Survey of the week, municipal division

The issue masquerades under the dull rubric of “charter revision.” Some think of it as examining the possibility of single-member districts. Nelson Linder has been taking the KAZI 88.7-FM radio Wakeup Call show quite frequently recently, inviting members of the city council to come and be interviewed at some length. The most recent interview that I caught was of Mike Martinez, who says he prefers to think of the issue and refer to it as “geographical distribution.”

There have been public meetings, apparently sparsely attended, with more scheduled. I don’t think there’s any lack of interest in changing the constitution of the city council; change has nearly come to pass at least once before (the local daily records the outcome of earlier efforts). The City’s Web site has a cluster of pages on charter revision. Someone has invested some effort into creating a page of resources. I particularly like the page of questions and answers, which contains some nutshell demographic and voter-turnout information and many additional fascinating factoids, all evidently rounded up in response to queries by members of the commission.

Linked recently from the home page is a brief survey. In fact, it’s very brief, and I’ve heard that only about 400 or so people have thus far responded to it. The relevance of the questions may be a bit unclear, but a large number of responders would at least show that the Austin electorate, or at least the on-line portion of it, is interested in the issue, even though in-person turnout has been low. It has often been my personal experience that public officeholders representing everyone feel obligated to respond to no individual constituent in particular. And some find it interesting that the cost of an at-large campaign is very high relative to the return in salary going to the winner of the election. Everybody concerned about Austin’s direction will have an opinion and here’s one chance to express it.

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