For those outside Austin, there have been a flurry of reports lately illustrating cityswhy Austin is known as the People’s Republic of Travis County.  The City Council is considering banning plastic bags from stores and they gave a $750,000 forgivable loan to a politically connected Mexican restaurant, Las Manitas.  Now here’s another big enchilada on the taxpayer dime – the latest report is that the City has been running a souvenier store in City Hall at a loss of $250,000 per year to taxpayers.Â

Among the items for sale are an Austni snow globes bought from Saks Fifth Avenue marked up from $32 to $40 and Leslie “nearly-nekkid-guy” refrigerator magnets (Leslie is a colorful homeless transsexual who has run unsuccessfully for numerous offices).

Beyond the red ink this store is drowning taxpayers in, this is a case of nepotism.   The City handed Jan Stephens, wife of the city’s retiring Chief Financial Officer John Stephens, a $48,000 consulting job to open the store.Â

This is a good time to rememeber the yellow pages test that former Senator Phil Gramm popularized – if the good or service is in that book, it should be off the goverment books.  Texas cities should skip the bells, whistles, and magnets and focus on the basics like police, fire, drainage, and roads.

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