Privatize, privatize, dance to the music
There was a disturbing theme running through public discussions this week regarding two of the vexing issues facing the city: MoPac expansion, and the Decker Lake golf proposal. Re: MoPac, we were told, dismissively, that HOV may be all well and good somewhere, but toll lanes are the only thing that's going to fund any construction. And on Decker, we're still being sold the line that, with the 25th largest city-owned park in the nation lying fallow, turning it over to a private developer is the only way we're going to bring economic prosperity to this neglected corner of the city. Yes, well.
The MoPac assessment may be correct in the current anti-tax climate, though that's depressing, and requires that we turn a blind eye to the fiscal sinkhole that is SH 130, our other major, privately operated toll road. But while that's how the decision went at CAMPO this week, over the city of Austin's objections (see p.14), this is far from settled, and will play out in slow motion over the next quarter-century.
Decker, on the other hand, wants to be decided relatively quickly, and pretty much irrevocably. To that end, City Council's Economic Opportunity Committee took up the issue this week, and under CM Ellen Troxclair's leadership, actually appeared to make progress toward some guidelines to govern not just this deal, but economic incentive proposals in general.
With opinion on the proposal itself clearly split, Troxclair did a neat sidestep: asking for a better analysis of all options, and of the civic benefits, in case the project moves forward: "I do think that there are other opportunities out there, if we're able to think creatively ... I don't think that this committee can take a stance of yes, support the golf course, or no, don't support the golf course ... but I wanted to make sure that, if we do decide to go forward, we truly have a proposal that would benefit the entire community as a whole."
But that may well cost money, of course; this Council is just starting to get into its first budget deliberations, and what they find (see "Point Austin," p.10) will not be pretty. If city officials seem largely united in that they don't want to dance to the privatization music, they're only beginning to figure out how to play a different tune.
The SIMS Foundation has been doing amazing work for Austin musicians and their families for 20 years now. This week they host a couple of very special events honoring two very beloved people:
Mac's Memorial B-Day Bash! Celebrate what would have been Ian McLagan's 70th birthday on Friday, May 15, at the Continental Club. Music from original members of the Bump Band plus many, many special guests. The Happen-Ins kick off the show at 10:15pm!
Heaven Adores You: SIMS hosts a screening of this documentary about the life and music of Elliott Smith, Wed., May 20, at 7:30pm at the North Door, with musical performances to follow. www.simsfoundation.org.
Bike Month continues – there's a huge schedule of rides, meetups, and miscellany all month long, centered around May 15's Bike to Work Day, which runs from a City Hall press conference at 8am, to a 4:45pm "Political Pedal" with local elected officials riding to the Bike Home From Work Party at Cheer Up Charlies (5-7pm). See www.biketoworkaustin.org, www.bikeaustin.org, or www.bicycleaustin.info for oh-so-much more info. This week's highlights include the Bike Zoo operating their bike-powered carousel and showing off "one of our majestic, giant butterfly bikes" from 10am-6pm, Sat.-Sun., May 16-17 at the Austin Mini Maker Faire at the Palmer Events Center, plus the Yellow Bike Project Birthday Party, celebrated Sat., May 16, with beer, a bike-in movie, and popcorn from the Alamo Drafthouse – starting at 7pm with a ride from the Pfluger Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge to the YBP shop at 1216 Webberville Rd. More details at www.austinyellowbike.org.
AISD's FY 2016 preliminary proposed budget will be the subject of four in-person conversations this month, plus a Tele-Town Hall, 6-8pm Wed., May 20, during which participants can listen to a budget presentation and call to submit questions. Watch on AISD's Channel 22, livestream at www.austinisd.org, or call in at 512/414-9922. Or attend the meeting Monday, May 18, noon-1:30pm at Gus Garcia Young Men's Leadership Academy, 7414 Johnny Morris Rd.
PARD (still) needs lifeguards: Wed., May 20, is the final hiring day hosted by the City Aquatics Division to help you complete an application, interview, and register for any required training. 4-8pm, Aquatic Administration and Training Facility, 2818 San Gabriel. www.austintexas.gov/department/lifeguarding-austin.
Planning and development geeks: The full Zucker Report is now available at www.austintexas.gov/edims/document.cfm?id=230625. Woo-hoo!