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The shooting sent 14 bystanders to the hospital—two in critical condition. One suspect has been caught, while another remains at large.
The incident has gained national attention, including a statement from the White House:
"This morning, Austin has become just the latest American community to wake up ravaged by an act of senseless gun violence," White House spokesperson Ike Hajinazarian said. "While we pray for the shooting's victims and their families — and thank first responders for their quick, heroic work — we must not lose sight of what this tragedy again makes clear: it's long past time for the Senate to pass meaningful gun reform and allow Texans—and all Americans—to enjoy a night out without the fear of another night of gun violence."
Gov. Greg Abbott shared a statement on Twitter thanking police and inviting Austinites to join wife Cecelia and "I in prayer for those who were injured," prompting backlash from hundreds of followers, largely surrounding the upcoming bill that will allow unlicensed open carry.
This mass shooting is your fault too, @GregAbbott_TX. You've made TX streets even more dangerous. You and Cecilia may as well use your pointless prayers for yourself-you don't really give a 💩. #AbbottFailedTexasAgain
— Heels Hater (@HKR30754663) June 12, 2021
Though the bill has yet to be signed into law, Abbott has said he will sign the bill despite objections from law enforcement groups.
Law enforcement specifically asked you not to pass permitless carry but you happily signed that bill, making no one safer. Forgive me if I don't believe you really care about anyone injured or killed in gun violence or the people who have to respond.
— LauraB'sProVoting #TeamDemocracy 🇺🇸⚾️🌭🥧 (@lulujb520) June 12, 2021
Prominent Austin City Council Member Gregorio Casar also commented on the incident, calling to "double down" on efforts to reduce violence. Several people responded, placing blame on Casar for writing the plan to defund the police.
@MayorAdler and you defunded police, police numbers dropped, emergency response times skyrocketed, and now a mass shooting. Y'all are doing a bang-up job comrade.
Sad we haven't caught the criminal, & you're already pressing an agenda. I bet the gun wasn't purchased legally.
— Eric G. (@BearNATX) June 12, 2021
While investigators are confident that they will catch the other suspect, Interim Police Chief Joseph Chacon said that with low staff levels, responding to violent calls is getting increasingly difficult. Police said they believe Austin is still a "safe city," though residents should remain alert and exercise caution while visiting downtown.
As Sixth Street is usually one of the busiest entertainment districts, it is usually highly policed. Still, some Austinites said they were afraid themselves, having been to the street themselves.
Don't even know how to react right now. I'm just crushed. Heard approx 16 people shot downtown on Sixth Street tonight and here I was watching footage of a show tonight at The Venue. Suddenly I'm looking at footage of bodies in the street. Feeling sick to my stomach
— Justin Hawkes (Flite) (@ItsJustinHawkes) June 12, 2021
The We Are Blood community blood center is asking for donations to replenish its supply after using blood and platelet donations to treat patients involved in the shooting. Austin police are also asking for anyone with information to call 911 or 512-472-TIPS.
The census occurs every 10 years and determines how trillions of dollars of federal funds are allocated to state and local governments and where district lines are drawn at the local, state and federal levels. "This data is important," Travis County Intergovernmental Relations Officer Julie Wheeler told local elected officials on Tuesday. "It touches every area of our lives."
Although more granular census data won't be available until later this year, the 2020 census is already having an impact on Austinites, from how they will be represented in Congress to confirming its status as a perpetual boomtown.
1. There may have been an undercount.
Texas gained two congressional seats as a result of population growth tallied during the 2020 census, more than any other state in the country, but the state was widely projected to gain a third.
Along with the pandemic and a lack of state investment in census outreach, the former Trump administration's attempt to add a citizenship question may have contributed to an undercount. "There was a lot of damage done with just that early confusion," Wheeler said.
Regional data will be released in late September, which will provide more insight into where an undercount may have occurred. But there are already indications that a gap occurred. The census tracts with the lowest self-response rate in the city of Austin are mostly concentrated on the East side.
Additionally, nearly 0.9% of Texas addresses remained unresolved—meaning members of those households did not respond to the questionnaire or census takers who followed up in person, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This is a 71% increase compared to the 2010 census, when 0.52% of Texas addresses remained unresolved.
2. Even a small undercount could have large financial repercussions for Austin.
The city of Austin 2020 population estimate is 995,484. Assuming this is an undercount of 0.9%—which would be at the low-risk end of the spectrum, according to a 2019 report by the Urban Institute—it would leave 9,041 Austin residents uncounted.
For every person uncounted, the community loses $1,500 in annual federal funding, Wheeler said. So this gap would cost the community $135.6 million—in Medicaid funding, Title I school grants and public transit programming—over the next decade.
Although such federal funding has constraints in terms of what it can be used for, such dollars could help offset the costs of programs like:
3. Austin's racial and ethnic groups are growing at unequal rates.
Between 2010 and 2020, the city of Austin's overall population grew by nearly 26%, according to census data. But this growth varied across racial and ethnic groups.
The city's Black or African American population grew at about the same rate between 2010 and 2019, the latest year for which such data is available. The non-Hispanic White and Hispanic or Latino populations grew at slightly lower rates—22.8% and 19.5%, respectively—over the same period. But the city's Asian population skyrocketed, growing by more than 50% over the last decade.
4. Austin outperformed other large Texas cities in counting its population.
Although the state of Texas saw its self-response rate ranking fall to 39th place in 2020 from 25th in 2010, Austin-Travis County improved its performance over the same period. In fact, it was the only large city-county pair in Texas to beat its 2010 self-response rate, City Demographer Lila Valencia said Tuesday. "I'm really optimistic for Travis County and Austin," she said, attributing the improvement to local investment in the counting process.
5. It's not too soon to start thinking about the 2030 census.
John Lawler, 2020 census program manager for Austin-Travis County, laid out a number of things the city and county could do in the meantime to improve accuracy, including:
- Staffing up earlier to improve local outreach efforts
- Building on relationships with grassroots community organizations, which proved critical in reaching hard-to-count populations
- Jointly funding an organizing entity that improves civic participation overall, and not just during census years
"Frankly, we should start tomorrow planning for the census in 2030," he said.
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Austin could finally get its own congressional district, and popular Dem Lloyd Doggett is ready to run for it
Austin is the largest U.S. city without a congressional district anchored in it. But this could change when the Texas Legislature reconvenes later this year for the decennial redistricting process.
The partisan process is controlled by state Republican lawmakers. Last time around, they "cracked" the city of Austin into six districts—represented by five Republicans and one Democrat—in an effort to dilute its political influence. But they may consider a new strategy this year: "packing" Democratic voters into one Austin district, to the same effect.
During the 2011 redistricting process, the city of Austin was split up across six congressional districts.
(City of Austin)
Local political strategists and redistricting experts say consolidating Austin's overwhelmingly liberal voters into one district would help minimize their influence elsewhere. "It's a little bit of an insurance policy for Republicans," said Michael Li, senior counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law.
An anchor in Austin
An Austin anchor district—one that represents a majority of the city's residents—could fall in the vanishingly thin intersection of a Venn diagram with two circles: state Republicans' interests and local Democrats' interests. "It's a coincidence, but one that works for both parties equally well," said Bill Miller, a local political fixer who has worked on both sides of the aisle.
Austin's rapid population growth and the bluing of its outlying suburbs have made it increasingly difficult for some Republican incumbents to hold onto their seats. National Democrats targeted four Republican U.S. House districts that represented Austin last November, driving up election costs and narrowing margins. "I think it's likely, to the extent that some of those (incumbents) are in conversation, they would love to hand over Central Austin to a Democratic congressman," local GOP strategist Brendan Steinhauser said.
Local Democrats would also benefit from such a district. The city would gain a dedicated representative in Washington, one who could fight for its interests, such as funding for Project Connect or the University of Texas at Austin. "(U.S. Rep. Lloyd) Doggett (D-Austin) can help his community more effectively when his interests are consolidated," Miller said. "So it helps the community immeasurably."
Six members of the U.S. House represent Austinites.
(U.S. House of Representatives)
Travis County GOP Chairperson Matt Mackowiak and former Travis County Judge Bill Aleshire have also speculated that such a district would attract new progressive challengers, such as District 4 Council Member Greg Casar, in 2022.
A spokesperson for Casar said their comments seem premature since the districts have not yet been drawn.
Casar will primary Doggett and this is the evidence that it’s his plan. https://t.co/VQ0Z9QUnv0— Matt Mackowiak (@MattMackowiak) June 7, 2021
If Travis County gets its own US House seat, would @GregCasar run against @LloydDoggettTX ? Couldn’t he openly run as the Democratic Socialist he claims to be & win the Dem nomination? After all Sanders, Warren, Gabbard got 60% in 2020. 1/2https://t.co/xGUSWgvrCV— Bill Aleshire (@AleshireLaw) June 7, 2021
Others think it's unlikely the two progressives face off. Steinhauser pointed to Casar's record on homelessness. The council member led the charge to overturn the city's public camping ban in 2019; voters reinstated it in May after a campaign led by Save Austin Now, which Mackowiak co-founded. "I would be highly skeptical that Casar runs," he said.
Miller was more blunt. "No one's going to beat Doggett," he said. "Doggett's there for life, or as long as he wants to be there."
And Dogget wants to be there. "Whatever crooked lines they impose next, I am running in whichever district best reflects our progressive values and offers a realistic opportunity to seek justice both for our neighbors and our country in Washington," he said in a statement to Austonia.
A new district?
When state lawmakers return to the Capitol, they will also be tasked with adding two new districts as a result of population growth, especially among residents of color. Local political strategists expect state Republican lawmakers will add seats where it most advantages their party—so likely outside of Central Texas.
"I think the Republicans will be ruthless in gaining the maximum advantage that they can," said Matt Angle, a Democratic political strategist and founder of the Lone Star Project PAC.
The new maps will not only shape the 2022 state and federal elections but also those in 2024, 2026, 2028 and 2030. "It's high-stakes poker when it comes time to gerrymander Texas," Li said.
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On May 12th the City's Ethics Review Commission spent nearly two hours discussing a complaint against Mayor Pro Tem Natasha Harper-Madison lodged by Olivia Overturf. Commission members tuned in remotely for the meeting.
The complaint was ultimately dismissed.
But the substance of the discussion was eclipsed, in hindsight, by the fact that Commission Member Debra Danburg made faces at her computer camera that could only be described as bizarre, as seen in the photo montage published here.
Read the full story at The Austin Bulldog.