Save Austin Now co-founders Matt Mackowiak and Cleo Petricek filed a lawsuit against the city of Austin on Friday after their petition to reinstate a camping ban was ruled invalid.
"We are absolutely convinced that over 148 days, with more than 80 volunteers, we collected more than the required 20,000 signed petitions, in the middle of shelter-at-home during a global pandemic, and that the City of Austin, the City Clerk's office and the City Council colluded to prevent this ordinance from appearing on the November ballot," Mackowiak said in a statement Friday.
The city follows state law and local requirements for all citizen initiatives, regardless of the subject matter, a spokesperson said in a statement to Austonia.
"We are confident in the integrity of the process the Clerk followed, and are frankly disappointed to have received this lawsuit after the election, and just over 15 weeks after the end of the signature validation process," the spokesperson sadded.
Save Austin Now, a local nonprofit, announced on July 21 that it had collected 24,598 signatures—well over the 20,000 required—in support of a petition that would reinstate the city's camping ban. Had it been verified, the petition would have been included on the local Nov. 3 ballot.
In reviewing the petition, however, Austin City Clerk Jannette Goodall discovered a number of issues, according to her August ruling.
Nearly a hundred signatures were removed because of requests from signers. The clerk's office also discovered that the petition contained two versions of the language being proposed in the ordinance, which led to 397 signatures being removed.
Of the remaining 24,201 signatures, the clerk's office used a random sample to verify the petition.
"Of the 6,051 submitted sample lines checked under the sampling method, 1,147 of the sample lines were disqualified on account of being duplicate signatures of registered voters who signed more than once (41), or for other reasons (1,106)," Goodall wrote.
Ultimately, the clerk estimates that there were 19,122 valid signatures on the petition, which was not enough to make the ballot.
"The probability that checking all 24,201 submitted signatures would find a total of at least 20,000 valid signatures is less than 3 in one billion," Goodall wrote.
Save Austin Now submitted a public information request following this ruling—the basis of its lawsuit.
"We believe as many as five justifications used to throw out signatures were inappropriate," said Mackowiak, who is also chairman of the Travis County GOP. "The threshold for infringing on the right to petition your government should be very high. We will relentlessly fight this battle in the courts, and we believe we will prevail."
The group's goal is to have its petition validated and included on the ballot in the next local election, which will occur in May.
Austin City Council overturned the city's ban on public sitting, panhandling, lying and camping in August 2019 after advocates said such bans criminalize homelessness.
Local business owners, the Austin Police Association and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott criticized the decision, which they said risked public health and safety.
In October, the council revisited the issue and voted to limit where camping is allowed, banning it from sidewalks, near houses, near the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless and other shelters, and outside businesses during operating hours, among other limits.
An Austonia poll taken shortly after the group turned in their petition showed the majority of respondents—nearly 80 percent—said they would vote to reinstate the ban on public camping.
This story has been updated to include a response from the city of Austin.
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The holiday season is the most wonderful time of year; Christmas trees, Thanksgiving feasts, good will toward men and holiday movies never cease to warm up the coldest season. However, no matter how wonderful it is, it's also a very wasteful time of year. Tinsel, paper snowflakes, single-use wrapping paper, excess food, Amazon boxes and cranking up the heat have an impact on the planet.
Thrift shopping<div id="0956c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8b3284819cbb57ce57675e3b025b7c6f"><blockquote class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned data-instgrm-version="4" style=" background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% - 2px); width:calc(100% - 2px);"> <div style="padding:8px;"> <div style=" background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:50% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;"> <div style=" background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAAGFBMVEUiIiI9PT0eHh4gIB4hIBkcHBwcHBwcHBydr+JQAAAACHRSTlMABA4YHyQsM5jtaMwAAADfSURBVDjL7ZVBEgMhCAQBAf//42xcNbpAqakcM0ftUmFAAIBE81IqBJdS3lS6zs3bIpB9WED3YYXFPmHRfT8sgyrCP1x8uEUxLMzNWElFOYCV6mHWWwMzdPEKHlhLw7NWJqkHc4uIZphavDzA2JPzUDsBZziNae2S6owH8xPmX8G7zzgKEOPUoYHvGz1TBCxMkd3kwNVbU0gKHkx+iZILf77IofhrY1nYFnB/lQPb79drWOyJVa/DAvg9B/rLB4cC+Nqgdz/TvBbBnr6GBReqn/nRmDgaQEej7WhonozjF+Y2I/fZou/qAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;"> </div></div><p style=" margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;"> <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/BEbsgF7Q2dc/" style=" color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;" target="_top"></a></p> </div></blockquote></div><p>Thrift shopping sometimes gets a bad rep despite being one of the most eco-friendly ways to buy your goods. There are even different kinds of thrift stores, consignments stores and markets to suit your needs. According to the 2020 U.S. Census, only about <a href="https://www.census.gov/newsroom/stories/thrift-store-day.html#:~:text=%E2%80%9CAccording%20to%20America's%20Research%20Group,it's%20about%2012%20%2D%2015%25." target="_blank">16-18% of Americans</a> shop at a thrift store at least once per year.<br></p><p>There are thrift stores by the dozen for every type of need in Austin: visit Goodwill Blue Hanger on 6505 Burleson Road, which sells clothes by the pound for the most bang for your buck; visit Thrift Town on 5700 Manchaca Road for a wide selection, or if uniqueness is what you're after, visit St. Vincent de Paul on 900 W. Braker Lane.</p>Or, visit Revival Vintage on 100 N Loop Blvd for an upscale thrifted gift—because used ≠ not giftable!
Grocery shopping<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDgyNzcxNC9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMTY2MDk2MX0.EgX4mpEFlTjuzdvH7TEd1MT2qBRdhsfiMMlyQg3dbsw/img.gif?width=980" id="bd332" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1f90a083390dabc1a7e399866c5742c9" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Upcycling<blockquote class="tiktok-embed" cite="https://www.tiktok.com/@blondesigns/video/6871263385653267717" data-video-id="6871263385653267717" style="max-width: 605px;min-width: 325px;" > <section> <a target="_blank" title="@blondesigns" href="https://www.tiktok.com/@blondesigns">@blondesigns</a> <p>Reply to @valeriemwood I’m getting Anthropologie vibes from the finished product!🌿 <a title="homedecor" target="_blank" href="https://www.tiktok.com/tag/homedecor">#homedecor</a> <a title="thriftflip" target="_blank" href="https://www.tiktok.com/tag/thriftflip">#thriftflip</a> <a title="trashtocash" target="_blank" href="https://www.tiktok.com/tag/trashtocash">#trashtocash</a> <a title="showyourage" target="_blank" href="https://www.tiktok.com/tag/showyourage">#ShowYourAge</a></p> <a target="_blank" title="♬ original sound - Annika🌈" href="https://www.tiktok.com/music/original-sound-6871263274097249029">♬ original sound - Annika🌈</a> </section> </blockquote> <script async src="https://www.tiktok.com/embed.js"></script><p>Upcycling allows you to take otherwise useless products and make them into something new, without creating new waste. The process can be done with just about anything—clothes, furniture, scraps or even garbage—if you're crafty enough. The City of Austin holds <a href="https://www.austintexas.gov/fixit" target="_blank">fix-it clinics</a> to teach how to repair basic household objects, which is a must in the home improvement sphere.<br></p>If you're not confident in your artistic abilities, there are plenty of <a href="https://www.etsy.com/market/austin_upcycle" target="_blank">Austin artists</a> who sell upcycled gifts
Donate your used items<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDgyNzcyMy9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxOTA2Nzg3Mn0.jvcBzLJ2RrU7z9CUq_lDnLMFGWy9CG2BZcgFHCFoTUc/img.gif?width=980" id="a1412" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c6329195fe36c5145551b4d3575b71c2" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Give an experience as a gift this year<div id="6110c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e7e600163942eed76962724a679982ff"><blockquote class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned data-instgrm-version="4" style=" background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% - 2px); width:calc(100% - 2px);"> <div style="padding:8px;"> <div style=" background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:50% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;"> <div style=" background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAAGFBMVEUiIiI9PT0eHh4gIB4hIBkcHBwcHBwcHBydr+JQAAAACHRSTlMABA4YHyQsM5jtaMwAAADfSURBVDjL7ZVBEgMhCAQBAf//42xcNbpAqakcM0ftUmFAAIBE81IqBJdS3lS6zs3bIpB9WED3YYXFPmHRfT8sgyrCP1x8uEUxLMzNWElFOYCV6mHWWwMzdPEKHlhLw7NWJqkHc4uIZphavDzA2JPzUDsBZziNae2S6owH8xPmX8G7zzgKEOPUoYHvGz1TBCxMkd3kwNVbU0gKHkx+iZILf77IofhrY1nYFnB/lQPb79drWOyJVa/DAvg9B/rLB4cC+Nqgdz/TvBbBnr6GBReqn/nRmDgaQEej7WhonozjF+Y2I/fZou/qAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;"> </div></div><p style=" margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;"> <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CH6L5OkF9GY/" style=" color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;" target="_top"></a></p> </div></blockquote></div><p>When you give an experience as a gift, the possibilities are endless and the waste is much lower. After all, an experience will last forever in your loved one's memory. If your loved one likes to kayak, get them a one year rental pass on Ladybird Lake. Take your daredevil indoor skydiving at iFly, get them an annual pass to their favorite museum, take them on an <a href="https://www.austinbiplane.com/" target="_blank">Austin Biplane tour</a> or even <a href="https://www.k1speed.com/austin-location/pricing.html" target="_blank">race car driving</a>.<br></p><p>Whatever you do for your holiday season this year, why not try to make it just a little bit greener. Mother Nature will thank you.</p>
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