Public Notice: A Potpourri, Plus the World Cup
Transit Meetings for All!
Project Connect is hosting another series of working groups this month, to share plans for specific transit stations and corridors and gather public feedback. The SoCo Working Group is meeting as we go to press; here's the rest of the schedule:
Crestview Station Area Workshop: Mon., April 11, 6pm
South Orange Line Working Group: Tue., April 12, 5:30pm
North Guadalupe/North Lamar Working Group: April 18, 5:30pm
Lady Bird Lake Bridge: April 26, 5:30pm
North Lamar Transit Center/North Line Working Group: May 2, 5:30pm
Aquatics 1, 2, 3
1) No Lifeguards. The city Parks Department has been getting increasingly desperate over the last few months and is beating the drum louder to try and get more applicants for a lot of unfilled lifeguard positions.
2) Barton Springs is shuttered. The staffing problem is especially acute at Barton Springs Pool, which requires extra training and certification. With only 23 certified open water guards currently available in all, PARD has had to close the pool on Mondays and Wednesdays, along with the regular Thursday cleaning closure from 8am to 7pm. The 5-8am swim times remain open as "swim at your own risk."
3) Register for swim lessons and swim teams. Registration for PARD's summer swim programs opens next Monday, April 11, at 8am (10am for non-city residents) at austintexas.gov/parksonline. See more info about the Aquatics Division's offerings at austintexas.gov/swimming.
Saturday Morning Fun
Keep Austin Beautiful Day is this Saturday, April 9 – volunteer to clean up a trail, weed and compost at a community farm, plant flower beds along a roadway, pick up recycling and litter on a disc golf course or a cemetery, or choose your own adventure in honor of Earth Month. Registration is now open for dozens of projects citywide, mostly running 9-11am but with a few later options as well, at keepaustinbeautiful.org.
The Radical Advocates Academy is a new project of the Austin Justice Coalition – "a year-long policy training program that will pay and certify advocates to organize for change the AJC way!" The pay is $1,000 per month, to run from October 2022 through September 2023, covering the 2023 legislative session, among other things. Applications are due May 13, but the first of two webinars for applicants is next Thursday, April 14, 6-7pm; register here, or email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
HLC Back at City Hall
Here's one last bit of fallout from the recent kerfuffle caused by city staff's attempt to move some city commission meetings out of City Hall, a move later reversed for land use commissions, which tend to handle more controversial issues with larger in-person attendance. Planning Commission, Zoning & Platting, and the Board of Adjustment have already returned to City Hall, and now the Historic Landmark Commission will be moving back, with its next meeting scheduled for 6pm, Wednesday, May 4, in Council Chambers. During the months it took to sort this out, the HLC lost its traditional fourth Monday meeting slot to the Parks Board and will henceforth meet on first Wednesdays. Said HLC Chair Terri Myers, "I'm a creature of habit so I might show up on Mondays for a while."
Old habits die hard; faced with last Friday's World Cup draw, I had little choice but to resurrect "Soccer Watch" for a week, just to share a quick look at the groups and the schedule, now that we know when the U.S. is playing, if not exactly whom. Blame that on V.V. Putin; due to the war in Ukraine, the Ukrainian football team is scattered around the country, some actively in combat, and it's unclear when they'll be able to play their scheduled playoff for the last European qualifying spot, which was drawn to play the U.S. on the tournament's opening day, Monday, Nov. 21. Scotland awaits, and the winner of that plays Wales for that last spot.
The English tabloids were over the moon about the Three Lions' draw: "YANKS A LOT! England get dream draw" blared The Sun. The Daily Mirror mirrored that: "YANKEE DOODLE DANDY. Southgate strikes it lucky AGAIN as Three Lions draw USA, Iran and a tougher tie against Wales, Scotland or Ukraine."
But hold on just a sec.
I've always thought the best way to size up a group is by looking at the strength of the third- and fourth-best teams in the group, rather than the top teams. You can absorb a loss in the group stage, but if you can count on at least a win and a draw against the weaklings in your group, you're going to be fine. By that metric, there's no doubt that England's Group B is by far the toughest: Going by world rankings, the USA is mid-table among the second-ranked teams. But if Wales takes the European playoff spot as expected, they'll be easily the best of the third-place teams, while Iran is not only the best of the fourth-place teams, they're higher-ranked than any of the third-place teams. In other words, out of the 16 teams in the bottom half of the draw, Group B got the two best. Blame that on Putin as well: That undecided European spot was placed in the fourth pot with the weakest teams in the draw, whereas Wales might well have been in the second pot. In any case, the U.S. plays on the opening day of the tournament, then gets England on the day after Thanksgiving.
The World Cup Groups
A: Netherlands (10), Senegal (20), Ecuador (46), Qatar (51)
B: England (5), USA (15), Iran (21), Wales/Scotland/Ukraine (18?)
C: Argentina (4), Mexico (9), Poland (26), Saudi Arabia (49)
D: France (3), Denmark (11), Tunisia (35), Australia/UAE/Peru (22?)
E: Spain (7), Germany (12), Japan (23), Costa Rica/N. Zealand (31?)
F: Belgium (2), Croatia (16), Morocco (24), Canada (38)
G: Brazil (1), Switzerland (14), Serbia (25), Cameroon (37)
H: Portugal (8), Uruguay (13), South Korea (29), Ghana (60)
Group stage: Mon., Nov. 21-Fri., Dec. 2
Round of 16: Sat.-Tue., Dec. 3-6, 9am & 1pm
Quarterfinals: Fri.-Sat., Dec. 9-10, 9am & 1pm
Semifinals: Tue.-Wed., Dec. 13-14, 1pm
Third Place: Saturday, Dec. 17, 9am
Final: Sunday, Dec. 18, 9am
U.S. Group Games
Wales/Scotland/Ukraine: Mon., Nov. 21, 1pm
England: Fri., Nov. 25, 1pm
Iran: Tue., Nov. 29, 1pm