Public Notice: Fun Is Where You Find It
Some things to look forward to(?) this summer
Okay, this is sad but, when they said "Summer Fun issue" in the editorial meeting, my mind immediately went to school bonds and CodeNEXT meetings, and City Council's hiatus-followed-by-budget-rush, and the ongoing political and legal war over immigration enforcement, not to mention the national scene ... but if you're still reading this, I'll presume you find those sorts of things, well, entertaining at least, if not necessarily always fun. So, without further apology, here's some "fun" stuff to look forward to on the political scene this summer:
Bonds. School Bonds.
AISD's Facilities and Bond Planning Advisory Committee is trying to whittle a $1.2 billion "needs" list for facilities into a $900 million bond proposal to put on the November ballot – with the big issues being whether to include $125+ million to move the LASA magnet high school away from the campus it shares with LBJ High, and whether to split the bond into multiple proposals, or go all-or-nothing. Lots to discuss here, including public meetings today and Saturday (see "Naked City," at right). Originally, the AISD board of trustees was hoping to have a proposal they could vote on by June 19, but they'll probably have to punt to a special-called July meeting. Legally, they have until August to put something on the ballot, but it's presumed that not having a solid package together until the last minute (or not getting a unanimous Board vote in favor), would be bad optics to the voters.
The AISD board is also under the gun to appoint a trustee (likely on June 12) to replace Southeast Austin's Paul Saldaña, who resigned right after voting against the facility master plan on which the bond package is to be modeled. There are two public candidate forums, Saturday and Tuesday; see "AISD: Refilling the School Board," May 19.
City Council may be going on hiatus for the month of July, but City work continues through the summer – most visibly on the CodeNEXT land development code rewrite, which has been getting mixed to extremely negative reviews for its first draft. There are several more public meetings coming up, but the real action will be at the Zoning and Platting and Planning commissions, which have both started to dig into various aspects of the code, and the mapping – and what they've dug up has made for some frank and lively discussions. Both the ZAP and PC meetings are televised live on Access Channel 6; those should be must-watch TV throughout the rest of the summer. There's a June 7 deadline for comments to be submitted, in order to be included in version 2.0 of the code, so ZAP and PC, along with the Code Advisory Group, and the architects' group AIA Austin, will all submit reports by then. July 7 is the deadline for mapping comments – and seriously, to all property owners reading this: You should absolutely look at the maps (www.austintexas.gov/codenext), because you are likely being rezoned, and it may affect your value.
D7 Mapping Meeting: Sat., May 20, noon-2pm, Burnet Middle School, 8401 Hathaway
D2: Tue., May 23, 6:30-8:30pm, American YouthWorks, 1901 E. Ben White
D9: Sat., June 3, 10am-noon, Austin City Hall, 301 W. Second
Mobility Code Talk: Wed., May 31, 6-8pm, City Hall
Permitting & Process: Wed., June 7, 6-8pm, City Hall
City Council estivates June 23-July 31, but on the budget agenda before then, they have to decide by early June whether to again expand the homestead exemption on property taxes, and they jump into budget discussions right away on Aug. 1, leading up to formal budget readings Sept. 11-13.
Movement on Mobility The City has begun spending some serious money on the Mobility Bond authorized in November: $39 million for road projects, sidewalks and trails, and 21 new full-time employees across four different city departments for starters, and there's a lot more to come. Can't wait to see when actual work begins. For now, Corridor Mobility Plans are being developed for Slaughter Lane, William Cannon Drive, and Brodie Lane. The public input process starts this week with three open houses, each presenting info and taking input on all three of those southern corridors. Or provide feedback online at www.austintexas.gov/corridors.
Thu., May 18, 4:30-7:30pm, Langford Elementary School, 2206 Blue Meadow
Mon., May 22, 4:30-7:30pm, Covington Middle School, 3700 Convict Hill
Tue., May 23, 4:30-7:30pm, Bethany Lutheran Church, 3701 W. Slaughter
Lawsuits against Senate Bill 4 have already been filed, and will keep piling up all summer – the state's attempt to crack down on "sanctuary cities" is currently set to go into effect Sept. 1, but will certainly be delayed or killed in the courts. (See "Austin, Texas Cities Promise Legal Fight Against SB 4," May 19.)
Campus Carry goes into effect at Austin Community College Aug. 1. They've developed a set of policies on the matter after a public process this spring; see those at www.austincc.edu/campuscarry.
The Circus may be staying in town: Sine die, the last day of the biennial Texas legislative session, is Memorial Day, Monday, May 29. But at press time, the deadlock between the House and Senate over key budget details appears such that there may be no budget bill by then; in that case, expect a special session, and for the Lege to be right back at ... can we call it work? ... on Tuesday the 30th.
Death Watch: Okay, this is really not fun at all, but, it's worth noting that there are three executions scheduled at Huntsville this summer: Kosoul Chanthakoummane on July 19, Taichin Preyor on July 27, and Steven Long on August 30.
Win the next election: Help citizens register to vote by becoming a Volunteer Deputy Registrar. Attend a one-hour training session, the first Tuesday of any month: Tue., June 6, 10:30am, 12:30pm or 6:30pm at Travis County Tax Office, 5501 Airport. (www.traviscountytax.org).
• Queerbomb, she's back – with an all new kweer krew to drop glitter bombs, Sat., June 3, at Fair Market, 1100 E. Fifth. And something this sparkly takes money – give what you can via their donation page, www.queerbomb.org.
• Texas Equality March for Unity and Pride is a sister march with the big one in D.C., hosted by Queer Rights ATX and Austin Pride in resistance to the legislated discrimination against LGBTQIA communities. Sun., June 11, noon-4pm, Texas State Capitol. www.fb.com/events/254661681636389 or www.equalitymarch2017.org.
• Austin Pride Sat., Aug. 26, 11am-6pm at Fiesta Gardens, is the largest annual LGBTQ advocacy and fundraising event in Central Texas, and Central Texas' single largest HIV testing day of the year. Two stages, games and activities, drinks, food, and over 140 vendor booths featuring nonprofits and local businesses that support the LGBTQ community.
June 3: March for Truth: A call for an impartial investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election and ties to the Trump administration. 11am-1pm at Austin City Hall. www.fb.com/events/1899873973623688
June 17: Juneteenth Celebration: A 2K run/walk, a parade, and all-day festival in Rosewood Park. www.juneteenthcentraltexas.com.
Donald Trump may be ruining our country, but you have to admit, he's the most wildly entertaining thing to happen to D.C. since Mayor Marion Barry, and the most prolific media hog since Adolf Hitler. But the act is getting a bit stale, and impeachment talk is heating up and getting serious. Expect more fun on that front all summer long.
U.S. laws won't let bookies put a line on political events. But at least six British betting agencies are laying odds and taking bets on various Trump impeachment scenarios. At the popular Irish bookie site Paddy Power, Trump is now a 4-6 favorite to not finish his first term in office. That site offers seven different categories of specialty bets: You can get about even odds that the FBI will confirm Trump/Russia collusion and bring charges against members of the Trump campaign team, 66-1 odds that Trump will have a Russian airport named after him, and 100-1 odds that "Joe Biden meets Trump at an event and punches him right in the face." There's also a list of 11 things, including women's voting rights (300-1), that Trump will ban during his first term.
Over at bet365, they have it about even odds that Trump will resign during his first term, with the same odds (5-1) that he'll be impeached and convicted of a crime, or that he'll be declared unfit to serve by a vote of Congress under the 25th Amendment.
SkyBet is the only agency I found that takes bets specifically on this summer; they'll give you 10-1 odds that Trump won't make it through the next six weeks and will not be president on July 1, but it's dead even on whether he'll complete his first term, and about 7-1 that he'll make it through two terms.
Of course, there are plenty of other "specials" out there. Regrettably, I couldn't find anyone laying odds on the likelihood of global thermonuclear war – but then, I suppose in that event, the betting markets would be somewhat disrupted anyway. No fun.
Bike Austin's annual Bike to Work Day is this Fri., May 19, with some 45 fueling stations offering riders free coffee, snacks, and swag. See details and make a pledge at www.biketoworkaustin.org. The official afterparty is 5-7:30pm at Google Fiber Space. And if you don't want to ride your own bike, B-Cycle is offering free one-day memberships; see austin.bcycle.com.
The sixth annual AHS Pup Crawl is Sat., May 20, 2-8pm on historic Rainey Street. Pup Crawlers pick up their $25 wristband and T-shirt at Bar 96 and meet some of the Humane Society's adorable adoptable dogs, then move on in 90-minute increments to Lustre Pearl, Container Bar, and Clive Bar. More info and pre-register at www.bit.ly/AHSPupCrawl.
Shoal Creek Conservancy presents the third annual Shoal Creek Awards on Tue., May 23, 5:30-7:30pm at Cirrus Logic Conference Space, 700 West Ave. Free appetizers and beverages by watershed restaurants, live music, and mingling with the local heroes who work to protect Shoal Creek. Tix are $40, or $75 including a 5pm VIP reception; see www.shoalcreekconservancy.org.