Monday, March 30, 2009

Monday: Update 2

Regarding HB 4536: I sent an e-mail to our state representative Elliott Naishtat this morning and his office replied within hours. 

Here is what I wrote: 

"Dear Mr. Naishtat: I am writing with regard to HB 4536, a bill proposing the sale of land designated for the Texas State Cemetery Annex. As a neighbor of and regular walker on this land, I am deeply concerned with its proposed sale. Development of this land will seriously alter the quality of life in this part of our city. (Land across the street from this plot is already dominated by a new corporate apartment complex.) Also, I understand that any development of this land will put our neighbors to the west and south at increased risk of flooding due to run-off. Finally, I must object to the sale being proposed by Dan Branch, a legislator who is not from Austin and who has clear ties to commercial real estate developers. Please speak out against the sale of this land when the bill is proposed later this week." 

To be fair, before I sent my e-mail, I had not read the description in the General and Land Office Report, which recommended that the land be converted into single family residential tract, not commercial property. But Branch's connections to commercial real estate and the city's recent desire to turn every spare piece of land into vertical mixed use or massive corporate apartment complexes like the one going up across the street from Dog Park naturally inspires suspicious thoughts. It's not impossible that another Triangle--or worse another Domain--could be built in our neighborhood. 

Here is what Dorothy Browne, Naishtat's Chief of Staff, wrote back: 

"Rep. Naishtat is aware of Rep. Branch's bill. We have been in contact with his office and with several of the neighborhood association members.

"From what I can learn, the State Cemetery Board asked Rep. Branch to file the bill on the last day before the filing deadline.

"As you may know, the bill is scheduled for a hearing in House Land & Resource Management Committee on Wednesday, at 8:00 a.m in E2.012 of the Capitol Extension. I encourage you and other interested Austin citizens to attend the hearing."

Okay, so why did the State Cemetery Board ask a rep from Dallas to put this bill forward? And why wait until the last day? It seems a bit sneaky to me. From e-mails I've read on the listserv, others agree with me.

The right thing to do would be to drag my sorry self to the Capitol building on Wednesday morning. Ugh. I so hate early mornings. If any of you are able to attend, I would be happy to drive. I am not sure I can face state bureaucracy by myself. I like my politics the way I like football. On TV, in the fall, and only sparingly. Also, to be honest, I really only like politics (or football) when my team is winning. Can we win this one? Stay tuned, sports fans. 

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