Three Strikes and . . .
Hector Uribe ended
his city council campaign last week when he decided not to file to run for the Place 2 seat currently held by Raul Alvarez. Uribe and his political consultant Alfred Stanley published an op-ed in the Statesman saying that he pulled out of the race due to a lack of financial support and due to the difficulty in having to raise money in $100 increments for a city-wide election.
The interesting angle here is the implications of the failure of Uribe's preliminary campaign for the Central City political coalition that has been the dominate influence in local elections for the last fifteen years. The Central City generally being the area south and east of US 183, north of Ben White, and east of Mesa Drive north of the river and Mopac south of the river. Uribe, a central, west Austin resident, was running with the endorsement of several prominent neighborhood leaders. Specifically, Uribe was aligned with a sub-set of the Central City coalition that has been hostile to much of the Central City redevelopment and proposals for neighborhood in-fill. A coalition that generally opposes the objectives of Envision Central Texas
Uribe's withdrawal from the race is the third time that this sub-set has lost in recent Council races. The previous two races being Jennifer Kim's victory over Margot Clarke last year and Betty Dunkerley's win over Beverly Griffith. Recently, this sub-set suffered stunning defeats when their opposition to the Spring
and Gables-Sand Beach
projects found little support at Council.
The setbacks suffered by this sub-set, however, hardly spell the end of the Central City coalition. Other Central City leaders have been working successfully to build alliances and in support of candidates, most notably Donna Howard, Sarah Eckhardt, and Mark Strama. Those races illustrate the changing nature of Austin politics as Eckhardt is the only one elected to represent a significant portion of the Central City. As the city has grown, our politics have had to shift, particularly to reach out to voters and residents in the northwest and southwest. The Austin Chronicle
featured an analysis of voting in the March primary that showed the growing influence of the northwest, in particular. While many Central City leaders have recognized the need to build broader coalitions, the sub-set that backed Uribe hasn't.
Incompetent, Idiot, Liar
Those are the top three one-word descriptions that 48 percent of respondents used to describe President Bush (The Pew Research Center
). The top three positive terms were "Good," "Christian," and "Honest." More than twice as many respondents (29 percent) described the President as "Incompetent" as described him as "Christian" or "Honest" (both 14 percent).
V is for . . .V for Vendetta
turns out to be a much better and more thought-provoking movie than you would suspect from its Hollywood wrapper. The central conceit of the vigilante in the Guy Fawkes outfit works better on film than it ever did in the comic. The image always put me off the comic. In the film, though, the mask becomes a living thing of light and shadow, tilting and turning to catch the light and the camera's eye. I can only wonder how much time Hugo Weaving spent wearing the mask, practicing his movements before a mirror.
New Orleans Bears
Slate has published a bearish assessment of Why New Orleans Won't Recover
:Cities have their own trajectories, governed mostly by the dynamism of their inhabitants and surprisingly little by their physical infrastructure. . . . A successful city is home to countless interpersonal networks that create innovation, or efficient economic production, or simply a good place to live. The architecture and city planning may help to establish those networks, but it can always be recreated quickly if damaged.
That may be why disasters rarely interrupt growth in a thriving city, while disaster reconstruction rarely prevents decay in a stagnant one. According to George Horwich, an economist at Purdue University who studied the aftermath of the Kobe earthquake, manufacturing in greater Kobe was back to 98 percent of pre-earthquake levels within just 15 months, despite the fact that six months after the tragedy rebuilding had scarcely started. Seventeen-thousand buildings in Chicago's central business district were utterly destroyed by fire in October 1871, but the city's recovery was astonishing, and its population trebled in 20 years. Chicago was on the way up, and the fire simply cleared the way for a more modern city assembled chiefly by the chaotic genius of individual entrepreneurs.
For New Orleans, a charming place for tourists but a desperate clump of poverty and poor schooling, the question is not whether the current reconstruction plans will create a thriving city?they will not. It is whether there are any that could.
And, the article didn't even address the destruction and near impossibility of replacing New Orleans' base of affordable housing. The disruption of the interpersonal networks that made New Orleans such a socially vibrant place, though, is often mentioned by New Orleans residents and former residents as one of the greatest losses.