Council: A Tapestry Dance for Fall
Cabs, parking, and marriage equality are all on the docket next week
By Michael King, Fri., Sept. 21, 2012
In the wake of the budget adoption – pretty much as expected, but for Mayor Lee Leffingwell's symbolic rejection of the tax increase (see "Council Passes Budget – Minus Mayor's Vote," Sept. 14) – it's a slow week at City Hall, with no regular meeting this week, the next one scheduled for Sept. 27. That will officially be "Tapestry Dance Company Day," the 5:30pm entertainment, along with a brace of proclamations, from a Clean Air Force contest award to Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Nothing directly budgetary on the early draft agenda, beyond the usual long list of contracts to approve, including several Austin Energy performance-based solar energy installation incentives to local businesses.
On the (at press time) 142-item agenda, there are a only a handful of items likely to raise sparks, including yet another attempt to grant additional franchise permits to Lone Star Cab (previously opposed by both the drivers association and disability activists), and a proposal to create a West Campus "Parking Benefit District," intended to use parking revenue to provide neighborhood improvements, a strategy that has worked well in other cities. Readers who've followed Amy Smith's report on the PromiseLand West Church amphitheatre ("Then There's This: Fixing a Hole," March 2) will be interested in a proposal to make nonprofits proposing such structures in residential neighborhoods subject to more thorough review, as already occurs for commercial businesses. (See also "Secondhand Stores to Council: 'Wait a Second!'.")
The day's headline item will likely be Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole's proposal (co-sponsored by Leffingwell and Council Member Laura Morrison) for a resolution endorsing "marriage equality in the State of Texas." The largely symbolic ordinance gives a history of the controversy over same-sex marriage and the state's legislative opposition to it, and cites the state constitution's declaration that "all free men ... have equal rights" and the endorsement of "more than 175 mayors" (including Leffingwell) in supporting a city resolution. As it happens, the resolution will coincide with council's waiver of fees connected to the Austin Pride Parade.
One unusual item is from the Contract Management Department, which investigated allegations of contractors failing to pay prevailing wages on three city projects (as required by ordinance); the department found minor violations (since resolved) on two of the projects, but potentially broader ones on renovations at the Downtown Austin Resource Center for the Homeless – staff recommends additional investigation of payroll for that project, which council needs to confirm. The city's director of contract management, Rosie Truelove, said that while this is the first such case they've brought to council for certification (perhaps adding another before the meeting), such contract audits are ongoing and have recovered substantial sums for workers. "Our goal in this program," said Truelove, "is to make certain that workers are being paid what they're supposed to be paid."
The scheduled morning briefings are on the Seaholm District/New Central Library, and on "Positive Impact for Climate" – we doubt the latter includes Citizens Communications.
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