The Austin Chronicle

Beside the Point: Top 10 council highlights

By Wells Dunbar, January 5, 2007, News

1) No Retreat, No Surrender: Nothing got talk-radio wags' maws a squawkin' more than council's November retreat to "conference center in day-spa drag" the Crossings to indulge in a little team-building and agenda setting. And, judging from subsequent reports, to play with stickers.

2) Raise the Pressure: Also drawing high dudgeon from shrinking libertarian violets, albeit a little less justifiably, was council's self-approved raise, also in November. The arguably necessary cost-of-living increase garnered scores more controversy than City Manager Toby Futrell's February $32,000 bump.

3) Farewell to Raul Alvarez, Danny Thomas: As these two vacated their Place 2 and Place 6 seats, Austin bid Godspeed to two stalwart public servants, although we suspect we haven't heard the last of these Eastside movers.

4) Responsible Growth for Northcross, Fire Alarms for City Hall: A few hours after RG4N mounted the loudest City Hall protest in recent memory, during the subsequent Northcross hearing, the fire department evacuated council chambers. Call it hangover heat.

5) Brewster McCracken, Jennifer Kim Crash City Browsers: The twin lightning rods spent $3,000 spiffing up their personal Web sites, only to be told doing so constituted a conflict-of-interest cyber-solecism. More the Legal Department's snafu than theirs.

6) What If They Created a Downtown Austin Plan and Nobody Came?: In drafting DAP proposals, planners saw the writing on the wall: With every other major development under its belt, ROMA Design Group was such a shoo-in, one competitor didn't even bother with their presentation.

7) Lee Leffingwell Cleans Springs in Skivvies: I got yer 1,000 words right here:

8) Council Lobs Budget Softballs: Of all the strange and arcane stuff crammed in the municipal budget, our favorite was $186,000 to reduce rising softball-league fees, proposed by Mike Martinez. Maybe the Chron-sters can afford to re-up!

9) Twenty-Four on Sixth: Economics Research Associates filmed a day on Sixth Street and presented it to council. The highlight featured a giggling clubgoer tripping over a passed-out drunk and then shooting him with her camera phone.

10) Soggy Statesman Piddles on Puppy Patios: In February, the AA-S editorial page sputtered that council members "had better things to do, like ... demand that dogs be allowed in certain restaurants" – rather than take dictation, we guess, from the city manager's office.

*Oops! The following correction ran in our January 12, 2007 issue: In "Beside the Point: Top 10 council highlights" [News, Jan. 5], an editing error changed former City Council Member Raul Alvarez's name to Ramon Alvarez. The Chronicle deeply regrets the error.

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