AUSTIN, Texas — In his State of the City address on Wednesday, Austin Mayor Steve Adler opened with a reference to a passage from Charles Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities."
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
And, according to Mayor Adler, the state of Austin gives new meaning to the famous passage.
"Austin may be living in what folks will refer to 50 years from now as a golden moment, with so many things going so right," said Mayor Adler. "We are truly in a 'best of times.'"
However, he says threats from the state government could upend Austin's success.
"That threat is large and immediate and today casts a looming shadow over our city and cities across Texas," said the mayor. "In my 40 years, our city and Texas’ cities have never been so aggressively under attack by the State. We are also in a 'worst of times.'”
In his speech, Mayor Adler described what puts Austin in the "best of times," and what puts us in the "worst of times."
As far as the "best of times," Adler outlined a few key points the City Council is committed to addressing to make Austin a better city:
- Affordable housing
- Affordable childcare
- Affordability for creatives and musicians
- Earning more and the Workforce Master Plan
- 2016 bond update
- Project Connect
- Race Issues
However, he said there are a number of threats Austin faces that puts the city in a "worst of times" situation:
- A "manufactured crisis" at the border
- Legislators considering a property tax revenue cap (HB2 and SB2), which he says poses a threat to the City's budget and a number of other problems for the City
- Legislation could end Austin's ability to get parental and sick leave for workers
- An ordinance that prohibits discrimination against protected classes such as the LGBTQ community could be removed
- Legislation is considering ending ordinances on short-term rentals, and the City's ability to enforce the "Save Our Springs" ordinance
- Legislation is considering a bill that could stop cities from lobbying the state the same way the state pays people to lobby the federal government in Washington, D.C.
"Austin is doing so well and we are poised to do great and big things," said Mayor Adler. "And it breaks my heart that the largest, looming risk we face is our own state government. It a self-imposed and manufactured threat. Know that in this magical special city, we will always be Austin – a city that is welcoming, kind, supportive, creative, entrepreneurial, innovative, cutting edge and weird. ... Ultimately, we will prevail because we will remain true to being Austin."
You can read Mayor Adler's full speech below.
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