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The Lone Star State's 'Democracy Dollars' Proposal Draws Rebukes

February 11, 2021
The Lone Star State’s ‘Democracy Dollars’ Proposal Draws Rebukes

The Lone Star state’s Austin City Council on Tuesday is scheduled to listen to a presentation on the potential use of “Democracy Dollars” designed to replace local campaign finance rules. It is a proposal that comes from a citizen-initiated petition by a political coalition that generated enough petition signatures to place it on the May 1 ballot. But, there is a concern that has developing over citizens who would be excluded from using the political currency. This, in fact, includes legal permanent residents and those on parole or probation.

Lone Star State – Austinites for Progressive Reform

A political action committee, Austinites for Progressive Reform, made an announcement in January it had submitted more than 24,000 signatures to the city clerk. There were some 4,000 more required by law. In fact, this was to place a string of broad proposals on the upcoming ballot.

Lone Star State – Changing Mayor-Council Form of Government

The group calls for an 11th single-member council district. In addition, the group also seeks to change to a mayor-council form of government. It will yield a “strong mayor” format. This move would get rid of the city manager’s role by tasking the mayor which duly electing and thus democratically accountable to the voters. Moreover, the group has noted on its website to administer functions. This would include the police department, the transportation department and the budget creation process.

Evoking the Jim Crow Era

However, the group has invoked the specter of the Jim Crow era. “In fact, the city manager system was not the form of government at the time of Austin’s founding,” the group put on their website. “Yet rather, it was adopting at the height of Jim Crow. It was, in fact, pushed by a group of white businessmen. They believe the city was failing to prioritize their interests.”

Bolstering the Ideals of Democracy

The aim of the Austinites for Progressive Reform to bolster the ideals of democracy. This is according to the organization’s website. It was founding by Austin entrepreneurs and political activists Eugene Sepulveda, Laura Hernandez, Andrew Allison, and Jim Wick. Hindering such democratic ideals is the city’s campaign finance system. Nearly 70 percent of all contributes to the city council originate from just three council districts, the group has noted on its website.

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