Austin City Council approved the measure to change the name of Manchaca Road on October 4, 2018, WITHOUT the feedback of businesses and residents who work and live on the road, WITHOUT regard to the costs small businesses will incur as a result, WITHOUT regard to the cost to taxpayers, and in SPITE OF a glaring lack of evidence to justify the decision.
Hearsay or Evidence—Political Power and the Art of Propaganda
At the Council meeting, advocates led by retired Judge and politically-connected Bob Perkins claimed that the road has been erroneously spelled and should be named after Texas Army Captain Jose Antonio Menchaca. After many years of spreading false narratives about Captain Menchaca’s association with Austin using the press and directly campaigning every council member, City Council was convinced of the argument and capitulated to the pressure. See this video: City Council’s work session meeting , (session A’s last item), 2 days before the public hearing. In the video, City Council members openly admit they’ve been lobbied by Bob Perkins for years, that they believe the narrative they’ve been fed without any evidence, and have already decided to “vote for Menchaca” before ever hearing from property owners and historical groups at the hearing. Some council members even strategically pollute the debate by suggesting this is about a racial divide.
There is no “correction” needed to justify such disruption, because there exists no proof in any historical record (or in Captain Menchaca’s own extensive memoirs) that Menchaca ever visited the area. Not anywhere. At the hearing, the Manchaca Onion Creek Historical Society, as well as the proponents’ own historian, acknowledged that no evidence exists. But council members confused trendy soundbites like “correcting a wrong” and “restoring his proper name” with evidence. (Hearsay and evidence are very different).
What’s this Going to Cost Taxpayers?
Another trendy soundbite from Bob Perkins was, “we’ve raised $24,000 to change all the road signs, so taxpayers would not have to pay a thing.” City Council backed this statement. Our main argument is that the cost to taxpayers (and especially businesses and residents on the road) goes far beyond the cost of changing street signs. We’ll get into that below. But we decided to investigate this "no cost to taxpayer" claim. At our request, Texas Department of Transportation ("TxDot") Area Engineer Epi Gonzalez, conducted a review of costs associated with materials and labor for road name changes on connecting highways, like US 290 and 360. He concluded these costs to be between $150,000 and $200,000, which is over eight times that of the City Council’s stated total cost to the public. Mr. Gonzalez has informed the City of Austin that they will need to pay for these changes. Translation: these costs will be incurred by taxpayers. This error alone should be enough to reverse this ordinance!
How Are Small Businesses Financially Impacted?
Manchaca Road is home to a diverse variety of small businesses, each impacted differently by such a change. On the low end, businesses need to pay for changes to their stationary, website modifications, local directories, government documents and trade licenses. On the high end (especially with the many businesses who use the word Manchaca in their company names), the costs can go much higher. Examples of this are roadside and building signage, marketing materials like brochures, uniform embroidery, modifications to online SEO and advertising, etc.
City Council likes to point out that businesses don’t have to change their names, which reveals how little they know about running a small business in a competitive market, and how little they care about the importance of small businesses to the economy. For every potential customer who is lost due to confusion, there is a monetary value associated with that. These costs are cumulative and damaging. Local businesses, who create jobs and pay significant taxes to the City, deserve better from their elected officials.
IN SUMMARY: Why We Seek To Reverse This Decision
1. City Council justified its ordinance in part because they stated taxpayers would not be impacted; however, TxDOT data revealed additional costs of $150,000-$200,000.
2. There is no justifiable or factual evidence supporting the new name’s derivation.
3. The ordinance is unsupported by residents, via a petition currently over 5,000 signatures strong.
4. The name change will cost local businesses substantial financial burden.
Leave Manchaca Alone seeks to overturn the city’s irresponsible and financially harmful decision, and encourages the City Council to spend its resources on important issues, such as affordable housing, transportation, and public safety, rather than needlessly harming small businesses.
PLEASE DONATE TO THIS CAMPAIGN, so that small businesses operating on Manchaca Road can afford legal representation to reverse the name change measure.
In the event "Leave Manchaca Alone" raises more donations than is needed to achieve a reversal of the street name change, those extra funds will be donated to AISD schools along Manchaca Road in Austin, TX.
Thank you for your support as we fight to maintain Manchaca Road's true name!