Tag Archive: austin energy

Since last I wrote…

We Claim Our Common Wealth

I hung out at City Hall during the City Council Meeting…

Our Power!

Whose Power?

With a few friends. Witnessed a couple of resounding victories.

Passed my second test for work. Yay!

Marched Against Monsanto with some tiny superheroes…

No to GMOs

Are you smarter than me?


Not a Science Experiment



some bees and mutant tomatoes…




Pesticides are Genocide

Pesticides are Genocide


And resistance…




And I walked around the neighborhood, finding tiny perfections in all the little openings and closings that occur all around me on a regular basis…

Open Sunflower

Closed Sunflower

Forever and forever and forever.






Today started with _And the Ass Saw the Angel_



And ended with an Overpass Light Brigade.




Tomorrow, we take back #ourpower


I hope to see you there.


Just one more favor…



Join: https://www.facebook.com/events/379023058879040/

Your action is needed right away and your presence will help! The fate of Austin Energy, our $3.8 billion asset, is soon to be decided. Our award-winning public utility also funds our parks, streets, libraries and public safety. With City Council at the helm, we’ve had an opportunity to hold Austin Energy Accountable, by electing Council Members and sometimes taking them out of office. We need everyone to speak out… and now. 

We say NO to the un-democratic change that is proposed. The Mayor and a majority of City Council members favor creating a un-elected board, with appointees that we don’t get to vote on. Appointees would be insulated from public accountability. Expensive and dirty projects could get fast-tracked. We could lose our green energy and low-income programs, and our City Budget could suffer. Our utility belongs to US, and shouldn’t be handed over to energy insiders and corporate interests, especially with no public VOTE. 

Who wants our utility? CCARE is the only group that testified in favor of the governance change for Austin Energy. This group of large industrial users list their address as the Austin Chamber of Commerce. Large companies now benefit to the tune of $20 million from special contracts for low electric rates, but the special deals expire in 2015. This appears to be the real CCARE concern. Their special deals would come on the backs of the majority of ratepayers, and hit especially hard on low-income people. *(more about CCARE below)

Many citizens and organizations are working together to keep control in the hands of those whom we elect. A subcommittee could be set up if that allows more focused time by Council members, and a representative for ratepayers outside the City Limits could be included, but control of the utility should rest in the hands of people that we elect. 

More info is online at www.CleanEnergyforAustin.org


We oppose this bill that was filed by Sen. Watson and is being carried by Rep. Paul Workman in the House. Come sign up and speak if you can – for three minutes, or sign in to show your opposition and speak by your presence. The John H Reagan State Office Building address is 105 West 15th Street. It’s just north of the main Capitol Building, on the West half of the Capitol Complex. 

Thursday, May 9th – YOUR PRESENCE NEEDED! City Council will vote on 2nd and 3rd readings on an Ordinance to give control of OUR utility to an un-elected, appointed Austin Energy Board.

It’s agenda Item 14. The ordinance and back up material is online at 


Rally at 6 PM. Food will be provided, but please bring more if you can.




We oppose this bill that lets Austin City Council transfer management and control of Austin Energy, our city’s largest asset, to a Board of Trustees appointed by City Council — without a Charter Amendment, and the public VOTE that would be required. 

State Affairs Committee Emails: Byron.Cook@house.state.tx.us, Helen.Giddings@house.state.tx.us, Tom.Craddick@house.state.tx.us, Jessica.Farrar@house.state.tx.us, John.Frullo@house.state.tx.us, Charlie.Geren@house.state.tx.us, Charlie.Geren@house.state.tx.us, Harvey.Hilderbran@house.state.tx.us, Dan.Huberty@house.state.tx.us, Jose.Menendez@house.state.tx.us, Rene.Oliveira@house.state.tx.us, John.Smithee@house.state.tx.us, Sylvester.Turner@house.state.tx.us On Turner’s staff: Alison.Brock@house.state.tx.us

State Affairs Committee Phone Numbers: Rep. Byron Cook 463-0730, Rep. Helen Giddings 463-0953, Rep. Tom Craddick 463-0500, Rep. Jessica Farrar 463-0620, Rep. John Frullo 463-0676, Rep. Charlie Geren 463-0610, Rep. Patricia Harless 463-0496, Rep. Harvey Hilderbran 463-0536, Rep. Dan Huberty 463-0520 , Rep. José Menéndez 463-0634, Rep. René Oliveira 463-0640, Rep. John T. Smithee 463-0702, Rep. Sylvester Turner 463-0554

Here’s what the bill says: From Watson S.B. No. 410, which passed in the Senate, and is now in the House State Affairs Committee. (c) Notwithstanding any other law, including a municipal ordinance or provision of a municipal charter, a municipality with a population of less than 850,000 that is served by a municipally owned electric utility system with 400,000 or more customers may transfer management and control of the municipality’s electric utility system to a board of trustees appointed by the municipality’s governing body. SECTION 2. This Act takes effect immediately if it receives a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, as provided by Section 39, Article III, Texas Constitution. If this Act does not receive the vote necessary for immediate effect, this Act takes effect September 1, 2013.

We don’t think a separate board is needed, but at minimum, City Council should call for a Charter Amendment election if they want such drastic change. It’s OUR utility, not theirs to give away to corporate interests. Mayor Leffingwell and Bill Spelman have been pushing the governance change. 

Mail the Mayor and Council members at once with this link: http://www.austintexas.gov/mail/all-council-members

E-mail Addresses:


Phone Numbers:
City Clerk phone number – 512-974-2210, Lee Leffingwell 974-2250, Sheryl Cole 974-2266, Chris Riley 974-2260. Mike Martinez 974-2264, Kathie Tovo 974-2255, Laura Morrison 974-2258, Bill Spelman 974-2256

Karen Hadden, SEED Coalition
1303 San Antonio, #100, Austin, Texas 78701
512-797-8481 karen@seedcoalition.org


Some Background on CCARE


The Coalition for Clean Affordable Reliable Energy (CCARE) was originally created by a firm called 3 Point Partners in response to proposed rate increases in Austin Energy. 3 Point Partners met with many of the city’s largest businesses and coordinated the formation of CCARE as a 501(c)6. They crafted the coalition’s mission and core principle statements, helped define the organization’s goals and message and oversaw the media rollout. 3 Point Partners coordinated CCARE’s political strategy and met frequently with city staff, city council and the leadership of Austin Energy.

CCARE includes companies such as AMD, Dell, Data Foundry, Freescale, CBRE, Brandywine, Spansion, Highland Mall, IBM, National Instru­ments, Samsung, Seton Hospit­als, St. David’s, and the Building Owners and Managers Association, Home Builders Association

3 Point Partners client list includes a similar list with a few additions.
AMD, Circuit of the Americas, CCARE, Clear Channel, car2go, Dell, Ferrari, Samsung, Wal-Mart, Tokyo Electron America

More Background…

Coal Patrol – CCARE

(from 2009)
In Texas, 11 new coal plants are in progress – by far the most of any state in the U.S. The Sierra Club is calling for the Texas Commis­sion on Environmental Quality to enforce the federal Clean Air Act (as is the Environmental Protection Agency) and for Austin Energy to close its Fayette coal plant by 2020. Meanwhile, an Austin business coalition is arguing the opposite case. Calling themselves the Coalition for Clean Afford­able Reliable Energy, large electricity-users have organized to fight Austin Energy’s proposed new generation plan, which would replace coal-fueled electricity generation with renewable energy – and could raise electricity rates in the short term, CCARE says. (Long term, an increase is likely without a shift to renewables, too.) While CCARE supports “carbon-reducing initiatives,” it seeks special consideration for its members, which include AMD, Dell, Freescale, Spansion, Highland Mall, IBM, National Instru­ments, Samsung, Seton Hospit­als, St. David’s, and the Building Owners and Managers Association.

Main Web Presence


CCARE Key People

Trey Salinas – (Founder), 3 Point Partners
Ward Tisdale – (Chair), AMD
John Sutton, BOMA
Don Weekly, Brandywine
Andrew Mcfarlane, Data Foundry
Roger Wood, Freescale
Lynda Rife, professional consultant

Trey Salinas is a registered lobbyist who’s clients include Circuit of the Americas, Wal-Mart, The Data Foundry, AMD and more.

Ward Tisdale is Director of AMD’s Global Community Affairs Department.

John Sutton is Assistant Vice President of the Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corporation and is the energy representative for the Building Owners and Managers Association. He served as a member of Austin’s Generation Resource Planning Task Force in 2009 and is a board member of the Austin-based Coalition for Clean Affordable and Reliable Energy (Ccare).

More Links

Then There’s This: Surrendering Power


Press Release – CCARE

Letter to Mayor/City Council – CCARE

Wood: It is time for a governance change at Austin Energy

State report: Austin Energy rate increase too high

The Rich, the Poor, and the AE Generation Plan – CCARE

Clarifying CCARE’s Membership and Mission

Coal Patrol – CCARE

Austin Energy Rate Case Request for Proposal – CCARE

Energy bills to increase – CCARE

A note to you: You are you. You are not the situation you are temporarily occupying. I love you for you. Not for what I can, nor in spite of what I cannot, “get” from you. ❤ Me

Fresh Bread.

Fresh Bread.

Nothing much happened today, really.

There was breakfast and reading.

Oatmeal and Wendell Berry

Oatmeal and Wendell Berry

And a long walk through the neighborhood, complete with horses at the school.

Horses in the schoolyard, part 1

Horses in the schoolyard, part 1

Horses in the schoolyard, part 2

Horses in the schoolyard, part 2

Vultures in the road

Vultures in the road

Vultures in the road

Interesting shadows.

Interesting Shadows

Interesting Shadows

And, of course, pomegranates.



I visited with a Score mentor about Education Never Ends. Business plan is the next step.

Met up with some superheroes at City Hall who were fighting to keep our elected representatives from transferring power over our publicly-owned utility to an unelected independent board…and also feeding people.

Fight the power, after eating a well-balanced and nutritious meal!

Fight the power, after eating a well-balanced and nutritious meal!

And came home to my messy house. I’m thinking I might at least try to clean the kitchen tomorrow. I’m also thinking my room needs some work – particularly if I’m going to be working from it. No reason why I can’t rearrange things so I have a window next to my desk. And a freaking treadmill.

I have a lot on my mind – most of which I probably won’t be able to talk about for a long time. It’s still sorting itself all out up there.


Some links for you:

“Exxon is and will always be a bully,” said David Turnbull, Campaigns Director of Oil Change International. “Instead of engaging their critics appropriately, Exxon uses its billions to hire high-priced lawyers to make scary-sounding but unsupported legal claims to suppress criticism. It’s a window into how they have preserved billions in taxpayer handouts for their industry for so many years.”

This is the second time Exxon has bullied this advertisement off the air. In February, Exxon sent a cease-and-desist letter to Comcast only hours before scheduled airings during State of the Union news coverage.

The move by Exxon marks the latest in a series of reported strong-arm tactics undertaken by Exxon to censor reporting in the days following the Mayflower tar sands oil spill.http://priceofoil.org/2013/04/11/exxon-pressures-arkansas-tv-stations-to-ban-critical-ad-following-mayflower-tar-sands-spill/

Why Idle No More is so important:

The resolution by the Oglala Sioux Tribe, which is a 1934 Indian Reorganization Act government, explicitly supports the traditional Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council’s resolution approved unanimously on Feb. 18, 2012. The earlier resolution states: “The Great Sioux Nation hereby directs President Barack Obama and the United States Congress to honor the promises of the United States made through the 1851 and 1868 Fort Laramie treaties by prohibiting the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline and any future projects from entering and destroying our land without our consent.”

The traditional leaders’ resolution, argues against the dilbit pipeline on the grounds of international law, citing the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. http://www.indianz.com/News/2013/009206.asp

Meanwhile, the entire community of Mayflower, AR has been radicalized:

At this early stage of the game, real answers to what’s going on in Mayflower would be hard to come by, even if a mega-corporation wasn’t on the ground in full damage control mode, and local and county officials hadn’t largely ceded jurisdiction to them, with workers and Faulkner County deputies barring the public and media from the scene. The emerging picture, though — a picture that includes wildlife coated in oil, devastated ecosystems in ExxonMobil’s “restricted areas,” residents who say they are sick, and the still-ticking time bomb on the shores of Central Arkansas’s primary water source, Lake Maumelle, where the Pegasus Pipeline comes within 600 feet of the shoreline — might be even uglier than a neighborhood coated in crude. http://www.arktimes.com/arkansas/will-mayflower-ever-be-the-same-after-the-exxon-spill/Content?oid=2797633&showFullText=true

Flapping Your Broken Wings

Here’s the lesson I keep relearning: We don’t control what other people think of us. Even if they are really, really wrong. Even if what they think of us is hurtful to them. Even if I fully accept another person’s shortcomings and difficulties – that’s no guarantee they will accept mine.

But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t accept other people…it just means everyone has their limits.

That’s not bad for just one week between Pekars!

American Splendor

American Splendor


Dear 42-year old me,

Thanks so much for writing this post for 14-year old me, so 43-year old me (that’s me!) could read it:

Love openly. Err on the side of kindness. It really fucking hurts to trust. I know. But trust anyway. Stay in touch with loved ones. Pay attention. STOP WORRYING. It really is true that within the margin of error and certain parameters, everything really does turn out ok. But don’t forget those who dwell outside of those parameters for whom things do not turn out ok. When taking risks, consider them, as well as yourself. Don’t confuse luck for skill. Don’t mistake circumstance for predestiny. Give more credit than you accept. Worry is negative goal setting. DON’T GET INVOLVED IN RELATIONSHIPS UNTIL YOU UNDERSTAND FULLY WHAT YOU ARE GETTING YOURSELF INTO. It’s not selfish to conserve your own energy, provided you don’t make promises you can’t keep while preserving that energy. Be nice to your mama.

Dude. That’s good advice.

Good energy (ar ar. SO sorry about that! I didn’t even realize that was there until I proofread, and I just can’t bear to remove it.) (By the way, The Tao of C told a pun-joke today that went like: If you don’t pet this kitty, it will be a cat-astrophe! Like Apocalypse Meow!” hahaha!) in the room today as I stood with representatives from a broad coalition of environmental, economic, and social justice groups in objection to the changes the Austin City Council proposes to make to Austin Energy. Namely, putting control of our public utility, as well as its assets, in the hands of an unelected board. In other words, transferring the LITERAL power out of the hands of the people. I was honored to stand among such a dedicated and committed group of people. I think the next few months are going to be very interesting in my life. I have a lot to learn.

City Council meeting this Thursday should be interesting. It’s estimated that the issue will come before the council between 5 and 7 PM, but that time is not set in stone. Childcare and food will be provided, for those who wish to join us (I say us, but I might have to be late) in opposing this change vocally and in numbers.

Clean Energy For Austin

Clean Energy For Austin

On the way to that press conference, I ran into a client of the program I once ran. We stopped to smell flowers, and I convinced her to come to the press conference and hold a sign.

PJ Sniffing flowers.

PJ Sniffing flowers.

Got my new glasses.

Please ignore my messy hair!

Please ignore my messy hair!

Got some hair dye. Had a good dinner…

Peanut tofu over a bed of sauteed collard greens

Peanut tofu over a bed of sauteed collard greens

I’m writing perfect poetry
In my mind and disappears like smoke

and Tiny bursting dynamites of hope.

Tomorrow is jury duty and hair dying. ❤


I want you to think about this:

Vista Grande High School Principal Tim Hamilton ordered the school — with a student population of 1,776 — on “lock down,” kicking off the first “drug sweep” in the school’s four-year history. According to Hamilton, “lock down” is a state in which, “everybody is locked in the room they are in, and nobody leaves — nobody leaves the school, nobody comes into the school.”

“Everybody is locked in, and then they bring the dogs in, and they are teamed with an administrator and go in and out of classrooms. They go to a classroom and they have the kids come out and line up against a wall. The dog goes in and they close the door behind, and then the dog does its thing, and if it gets a hit, it sits on a bag and won’t move.”

While such “drug sweeps” have become a routine matter in many of the nation’s schools, along with the use of metal detectors and zero-tolerance policies, one feature of this raid was unusual. According to Casa Grande Police Department (CGPD) Public Information Officer Thomas Anderson, four “law enforcement agencies” took part in the operation: CGPD (which served as the lead agency and operation coordinator), the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the Gila River Indian Community Police Department, and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).

It is the involvement of CCA — the nation’s largest private, for-profit prison corporation — that causes this high school “drug sweep” to stand out as unusual; CCA is not, despite CGPD’s evident opinion to the contrary, a law enforcement agency.

“To invite for-profit prison guards to conduct law enforcement actions in a high school is perhaps the most direct expression of the ‘schools-to-prison pipeline’ I’ve ever seen,” said Caroline Isaacs, program director of the Tucson office of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Quaker social justice organization that advocates for criminal justice reform.

“All the research shows that CCA doesn’t properly train its staff to do the jobs they actually have. They most certainly do not have anywhere near the training and experience–to say nothing of the legal authority–to conduct a drug raid on a high school,” Isaacs added. “It is chilling to think that any school official would be willing to put vulnerable students at risk this way.” http://shutthechamber.org/news/prwatch-private-prison-company-affiliated-us-chamber-conducts-drug-raids-public-schools

And then thank the superheroes of TWAC:

This protest comes on the heels of TWAC, a weeklong gathering of almost 100 female and transgender activists to share skills and campaign information, and organize opposition to the prison-industrial complex. Prisons and immigrant detention centers, GEO’s primary investments, target poor people, people of color, and transgender individuals. As female and transgender organizers, we are more vulnerable to violence within these institutions. GEO has a clear record of human rights abuses within its facilities. https://earthfirstnews.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/twac-storms-prison-industry-giant-geo-group-hq-in-boca-raton/

This article is spot on, AND hilarious:

So. When “can” you compliment women!?

1. Literally any time!

Yay! I bet this is easier than you thought! Here’s the thing. Do you have a reason to compliment the woman in question? Wait. Let me rephrase that. Do you have a reason to compliment her that doesn’t have anything to do with your penishttp://jezebel.com/you-cant-tell-the-attorney-general-she-has-an-epic-but-471311007

This is some brave ass shit here:

A Tar Sands Blockader disrupted the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio this afternoon during the PGA golf tournament. Douglas Fahlbusch was a standard bearer for the event and used the opportunity to bring attention toManchester, a low income, predominately Latin@ community in Houston’s toxic East End where Valero operates a refinery that consistently violates EPA and TCEQ (Texas Commission for Environmental Quality) laws and regulations.

Once the tournament reached the 18th hole, Doug changed the sign, ordinarily used to display the players’ names and scores, to read “TAR SANDS SPILL. VALERO KILLS. ANSWER MANCHESTER.” He refused to leave the green and was dragged the entire way off the premises by police.

“Business as usual is over, between the BP spill, the current Arkansas spill, and daily life in Manchester,” Fahlbusch said. “Why won’t Valero tell the Manchester people what it is they are breathing every day?” http://www.tarsandsblockade.org/20th-action/

As is this:

ALLEN, OK – Tuesday, April 9, 2013, 9:00 AM – Oklahoma grandmother Nancy Zorn, 79, from Warr Acres, has locked herself to a piece of heavy machinery effectively halting construction on TransCanada’s Keystone XL toxic tar sands pipeline. This action comes in the wake of the disastrous tar sands pipeline spill in Mayflower Arkansas, where an estimated 80,000 gallons of tar sands spilled into a residential neighborhood and local waterways.

Using a bike-lock Zorn has attached her neck directly to a massive earth-mover, known as an excavator, which has brought construction of Keystone XL to a stop.  Zorn is the second Oklahoma grandmother this year risking arrest to stop construction of the pipeline, and her protest is the third in a series of ongoing civil disobedience actions led by the Oklahoma-based coalition of organizations, Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance. http://gptarsandsresistance.org/2013/04/09/3rd-action/

Which explains the praise for the pipeline organizers in this article (complete with throwdown in comments):

The movement to stop the Keystone XL pipeline has gone far beyond what anybody at TransCanada ever could have envisioned when it was first proposed. At Platts’ The Barrel talk at the recent AFPM meeting in San Antonio, a panel of experts all had different views on whether the line would be approved or rejected in the coming months. Ask 10 people in the oil business and you’ll get 10 opinions. (Given the recent ExxonMobil spill in Arkansas, those 10 opinions today might be different than they would have been a week ago.)

But if the protesters lose, and Keystone XL gets an Obama administration OK, it certainly isn’t for lack of trying or organization. They’re highly organized, and they know exactly what they’re doing. http://blogs.platts.com/2013/04/07/golf-protest/