Council: Are We Having Fun Fun Fun Yet?
The show must go on, but where exactly?
Can you ride an elephant to Fun Fun Fun Fest? Not likely, but you might want to keep a closer eye on your doggie (excuse me, companion animal) this fall when the music festival comes to Auditorium Shores – including perhaps some part of the recently redesigned off-leash zone.
Those are among the issues under discussion for today's City Council meeting (Aug. 6), at least based on the agenda as amplified by Tuesday's work session (and what Council members describe as their email queues). The agenda (as posted) is a manageable 72 items, although judging from recent practice (and Tuesday's work session) at least some contracts will garner strict scrutiny from a couple of Council members – there was, for example, grumbling Tuesday about a proposed purchase of additional Balcones Canyonlands Preserve lands.
A couple of very high-profile matters – conditional use permits for Springdale Farms (postponed) and the East Side Hotel (withdrawn, see "East Side Hotel Changes Course," p.14) – did not survive today's cut, so that leaves sparks to ignite over FFF Fest, which is in negotiations with the Parks & Recreation Department over event space at Auditorium Shores. Two apparently repetitious Items (43 & 55), although with slightly different sponsorship, would allow the fest to use the shores in something like its earlier configuration prior to the just-completed redesign. PARD staff were still negotiating with the festival this week, and at least sounded optimistic on Tuesday. CM Greg Casar has been the primary instigator for a workable compromise – and emphasized that whatever happens this year might not be a permanent solution, but needs to be in place soon for planning purposes. (An unanticipated complication is the Settlement Home's coincident annual garage sale at Palmer Events Center – a pending collision of target demographics as well as parking demands.)
On another front, some Council members want to ban the use of bullhooks for circus elephant-training (Item 51); a surprisingly heated argument broke out over whether that would take effect quickly enough to prevent elephants from accompanying the next Erwin Center Ringling Bros. (etc.) extravaganza in mid-August, with CM Ora Houston particularly holding out for the opportunity for children in "my community" being able to see "pachyderms" up close. (The elephants are apparently the least of it: Ringling is also promising a unicorn, a Pegasus, and a woolly mammoth – you think a mammoth takes orders for kibble treats?)
Beyond these humanitarian efforts, Item 44 (sponsored by CMs Don Zimmerman, Ellen Troxclair, Sheri Gallo, and Houston) would redirect the 3% wage increase recommended in the proposed budget only to the lowest-paid civilian city employees; those higher on the pay scale would see "tiered" increases, diminishing to less than 1% at the top (see above). Mayor Adler proposed to delay that discussion later into the budget cycle; Zimmerman was adamant that sooner is better. Today, we'll learn who won.
It's Medicare's 50th anniversary (Jeb Bush says he'll take care of that soon), Honeybee Awareness Day, and Duck Derby Day. The musical honoree is – to each his own – Daniel Llanes.