Public Notice: The Year of Immobility

If it's not one thing, it's another ...

Public Notice: The Year of Immobility

It's been an eventful week on the local scene: Even as Mayor Steve Adler and City Council try desperately to focus on crafting a transportation bond proposal that the real estate community can support, things keep blowing up around them. First came the announcement last Thursday that CodeNEXT executive leader Matt Lewis had resigned. In fact, the announcement revealed, Lewis had been "placed on Administrative Leave April 18, 2016 while the Human Resources Department conducted an investigation into allegations involving Mr. Lewis's professional behavior. After reviewing the findings of those investigations Mr. Lewis opted to resign from the City." Officials are left scrambling to explain that this had nothing to do with any possible reason why the much-anticipated, much-touted project to completely rewrite the city's Land Development Code is behind schedule, over budget, and fending off criticism from pretty much all sides. Project manager Jim Robertson has been in charge of the team and the project all along, goes the company line, and the ship continues to sail a straight course. So, nothing to see here.

Then came two right-wing lawsuits over city efforts to regulate short-term rentals and rideshare companies – brought by the arch-conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation, and our own Council Member Don Zimmerman, respectively. Neither of these appears to have much merit – they're rehashing ground that's already been argued and litigated – but they're an annoying distraction nonetheless. Still, it remains fascinating to watch the tech-libs try to rationalize why they're increasingly in bed with the most reactionary of bedfellows (kind of like watching someone being swallowed alive by a giant snake).

On Monday, City Manager Marc Ott announced that he's a finalist for a job as the head of the International City/County Management Association. That news brought sighs of relief from many quarters: Ott has a lot of critics, including many of the current council, but no one has ever wanted to pull the trigger on replacing him, so many had been quietly hoping he'd find another position elsewhere. This looked like the time might have arrived, but on Wednesday, CM Uncle Don had to go and take a dump on that birthday cake as well: As Council came out of its umpteenth special session regarding Ott's performance review, he issued a public call for Ott to be fired. That's still evolving as we go to press, but the first reaction is, if Ott becomes damaged goods on the job market, we may not be rid of him after all. Thanks a lot, UD.

And that brings us pretty much up to the present, which, if you're reading this on Thursday, probably has wound back around to the transportation bond conundrum: Go big, and don't leave any bond capacity for housing, services, and all the other needs that would have a claim on that money in the next cycle? Or go small, and don't really accomplish anything? Go local, and really move the needle on transit and alternative transportation? Or go regional, and build enough road miles to get enough suburban votes to pass the damn thing? Or go in circles, and don't actually go anywhere at all? Can't wait to see how that one's going to turn out.

Speaking of going places, this week marks the beginning of a transportation series we're planning on continuing irregularly through the year, covering a variety of mobility issues in this, the city's self-proclaimed "Year of Mob­il­ity." First up is Kahron Spearman's feature "72 Hours (or So) of Ridesharing," in which he provides a consumer comparison of (most of) the various services that have sprung up to replace Uber and Lyft in the marketplace.

Favorite press release of the week: "Spirax Sarco rebrands VLM10 Inline Vortex Mass Flowmeter to VLM20" – which makes it, presumably, twice as good.

Send gossip, dirt, innuendo, rumors, and other useful grist to nbarbaro@austinchronicle.com.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

transportation, Steve Adler, City Council, transportation bond proposal, CodeNEXT, Matt Lewis, Jim Robertson, Land Development Code, Texas Public Policy Foundation, Don Zimmerman, Marc Ott

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