The Lead
8:48 am
Mon November 5, 2012

The Lead: Election Day’s Almost Here (And Formula 1’s Up Next)

Good morning. This weekend’s week cold front will lead to highs in the lower 80s, along with a chance for some isolated thunderstorms in the region, according to the National Weather Service. Here’s a look at some stories KUT News has been working on.

"Now let’s get into the big change for this presidential election. You probably know that during early voting you can stop anywhere with a 'Vote Here' sign – usually at a grocery store or other high-traffic public location.

Travis County has decided to adopt that strategy on Election Day. 'You can vote at any one of the polling places that are designated' within Travis County, said County Clerk Dana Debeauvoir."

Voters should also know the state’s contested Photo ID requirement is not in effect this election –  a voter registration card, copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, or other government document showing your name and address are all acceptable forms of ID.

"If Prop 4, the 8-2-1 plan, were to pass, the City Council would presumably be drawing Austin’s new districts. But Prop 3, the 10-1 plan, provides for a redistricting commission. The commission would have 14 members; three auditors would randomly select eight people from a pool of candidates, and those eight would then pick the remaining six, ensuring that they are diverse in race, ethnicity, geography and gender.

Some redistricting commissions in the country have been accused of drawing maps for political gain or with cronyism in mind. Others, like those in San Diego and Minneapolis, have been commended for keeping politics away from the process."

"Republican Ken Mercer swept District 5 in 2010 by more than 20 points. But last year the boundaries were redrawn, and the district became more Democratic with the inclusion of more of Travis County. The northern boundary of District 5 used to stop at Lady Bird Lake. Now it goes north all the way to 2222. Mercer is a San Antonio businessman and a social conservative. Among his accomplishments on the board, he lists making the history curriculum more patriotic.

Mercer is facing Democrat Rebecca Bell-Metereau, whom he defeated in 2010. She is a professor of English and film at Texas State University. Bell-Metereau says she is running to try to push back the influence of social conservatives on the state board, including Mercer."

"'It’ll never become super popular,' says James Moody, co-creator of the festival and owner of music venue The Mohawk. 'It’s growing, but it’ll never do well as a very big festival.' That’s because Moody says they aren’t interested in billing big names.

Moody says they try to give attention to bands that aren’t as widely known, or inspire a small but devoted following. 'We try to keep people on their toes and remind people that there are no genres anymore, so we don’t try to pigeon hole with our headlines,' Moody says. "

Here’s some more local and state stories that have people talking:

  • Statesman Endorses Prop 3 (the 10-1 Plan) Over Prop 4 (Statesman)

"While council members are elected to represent the city as a whole, residents outside Central and West Austin have felt underrepresented for years, unsure of which council member to contact when they want an issue addressed. Proposition 3 would remedy that uncertainty; their contact would be the council member who represents their district. …

The absence of an independent commission to draw district lines — indeed, the lack of specificity about the districting process — is one reason to reject Proposition 4. … This 8-2-1 hybrid plan creates two types of council members; little good can come from that. It’s a cynical addition to the ballot, added to weaken support for Proposition 3 and increase the chances the at-large status quo remains in place."

"For top drivers like Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Fernando Alonso of Spain, the Nov. 18 race offers the second-to-last chance to improve their standing in the coveted F1 championship — arguably the most prestigious prize in motorsports — on a track boasting one of the most challenging turns in the world.

But for the host city, it will be an opportunity to prove that screaming-fast race cars and the well-heeled clientele that follows them around the globe will be welcome in a town that made a homeless transvestite a local celebrity, and whose most famous bumper sticker is 'Keep Austin Weird.'

'It’s a new stage of life for the city of Austin,' Mayor Lee Leffingwell said. 'We want to keep what’s good about Austin, but we also want to be open to new things.'"

  • 'Formula Run’ Event at Circuit of the Americas Track Success Despite Traffic Woes (KXAN)

"With over 5,000 people participating in Formula Run, the race got off to a late start after some runners had to wait up to 45 minutes just to drive half a mile. Runners say most of the congestion was near the new SH 130 toll road. 'If this is indicative of the F1 weekend coming up there are going to be some big problems,' said Scott Hutchinson, a Formula Run race participant.

But in a statement to KXAN Circuit Of The Americas said 'We will have all entrances open on race weekend, with our full shuttle system working, and traffic management positioned around the surrounding highways and county roads getting motorists and shuttle buses through any congestion.'"

"The Allied Pilots Association’s negotiating committee told members Sunday that its goal is to have a contract with American Airlines Inc. ready to present to the union’s board of directors this week.

American and the union had sent strong hints over the last two weeks that a contract proposal could be imminent. But the APA board of directors adjourned late Friday afternoon after three days of meeting without accepting a deal. 'Over the past four days, we have finalized contract language to the point that there are only a handful of open paragraphs still being worked,' the union negotiators said in their update Sunday."