lobbyist-huckster deal isn’t about soccer. Our read is that it is more likely a straight up rip-off of Austin to the tune of tens of millions of public dollars. Because it’s being rushed so fast, we may not know just how bad it is before Council passes it as early as August 9th. This is why calling for a public vote on the soccer stadium is so very important.

You can watch the “Input Session” and tell us what you think.

The City of Miami Just Gave Their Voters the Right to Vote on Soccer Subsidies

The city of Miami apparently has a little more sensitivity to their citizens. They recently voted to put their public subsidy of a soccer stadium up for a vote in November. Read it here in the Miami Herald.

You Have Oodles of Options In Addition to Calling for a Public Vote on Soccer

More good news is that Austin voters have options. Here are just some of them:

  1. The right to petition for a public vote on this “deal”, and
  2. Voting out any incumbent up for reelection who supports this.
  3. Running for any council seat up yourself, and
  4. The right to petition for recall.

Hang on to your hats folks and get ready to move quickly on this one. We’ll be sending you more information very shortly.

Precourt sued in Ohio, but who cares; Sucker Not Soccer Deal

Precourt sued in Ohio, but who cares; Sucker Not Soccer Deal

Precourt sued in Ohio, but who cares we all might ask ourselves.

Open government attorney Bill Aleshire always does his homework. On June 29, just following the Council deliberation on the Precourt Sports Ventures soccer deal, Aleshire sent this letter to Austin City Attorney, Anne Morgan. It contained this warning:

“I am confident that a court will grant an injunction if the City proceeds in that mistaken direction of offering McKalla Place to be leased for a soccer stadium.”

Aleshire points out in his letter that on March 5th the Ohio Attorney General and the city of Columbus filed suit against Precourt. Then, on June 21, the 10th District Court of Appeals swiftly denied Precourt’s motion to dismiss. This quote from Columbus City Attorney, Zach Klein, in this City of Columbus release, explains the simple essence of the case:

“This statute is in place to prevent owners from taking taxpayer benefits, and then shopping their team to the next highest bidder.”

Precourt sued in Ohio, but who cares? Aleshire tells the Austin City Attorney:

“One must also wonder about the City of Austin conspiring with Precourt to violate an Ohio law designed to protect local taxpayers from harm when a sports franchise tries to abandon the city after accepting public benefits.”

Aleshire then advises the City of Austin, free of charge mind you:

“It would seem to make sense for Council to wait and at least not make a commitment to Precourt until they get their legal mess in Ohio straightened out so we know if Precourt will even have a MLS franchise to locate here.”

Then, Aleshire goes on to drop a not-so-subtle hint:

“What Austin has done to Columbus, Ohio smacks of tortious interference in their contract with Precourt.”

And, here’s the real Aleshire open government kicker

. He points out that the City tried to hide the appraisal and financial analysis for this property. The city did so by denying open records requests in an alleged violation of the law. Meanwhile, the Aleshire letter notes the feigned support by Mayor Steve Adler and District 6 Council Member Jimmy Flannigan for “transparency.”

Do Soccer and Sucker Sound the Same to You?

We all know now that McKalla property is worth over $18 million. You have to ask yourself how the Austin City Council could even entertain a long-term “lease” to Precourt Sports Ventures (PSV) for $1?

Could it have anything to do with who Precourt hired to lobby their –sucker, oh we mean, soccer — deal? First, there is of course Richard Suttle, with a long history of working sucker deals at City Hall. Like how ‘bout those Formula 1 subsidies? Then there is longtime City Hall insider lobbyist/consultant, Mark Littlefield.

The Austin Water Utility owns the McKalla property. This is the second time Aleshire has caught the city undermining its own water utility. But, once again, there’s no seeming concern for your water rates and your pockets. “Sucker deals” like Precourt’s send lobbyists hunting to make honey pots for themselves — like AWU – at your expense.

Our favorite quote from the Aleshire letter:

“The Dalai Lama said, ‘A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.’ The Dalai Lama was referring to China totalitarianism, but it is equally true in Austin, Texas.”

Again, here’s Aleshire’s letter here and back up here.

Plan to Come to Council, August 9th

The August 9th City Council meeting should be a doozy. Many people are reasonably pushing for affordable housing at the Precourt chosen site. We hope that Precourt sued by Ohio becomes a bumper sticker too.

KUT Hands Adler a Pass Today

KUT radio, which genuinely strives for objective and in-depth coverage, missed a beat in this morning’s interview with Mayor Steve Adler. Adler is heard bemoaning the state’s challenges to Austin’s local control having moved from the legislature into the courtroom. Fact is, the Mayor has done little to clean up the city’s apparent appetite for open government violations and transparency transgressions. And, we’ll say it again. Adler and his narrow majority could have put CodeNEXT up for a public vote. Instead he chose to force a citizen petition drive and now a court battle.

Bulldog Ain’t No Sucker Delivers More Bite

No one told you the full story behind the Attorney General’s lawsuit to make the City follow it’s own charter on the composition of the Austin Planning Commission. Read the full story here in The Austin Bulldog.

As we await the court’s decision on your right to vote on the CodeNEXT petition, we also suggest you read this Austin Bulldog report.

Petition filed for November ballot -- Audit Austin

Councilmember Ellen Troxclair signs the Austin Efficiency Audit petition at today’s filing. Also pictured is former Councilman Don Zimmerman, Fred Lewis, Michael Searle and Rebecca Melancon (Austin Independent Business Alliance)

Additional News! Audit Petition Filed Today, Troxclair Out

Petitioners just filed nearly 33,000 raw signatures today to place an Austin Efficiency Audit petition on the ballot for a public vote this November. The effort was led by former Ellen Troxcair aide, Michael Searle. Congratulations to the entire team. Read the Austin Bulldog story about the audit measure here, printed on May 25.

District 8 Council member Ellen Troxclair announced today that she will not be running for reelection. This article in today’s Statesman has a inelegant quote from Mark Littlefield. He appears to forget that city council elections in Texas are supposed to be non-partisan. Troxclair, the only conservative voice on the Council, deserves a simple thank you for her service.

CodeNEXT Petition Tune-In, Turn-In Meeting

CodeNEXT Petition Tune-In, Turn-In Meeting

CodeNEXT Petition Tune-In, Turn-In Meeting

This meeting is about the CodeNEXT petition drive. We will announce where we’re at with the CodeNEXT petition drive.

How many signatures do we have and will be make the March 15th deadline to get petitions turned into us at IndyAustin? (Filing deadline for us to the City is March 30).

Please come, bring signed petitions and bring your friends and neighbors.

Attorney Bill Aleshire will speak with us about petition access at poll sites and other public locations, including the Austin Public Libraries.

Read the Cease and Desist email alert we sent about this here.

Plenty of free parking in the back!

Y’all Come Tonight! Petition Tune-In, Turn-In

Y’all Come Tonight! Petition Tune-In, Turn-In

Y’all come TONIGHT at this “Tune-In, Turn-In Petition Update” event.

Image of Ja'corey petitioning

Petitioning for the right to vote on CodeNEXT.

We’re going to tell you exactly where we’re at with the progress on our petition drive for the right to vote on CodeNEXT.

We had a grand effort and result during Early Voting! AND, tomorrow, Election Day, we can finish the petition drive WITH YOUR HELP!

Join us tonight (Monday, March 5th) at 7 pm at Austin Energy, 721 Barton Springs Road. Plenty of free parking in the back. Details here — and please share!

Open government attorney, Bill Aleshire, will be on hand tonight to talk about the right to petition at the polls and the public libraries. In addition, Bill can answer your questions about what we know so far about the City’s mishandling of the Amazon bid.)

Mark your calendars: This coming Saturday’s petitioning at Barton Springs Reopening Splash Day and the Austin Public Libraries from 12- to 5. More on this after tomorrow’s Election Day effort.

Can’t make it tonight? Fill out this volunteer form or give us a call at 512.657.2089.

We’re almost done! And, yes, we still need your donations to cover the costs of this petition drive!

Don’t fail us now, Austin. Come on out and finish this urgently important effort to secure your right to weigh in on your future.

Y’all Come Tonight! Petition Tune-In, Turn-In

Y’all Come Tonight! Petition Tune-In, Turn-In

Y’all come TONIGHT at our “Tune-In, Turn-In Petition Update” event.

Image of Ja'corey petitioning

Petitioning for the right to vote on CodeNEXT.

We’re going to tell you exactly where we’re at with the progress on our petition drive for the right to vote on CodeNEXT.

We had a grand effort and result during Early Voting! AND, tomorrow, Election Day, we can finish the petition drive WITH YOUR HELP!

Join us tonight (Monday, March 5th) at 7 pm at Austin Energy, 721 Barton Springs Road. Plenty of free parking in the back. Details here — and please share!

Open government attorney, Bill Alshire, will also be on hand tonight to talk about the right to petition at the public libraries. (Bill can also answer your questions about what we know so far about the City’s mishandling of the Amazon bid.)

Mark your calendars: This coming Saturday’s petitioning at Austin Public Libraries from 12- to 5. More information will be shared on Wednesday.

We’re almost done! And, we still need your donations to cover the costs of this petition drive!

Don’t fail us now, Austin. Come on out and finish this urgently important effort to secure your right to weigh in on your future.