Council: Google Fiber, Music, Monuments, and More

CMs take on high speed Internet, but don't expect a quick meeting

Al Edwards – the inspiration behind the Juneteenth Memorial Monument?
Al Edwards – the inspiration behind the Juneteenth Memorial Monument?

With another packed agenda this week, here's a rundown of a few things to expect at City Council today (Aug. 22):

First things first – who'll be getting free Google Fiber services next year? The super-speedy fiber network is due to be up and running here by mid-2014, with City Hall and the new Central Library on deck to receive free broadband Internet services, along with up to 100 yet-to-be-determined sites, mainly public or nonprofit facilities. The city has established a Community Connections program that will solicit applications from prospective recipients. A resolution (Item 83 by Council Member Laura Morrison and Mayor Lee Leffing­well) calls for the adoption of a community-benefits type of checklist for city staffers to consider in reviewing the applications. According to the resolution, the selected sites should be geographically dispersed, serve diverse populations, and serve diverse sectors such as government services, education, social services, creative endeavors, and health care. The trick will be settling on a list of winning applicants and getting it to Google by the end of the year.

Other items of interest:

The on-again/off-again cacophony of complaints about loud music from various venues may take a step toward resolution with three separate actions. Item 16 calls for the creation of a Music Venue Assistance Program – a "microloan" setup that would help qualifying music venues install sound-mitigation measures to reduce sound levels that impact nearby residents; Item 33 addresses permitting and enforcement requirements for amplified sound; and Item 122 would allow people to sound off at a public hearing on proposed building code amendments requiring noise mitigation devices in high-rises.

The embattled state Juneteenth Memorial Monument may finally find a resting place on the eastern grounds of the Carver Museum and Cultural Center. Council is expected to authorize a 99-year interlocal agreement between the city and the Texas Facilities Commission to have the monument displayed at Carver, a much better location than a Bas­trop foundry or, more recently, a state warehouse, as state officials tried to sort through criticisms that it was historically inaccurate. Critics were also upset that the lawmaker on the original monument, unveiled in 2005, looked suspiciously like former state Rep. Al Edwards, who sponsored the bill 14 years ago to create the monument.

Previously withdrawn funding for the Austin Independent Business Alli­ance could be reinstated in a new contract, with a resolution (Item 87) brought by Morrison and CM Bill Spelman. See "Then There's This," p.10.

Council is also expected to take action on code revisions relating to new players in the local ground transportation arena (Item 81). The proposed amendments would define ridesharing as a mode of transport "for which compensation is neither accepted, collected, encouraged, promoted, or requested," while also including an "e-hail" definition that recognizes mobile devices as an acceptable means of hailing a ride.

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News, Google Fiber, Community Connections, Laura Morrison, Lee Leffingwell, Music Venue Assistance Program, Juneteenth Memorial Monument, Carver Museum and Cultural Center, Texas facilities Commission, Al Edwards, Austin Independent Business Alliance, Bill Spelman, ridesharing, Austin City Council

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