100% Austin news, info, and entertainment, straight to your inbox at 6 a.m. every morning.
In five minutes, you're fully informed and ready to start another great day in our city.
Strong-mayor supporters believe Prop F empowers voters, while a diverse coalition of opponents thinks otherwise
Austin voters will find five propositions on the May 1 ballot that stem from a citizen-led petition organized by Austinites for Progressive Reform, a political action committee. The quintet is intended to increase voter turnout, according to the group, and includes four mostly uncontroversial proposals. Proposition F, however, prompted swift pushback from an odd bedfellows coalition that includes local unions, business interests and most council members. The proposal? To change the city of Austin's government from a strong-manager system to a strong-mayor one.
Austin currently operates like a business, according to Terrell Blodgett, a professor emeritus at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and a proponent of the current system. An elected board of directors, the City Council, is led by a chairperson, the mayor, who works together to set policies. The city manager, whom they appoint, functions like a CEO, implementing those policies and managing staff. Under a strong-mayor system, the city manager position would be eliminated and replaced by the mayor, who would not vote on items brought to council but could veto legislation approved by its members.
APR and Prop F supporters say the switch would empower voters, correct the Jim Crow-era origins of the city's strong-manager system and better position the city to address critical issues such as policing and homelessness. Opponents argue that a strong mayor would wield too much power, erode the gains of the 10-1 system and minimize the role of council.
Strong mayor, strong policy
Nelson Linder, APR co-chair and NAACP president, sees the five propositions as working in tandem to empower voters at a moment when voter suppression efforts are resurgent in Texas and around the country. "If we're going to be democratic, then let the voters decide (who runs this city)," he told Austonia.
In addition to possibly driving up turnout, Linder believes a strong-mayor system will be better suited to address the city's intractable issues. Opponents worry that a strong mayor will emerge as a "semi-dictator," but he thinks the role's increased authority will enable sweeping policy change and encourage consensus-building on council so as to preempt a veto. "I don't have any fear about somebody being out of control," he said, but rather city leadership not doing enough and then pointing fingers.
With the rapid changes happening in our city, we must choose to claim political power now. If we don't, the power structure will be more entrenched by those who oppose progress. We need a strong mayor, we need a strong council. We don't need an unelected city manager.
— keithkreeger (@keithkreeger) April 13, 2021
APR also stresses the Jim Crow-era origins of the city's strong-manager system, which was the result of a 1924 campaign led by Monroe Shipe, who developed Hyde Park as a whites-only neighborhood. This switch to a council-manager form of government reduced the influence of Black, Latino and low-income white Austinites "by building a wall between the voters and decision-makers," according to the PAC's website. Opponents say this is disingenuous, but Linder pushes back. "The origins of the council-management form of government, even today, are anti-democratic," he said.
If it ain't broke…
Jesús Garza, co-chair of the anti-Prop F organization Austin for All People and former city manager, believes a strong-manager system encourages collaboration. Under a strong mayor, council members may not bring up policy ideas that the mayor disagrees with for fear that they will be a non-starter and city management staff may refrain from making recommendations that are politically unpopular, but necessary, like an airport expansion, for the same reasons.
Garza disputes APR's claims that a strong mayor will increase accountability to voters. Under a strong-manager system, the city manager reports directly to council. If voters approve Prop F, a strong mayor could slow-roll the implementation of or veto policy approved by council members, who would have little recourse. "For me, that's lack of accountability," he said.
Selena Xie, president of the Austin EMS Association, participated in APR's steering committee efforts because she supports ranked-choice voting and a public campaign finance program. But she opposes Prop F, fearing it will make a gatekeeper of the mayor and flood future mayoral races with so much money that unions like hers will be priced out. "It's just scary for everybody," she said.
David Foster, Texas Director of Clean Water Action, worries that the city could elect a strong mayor in the future who opposes environmental protections and walks them back once in office. "This is our constitution," he said. "So this isn't something that we should only be thinking about in terms of what happens in 2022 or 2024. We need to think about 2032 and 2042."
The following organizations agree a Strong Mayor form of government is NOT right for Austin. Make your voice heard and join us in voting NO on Prop F.
Early voting begins Monday, April 19, and ends Tuesday, April 27. The last day to vote is Election Day on Saturday, May 1. pic.twitter.com/jhKDtYW5wl
— Austin for All People (@Austin4AllPpl) April 14, 2021
In addition to labor and environmental organizations, A4AP has recruited a diverse mix of Prop F opponents who rarely find themselves on the same side of political issues, including eight council members, local CEOs, the Austin Chamber, Austin Young Republicans, Liberal Austin Democrats, the Real Estate Council of Austin and criminal justice reform advocates. Garza sees this is a testament to the efficacy of a strong-manager system: "You can't argue with the success that Austin has had under this system."
- Austin PAC submits signatures favoring strong mayor system ... ›
- Austonia's guide to the May 1 local election - austonia ›
- Austin City Clerk validates strong mayor petition - austonia ›
- Early voting total fors May 2021 city of Austin election - austonia ›
A week after Texas added two congressional seats and California lost one, state officials reported a population decline in 2020 for the first time in the Golden State's history.
California fell by over 182,000 people from January 2020 to January 2021, dropping almost 0.5% to cap out at around 39.5 million people. It is still the nation's most populous state.
For over thirty years, California has seen more people leave than move in from other states, state officials said, with 6.1 million people moving out and 4.9 million coming in last year. Immigration and births kept California growing, but the state saw a shrink in international migration in 2020 due to COVID and the White House's hold on visas.
Of the steady flow of ex-Californians moving to other states, more are moving to Texas than any other state. Many are relocating to Austin, which has been labeled a "little California" by billionaire resident Elon Musk and continues to grow astronomically.
Meanwhile, California cities including Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose and San Francisco saw a population decline.
With immigration and state migration on the decline, the Golden State was also hit with a spike in deaths- 51,000 people died from COVID in 2020, and all but seven of the state's counties saw death rates higher than the three-year average.
Still, the California Department of Finance said a "slightly positive annual growth" can be expected next year as the state recovers from COVID deaths and political repercussions.
- 2020 Census marks 10 years of most rapid growth for Austin - austonia ›
- Joah Spearman responds to a California's man hate of Austin ... ›
- Little California: Techsodus transplants love Austin, but does the city ... ›
- Celebrities who moved to austin, texas in 2020, and those to move ... ›
- California tech employees move to austin for business and way of ... ›
- California man warns against moving to Austin in Op-Ed - austonia ›
- Migration insights of Austin, who is moving to the city and who is ... ›
- Tesla's Elon Musk becomes 3rd richest person in the world - austonia ›
- Californian Texodus is affecting Texas on a national political scale ... ›
- Texas will gain two congressional seats after 2020 census - austonia ›
- 1 1/2 oz of hibiscus-infused Tito's Handmade Vodka
- 2 oz sparkling water
- 1 oz fresh lime juice
- 3/4 oz simple syrup
- 1 tsp allspice dram
The sun is out, and thousands of Austin FC fans will be as well as Austin FC goes to Kansas to play Sporting Kansas City at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday.
There's plenty of pub partners to choose from, but here's a few watch parties to help you get in on the action.
Los Verdes watch party at Hopsquad Brewing, 2307 Kramer Lane
Fun fact: @LosVerdesATX brings sleeping bags and they basically live in the grain room between games. They'll emerge from time to time for a cup of coffee and to see if the #verde keeper kit has been released. pic.twitter.com/6HKUEHUFWY— Hopsquad Brewing Co. (@HopsquadBrewing) May 3, 2021
Ol' faithful: Hopsquad Brewing is hosting its weekly watch party, complete with beer, food trucks and the possible release of a new michelada, in partnership with Austin FC fan club Los Verdes. Admission is free, but make sure to bring a lawn chair so you can watch from the brand-new LED screen.
Austin Anthem North at 601 Whitestone Blvd, Cedar Park
Live up North? Looking for a place to catch the match? Join Us this Sunday.— Austin Anthem (@AustinAnthem) May 7, 2021
⚽ #AustinFC 🆚 #SportingKC
🗓 Sun, 5/9. 6:30pm
🍺 $1 off pints with @AustinFC gear and #verde Beer
🌮 Van's Damn Tasty Tacos & Ronburguesas $6 Fried Tots pic.twitter.com/zHRp4H2MIQ
Austin Anthem's 1,000+ audience at watch parties have been legendary, but they're splitting the group into two this week. The North Watch party will be located at Whitestone Brewery, with $1 off discounts if you bring Austin Anthem's signature beer or wear Verde. Tater tots and tacos will be on the menu. RSVP here.
Austin Anthem East at Haymaker, 2301 Manor Road
This week’s beer-storming also brings #LosZanates back to where much of the #AustinFC supporter movement was formed: @HaymakerAustin.— Austin Anthem (@AustinAnthem) May 4, 2021
⚽ #AustinFC 🆚 #SportingKC
🗓 Sun, 5/9. 6:30pm
🐻 2310 Manor Rd
The #Verde watch parties for all of #Austin. Join us!https://t.co/EdiBruetIG pic.twitter.com/7NYsEFLxCf
Austin Anthem is returning to its roots at Haymaker Austin, where much of the group originated. Beer, sandwiches and more will be on the menu for all of East Austin. RSVP here.
Head to a bar near you
If none of these watch parties are quite the right fit for you, 31 bars will be streaming the match in the Austin metro as part of the Austin FC Pub Club.
- Austin Eastciders- Barton Springs, 1530 Barton Springs Rd.
- Austin Eastciders- Collaboratory 979 Springdale Rd. Suite 130
- B.D. Riley's Mueller, 1905 Aldrich St. Unit 130
- The Bon Aire, 9070 Research Blvd
- Bouldin Acres, 2027 S Lamar Blvd
- Casa Chapala, 9041 Research Blvd Suite 100
- The Cavalier, 2400 Webberville Rd Unit A
- Cover 2,13701 N Highway 183
- Cover 3 Anderson Lane, 2700 W Anderson Ln Unit 202
- Happy Chicks, 214 E 6th St.
- Haymaker, 2310 Manor Rd.
- High Five- Anderson Ln, 2700 W Anderson Ln Unit 101
- Local Post Pub, 7113 Burnet Rd
- Pelons, 802 Red River St
- Play on 6th, 620 W 6th St
- Pluckers, various locations
- Revelry On The Boulevard, 6215 N Lamar Blvd
- Revelry- East 6th, 1410 E 6th St
- Rusty Cannon Pub, 730 W Stassney Ln Unit 120
- San Jac Saloon, 300 E 6th Street
- Shiner's Saloon, 422 Congress Ave Unit D
- Shooters Billiards 620, 11416 N FM 620
- Taco Flats, mulitple locations
- Twin Peaks, 701 E Stassney Ln
- Austin's Latino's feels "close to home" with Austin FC - austonia ›
- Soccer support groups team up on merch, proceeds benefit LGBTQ ... ›
- Diego Fagundez showed his Verde colors with Austin FC's first goal ... ›
- Austin FC loses steam in 2-0 loss at No. 2 LAFC - austonia ›
- Los Verdes partners with Austin Justice Coalition in bandana ... ›
- Austin FC is looking for a three-match win streak at Kansas City ... ›
- Before kickoff: the ultimate guide to all things Austin FC - austonia ›
- 6. Over 30 pub partners - austonia ›