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The City of Austin's Authoritarian Impulse

Starbucks at the airport? How about Lone Star Bucks?

The Starbucks folks could implement several design changes to make a coffee shop out at the Austin airport appear local.

They could invite neighborhood associations to come out, sit around and crab. It doesn't get much more Austin than that.

See, the City Council is balking at letting the Seattle-based coffee chain put one of its omnipresent maisons de mocha at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport because the council wants local businesses there.

Whatever the Council wants, the Council gets. Or, if that bothers you: Whatever the people who elect the Council want, the people who elect the Council get. Regardless of the formulation, the nature of the beast remains the same. It's authoritarian to pick and choose what business gets to conduct business where and how.
The big question, however, is what constitutes local around these parts. Of the 13 companies that have contracts to run food or retail stores at the airport, seven have headquarters outside of Central Texas. The company that runs the airport's Salt Lick barbecue is from Buffalo, N.Y. Say along with me now: Get a rope.

Meanwhile, the City Council has put off until Nov. 20 a decision on whether to let a Starbucks open at Austin-Bergstrom.


Instead of calling it Starbucks, why not change the name to Lone Star Bucks? And while you're at it, can the biscotti and put in biscuits and gravy.

Another thing Starbucks could do to seem a little more Austinesque is hire a bunch of overbearing, know-it-all hippies to work behind the counter, worry about your cholesterol level and tell you what you should consume.

"Give me cream and sugar." "No sugar, man. It's not free range, man."


Change the name to Amy's.

Put a taco cart in front of the entrance and introduce the latte/chalupa combo.

Emphasize the Austin environmental thing. Put up a disclaimer that says, "No animals were harmed in the making of this espresso." Or hang a sign that says, "Our Beans Are Grown in the Recharge Zone."

Hire a pass-the-hat musician who sings the blues out of tune, waits tables at Mother's and lives in his mother's garage.

Hang a picture of Stevie Ray Vaughan. If that doesn't fool 'em, nothing will.

Copyright 2001-2003 Cox Texas Newspapers, L.P. All rights reserved.

You're a funny guy, John Kelso. I liked those last ones.

It isn't funny at all that business have to work at the mercy of city councils.

UPDATE(12/12/2003 2:25pm)
City approves site for Wal-Mart, Lowe's

The city of Austin has given two retail giants the green light.

The Austin City Council approved the site at Ben White and Interstate 35 for a new Wal-Mart Supercenter.

The retailer promises that the new store will meet "the values and standards of the community" and follow strict environmental guidelines.


Lowe's has offered to meet some of the city's environmental building demands for a price.

Under the agreement, the city will receive $1 million in mitigation money.

Lowe's also will have to follow guidelines for its lighting and keep its arsenic-treated wood covered.

Copyright 2003TWEAN News Channel of Austin, L.P. d.b.a. News 8 Austin

With the government whip not-so-subtlely kept in view, the two parties reach an agreement.

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