The Gold-Plated Shambles

Austin Dispatches No. 242 Feb. 26, 2023

At least my Austin Energy electric bill arrived on time, in the aftermath of the ice storm outages. Note officials didn't do anything that would benefit us, such as repealing the rate hikes. Instead, the accompanying monthly newsletter announces Austin's Watershed Protection Department is increasing its drainage charge fee.1

Rather, the City Council fired City Manager Spencer Cronk on Feb. 15, partly for the City's mishandling of the outages, partly for earlier utility failures, partly for negotiating a new contract more favorable to the Austin Police Department than the Council, still in an anti-cop mood since the May 2020 riots, can tolerate.2

Ousted, Cronk collects more than a half-million in severance pay and unused vacation time.3 Just weeks before, the Council had voted him a pay raise, from $350,000 to $388,000 annually.4 The cost of bringing in the interim manager, and hiring process, based on last time, brings total administrative costs up to $1 million.5 Whoever negotiated for Cronk, I want him representing me on my next contracts.

While the Council looks for a "permanent" replacement, municipal bureaucrats nationwide will talk among themselves and possibly agree managing Austin just isn't worth whatever the Council offers. Already, subordinate positions at City Hall remain unfilled, according to the Feb. 17 Chronicle.6 Hypothetically, we could be at the beginning of the end of the council-manager system.7 Alternately, imagine if the municipal bureaucracy resisted the Council over these matters as much as the federal bureaucracy resisted President Trump.8

So City Hall is back to wrangling with the Austin Police Association over a new labor contract to replace the one that expires March 31. Much of the wrangling concerns civilian oversight of police activity.9

Ironically, we may be witnessing the early stages of an attempt by the socialistic local power elite to bust a government workers' union.10 For one thing, the police are too obviously a reminder of the coercion at the heart of civil government, to maintain public order, one of its few valid purposes.11 But if the APD becomes a diminished or even abolished force, who does the local power elite have in mind to enforce its ordinances, edicts and preferences? Travis County's rulers certainly don't support an armed citizenry defending itself, much less maintaining the public peace in lieu of police.12

Meanwhile, hundreds of bodies lay prone on the Texas Capitol grounds Feb. 15. But instead of gullible corpses dead from the clot shots, the bodies were merely live protesters conducting agitprop for more government involvement in solving opioid overdoses.13

The Feb. 24 Chronicle reports City bureaucrats are coordinating efforts to drive an Eastside black Baptist church out of existence.14 The whole matter smacks of secularist tyranny.

Even Capital Metro admits " 'poor planning assumptions' " are delaying milestones for the Project Connect mass-transit boondoggle.15

On the Town

Feb. 16: For all the hype about the new multistory H-E-B in the Tarrytown neighborhood, the people who designed and built the underground parking garage don't seem to have considered customers would navigate the subterranean maze with SUVs and large pickups.16 If H-E-B management weren't so busy sponsoring drag shows, it might've also noticed the egress and surrounding traffic flow aren't the best for the location.17 Upstairs, the newly stocked grocery gave the impression of plenitude, before the supply chain disruptions and repeated food shortages, but the prices reflect those, plus the federal government's monetary inflation becoming price inflation.18

Feb. 19: While getting a haircut, I learned the Roffler School of Hair Design now has new management and new decor as Impact Barber Academy.

Cultural Canapés

The Feb. 17 Chronicle reports a local pressing plant has added manufacturing capacity to meet the resurgence of demand for vinyl records.19

Edgy comic Richard Belzer died Feb. 19, age 78.20 The Belz was among the monologists who flourished during the rise and peak of stand-up.21 By the time he impinged on my consciousness, seemingly every acquaintance already knew and admired his act -- their advantage either of keeping later hours, access to cable television, or both -- thereby paradoxically making Belzer a cult performer with a mainstream audience.22 Still, if he'd really been edgy, he'd've risked his career and social standing taking an "anti-vaxx" stance during the coronavirus pandemic.

Media Indigest

The next editor-in-chief of The Daily Texan penned a mealy mouthed opinion in the Feb. 21 issue favorably citing the totalitarian United Nations definition of "hate speech," against Anglo-American traditions of vigorous expression in the press. In practice, adherents of the UN definition apply the term readily to all manner of unpopular opinions, i.e., views that irk or inconvenience the ruling class and its favored subaltern groups.23 If you've had a sense the media isn't as good as it used to be, here's further proof.24

Bevo and Butt-heads

A University of Texas professor filed suit against three officials for allegedly threatening his job in response to his criticism of UT.25 Seems to be a trend on campus.

Business Roundup

Encompassing everything wrong with the supposed future of cars, software problems related to self-driving features on electric vehicles forced Tesla to recall 362,000 units.26

The Feb. 22 Statesman reports passengers bought 52 tons of brisket and almost 800,000 breakfast tacos from local eateries at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in 2022.27

Neighborhood News

Police responded to reports of fire, explosion and cars doing doughnuts at Metric Boulevard and Braker Lane in the early morning of Feb. 19, one of multiple such reports throughout Austin.28 KXAN-TV's traffic Web page reported a collision at Highway 183 and MoPac Expressway on Feb. 23.

The Austin City Council approved zoning changes to the neighborhood allowing for taller and denser construction.29

Home Archives


1 "Impervious Cover Data Updated." Austin Utilities Now Feb. 2023: 1.

2 AD No. 211 (Nov. 14, 2018); AD No. 231 (Feb. 28, 2021); Clark-Madison, Mike. "It's Mayor Wonderful's Life." AC 24 Feb. 2023: 6+; Duncan, Madeline. "Austin City Council Removes City Manager Spencer Cronk for Winter Storm Failings." DT 17 Feb. 2023: 4; Ghisolfi, Caroline, and Tony Plohetski. "Delayed Alerts Plagued Austin." AAS 19 Feb. 2023: 1A+.Moreno-Lozano. "City to Seek 1-Year Extension." AAS 16 Feb. 2023: 1A+;Moreno-Lozano, Luz. "Council to Weigh Fate of City Manager." AAS 14 Feb. 2023: 1A+; Moreno-Lozano. "Cronk Out." AAS 16 Feb. 2023: 1A+; Sanders, Austin. "So Long Cronk." AC 17 Feb. 2023: 8-10+.

3 Grumet, Bridget. "Cronk's Ouster Will Cost Taxpayers." AAS 19 Feb. 2023: 1-2B.

4 Sanders, op. cit.

5 Grumet, op. cit.

6 Sanders, op. cit.

7 Clark-Madison, op. cit.; Sanders, op. cit.

8 Skowronek, Stephen, John A. Dearborn, and Desmond King. Phantoms of a Beleaguered Republic: The Deep State and the Unitary Executive. New York City: Oxford UP, 2021: 4-7.

9 Barbaro, Nick. "Not Good, Not Getting Better." AC 24 Feb. 2023: 8; Sanders. "One Year, Last Chance." AC 24 Feb. 2023: 10.

10 AD No. 240n22 (Jan. 22, 2023); Mises, Ludwig von. Human Action: A Treatise on Economics, 3rd rev. ed. Irvington-on-Hudson, N.Y.: The Foundation for Economic Education, 1996: 260.

11 Hobbes's Leviathan: Reprinted From the Edition of 1651. Oxford, U.K.: Clarendon Press, 1909: 89; Winston, Ali, and Darwin BondGraham. The Riders Come Out at Night: Brutality, Corruption, and Cover-Up in Oakland. New York City: Atria Books, 2023: 382.

12 AD No. 161n30 (March 12, 2013); Cooper, Jeff [John Dean Cooper]. Principles of Personal Defense, 2nd rev. ed. Boulder, Colo.: Paladin Press, 2006.

13 Fisher, Lina. "Hundreds Die-In at Capitol to Demand Action on Overdose Crisis." AC 24 Feb. 2023: 12.

14 Asher, Abe. "Standing Their (Holy) Ground." AC 24 Feb. 2023: 12-13.

15 Graham, Benton. "MetroRapid Gets MetroDelayed." 24 Feb. 2023: 14.

16 Chmais, Sahar. "H-E-B Unveils New Kind of Store." ABJ 24 Feb. 2023: 10; Hawkins, Lori. "New Two-Story H-E-B Opens on Lake Austin." AAS 16 Feb. 2023: 6-7B.

17 Castro, Sebastian. "Texas Grocery Store Tycoon Sponsors Drag Queen Shows for Kids." Texas Scorecard 13 Jul. 2022 <>.

18 Friedman, Milton, and Rose Friedman. Free to Chose: A Personal Statement, rev. ed. Orlando, Fla.: Harvest/Harcourt, 1990: 253-256; Jasper, William F. "Feast to Famine?" TNA 13 Jun. 2022: 10-14.

19 Swiatecki, Chad. "Austin's Gold Rush Vinyl Doubles Record Manufacturing Capacity." AC 17 Feb. 2023: 38.

20 Taub, Alex. "Richard Belzer, 78, Comic and TV Sleuth Whose Character Popped Up Everywhere." NYT 20 Feb. 2023, late ed.: D7.

21 Belzer, Richard, Larry Charles, and Rick Newman. How to Be a Stand-Up Comic. New York City: Villard Books, 1988: xiii; Knoedelseder, William. I’m Dying Up Here: Heartbreak and High Times in Stand-Up Comedy’s Golden Era. New York City: PublicAffairs, 2010: 23; Nesteroff, Kliph. The Comedians: Drunks, Thieves, Scoundrels, and the History of American Comedy. New York City: Grove Press, 2015: Ch. 10; Shydner, Ritch. Kicking Through the Ashes: My Life As a Stand-Up in the 1980s Comedy Boom. St. Petersburg, Fla.: Mr. Media Books, 2016; Zoglin, Richard. Comedy at the Edge: How Stand-Up in the 1970s Changed America. New York City: Bloomsbury, 2008: 98-101.

22 Carlson, Peter. "Success and a Bout With Cancer Have Mellowed Richard Belzer, but His Wit Is As Sharp As Ever." People 12 Nov. 1984: 69; Mullen, Megan. The Rise of Cable Programming in the United States: Revolution or Evolution? Austin, Texas: U of Texas P, 2003: 108; The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. NBC-TV 12 Mar. 1982.

23 Gottfried, Paul Edward. Multiculturalism and the Politics of Gult: Toward a Secular Theocracy. Columbia, Mo. U of Misouri P, 2002: 73; Ponce, Lucero. "Constructive Discourse Has a Place in Opinion." DT 21 Feb. 2023: 4; Powers, Kirsten. The Silencing: How the Left Is Killing Free Speech. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, 2015: 8.

24 Ungar-Sargon, Batya. Bad News: How Woke Media Is Undermining Democracy. New York City: Encounter Books, 2021.

25 Menchaca, Megan. "Professor Sues UT Officials Over Free Speech." AAS 14 Feb. 2023: 1B+.

26 Carlson, Kara. "Tesla to Recall 362,000 Vehicles." AAS 17 Feb. 2023: 5-6B.

27 Villalpando, Roberto. "21M Flyers, 52 Tons of Barbecue." AAS 22 Feb. 2023: 1B+.

28 Gore, Hogan. "Abbott Announces State Task Force to Stop 'Street Takeovers.' " AAS 24 Feb. 2023: 1A+; Osborn, Claire. "7 Arrested in 'Street Takeovers.' " AAS 23 Feb. 2023: 1-2B; Sanders. "Cops Come Upon Donuts They Don't Like." AC 24 Feb. 2023: 10; Seipp, Skye. "Two Arrested in 'Street Takeovers.' " AAS 21 Feb. 2023: 1-2B; Seipp and Plohetski. "Officer Hurt, Cars Damaged in 'Street Racing Incidents.' " AAS 20 Feb. 2023: 1A+.

29 Christen, Mike. "Taller Buildings Wanted on North Side." ABJ 17 Feb. 2023: 4.