Monthly Archives: March 2009

Why Carmakers Are Being Treated Differently

(Community Matters) The answer isn’t that difficult. It’s because most agree that auto manufacturers can’t survive given their current cost structure. This question existed even prior to the current economic crisis.

I say this with a heavy heart for the women & men employed by the manufacturers, their suppliers and all the businesses and communities financed by their economic stream.

As to management, on June 24 I wrote:

On Feb 23 I sold my General Motors stock at $24/share citing Vice Chairman Bob Lutz’s comment that global warming is “a total crock of shit” as a sign that the company was managed by idiots. Today GM closed at $13/share. It’s dropped nearly 50% ytd. So glad he’s a vocal idiot.

President Obama is more optimistic than I am about the ultimate survivorship of all three manufacturers even post-bankruptcy and with federal bailouts. I sincerely hope he and his advisors are correct.

Art & Cocktails

(Community Matters) This sounds like a lot of fun:

April 8 ART+COCKTAILS Kickoff

In the spirit of healthy and creative neighborhood competition, participating 2ND Street District restaurant bars will compete for the 2009 Best Original Art Cocktail. A portion of proceeds from the competing cocktails sold through April 26 with be donated to Art Alliance Austin. 2ND Street District bartenders will demonstrate their brand of artistic flair, and everyone participates.

Beginning with a progressive happy hour at 6pm, partygoers will begin judging the Art Cocktail entries as they trek through 2ND Street District to Taste Select Wines, Mama Fu’s, Yu Sushi, Cru, MaLaga and La Condesa & Malverde. Those who make it to all stops during the kickoff will be entered to win a grand prize of five $50 gift certificates from each participating restaurant.

A panel of cocktail judges will announce its winner during Art City, but the public has until midnight on April 26 to vote for the People’s Choice online. Online voting will begin Friday, April 8, on the 2ND Street District ( and Art Alliance Austin ( Web sites.

Hat Tip: Margaret Keys

Wheatsville Co-op

(Community Matters) Wheatsville Co-op has become an important part of our community. Steven joined its board of directors this year, we shop there as much as we can (which is most), our property backs up to the store, we’re invested in the community of Wheatsville in many ways. Exciting that phase I of their expansion opened Saturday. Store nearly doubling in size. They opened the new space and will be reconfiguring the store as they commence renovation on existing structure. Expanded deli, fresh bread, fresh seafood & meat section now. In a couple of months, they’ll have a salad and hot food bar. Really yummy prepared foods everyday – and the best smoothies in Austin. Ever wonder where the cool, funky, young & really smart kids went to work after Whole Foods matured? Wheatsville

We have a bit of a shortcut to the store. Steven walking behind it

the tin roof behind the parking lot is our pool house

An early part of the project was reconstructing the huge retaining wall between our properties – there’s a 4″ to 6″ drop in elevations. We still haven’t completed the gate as we’re rebuilding part of a stone wall between ourselves and a neighbor while trying to build a well to preserve an old pecan tree.

Despite the economy and construction, Wheatsville continues to thrive and its business continues to grow substantially.

Capitol 10k

(Community Matters) Much fun yesterday watching and cheering on Cap 10k runners from the Charles Moore House at Quarry & Winsted. Gave us ideas for a garden party friend raiser at the foundation next year. Tana Christie, Kevin Keim and I the instigators. Soon joined by Jill McRae & Stephen Yelenosky.

An absolutely gorgeous day in Austin yesterday. Reminds me, the night before at the HRC dinner, I was telling one of my table mates, Cuv Vu (the keynote) how the weather in Austin was like this all year. Hope she knew I was kidding. It was an exceptional day. Okay, so mid-March thru May and December, our favorite times of the year in Austin.

Tana & Kevin

Kevin a total trooper since he always works quite late and I harrassed him to get up early and host us.

Lauren & Kent Mayes

Gary Greenblum & Sandi Aitken

Joe Christie with Lily, Leigh close behind

Joe Christie (former Tx Senator, not in Brammer’s The Gay Place but is in Charlie Wilson’s War) has run in every Capitol 10k except the first one, so 31 years/31 races. Wow

Charles & Ivy Christie

Mayoral Candidates

(Community Matters) Decided to dash in and respond to a couple of Burnt Orange Report comments someone relayed to me. My response to a comment that Brewster claimed the Pecan Street Project but didn’t provide any leadership and to another comment that Lee was just as engaged in creating a vision and working on Austin’s economic development.

My replies:

TreatyOak, no disrespect intended but you are either unaware or misleading . . .

The Pecan Street Project is Brewster’s project – he birthed it. He called together the players and chaired every meeting until the Environmental Defense Fund came on board. He ran the agendas. He named the thing. He came up with the 300 MW goal.

Ask Roger Duncan (Austin Energy) or Isaac Barchas (Austin Technology Incubator) or Jim Marston (Environmental Defense Fund) if there would even be a Pecan Street Project if it weren’t for Brewster.

The project is now in the hands of experts (EDF and its corporate partners). Brewster did what leaders do…set the goal and vision, gather people who know more than you, arrange the kindling, light the match, and step back.

To suggest that he’s a hanger-on with Pecan Street is either ill-informed or intentionally misleading.

Matt, you and I disagree about the candidates. Lee – an oustanding council member who is thoughtful, respectful and smart – doesn’t take this sort of initiative nor has he ever articulated a vision that’ll sell industry leaders to bring & create the jobs Austinites need to maintain & grow our standard of living. In fact, he’s indicated he won’t even recruit large businesses to Austin – that’s a huge worry when semiconductor manufacturing workers and many others displaced from layoffs are looking for good paying work. Brewster doesn’t do this to the exclusion of affordability or quality of life for other Austinites. He’s been one of our outstanding supporters for affordable housing and low & moderate income economic development.

Brewster may not have the same longtime-Austin, political juggernaut on his payroll as Lee which includes my friends David Butts, Mark Nathan, JD Gins, Amy Evarhart & Burnt Orange’s Matt Glazer (and which admittedly has paid off handsomely with party dominated endorsements), yet he is backed by film makers, musicians, business men & women, high tech leaders, environmentalists and plenty of everyday Austinites. His name recognition and favorables suggest he leads in the race (admittedly I haven’t seen either campaign’s most recent polls).

Thanks ALL

Delayed Postings

(Community Matters) Enjoying the weather too much today to sit at the computer but will follow up with postings on last night’s HRC dinner. Congrats Cliff Redd, Chief Justice Woodie Jones, the local HRC steering committee, volunteers and HRC senior major donor specialist, Kirk Rice for an outstanding event. Many thanks to Congressman Lloyd & Libby Doggett, District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg & mayoral candidate Carole Keeton McClellan Rylander Strayhorn for attending. As Michael Barnes notes in his blog, it was quite a moving evening.

Loved congratulating runners, walkers and inbetweens participating in today’s Capitol 10k race. Saw lots of happy faces including Sandi Aitken, Gary Greenblum, Tony Plohetski, Clay & Karen Cary, Jenn Sparks, Michael Willard, Lauren & Kent Mayes, Barbara Jones, Rhetta Kelly, Joe, Leigh, Charles, Lily and Ivy Christie, and many others while enjoying refreshments with Kevin Keim, Tana Christie, Jill Gronquist and Judge Yelenosky. One day early Happy Birthday, Stephen. btw, the NYTimes Cookbook recipe for croissants a good one – especially with a chunk of chocolate inside – and will knead and roll 8 times instead of 4 next time.

I’ve especially liked today’s issue of the AAS. What’s different?

More, including Capitol 10k pics, after this beautiful weather.

Spanish Courts Pursuing American Offiicials

(Community Matters)

A high-level Spanish court has taken the first steps toward opening a criminal investigation against six former Bush administration officials, including former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, on whether they violated international law by providing a legalistic framework to justify the use of torture of American prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, an official close to the case said.

. . . . This year for the first time, the United States used a law that allows for the prosecution in the United States of torture in other countries. On Jan. 10, a Miami court sentenced Chuckie Taylor, the son of the former Liberian president, to 97 years in a federal prison for torture, even though the crimes were committed in Liberia.

Last October, when the Miami court handed down the conviction, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey applauded the ruling and said: “This is the first case in the United States to charge an individual with criminal torture. I hope this case will serve as a model to future prosecutions of this type.” full story


(Community Matters) I’ve blogged about the danger of populism. The Economist does so much more articulately.

The danger for Mr Obama and the ruling Democrats is that the administration is relying heavily on private investors and Wall Street banks to implement its various rescue plans. This inevitably means rewarding some of the people who were responsible for the crisis. The president hopes that his budget will channel destructive anger into support for his policies. But he could also find his administration blown off-course or even swept aside by popular outrage.

I know this isn’t news to the Administration and that they are acutely aware of the tightrope they walk. We all said it coming into the term, far from an enviable time to be taking the reins, and thank God BHO is the one taking ’em.


(Community Matters)

Manbabies – watch more funny videos
Hat Tip: Americablog

Decisions on the Economy

(Community Matters)

Hat Tip: Andrew Sullivan

GOP Budget

(Community Matters) No numbers in the GOP released budget – hmm, can’t even stretch to imagine what they might have been thinking

Bids to Purchase Austin American Statesman

(Community Matters) BOR’s/KT’s posting on bids to purchase the AAS.