Todd to Slusher: "Walk this Way"

Thinking about applying to become the city's new pedestrian coordinator? Don't bother. Mayor Bruce Todd is expected to repeal the measure the first meeting after the new council takes the helm on June 15. Todd's got votes from Ronney Reynolds and Eric Mitchell, but we'll bet the coordinator's $45,000 annual salary that you can't guess the fourth vote. Okay, it's former Chronicle journalist Daryl Slusher, who spent a good part of his seven-year career at this free weekly hammering Todd, and making his public life miserable. And then ran against him for mayor. That's right, Todd's former greatest antagonist says excitedly that one of the first things he'll do is work with Todd to repeal outgoing councilmember Max Nofziger's biped bureaucrat. Todd even says he'd welcome an offer from Slusher to co-sponsor the repeal measure.

Could this be the beginning of a beautiful relationship? Possibly. Todd called Slusher the day after E-day to congratulate him, and to invite him to a meeting on Wednesday, where the new colleagues "talked about our approach to governing and our relationship," says Slusher. "We agreed that we'd agree on some things and disagree on others, but that we'd be civil and professional and that we owed it to the citizens. He said he didn't agree with some things I did in my campaign and that I probably didn't agree with some things he's done -- he's right -- but that that's all history and we wouldn't let it affect us on the council."

Todd's aide, Trey Salinas, also sees a kinder, gentler future, removed from the acrimony of years past: "At this point, the best thing we can do is work with Daryl positively. Everybody's wating for Daryl and the mayor to butt heads, but neither one is interested."

Could there be no surer sign of a city that has matured beyond its well-chronicled divisiveness? Or is this all just an aberration meant to disprove the critics, an eye in the storm until real feelings emerge? Who knows, but for now, Slusher and Todd are united strongly by the pedestrian coordinator issue. They agree the city should focus on pedestrian issues, but shouldn't hire a pedestrian coordinator when the city manager is projecting a $17 million budget shortfall. "I'm just being consistent with what I said in the campaign," says Slusher. "The city needs to pay [as much] attention to pedestrian travel as we do to the transportation network of the city, but we need to instruct departments to do so within their existing resources. Whenever there's a problem, there's a perception that you have to pass an ordinance to deal with it, and too often that becomes symbolic."

With that sentiment in mind, then, Slusher and his former dart board may find accord in other potential repeal measures, as well. Specifics aren't nailed down, but Salinas says Todd is considering repealing more of Nofziger's last-minute swansong measures. For example, Todd is thinking about repealing Nofziger's $24,000 Edwards Aquifer learning corner that's supposed to go in the Austin History Center. Slusher says he won't commit to any more repeals, but rather will study issues on a case by case basis. He says he'll likely split from Todd and support the Edwards Aquifer learning center, but at least the break-up will be civil. For now. -- Alex de Marban

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