Luncheons for September, 2012

Debate on Single Member Districts for the Austin City Council

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Should voters select Austin council members by districts? If so, should that be by a 10-1 system or 8-2-1?  And if districts, who will draw the districts and how?  Six times in the past Austin voters have rejected the district approach. Now we’ll vote again.  As usual, opinions are strongly divided.  We have a great program on the issues and look forward to a spirited, informative, witty debate.


No Change: Bob Binder – Lawyer and former Council member, Bob recommends keeping the current system.  He argues that it’s fair, it has produced diverse representation on Council, and, overall, the Austin Council and City government work pretty well.  He opposes the “ward politics” and divisiveness, and the periodic disruption of redistricting, if we adopt a district system.

Hybrid (8-2-1) systemDavid Butts – Iconic Austin political guru and activist, David favors the 8-2-1 hybrid proposal.  He argues that it will lead to more fairness for minority constituencies that are geographically dispersed and may not benefit from a strictly single-member system and will provide more input for voters, who would get to vote for four members of Council.

10-1 systemBill Aleshire –  Bill is a former County Judge of Travis County (1987-1998), former County Tax Assessor Collector (1980-85) and is now a lawyer with Riggs, Aleshire & Ray, P.C. He is a dedicated, articulate and rarely reticent advocate on open-government issues. Advocates of the 10-1 proposal have argued that it would provide the most democratic and geographically representative system for selecting the Council, that it would produce the most responsive members of the council and would increase voter participation and reduce campaign costs.

Spectacular Door Prizes:

1.     Mitt Romney, How I Discovered A Brand New Energy Source: Oil.

2.     Red Wassenich, Nothing Before Something.

3.     Lots of Obama campaign stuff.

New Reservation Policy Alert: Please note our new policy on canceling reservations.  As a result of recent last-minute cancellations and no-shows, we will have to start charging for persons who make a reservation but do not attend.  The Forum still has to pay for those lunches, and at times we’ve had to absorb over $150 in costs for non-attendees who made reservations.  We now offer the option to pay online in advance for your lunch.  If you cancel at least 24 hours before the meeting, there will be no charge.  We apologize for any inconvenience and we appreciate your cooperation.

Cost: Lunch is $15.00 for members, $20.00 for non-members

Parking: 816 Congress Avenue/IBC Bank parking garage. Enter the parking garage on 9th Street, between Colorado and Congress. Bring your ticket to the receptionist on the 7th floor and you will be given a coupon to use to exit the garage at no charge.

Reservation required: To reserve your seat, email or or call Chuck Herring or Judy Erben at 320-0665. Please tell us if you intend to bring a non-member guest and if you have any special dietary concerns. PLEASE MAKE RESERVATIONS BY 5:00 P.M.  Thursday, September 6.

About the Forum: The Forum meets monthly for lunch to hear Democratic speakers. Membership is $120/yr. Non-members may attend, but members have priority and receive discount prices for lunches.