The Daily Hustle: 6/24/10

Liveblogging City Council

The Daily Hustle: 6/24/10
Photo courtesy City of Austin

Hey guys – we’re gonna try something a little different today and liveblog this behemoth of a City Council meeting. Please join us below the fold.

The council agenda is available here.

4:30pm: And with the zoning agenda looming ominously, the Hustle is calling it quits. It's been real, I'll say that much.

4:24pm: Riley asks how likely that panacea of federal funding is. Asks for federal funding examples in other cities. Raises issue of who will operate the damn thing.

4:17pm: Plan follows previous Mueller to ABIA model, places maintenance center south of river. Full capital cost estimate at $955 million, offset with several funding sources.

4:05pm: Big buildup from Rob Spillar before we see routes or anything definitive but emphasis, as one would expect, on the urban core.

3:58pm: Briefing on the Urban Rail Plan, finally.

3:43pm: Believe it or not, council returns now to their AM briefings, taking up the bike boulevard first.

3:41pm: Spelman calls items in "everyone's best interest." "Nothing other than what Cesar Chavez was asking for ... 50 years ago," says Spelman. Passes 7-0.

3:37pm: Item 87, the Workers Defense Project resolution pulled by Spelman, is now up.

3:29pm: The CreateAustin Cultural Master Plan is now coming up for brief comment and assured passage.

3:24pm: Martinez speaking. Notes all item does is examine whether airport land can be used - not a done deal. "Let's find out truly what the options are." Moves approval of Item 83. Passes 7-0.

3:22pm: Question: If the homes are RVs, why not place them wherever the Formula 1 Racetrack ends up? [/sarcasm]

3:18pm: Now onto the Mobile Loaves and Fishes RV project. MLF's Alan Graham notes they've been working on the project for 5-and-a-half years, and have 60 RVs waiting. Riley asks whether, regarding speakers in opposition, that a grocery isn't nearby (one's on bus line; pantry and gardening also on site). Addresses safety "concerns" from Del Valle NIMBYists by noting no schools are on bus lines.

3:02pm: Item 36 now being vetted.

3pm: Item passes 5-2, Spelman, Cole no. Separate item covering legal issues passes also.

2:57: Riley, curious if short term negotiations can include Greenstar, as Balcones can't gear up as quickly. Offers as friendly amendment. Accepted by Shade.

2:56pm: Vote commencing on Cole's substitute motion. Second, Spelman. Fails 2-5, Spelman, Cole only yeas.

2:48pm: Cole: "The sanctity of the procurement process is on the line ... We say to every other contractor that comes before us: 'This is how we do business.'" Makes substitute motion to extend contract with Greenstar, reissue RFP with new considerations, including environmental record, positive cash flow to the city.

2:46pm: Shade speaking, says "we voted to reject the proposals last time ... It makes sense to me we have an existing contract in place for the short term [Greenstar] ... in the mean time, we instruct staff to evaluate the best proposals on a short and long-term basis."

2:44pm If RFP was reissued, TDH's disqualification would still stand, according to the latest city staffer - unless new RFP was substantially different.

2:39pm: But maybe not, as Shade moves to pass Item 81, negotiating with TDS & Balcones. Now Cole trying to establish a ballpark figure for the value of the contract. $25-35 million, says Johnson. Asks what "best practices" are for contracts of this size. Kennard notes "this type of service" - a health concern - doesn't have to be competitively bid. "Fits under health and safety exception, under the law," she adds.

2:37pm: Some real Robert's Rules of Order-type bullshit right now, as Spelman establishes he could offer a substitute motion offering a new RFP.

2:30pm: Citizens finished, Spelman speaking. "Concerned about the propriety of negotiating with one of the companies not included in the RFP." Preference at this point is to re-open RFP process, "if can be done in an expeditious way."

Asks "If we were to reopen this RFP ... ask for bids at the earliest reasonable moment ... what is the shortest amount of time that could reasonably be done?" Five to six months, says purchasing officer Byron Johnson.

2:27pm: Just when you think the MRF debate can't get any more belabored, Gus Pena signs up to speak. (He's in favor of Balcones Resources.)

2:18pm: Finally onto the MRF action. Lee Kuhn, Allied Waste GM is speaking; AW was a staff selected finalist, but isn't in the running today. Cites "TDS’ interference and end run around the formal RFP process."

2:14pm: Cole pulls Item 15, relating to redevelopment of Bartholomew, West Enfield, and Deep Eddy pools. Then moves approval.

2:03pm: Now onto Item 13, pulled by Chris Riley. Now hearing from the applicant, who's against the planning commission recommendation predicating the alleyway vacation off Congress only if it benefits a new hotel complex; applicant is asking for a straight-up vacation of the alleyway in question, or something. Shade offers substitute motion going for unqualified vacation. Riley says alleys are important. Sub-motion passes 5-2, Riley, Sheryl Cole opposed.

1:59pm: Signs of life on the dais, as council appears to be gearing back up.

1pm: Council's in executive session, until a rumored 1:30pm. Still on the agenda: conclusion to the bike boulevard discussion; the urban rail discussion; MRF madness; and Mobile Loaves and Fishes' proposed RV park for the homeless on airport land, plus a couple other goodies I've certainly forgot about.

12:15pm: PODER's Susana Almanza is discussing an "equity land swap" with city land to move Pure Castings away from Zavala Elementary.

12:07pm: Several speakers from PODER are present to discuss relocating the Pure Castings facility from central East Austin.

12:03pm: And council breaks for citizen communication.

12:01pm: Angelos Angelou going on about the economic impact of the boulevard – "no negative impact." Law offices and bail bondsmen: if your business relies on drive-by traffic, you're screwed to begin with.

11:54am: With bike talk still happening, looks like presentation on the recommended urban rail plan won't happen until after noontime Citizens Communications.

11:40am: Onto the Downtown Bike Boulevard briefing now, complete with the infamous flyover graphic.

11:20am Bill Spelman on joggers: "You will never see me in Spandex."

11am: Spillar on $17 million Lady Bird Boardwalk: "In short, we believe that particular project could be phased, and that could free up capacity."

10:56am: You can get more on the plan here.

10:41am: Briefing on proposed 2010 transportation bond package, from Rob Spillar.

10:39am: Consent agenda passes.

10:36am: "Point of clarification" from Leffingwell: while charter election can occur no later than November 2012, "legally, there could be an election as early as May 2011."

10:33am: Shade: Need better policies in place for continued reporting on legal issues, instead of only getting advice when/after items erupt. "The KeyPoint experience was a clear example of multiple legal matters resulting for single event," but not sure if changing reporting structure would change that. Now on to use of force, the Sarbanes–Oxley Act, and a lot of other stuff I can't follow.

10:26am: Paul Robbins speaking on Item 78, which would put on the 2012 charter election an item having the city attorney report to the council instead of the city manager. He urges creation of a charter revision commission that would review potential items for the election. Randi Shade is now speaking, voicing support for Item 78, but unsure of how she'd vote in 2012. Shade calls the change somewhat of a "piecemeal approach."

10:22am Going through items on the consent agenda with only one speakers; among items pulled from consent are all relating to the MRF selection.

10:14am: Speaker against Item 37, grant money a speaker fears should be vetted through the Public Safety Commission due to fusion center privacy fears.

10:12am Just read changes and corrections – Items 17 and 18, pertaining to the controversial Austin Energy Control Center repurposing, is withdrawn.

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