Springs update

round2[1]It’s 1-1 with the final round to come to follow.

As per my earlier post, the board mostly sided with the Friends of Barton Springs proposal to carry out a major overhaul of the side side entrance to the pool. They stopped short of approving a variance to the impervious cover request.

Then last night it was round-2, the Planning Commision, they basically reversed the zoning board. The email from the FBSP today said:

Tuesday night, the full Planning Commission voted to deny City staff’s recommendation for the variances and SOS amendments necessary to complete the Grounds Improvements. Only two commissioners, Chair Dave Anderson and Commissioner Myron Smith, did not join the motion to deny and spoke against it. FBSP is very disappointed with their action of the Commission.

They did not reject the plans because they don’t support the Grounds Improvements – in fact, they discussed how necessary almost all of the projects are to control erosion, improve water quality, improve accessibility, and care for the trees and lawn.

However, they had reservations about the expansion of the parking lot, and wanted to see more options from City staff that did not expand, or even reduced the parking lot size and impervious cover, and increased bike parking even more than the current 40 spaces. They also did not support the ADA path to the historic marker.

In effect, the Commission denied their approval, and put at risk four years of work on the plan, in order to send a message to City staff that they were serious in their objections to a few aspects of the plan.

The final discussion will be scheduled at the full council meeting, March 7th, with the hearing likely being on March 28th a Austin City Hall. As always, local democracy depends on participation. If you care about Barton Springs, there is a lot at stake. Get educated and participate.

US vs Them, dive right in

Barton SpringsTonight see’s a major debate about the future of Barton Springs, both the springs itself, and the surrounding area. As has become the norm’ views are polarized, on one side is Save Our Springs alliance who see their original ordinace under threat by the proposed change to the impervious cover rules, as well as other prosals to “Disneyfy” the springs.

In the other corner stands the Friends of Barton Springs, who want to see grounds improvements, a new Americans with Disabilities Act(ADA) compatible entrance, at the back of the pool, along with a paved parking area and many other general site improvements.

I must admit, although a member of FBSP, I’m inclined in this instance to side with SoS Alliance. No doubt though this will be a long, drawn out public hearing. You can read the background and various proposals here.

The meeting will take place: 6:00 pm in City Council Chambers City Hall, 301 W. 2nd Street Free parking in City garage on Lavaca

The Board will allow public testimony, and will vote on the plan tonight. You don’t have to sign up to speak but if you decide to, be prepared. I don’t think I can make it, but will try.


(c) Austin Chronicle

We, me, Wendy and a 1-year old Eloise, moved to New York City in May 1982, and stayed in New York until August 1986; I’ve been back at least twice per year, every year since, until last year.

I was excited to see this film, documentary about Iconic New York Mayor, Ed Koch. There is no doubt, Koch saved the big apple. He had his critics, his sexuality, his racism  or not, corruption, all a huge source of debate. He was the ultimate private, public man right up until his death on Feb. 1st this year.

The film is a brilliant documentary. If you are at all interested in american modern history, fashion, politics, social power, welfare reform and more. This film is a must see.

I will forever remember him rumbling down a a New York city street, maybe 1983 on the front of a tank, you couldn’t hear a word he was shouting, except you knew it was “How am I doin’?”

There is a scene near the end where the 86 year old Koch walks down a hallway and closes the door to his apartment. He never had a partner, in his whole life, New York was his lady. I must admit as some who worked and lived in NY between 82-86, I shed tears as he closed that door, knowing he passed the day the film was released.

Know where your food comes from?

OK, so I’m tired, I was out really late last night and I had to go to the Travis County tax office for 8am this morning to sign away the title for my VW CC aka, sell my car. Afterwards, I’m in my new car, heading to work and I decided to catch-up on the January 11th This American life, the episode is #484, Doppelgängers.

After an intro which included a Saturday Night Live actor imitating TAL show host, Ira Glass, they get down to act one. A story about food and food lookalikes. The real Ira Glass says “A quick warning that if you’re squeamish or averse to graphic images of food, there’s going to be some of that in this report.”. Within 2-minutes, I’m smirking so much I’m crying, tears, reals tears rolling down my cheeks. I’m sat at my desk typing this, I can’t wait to share, still chuckling.

Maybe it’s because I’m tired, maybe it’s my inner school boy, or maybe, just maybe I might have eaten “artificial calamari”. So, here it is, Doppelgängers. Enjoy.

Civilians, the Vietnam War, gun control

I didn’t move to America until 1982, the almost 20-year war was well over by the time I got to NY. I worked with a few managers who’d been in various services roles, allegedly my favorite VP was in a navy seal underwater demolition expert. The war was mostly never discussed.

I saw the films, as far as I recall I slept through most of Apocalypse Now not once, but twice. Last night I sat gripped through Zero Dark Thirty, as a docu-drama it was pretty good, didn’t waste time glamorizing the death of Osama bin Laden, and seemed at least to present most of the major talking points.

Afterwards when discussing the film, I said that “it presented a number of legal, social and international issues. Although on balance, I agree with the decision to go assassinate UBL in a foreign, nation state.”

Tonight I got to listen to Fresh Air, a NPR radio series. This show covered in large part the release of a new book, Nick Turses’ Kill Anything That Moves, about the Vietnam War. You can listen to, or read a transcript of the interview here

On balance, the juxtaposition of the film, and the NPR interview, especially with the harrowing description and discussion about the US armed forces killing more than 2,000,000 (yes two million+) civilians during the Vietnam war, that it’s not surprising the reluctance of many to give an inch on gun control.

Perhaps they are worried, not that their own government will be coming to get them, but that a small band of trained, government authorized Vietnamese assassins will fly in under the cover of darkness, come into their homes and assassinate them and their family?

Yes, it’s an extreme view, but you have to wonder with so many in positions of authority, in the government, the NRA and other organizations that were old enough to have served, or to have known first hand, or heard, the harrowing stories of the Vietnam war, why they they are resistant to any form of gun control?

[Update 1/30/12] Apparently this isn’t such an extreme view. Conflicting reports have this Vietnam vet. either defending himself, or assassinating someone for driving into the wrong driveway.

Bye bye American Pie


It’s illegal to unlock your own cellphone from Saturday, reports Mashable.

In many progressive countries where “illegal” monopolies don’t rule the people, selling phones locked to a network is illegal. Here in the increasingly reressive USA, locked, cooked phones that even when unlocked don’t work at full network speed is common place. From Saturday its even illegal to unlock your own phone. It’s hard to know what to say, even harder to prosecute. My t-mobile Samsung Galaxy S3 is unlocked, I did it myself, but how would the “cops” know when, and how would they prove it?

I went down to the sacred store, Where I’d heard the music years before, But the man there said the music wouldn’t play…