Who are the Friends of McKalla Place?


Here we go again. Phil Jankowski reports:

A group opposed to the deal to build a Major League Soccer stadium on city-owned land in North Austin filed a petition Thursday that could make the agreement eligible for a vote.

The group, Friends of McKalla Place, announced in a news release that it has filed a petition with 29,000 signatures at City Hall. If enough of those signatures are verified, it would require the city to either adopt the petition’s proposed ordinance or possibly hold an election on the stadium.

The ordinance would not be a direct referendum on the stadium deal that was signed on Dec. 19. Instead, it calls for future elections on deals for stadiums or concert venues that are built on city-owned land.

Here’s one simple question to which none of the articles on this matter have offered a direct answer: Who the hell are the Friends of McKalla Place?

The news release from the group did not identify any individual as the leader of the group. In fact, the release bizarrely attributed two quotes to “a representative of Friends of McKalla Place.” The only human being mentioned in the release was Craig Nazor, a local activist whose presence in the release was not explained with any accompanying title etc. Perhaps putting “Dr.” in front of his name was supposed to be enough for people to understand that he’s somebody they should listen to.

But despite the anonymous press release, we already know who this group is in spirit. The signatures, of course, were gathered at the behest of Bobby Epstein, chairman of Circuit of the Americas. Although Epstein initially paid perennial petitioner Linda Curtis to gather the signatures, Curtis’ alt-right blunders forced him to turn to a Denver-based mercenary, CAC Advising Group.

Epstein’s new political action committee, Fair Play Austin, paid CAC to get the signatures. There have been at least two documented instances of CAC’s paid canvassers (no doubt low-wage contractors) providing false information in their attempts to get signatures. It’s not clear whether the canvassers were lying or woefully misinformed (and if they were misinformed, was that misinformation intentional?).

However, at some point it appears that Fair Play Austin handed over the petitions, literally and figuratively, to Friends of McKalla Place, who have now become the face of the effort.

I reached out to some folks close to Epstein and got this statement, attributed to Adam Reiser, head of Fair Play Austin:

“FP was created to ensure that the petition process succeeded. FOM is an independent grassroots organization of concerned Austin residents that formed after the petition initiative was underway and was the logical vessel to carry the fight forward on behalf of the greater Austin community.”

However, nobody would tell me who exactly is involved with Friends of McKalla Place.

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