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Austin's "hippie mayor" dies

Posted: 1181415506000
Classification: Obituary
Surnames: Friedman,
Austin's "hippie mayor" dies
Jeff Friedman, 1945-2007

Friday, June 08, 2007

More than 35 years after Jeff Friedman helped change the face and the focus of Austin, TExas politics, the firebrand former mayor has died in Austin at the age of 62.

Friedman, who was first elected to the City Council in 1971 at age 26, suffered a heart attack last weekend. He died Thursday..

Political class of '71 put a leftward spin on Austin resume
Known for his bushy mustache and quick wit, Austin's "hippie mayor" pushed open the doors of City Hall for people who had never before been welcome, friends said.

"Jeff introduced Austin city government to democracy," said Texas Monthly publisher Mike Levy. "To say that the city was shocked is an understatement."

Friedman's first council win came only a year after graduating from the University of Texas School of Law, riding a wave of newfound voting power among minorities, college students and others.

The liberal coalition challenged the mostly conservative establishment and championed many of the issues that dominate Austin politics today, such as controlling growth and providing diverse representation.

Four years later, Friedman was mayor and declared that the "people of Austin have taken the city."

Friedman focused on many issues that directly affected citizens. He called for equalizing electric rates, creating a public ambulance service and making City Hall more accessible to and representative of the community.

Peck Young, a political consultant who ran Friedman's council campaign, said Austinites now take for granted the open government measures that Friedman put in place, such as notifying neighbors of impending zoning decisions and requiring city leaders to disclose personal financial information.

And he wanted government to serve the people who had been ignored, particularly the black and Hispanic communities.

"He had a big heart for those folks who needed a voice," Young said.

The city's boards and commissions multiplied during his tenure, which allowed more people to have a say in city affairs, supporters said. One of Friedman's appointees, Shudde Fath, still serves on the Electric Utility Commission, which the council created while Friedman was mayor.

"He was a breath of fresh air in city government," Fath said, because he looked out for the little guy.

Friedman's time on the council was an era of tremendous growth.

Young said that Friedman did not oppose growth, but he believed it should be well managed and that taxpayers should not be subsidizing the development.

"He was the first guy to say that we're going to have to argue about this stuff," Young said.

Handling growth led to some of the major battles of the era, including repeated fights over a proposed nuclear project in South Texas.

Friedman eventually supported the controversial nuclear project, a decision that created a rift between him and many of the folks who put him in office.

Lowell Lebermann, who served on the City Council at the same time as Friedman, said he brought a loud, lively voice and a completely different point of view to City Hall.

"If he had not been here and been involved, we would have had to invent him," Lebermann said.

In 1977, Friedman announced that he would not seek re-election and would focus full-time on his law firm.

"I really love working for the people of Austin," Friedman told the American-Statesman at the time. "To have been a 26-year-old kid off the UT campus and have had a chance to do some creative molding of the future of this city—it's really been fun. No, it's been good."

Friedman moved frequently as a child and came to Austin for law school after graduating from the University of Missouri in 1967.

He was swept into local politics in 1970 when the City Council tried to thwart a student anti-Vietnam War march planned in the wake of the Kent State shootings.

That incident prompted a core group of students to launch a campus voter registration drive and then turn that momentum to electing Friedman and a slate of liberal candidates to the City Council.

"It was a campaign to raise issues and generate the discussion necessary to bring Austin to a modern era," Friedman said in a 2005 interview. "We just thought we'd get some points across."

Instead, they developed some political muscle that was exercised again and again to launch the careers of some of Austin's most enduring political figures, including Gonzalo Barrientos and Lloyd Doggett.

Friedman ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 1988 and toyed with the idea of vying for the U.S. Congress seat now held by Doggett.

After leaving politics, Friedman was dismayed with the path the city's political leaders had followed and criticized the focus on environmental issues over social concerns.

"They became the rulers and forgot what it was like when they didn't have equal access to government decision-making," Friedman said in 1990 after several liberal council candidates lost.

Ron Weddington, Friedman's law partner for almost 30 years, said Friedman spent a lot of time with this family and enjoying baseball after leaving the council.

He also continued to relish a good fight.

In the 1980s, Friedman represented a woman who had been fired from a Luby's restaurant for what her employer said was stealing a 10-cent blueberry muffin.

The woman had actually deducted the cost of the muffin from her time card, but the employer had erased the notation.

But because the employer had told workers at the restaurant that the woman had been fired for stealing, Friedman sued Luby's for slander and won. The jury gave her a $300,000 judgment.

His wife of 33 years, Carole, said Thursday that Jeff Friedman"always loved Austin even though it has changed."

Adam Friedman said his father was funny, well respected and cared for his community.

"All he wanted was what we wanted. What we wanted was to be him," Adam Friedman said.

Friedman is also survived by his son Jordan, mother Evalyn Friedman and sister Jill Friedman.

Services are scheduled for Sunday at Congregation Beth Israel, 3901 Shoal Creek Boulevard. The time has not been set
Austin's "hippie mayor" dies
Jeff Friedman, 1945-2007
Click-2-Listen
By Kate Alexander

AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF


Friday, June 08, 2007

More than 35 years after Jeff Friedman helped change the face and the focus of Austin politics, the firebrand former mayor has died at the age of 62.

Friedman, who was first elected to the City Council in 1971 at age 26, suffered a heart attack last weekend. He died Thursday..


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Political class of '71 put a leftward spin on Austin resume


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What's this?
Known for his bushy mustache and quick wit, Austin's "hippie mayor" pushed open the doors of City Hall for people who had never before been welcome, friends said.

"Jeff introduced Austin city government to democracy," said Texas Monthly publisher Mike Levy. "To say that the city was shocked is an understatement."

Friedman's first council win came only a year after graduating from the University of Texas School of Law, riding a wave of newfound voting power among minorities, college students and others.

The liberal coalition challenged the mostly conservative establishment and championed many of the issues that dominate Austin politics today, such as controlling growth and providing diverse representation.

Four years later, Friedman was mayor and declared that the "people of Austin have taken the city."

Friedman focused on many issues that directly affected citizens. He called for equalizing electric rates, creating a public ambulance service and making City Hall more accessible to and representative of the community.

Peck Young, a political consultant who ran Friedman's council campaign, said Austinites now take for granted the open government measures that Friedman put in place, such as notifying neighbors of impending zoning decisions and requiring city leaders to disclose personal financial information.

And he wanted government to serve the people who had been ignored, particularly the black and Hispanic communities.

"He had a big heart for those folks who needed a voice," Young said.

The city's boards and commissions multiplied during his tenure, which allowed more people to have a say in city affairs, supporters said. One of Friedman's appointees, Shudde Fath, still serves on the Electric Utility Commission, which the council created while Friedman was mayor.

"He was a breath of fresh air in city government," Fath said, because he looked out for the little guy.

Friedman's time on the council was an era of tremendous growth.

Young said that Friedman did not oppose growth, but he believed it should be well managed and that taxpayers should not be subsidizing the development.

"He was the first guy to say that we're going to have to argue about this stuff," Young said.

Handling growth led to some of the major battles of the era, including repeated fights over a proposed nuclear project in South Texas.

Friedman eventually supported the controversial nuclear project, a decision that created a rift between him and many of the folks who put him in office.

Lowell Lebermann, who served on the City Council at the same time as Friedman, said he brought a loud, lively voice and a completely different point of view to City Hall.

"If he had not been here and been involved, we would have had to invent him," Lebermann said.

In 1977, Friedman announced that he would not seek re-election and would focus full-time on his law firm.

"I really love working for the people of Austin," Friedman told the American-Statesman at the time. "To have been a 26-year-old kid off the UT campus and have had a chance to do some creative molding of the future of this city—it's really been fun. No, it's been good."

Friedman moved frequently as a child and came to Austin for law school after graduating from the University of Missouri in 1967.

He was swept into local politics in 1970 when the City Council tried to thwart a student anti-Vietnam War march planned in the wake of the Kent State shootings.

That incident prompted a core group of students to launch a campus voter registration drive and then turn that momentum to electing Friedman and a slate of liberal candidates to the City Council.

"It was a campaign to raise issues and generate the discussion necessary to bring Austin to a modern era," Friedman said in a 2005 interview. "We just thought we'd get some points across."

Instead, they developed some political muscle that was exercised again and again to launch the careers of some of Austin's most enduring political figures, including Gonzalo Barrientos and Lloyd Doggett.

Friedman ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 1988 and toyed with the idea of vying for the U.S. Congress seat now held by Doggett.

After leaving politics, Friedman was dismayed with the path the city's political leaders had followed and criticized the focus on environmental issues over social concerns.

"They became the rulers and forgot what it was like when they didn't have equal access to government decision-making," Friedman said in 1990 after several liberal council candidates lost.

Ron Weddington, Friedman's law partner for almost 30 years, said Friedman spent a lot of time with this family and enjoying baseball after leaving the council.

He also continued to relish a good fight.

In the 1980s, Friedman represented a woman who had been fired from a Luby's restaurant for what her employer said was stealing a 10-cent blueberry muffin.

The woman had actually deducted the cost of the muffin from her time card, but the employer had erased the notation.

But because the employer had told workers at the restaurant that the woman had been fired for stealing, Friedman sued Luby's for slander and won. The jury gave her a $300,000 judgment.

His wife of 33 years, Carole, said Thursday that Jeff Friedman"always loved Austin even though it has changed."

Adam Friedman said his father was funny, well respected and cared for his community.

"All he wanted was what we wanted. What we wanted was to be him," Adam Friedman said.

Friedman is also survived by his son Jordan, mother Evalyn Friedman and sister Jill Friedman.

Services are scheduled for Sunday at Congregation Beth Israel, 3901 Shoal Creek Boulevard. The time has not been set
Austin's "hippie mayor" dies
Jeff Friedman, 1945-2007
Click-2-Listen
By Kate Alexander

AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF


Friday, June 08, 2007

More than 35 years after Jeff Friedman helped change the face and the focus of Austin politics, the firebrand former mayor has died at the age of 62.

Friedman, who was first elected to the City Council in 1971 at age 26, suffered a heart attack last weekend. He died Thursday..


MORE ON THIS STORY
Sign the guest book
Political class of '71 put a leftward spin on Austin resume


MOST POPULAR STORIES
Investigator disputes witness account of shooting
Hilton Starts, Ends Week Behind Bars
Los Lonely Boys bassist gets out of trouble
The scene surrounding Paris Hilton, 06.08.07 | Photo Gallery | Statesman
Club where shooting occurred may be bought by city
Share This Story
del.icio.usdigg
Newsvinereddit
Yahoo!Facebook
What's this?
Known for his bushy mustache and quick wit, Austin's "hippie mayor" pushed open the doors of City Hall for people who had never before been welcome, friends said.

"Jeff introduced Austin city government to democracy," said Texas Monthly publisher Mike Levy. "To say that the city was shocked is an understatement."

Friedman's first council win came only a year after graduating from the University of Texas School of Law, riding a wave of newfound voting power among minorities, college students and others.

The liberal coalition challenged the mostly conservative establishment and championed many of the issues that dominate Austin politics today, such as controlling growth and providing diverse representation.

Four years later, Friedman was mayor and declared that the "people of Austin have taken the city."

Friedman focused on many issues that directly affected citizens. He called for equalizing electric rates, creating a public ambulance service and making City Hall more accessible to and representative of the community.

Peck Young, a political consultant who ran Friedman's council campaign, said Austinites now take for granted the open government measures that Friedman put in place, such as notifying neighbors of impending zoning decisions and requiring city leaders to disclose personal financial information.

And he wanted government to serve the people who had been ignored, particularly the black and Hispanic communities.

"He had a big heart for those folks who needed a voice," Young said.

The city's boards and commissions multiplied during his tenure, which allowed more people to have a say in city affairs, supporters said. One of Friedman's appointees, Shudde Fath, still serves on the Electric Utility Commission, which the council created while Friedman was mayor.

"He was a breath of fresh air in city government," Fath said, because he looked out for the little guy.

Friedman's time on the council was an era of tremendous growth.

Young said that Friedman did not oppose growth, but he believed it should be well managed and that taxpayers should not be subsidizing the development.

"He was the first guy to say that we're going to have to argue about this stuff," Young said.

Handling growth led to some of the major battles of the era, including repeated fights over a proposed nuclear project in South Texas.

Friedman eventually supported the controversial nuclear project, a decision that created a rift between him and many of the folks who put him in office.

Lowell Lebermann, who served on the City Council at the same time as Friedman, said he brought a loud, lively voice and a completely different point of view to City Hall.

"If he had not been here and been involved, we would have had to invent him," Lebermann said.

In 1977, Friedman announced that he would not seek re-election and would focus full-time on his law firm.

"I really love working for the people of Austin," Friedman told the American-Statesman at the time. "To have been a 26-year-old kid off the UT campus and have had a chance to do some creative molding of the future of this city—it's really been fun. No, it's been good."

Friedman moved frequently as a child and came to Austin for law school after graduating from the University of Missouri in 1967.

He was swept into local politics in 1970 when the City Council tried to thwart a student anti-Vietnam War march planned in the wake of the Kent State shootings.

That incident prompted a core group of students to launch a campus voter registration drive and then turn that momentum to electing Friedman and a slate of liberal candidates to the City Council.

"It was a campaign to raise issues and generate the discussion necessary to bring Austin to a modern era," Friedman said in a 2005 interview. "We just thought we'd get some points across."

Instead, they developed some political muscle that was exercised again and again to launch the careers of some of Austin's most enduring political figures, including Gonzalo Barrientos and Lloyd Doggett.

Friedman ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 1988 and toyed with the idea of vying for the U.S. Congress seat now held by Doggett.

After leaving politics, Friedman was dismayed with the path the city's political leaders had followed and criticized the focus on environmental issues over social concerns.

"They became the rulers and forgot what it was like when they didn't have equal access to government decision-making," Friedman said in 1990 after several liberal council candidates lost.

Ron Weddington, Friedman's law partner for almost 30 years, said Friedman spent a lot of time with this family and enjoying baseball after leaving the council.

He also continued to relish a good fight.

In the 1980s, Friedman represented a woman who had been fired from a Luby's restaurant for what her employer said was stealing a 10-cent blueberry muffin.

The woman had actually deducted the cost of the muffin from her time card, but the employer had erased the notation.

But because the employer had told workers at the restaurant that the woman had been fired for stealing, Friedman sued Luby's for slander and won. The jury gave her a $300,000 judgment.

His wife of 33 years, Carole, said Thursday that Jeff Friedman"always loved Austin even though it has changed."

Adam Friedman said his father was funny, well respected and cared for his community.

"All he wanted was what we wanted. What we wanted was to be him," Adam Friedman said.

Friedman is also survived by his son Jordan, mother Evalyn Friedman and sister Jill Friedman.

Services are scheduled for Sunday at Congregation Beth Israel, 3901 Shoal Creek Boulevard. The time has not been set.

Austin's "hippie mayor" dies
Jeff Friedman, 1945-2007



Friday, June 08, 2007

More than 35 years after Jeff Friedman helped change the face and the focus of Austin politics, the firebrand former mayor has died at the age of 62.

Friedman, who was first elected to the City Council in 1971 at age 26, suffered a heart attack last weekend. He died Thursday..

Known for his bushy mustache and quick wit, Austin's "hippie mayor" pushed open the doors of City Hall for people who had never before been welcome, friends said.

"Jeff introduced Austin city government to democracy," said Texas Monthly publisher Mike Levy. "To say that the city was shocked is an understatement."

Friedman's first council win came only a year after graduating from the University of Texas School of Law, riding a wave of newfound voting power among minorities, college students and others.

The liberal coalition challenged the mostly conservative establishment and championed many of the issues that dominate Austin politics today, such as controlling growth and providing diverse representation.

Four years later, Friedman was mayor and declared that the "people of Austin have taken the city."

Friedman focused on many issues that directly affected citizens. He called for equalizing electric rates, creating a public ambulance service and making City Hall more accessible to and representative of the community.

Peck Young, a political consultant who ran Friedman's council campaign, said Austinites now take for granted the open government measures that Friedman put in place, such as notifying neighbors of impending zoning decisions and requiring city leaders to disclose personal financial information.

And he wanted government to serve the people who had been ignored, particularly the black and Hispanic communities.

"He had a big heart for those folks who needed a voice," Young said.

The city's boards and commissions multiplied during his tenure, which allowed more people to have a say in city affairs, supporters said. One of Friedman's appointees, Shudde Fath, still serves on the Electric Utility Commission, which the council created while Friedman was mayor.

"He was a breath of fresh air in city government," Fath said, because he looked out for the little guy.

Friedman's time on the council was an era of tremendous growth.

Young said that Friedman did not oppose growth, but he believed it should be well managed and that taxpayers should not be subsidizing the development.

"He was the first guy to say that we're going to have to argue about this stuff," Young said.

Handling growth led to some of the major battles of the era, including repeated fights over a proposed nuclear project in South Texas.

Friedman eventually supported the controversial nuclear project, a decision that created a rift between him and many of the folks who put him in office.

Lowell Lebermann, who served on the City Council at the same time as Friedman, said he brought a loud, lively voice and a completely different point of view to City Hall.

"If he had not been here and been involved, we would have had to invent him," Lebermann said.

In 1977, Friedman announced that he would not seek re-election and would focus full-time on his law firm.

"I really love working for the people of Austin," Friedman told the American-Statesman at the time. "To have been a 26-year-old kid off the UT campus and have had a chance to do some creative molding of the future of this city—it's really been fun. No, it's been good."

Friedman moved frequently as a child and came to Austin for law school after graduating from the University of Missouri in 1967.

He was swept into local politics in 1970 when the City Council tried to thwart a student anti-Vietnam War march planned in the wake of the Kent State shootings.

That incident prompted a core group of students to launch a campus voter registration drive and then turn that momentum to electing Friedman and a slate of liberal candidates to the City Council.

"It was a campaign to raise issues and generate the discussion necessary to bring Austin to a modern era," Friedman said in a 2005 interview. "We just thought we'd get some points across."

Instead, they developed some political muscle that was exercised again and again to launch the careers of some of Austin's most enduring political figures, including Gonzalo Barrientos and Lloyd Doggett.

Friedman ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 1988 and toyed with the idea of vying for the U.S. Congress seat now held by Doggett.

After leaving politics, Friedman was dismayed with the path the city's political leaders had followed and criticized the focus on environmental issues over social concerns.

"They became the rulers and forgot what it was like when they didn't have equal access to government decision-making," Friedman said in 1990 after several liberal council candidates lost.

Ron Weddington, Friedman's law partner for almost 30 years, said Friedman spent a lot of time with this family and enjoying baseball after leaving the council.

He also continued to relish a good fight.

In the 1980s, Friedman represented a woman who had been fired from a Luby's restaurant for what her employer said was stealing a 10-cent blueberry muffin.

The woman had actually deducted the cost of the muffin from her time card, but the employer had erased the notation.

But because the employer had told workers at the restaurant that the woman had been fired for stealing, Friedman sued Luby's for slander and won. The jury gave her a $300,000 judgment.

His wife of 33 years, Carole, said Thursday that Jeff Friedman"always loved Austin even though it has changed."

Adam Friedman said his father was funny, well respected and cared for his community.

"All he wanted was what we wanted. What we wanted was to be him," Adam Friedman said.

Friedman is also survived by his son Jordan, mother Evalyn Friedman and sister Jill Friedman.

Services are scheduled for Sunday at Congregation Beth Israel, 3901 Shoal Creek Boulevard. The time has not been set

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