Public Notice: The Business of Governing
Choosing a transit chief, a debt level & more
Amid the January doldrums, decisions are being made; actions being taken:
Amid the PR farce that was the Austin city manager search process, another major CEO search has gone relatively unnoticed. The Capital Metro CEO – like the city manager, an autonomous head of a massive public enterprise, hired by public officials but otherwise independent of their control – will be chosen this coming Tuesday, with few seemingly knowing or caring, even though transit woes rank way up there on most lists of Austin's problems. For the record, the four finalists for the post are:
• Randy Clarke, VP of the trade association American Public Transportation Assoc.; formerly with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in Boston, including as deputy chief operating officer.
• Erika Mazza, deputy general manager of the Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority in Flagstaff, also has a background in Human Services and Housing.
• Darrell Mobley, director of Public Works & Transportation in Prince George's County, where he's overseeing his county's portion of the state's light rail expansion project.
• Raymond Suarez, chief operating officer of the Denton County Transportation Authority, and formerly head of the Trinity Railway Express, a joint venture between the Dallas and Fort Worth transportation authorities.
You can hear them talk, and have a chance to ask questions, at a public town hall meeting, 6-8pm, Monday, Jan. 8 at the AISD Performing Arts Center, 1500 Barbara Jordan Blvd. in Mueller. The Cap Metro board is expected to make their decision the next evening.
The Bond Election Advisory Task Force, tasked with recommending a bond package for City Council to put before voters in November, is holding one more – possibly final – round of "listening sessions," in order "to better understand what City infrastructure needs are most important to Austin residents." Specifically, Council asked for a focus on flooding, affordable housing, mobility, high-capacity transit, parks, libraries, and existing infrastructure, and city staff proposed a package of $640 million – whittled down from a list of $3 billion in perceived needs – as "a starting point for the Task Force to consider." That included about $85 million for affordable housing, which various observers and council members have said is too low, and it did not include the $124 million that Council was recently informed is needed for pool repairs. So it will be interesting to see what the Task Force eventually recommends; they're holding their last scheduled meeting today, Jan. 4, but may have scheduled more by the time you read this. This round, though, is for the public to speak: There'll be four sessions over the next two weeks, all from 6:30-8pm; more info at www.austintexas.gov/2018bond.
• Tue., Jan. 9, Little Walnut Creek Library, 835 W. Rundberg
• Thu., Jan. 11, Yarborough Library, 2200 Hancock
• Wed., Jan. 17, Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex, 1156 Hargrave
• Thu., Jan. 18, ACC South Campus, 1820 W. Stassney
Short films wanted: The city's Cultural Arts Division is looking for short films for its 2018 Faces of Austin program, that "reflect the diverse faces, voices, and experiences of our City." Some will screen at the SXSW Film Festival in the SXSW Community programming, plus on ATXN and the city's website – and receive a cash honorarium! Deadline is 5pm Friday, Jan 12; full info at www.austintexas.gov/department/faces-austin-call-entries.
Lastly, I want to give a plug to the Austin Music Awards Poll Ballot that's debuting in this issue. It's our 37th music poll, but the first-ever multiple-choice ballot, featuring five finalists in each of the 55 categories, including Hall of Fame – with those finalists being decided by the first-round balloting that was held in December. It's a fun list to peruse: a lot of familiar names, and some not familiar to me, but obviously beloved by some sizable number of Austin music fans. It's an impressive list, though it barely scratches the surface of the talent in this town. (We'll have twice as many names in our final results issue in March). So by all means go ahead and vote, either with the paper ballot on p.43, or online at austinchronicle.com/musicpoll. But also, let's all give a big thanks (in this Austin Free Week) to all of the 277 finalists: folks who, day in and day out, and for the love of the music, do a lot more for Austin's quality of life than all the officialdom listed above. Happy New Year.