This week, Mayor Steve Adler and his office announced:
• City Council Committee appointments, plus Council appointments to some 22 intergovernmental committees;
• a revised Policy Workshop schedule;
• finalized staff appointments, both paid and non-paid;
• a brand-new "Community Cabinet" of Mayoral policy advisors, again paid and unpaid, plus;
• a radical upgrade of the Mayor's Better Austin Foundation, Inc., a private foundation that would, largely, raise the money to pay for this newly privatized government.
And on the seventh day ... no time to rest: He's running a City Council meeting where he hopes to ratify all of this.
No, wait. At press time Wednesday comes word that the mayor will pull the Community Cabinet/BAF item tomorrow, "to have a robust discussion and address all questions and concerns," and then move to postpone a vote on it until the next meeting. Well good, that's a sensible and very reassuring reaction to what has been a good deal of trepidation regarding not just the proposal, but the speed at which it has come down the pike, posted as an agenda addendum on Monday, headed for a vote on Thursday, with lots of open questions regarding transparency, lines of influence, Open Meetings Act and Public Information Act compliance, and so on. I'll add two more: If, as I readily believe, there's a need for more staff and brainpower in the executive branch of city government, why is it proposed to be so concentrated in the mayor's office? And more broadly, under this brave new 10-1 way forward, are the Council members still part of that executive branch?
See more on this in Michael King's "Council: Only the Strong Survive," and in "Mayoral Cabinetry."
So, more work to be done there, but the committee appointments got done, and look to sail through approval; and the Policy Workshop program continues apace, slightly altered from what I reported last week. The mayor spread the schedule out a bit more, so that there are now only two policy workshops a day, instead of three. By combining several categories, and adding one more meeting day, Council still gets done with their workshops by March 30. Notably, this past Monday's Neighborhood Issues workshop – a monster, including Code Compliance, ADUs, short-term rentals, stealth dorms, parking, etc. – was pushed back to next Thursday, Feb. 19, even though Council does have several zoning cases on their agenda this week (hope they figure out what they're doing). See both lists below.
Meet Mr. Environment: Along with the committee appointments, the mayor also appointed Council representatives to 22 Intergovernmental Committees. Interestingly, among these, Don Zimmerman was given the Capital Area Council of Governments Clean Air Coalition Subcommittee, the Clean Air Force of Central Texas Board, and the Texas Colorado River Floodplain Coalition.
The Paramount Break-a-Leg 5K takes place Sunday, Feb. 15, in conjunction with the Austin Marathon and Half Marathon® to support the Paramount & Stateside theatres. Please dress as your favorite performer from the Paramount (actress/actor/musician/usher, etc.). Breaking news: Austin Aztex Coach Paul Dalglish will run the 5K, before leading his team in the ATX Pro Challenge up at UT later in the day; if you'd like to join him, use code AZTEXFANS for 10% off when you register at www.austintheatre.org.
Talk to the Lamp Post Starting Feb. 12, anyone can text the official Hello Lamp Post phone number and "wake up" lamp posts, mail boxes, hydrants, or even buildings and discover what these objects have to say. That's creepy. See www.hellolamppostaustin.com for more.
Tuesday, Feb. 17: Watershed Protection, Environment, and Endangered Species; Parks and Open Space
Thursday, Feb. 19: Education Support; Neighborhood Issues (including Code Compliance, ADUs, short-term rentals, stealth dorms, parking, etc.)
Monday Feb. 23: Infrastructure and Capital Planning; CodeNEXT, Permitting
Monday, March 2: Resource Recovery; Austin Energy (portfolio, business model over 10-20 years, etc.)
Friday, March 6: Combined "Quality of Life" and "Silos vs. Shared Solutions" Among District Communities, and "Factors Affecting the Cost of Living in Austin"; Economic Development (including incentives and innovation zone)
Monday, March 23: Public Safety; Community Relations with City Staff, Services, and Officials
Monday, March 30: Health Care and Delivery; Social Services plus Access for People with Disabilities
Audit & Finance: Kathie Tovo (c), Ellen Troxclair (vc), Pio Renteria, Leslie Pool
Austin Energy: Sheri Gallo (c), Leslie Pool (vc), all 11 members of the Council
Economic Opportunity, Technology, Innovation & Creative Industries: Ellen Troxclair (c), Ora Houston (vc), Greg Casar, Leslie Pool
Health & Human Services: Ora Houston (c), Kathie Tovo (vc), Delia Garza, Ellen Troxclair
Housing & Community Development: Pio Renteria (c), Ann Kitchen (vc), Greg Casar, Sheri Gallo
Mobility: Ann Kitchen (c), Sheri Gallo (vc), Delia Garza, Don Zimmerman
Planning & Neighborhoods: Greg Casar (c), Pio Renteria (vc), Sheri Gallo, Kathie Tovo
Public Safety: Don Zimmerman (c), Greg Casar (vc), Ora Houston, Leslie Pool
Public Utilities: Delia Garza (c), Don Zimmerman (vc), Ann Kitchen, Ellen Troxclair
Open Space, Environment, Sustainability: Leslie Pool (c), Delia Garza (vc), Kathie Tovo, Don Zimmerman
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