Originally published November 20 2015
Democracy is dead in Austin: Elections in Austin, Texas, are a farce... corrupt city council regime does whatever it wants, regardless of choice of voters
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) Democracy – a cornerstone of American constitutionalism – seems to be fading fast in many quarters around the country, and that includes the very Red State of Texas, unfortunately, where iron-fisted political liberalism is about to trump the will of the people.
In recent weeks, voters in the capital city of Austin – perhaps the bluest part of the entire state – went to the polls and rejected a $287 million bond for a new civil courthouse that would have been built on extremely expensive property downtown.
Granted, according to the Austin American-Statesman newspaper, the vote was close – only about 1,000 votes separated the yays from the nays, a margin of less than 2 percent. But it was a rejection nonetheless, with only 5.4 percent of registered voters approving the huge expenditure of tax dollars.
That didn't seem to matter much to County Judge Sarah Eckhardt.
While the issue looked like it would pass throughout the day, a late surge of "no" votes ultimately decided the issue, ending "an emotional roller coaster for those who had worked for or against" the measure, the paper reported.
But after the final votes were tallied, Eckhardt – in a "fiery speech" to bond supporters – pledged that the voters' decision – the same voters who would be required to cough up the tax money to build the new courthouse – would not be the end of it. Speaking at an Austin Bar Association event, she said that county officials would return to work on the project within a few days.
"The low voter turnout in this election was not a rejection of the project or of the location. It was a lack of interest in our democracy," she said. "We are back in the saddle 48 hours from now because we need this capacity. This is the most important thing that Travis County government delivers. This is not only a constitutional mandate but it is a duty under our democracy to provide justice to our entire community in a building that is fit for that calling."
Who cares what voters think?Given her statement regarding voter turnout, one could correctly assume that, had the bond passed as she wanted it to, the number of Austin residents who actually went to the polls and voted would not have mattered. Such is the way of the statist authoritarian: If elections go their way, they're happy; if not, then the results "don't reflect the will of the people" and are therefore illegitimate.
Meanwhile, as she spoke, across town Austin City Council Member Don Zimmerman, leader of the opposition, said the last-minute defeat of the bond was an "absolute stunning result."
"The corporate downtown special interest lobby spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on this," he said, while his anti-courthouse campaign through the Travis County Taxpayers Union barely spent anything.
"I think a lot of people heard that and said, 'Well why are hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent if it's such a good idea?'" he told the Statesman.
Zimmerman blamed the loss of the bond on the supposition that more Austin-area residents are more and more concerned about the rising level of taxation and, thus, are reluctant to support new increases, regardless of what the new taxes would go to.
'I'll take the hit'As for the courthouse, the bond would have added about $39 a year to property taxes – a seemingly insignificant amount, until you consider the growing line items in property tax bills, designating funds for schools, libraries, police and emergency services, water districts and so on.
"You don't see David and Goliath victories every day," Austin City Council Member Don Zimmerman told the Austin Monitor late on election night Nov. 3. "We spent $3,000 while the pros spent $300,000," he said.
As for Eckhardt, she sounded a defiant tone.
"Losing a bond election? Big deal," Eckhardt said, as reported by the Monitor. "The bigger deal is that not enough of our community is sufficiently engaged in one of the basic tenets of our democracy, which is providing justice to all segments of our community."
So, lofty goals trump democracy? Eckhardt seems to think so. The Monitor also reported that she is ready to stake her political career on getting a new courthouse built, even a more expensive version.
"We need this badly enough for me to take the hit," Eckhardt claimed. "We need it that badly."
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