Friday, August 10, 2012

Blog Stage 7

Austin dabbles in the field of international racing next year as it hosts the F1 race. I believe that this move will greatly benefit the economy of the city as well as name recognition. The cost of building the track and stadium totals around $300 million, but some estimate that the facility may bring upwards of $6 billion over the next 15 years. (Source) F1 has long been an international phenomenon, huge in the European scene and considered by many to be a rich man's sport. If all goes will this means that Austin will be the new home for an already popular sport.

Economically, the city is already experiencing growth from the F1 craze, with over 200 local hotels fully booked for F1's inaugural race. Interest rates on vacation home rentals have also skyrocketed, around 25 times the norm. Hotels are able to increase their rates because the demand is so high, generating huge amounts of money. (Source) Local businesses and restaurants will also see a rise in customer numbers as a result of the weekend, because of the large influx of tourists. Austin's image will be displayed all around the world, helping to bring awareness to Austin's quirky culture and hopefully encouraging more tourism and therefore more economic gain.

All in all, I feel that bringing F1 to Austin is a lucky move on the city's part, as it will bring lots of business and awareness to the city. Hosting such a prestigious racing event highlights Austin as an emerging modern city, promoting the city's image and benefiting its citizens.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Blog Stage 6

One of my colleagues, Tom Cheung, poses an interesting take on the MetroRail that was recently built in Austin. He makes a point that the MetroRail only services an extremely small area, whereas the established bus system services a vast majority of Austin. Tom takes an exceedingly critical view on the MetroRail, stating that "The only good thing that can come from this are for Austinites having the ability to say that their own city has a rail system". While I agree with Mr. Cheung on the fact that the MetroRail should not be expanded, I do not believe that it is as bad as he makes it out to be. 

The MetroRail offers a direct mode of transportation between downtown Austin and Leander, allowing residents of Leander a safe option to explore and participate in Austin's vibrant and well-known night life. The schedule even accommodates for this by having later runs on Fridays and Saturdays past midnight. Although the MetroRail currently is not showing very strong numbers, it's possible that expansion may benefit the city of Austin. The reason I believe the MetroRail fails is because of the layout of the city. If you look at a city that has a thriving subway or rail system, like New York, it's because the streets are always packed, the subway the only alternative for fast transportation. In Austin, the streets are only crowded in the downtown area. Since suburban areas are so far away, it's more efficient to drive to work every day. The MetroRail offers 2 recognizable benefits. One, it is a greener and more environmentally friendly way to travel. If it was expanded, it's clear that we would cut down on our carbon emissions. Second, it could be used to eliminate some of the rush hour traffic that plagues Austin highways. Being stuck in gridlock is a trademark of driving in Austin, and the expansion of the MetroRail system would help to alleviate this.

Overall, I don't believe that expanding the MetroRail would be a good idea because of the reasons Tom listed, that costs would be too high and the demand isn't near high enough. However in the future, as the population of the city grows and technology advances, it seems like it would be a viable option. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Blog Stage 5

The Austin City Limits music festival has been an Austin tradition for over 10 years. A cultural icon and a testament to Austin's label as the "Live music capital of the world," ACL has attracted music fans from all over the world. Recently there has been talk of extending the festival to two weekends instead of one. (Source) Being a music fan and past attendee of ACL festivals, I support this change because I see nothing but benefit for Austin as a result.

The biggest effect would be economical growth as a result of the festival. The company that puts the festival on, C3 Presents, donates millions each year to the Austin Parks Foundation and the city, a number which could potentially be doubled to help beautify our city if the festival is extended. Tourism would skyrocket as more people flood in from all over the nation, ultimately allowing for a more enjoyable concert experience as it would not be nearly as packed. Local stores and bars would be jam packed with people looking to end their day with a relaxing atmosphere after ACL, which helps spread awareness about the culture of Austin, hopefully increasing tourism to the city and generating more money.

Having two separate concerts would also allow music buffs to experience the full lineup of ACL. I know from experience that having to choose between headliners was always a tough decision, so having two ACLs allows for full enjoyment of the concerts. This not only generates revenue for the city, but also increases the satisfaction for music fans. Extending the festival would also allow people to work around schedule conflicts. I know that last year, ACL was held on the same weekend as the OU-Texas football game, which made a lot of people choose between the two.(Source) This led to vast amounts of potential revenue to be lost, a loss that would not have occurred if ACL was over two weekends.

All in all, there is no harm to be had from ACL extending to two weekends except for the availability of Zilker Park. It would benefit the economy of the city, promote awareness about the city and its culture, allow for music buffs to enjoy the festival more, and help to beautify our city with the donations put out by C3 Presents. I believe that it is a necessary change that will help our city grow and prosper well into future generations.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Blog Stage 4

                I've always identified myself as a liberal, but have never really gotten into government and politics. Because of my ideology I enjoy the musings of the liberal blog Texas Liberal, and as such selected this article to investigate.

                The article concerns Houston’s Police Department and their ticketing of people who honked their horn in support of striking janitors. The author of this blog, Neil Aquino, intends to address all Texans, especially those who share a liberal mindset. He is one of eight political bloggers for the Houston Chronicle, so he carries an aura of credibility solely from his job. However, this being an informal blog, no article is of the standards of academia. Aquino argues that honking a horn in support is a form of free speech, and the ticketing of these supporters is unconstitutional and a misuse of police power. He cites that Mayor Parker’s shining achievement in recent months is the criminalization of sharing food with the homeless in Houston. He ends with a rallying cry, “The work of freedom is up to each of us,” meaning that it is up to us, the citizenry, to voice our discontent and regain our freedoms. In an edit, he states Mayor Parker has voiced her strong support for the striking janitors.

                I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Aquino. This act is a gross misuse of police power, and should be condemned. The honking supporters have done nothing dangerous or detrimental to society, and the police are giving out tickets for this. It’s almost as if Houston is trying to oppress any dissent within the population, what seems like a scary start to a dystopian novel. I enjoy his last words about how the work of freedom is up to each of us, as it encourages the people to become more politically active and have a say for how they want to be governed. In a democratic republic, it is important for the people to be able to voice their opinions, or the government becomes an autocracy. I believe the edit was a good move on the Mayor's part because she realized that her police force was indeed acting out of line, and she stepped in to revitalize her public image.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Blog Stage 3

                “Stay in school – every day, if possible.” If not for the intellectual benefit do it for the state’s, this editorial by the Austin American Statesman argues. Just three days of absences cost schools $34 million in state funding, a huge number. A major city-wide newspaper, the Austin American Statesman is an exemplary example of what a city newspaper should be, giving it credibility in the news field. However, editorials are voiced opinions, so they should not be read as news. This editorial backs up opinion with fact, forming a strong argument that is quite credible.

The author, which is the editorial board of the Austin American Statesman, argues that young Texans should stay in school more. Students who missed school not only cut back on the school’s funding, but also are more likely to have to repeat a grade. The E3 report, localized around central Texas, is launching a new campaign called “Get Schooled” in an attempt to increase attendance rates. The main argument in this editorial is that parents should be keener in regards to their children, keeping a watchful eye and making sure they’re in school. The editorial board is clearly targeting parents of children, but the message is also indirectly targeted at the students themselves.

I agree with the author for the most part, but as a former student I can sympathize with the skippers. Albeit no to the extent where students miss a month of school, but because school days are so long there is much downtime during classes, especially at the end of the semester. I’ve had teachers who have held “free days,” where we could do whatever we wanted in class, because we had finished all the curriculum and had extra class days. By restructuring curriculum or the classroom environment, we can make teaching more efficient and thus encourage students to come to school. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Blog Stage 2

This article investigates Manor's mayor, Jeff Turner, who played a role in a development project that wasn't seen through. Apparently Turner received over $200,000 from Zaretsky, the businessman who proposed the idea for development. Because the project was never started, the private investors drew up lawsuits against Zaretsky and Turner, citing that they were defrauded out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. This led to Turner stepping down from his Mayoral position, only to run unopposed last year and taking the role again.

I felt this article was worthwhile because it shows the corruption that comes with politics. A mayor conned multiple investors and tried to play it off, but all evidence points against him. It also shows the lack of political knowledge and fervor among the citizenry. The same mayor who stepped down as a result of the scandal, in a matter similar to Nixon during the Watergate affair, was reelected because he ran unopposed.