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Austin’s Proposition 1 Defeated

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[gdlr_notification icon=”fa-flag” type=”color-background” background=”#ffcc20″ color=”#000000″]This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune[/gdlr_notification]

Editor’s note: This story has been updated throughout. 

Austin’s Proposition 1, a ride-hailing ordinance supported by Uber and Lyft was defeated Saturday. With all precincts reporting late Saturday night, 48,673 (about 56 percent) voted against the ordinance and 38,539 voted for it. 
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CITY OF AUSTIN / PROPOSITION 1

Shall the City Code be amended to repeal City Ordinance No. 20151217-075 relating to Transportation Network Companies; and replace with an ordinance that would repeal and prohibit required fingerprinting, repeal the requirement to identify the vehicle with a distinctive emblem, repeal the prohibition against loading and unloading passengers in a travel lane, and require other regulations for Transportation Network Companies?

[gdlr_skill_bar percent=”44″ size=”large” text_color=”#ffffff” background_color=”#e9e9e9″ progress_color=”#6D9D40″ icon=”fa-thumbs-up”]For the Ordinance (44%)[/gdlr_skill_bar]
[gdlr_skill_bar percent=”56″ size=”large” text_color=”#ffffff” background_color=”#e9e9e9″ progress_color=”#961D20″ icon=”fa-thumbs-down”]Against the Ordinance (56%)[/gdlr_skill_bar]
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Lyft spokeswoman Chelsea Wilson said in an emailed statement that her company will “pause” operations in Austin beginning Monday. Uber said earlier Saturday that it would do the same if the ordinance was defeated. 

“Disappointment does not begin to describe how we feel about shutting down operations in Austin,” said Chris Nakutis, Uber’s Austin general manager, in a statement. “For the past two years, drivers and riders made ridesharing work in this great city. We’re incredibly grateful. From rallies to phone banking to knocking on doors, they spread the word and their support was humbling and inspiring. We hope the City Council will reconsider their ordinance so we can work together to make the streets of Austin a safer place for everyone.” 

Former Austin City Council member Laura Morrison has been a staunch opponent of Proposition 1, speaking on behalf of Our City, Our Safety, Our Choice, a group opposed to the ordinance. She said Saturday’s election results were Austin’s way of saying, “that’s not how we do democracy in this city.” 

“I think that an attitude of ‘my way or the highway’ is just not really effective and does not appeal to the people of Austin,” she said. “I don’t know that there’s much appetite on the council, now that Uber and Lyft made it a win, lose proposition, to start negotiating.”  

Uber and Lyft have dumped more than $8 million into a campaign supporting Proposition 1, sponsoring glossy mailers, television ads and free rides to the polls. The relentless campaigning is a symptom of six months of sparring between the city and the ride-hailing companies.  

But the battle didn’t start that way. At first, Uber and Lyft would speak at council meetings, urging the city to reconsider increasing ride-hailing regulations. The tipping point came in December, when the City Council passed an ordinance requiring drivers for ride-hailing companies to submit to fingerprint background checks, a stipulation that applies to taxi companies in the city. 

After the vote, supporters of Uber and Lyft sprung into action, amassing more than 25,000 certified signatures on a petition supporting an ordinance with weaker regulations. Per city code, the Ridesharing Works petition forced the City Council to adopt the proposal or call a special election and bring the matter to voters. 

The Council opted to hold an election — one the city clerk estimated could cost upwards of $500,000. The ballot asked voters to consider Proposition 1 and whether the city’s existing ordinance should be axed and replaced with one that would “prohibit required fingerprinting, repeal the requirement to identify the vehicles with a distinctive emblem” and “repeal the prohibition against loading and unloading passengers in a travel lane.” 

Both Uber and Lyft said they plan to cease their Austin operations if the election does not go in their favor. Austin Mayor Steve Adler said he hopes to sit down with Uber and Lyft following the election.  

“The people have spoken tonight loud and clear,” he said in a statement Saturday. “Uber and Lyft are welcome to stay in Austin, and I invite them to the table regardless. Austin is an innovative and creative city, and we’ll need to be at our most creative and innovative now.” 

Rick Claypool, research director for Public Citizen, a consumer watchdog group, said the clash in Austin is unique because the city’s special election is the first time a proposal backed by Uber has actually gone to voters. Claypool said the city will serve as an “object lesson” for other cities and could cause a “chilling effect” for those considering regulations. 

“Likewise, there are probably going to be cities that go out of their way to sort of lower the floor of requirements for companies,” Claypool said. “They’ll say, ‘Come here, we’re Uber-friendly. We won’t make you do those things that those uncooperative places make you do.'”  

Supporters of Uber and Lyft have argued background checks regulations from cities are redundant, as ride-hailing companies have their own safety procedures already in place.  

“The $8 million [spent on campaigning] would have easily paid for the fingerprint-based background check,” said Huey Rey Fischer, deputy outreach director for Ridesharing Works. “The problem is that fingerprinting is flawed in so many other respects, whether it’s discriminatory against people of color or the fact that not enough drivers would actually sign up to meet demand, which is the greater reason.”  

Opponents of Proposition 1 insist city-regulated checks are safer, and they see Uber and Lyft’s aggressive campaigning as bullying, insisting the company is using “misleading” advertising to bend the city to its will.  

“We, unlike Uber and Lyft, do not have access to millions of dollars,” said Austin Mayor Pro-Tem Kathie Tovo during a press conference in April. “Uber and Lyft are running a deceptive campaign in a blatant attempt to confuse the voters and allow corporations to write their own rules. These misleading campaign ads are simply reprehensible, and they’re a huge disservice to our community.” 

The pro-Proposition 1 campaign has not gone uncontested. Uber was hit with a class-action lawsuit on Wednesday over “robo-text messages” the company distributed to customers. A complaint has also been filed with the Federal Communications Commission. 

Austin is far from the only front on which the two businesses have fought against regulation. They have pit themselves against local governing bodies both in Texas and across the country and have carried through on their threat to leave cities with unfriendly regulations, ceasing operations in Galveston, Midland and Corpus Christi.  

This conflict also is coming to a head in Houston, one of two cities in the country where Uber remains despite existing fingerprint background check directives. Lyft closed up shop when the new regulations went into effect, leaving Uber alone in the city’s ride-hailing industry — but perhaps not for much longer. In April, the company threatened to leave  Houston if the city did not repeal its regulations. 

Disclosure: Uber and Lyft have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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[gdlr_notification icon=”fa-camera” type=”color-background” background=”#999999″ color=”#ffffff”]Top image photo credit: Austin’s Prop 1 signs posted along University of Texas at Austin’s campus voting center on April 28, 2016. / photo credit: Shelby Knowles / Texas Tribune[/gdlr_notification]

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Austin

Gay Couple Attacked in Dowtown Austin

Austin Police confirmed that all four suspects in the January 19 attack against Spencer Deehring and Tristan Perry are now in custody.

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Attack victims Spencer Deehring (left) and Tristan Perry (right). Attack suspects Frank Macias (center top left), Quinn O'Connor (center top right), Miguel Macias (center bottom left), and Kolby Monell (center bottom right).

A gay couple in Austin were hospitalized after being attacked and beaten unconscious by a group of five men in downtown Austin early Saturday morning. The men say they were targeted because of their sexual orientation telling KXAN that they believe their attackers were set off by seeing the couple holding hands.

Night Out

Spencer Deehring and Tristan Perry were out Friday night with a group of friends, celebrating a friend’s birthday, stopping by several downtown bars. The couple told KXAN that they only had a couple drinks early in the night. Since they had drove downtown, they wanted to be sober when the night ended.

The Attack

The men say they left Rain on 4th at approximately 2:20 AM Saturday morning and were walking to their car, hand-in-hand, when a man passed them and directed a homophobic slur at the couple. Deehring responded by saying, “I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you.” That was when the man called out to four other people, who had been out of sight, and motioned for them to come over.

The group of attackers began to follow Deehring and Perry, verbally assaulting the couple with expletives as they continued the walk to their car. “The last thing I said to one of the guys before they attacked both of us was like, ‘I don’t have anything more to say to you guys, we’re just going home, leave us alone’,” Deehring told KXAN.

It was then that one of the attackers punched Perry in the face, breaking his nose. As he dropped to his knees, two of the other assailants stepped up and continued to attack Perry, hitting and kicking him until he was unconscious, including a kick to the back of the head by one of the attackers.

“The last blow he took was an extremely long kick to the back of his head, so, at that point, I thought he was dead. I thought that that kick alone had killed him and so, when he was just lying there, my first instinct kicked in to kind of just charge at the guy that kicked him because I wanted to create some kind of diversion,” Deehring told Fox 7.

Deehring immediately tried to tackle the men attacking Perry. “That was my first reaction, was to stop them from kicking him because he couldn’t receive one more blow to the head or he may well have been dead,” he told KXAN. He himself was knocked unconscious by the attackers.

A bystander who witnessed the attack called 911 and waited with the couple until police and EMS arrived, which Deehring estimated took 20 minutes. He noted that had it not been for the bystander, the attack may have continued and their injuries more severe.

Their Injuries

The couple was transported to Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas at Austin where they were treated and hospitalized for their injuries. Both men have since been released.

Last night I was a victim of a brutal hate crime. I was beaten and called a “faggot” as well as numerous other terms…

Posted by Spencer Deehring on Saturday, January 19, 2019

Deehring’s injuries included a concussion, lacerations on his forehead, swelling to his mouth and jaw, and bruising from blows to the back of his head and neck.

The focus of the initial assault, Perry sustained more extensive injuries, including a concussion, lacerations to the back of his head, a broken nose, busted lip, chipped teeth and suffered from swelling in his face, pain in his neck and back and needed stitches over his eye. He also reported some memory loss from the head injuries he sustained. He was readmitted to the hospital Sunday for persistent bleeding, but has since been released.

last night my boyfriend and i went out for a drink with some of his friends, and unfortunately when he and i were…

Posted by Tristan Perry on Saturday, January 19, 2019

Details

The original account to KXAN had the couple leaving Rain on 4th at approximately 2:45 AM and the following attack occuring near 7th and Red River streets. In their interview with FOX 7, the couple said they left Rain on 4th at approximately 2:20 AM and the attack happened near 4th and Guadalupe streets.

According to the Austin Police Department, the incident occured at 3rd Street and Congress Avenue just before 2:30 AM and the bystander’s 911 call was pinged from an address near West 4th Street. Deehring said police told him his misremembering the location of the attack was likely a result of the concussion he sustained from head trauma during the attack. Rain on 4th confirmed the couple exited that bar at 2:18 AM.

A request to the Austin Police Department for a copy of the police report from the night of the attack was denied by the department. “The requested information pertains to ongoing criminal investigation. The detective assigned to this investigation has advised that the release of the requested information would interfere with this ongoing investigation,” said the City of Austin’s Law Department in a letter to the Texas Attorney General’s office asking for a decision from the Attorney General as to whether this information is within an exception to public disclosure. “Accordingly, it is the department’s position that the release of information pertaining to this investigation would interfere with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime, and the department seeks to withhold the information represented by the enclosed records under Section 552(a)(1).”

The couple are encouraging others to be cautious when they’re out and to not travel alone, and that they plan to keep going out and being affectionate in public.”Spread love, end all this hatred, end all this closed-mindedness always watch your surroundings, always be aware of your surroundings, don’t walk alone,” Perry told KXAN, with Deehring adding, “Be aware of your surroundings, but don’t change who you are as a person, don’t ever change who you are as a person and don’t be afraid to go out there and explore the world, just as you are. We’re gonna do that too.”

The couple have set up a GoFundMe campaign to help cover medical expenses.

Search for the Attackers

The couple hope the police will find and prosecute the attackers. According to Deehring, police have surveillance video from the night of the attack showing them walking down 3rd Street and Congress Avenue. Police are using the video to track down the assailants involved in the attack.

“They have so many people working on this. Multiple supervisors, multiple people checking cameras,” Deehring told KXAN. “It’s good to hear APD is doing everything they can and are taking it very seriously.”

They are also asking that the bystander who called 911 to come forward to participate in the investigation

Rewards

The owners of Rain on 4th and Oilcan Harry’s are offering a $5,000 reward for any new information which leads to an arrest in connection with the attack.

The Owners of Rain on 4th and Oilcan Harry’s are offering a $5,000 reward for any new information which leads to an arrest in connection with the Hate-Crime attack against Spencer Deehring and Tristan Perry on the early morning of Saturday, January 19th in downtown Austin.

For too long gay-bashings have threatened our community. Historically and still to this day establishments like ours have provided sanctuary and security from these incidents. At Rain on 4th and Oilcan Harry’s we strive daily to provide a safe and tolerant environment for our community, and our actions do not stop at our doors. We will not stand by when our customers and community members are brutally assaulted simply for expressing their love.

Rain on 4th has been in contact with Mayor Adler’s office as well as Police Chief Manley and Assistant Chief Newsom. We will continue to coordinate resources and actions to help ensure this crime is fully investigated and prosecuted. We are also working together on community safety measures to ensure we send a strong message that threats in the warehouse district will not be ignored.

Anyone having information concerning the crime please call APD at 512-974-9207 or contact Crime Stoppers at 512-472-TIPS. You may remain anonymous.

Additionally, the Shefman Law Group’s Cyclistlaw.com and R-Events are each offering an additional $2,500 reward and the Austin Playhouse‘s production of “Paradise” is offering an addition $1,000 reward. The combined reward stands at $11,000.

Anyone having information concerning the crime please call APD at 512-974-9207 or contact Crime Stoppers at 512-472-TIPS. You may remain anonymous.

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Austin PRIDE Announces Date for 2019 Festival & Parade

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The Austin Gay and Lesbian Pride Foundation, the non-profit organization that manages and organizes Austin’s PRIDE celebration, has announced that the 29th annual Austin PRIDE Festival and Parade will take place on SATURDAY, AUGUST 10, 2019. This year’s theme is Boogie Wonderland.

The 2015 Austin Pride Festival at Fiesta Gardens. Photo credit: Chase Martin/therepubliq

The festival will return to Edward Rendon Sr. Park at Festival Beach in Town Lake Metropolitan Park (a/k/a Fiesta Gardens) from 11 AM – 6 PM and feature entertainment, games and activities, drinks, food, family zone, and 140+ booths featuring local non-profits organizations and businesses. Tickets on the day of the event will be $20 for adults (18+), $10 for youth (7-17 years old), and FREE for children six and under. Discounted advanced tickets will go on sale in the near future at www.austinpride.org.

The Apple contingent in the 2015 Austin Pride Parade
The Apple contingent in the 2015 Austin Pride Parade. Photo credit: Chase Martin/therepubliq

The parade will step off at 8 PM. The route through downtown Austin remains unchanged from previous years; starting at the south gate of the Texas State Capitol Building, heading down Congress Avenue, then turning on 4th Street going through the Warehouse District before ending at Republic Square. The parade is free and open to the public.

The parade and festival are projected to bring in over 400,000 attendees, making it the largest single day event based on attendance in Austin. By comparison, the Austin City Limits Music Festival has 75,000 attendees and South by Southwest has 285,000 attendees.

Registration for booths at the festival and spaces in the parade is now open online at www.austinpride.org/paradeandfestival.

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Austin City Manager Announces Assistant City Manager Hires

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Austin City Hall
Austin City Hall. Photo credit: Todd Ross Nienkerk / That Other Paper under CC BY-SA 2.0 license

Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk has selected Rodney Gonzales and Chris Shorter as Assistant City Managers in his first steps toward reorganizing the executive team to align with Austin’s Strategic Direction.

Mr. Gonzales will oversee departments and projects focused on economic opportunity and affordability. Mr. Shorter will manage efforts on health & environment and culture & lifelong learning.

“Rodney and Chris stood out amongst the other candidates as people who understand the challenges facing Austin. It was clear to me that they’re well-prepared to work with our community and our employees to advance strategies that can address those challenges in a way that aligns with our priorities,” said Cronk. “Both of them are ready to hit the ground running.”

Rodney Gonzales

Austin Assistant City Manager Rodney Gonzales
Austin Assistant City Manager Rodney Gonzales will oversee departments and projects focused on economic opportunity and affordability. Photo courtesy: City of Austin.

Rodney Gonzales comes to the Assistant City Manager role having served in leadership roles in Development Services and Economic Development for the City of Austin over the past 12 years. Mr. Gonzales began his career in finance, serving as the Director of Finance for the cities of San Marcos and Luling, TX. He holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration and a Bachelor’s degree from Texas State University.

Chris Shorter

Austin Assistant City Manager Chris Shorter
Austin Assistant City Manager Chris Shorter will manage efforts on health & environment and culture & lifelong learning. Photo courtesy: City of Austin

Chris Shorter has served in leadership roles for the District of Columbia (DC) Government for the past 10 years. Most recently he has been the district’s Director of Public Works which provides environmental services and solid waste management for residents. He has also held roles as Chief Operating Officer (COO) for DC’s Department of Health and as COO and Chief of Staff for the district’s Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services. Mr. Shorter received a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public & International Affairs and a Bachelor of Science degree in economics from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University in Tallahassee, Florida.

The Selection Process

This process started in late July when Cronk issued a memo outlining the restructuring of the City Manager’s Office around outcomes articulated in the Strategic Direction 2023. His memo detailed the process for an open recruitment for four Assistant City Manager positions and one Deputy City Manager, beginning this Fall with the recruitment of these two positions.

In September, a survey was released to the public asking them to identify the skills and characteristics they felt were most important for City leaders to possess. The response to the survey helped build the job posting and candidate profiles. Cronk solicited additional feedback in September from the quality of life groups and with community groups related to the areas of responsibility on which each Assistant City Manager will focus. This information was used to inform Cronk’s selection.

“The feedback I received at the start of the process has been invaluable in identifying leaders whose background and approach will align with the expectations of our community moving forward,” Cronk noted, adding his recognition for those who have served in interim roles during the search. “Both Sara Hensley and Joe Pantalion deserve thanks and credit for the seamless leadership they’ve provided. They’re an example of the incredible skill and deep professional depth we have here at the city.”

Hensley and Pantalion will return to their jobs as Director of the Parks and Recreation Department and Watershed Protection Department, respectively.

The recruitment for the next two Assistant City Managers, overseeing Mobility and Safety, opened on November 20. The search for a Deputy City Manager is slated to begin in Spring 2019.

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28feb01marDivas on 4thHosted by Nadine Hughes11:00 PM - (march 1) 2:00 AM Sellers UndergroundCategories:Drag,NightlifeAges:21+

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