Updated: Dec 23, 2021
Way to go, Austin intrepid attorneys for the public interest -- Bill Aleshire, Bill Bunch & Fred Lewis!. We just love this story by The Austin Bulldog, the best of Texas non-profit investigative journalism in the public interest!
The Austin Bulldog rides again: Luxury real estate to get special tax status under 'blight' statute.
From LIV to extend the discussion: In the article's fifth paragraph, there is a reference to the battle to stop the city of Austin from subsidizing The Domain luxury shopping mall back in the mid-2000s. The Domain deal is a 20-year 380 Incentive Agreement. The Domain deal was given a week's public notice before rammed through the City Council in 2003. The purveyors of the deal falsely claimed it was "just" $25 million. In fact, it was more like $57 million, verified by the Statesman newspaper. (See Wikipedia page here.)
In 2008, a citizens' petition drive and public vote to reverse the subsidies lost at a narrow 48%. The proponents of the "Stop Domain Subsidies" measure argued that the city should refrain from subsidizing retail facilities, therefore "picking winners and losers" in a competitive market. Endeavor Real Estate Development, Simon Malls, and various "upstanding" members of the Austin business community primarily involved in real estate development worked together with their minions in public office to snooker the voters. Back then, a sitting Mayor, Mayor Will Wynn (yes, that's his real name), was the face and voice in a $400,000 ad buy urging, "Austin Keep Its Word." Blech!
Though the Domain subsidies were, and still are, stinky, they are but one of the many thousands of cuts to a local economy and resource protection in a region. Let's not pretend that "progressive" Austin hasn't led the way in runaway pro-growth, pro-subsidy policies.
By the way, Wynn was last seen in Bastrop trying to help push a mega-permit demand (EndOp, now Recharge LLP) on the aquifers already under siege by SAWS and Vista Ridge. The "San Antone Hose" is already drawing down private wells. The Recharge permit is still pending with no pumping yet under way.
The locals like me wonder if there will ever be state or local government action to prevent the "water grabs" in the counties east of Austin (Bastrop, Lee, Milam and Burleson) from harming the aquifers. No one, including the real estate industry itself, can afford this.
We share this for a purpose. Take a look at the backdrop of the film, "The Wendell Baker Story." It was released in 2005 before the affordable and cool city, the "Music Capital of the World," was forced off the cliff. Austin was always destined to grow, of course, but not a the pace demanded by these fine upstanding members of the business community, Molly Ivins called "bidness community."
Did your tax appraisal hit the roof this year? And are you considering robbing a bank to pay your rent, or are you trying to figure out where t is the safest place to live outdoors? I'm serious as a heart attack, folks.
The flood of people arriving in Texas has a an upside. If we welcome them (and we do), they can be part of the solution. That solution is a genuine voter and taxpayer revolt -- inside and outside both major parties. The question at LIV is how to bring about that task as we enter the Interim Legislative Session and the mid-term election in 2022.
LIV has a Legislative Agenda we call "The Independent Texan Agenda."
We invite all LIV members to our First Monday Forum on January 3rd to see the full draft. Go to our Events Page to RSVP.
Please become a member of LIV today and join the cause!
Please note: We encourage you to vote in either party primary unless you're active in one of our minor parties in Texas, Libertarian or Green, or wish to sign a petition for an independent candidate. Read our other post today, "What's the Big Secret About Your Choices in 2022."