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With three more days left to vote and amid concerns about misinformation, local leaders convened Wednesday to encourage Austinites to support Proposition A, which would raise the city's property tax rate to help pay for Project Connect, a $7.1 billion plan to overhaul public transportation.
Mayor Steve Adler touted the benefits of Project Connect, which he said will create new jobs, provide environmental benefits, and make Austin a safer and more equitable city. He also mentioned the broad coalition of supporters, which includes business and real estate groups as well as environmental and social justice advocates.
"We must pass Proposition A so that we are not stuck in traffic, stuck in our homes and stuck in the past," he said.
Adler also cited the demographic projection that two million people will move to the metro in the next 20 years.
"If we don't do a better job of moving people around our city … then we're in trouble," he said.
Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza, who represents District 2 on City Council, emphasized Prop A's progressive bona fides.
"It embodies our desire to be about 'we' and not 'me,'" she said.
Garza also criticized opponents of Proposition A, which include the political action committee Our Mobility Our Future and the nonprofit Voices of Austin.
"The opposition offers no solutions," she said, and has taken up "Republican tactics of disinformation."
Both groups claim that Proposition A will raise property taxes by around 25%. In fact, if approved, it will raise the city's property tax rate by about 20%. However, because city property owners also pay taxes to Austin ISD, Austin Community College, Central Health and Travis County, the overall increase in their property tax bill will be around 4%.
"I am concerned about the lies circulating this election," Adler said. "I am concerned when people might be making decisions based on signs about what this costs that are six times higher than what this will cost."
Chas Moore, the founder and executive director of the Austin Justice Coalition, also spoke in support of the proposed tax rate increase.
"Prop A is our chance to put our money where our mouth is," he said. "It's a direct investment in the quality of the life of Black people, of brown people, for everyone who's been marching because of their skin color or their bank account or what part of town they live in."
Adler pointed to the historic $300 million fund for anti-displacement initiatives included in the Project Connect budget.
"This is the project that is required to achieve mobility equity in our city," he said.
The group also addressed some of the criticisms leveled against Project Connect, including the financial hardships caused by the pandemic.
Garza said now is the time for this election given record-breaking turnout. "Why would we want to wait?" she asked.
Finally, Adler raised concerns about the role of "secret money" in the election.
As a PAC, Our Mobility Our Future is required to disclose its funders, who include car dealers, Republicans and long-time opponents of transit investment.
Voices of Austin, however, is a nonprofit and is not beholden to the same standards. Executive Director Peck Young has told Austonia that its funding comes from locals and that the group is unaffiliated with police unions or the Koch brothers. But there are no public records to verify his claims.
"I think when people are putting up dollars to influence an election, they ought to stand up and say who they are so that people can understand who it is who is sponsoring the message," Adler said.
Early voting ends on Friday, Oct. 30. Travis County residents can find early voting polling places here, where they are registered to vote here, voter identification requirements in Texas here and view their personal ballots here.
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3.
More on Prop A:
- The pros and cons of Austin's $7.1B transit plan Project Connect ... ›
- Austin voters ask: How does the pandemic affect Project Connect ... ›
- Project Connect includes $300M to fight displacement - austonia ›
- Voting guide: local mobility propositions on the November ballot ... ›
- Austin voters ask: How much with Project Connect raise my taxes ... ›
- 5 reasons to support and oppose project connect in austin - austonia ›
- Early voting results: City of Austin Propositions A & B - austonia ›
- Early voters green light city of Austin's Props A & B - austonia ›
After a long, long year without live music, Austin has waited patiently for a return that has finally come. Festivals are planning returns and even venues that adhered strictly to safety protocols during the pandemic are feeling safe enough to gather again in person.
Starting in just a few short days, you can finally enjoy what makes Austin, well, Austin again. Here are a few of the live shows to look forward to.
Stubb's Waller Creek, 801 Red River Street
For the first time since the pandemic shut the iconic venue down forcing canceled and rescheduled shows, Stubb's BBQ is reopening its amphitheater to the public for concerts starting with a series of five sold-out Black Pumas shows, each with different openers, from May 26-30. It may be too late to catch Black Pumas this time around but Stubb's already has a host of other shows scheduled up through December. You can catch Surfaces, a College Station-based jazz-pop-hip-hop and vocals heavy duo known best for their song "Sunday Best," on Stubb's Stage on June 25 while tickets go on sale this Friday.
Next at Stubb's is electronic duo Louis the Child on July 28 and 29 on their "Euphoria Tour," followed by Umphrey's McGee on Sept. 9.
Mohawk Austin, 912 Red River Street
Likewise, Mohawk Austin has remained closed for more than a year since the onset of COVID-19, even tweeting "Thanks bro but we ain't gonna do it till it's safe," in response to Gov. Greg Abbott lifting all safety restrictions back in March. Starting May 27, Mohawk is officially back with Heartless Bastards and opener The Tender Things.
From there, Mohawk has an exciting lineup—Jukebox the Ghost will play on Sept. 10, Bully and opener Lightning Bug on Sept. 17, Big Freedia and Too Many Zooz on Oct. 4 and Beach Bunny on Dec. 14, with several talented artists in-between. Keep checking back though, Mohawk will continue to add shows and is currently planning on operating at 50%.
Frank Erwin Center, 1701 Red River Street
Though it is making a later comeback than Stubb's or Mohawk, the Frank Erwin Center will make a huge return on Aug. 14 featuring Tame Impala. If you missed their highly popular set at Austin City Limits Festival in 2019 or you want to relive it, this is the chance to do so. Plus, you get the added benefit of being able to see the stage, though you will still be watching with around 16,000 other spectators. Michael Bublé will have you swooning when he comes to perform on Sept. 20 and Chris Stapleton is taking his "All American Road Show" live on Nov. 4.
Nutty Brown Amphitheatre, 12225 US-290
Holding some socially distanced concerts earlier this year, the Nutty Brown Amphitheatre isn't stopping there with rap artist Ginger Billy playing two sets on May 7. Nutty Brown has a star-studded lineup ahead: Austin-based Bob Schneider on May 8 and other Austin favorite Shinyribs will grace the stage May 29. A little further down the line, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts will take over on Aug. 21 followed by Styx on Oct. 23.
Texas Performing Arts Center, 2350 Robert Dedman Drive
If you prefer a little bit more visual appeal to go with your music, the Texas Performing Arts Center is reopening in-person after consistent online events. First up is Cody Ko and Noel Miller, a multi-hyphenated YouTuber-podcaster-comedian duo, who will perform their "Tiny Meat Gang – Global Domination," on July 31. Of course you can't miss The Beach Boys, coming to the theater on Oct. 24, or a two-week long production of Hamilton from Dec. 7-19. For all the young ones that have missed going out in-person, "Disney Princess—The Concert" is coming to the Texas Performing Arts Center on Feb. 6, 2022, performing timeless gems like "Be Our Guest" from Beauty and the Beast and featuring all their other favorite princesses. Tickets go on sale this Friday.
Remember to jump on those tickets–Austinites have been missing their live music!
- 11 ways to get your Austin live music fix online - austonia ›
- Austin City Limits is holding in-person festival in 2021 - austonia ›
- Austin live music venue Mohawk announces May reopening - austonia ›
- Some Austin live music venues reopen to smaller crowds - austonia ›
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For Marco Silvestrini, gelato takes him back to his childhood when he and neighborhood kids in a small Italian town would end their day at the local gelato shop. It was part of what made some of the best memories for him.
He's since been offering that same experience for the past seven years with his artisanal gelato shop, Dolce Neve, in Austin, alongside his sister and her husband.
Leo Ferrarese, Marco and Franscesa Silvestrini run Dolce Neve. (Dolce Neve)
While gelato always played a big role in Silvestrini's life, it wasn't in his plans to take on a business with his favorite treat. After a few years in New York working as a management consultant, he felt he was missing out on something. "I decided to take a step back and started thinking, what could... I do to make society better and happier, even just for a moment," Silvestrini said.
He thought back to his childhood and the role gelato played in it and wanted to offer the same experience to Americans.
Once he had the product idea down, it came down to location. Growing up among farmers in a small community in Central Italy, Silvestrini knew he wanted a slower pace of living than New York, so he asked around. The answer he got: "Austin." The only thing he knew about what would become his future home was it had a Formula 1 track.
But after visiting once, he felt a great sense of community he didn't feel in The Empire State. "I felt it was not just a good place for a concept like mine, but also a good place to live because at the end of the day, you cannot just think about your business," he said.
"Dolce Neve" translates to "sweet snow." The shops offers 12-18 flavors at a time. (Dolce Neve)
Similarly, his sister Francesca Silvestrini was experiencing the same feelings while studying for her Ph.D. in Ohio before teaming up with Silvestrini. She went back to Italy to be properly trained in making gelato while Silvestrini focused on the business plan. They brought Leo Ferrarese, her husband, onboard and opened their first shop on South First Street in January 2014. The rest is history.
On the menu, you'll find various traditional and innovative flavors that rotate out. Some of the staples include chocolate, 100% vanilla from Madagascar and salted caramel. Other rotating or seasonal flavors include whiskey and pecan, organic cantaloupe sorbet, goat cheese and pecan, almond custard and tiramisu. They've created over 300 flavors together in the span of the business.
So what's next for the shop? Lately, Silvestrini has been thinking a lot about that. With two locations in Austin, one in Houston—he's just not sure if expanding more is the right move. Maintaining a quality product and good service is of utmost importance that he's not willing to sacrifice.
"In order to be happy, it's not about making money, it's about being an integral part of the community," Silvestrini said. "There have been so many cases in which I think what I did today really made a difference in somebody's life."