Council: Recycled Reconsiderations

Council deliberates, deliberately

City Council meets today (March 26) at the belated start time of 11am, with a relatively modest agenda of 51 items, and few obvious fire-starters among them. There's the return of the previously postponed construction manager-at-risk decision for a parking garage at ABIA (Item 4), and the revision of the noise ordinance (Item 5) to allow "busking" solicitation in certain areas of Down­town. In the current working pattern of the new Council – never doing today what they can put off for a few weeks – the former may get bounced to another committee, and on the latter, the Economic Development Department has asked for a withdrawal for a legal review and also a round of committee discussion. There are also a brace of pending contracts of various sorts, and a half-dozen zoning cases (not yet separated out to their own meeting, although that can depend on how time-hooked the cases might be).

Nevertheless, one thing we've learned from this new Council is that the length of the agenda provides only a guess on the length of the meeting. A glance at Council's "Questions and Answers" report – in which they submit background questions to staff in advance of an upcoming meeting – suggests that there will be plenty of gristle-chewing, especially on contracts that one would hope departmental staff have actually been hired to manage. Thus far, Council appears to prefer doing much of the managing itself.

This week, for example, District 10 Council Member Sheri Gallo wants to know whether certain subcontracted services – for land surveying (Item 3) and for Austin Water maintenance (Item 18) – couldn't be moved in-house at a savings (although D5 CM Ann Kitchen is wondering whether the maintenance workers have access to health insurance – likely one of the reasons it's a subcontract, and a question submitted to staff earlier for policy review). Gallo also wants to know if the nearby neighborhood associations support the "busking" ordinance (a question probably rendered temporarily moot by the request for withdrawal).

There are also several questions concerning the pending lease renewal for the Library Department's Recycled Reads resale shop on Burnet. Gallo, D6 CM Don Zimmerman, and D8 CM Ellen Troxclair all want to know more about the book resale and recycling shop. That's a little odd, since the Library Journal just named the Austin Library's Mindy Reed a "Mover and Shaker," "because of her commitment to the profession and to library sustainability as an innovator in library weeding practices." The city's press release continues, "Since opening in 2009, Recycled Reads has kept over 1,150 tons of material out of the landfill while raising funds for the Library. In 2014, Recycled Reads became a national model for library sustainability with its [U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services]-funded project, Sprouting Green Weeding Practices." (Presum­ably, that information will be included in Council's backup documents.)

Also: There are several questions suggesting that this or that item be sent to committee for further review.

It's Fashion Week, Safe Digging Month, and Million Mile Month (April: "a challenge to complete one million miles of physical activity, together as one collective community, in one month"). The musical honoree, fresh from her appearance at the Austin Music Awards, is singer-songwriter Carson McHone.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

City Council 2015, Economic Development, Library Department

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