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Austin City Council about to give Austin's municipal utility away to special interests

Today, Thursday (April 11th) at 4 PM Austin City Council will vote on ordinance that would hand control of the city’s municipal utility, Austin Energy, to an unelected board chosen by corporate headhunters.  This change could open the door to industry insiders and special interests controlling Austin Energy, the city’s largest asset, valued at $3.9 billion.  It’s OUR utility and we should elect those who manage it.

There will be a first vote on this ordinance comes tomorrow despite great public outcry about the rushed nature of this plan, the failure to hold a real public hearing and the failure to acknowledge the millions of dollars wasted at other utilities, such as CPS Energy, at the hands of unelected boards.

A percentage of the profits of Austin Energy currently goes to fund programs for the city, but that funding could be at risk with an unelected board in charge.  Reduced funding could seriously jeopardize our parks, roads, libraries, clinics and public safety department.  There is also some concern that the move to make our public utility more of a corporate model could mean that our green energy and low-income programs are at risk.

This is your utility and we encourage you to come to City Hall this afternoon.  Speak if you can, or, if you prefer, donate your time to a friend.  While the “time certain” has been set for 4 pm, please don’t let that deter you.  Come even if you can’t arrive by 4 pm. City Council has been known to be hours late in getting started on an item. We’ll have food on hand.

The backup material (attachment 3 on item #11) includes the draft ordinance, the new report (which is an interesting compilation of data, but doesn’t support the concept of changing Austin Energy’s governance), and a list of 15 ways that the ordinance conflicts with the City Charter.

Even if you can’t attend, but can come by City Hall at some point in the day, please go by and register against agenda items #11 and #45 at the kiosks inside.

You can also call or email council members, specifically Mayor Lee Leffingwell and Council Members Sheryl Cole, Bill Spelman, Chris Riley and Mike Martinez, and ask them to halt this fast-tracked, undemocratic ordinance. Remind them that the utility is ours – not theirs to give away.

City Clerk 974-2210
E-mail all City Council Members at once: http://www.austintexas.gov/mail/all-council-members
Lee Leffingwell 974-2250 Lee.Leffingwell@austintexas.gov
Sheryl Cole 974-2266 Sheryl.Cole@austintexas.gov
Chris Riley 974-2260 Chris.Riley@austintexas.gov
Mike Martinez 974-2264 Mike.Martinez@austintexas.gov
Kathie Tovo 974-2255 Kathie.Tovo@austintexas.gov
Laura Morrison 974-2258 Laura.Morrison@austintexas.gov
Bill Spelman 974-2256 Bill.Spelman@austintexas.gov

More info is online at www.CleanEnergyforAustin.org.