Beside the Point

Calmer Than You Are

At least Clean Austin's denizens – or is that dozens? – can take comfort in the fact that today marks the beginning of Internal Audit Week at the city. Council seems recently to have a problem with inopportunely placed proclamations – our top-secret insider files still rustle at the mention of Shred Week celebrations transpiring in the midst of the Open Government brouhaha – but they'll certainly get some instantaneous feedback on this choice.

"Audit this!" could well be the cry, as City Hall quickly plunges back into the dismal science of municipal economics.

Following proclamations tonight is the council's first – and initially, the only scheduled – public hearing on the November bond election, hanging fire until Saturday's dismissal of the potential propositions' cost. With dust settling and wounds tenderly wrapped following Saturday's resounding blowout of Props. 1 and 2, lead sponsor Save Our Springs Alliance may come to the party a little chastened. But open-space proponents at large – and SOS is only one among many, including quite a few groups on the other side of the Props – will certainly demand that council take another look at the funds for land acquisition, which suffered the largest outright cut in city staff's recommendations – from $90 million down to $50 million – and that's including designated parkland. Expect council to clear its evening calendar as environmental advocates promise to come out swinging – amidst all the myriad other local needs built into the original proposal, each carrying its own advocacy. Unsurprisingly, the motion for a second hearing, May 25, recently swept the council – the same day the package comes up for initial approval. Final approval is penciled in for June 8.

Today's fun, however, begins well before the 6pm hearings. Taking pre-emptive measures on the bond allocations are several speakers in citizens communications supporting continued inclusion of the Mexic-Arte Museum in the bond package. SOS communications director (and one-time Chronicle intern) Colin Clark is signed up to speak at noon (on the Springs, natch), as is self-proclaimed "mayor-elect" Jennifer Gale – on how she intends to spend her political capital. Insert your own equal opportunity jokes here – BTP is tired and has the flu.

The big ticket item today – in fact, the only one presented by council itself – is the return of Will Wynn and Brewster McCracken's traffic-calming initiative. Their "Rush Hour Rapid Response" has been presented as a sort of pro forma proposal designed to reduce congestion while working with what's already available in the municipal toolbox. Such as ordinances – related Item 8 expedites towing of broken vehicles off highways, amongst other minor tweaks, including bold steps like revoking permits to tow-truck drivers "convicted of a serious or violent crime" and "allowing for payments other than cash" to that most respected of professions.

A foursome of women and minority-owned business ordinances are also scheduled for approval today; the first, Item 23, extends minority and women-owned business enterprise assistance to 2010 from its current sunset date this summer; the other three pertain to procuring different types of services. The biggest lady-owned business of all – council itself – gets a presentation from CEO Toby Futrell as to what was behind the lagging repair times following this spring's storm-induced power outage. Toby, you got some 'splaining to do!

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Austin City Council, 2006 bond election, clean austin, prop 1, prop 2, save our springs, Colin Clark, Mexic-Arte museum, Rush Hour Rapid Response, Will Wynn, Brewster McCracken, minority owned business, women owned business, Toby Futrell

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