October 27, 2014 Leave a comment
Austin’s city elections have a donation limit of $350.00 per person, or $700.00 per married couple. Some current candidates and elected officials have given loans to their campaigns far in excess of donation limits, and in the case of our current Mayor Leffingwell, there is an outstanding third – party loan to his campaign for $90,000.00 (ninety thousand dollars folks) from . . .(?).
Those loans are all unethical – in my opinion. The Austin American Statesman seems enamored with money totals, but unconcerned about the sources and effect of local campaign capitalization. The same goes for the Austin Chronicle and perhaps some broadcast network media companies. By declaring “front runners” based on bank accounts, they give a gift to the most crooked among us, the back room consultancy and industry lobbyists who steal the value of our citizenship while we watch professional sports.
There is an inherent conflict of interest when a media company pretends journalism while sizing up candidates as clients. Ideas and people matter. So far I haven’t seen much interest from local editors in the substance of candidate messages on the campaign trail.
When the campaign began, I declared little interest in funds – as I would run a clean interactive campaign. I refuse to accept donations from outside the city limits, or from any special interest group. As a city, we should be as smart as we promote ourselves to be, and lead the nation in true campaign finance reform; – end loans to campaigns so when the Mayor’s $90,000.00 third – party loan comes due, he has to actually solicit enough individual legal donations to pay it back in full before the loan becomes an illegal donation.
Think about the current real estate planning for Austin. Over-development in central Austin with massive residential growth on the periphery has clogged our commuter highways. The Mayor and all sitting City Council members push a plan to build Urban Rail as though that would take pressure off commuters, while it will do far worse – by stopping cross traffic every 5 – 7 minutes at every street intersection. There is a serious transparency gap too. The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) and “Project Connect” are spending your tax dollars promoting the Urban Rail plan, with the President of Project Connect being a Vice President of HNTB, which will benefit from building the project so Austin’s Real Estate Barons can become exponentially wealthier at your expense. This is the dirtiest Chicago – style political sham I have ever witnessed up close, and the local news organizations aren’t breathing a word about it. They are part of the problem.
We The People need to demand better service from the 4th Estate and demand the City of Austin make those unethical campaign loans illegal.
Some folks are just the darling princesses of special interests.
In Austin though, the loan carriage never seems to see an hour when it turns into a pumpkin, does it?
If we don’t do our research and vote for real change, we will forever be stuck in traffic.
Candidate for Mayor of Austin
Copyright © 2014 Randall Forrest Stephens
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