Friday, August 10, 2012

Blog Stage 7

This November, many Austinites will be able to add another event on their "things to do around Austin" list. On November 16, Austin will be holding its first Formula One (F1) race in the city. The track, called the Circuit of the Americas (source), will be the penultimate race of the F1 season. However, despite the excitement surrounding this event, there are many who think that this is a bad idea.

Back in 2010, news broke out that organizers of F1 would begin plans on building a track in Travis County (Source). The contract between the city and the organizers proposed a 10-year agreement for a Grand Prix to be held on the track. However, many of those who oppose this plan believes that Austin will not have enough money or land to construct and maintain such a high class facility. They believe that Texas does not have that kind of money to be spending. In some ways, they're right. With a budget deficit of $27 billion dollars, this will further cut into this deficit affecting the economy and with the state cutting spending left and right, this will be counter intuitive. In fact, the state announced that they would provide $25 million dollars per year to support the event costing $250 million dollars for the 10 year contract (source). However, one thing to note is the fact that there have been reports where estimated revenue will be around $300 million dollars a year. This means that one year of these events will pay of the rest of the nine years (source).

Another thing to note is the fact that tickets to these events don't come cheap. With a minimum value of $1000 up to $5000 and an option to arrive by helicopter, its easy to say that these tickets are targeted towards the big spenders.(source)(source) This will allow for greater income since these people will not look twice before spending money.
Austin's image will also change positively. With the addition of an F1 track in Austin, the city will join the place of other cities that have hosted Grand Prix events such as Reims, Barcelona, and Buenos Aires. In fact, with the race in November, this will be the first time a Grand Prix has taken place in the U.S. since 2007 and in Texas since 1984.
The circuit does not contain only racing either. Right next to it will be The Tower Amphitheater where a capacity of 15,000 will enjoy live music organized by Live Nation, one of America's top entertainment company (source). This will only further the revenues when it is completed around 2013.

Overall, we see that the addition of this F1 circuit will only bring good news for Austin. By increasing revenue and bringing many avid racing fans from around the world, Austin is starting to become a major city in the U.S. and in the world.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Blog Stage 6

To many around the world, Austin is considered to be the "live music capital of the world" and the main event that surrounds our city is ACL, Austin City Limits. In fact, there are people that come from around the country and even outside the US just to join in on the music. There have been recent announcements from the organizers of ACL that the event will take place over two weekends rather than just one (Source). According to Robin's blog, he supports this change because it will be "nothing but benefit for Austin". Personally I think that this will have both positive and negative effects but the positive ones will out weigh the negative ones. In other words, extending ACL to two weekends will not be a 100% good decision.

One of the main positive effects that will come from this is the fact that ACL brings many people from all over the world. This not only increases participation for ACL but helps Austin economically too. As Robin said, the organizers of ACL donate millions of money each year to the city and the increase of tourism helps the city as well. In terms of the city's economy ACL only helps the city. ACL brings more money than it costs to set up. Another thing that Robin mentions is the fact that more people will be allowed to experience ACL. Having two weekends allow people to listen to more bands and let them choose between which two weekends they would like to go. Personally I think that this might affect turnout from fans because they will have to choose between which two weekend. Even if it's possible to buy both weekend passes, the cost might be too much for many. Nonetheless, allowing fans to choose between which weekend they want will increase the amount of fans that will come.

However, one important factor that Robin forgets to mention is the massive clean up that happens after ACL. This video shows the aftermath of ACL a few years ago. As you can see, there was a sea of mud in front of the stages where grass used to be. If ACL were to be extended over two weekends we might see worse damage to Zilker Park. As Robin said, its true that Zilker Park will be unavailable during these two weekends but it's important to note what will happen after ACL. We can see what happens when ACL happens on one weekend but what will happen when this doubles?

Overall despite this possible effect, the fact that ACL helps Austin both economically and culturally, heavily outweighs the negative consequences. This extra ACL weekend will greatly benefit Austin and as Robin said will help our city "prosper well into future generations."

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Blog Stage 5

Many consider Austin to be a green city focusing on environmental issues and saving the world. An important issue that comes up from time to time is public transportation and its usefulness. Austin has CapMetro, the public transportation provider in charge of operating the bus and rail system. The bus system is vast and easily accessible, the rail system on the other hand, not so good. Today, I will be focusing on this issue. The rail system in Austin, MetroRail, began operation on March 22, 2010 (Source) but it started off slowly averaging only 800 riders per day (Source). So the question is, should Texas continue to expand this system? In my opinion, a city's metro system is only as good as the number of people who use it. In Austin's case, this is almost abysmal. Today on average, there are only 1800 riders per day (Source). If we calculate this, if each rider gets the most expensive single pass, $2.75, MetroRail is only making $5000 per day and less than $2 million per year and this is being optimistic. The construction itself was more than $100 million (Source). In other words, the rail system seems to be losing money fast. 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, but at what cost? The metro lines only have a total of 9 stations, meaning a very small coverage area. Their target market is very small and because its relatively new most people might not even know about it. Austin is a very big city expanding across valleys, mountains and hills. The expansion of the MetroRail would costs millions, maybe even more than what it costs to start up and with its current ridership, there is no way that MetroRail could pay for all this even with help from the government.  As for now, it is clear that MetroRail should remain as is and not consider expanding. Austin is a rapidly growing city and transportation is always needed, however the MetroRail should only expand when the demand is high and right now, there seems to be a very high supply but very, very low demand.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Blog Stage 4

Following the trend of talking about topics that have been discussed in our participation topics and exams, this post will be about how the Democrats are coming back in Texas government. In this BurkaBlog, we see him talking about the rise of the Democrats in Texas. He brings up many of the same points that the textbook does, talking about the aging community of the Republicans and the increase of Hispanic Texas in the state. In fact, he backs this up with Obama's own words saying that even the president believes Texas will be a swing state soon meaning no single party will dominate the state. Burka provides statistical evidence supporting his claim saying that the only way the Democrats can come back is if they attempt to mobilize the Hispanic population since many Hispanics favor the Democrats. His conclusion states that he agrees with the fact that Texas will become a swing state but will take many years for this to happen.
Burka seems to be targeting Democrats that are unsure of the party's future and Republicans that do not think their opponents will come back. He provides the audience with a clear argument about the Democrat's future.
After some research, Paul Burka is the Senior Executive Editor of the Texas Monthly, a monthly magazine focused mainly on Texas and its roots. In his past, he has served as an attorney with the Texas Legislature and a member of the State bar of Texas (Source). The blog itself is known to be a liberal blog. There have been other blogs that question Burka and his credibility. However, if you read the specific blog that I've been talking about, you can see that Burka relies primarily on facts and stats to support his claim. Whether he is credible or not, the facts are that and any way you interpret them, they prove his argument.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Blog Stage 3

With our participation topic this week focusing on Texas Exceptionalism, this article fits right in with what we’ve been talking about recently. This editorial looks at Texas’s rankings among the other 49 states and how these rankings affect Texas. Right off the bat, the author acknowledges the fact that Texas is not always at the top of every list pointing out that many people in the state recognize this as well. In fact, it even points out that the newspaper that this editorial is published in, The Dallas Morning News, has flaws from time to time too. The main point the author makes is Texas’s low ranking in categories such as educational spending and environmental protection, can be made up for and improved by our other leading categories. By providing evidence of actual rankings based off of CNBC and other news sources, the author shows how Texas is #1 in many categories. He then uses this to strengthen his argument saying that compared to other highly populated areas, many Texas cities are doing better economically and transportation-wise. One important thing to note is the fact that the author does a good job and analyzing both sides of the argument. He knows it’s true that Texas ranks #1 in rankings such as “Most Amount of carbon dioxide emissions” and “Highest percentage of population without insurance.” He looks at both sides and concludes that by balancing both aspects of this problem, in the long run, they will work together. In my opinion, his logic makes sense. The fact that Texas is able to be #1 in rankings in categories that have a good outcome show that it has the ability to outshine others. Although it is true that Texas lags behind in some categories, if we apply the same mindset as we do for our #1 rankings, Texas could rank positively in every aspect.
The author seems to be aiming at people who recognize the fact that Texas is not all that great when it comes to educational and environmental spending. He could be targeting people who have given up on Texas thinking that despite the good rankings, there are enough bad rankings to make the state seem like a bad place. It seems he is aiming more towards people who are pessimistic about Texas’s current condition.
Unfortunately, this editorial does not provide an author to its article. However, judging from the fact that the author mainly analyzes numbers and rankings from news sources such as CNBC, the author is only as credible as these external sources. Nevertheless, this is merely an assumption and shouldn’t be taken as fact because again, the editorial does not provide an author. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Blog Stage 2

Health Care has had a very important role in Texas government. With the U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding federal health reform a few weeks ago, Texas has difficult decisions to make regarding this ruling. This article in the Texas Tribune lays out what these decisions are and and what consequences will come from the result of each decision.
After the Supreme Court ruling, Texas had the option of accepting funds to expand Medicaid or to make a consumer marketplace where people could buy their own insurance coverage. It is important to note that the government in Texas is mostly GOP-dominated. Thus, most people are overwhelmingly opposed to "Obamacare" and prefer the second option. The article notes that the Texas government does not have a sure answer if they will accept the fund or not. If they do, the expansion would be targeting those of lower income as well as financially supporting the Affordable Care Act. Both sides realize that a quick decision will be needed if they are to get what they want. But at the same time know that analysis and careful research need to be done before further legal action is to take place.
Overall, this article gives a good clear summary of what the U.S. Supreme Court ruling was and how it affects the Texas government. Rather than taking a look at just one side of the story, it brings in both sides to see how  they both differ. This is a good article for those that are just learning about this ruling.