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The Lead: Austin Elections Debrief

Good morning. That dense fog advisory is still in effect, so stay safe on the roads. Here’s some stories KUT News has been working on.

“Nonprofits that help people in Austin get into housing are scrambling to come up with a plan B after Tuesday’s election. They were expecting Austinites to pass Proposition 15, which called for $78 million to build affordable homes and maintain existing ones. They never expected it to fail at the polls.”

“Austin’s form of government will never be the same. Voters have approved sweeping changes to way Austinites will vote in the future and who will represent them at City Hall. It all comes down to single-member districts, but it will be a long road from election night to a 10-1 City Council. A citizens’ commission will draw the district boundaries. And that commission will get to work quickly. Prop 3 calls for the city auditor to start looking for volunteers next month, with an eye toward elections in November 2014.”

“Two states, one a near-neighbor to Texas, have legalized marijuana for all purposes, not just medicinal ones. In Colorado, possession of up to an ounce of the drug will be allowed, and up to six plants may be grown for personal use. Washington voters approved a similar law. Some Texans are starting to wonder what effect, if any, those ballot measures will have here.”

“‘The real test for this I think is going to be the independent citizens commission that will be selected for drawing the lines,’ said former council member Brigid Shea. ‘I feel like that's a better process than having elected officials draw boundary lines. It's got to be done very carefully. And I think we're going to continue to see a lot of change and change is frequently very difficult.’”

And here’s some more stories from around the web:

  • Grass-Roots Effort Drove Austin City Council District Plan to Victory, Observers Say (Statesman)
“Unlike the six prior elections, this time the issue appeared on a November ballot. A larger, more diverse set of voters turns out in November, when many local, state and federal issues are on the ballot. That includes voters in outlying areas who might feel overlooked under the current council system, Austin political consultant Jeff Crosby said. According to the vote tallies in precincts citywide, support for Proposition 3 was strongest on the city’s fringes, in much of East and Southeast Austin and in areas near the University of Texas. Most precincts favored the proposition.”

  • Lawsuit Filed Against Central Health’s Prop 1 (KXAN)
“A day after voters passed the Central Health Proposition 1, which means a property tax increase, Travis County Taxpayers Union has filed a lawsuit in federal court to stop the votes from being officially certified. … The issue, according to TCTU, is the language that was included on the ballot. Stephen Casey, an attorney in the case, said the voting language on the ballot did not follow state laws, but overstepped boundaries with the extra information listed in the paragraph about Propostion 1-Central Health.”

“The saga of the Austin Police Department's infiltration of the Occupy Austin movement continued in Harris County court last week when the real names of two undercover detectives assigned to keep an eye on the OA activities were finally revealed. According to a transcript of the pretrial hearing, APD officers Rick Reza and Deek Moore – known to Occupiers as ‘Rick’ and ‘Dirk,’ respectively – worked alongside already-outed investigator Shannon Dowell, aka ‘Butch,’ in keeping tabs on OA throughout the fall and into the winter of 2011.”

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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