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A Pig at City Hall

Check out Charity the Pig, who attended our press conference last week to protest the hog developers still feeding out of the city trough for the Domain, in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.  When will the city and big boy developers get a clue?  Perhaps not until November 4th.  Call us for yard signs and door hangers for your neighborhood!

FOX 7-
Group Opposes Tax Subsidies for Domain

Statesman City Beat blog-
A pig on the city hall plaza

Daily Texan-
Protesters rally to advocate Proposition 2

Southpaw Jones Sings "Our Domain"

Check it out y’all.  Southpaw won our “Mad As Hell Contest” at the Political Action Art Auction!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1Gn6cqBu-0

Our Opposition

SA political action committee by the name of “Keep Austin’s Word” was filed on September 2.  The person who appointed the treasurer is former City Councilwoman Betty Dunkerley.  Councilwoman Dunkerley was a supporter of the Domain deal in 2003. (In fact, all the Council members at that time supported the deal, except Daryl Slusher.  The only remaining councilmember who voted for the original deal is Mayor Will Wynn.)  Dunkerley appointed the treasurer, Bobby Jenkins, of ABC Pest Control.  But, we’re sure this PAC has big wheel developers quickly raising money.  We learned recently that they’re bragging about town that their goal is to raise $250,000 to $500,000 to pound against our campaign on television.

And then there’s Kirk Rudy, Endeavor Development, the original developer of the Domain luxury shopping mall.  He’s been making the rounds with the person they hired to help run their campaign.  It appears to us that Rudy is also trying to appeal to Obama supporters, perhaps based on the fact that he’s raised money for Obama.  Does he think that Obama supporters are going to see this as payback time?  We don’t think this is going to work for out for him either!

So far, the key message of our opposition is to “keep Austin’s word”.  We say, that’s right, let’s keep Austin’s word, particularly, since there is no obligation that the city has for this deal.  That’s right folks, the city still plans to give the Domain developer $1.5 million VOLUNTARILY!  You read that right too — due to a 2005 court settlement, the city can walk away without penalty, but they won’t — even as the country is in an economic crisis.

David Adamson of the Central Labor Council, which recently endorsed Prop 2 said it so very well, “The revenue shortfall for the City of Austin required not funding around fifty city positions, raising the solid waste collection fees, raising fees for road maintenance and rolling closures of public libraries.  However, there is between $2 and $3 million dollars in the City budget to rebate to Simon Properties, the largest multinational shopping mall operator on this planet, to enhance their already highly profitable bottom line. The CLC supports a yes vote for the Stop Domain Subsidies City Charter amendment, Prop 2.

You too, can stop this madness.  Vote for Prop 2 and call us to help get out literature and signs in your neighborhood.  And, of course, we can really use any size donation to help our counter the opposition on radio and TV.  Go to our contribution page to give, or just call us at 383-8484 to give or volunteer!

Political Action Art Auction Party Rescheduled to Sat., 9/20!

This spectacular outdoor art/musical/dancing event is now officially rescheduled for Sat., Sept. 20, from 5 to 9 pm.  Come get ready, folks, for the BIG fight for the heart and soul of Austin as the BIG BOY developers are raising mega-cash to snuff out our movement on television!  Can the grassroots win — only YOU can answer that question!

There’s gonna be fire dancers and the South Austin Jug Band, maybe even at the same time, if they’ll let us talk ‘em in to it!

The Alamo Drafthouse just agreed to co-host the Political Action Art Auction (along with the Austin Art Garage) at 2200 S. Lamar on Saturday, Sept. 20, 5 to 9 pm.  See schedule below.  Original commissioned political art will be live auctioned (with lots of great stuff from donated by local biz’s in our silent auction), as the South Austin Jug Band does their musical thing. This is the kick off of our Get Out the Vote Effort for Stop Domain Subsidies.

RSVP here or send an email to or call 383-8484.

Schedule!

5:00  Party starts with music, food, drinks and art viewing

6:00  South Austin Jug Band

6:50  Mad As Hell Songwriter’s Contest

7:00  Live Auction

8:00  South Austin Jug Band & Fire Dancers!

8:50  Movie-The Domain Subsidies:  Public Money, Private Profit

Austin City Council Watched It's Language!

Thanks to the hard work of our friends, in particular Bill Bunch, Kelly Borum, Roy Waley, Wes Benedict, Katy and Matt Culmo of By George, and many more, we succeeded in getting decent (not perfect) ballot language for the Stop Domain Subsidies amendment.  A special thanks to Councilmember Randi Shade who helped us get a last minute change made to the ballot language.

The race is now on for November.

Watch for the first installment of our documentary coming in a few days…get set to forward to every Austinite you know to spread the word.

Pass Prop 2 in November — let’s close up the trough at City Hall!

Liveable City Reports Confirms SDS a “bad deal”

Press Release July 1, 2008

Stop Domain Subsidies’ Claims Substantiated by Liveable City Report
“The Domain: Anatomy of a Bad Deal”

Liveable City, whose mission is to build a shared and sustainable vision for Austin’s future, released a report on economic development practices on Monday authored by economist Michael Oden, a professor in the Community and Regional Planning Department at the University of Texas at Austin. The report, entitled, “Building a More Sustainable Economy: Economic Development Strategy and Public Incentives in Austin”, systematically exposes the folly of the subsidies slated for The Domain luxury shopping mall, by concluding, “The Domain deal stands out among all the incentive packages supported by the city in the past ten years as a generally bad deal by most meaningful criteria.” The report was also most critical of the one week notice the Austin City Council gave to the public before passing the $65 million subsidy package the study referred to as “a bad deal”. The report goes on to substantiate claims made by Stop Domain Subsidies founder, Brian Rodgers, who has been working since 2003 to stop the taxpayer boondoggle, which led to a citizen’s petition drive to place the issue on the November ballot.

The report was commissioned for the purpose of reviewing the City of Austin’s policies and procedures related to tax incentives. The overall report gives a series of recommendations that will help safeguard that in the future the City’s taxpayers are protected. You can read the full report here. The Domain deal is discussed starting on page 62:

http://www.liveablecity.org/IncentiveStudy.pdf

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For more information or to interview Brian Rodgers:

Jeff Heckler
StopDomainSubsidies.com
2153 S. Lamar, Suite 205
Austin, TX 78704
512-366-5000
512-657-2089 cell

What do Dems, Repubs, Libs, Greens and Indies Agree on?

Stop Domain Subsidies, but of course!

Besides the nearly 500 businesses listed on our front page, these organizations, have endorsed our efforts and we know there are many more coming soon!:

South Austin Democrats

The Republican Club of Austin

Travis County Libertarian Party

Independent Texans

Capital Area Asian American Democrats

Better Austin Today

Travis County Green Party

South Austin [Neighborhood] Coalition

Southwest Austin Democrats

Austin Neighborhoods Council

Proposed Ballot Language for City Charter Amendment

Stop Domain Subsidies is kicking off a citizen’s petition drive to place the issue of stopping retail subsidies, like the Domain, through an amendment to the City Charter. We will need approximately 20,000 signatures to place the issue on the May ‘08 ballot. Signatures must be filed by the end of January ‘08. Right now, we’re taking comments about the charter amendment, so please feel free to chime in or to call us at 535-0989. See below.

Proposed Charter Amendment

An amendment of Article XII of the City of Austin Charter to add new Section 13 to provide as follows:

§ 13  Prohibition on Special Benefits for Retail Projects

(a)   Statement of Intention.  The city is authorized by Tex. Loc. Gov’t. Code Chapter 380, and other applicable law to enter into economic development agreements to encourage or foster economic growth.  Notwithstanding the foregoing, it is the intention of this section to restrict the use or expenditure of tax revenues or other resources of the city to provide subsidies, financial benefits or advantages for development of real property that includes one or more Retail Uses.  It is the intention of this section to ensure fair and equal treatment as between operators of Retail Uses, and particularly to ensure that small retail businesses are not disadvantaged by subsidies and financial benefits given by the city to competing Retail Uses.

(b)   Restriction.  The city shall neither provide nor enter into an agreement to provide any Financial Incentive in connection with the development or re-development of any real property that includes one or more Retail Uses.

(c)   Applicability.  Upon adoption of this Section 13, the restriction provided in this Section 13 shall apply to any pending agreement for the payment of a Financial Incentive by the city in connection with any Retail Use if such agreement provides that the obligation to pay a Financial Incentive pursuant to such agreement is contingent on or subject to the city’s appropriation of funds for the payment of the Financial Incentive.

(d)   Definitions.  As used in this Section 13, the following terms shall have the following meanings:

(1)   “Financial Incentive” means: (i) any payment or rebate of any general or special sales tax or ad valorem tax, whether assessed against property proposed to be developed or re-developed or resulting from taxable activity on such property; (ii) a donation of an interest in real property owned by the city; (iii) a special right of use, without fair compensation therefore, of any park land or undeveloped land owned by the city that is a right or use not provided for the benefit of all property located in the city; (iv) forgiveness or discharge of a loan or any part of a loan made by the city; or (v) a grant of funds.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the following shall not constitute a Financial Incentive: (i) cost participation by the city in constructing street or utility improvements (as, for example, oversizing of utility improvements to accommodate future development) consistent with generally applicable city policies and practices, provided that the developer’s or owner’s share of such costs fairly and reasonably approximates the cost of construction of such improvements suitable to serve the improvements and uses intended by the developer or owner of a Retail Use benefited thereby; (ii) a grant or loan to a small business, whose principal office is in Austin, Texas, pursuant to a generally applicable local small business loan or grant program; (iii) an expenditure of funds (other than a tax abatement) pursuant to the Tax Increment Financing Act, Tex. Tax Code Chapter 311 or tax increment financing effected pursuant to Tex. Loc. Gov’t Code Chapter 374, as amended from time to time; (iv) subsidies or incentives given to promote efficient energy use, the use of renewable energy, or decreased water usage pursuant to a program adopted by the city for such purpose; (v) a grant of funds which are provided either by the State of Texas or by an agency of the federal government, whether directly to the city, or for the expenditure of which the city must give approval or authorization; (vi) an expenditure of funds charged by the city and paid by developers of real property for regional drainage detention,   regional water quality facilities, or other public improvements; or (vii) an expenditure of funds pursuant to an economic development program adopted by the city council for the revitalization of economically distressed areas of the city or areas of the city experiencing high rates of unemployment for the development or redevelopment of a project with a total of not more than 25,000 square feet of habitable improvements.

(2)   “Retail Use” and “Retail Uses” shall mean the use or proposed use of improvements to real property for the sale directly to the public of any commercial or consumer goods, including but not limited to the sale directly to the public of clothing, appliances, jewelry, furniture, pets, building materials, plants, drugs and personal hygiene goods, home accessories, household items, packaged or prepared food and beverages, recorded music, office supplies, and any other goods sold directly to the public.  “Retail Uses” shall not include a wholesale or distribution center or manufacturing or assembly facility in which goods are stored, assembled, or manufactured for transport off-site for later sale; daycare services; medical, counseling, or nursing care facilities; any enterprise operated by a non-profit corporation or a governmental entity; public or private educational facilities; performing arts venues; museums; or libraries.

(e)   Enforcement.   Any resident of the City of Austin shall have standing to assert a claim for declaratory or injunctive relief in any court of competent jurisdiction arising out of a violation of this Section 13.