Would the Austin City Council ever consider giving special taxpayer-funded perks to a local animal clinic that kills dogs?

Probably not. And if they did, many residents would be up in arms; but the council is currently giving special perks to an organization that kills people.

The council recently approved a special deal with a local Planned Parenthood branch, allowing the East Austin clinic to rent taxpayer-owned property worth $111,000 in annual lease payments for an exclusive price of $1 per year. The city council first established the handout in 1972 and has renewed it ever since.

During the most recent council meeting, taxpayers testified in opposition to the special deal. Nicole Hudgens, policy analyst for Texas Values, said the city is using taxpayer money and land to play favorites.

“This lease agreement is not fair to East Austin residents,” began Hudgens. “One would think the Austin City Council would ensure Planned Parenthood is paying their fair share, especially when residents in this community are seeing their schools close down and their property taxes increase so much.”

Hudgens also said the council had received a proposal from another organization, Austin Life Care, who offered to pay fair market value and annual rent for the property as well as provide extensive healthcare services to the community. The council did not even consider that offer.

“What about federally qualified healthcare centers? Centers that do the same thing Planned Parenthood does without killing unborn children,” Hudgens asked. “Let’s not forget that Planned Parenthood isn’t just any organization. It’s not a federally qualified healthcare center. It’s an organization that has covered up child sex abuse and has been caught on tape discussing the sale of baby body parts for profit.”

After Hudgens’ testimony, several council members responded. Council Member Ora Houston said the city makes other special deals as well, citing a local animal shelter.

“This is not the only City of Austin property that pays $1 a year,” Houston said. “We do it for Austin Pets Alive — I don’t hear you coming down and talking about that.”

Ironically, Austin Pets Alive is lauded as a no-kill animal shelter.

Other council members became visibly enraged at Hudgens’ testimony and attacked her organization. Council Member Jimmy Flannigan, who is openly gay, said Texas Values seeks to remove his personal civil rights, his right to get married or adopt children, and women’s access to healthcare.

Council Member Ellen Troxclair, the lone conservative on the dais, thanked Hudgens for testifying in a hostile environment.

But after Troxclair’s comments, Flannigan continued his attacks.

“I can’t. I can’t let it go,” he said. “There is a difference between disagreeing with the council and seeking to eliminate people’s civil rights … I have run out of words and I’m shaking I’m so upset about this … because this is not about groups that have different opinions on land use, or taxation, or other issues. These are people that see some of us on this dais as less than human.”

Troxclair brought the conversation back to the original point: giving a special taxpayer-funded deal to an organization that considers unborn children as less than human and actually deprives them of their unalienable human right to life.

“I don’t know the situations to which Council Member Flannigan speaks, but I didn’t hear her [Hudgens] talk about any of those things,” said Troxclair. “She was talking about abortion and killing unborn children and I think that’s a very legitimate debate in the city, in the state, and in the country.”

Jacob Asmussen

Jacob Asmussen is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard. He attended the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and in 2017 earned a double major in public relations and piano performance.


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