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Council: Water Into Whine

With this week's Council late start, what will happen to Citizens Communication?

By Michael King, Fri., April 11, 2014

Biggest news preceding Thursday's City Council meeting (April 10) is that it won't begin until 1pm. Reportedly, Mayor Lee Lef­fing­well and Council members have been invited to take part in the Civil Rights Sum­mit proceeding this week at the LBJ Presi­dent­ial Library, and Thursday is the day that President Barack Obama, delivering the keynote speech that evening, will be in town (producing general gridlock, by the way).

The big question of the day thus becomes: What will happen to Citizens Communica­tions? That normally happens right around noon, but this week it appears the anti-fluoridation ranters will have to wait a bit to deliver to Council another rhetorical fusillade.

Otherwise, at an almost paltry 53 Items, it appears a reasonable agenda for an afternoon start. The most obvious heavy weather looks to break over Items 4 and 52. Item 4 is Council Member Chris Riley's proposal to formalize the mid-year "budget adjustment" policy – essentially to confine any approval of additional spending to a single meeting and to define limiting standards for such spending. The proposal is listed as a consent Item, but more than likely Council will want to spend some time refining it, and citizens may well want to provide their two cents, over and above their property taxes.

Item 52 is the public hearing concerning "vested development rights" (i.e., grandfathering), a long-vexed question in local politics – just how much priority should be granted to previous development plans over subsequent environmental regulations? – and it is likely to bear additional discussion.

There might not be much Council controversy on Items 12 and 13, but likely some citizens will want to have a say. Together, the items would add several agencies to the Austin Region­al Intelligence Center (the "fusion center" for Austin Police Depart­ment intelligence data gathering). Proposed for inclusion are Austin Community College PD; Texas State University PD; Pflugerville ISD PD; and the city PDs for Cedar Park, Kyle, and Buda.

There are also several Council member resolutions for city staff (i.e., not yet ordinance-actionable) of various import: a revision of the emission reduction goals and the Climate Protection Plan (Item 24); proposed amendment to the transit standards of the SMART Housing program (26); adding higher minimum wage proposals to the city's legislative agenda (27); and establishing a Water Resource Planning Task Force (33). There also a dozen zoning hearings, including the historic designation for the Baylor House in Clarksville (49) opposed by the landowner who wants to replace the house, recommended by the Historic Landmark Com­mission, and punted without recommendation by both staff and the Planning Com­mission (see "Then There's This,"). Item 50 is a hearing over amending the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan, by adopting the South Austin Combined Neighborhood Plan.

The Road to 10-1

There were several additions this week to the list of official candidates for City Council in Novem­ber. Most notable: Council incumbents Chris Riley and Kathie Tovo, who confirmed that they'll be facing off against each other in the central-city District 9.

Based on this week's updates reviewable at the Newsdesk, here's list of current mayoral and Council candidates who have filed campaign treasurer designations with the city clerk, as of April 9:

Mayor: Stephen Adler; Mike Martinez, Randall Stephens

District 1: Andrew Bucknall, Sam Osemene

District 2: Delia Garza

District 3: Susana Almanza, Mario Cantu, Shaun Ireland, Fred McGhee

District 4: Chelsea Brass, Greg Casar, Marco Mancillas, Sharon E. Mays

District 5: Ann Kitchen

District 6: Jimmy Flannigan, Matt Stillwell, Jay Wiley

District 7: Jeb Boyt, Ed English, Pete Salazar Jr.

District 8: Darrell Pierce, Ed Scruggs

District 9: Chris Riley, Kathie Tovo

District 10: Margie Burciaga, Tina Cannon, Mandy Dealey, Sheri Gallo, Matt Lamon, Robert Thomas

Note: the list above includes only those candidates who have filed a campaign treasurer designation as of April 9; for the entire current list of declared or potential candidates, see austinchronicle.com/elections.

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