Joining me on the show this week are Angelos Angelou of AngelouEconomics and Lonny Stern with Capital Metro with special performance by the amazing duo Tammy Lynn & Colin Gilmore!
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Hello Austin. Hello District 6! Welcome to another episode of the Clawback Live. I am Your City Council Member Jimmy Flannigan. Oh look my name is in the corner. I can take my name out there. You all know who I am. Glad to be in another episode. We took last week off. Last week was the council budget adoption, which like everything in the pandemic could have been a million years ago. We just lost all track of time and space. I wanna talk a little bit about the budget and talk about some public safety stuff, but I do wanna start very quickly and talk about the pandemic because frankly, we gotta keep talking about it. Here you have seen this before this is the city's official covid-19 information hub: AustinTexas.Gov/covid19, and then when you scroll down, Oh where. Oh my gosh, I haven't looked at this in a day and a half. Here we go, dashboards. See, if you just take a second, you can find it dashboards. Here are dashboards. You have the big data set as it loads up where we've seen this before, new cases per day hospitalizations by race and ethnicity. The map, we've been holding fairly steady as a community, I think Austin again is doing a good job, wearing your masks and limiting your exposure, especially in indoor spaces. And at this point, we really are helping the entire region. We, as a central city, have got the hospital capacity, In rural areas, where state and federal support has really failed to provide sufficient health care for rural areas. Those folks, as those infections happen, they've got to come here, because that's where the hospitals got built. So you know, Austin doing it's part is actually Austin helping the entire state of Texas. Keep up the good work on that, although it is always important to point out that the breakdown by race and ethnicity is not the same as the general population is. It is disproportionately affecting the Hispanic community, especially, which if you think about it not terribly surprising, given the disproportionate race and ethnicity make-up of essential workers. Those are the ones who are putting themselves at risk just going to work. So there's a lot more to be done helping the community. Then I wanna pull up the other dashboard, here we go. Our key staging dashboard. Here's the one with the guidelines. Look at that, man. Look at that, y'all. I'm so proud of you. I'm so proud. Look at that. hospitalization is going down doing a great job. gotta keep it up. You know, it felt - You think back to the early July. We did not know this was going to turn around, but y'all stepped up. Wearing masks. Avoiding dangerous situations. Now, we gotta hope that everybody continues to do that as we enter into potential school reopenings, University reopenings. Don't be throwing any parties. It's not a time for parties. I know that's really stinks, but lives are on the line, so good job so far, Austin. Like I said, we talked about. I'm gonna show you this. This is something I posted on my campaign web page, and we went through. Think I can do it like that. That's even better. We went through a public safety reform as part of the city budget. Of course, as we adopted the city budget last week, we kept the tax rate increase to a historic low of 3.5%. That's the lowest increase that the city has done in 15– almost 20 years. Very exciting. I'm really proud to have joined my colleagues in making sure that we were as fiscally responsible as possible, which is kind of the point of the public safety reform movement, at least from my perspective. Yes, absolutely, there are racial tensions and racial issues and historic inequities. And policing issues that go way back, but there's also this like fiscal thing, and I wanna show you one thing if I can make it work. So you can go to my website: JimmyFlanagan.com /publicsafetyreform That's where you'll see my Public Safety Reform Isn't Austin's Final Jeopardy. If you've watched or read my blog before, this was actually the blog that was the precursor to the show. So the blog is the Clawback. This is Clawback LIVE. You can find this article where I go through all the details, but I also cite my sources. And one of the sources, you get all the way to the bottom, you can see this references. There's references here. And one of the references is an early analysis of 911 calls. This is a really cool chart. Now the staff, City staff is making their way through the data. This is just for January of 2020, just 1 month pre pandemic, 1 month of 911 call data. And you can go through this information and drill down into the types of 911 calls and whether or not a report was filed. Data points that stick out to me, and I really encourage folks to go back and look at this data, is you can see here: Report written versus no Report. There's almost twice as many calls where officers go and no report was written. Seems like maybe some of those calls could have been someone who wasn't a cop, since they're clearly was not a crime committed with no report done. Then you have this other area which I think is really fascinating, alarms. When you have an alarm go off in the building. In January, almost 2,000 dispatch calls. I'm gonna blow it up cuz it's too small to see, that's a little better. Almost 2,000 dispatch calls; look at the number of false alarms. Almost the entire list. We can do this better, y'all. We can absolutely do this better. Let me take that screen, and I'm gonna say one more thing. Two mouse on the screen, I'm getting confused. There. We go so here. Here's the deal: A lot of bad headlines out there, per yoozh. Some nonsense from the governor. Some nonsense from Williamson County Judge Gravell. I mean y'all, really ultimately, all we did was say until the training is fixed, until the police academy is fixed, and the training materials match the type of policing that we wanna see in this community, maybe we shouldn't be training more cadets with bad training materials. In doing that, we save $20 million bucks, and that money is now being invested in new EMTs, Paramedics, and ambulances, and permanent supportive housing, workforce development solutions. We've even got some money in there for some parks and trails. It is exactly the kind of work that we need the money to go to, because it's the kind of work that will reduce the number of calls where you have to send an officer. Then on Monday, at the Public Safety Committee, which you all know that I'm the chair of the council's Public Safety Committee, we had a long conversation with Integral Care, which does this on the Travis County side does a lot of the mental health response system. And with this budget, we have funded nearly 100% of call diversion from 911. So if somebody calls in 911, there's a mental health issue, and you don't have to send a cop. We were still sending a cop. That's what we were doing. Well, we're staffing up mental health specific services. Now we won't have to send a cop, and those officers can go off and do the work that we need officers to do. We're getting it done, y'all. There's no reason to panic. It's actually, in my opinion the most fiscally responsible reform movement in municipal history. We're taking the largest bureaucracy at the City of Austin in the General Fund. The Police department is 40- to 50% depending on how you crunch the numbers. The next largest department is the Fire Department, orders of magnitude smaller. And we're going through this department line by line making sure that every penny being put under that heading is getting the return on investment we need for our taxpayers. You know what we're finding out? What we predicted. We've been sending officers to a lot of things that you don't have to send officers to and the alternatives are cheaper and then, you get to have more of it. So at the end of this process, public safety will have improved in our community. By the way, and I'm going way too long on this intro segment. But it's important. Austin is the safest city in America, the only other major city that often gets cited in San Jose, but it's not a fair comparison because it's basically a gigantic suburb. We are the safest central city in America. So all of that, like Wall Street Journal nonsense about the rate of murders increasing? We're still the safest city in America, and those other cities that are less safe than Austin have way more police officers. I mean the reality is there's just not a correlation between size of the police department and crime. It's a far more complex set of factors, and there are parts of the police department that I would say probably need more of: like investigations, solving crimes. So there's a lot more work to be done. We are by no means done on the council. I'm continuing to Chair the Public Safety Committee. We will get to all those details. Please, you can follow along as always, on the Austin City Council Message Board: AustinCouncilForum.Org All of our public meetings, ATXN.TV. You can even go back into the archives. We did six public meetings just from the Public Safety Committee, just since June, going through all the details. It's all out there, if you wanna learn about it. But I've talked way too long.
Angelos Angelou of AngelouEconomics
I wanna bring on my first guest: Someone who has been an expert in this community and in this country on economics. And as much as we talk about pandemic and hospitalizations and police and city budgets, people gotta pay the bills. That's when we talk about jobs and economic growth and market forces, and all that fun stuff that as an MBA myself, I'm very fascinated by, and we gotta have that data, too. So I wanna welcome to the show, Angelos Angelou. Hello. Thank you, Council Member Flannigan, and thank you for inviting me to your show. Thank you for joining the show. You know we we've had the pleasure of working together across the dais. You've been a great ally and consultant for the city to help council and staff understand these really complex economic forces even pre-pandemic, but especially now. Before we get into that, first, are you healthy? How is your family doing during the pandemic? Well, I returned from Greece a couple of weeks ago because my mom was critically ill, and then my mother-in-law got very sick and unfortunately she passed away last week. But none of it is COVID-related. This year is not the best year for our family. Let's put it that way, but we're coping with it, and we're trying to get back to regular life again. It's easy to forget that all the other things about life still go on. The pandemic is not the only thing happening in everyone's lives right now. So my condolences to you and your family, Angelos, Thank you, I appreciate it. Thanks for spending the time today with me on the show. First just tell folks about you and your firm and the work that you do well. Angleou Economics, we are involved in providing strategic planning work for a number of cities that seek to have an economic development strategic plan. We've done that work for over 600 cities in the US, thus far. The second part of our work is we are in the corporate site location work, so we help some of the larger corporations in the US and abroad find the best locations for their business. I'm pleased to say that we have cited over $18 billion worth of projects in the last 25 years or so. The third scale of work for Angelou Economics is we're an economics research firm. We do a lot of economic impact studies, feasibility studies, for any kind of research that is needed, along with the annual forecast that we do for the Austin Metropolitan area and Texas. As you know, I have another business, which is the international accelerator, and we are basically enabling global entrepreneurship here in Austin, we brought over the last 4 years, 18 companies from overseas. They're all based here. They're all hiring people here. And hopefully one of these days, they're gonna become very successful companies. So we do whatever it takes to help scale their business in the US. Thank you for that work. As you know, Angelos, I am very interested in economic development. I chair the Regional Economic Development Board at CAPCOG, and we're in the process of writing our five-year plan for the federal government for our region. And let me tell you that conversation is very different now, than it was a year ago when we started writing that plan. We've had to really shift things around. At a high level, there's a lot of data that shows up in the headlines, but how are you seeing, as an economist, what are you seeing the impact of the pandemic and what type of recovery are you thinking might be on the horizon? The good news is that the Austin Metro area has been extremely resilient. Over the years we are the economic engine in terms of creating jobs in Texas, and for the US, in fact, based on the size community that we are. However, we have not escaped from the pandemic, and we've been affected as much as anyone else. The good news is that the first filers for unemployment insurance, the numbers are declining from the double digit now to the basically under 3,000 people per month, which is a great thing to have. But what I wish to note is that the unemployment rate being at 6.7% as of this last month, it's still high compared to the 2.5% - 2.6% we've had. But the unemployment rate today, given the conditions we live in, does not reflect the actual picture. The unemployment rate is calculated by a household survey of 2,000 households in Texas, whereby a call will come in, and ask you if you are seeking a job in the last 30 days. And most people realizing what the labor market is like are not necessarily looking for a job. Therefore, they're not gonna be counted. So the actual numbers may be much higher than what the numbers reflect today. Nevertheless, the conditions for Austin are improving. We're still gonna have a year in which we're gonna be in the negative in terms of new job creation. I hope that recovery will begin sooner at the expedited rate once we have a vaccine in place, and once we even have a drug or two that will cure the people that are already hospitalized. So that's really a hope now. We've been talking about that for some time, and it looks like we're still in the middle of a pandemic. All the numbers are good. Austin, are improving slightly for the US for the last few weeks, but we're still not out of the woods yet. As you mentioned, with the school's opening, we'll wait and see to find out what the impacts will be on that. Let me say that if we knew how to deal with this pandemic, we would have never shut down this economy. We would have tested everyone over 60 years old. We would have tested anyone who had other things going on in their health, and at the same time, tested everyone in the Senior Citizens Centers, and we would have arrested perhaps the COVID and controlled it much better. The question is always: Do we continue allowing businesses to operate only at 25 or 50%? Or when are we gonna when are we gonna get back to 50? More than 100% operation, and that is a difficult situation, because on the one hand, you wanna be responsible given the state of COVID-19 that we find ourselves today. At the same, the cost to humans. Will be greater in my view, if the economy is shut down or is underperforming for a longer period of time, through a higher level of unemployment, through a higher level of business closures, bankruptcies, and people are not able to afford their mortgages anymore, and the default rate is rising. Banks are not loaning money, and so forth, and so on. Austin is lucky. We have a great economic development environment. We're a great city where companies still like to come and expand to, and the latest testament of Tesla choosing Austin, I think is a great way to finish the third quarter of 2020. Well, I wanna ask you about economic development deals like that. The headlines always say Austin, then the folks who are skeptical of economic development deals: If you have an issue, contact your Travis County Commissioner's Court because. City of Austin wasn't involved in that deal even if the headline said Austin, but it's literally adjacent to the City of Austin. I mean companies want to come here because of our quality of life and our educated citizenry and all of the benefits of being here. But to your point on the pandemic, I mean these are the things that the council was talking about, and Mayor Adler was talking about way back in March when he cancelled South By. But the frustration for the council has been cities are not built to create testing capacity. That is the job of the State and federal government, and if we had an even minimally functional state and federal government - We were already saying that we needed rapid testing and contact tracing, and we've been saying that for months. You had COVID denialism coming out of the White House and a governor saying Let our cities decide! Congrats, San Antonio, you found the loophole! No way to have leadership. But in Austin, unfortunately, because people have become accustomed to those failures at state and federal, they come to the city, and we do our best. We've set up economic systems, and I'm sure you've seen them. I created a small business support program and worked with my colleagues to create a nonprofit support program and rental assistance and the RISE Fund, and all these things. And it's just at a point where the city is not built to scale that solution and I'm hopeful that the speaker and Senate majority leader will reconvene the Senate and get back to the business of helping us get through this. But the last thing I wanted to ask you. These economic incentive deals - and I've really only been involved in one since I was a council member, which was the Merck deal, which they ended up not taking. They had some corporate restructuring stuff, and I'm not coming those deals. I've always found them people assume that there's a ton of them, and there are not; they're actually pretty rare. And the number of jobs in that one company is usually fairly modest, but there's all this spill-over effect of these deals. Can you explain why these deals make sense when they're done right? Well, let me go back a little bit to my tenure at the Austin Chamber of Commerce over 11 and a half years, we brought in 800 companies and only 11 of them were given incentives. So incentive should not be available for everyone. It should be for key marquee projects, and they're never at 100% level. So they are still paying taxes to the city and the county and the schools. Which is a great balance. Moreover, they bring new tax revenue, tax revenue otherwise that would have not have happened. So this is where I think there's a misunderstanding of incentives. I think that we're taking dollars out of existing taxpayers and giving them to a new company coming in. Well if that company did not come in, they would not have been an increase in the tax base. The increase in the tax base actually lowers taxes for everyone, if you will so when incentives are given in a responsible way, and I think Austin and Travis County by the way, have been extremely responsible over the years – This is why Austin has the economic resiliency that it has. This is why it is attractive. We always had the labor force. We always had the great institutions of higher education, but we lacked economic development. And this is something new that has taken place in the last few years and the incentives have helped plus focusing on marquee projects whether it was Sematec, or MCC, then Apple, and now Tesla, those are marquee projects. Anyone in the country any city in the country will kill to have those projects among their businesses. You almost feel bad for Tulsa. They keep trying to throw the farm at it, and Austin keeps beating them on these deals and for far less than Tulsa ever offered. But the problem is that you have to live in Tulsa. Sorry to the folks in Tulsa, but come on. We know. We know they're a nice community… Tesla was not looking to lower operating costs. The operating cost in Tesla may in Tulsa may have been lower, but Tesla is a technology company. So this is where they belonged all along, and this is where they are. Well, Angelos, thank you so much for spending so much time with me on the show today. I really appreciate your time. And again my condolences to your family and I hope everyone else stays stays safe. Thank you. Thank you. I appreciate that very much. Thank you so much. Right there we go. I often find that last conversation is a big misconception. I think the the currently active deals is no more than 10? Maybe seven or eight. That's a pretty small number. But when you think about how is the city gonna survive a global pandemic that has this really dramatic impact on jobs, you need companies in your community whose customers are elsewhere, so that you have more of that economic resiliency. Austin is better positioned than nearly any other city, and I'm glad to be and fortunate to be on the City Council, and I think we're all fortunate to live here in that environment.
Tammy Lynn & Colin Gilmore
I wanna bring on my musical guests. This is my favorite part of the show, no offense to all my other guests, but I mean, come on! I wanna bring on an amazing duo steeped in Austin Music lore carrying on some pretty impressive musical traditions, and they also happen to be. Son and daughter-in-law of music treasure Jimmy Dale Gilmore Welcome Tammy Lynn and Colin Gilmore! Hello! Thank you so much for having us, Jimmy. This is awesome. Hi thanks for being on the show. It's great to see you again, Tammy! We had the pleasure of spending a little time together in a foreign land which was a pretty cool adventure. Before we get into it, how are you all doing? How's your family? Is everybody's safe and healthy? Yes! We've been super fortunate that our family, most of our friends that we know here are safe and COVID-free so far, touch wood. We've been very fortunate in that. We have, yeah. Colin? Yeah, I feel like we have been very fortunate in our, just in our situation and our good network of family and friends all keeping each other watching out for each other and really helping to keep each other informed, when when the news is kinda changing rapidly about how to cope with the crisis, it's very valuable to have friends that are that are kinda keeping up with it. You know and I'm glad to hear that everybody is safe. I am curious how did South By's cancellation impact you? It had a huge ripple effect throughout Austin's economy and the music industry here locally. Well, it's funny because, as far as shows go, obviously a lot of canceled shows, but most of Colin's income, which he can speak to, was more regular shows, like hotels, the airport. Yeah, it was for this year. It didn't it didn't particularly affect me directly as much - my heart was broken for the people that work at South by and the people who were really, basing their entire incomes sometimes on the entire year, just on that week. Yeah like our friends who work in bars, and I worked at South by Southwest for 13 years. So a lot of my really great colleagues and friends were hugely affected. I mean the stuff they've worked on for sometimes more than a year, at least a year, for just to have it all cancelled. It was horrible, and of course, our friends that had shows like our friend, Betty Soo was gonna do this great show at Quacks new South location and Colin had a bunch of stuff lined up, and even his Regular gigs ended up getting cancelled. So just the stuff that he does - he's fortunate enough to get booked at the airport quite a bit. Yeah. He was playing at hotels downtown, of course, all that had to be cancelled too. So many downstream impacts on musicians, especially, but our local businesses - Everything - and event planners, Austinites who really rely on this kind of ecosystem that we're fortunate to have. It's true! In this community, but you all have the benefit of being together and being able to sing. We've had a few guests who've been fortunate enough to hunker down with their band or or their partner, but I don't think y'all have always been a duo? Is that a recent invention? It's been kinda - we tricked into it. We kinda built up to this point. It started as a family thing. Like you said, Jimmy Dale Gilmore is Colin's Dad and my father-in-law, and he has this group of people that are amazing that do song circles that are very inclusive. I mean amazing pro musicians that would be like, Yeah! Do a song! If you've got something to share. And yeah, at home, for the holidays or whatever. So I've sang with Colin at home for family things. He'd be playing a show and say, 'Why don't you get up on stage and do a song or two?' But it wasn't really formally billed as the two of us until COVID, because we started doing live streams, so. You're very fortunate to be able to be able to do that, and I'm very excited to hear what you all have prepared. So, why don't you tell us a little bit about what you're gonna perform for us, and then I'll let you take it away. This is a song that I wrote for Tammy a long time ago and recorded on my first album. Several years later, the Flatlanders covered it on their album, and they changed it up here and there, and I kinda took their version from them. So it's almost a little bit of a co-write, but we've kept it in the family. So that's good. Pretty great band. We can't wait to hear it. Yeah. Yeah. Let's see, so here it goes: [guitar music] Every night you and I catch a wandering eye. We stand out like trees in cotton rows. It ain't a look, It ain't a style, we might throw down after a while. It's the way we are, and that's the way it goes. The way we are, the way we are, you might think we fell right off the same bright star, the way we are. Never had a dream so good to me so far, it and don't leave nothing much to say, The way we are. [guitar] I lost my mind riding on the 99 when you found me singing sad and low. And at the end of the track, I took your hand and led you back to the happy song you'd left so long ago. The way we are, The way we are, you might think we right off the same bright star, the way we are, never had a dream so good to me so far. It don't leave nothing much to say, the way we are. [music] [music] [guitar pickin] It might be, I might say we weren't born to be this way. There's a million ways they say and this I see. But it occurred to me last night, when I saw you standing in the moonlight, if we die this way, that'll be okay with me. The way we are, The way we are, you might think we fell off the same bright star, the way we are, never had a dream so good to me so far. I never thought I would meet someone who would share a fate like ours. It don't leave nothing much to say, the way we are. [music strum] Wow, that's the first time we've heard applause in such a long time! I know, we actually have to clap for each other. I've been trying to figure out how to get an applause track to play. I'd like a sound board. I can say about it. You have the sound. Thank you all, that was beautiful. That was beautiful. Thank you all. Thank you for spending some time with me today and sharing your music with District 6, and the City of Austin. Before I let you go, where can people find your music and what kind of shows are you guys up to right now? Well right now, main thing is a live stream. We didn't do it today, but usually it's Fridays, every other Friday at 6PM Central, and it live streams from Colin's music page. So it's Facebook.com/happiergilmore Happier Gilmore like Happy Gilmore the movie, but Happier Gilmore. Happy Gilmore, and and our next one's gonna be a week from today at 6PM Central, August 28. I believe. I think so, yeah. Excellent! Well, thank you all so much. It was an amazing song to perform. I'm so grateful that you spent some time with me. Thank you. Yeah and y'all be safe and healthy and good luck on your live streams. Thanks for being our council member! Council Member Jimmy Flannigan. Thank you. I love it. Thanks everybody. I mean I have been so fortunate to bring on such amazing talented local musicians onto the show, and really a lot of credit to my team and my staff on the campaign side helping pull this together. You just can't talk about the pandemic all the time; you gotta have some joy. You gotta bring some beauty into this, and I hope that's what we're doing, bringing on musicians every week.
Lonny Stern with Capital Metro
Our final guest, a friend of mine. For probably a million years in pandemic time, but now it has has been in his role in Cap Metro my friend, Lonnie Stern. Hi Lonnie. Hey. Thanks for having me Jimmy! Yeah. Thanks for coming on the show. Say it again? It's not for lack of trying. Well, it's - we're we're very booked. We're very booked. It's hard to get on to the show. Before we begin, are you and your partner healthy? Is your family healthy? How's everybody doing? Yeah. We've been really fortunate to have the kind of jobs where we can work from home. My husband has been in medical school as a second career in Galveston, and so I should have been more specific when I wished that he could take classes in Austin, but we've been very fortunate because there are plenty of people who are essential workers who really don't have that luxury, and so I've been really grateful for them and also really happy to have this opportunity to be with you virtually. Yeah, I'm I'm glad that you're able to come on the show today. First, why don't you tell folks about your role at a Metro and and what you've been doing recently, and then we'll get the Project Connect. Yeah. sure you know I am I work as a community engagement administrator at Capital Metro and a lot of my work is focused on helping people Try Transit. So if you've participated in Smart Trips or maybe have been somebody doing a lunch and learn, but a lot of the work was actually taking people out on the bus and the train and learning how to use it to get around the city - especially when we did Cap Remap in 2018, there was a lot of community education there, since the routes changed and there was a lot of more frequent service. So I feel like the work that I do is about economic development and seeing this town become a city, and it's been exciting to be part of that - especially when you consider that Cap Metro provides more trips than the airport does every year with 35 million trips on our services currently and hopefully more in the future. That's impressive, and and we did one of those transit trips in my district. We met up at the Anderson Mill District Senior Center in District 6, and we brought a whole crew. I mean you did such a great job, getting them on the bus and getting them on the train, and then showing them the commuter buses. We led them all all the way downtown to see the new Central library. It was such a great experience, and you did such a great job for my D6 seniors to show them the resources available to them through Cap Metro. It's work I really love. I have to say I've grown up in a Transit-rich community, and for me that was visiting my grandparents and aunts and uncles, going to the zoo and the circus, and seeing a show. And I've also lived in transit-poor communities where you really were only on transit if your car broke down or you just can't afford a car or a ride. And so I know both sides of that. And so to me, it felt like it can be complicated the first time. It'll be much better if we just focus on having a great time together, and then, the bus and the train become part of that memory, rather than the focus of how did I get downtown? Well, I wanna bring up the Project Connect map - the initial investment that voters will see on the ballot this November. Like you said, the availability of services is great in certain parts. What we're talking about here is a pretty massive expansion of transit service and transit quality. So for those of you can see on the map right up there in the corner, you can get my course on there, right. Can you see my cursor right there, right? There's our Lakeline Station, and lots of folks take the Red Line. They were certainly full every day pre-pandemic, and we'll be full again after, getting everybody down, but look at that. I mean. We're proposing, in this initial investment is a fully functional light rail system from all the way in North Austin all the way in South Austin, and then all the way out to the airport. You'll be able to take a train to the airport. Probably the number one thing I've heard people ask, 'How come I can't take the red line to the airport?' You'll be able to do that - be able to get on a train downtown, transfer to the downtown station, and then the underground, which will be through the downtown area to enable that heightened level of service. In your role as a public engagement expert, one of the things that I have been most impressed with is how many folks got involved and the years that it's been under way to get us to the point where we're going on the ballot. Can you speak a little bit to the amount of public engagement that's been going on? Sure. Well, Project Connect has been something that Cap Metro has been working on for the better part of a decade. And the last 2 or 3 years Were about talking to as many people in the community, as well as our leadership in the community, hear from people, get feedback about what they want to see in a plan, and so for some folks that's exciting, and some frustrating, and it's because every time you hear about Project Connect, it's changed a little, and that's because of the feedback. We actually work with 60.0000 people in putting this plan together, and of course, we've got until the November election. So we'll be speaking to more and more people. If they wanna learn about Project Connect, we can certainly make that possible. But of course, we would suggest going to Project Connect.com to learn more on your own as well. There's a lot of great resources on there. You can also check out the stuff the council has been doing; you can see on our message board, Austin CouncilForum.Org and the meeting archives on ATX.tv. One of the cool things that we did with Cap Metro as a city is the joint meetings that we did between our two jurisdictions, and really getting all the decision makers at the same table and hashing out the details, including the public testimony, and getting everybody on the same page. And while I think there's a perfectly valid debate about the cost, in reality, the plan is the right plan. And that's the thing that I've been most excited about is we really have the plan we need for the future, and if the voters are on board, and I hope that they are, then we're gonna be building the city that we know that we need. And the thing that I always like to point out, especially for folks in District 6 in far NW Austin, we know firsthand, you can't just build more highways. You can't build nothing, and in fact, I've put stuff in the city's transportation plan for new roads in District 6, but you can't just build more highways. I moved out to District 6 20 years ago. Before 183 was a highway. Lived through all of that highway construction and traffic was worse after it was over, than it was before, and it's just the way road networks work. But when you talk about transit when you talk about public transportation and Project Connect, you're actually building a system that can grow with time, and that's partly the thing that I'm excited about is that this is a system that will serve this community for generations. It's funded through a funding mechanism that is the most fiscally sustainable way to build public transportation, and it has an independent oversight board to try to eliminate all the future crazy politics that you see happen in other major cities that can cause issues with their future transit situation. Austin has really got the right plan, and we're gonna see the voters make that right choice - and not just in District 6, right? You got green line out to East Austin. You got blue line going east. You got South. You got North. You got all the service and I'm sorry. I wanted you to talk more, Lonny, but I'm just so excited about this. The very first part, even in the sequence the very first thing that happens after the community votes in November: Improved service on the Red Line! 15 minute headways everybody! 15 minutes is gonna be like real, legitimate train service from far NW Austin. It's a really exciting plan. Stole your thunder, Lonny. Anything else you wanna add? Well, I'll tell you: People focus a lot on the rail lines, and I can see why, because there's three light rail lines proposed, and as Jimmy suggested not only expansion of the existing red line, which is commuter rail - a little different than light rail - less frequent than light rail, less in the middle of the street than light rail, but another commuter rail line that heads out towards Colony Park, the green line. But on top of that, there's also an expansion of Metro rapid, those bendy buses. Instead of there being two, we're talking about adding four in the initial investment, seven over time. Other things like tapless fair technology. You wouldn't even have to open your phone to pay, maybe even being able to use other forms of payment. Fare capping. If perhaps you can't afford to pay for a monthly in one go, you can earn it as you ride. And also the move to all-electric bus fleet. There are lots of things that people find of interest, and certainly folks up in Leander, maybe a little bit north of your district, are already seeing pick-up service, same with Lago Vista. Pflugerville is about to launch that too. So I'm seeing more pick-up rolled out in different parts of the city, and then Park-and-rides. I know that your district really benefits from those park and rides and the pick-up service is now going to those park and rides. But you know if you're in the Southwest, maybe you're near the Wildflower Center, there could be a new park and ride there. There are several that are planned, and I would again encourage you to go to Project Connect.com to learn about that, or invite one of us from Cap Metro to come to you. You can do it virtually and tell you about it. You can email us at at ProjectConnect.com. Awesome Lonny! Thank you so much for joining the show today, and congratulations on your all your successful hard work at Cap Metro. Oh, thanks. It feels really good to have your support. Thanks, Lonny. Let's get that out there. This is this is a heavy election, y'all. This is a big one, and obviously the national election is critical to the future of democracy. I don't think that's underselling what we're looking at, at the top of the ticket, especially when we get down into the state rep races. What we're thinking about fighting back additional new gerrymandering. The census is still happening. If you haven't filled out your census, better fill out your census, cuz that drives federal money, and how the maps get redrawn after the census. All those things are happening. And then you'll have Project Connect, and me on the ballot this November! I hope I can have everyone's support. I need your vote. I need your support. We are not running unopposed. And just like with public safety reform, just like with most things, you're gonna be bombarded with the series of headlines that bury the lede, or misrepresent the facts. One of those headlines will be about the scale of the tax increase for Project Connect. That tax increase is just on a small portion of your bill, cuz it only impacts the city part. The city part of your bill by 25%. That's the only part that's increasing, but people are gonna try and make you feel like your whole tax bill is gonna explode, that is not what is gonna be on the ballot. Look up the details, look up the information on how it's gonna impact you, and more importantly, think about how it's gonna benefit this community over many generations, including your kids and your grandkids who wanna live in this amazing community. This past week, I also got my name on the ballot, finally filed the paperwork and I wanna thank all my volunteers on the campaign who helped gather signatures. To get that done, I'm the only candidate - I have three opponents and none of them were able to gather enough signatures. They had to pay the filing fee, but not yours truly not your Council Member. I was able to find the votes because frankly we're doing good work for this district, and people wanna see more of it. So I wanna pull up that link. Please show your support for the reelection campaign. Jimmy Flanagan.com/support. If you're a D6 resident, you can request a yard sign. Get ready to see the yard signs popping up around your neighborhood. Also road signs are going up this week. You may have already seen some of those. And of course, make a donation to the campaign on that website, as well; help us reach as many voters as we can, so that they know all of the great work we've done on transportation and land-use reform and all of the great stuff for District 6 in every corner of the district, and the work is not yet done. So I hope I have everyone's support and your vote. We'll see you next week on the Clawback, and as always, take care of yourselves, wear your masks. Avoid those dangerous environments the curve is flattening, the curve is bending. We're doing a great job, Austin, and we're gonna get through this together. Everybody. stay safe and healthy out there. Thank you.
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