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Council: Where's the Meeting?

Council wanders from room to room

By Michael King, Fri., Aug. 15, 2014

When I was a kid in South Chicago, the polite term for "refugee" was "displaced person." Of course, among my many immigrant relatives and their hyphenated offspring, that quickly became another insult, generally reduced to variations on "You blankety-blank DP!" Well, with City Council chambers still under reconstruction, Council members are all DPs at the moment, meeting variously in Travis County Com­mis­sion­ers Court, Town Lake Center Assembly Room, and City Hall's Boards and Com­mis­sions Room. Wednes­day's work session (Assembly Room) was devoted to departmental budget updates; Thursday's special-called session (B&C Room) considers Austin Energy reserve funds and a resolution reiterating the city's intent on the transportation bond proposition; Friday's special (B&C) will consider how to pay for a potential buyout of the remaining Onion Creek floodplain properties.

But heading into fall, Council seems to be getting more efficient, at least for the moment. Last week, faced with a daunting 178-item agenda that looked to become another late-night marathon, they managed to wrap up at 8:23pm. Of course, that was achieved with a whole slew of contracts approved "on consent" – possible when no one on or off the dais wants to get a word in – and a number of prominent postponements that will inevitably circle back to another lengthy agenda. But they did decide to: 1) approve another series of AE solar energy incentive rebates; 2) accept a $1 million federal matching grant to proceed with the planned "[re]Manufacturing Hub" near ABIA; 3) formally approve the Nov. 4 Council election (details still to be tweaked); 4) accept a $256,500 ArtPlace America grant targeted at Council "district cultural assets"; 5) approve a $1.25 million settlement for the family of Larry Eugene Jackson Jr., shot and killed by an Austin pol­ice officer last July; 6) move to implement recommendations by the Water Resource Planning Task Force (details in September); and 7) settle the usual host of zoning cases with the corollary host of postponements.

Not a bad week's work, especially in transit. Meanwhile, they've canceled the regular Aug. 21 meeting, but will hold work sessions Aug. 19 and 26, with the next formal meeting scheduled for Aug. 28 – and they aren't expected to be back in Council chambers for at least another month. Because of technical limitations, musical honorees are unlikely for a while; musical meeting rooms it is.

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