I had a house and was newly driving by about 1985 and hanging out with Earth First! back then. Shudde and Connie Fath had had the River City Coordinating Council with Peck Young and Bruce Elfant meeting at their house where I learned the ropes in terms of local politics. Peck taught us that Austin started as a real estate racket from its earliest days, had always been one, and that liberal Democrats were capable of organizing to save Austin from rapacious developers.
Austin was already kind of a real estate racket with guys like Democratic party-linked lobbyist Ed Wendler pretty much controlling the Austin City Council back in the day of Sally Shipman and Richard Goodman. Gary Bradley was getting rich by getting TxDOT to extend MoPac down across the aquifer into the Circle C Ranch. It became commonly known to Earth First!ers that there was a lot of local political corruption tied to roads, development, and real estate. Time Jones and I got arrested one day while we were trespassing in a ravine at the edge of a golf course that they were spraying with treated sewage which was leaking into Barton Creek. Probably the Barton Creek of 1990 uprising was the high water mark of Austin environmentalist influence. The upper class homeowners were still able to easily drive out to their homes around golf courses, and TxDOT provided the roads to make it happen.
The Barton Creek uprising didn't happen in a political vacuum and the political establishment tied to real estate is far better organized now..
Earth First! knew who the scoundrels were and that Jim Bob Moffett and Robert Dedman were at the top of the list. The Austin Chronicle helped by reporting what was going on a lot better than what Daryl Slusher termed the Austin RealEstateman (the Chronicle is probably one of the best sources on that era now) and so did John Aellie on KUT, siding with the environmentalists. I was also in the Save Barton Creek Association, which had its own enviros like Jack Goodman and Bert Cromack, who would meet with developers and then claim to be working out smart enviro deals. I would often appear before the council back in those days which was easy to do. I was an anti-establishment "council regular" and even got my picture in the Chronicle one time. The Sierra Club was not a major player then.
Earth First! participated more than is commonly known these days, in the several months and weeks leading up to the Barton Creek Uprising event, by going to planning Commission meetings with cans of arsenic herbicides and duffle bags full of golf balls that they had gathered along Barton Creek and predicting more runoff to come. USGS Geologist Raymond Slade had had experience with the runoff pollution of karst aquifers and gave expertise and encouragement to efforts of enviros to protect the Edwards Aquifer.
One of the Barton Creek developers Jim Bob Moffett had been a UT football player and as a geologist for Freeport McMoran, had acquired a huge copper and gold mine in New Guinea, reputedly the world's largest gold mine, which made him a near-perfect high profile political villain and Barton Creek destroyer. The other developer was Robert Dedman a super-rich Clubcorp developer who had chaired TxDOT and specialized in building country clubs and golf courses to stimulate suburban sprawl developments like what was planned above Barton Creek.
The day of the hearing I got there late and there was already a crowd there making noise in front of the council chambers. Since publicity about the controversial development had been building for weeks there was a noisy crowd of development opponents milling around the old council chambers just a block down from Liberty Lunch. Since the place was crowded I had to go down to the food vending area downstairs where us young Turk enviros hung out and listened to the meeting upstairs, fully knowing that this would be a historic event. In those days the rule was that you signed up and the Council meeting went on and on until all the hundred or more members of the public got to speak. Of course Dedman and Moffett and their property rights lawyers got to speak first and probably a long time, but it was broadcast on KUT-FM so all the radio listeners at home could come down and sign up too. I think Connie Fath who was sick with cancer spoke that night, and a long list of aspiring environmentalists preaching to a loud choir of supporters. My turn
came late at night, and lacking any very novel information to add, managed to get a large part of the partisan audience in the room to join in on my loud angry chant "No deals with Jim Bob".
Staying up all night was easier for me back them but I did it somehow, and the meeting lasted all night until maybe about daylight when there was finally a vote. I think we had been warned that Sally Shipman was going to offer sleazy amendment to undermine the effort of the environmentalists in return for canceling her campaign debt, and she did so. Somehow the others on the Council, led by developer Robert Barnstone, who championed development inside Austin, managed to turn things around and defeat the big money political influence, making the event an epic popular victory, and a major defeat for some of the most powerful developers in the Austin Area.
Jim Bob Moffett finally made a mess of Freeport McMoran finances and resigned in 2015.