Matt Mackowiak Save Austin Now (Prop B)
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[00:00:00] I'm one person. I'm going to use petitions and other things to try to do that, to have an effect. But we've got to have other people, good people, good and decent people who are tired of the direction the city's going step up.
[00:00:12] Hey, you're listening to the Friends in Austin podcast. I'm your host, Justin Tallant. And every week I bring you the stories of the people of Austin. Thank you for listening. Hey, welcome back to friends in Austin today, my guest is Matt Mackowiak, he's the co-founder of Save Austin Now and Save Austin PAC. I don't know what the PAC part means. But thanks a lot for coming in, Matt. I'm excited to talk to you because I think this is a really big deal in Austin right now.
[00:00:44] It is. Yeah. Thanks for having me. As I told you before we got on, I for some time had thought about trying to do a fun conversational, you know, podcast that's just focused on the city of Austin. People that live here, people that spend time here, what they like about the city, what issues and and interests are going on. So stumbling upon your podcast tells me I don't need to do that, thankfully. And I'm delighted to be here to talk to you. Yeah. So Save Austin now is a five one c four, which is a tax IRS tax code category basically means it's an educational nonprofit. And we started that entity in February. I want to say it's February 2019 with the intention of educating Austinites on standard living issues. The first thing we decided to do is work on this this homeless camping ordinance. We use that entity for a year to to do a number of things, one of which was to collect petitions to put our ordinance on the ballot. We failed the first time, the city said when we turned it in July 20th of 2019, after hundred forty eight days, we collected twenty four thousand five hundred signed petitions. On August 5th, they came back and said, You're 900 short of the twenty thousand you need. I don't believe we were 900 short. We've analyzed it. We've sued the city over it. I believe at some point we're going to able to prove that as that moves forward. But we decided to make the difficult decision to start from zero again in December with only 50 days to get on the ballot. But we worked extremely hard and we worked smarter as well. And we collected thirty thousand signed petitions and one third the time we took, we decided to go ahead and self validate with volunteers working long hours, 16, 18 hour days. The last two weeks we had three thousand of those thirty thousand we could not self validate. That's when someone signs a petition that a registered voter in the city of Austin. This is the city of Austin ordinance. Right. So if you live in Bee Cave or Leander, you can't sign and you certainly can't be counted. You're not going to hold a vote. So we want to self validate. And we did. So we had three thousand there. We couldn't it we didn't even turn them into the city. We turned twenty seven thousand and they came back ten days later and said to twenty six thousand and three were verified. So very high validity rate. So that was good. Our rooms at mid to late February. It's been a blur since then. It's been four or five weeks because we're in the election window now with the election underway, with us being certified, we had to start a political action committee, a PAC Save Austin now is a nonprofit is not allowed to engage in election activity. Save Austin PAC is there are different rules that apply to both. We had to start this new entity Save Austin Now PAC. We've been using that to raise money, educate voters and turn out voters ahead of the May 1st election with early voting beginning April 19th.
[00:03:10] OK, that's all really cool. So how did.... Obviously homelessness is at a certain point in Austin? I mean, how bad is it? And also how did we get to this point?
[00:03:20] Yeah, great question, and it'll take a few minutes to walk through this, I think it's really important. Look, the city lost like many cities that are, you know, top 25 in the country deal with the challenge of homelessness and have for a long time. And the you know, Mayor Steve Adler has said that before the ordinance, before the ordinance was passed in June of 2013, took effect July 1st, he admitted that the city had failed to address the problem of homelessness. And I think everyone who has any knowledge of what the city had done at that point probably agreed with that. And that's that falls on all of us. It's not that it's not that Steve Adler, before the ordinance passed, had personally failed the homeless community. Every past mayor, every past city council member, every pat city manager, every past nonprofit, every past church, every resident hasn't done enough to help our homeless in the city of Austin up to that point and probably even still today. But at that point, based on the point in time study that was conducted by Echo, which I think is called I think it's ending community homeless organization, I always get the wrong. There is not an actual word begins with O, even though it's called Echo. I forget what the thing stands for, but it's the city's basically preferred nonprofit on homeless issues. Echo does an amazing thing. Every year in January, they recruit volunteers. They go out and count every homeless person in the city every January. It's called the Point in Time study. It's an estimation. It's not it's not a certainty. They did that in January 2020 to capture the 2013 calendar year. When they did that, they found that we had about 25000 homeless people. But the most concerning development is that they found that homelessness on housing, homelessness, they have housed homelessness and on housing, homelessness and housing. Homelessness sounds like an oxymoron what it means to someone who was homeless, who they were able to get into housing. Right. Which is what we want. We want people in shelter, want people safe. White people off the streets, want people getting help. That's what we all should want. The problem is that while that category increased 20 percent, the category of unused homeless increased 46 percent over that calendar year. Now, I have been saying and I have friends of mine who really get mad when I say this because I don't have a specific exact count. I didn't go out, count every homeless person myself. I estimate based on a lot of data, a number of encampments, size of encampments, anecdotal information presented to me for police officers from the iSuppli Association, from other law enforcement sources. I estimate that from the 2500 we had in, let's say, January one, 2020, that we're at around 5000 today, I believe it's doubled. Part of the reason I get there is if you look at that point in time study that unharnessed homeless population grew forty six percent, one calendar year. The problem is the camping ordinance was only in effect for half of that year. So I think if you actually had done a study that said, you know, you know, July 1st, 2013 to June 30th, 2020, a 12 month period, capturing the first 12 months of the camping ordinance, I think you would have had a 90 to 100 percent increase in the one house homeless population. That's how I get from twenty five hundred five thousand. But look, this is a a difficult challenge. You look at major cities around the United States and around the world. Homelessness is a major challenge. My fundamental belief is that there are basically two models on homelessness. The first is you can emulate what I would call a failed model, which is sort of this public camping approach that you've seen in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and Honolulu in particular. I've been to all five of those cities in the last three years. They're all. A disaster. I don't know what else, the other word to use, if you've been to L.A., you've seen it, if you've been, you know, skid row in those areas, if you've been to San Francisco and downtown San Francisco, it's a ghost town. This predates covid. It's obviously, you know, different situation with now. But all those cities have have have undertaken a campaign or a public camping ordinance approach. And because of that, you see higher violent crime. You see higher assaults, you see rapes, you see more fires, you see trash. You see effects on public health, public safety, tourism, you name it. Business area businesses. Absolutely. I mean, you know, and most importantly, you see the population increase because what happens is and the mayor has denied this from the very beginning, I think he's now finally starting to at least privately admit it. Homeless people do come from other places.
[00:07:18] I think that's that's a well-known thing. Is that not. I thought everyone knew that. I mean, that's part of the problem is that if you incentivize it, people come there. I mean, they're they're migratory population. I mean, they are.
[00:07:29] They are. And look, they don't they don't have, you know, disposable income. They don't look at a map. They're not on the Internet saying what's the best city to go to? I think word gets around nonprofits send homeless people from one place to another. I've heard about this operation homestead program that exists kind of under the radar where nonprofits send people on busses, you know, one way to cities that they want to go to. That's the way to get rid of part of your homeless population, which is expensive and is, you know, is a public policy challenge. So so the first model is those cities. And one of the things that frustrates me about what the city did here is that they did a ready fire aim strategy, right, in June of twenty nineteen, despite receiving enormous private negative feedback from all kinds of constituencies. The Austin police chief, the police chief, the Greater Austin Crime Commission, the Austin Chamber of Commerce, the downtown Austin Alliance, no numerous others went to them before the campaign ordinance passed and said, don't do this, slow down. Let's have a plan in place. Let's think it through. Let's not have unintended unintended consequences. They don't they don't listen, this is this is a consistent theme. If you had anything to do with City Hall, you know, this they decided to pass the ordinance. And then the first thing the mayor did is he went to Los Angeles and San Francisco to learn more about homelessness. Right. I mean, what you should do is go to those places first and then then pass the public policy. So that's the first model. The second model is the model that I think we have to get to. And this is going to be after me first. It's going to be the next phase. The first step is is on me first passing reinstatement, the camping ban. But the second step is to to do what works. And I can point to two specific things that work on homelessness that should inspire all of
[00:09:02] us before we get there, going to ask you, what is the incentive for people to allow public camping? What what are they trying to accomplish there? What is the logic behind that?
[00:09:11] This is a question I get a lot. And I've spent hours and hours and hours thinking about this. When you're in a campaign, when you're in a competitive environment, you know, you oftentimes need to put yourself in in the viewpoint of the person you're up against. What are they thinking about? What are their strengths? What are their weaknesses? What's their strategy? If I do this, what do they do? If they do that, what do I do? And so I've started to try to think about it through that that perspective. And I don't judge I really try not to judge people's intentions, questioned people's intentions. I don't believe that that nine members of the council and the mayor woke up that morning and said, I want to destroy our city today. I'm going to vote yes on the public camping ordinance. I believe they had a judgment that they made a judgment that was then, as now, in retrospect, been proven to be a total EPIK Paul public policy disaster. But I don't doubt their intentions. I do think there were three primary motivations. The first is the city had been receiving pressure from the left to begin developing homeless housing. And developing housing for the homeless is not something that can be done quickly. It's very complicated. You have a NIMBY problem where people don't want homeless shelters in the neighborhood,
[00:10:17] not in my backyard.
[00:10:18] Could you have that? You have the cost you of the fact that this is the hot one, has real estate markets in the country and perhaps in the world right now, you have the issue of how you get these people from where they are to where they need to be of funding challenges. You have you have to triage them. You have to provide mental health and drug and alcohol abuse treatment. It's a complicated problem. And so I think they concluded. We can't do homeless housing any time soon, but we need to help this population. Why don't we just let them camp? How does that help them? It doesn't help them. It helps the council relieve pressure on themselves to deliver homeless housing because now, from their perspective, a tent is a house. Now, tent is not a house. Tent is a temporary structure, a tent camping. It takes a public space. It converts it to a private use. And you have any number of negative second or third order effects that come from camping. Right. First of all, you physical waste that's created by camping. Second of all, you have human waste that's created by camping. Now, the city would say, oh, we have these purple bags and they get picked up and people could put stuff in there that that effort has been so insufficient that it's almost ridiculous to pretend that they had a plan in the first place. But there are other second and third order negative effects. Right? You have effects on public health, right? You have effects on public safety. Look, we have the highest violent crime rate in our city in five years. We have 48 homicides at these at the 90 day mark and also
[00:11:36] considered a really safe city, very
[00:11:37] safe. I grew up carabiner since 1994. I went to, you know, Laurel Mountain Elementary School, Kanavis Middle School, Westwood High School and University of Texas went to DC for ten years and came back 10 years ago. I intend to stay in Austin. I want to stay here. It's a great place to live, work, raise a family. It's a special place to me. But if we continue to go the direction we're going of making it harder and harder, harder for average people to live here and to feel safe and to feel like they could raise a family and have and make a living, I'm not going to stay here. I have committed myself to a two year effort to try to turn things around, and this is the first part of that. But the incentive piece, though, is the first piece. There's there's three points to it. The first is what I mentioned, which is this issue of of of relieving pressure to deliver housing. Look, a tent is not a house. During the winter storm, that tent did not protect homeless people, right? We had five days of subzero weather that was once 100 year storm. The city says nine people died on homeless people died. I have on good authority. It's somewhere between 55 and 64 medical examiner's office. Whatever the number is, it's more than it should have been and it's more than it would have been in the camping or it's not been in place. I fundamentally believe that because when the camping ordinance passed, all the things that happens when things that happen, which is really shocking and saddening and this is absolutely true. Homeless shelters empty. For a large percentage of our homeless population, they would rather live in a situation where they don't have rules and responsibilities and then than where they would now, that's not true of all of them. The homeless population is a very complicated mix of people.
[00:13:04] I've talked to people that have volunteered in shelters that told me that exact thing. They said that they don't want to be there. They come there as a last resort because they can't do whatever they want there. They have to follow the rules.
[00:13:14] That's right. And look, I don't know what the percentages I would I would defer to real experts on this, but I would estimate three quarters of the homeless population have either drug and alcohol abuse, addiction or mental health challenges or both. Right. And so if you think about why the camping audience has been such a bad public policy, the reason is you are putting these people in more desperate situations in public, in play, in situations where they're interacting, interacting and more close quarters, more directly and more often with with with average Oscar nights. Right. And that's going to that's going to to result in negative consequences. And then you add to that the fact that these encampments are are really filthy. They're not sanitary. They're not safe. You know, the easiest place to find drugs in Austin is in a homeless encampment.
[00:14:01] No, I can't believe what it looks like downtown and down Riverside after living here for a while, it's like, oh, my God, it's never been anything like this.
[00:14:08] Look, the reason why I'm confident we're going to prevail on May 1st. With the proper campaign to reinstate the camping ban is the camping ordinance has made our city so much worse so quickly in a year and a half that it's now not even really debatable.
[00:14:24] I know that's how I see it, but I see some certain Instagram accounts of organizations saying vote no. And I'm like, y y y.
[00:14:32] Yeah, I know it's a little hard to even understand the mindset of why you'd want to continue this disaster. But if you think about why I think it's going to pass, it's because no one, every major intersection in our cities worse today than it was a year and a half ago. He drove up and down one a three every single intersections of disaster, one and three. Bernet might be the single worst underpass in our city. One and three and spices springs where I grew up is bad. You can keep going either direction. Seventy-one, Ben White, Ben White. There are some horrifically bad underpasses there that people are seeing. If you look, no matter where you live in Austin, you have a major intersection near you. You have to get to mopac, have to get to thirty five to get twenty through. You have to get to Ben White or maybe out here, you know out here where you are, 130 or 290, those six roads. Right. They all intersect in some way and you're seeing intersections, you're seeing every day and you've probably seen multiple of them. So no one ever major intersection source no. To downtown, which you identified, is far, far, far worse. And the economic consequences of of ruining downtown when it was the economic seed corn of our city, the driver of our city was insane and just entirely by itself. Town like Town, Lake and Zilkha Park are the jewels of our city. Right? You know, the fact that the city council would allow those two areas to become what they've become to me is is unconscionable, unconscionable.
[00:15:51] Part of the reason people move here is because the parks and all the water and everything around its beautiful place, it's a beautiful place.
[00:15:57] You can get out. You can you can paddleboard, you can hike, you can jog, you can walk your dog. You can play Frisbee, golf. All those things are very attractive people. We've made that aspect of Austin far worse just a year and a half. So, so. So downtown's worse. Every park in our city today is worse, and this is thing that pisses me off, Austin is seen and likes to see itself as an environmentally conscious place. At times they've gone, I think, in my view, a little too far preventing development on certain things. I remember the cave beetle in the 90s, prevented them for a while for building like like mall. Setting that aside, we you cannot on the one hand believe you are environmentally conscious. On the other, ignore the environmental consequences of camping. Right.
[00:16:39] Piles of trash, piles
[00:16:41] of trash, human waste going into the waterways, needles going in, effects on the parks. Look, it's illegal to camp in parks today. They didn't change that. The camping ordinance did not exempt parks. You cannot by law camp in city parks in Austin today, but it's happening in every single park, every minute of every day. Now, why is it happening? It's happening because the city council directed the police department not to enforce the camping ban in parks. All they can do if someone calls and says, hey, there's a camping in my backyard, I back up to a city park. Police show up, takes a little while to find them to show up. All they can do is give them 72 hours to leave. Do the police wait 72 hours to make sure they leave? Of course not. Someone who's on shift 72 hours later maybe comes back when they do. If they don't move, they move them, but they move. They move to another place in the same park and it happens again and again again. So whack a mole strategy. It's not it's fundamentally not serious. You either care about our parks or you don't. Our city council has said homeless camping is more important than keeping our parks safe and clean. And I think that's something voters need to understand and they need to hold people accountable on that. A few parks in the environment matter to you. You should be really angry at our city council and our mayor.
[00:17:52] That's what you pay taxes for.
[00:17:53] It's one thing you pay taxes for. Absolutely. I mean, and we pay a lot of taxes here. It's not cheap way to live in no rights. So. So you want to go back to what you said before? Because I think there are three motivations as to why they're doing this. Number one, we talked about the the the desire to relieve pressure on delivering housing. Number two, I do believe there's an ideological aspect to this. And I try to look at this in partizan terms. Our nonprofit is nonpartisan. My co-founder is a Democrat.
[00:18:18] So, yeah, this shouldn't be a partizan issue to anybody. I don't know why people try to paint it that way.
[00:18:22] Yeah, they do it for their own benefit. This is the way they think they can win. They're not going to win on that basis. People are not going to decide that because one person involved is a Republican. They're going to they're going to accept Austin becoming less safe and being publicly, you know, dangerous and dirty and everything else because one Republican is involved. Like, to me, that's just absurd that someone would think that's a persuasive argument. But I do think there's an ideological element to this. There is a part of the left in our city that that believes homeless people have a right to whatever they want. And we all should be compassionate. These are people that are that have in some cases made bad choices, but in many cases have had bad luck. And the problem is that you can't you have to put some type of limitations around these individuals because they're going to do self destructive things. If you tell someone you can stay in a homeless shelter where you have a roof over your head, where you get meals, where you get mental health treatment and drug and alcohol abuse treatment, and where no predators are going to be allowed in here to rape you, traffic you, assault you, stab you. Or you can go under the 75th Street Bridge, order to the median Riverside Drive or off 71 and good luck. And a person says, I'd rather do that. We have to think about whether we need to put some kind of limitations on the homeless to some extent so that they are not doing things that make their lives worse, that put their lives at risk, that put public safety at risk. So I do think there's an ideological purpose of this where the left that our city and groups like Homes, not handcuffs and the democratic socialist of Austin and Cassa, the council member and others believe that it's just not appropriate to say to a homeless person, you can't camp in this particular place. They think they should be allowed to do anything they want. It is absurd. It's absolutely absurd. I'll tell you how absurd is when they passed the ordinance in June. All hell broke loose, right? They were there. They take July off, they go on vacation before they do the budget and they come back at the end of July. They came back in August and the city had changed and they had a huge crisis on their hands. The governor stepped in early September. He said, if you don't fix this, I'm going to fix this. And he released a long memo of like 37 things he was going to do. Ten days later, the council met and I'm telling you, they hemmed and hawed. It was so ridiculous, the modest they made three modest changes and I think it was a seven four vote or an eight three vote or something like this. They were like three people that did that wouldn't agree to these three modest changes. Number one, they did say they agreed you shouldn't be allowed to camp on sidewalks.
[00:20:49] Does it obstruct getting to a business and it's a
[00:20:51] right of way, it's a public right. It exists for people to be able to to transport themselves in either direction. So you had three members or so, the council, that didn't believe that was appropriate. OK, so they banned the ban on sidewalks. They banned it within 10 feet of the entrance to a home or a business because before that you had homeless people took you downtown and other places. A lot of businesses have like an overhang, you have an overhang or something so that, you know, you can stand there if if it's raining or something like that. What they had is that homeless people kind of leaning against the door on the overhang sleeping so they get their idea to open their business up, unlock the door. They're stepping over a homeless person. Right. Who has food and trash and perhaps human waste right there. Presumably, you should be able have access to your own business or residence without someone obstructing it. The third change, which is modest but important, is they ban camping and what they call fire and flood mitigation zones. These are specific areas that experts have to have determined are areas that have high risk of fire or floods. Again, modest changes. But listen, the reason that you're interviewing me here right now is because of what happened after that, after they did that and they made those modest changes, they signaled they're done. Considering any other changes to the ordinance, why would you not want to consider improving your public policy, listening to experts list the business community, listen to community leaders. Is there a change that would make things better? When you close your mind to improvement, you open yourself up to accepting failure forever. And so when that happened, it became clear to me that working through the city council was not going to be the answer. The answer was, we've got to go outside them and rally people. And so three months later, I started a nonprofit called Seabass and with my co-founder, Cleo Patristic, who's an African-American female social worker who's been a prison, a prison prison guard. And in her career, she hates Trump more than she loves life. She literally despises Trump at a level I've almost never seen before. She I do not agree politically, but we agree totally on the direction the city is going on these public safety issues. So we started up that that nonprofit. We brought in the office, the Police Association, Insaaf warns the parents safety organization that and we start opposition drive and we were on our way.
[00:22:54] It's crazy. So what's I mean, what's going on now? I mean, you did a great job with the petition. A lot of people signed it. What are you doing now to get people involved in are you really confident that I mean, I, I think that this will work, right? I don't know. I've never I've not talked to a single person friend, Democrat or Republican, that. That doesn't want the band to be back, so I don't know who would even vote against it.
[00:23:19] Yeah, so we are in my confident. Yes, I am confident. I'm not overconfident. Right. Municipal elections have low turnout in the last few elections. Had 40000 votes be enough to win and then 50000 votes be enough to win. We're a city of I don't know, what are we on one point five million people where it's not very many. It's a rounding error, basically. And turnout is very low because you don't have candidates on the ballot. We don't have candidates on the ballot in the municipal elections are elections for candidates are for city hall, for city council or November of the even numbered years. So all you have is propositions and you're going to seven propositions on the ballot, four of them related to strong mayor we can talk about if you want. One of them related the fire union. One of them related to police oversight, none of those efforts are going to have anywhere near the money and the interest that we're going to have on our issue, I think 80 or 90 percent of the people that vote in the May 1st election to vote for or against us, and they're going to be motivated for or against our issue. But I am confident the reason I'm confident is that this problem is so widespread across the city. And based on all the research we've done, this is not an issue of Republicans wanting to do this. Now, I do think Republicans are 98 percent in favor of this, and I think independents are 60 or 70 percent in favor of this. And I think Democrats are 40 or 50 or maybe 60 percent favor this. Right. So if you're at those levels all across the board, you're almost surely going to succeed. We've got to go turn people out, though. And that's the thing. It's a variable. We don't know who's going to vote on May 1st. It's highly variable. Nobody knows where to vote, when to vote, how to vote. Nobody knows which location. Nobody knows where we are on the ballot. And we're about to launch that voter contact effort with the money we've raised to make sure people know they have to vote yes on property. And I want to understand one thing that's really important. Our proposition does not solve the intractable problem of homelessness. We don't believe it makes it worse. We believe that the current path we are on is clearly making it worse. So what we're saying is you can either stay where you are now and you're going to see the homeless population double again the next two years, in my estimation. Or we can go back to where we were in June of nineteen when there was no crisis and when the Austin Police Department said they were getting 95 percent voluntary compliance with the camping ban, I think it was 93 percent correct. The record, 93 percent voluntary compliance. So the campaign was in effect for 23 years. There was no crisis. This idea that they were throwing homeless people in jail for being homeless is not true. It's a smear. It's a falsehood, they know it's a falsehood. They know that it fires people up and they think it's an effective message, but it simply wasn't happening. If you cannot tell someone who refuses to comply with the law that you're going to get a citation or you're going to be arrested, then we're going to live in a world that's lawless. Why have laws at all? I guess that's what Greg Kissa wants. This idea that we're, quote unquote criminalizing homeless existence couldn't be further from the truth. Right? While camping is a behavior, homelessness is a status. What we are saying is it's time to put the pressure back on the city to deliver housing for the homeless. They spent one hundred sixty one million dollars fiscal year, twenty eighteen to fiscal year 2020. As I understand it, they had only provided two hundred new beds. You could do the math on that. We have five thousand homeless people. One hundred sixty one million dollars is thirteen thousand dollars per homeless person per year over a three year period. You could easily provide housing for that community with that amount of money.
[00:26:37] So one of the issues that I know, I was watching a documentary on homelessness and they said one of the issues was that some people were trying to they were trying to make this really fancy, expensive housing and they were taking a long time building it. I know a tent is in a house, like you said, but one solution that others were coming up with were larger, like more industrial style tents that could they could quickly start providing housing through this nicer, larger tent. Until you have time to build other structures, you can at least address the problem and people have a place to go.
[00:27:05] Yeah, I mean, you know, we're talking about models. And I didn't get to the successful model. The failed model is Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Honolulu. This is the successful model. We actually have one of them here in Austin and another 170 miles south of here. So the successful model here in Austin is is a fantastic facility known as Community First Village. It's run by Mobile Loaves and Fishes. It was conceived of by. An amazing person, I'm Alan Graham. It is a community that houses and provides a community for homeless people. They have 250 people on site. I just heard it as we're sitting here a week ago for the second time, they have micro homes for for the homeless. And you sign a contract when you get there, you have to live by certain rules. You know, the laws apply. You have to pay rent. Some of them pay very little rent. But everyone works. Everyone pays rent. You know,
[00:27:57] they work on site.
[00:27:58] They some of them do. Some of them take busses to other jobs, but a lot of them work on site. I describe it as if you're a fan of Deadwood, the HBO series. It's not like that because that was 150 years ago. But it's it's a self-sustaining community. Right. You know, they have a woodworking station. They have a place where people sell their arts and crafts that they make. They have all kinds of things, people,
[00:28:15] purpose, purpose,
[00:28:17] purpose in their life. Right. And honestly, I think it's a big problem with homelessness is that you get to a point. We are so desperate. Do you think nobody cares about you? You think you have no future and you think the problems you have are problems you can never solve. It's a whole you keep digging deeper and you don't see any way out of it. But there's a hopelessness that comes from being homeless. So committed. First of all, this is going to double in size in the next, I think, 12 to 18 months from food to to 500. They're entirely privately funded. They don't get funding from the city. It's a successful model, and if we could replicate 10 more of them, we would be be well on our way. Now, the other model, which is really important to understand, is there's a fantastic facility in San Antonio known as Haven for Hope. My understanding is the land was donated, I think, by HCB. It's basically a large encampment that is the only place you can camp Santoni for homeless. And this is not in camp like we see a town lake or under a highway. This is this is a place that has police on site that has services like job training, mental health treatment and drug and alcohol abuse, electricity, toilets, showers. It's a place homeless people actually want to be.
[00:29:19] And how is that funded?
[00:29:20] It's funded. Good question. It's funded. I believe it's funded partially through the city, but it's also funded primarily through three sources. Yeah, I'm actually not certain of that. I have not toward that facility. I met the guy who chairs is the president or the chair of the board at a up to Texas Capitol about a week ago. I've heard about how I hope for a long time and I've learned a little bit about it. I'll go down there and tour it probably next week or so. I want to see it myself. But that's the answer, right? The answer is we need one campground, not 20 or 30 or 50. We need one. And then we need to ramp up housing with transitional housing, with more shelters, with micro homes over time, with focus and purpose and efficiency and transparency. Well, that's going to be the answer. We're spending seven, 7000 dollars on homelessness this year. That's on top two hundred sixty one. Man, we spent the last three years and we're not going good bang for the buck. And that's why organization has called for an independent and thorough audit of all dollars spent on homelessness the last three years. If you're not doing anything wrong, I agree to the audit right now. They're not agreeing to the audit, and it makes you wonder what's really going on for sure.
[00:30:22] So people are going to ask, you know, let's say we reinstate the ban on public camping. Then what?
[00:30:27] Yeah, where do they go? Yeah, I get this question a lot. And I'll be honest with you, the answer is the answer is is a multifaceted answer and it takes some time to explain. So you have four or five places where, quote, they can go. Right. If first of all, the the ordinance was put in effect and I think it took effect within a week or something like that, I think it would probably be a similar situation here. Where do they go? No. One, they go to homeless shelters. Now, am I saying we have enough homeless shelter, homeless shelter space for 2500 to 5000 homeless people? No, we don't. And the shelter capacity has come down because of covid. I think there are maybe 25 percent or 50 percent that obviously needs to come back up. We're pretty close now by September 1st will be there. Maybe by July 1st will be there. They'll be back to seventy five or hundred percent and they need to get there. And honestly, we need to have our homeless vaccinated if they're not actually and now they need to be, why are they not right there in close quarters? You know, disease spreads and commits to begin with. Like it makes perfect sense that they need to be vaccinated. If they're not, that needs to be a priority. But if they're vaccinated, they seem to be going back one percent capacity in shelters pretty damn quick. So No. One, they need to be in homeless shelters. Number two, they need to be in transitional housing. The city has been been focused on that. I think they purchase for motels. It's taken them quite a while to get them up and running. Some of them are being used for covid. We need to have a better understanding of how many beds are available. Why are we spending fifteen million dollars on a facility or eight million dollars on facility only has one hundred and fifty beds. Yeah, that seems like that's very good bang for the buck. I mean, the city council simply does not respect taxpayer money at all. And at some point, you know, voters have to start connecting the incredibly high taxes we pay here. Right. With the lack of seriousness and accountability associated with our tax dollars are spent. So second, you go transitional housing third. The state has a campground, it is, as I understand it, near capacity, it's called Camp Abbot State open it, state funds it. They work with the local nonprofit to manage it. It's very similar to, um, it's very similar to Haven for Hope, actually. It's a smaller version of that. Not quite as nice, but it's a similar version of that number for they can go to facilities that are privately run by non-profits. So Christopher's village is one example. Salvation Army has a shelter. U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched an effort to raise money to build homeless shelters. I don't know how that's going. I think that huge fundraising goals, I understand that they're a little bit behind base, but that's something that's working. Other groups, Caritas, Mobile Loaves and Fishes, churches, there will be other places. We do not have enough bed space right now for every homeless person to be in a bed in a shelter environment. That's not my fault. Right. The accountability has to be pointed right back at the council to say you spent one hundred sixty one million dollars last three fiscal years or spending seventy three million dollars this year. If all you're doing is increasing the amount of beds by one to two hundred a year, we're seeing more homeless people arrive here under this ordinance every year than we are putting them in beds. Right? I mean, we're taking on more water than we are getting out of the boat. At some point, the boat sinks and that's that's the position that we're in right now. I truly believe just that we are at a inflection point for our city. I mean, say Boston now may sound like a catchy name for a group. I believe our city needs to be saved. I'm not I'm not going to ideologically agree on every policy issue with with people with the city level. This is a democratic city. I understand that. But when it comes to standard living issues, right, you can elect people who care about public safety, who care about reform and respectful of taxpayer dollars or not. And to a great extent, with only one exception, in the last four years, as anyone who's cared about public safety, transparency, reform or taxpayer money been elected, that was Mackenzie Kelly in the runoff December. Every other person on that council is either totally against us on those issues or like 90 percent against us on those issues. Right. So we've got to turn our city around. This is step one. We got to we got to fix this mess. The council refuses to fix it themselves. They're incapable of it. They don't want to admit they made a mistake and they don't want to piss off the far left. And that's their motivation. It's astounding that they cannot admit they made a horrific public policy mistake and that the consequences of that public policy are now really not even debatable. Yeah, no, it's not debatable. And I'll say one last thing on this. It's not just about life being made worse for all the residents in the parks, at the intersections, our businesses downtown town like Zilka Park, et cetera. I'll tell you what motivates me about this. I absolutely believe the homeless are worse off today than they were a year and a half ago. Now, I understand there are homeless advocates. I disagree with that. And they have a lot more expertize in this area than I do. But I simply do not believe it is compassionate to tell a homeless person you can live on the 7th Street Bridge on the median Riverside Drive. And maybe somebody will give you a tent and maybe you'll be safe. They're not getting mental health treatment, they're not getting drug and alcohol abuse treatment, they're regularly, they're not getting the services they should be getting. No one's watching out for them. The way out of these homeless camps is far worse than people realize. I'm going to tell you exactly what happens, these camps. And it's shocking. What happened and how this comes from testimony that that was offered at a committee hearing that I heard less than one week ago from a woman whose I believe it was her niece and her brother are both homeless in one or both of them are in Austin. The women get passed around in these camps, they get passed around, it happens in every single encampment, ask ask any police officer if you don't believe me, they get pass around these camps. That's number one. So there's there's rape and they're sexual assault that's occurring in every single of these camps every single day. If that doesn't make your blood boil, I don't know what will. Number two, the violence that occurs in these camps is significant on a daily basis. Number three, you have predators, actual predators preying upon these people, right? Drug dealers, human traffickers, sex traffickers, violent criminals, felons. They go to these camps and they steal money from these people. They take advantage of them. They try to get them hooked on hard drugs. Right. You know, the idea that that, like, we're letting the homeless live, live in the public and have a nice life and enjoy the outdoors, that's not the reality. And when this woman, Susan Emerson, offered this testimony, she talked about the reality of the situation. And it was one of the most profound things I've ever watched anyone say. She talked about the hopelessness and despair that her family feels knowing they have two family members that are engaged in this and that there's nothing they can do and that the camping ordinance has made these two people that's in desperate situations their lives worse. If if homeless camping is bad for Susan Robertson's niece and her brother, and she can say that in public from the House State Affairs Committee. That ends the debate for me. It just ends the debate, and I understand that there's policy on their side that believe the audience is is compassionate and believe what we're doing is not compassionate, we have a real disagreement on that.
[00:37:08] Seems like a strange argument.
[00:37:09] And I'm not going to back down. I really believe that from a principled standpoint, the homeless are worse off today than a year and a half ago. It's time for the city to start spending money efficiently and deliver the homeless housing they promised when they doubled the budget from 30 million to 60 million for twenty eighteen to twenty nineteen. When they did that, after the audits passed, they said they were going to use it to provide homeless housing.
[00:37:31] And how many beds do they provide?
[00:37:32] My understanding of the numbers is like around 200 beds about Termez a year.
[00:37:37] That's it's that's insane. I feel like I could round up a group of people and do better.
[00:37:41] Do better. Do better right now. Now, they would say, look, the money goes to a lot of things. We have city staff who provide services. We do all kinds of things. And look, I don't I'm not an expert. I don't know how every nickel is spent. The reality may be better than the way I'm describing it. And I think it's important for all of us to understand that if you want to know more, reach out to your council members office, ask them we're down to sixty one million dollars. Go. Is your council member in favor of an independent, thorough audit of all dollars? At what point are we ever going to be able to house? How many how many homeless people have in our city? And how many homeless people do we have now? No one can tell you. And most frustratingly, echo that group that did the Point in Time study announced this year, they're not doing it. They're not doing it, they're blaming covid, you can't tell me with face shields and gloves and perhaps even only using volunteers who were vaccinated that you can't conduct the count. I just reject that. I reject it. That's the real reason. I think they don't want to show the population increase, which makes our argument for us. That's why they're not doing it.
[00:38:36] Yeah, makes sense. Yeah. How often does a city council member get elected into a city like how does that anymore.
[00:38:43] They have four year terms. Half of them are up every two years. The other half is up the next year. So half the council was up two years ago. The other have to be up this November 22.
[00:38:51] And how many of them are
[00:38:52] there to 10? Yeah, there's a proposal I think is a puzzle about to add a seat, a camera if they got on the ballot or not. I don't think it's going to happen. But there's ten of them. There's one mayor and we have a weak mayor form of government. Austin, the mayor is is really almost exactly a council member, except he's liked by the entire here. She's elected by the entire city. They have additional staff as well, budget, stuff like that. But but but they're really just one of 11 votes on the council.
[00:39:15] OK, gotcha. All right. Well, we covered quite a bit about, you know, they've also now and everything that we're doing. What can people do right now to get involved in, you know, make this happen? Yeah, appreciate
[00:39:25] it. So, yeah, if you're out there and you believe that we can say the campaign is good for the city, it would improve public safety, public health, tourism, our business community, the image of Austin. We do need you to join us. I mean, you know, save Austin now. PAC dot com is our website. You can send volunteer. You sign for our emails. You can you can donate. We don't. We need donations. We're spending a lot of money to educate voters and turn them out. And it's a massive effort and people are about to see all the contact we're going to do. It's going to be unlike anything that's ever happened in our city. We're going to we're going to unleash an unprecedented amount of voter contact because that's what's going to take to win. But but on top of that, you can do other things, too. I mean, we have an active Facebook presence and active Twitter presence and active LinkedIn presence and an active Instagram presence. Really, what we need people to do is to talk about this issue in their sphere of influence. Next door is another platform where you can do that. We need people to understand where the vote is going to be. Vote yes on Prop B, the elections May 1st and early voting is April 19th, the twenty seventh. We need people to turn out. It's not enough to sit back and hope, hope the vote goes the right way. You know, if you really believe this is bad for the city and its mayor city worse, which I think eighty or eighty five percent of the city agrees with that, then we need people to step up and stand up and say, no, we're done. We're going to fix this mess when we go back to where we were or put pressure on the city to live with the homeless housing they've been promising for three years now. Gotcha.
[00:40:45] Hey, everyone, this is your host, Justin. I just wanted to thank everyone for listening and give those that are new to the podcasts a reminder to please subscribe to the podcast on your favorite podcast player. If you're on YouTube, please like the video share with the friend that helps us out. Thank you. It'd be interesting to talk a bit about your background now and kind of how you got into this, I know that you have a background, I would say generally in politics, correct?
[00:41:08] Yeah, I do. I mean, I saw as I said before, I grew up in Austin, not in the suburbs, but what used to be the suburbs, went to, you know, public school all the way through Watts. He or she Texas was a communications major at UT and spent 10 years in DC. So I worked in politics and government for ten years, started off working at the Bush-Cheney administration at Homeland Security. I got a security clearance, did communications work there for almost two years, left to go work on the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign? In 2004, I worked in Iowa, managed the second largest county in Iowa, came out of that. When did White House advance four? In 2005, for about ten months. But I really wanted to be a press secretary on Capitol Hill. That was what I really wanted to do. I thought being a press secretary,
[00:41:46] what does the press secretary
[00:41:47] do? Yeah, to me it was the intersection of politics and communications and government, really, all three of them press secretaries, the person that handles the the media relations for a an elected official governor or senator or congressman, member of Congress, statewide official legislator. And I really want to work in the Senate. I knew a lot about the U.S. senators themselves. I follow the Senate. The House has 435 members. The Senate has 100 senators have much more power. You get more done. And so it took me a while, but I got a job in late 2005 working as press secretary for a U.S. senator from Montana and Conrad Burns, who was a three term appropriator or military veteran, ag kind of rural guy. Great guy, absolutely great guy. Did a year and a half with him. He lost reelection by three thousand votes in 2006, came back and was close, was hired as press secretary to my senior senator from Texas, Kay Bailey Hutchison. My two years, fantastic years with her traveling, the state went all 20 media markets at least once. We did enormous amount of national press. She was in leadership. She was number four ranking Republican. She was a very serious legislator, a great boss, you know, demanding, certainly, but but really impressive. And a serious legislator, a serious person. And in many ways, it was the single most consequential professional experience of my life. And I'm grateful for it every day. And anyone that worked for KBH would would would say something along the same lines. I think at the end of that I said, I really want to get back to Texas. I want to start my own firm. I want to consult on the freedom. So I did I started my own firm, Potomac Strategy Group. But over the last 13 years, we have built up, you know, pretty good little boutique firm that does two things. Primarily, we do corporate public relations work, energy, health care, telecom, tech, other industries. And then we help candidates run for office, generally conservative candidates up and down ballot. I've helped elect five members of Congress. I've done statewide races that in legislative races, I've done local races.
[00:43:34] What's involved in helping someone get elected? What are the kind of key things that you provide?
[00:43:38] Yeah. Yeah. So, you know, it's it's a couple of things. I think what I try to do in an ideal situation, I meet someone before they decide to run and we go through a due diligence phase. We determine, you know, what are their strengths, what are their weaknesses, can they raise money? What's their message going to be? What issues do they have? What's their background? And then we evaluate what their chances are being successful, because running for office is hard. It's never been harder than it is today. And honestly, being in office has never been more miserable than it is today. So No. One, you got to be really motivated but wanting to do something important. And number two, you have to have a chance to win. I don't want to help people who can't win because I don't want them to go through it. I don't want to go through it. And I really don't want them to go through it. Because what you do is you stop everything else. You dedicate all your time to this. You ask all your friends and family to donate. Right. People that don't have money that want to do it because you're they're your friend. You give more money than they can or they should. And if you can't be successful, you know, winners, winners make the history right. People have finished second and third. Campaigns don't make any history. And so if you if you're running to do something, not to be somebody, you have to have a chance to win. So one of the things I do early on is I try to help people really get a sense of whether they have a chance to win. And one of the things I do that's very unusual most of my colleagues and consultants don't do this is I tell people not to run for office all the time, all the time. I just kind of like doing it because I'm actually doing them a tremendous favor. Right. On the one hand, I can make more money if I have more people running for office, right. And so there's a financial incentive for me not telling people not to run, but my viewpoint is that running for office is so hard. You've sacrificed so much. I don't want anyone to do what you shouldn't do it. It does mean you're a bad person. It doesn't mean you can't engage public policy or government or politics. It just means at the point we met, you are not a good candidate. I don't know how to say it. You don't have the right requisite skills, communication skills to raise money. The network, the the notoriety in your community, the background, expertize you've got to have some mix of of skills that can make you a compelling Karnet for office. And if you don't have it and I don't do it in a mean way, but I sit down with somebody I evaluate or the due diligence phase, I come to the end of it and I'll say, I don't think short this office and here's why. And again, a lot of my colleagues don't do that, but what we do is we go through the due diligence phase and then we help them. We help them decide to run. We help them decide to and how they announce. We help them devise their plan and execute their plan. So that can be all kinds of things to communications, can be providing their mail, could be doing their television and radio, their paid media could be doing things like texting. We doing things like managing their digital presence, their digital ad campaign, some combination of all those things we offer, all those kinds of services, and we help candidates up and down ballot all across the country. I've worked on like 14 states.
[00:46:13] Have you ever considered running for office yourself of any kind? It's a question I
[00:46:17] get a lot the way I honestly answer it. Really, truly, honestly, I sound like a canned response, but I promise you, it's a real answer. I do not have any designs at the moment. I'm running for a specific office in a specific place, a specific time. Right. I want to get to a place where my business is stable, where my family life is stable, where, you know, I'm moving in the right direction because your personal life, your professional life have to be aligned for running for office to make sense. And there hasn't really been a point in my life where both of them were aligned and where an opportunity presents itself and I thought made sense. So I really don't think in the near to medium term, running for office is in my future. That said, I think if I get to be 65 or 70 or 35 years old, I'm sitting on the front porch drinking lemonade, thinking about my life, I look back and I'd have never run for office. I will probably have regretted because I will have wondered. Could I have made a difference? Could I have really focused on important issues, helped people? That's the only reason you run for office. You want to be somebody. It's never going to sustain you. The cost to be involved in politics are so high. And people who do it to be somebody always get caught doing something they shouldn't be doing and they end up not staying in politics. It happens time and time again if you're there because of the mission. Doesn't matter what it is, it could be that you are the most pro-life person in history and you won't protect innocent babies or could be. You believe reproductive choice is fundamental. Either side of it. If you're motivated on that issue or any other issue, school choice, the military doesn't matter what is immigration, the budget, as long as you have a couple of issues that really motivate you, that's what's going to get you up when you get home tonight and you have to go to six a.m. to take a early flight to to something you have to go do. If you're doing because you want to be somebody, you're going to start to cut corners. You're going to start taking chances, taking risks, making bad decisions. It's not going to sustain you. And that's not that's not true just in politics. It's actually true in life. Right. The best job you can have is something that you would do for free.
[00:48:05] It reminds me of something that like just in entrepreneurship, people say the same thing. I mean, you have to have a business that you care about, otherwise you're just going to lose the momentum and the motivation center in politics.
[00:48:14] Absolutely. It's no different, except that I think politics has such a high cost human to a human cost. Right. We have ridiculous, ridiculous expectations for public officials now. Right. You could never have ever said anything on Twitter that anyone finds offensive. You can't do anything in college or high school. Anyone could now say is offensive. Right. Winter storm. Right. You want to leave a gathering storm, take your family somewhere warm, you can't do it if you're elected official. Now, Ted Cruz can go to Cancun. Anyone else who wasn't elected office wanted to go to Cancun. Nobody would have said word one about it. You know, the pressure's on on disclosing all kinds of things. Your financial disclosures, having every word you say in public reviewed, having people
[00:48:57] act like a nightmare.
[00:48:59] I mean, it just is it's like, you know, why would a sane person want to do this? Yeah. So that's why you have to have that motivation. You have to think that whatever it is you care about is so important you are willing to pay that price day after day after day after day. Otherwise you just can't sustain the effort and the motivation.
[00:49:16] It's crazy. So you have a podcast called Mac on politics. What do you what do you do with that podcast? I mean, obviously talk about politics, but what do you hope to achieve with it as you just doing it for fun?
[00:49:26] Yeah, definitely not doing it as a as a business model. Podcasting, the business of podcasting is as I think, broken. Or maybe it is never, never really constitute in the first place. There's far too much supply. There's far too little demand. Unless you're getting 40000 downloads per episode, you're never going to have a significant advertiser. And so if you have a big presence or if you have a big media platform behind you, you can build a a podcast that can make money. And Joe Rogan, you know, sounded ridiculous letter that was terminated. Our deal with Spotify, I hope he can see it all the way through at times. Employees there have tried to cancel him over different things. That's the exception. That's one of the million or one billion. Right. Most podcasts are getting a couple hundred downloads. It's a passion project. You know, I forget where we are. We're fifteen hundred a 2000 episode. I think. I don't even track it anymore.
[00:50:15] It's a lot of episodes.
[00:50:16] Well, I was going to say downloads perhaps. We're at two hundred and seventy six episodes of turn 77. That's solid. I try to do one a week and because of my network in my background, I'm able to get fairly high level people. I've had Cabinet secretaries, U.S. senators, bestselling authors, diplomats, people in the news, but also just interesting people. So I really have no agenda. I want to have an interesting conversation with someone on something in the news every week. And as often as not, it's about whether I'm curious about it, as to whether I think the audience is curious about it. And so I've had a great time doing it. I intend to continue doing it. Sometimes it's tough. I'm traveling. I'm not my studio. I do it over the phone at the hotel and somebody is recording it for me and it's not as good. So I try to work around those kinds of logistics, but I do it myself. I have two producers that basically edit it and put it up, but I do all the all the prep, the guest booking, most of the guest booking and the prep and the question in the interviews myself. So I enjoy it. I mean, I've never I've spent time this high the microphone. I'm usually one being interviewed for one reason or another. And it is fascinating to to to think about how to frame questions, to listen, to actually listen and not think of what you want to say. And you just want to think about what they said and what questions that raises for you. So podcasting is great. It's fascinating. I mean, I love podcasts. I listen sports podcasts about Pittsburgh sports teams and the Longhorns. I listen to politics podcasts. I listen to deep interviews. I don't like Alec Baldwin as a person or politically, but I love his his podcast. I like Mark Maron's WTF podcast. For me, it's about the guest. The guest is someone I want to hear from. I don't care who's interviewing them. I'm going to listen to it. And there's a few people that are in that category for me or if it's a podcast I really enjoy, I'll listen, even if I'm not sure about the guest. But now there's too many podcasts and I find that there's so much and I'm so far behind that I've almost kind of point out where I don't even listen to him anymore. And it's really unfortunate. There's just too much. Almost like there's too much. There are a lot
[00:52:05] of them out there. Yeah. I mean, yeah, I know what it's like. Yeah. All right, Matt. Well, thank you so much for coming in. And anybody that's interested, check out my podcast on politics, right? Yeah.
[00:52:14] Maxxam Politics is in the iTunes store or Google Play Stitcher, Spotify. We just interviewed the guy that ran the PGP program at SBA. That's, you know, one one example of a recent episode.
[00:52:25] What is that? I'm not from the
[00:52:26] AP program is the paycheck protection program that saved Main Street as part of the covid is the that that Congress fund. Gotcha. That's right. Massive effort. This guy is actually a long time friend of mine. He just happened to be working at Small Business Administration. When that happened. He talked about what the last years were like, you know, administering that program. I just interviewed Josh Rogin, who wrote a fascinating book about U.S. and China policy. He wrote about what Trump tried to do, why he concluded it basically failed, but why it still matters, interviewed U.S. Senator Mike Braun from Indiana by a number of topics in which Jonathan Allen just wrote a book about how Joe Biden won the presidency. Really deep. Fascinating book about how Biden won called called Lucky. That's just the last four episodes. So maybe those limits to your audience. Maybe not. If they are, you can subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, Search, Spotify, and you can download individual episodes.
[00:53:11] Cool, man. I love what you do and save also. Now I hope everyone gets out there and votes. This is a really big deal. I mean, we don't want to set it up like L.A.. Thanks. Or it's really bad out there. We got to change this right now. I agree with you that we're on a break right now. If we don't do something right now, it's this city's is not going to be worth living it anymore.
[00:53:24] No, we have to save our city. And, you know, I'll just say this in wrapping up here. I want to stay in Austin. My parents here, my sister's here. I went over to Texas. This is where I've gotten married. It's where I've started, you know, try to start a family. Build a community, I'm very engaged here in Austin, a lot of levels. I'm going to be very reluctant to leave. But if we don't change direction in the next two years, I'm going to probably think about moving to Santa Fe or Nashville or Florida or somewhere else, somewhere that is safe, somewhere that's affordable, somewhere that's a community that cares about public safety and public health and transportation and affordability. I'm not going to continue to pay the kind of prices we pay here for a standard living that that declines. And I'll just tell you, I'm a pretty relentless guy, right? I'm going to dedicate myself for the next two years to turn the city around. I'm one person. I'm what I'm going to use petitions and other things to try to do that, to have an effect. But we've got to have other people, good people, good and decent people who are tired of the direction the city's going step up. And we've done that with Steve Austin now. We've raised pretty significant money from thousands of donors. He also now PIAC, by the time this episode posts, we'll have raised five hundred and sixty eight thousand dollars in four weeks. I don't think it's ever been done before in city history. We did that from something like fifteen hundred two thousand donors, median donation, fifty dollars. And we had we had some high level people certainly at the top end with a lot of lower dollar people that gave what they could. Organization has a thousand volunteers. I mean, this is a movement of people who are just standing up and saying, no, we have to save our city. It's not about anything more than that. We want to live in a safe and clean city that's good for the residents and good for the homeless. And this policy is threatening that, destroying that so folks can join us again, save us and our PACOM. Make sure you vote me first. I'd actually encourage you to vote the first day of early voting on April 19th. Then you're done with it. You won't be receiving phone calls and mail and texts and all that stuff. You that stuff will go away the earlier that you vote.
[00:55:20] All right, everyone, vote yes on prop. Thanks, Matt. Thank you.