The efficiency audit isn’t necessarily reactionary

As I reported on Thursday:

Organizers of a petition to require an audit of city government announced Wednesday that they had gathered enough signatures to put the question before voters this November.

A statement released by Citizens for an Accountable Austin, the group that has led the petition drive, said that the group had gathered more than 30,000 signatures, far exceeding the 20,000 signatures necessary to prompt a referendum.

I’ve mentioned that the petition has garnered an interesting and ideologically diverse group of supporters. There are of course conservatives looking for any opportunity to cut government spending: Ellen Troxclair is the lead supporter on Council and her former aide, Michael Searle, is in charge of the group, Citizens for an Accountable Austin, running the campaign. But then there are a lot of the same group of liberals behind the anti-CodeNEXT campaign: attorney Fred Lewis, Save Our Spring’s Bill Bunch, NAACP’s Nelson Linder.

This photo that Ken Martin of the Austin Bulldog snagged probably does not serve the petition’s interests, as demonstrated by the tweet by Caleb Pritchard.

Screen Shot 2018-07-13 at 12.09.17 PM.png

Lewis is standing on the right, Troxclair and Searle are in the center and on the left is former City Council Member Don Zimmerman. If you’re not familiar with Zimmerman, suffice it to say that he’s an opponent of “Progressive Christophobic politically correct socialists and their war on western culture,” according to a recent Facebook post.

Anyway, some of those who are already pissed at Lewis over his CodeNEXT tactics  (including him seeking help from indicted Attorney General Ken Paxton) are predictably pointing to this as yet more evidence that Lewis and the anti-CodeNEXT crowd are full-blown reactionaries.

Ehh…Lewis and his crowd aside, there’s nothing illiberal about making sure that government programs are being run efficiently. The outcome of an audit does not have to be slash and burn –– it could just mean the reallocation of resources. We want our government to function like Sweden, not Greece.

Of course, there are good audits and shitty audits. It depends who we end up hiring. Sometimes an outside set of eyes can identify problems that nobody within the organization recognized or was willing to address. But sometimes an outsider is unable to truly understand the value of programs that they’re unfamiliar with.

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