Texas State Capitol
"...Big news landing in our inbox: Assistant city manager, loyal lieutenant to former CM Toby Futrell, and Kirk Watson's running buddy Laura Huffman is leaving the city to become director of The Nature Conservancy of Texas. Hers is the second high-profile departure from the city in nearly as many weeks, with chief of staff and fellow member of the Tobyocracy, Kristen Vassallo, recently announcing her resignation...."
"...Almost three and a half hours after convening, City Council has returned from their closed-door discussions with a list of eight city manager semifinalists. The "internal" candidates are no surprise: Austin Energy General Manager Juan Garza and assistant city managers Rudy Garza and Laura Huffman..."
"... The press release: RG4N CALLS FOR THIRD-PARTY FACILITATOR City Management and Outside Counsel Fail to Move Northcross Negotiations Forward AUSTIN, Texas, March 26, 2007 Responsible Growth for Northcross (RG4N), the group opposing the Northcross Mall redevelopment plan, today called for a third-party facilitator to assist with negotiations between Lincoln Property Company, which owns Northcross Mall, and neighborhood groups. In a letter provided today to Austin Assistant City Manager Laura Huffman, RG4N stated that the minor revisions made to the development plan by Lincoln and Wal-Mart do not address priority concerns in any meaningful way..."
"...Responsible Growth for Northcross is in high dudgeon over City Council's appropriation of $224,000 to an outside law firm for help on the Northcross Wal-Mart debacle: "Five days after as many as 3,000 Austinites formed a one square mile-long human chain around the Northcross site, the Austin City Council approved an additional $175,000 to an outside counsel contract with Scott, Douglass & McConnico, LLP for legal counsel concerning development at Northcross Mall. The total contract amount is currently $224,000." It's hard to look at the city's description and see anything too nefarious: "assistance related to the filing of a second site plan by Lincoln Properties, as well as the initiation of negotiations with concerned citizens, Lincoln Properties, and Wal-Mart, concerning potential site plan improvements." RG4N counters, "This action, taken upon the advice of city staff, occurred just six days in advance of a meeting scheduled by Assistant City Manager Laura Huffman at the offices of Armbrust & Brown, the law firm retained by Wal-Mart, to present Lincoln Property Company’s response to the vision and priorities of the five neighborhood associations surrounding Northcross and RG4N..."
"...Likely after a few fingers of holiday cheer (or a round or two of bad stuffing), a local politico sent in this mind-blowing play concerning the city manager search. Unbuckle the belt another notch and take a look: Six members of the council: So Betty, what do you think? You're the only council member who we all trust and respect. Betty Dunkerley: I think we need to hire internally, since we're going into a two-year election cycle, and I don't think any of you want a new city manager whom we don't really know to be a wild-card in your races, right? Jennifer Kim: I do! I do! Everyone else: Shut up, fool. Dunkerley: Which also means we need to hire now so that Laura Morrison can't run on this issue, even though she'll probably win anyway, because Cid Galindo is a cartoon character, and Robin Cravey is a flake. Kim: But I want to run on this issue! It's all I've got! Everyone else: Shut up, fool. (Kim exits in tears and fires one of her staffers.) Will Wynn: So can we get this all done before my photo shoot for the "Green, Hot and Blue" issue of Details? Who are we hiring? Dunkerley: Well, Rudy Garza is too young, and Juan Garza is too old, so I'd say Huffman. Mike Martinez: Too young? Lee Leffingwell: Too old?..."
"...Hopefully, the 45-minute limit still stands. – Will Futrell even rear her head? She's been in and out all day, appearing to pose with Barrientos, but assistant CM Michael McDonald currently sits in the city manager's chair. Maybe the rumors of her recent vacation time burn-through are true. Tammy Williamson will be "walking us through the site plan," says Laura Huffman..."
"...But while we wait to see the external contenders, the three declared internal candidates – Assistant City Manager Laura Huffman, Austin Energy General Manager Juan Garza, and Assistant City Manager Rudy Garza – are ready for inspection: all longtime public servants with histories, résumés, and paper trails. We recently spoke with the three insiders to get a sense of their careers, their accomplishments and failings, to try to discern what type of city manager each might be. The Front-Runner..."
"...City Hall watchers were jolted by an unexpected, if not entirely surprising, announcement last week: Assistant City Manager Laura Huffman is leaving the city to direct the Texas chapter of the Nature Conservancy. "I am writing to officially submit my letter of resignation from the City of Austin, effective May 16, 2008," Huffman wrote City Manager Marc Ott Tuesday, April 29, calling her time "a wonderful and rewarding experience." Despite conservancy offices in San Antonio, lifelong Austinite Huffman will continue to reside here...."
"...RG4N, an umbrella group working with area neighborhood associations, has been advocating since last fall for a higher-quality redevelopment of Northcross Mall, without a Wal-Mart Supercenter. Futrell recused herself from Northcross due to a filed conflict of interest (her husband is employed by Wal-Mart); Assistant City Manager Laura Huffman has been acting in her stead...."
"...Apparently, among the many virtues Toby Futrell has fostered at City Hall is the gift of prophecy. Chronicle readers may have been puzzled by a letter that appeared in "Postmarks" last week from Assistant City Manager Laura Huffman in response to a story that appeared in that same issue about the ongoing Mala Sangre saga and the investigation of APD Assistant Chief Jimmy Chapman..."
"...From this point, council will consider separate candidate tracks – one for the "external" candidates Arcus found and another for the "internal" candidates already working for the city. The memo describes narrowing external candidates "to a manageable number of the most superior candidates (perhaps as few as three) for the first round of face-to-face interviews" while looking "forward to as many as three highly-qualified current City employees applying." So while the best of the external candidates may be limited to as few as three, all three rumored internal candidates (assistant city managers Laura Huffman and Rudy Garza and Austin Energy General Manager Juan Garza) advance up the bracket by default..."
"...City Manager Toby Futrell recently recused herself from any direct decision-making about the site (after being questioned by the Chronicle about a conflicts disclosure statement showing that her husband works for Wal-Mart). Futrell punted to Assistant City Manager Laura Huffman, who oversees all of the relevant city departments..."
"..."It's a legitimate question," said Assistant City Manager Laura Huffman, who got the awkward job of calling the primes to apologize and encourage them to resubmit. (All but the disqualified Black did after finding new, unconflicted subconsultants.) Only after reviewing the standard conflict-of-interest forms submitted in round one, said Huffman, did city staff realize how many of the team members owned Downtown property...."
"...City officials agree that the disparity is disturbing, especially considering that nearly 86% of all consent searches (regardless of race) end without officers making any sort of seizure. Still, Assistant City Manager Laura Huffman said that it is unlikely that APD will simply do away with consent searches..."
"...Laura Huffman, Texas director of the Nature Conservancy and herself a former assistant city manager, chaired the task force. She said she was pleased with the extent and range of community feedback, and said the group concluded that the candidates' specific public sector background would be less important than their "experience at managing truly complex operations," and their "demonstrated ability to create a positive culture, a management structure, with accountability a strong factor – accountability for strong performance and accountability for poor performance." Huffman noted the large number of current vacancies among the city's senior management, saying, "This selection is one of the most important decisions made by City Council, in order to establish the new face of city management, as well as a good working relationship between the current Council and city staff."..."
"...In late January or early February, a request for proposals will be issued for the Green WTP site, said Assistant City Manager Laura Huffman, and teams will submit detailed redevelopment visions (subject to Waterfront Overlay and Capital View Corridor restrictions). Urban designers will be invited to present a "best practices" vision for the site...."
"...Futrell and Assistant City Manager Laura Huffman, who sit at the top of the city's neighborhood planning and zoning food chain, asserted in a phone interview Tuesday that they were clueless about the Northcross site plan and Wal-Mart's anchor role before the news broke publicly. "I read it in the newspaper," said Futrell..."
"...22. According to Assistant City Manager Laura Huffman, the city has since verbally extended McLaughlin's contract twice, to end Dec..."
"...Don't look now, but Austin could have a new noise ordinance in a few short weeks. Monday night, Assistant City Manager Laura Huffman hosted a public meeting to review changes to the ordinance recommended by an advisory committee..."
"..."One of the things we've always liked about this proposal is the proposal," said Assistant City Manager Laura Huffman, who describes the plan as "extremely consistent with our visions of the [State Highway 130] development corridor." However, she points out, releasing the development from the ETJ would mean the city would have no control over what ends up on the property in an area the city will almost inevitably annex. "These are about concerns 20, 30, 40 years down the road," said Huffman, arguing that the city is being sensibly cautious..."