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Place 2 candidate stumps minority contractors

Wednesday, December 14, 2005 by

Eliza May began her campaign for City Council Place 2 last night with a small fundraiser targeting minority and women contractors at Nuevo Leon. Although the gathering was labeled as "the official announcement and first fundraiser," May told her small audience, "today is not necessarily our formal announcement," but now is the time to get the word out about the race. The Executive Director of the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce promised, "to be a fierce competitor and run a strong campaign."

"We’re going to develop a very strong strategic message to each of our small businesses," said May, outlining what she said would be the primary emphasis of her campaign—extending more opportunities for small businesses to participate in City of Austin contracts.

With representatives of mainly Hispanic engineering firms, contractors, and other professionals attending, May felt confident in saying, "There's a lot of work in Austin for you but that work is not getting to your pocket. I know that you know that." She then referred to the study by her organization showing the city falling behind in meeting its minority contracting goals.

Earlier in the afternoon, a delegation of the Hispanic chamber, including Board Member Paul Saldaña, President-elect Rosie Mendoza, and former Mayor Gus Garcia, made a presentation to the Council’s MBE/WBE Subcommittee on the city’s recent record on minority contracting. The presentation stressed the city shortcomings in contracting with minority and women-owned businesses. (See In Fact Daily, Dec. 13, 2005) After the presentation, Saldaña said he felt like the presentation was well received by the Council members, and was the beginning of an ongoing dialogue and collaboration between the Hispanic Chamber and the city. He hopes to make a similar presentation to the full Council in February or March.

May told In Fact Daily, "As the City Council, part of our job should be to ask staff, ‘How are doing on meeting those goals?’” And if the city is not meeting those goals, what can the city do to change to meet the goals?

“Is it an outreach problem? Is it because people are not prepared in being able to meet the contract when they put those contracts out?” May said she did not know the answer, but that, "As a City Council Member, that would definitely be a priority for me because when we do that were generating that income back into the community. It's our own tax dollars that are working back for us.”

Asked about recent radio ads by the Austin Police Association urging the firing of the Police Chief Stan Knee in the aftermath of the firing of Officer Julie Schroeder, May said, “People don't like it.” Of Knee, she said, “He's got a tough job to do. We have got to be supportive.”

May, 51, is running for the seat that Council Member Raul Alvarez will give up next spring in response to term limits. Others in the race include Mike Martinez, president of the Austin Association of Professional Firefighters and former State Sen. Hector Uribe.

ACWP on budget, on track, says Lippe

Utility ready for white Christmas

The Water and Wastewater Commission met Tuesday after a scheduled meeting last week was postponed due to the bad weather. The commissioners heard an update from Water Utility Director Chris Lippe and recommended several contracts for approval.

Lippe told commissioners, in an answer to a question, that the Austin Clean Water Program has named Gary Stegeman as the new manager following the departure of Bill Moriarty from Earth Tech in November. He said despite the negative publicity surrounding Moriarity’s replacement, the program is on track.

“There were no city policy violations or funding issues involved in the situation,” Lippe said. “We are on budget and on track to make the deadlines with the program.”

Assistant Director Reynaldo Cantu reported on AWU’s readiness in case of another hard freeze or ice storm. “We’re ready in case we have a white Christmas,” he said. “We have an emergency plan and a call team in place ready to go on short notice in case we suffer more broken pipes.”

Cantu said the utility has been studying patterns of recent water main breaks around the city to try to identify where the next breaks might occur.

In other business, the commission voted to recommend approval of several contracts:

• Facilities Rehabilitation, Inc. (MBE, 96.56 percent), Fort Worth, TX for Austin Clean Water Program: Govalle 3-Montopolis Drive Area-Country Club Creek Stabilization, $194,510.

• McLean Construction, Ltd., Killeen, TX, for Del Valle Service to Annexed Area 3B, $184,307;

• Change order No. 2 to the construction contract with Austin Engineering Company, Inc., Austin, TX, for the Mueller Cameron Road 16-Inch Waterline Phase One North Water Pressure Zone Water Improvements (RMMA Redevelopment), $15,213.51, total contract amount $922,007.01;

• Amendment to the professional services agreement with Lockwood, Andrews and Newnam, Inc., (Non-M/WBE 64.72 percent), Austin, TX, for engineering services for the Davis Water Treatment Plant Filter Process Improvements and Valve Replacements, $1,127,083.20, total contract amount $1,769,907.79;

• Cost reimbursement agreement with SCA 101 Onion Creek Holdings L.P., providing terms and conditions for construction of 24 and 36-inch water mains and appurtenances to provide water service to the Alexan Onion Creek located at 10701 I.H. 35 South with city cost reimbursement of $684,000.00, and engineering, design and project management costs not to exceed 15 percent of the actual "hard" construction costs of the 36-inch water main and appurtenances or $75,600.00, whichever is less.

The commission also changed the date of next month’s meeting from January 4 to January 11 to avoid a conflict with the Rose Bowl.

©2005 In Fact News, Inc. All rights reserved.

Fewer rooms at the inn?. . . Things are apparently improving between the City of Austin and the management of the Austin Airport Hilton. City CFO John Stephens told city leaders this week that the city has recently been paid all of the rent due it from the Hilton in calendar year 2005 ($344,677) and has also paid $144,842 in back rent, for a total payment of $489,519. The money problems for the hotel, built from the Air Force's old Tactical Air Command Center at the former Bergstrom Air Force Base, came to light in October when it was revealed that the Hilton was some $2 million in debt, with the biggest chunk owed to the city. Stephens says passenger traffic is growing at ABIA despite being flat or even dropping in other parts of the country, and that hotel revenue is up 29 percent for the 12 month period ending October 31. That, he hopes, should help them pay off the $523,214 in back rent they still owe the city . . . Zoning cases that go on forever . . . The tract called Jetco has proved to be the alpha and the omega of Alice Glasco's career with city planning and zoning. That tract, currently the site of the Gables mixed-use condo and shopping project on Cesar Chavez, was scheduled for a zoning hearing this week. It seemed fitting, Glasco said, because she was given the Jetco tract the first week she went to work for the city in 1983. However, a request for postponement is likely to put off the hearing until January. Glasco, who plans to retire from her post as director of the Neighborhood Planning and Zoning Department at the end of the month, said she may have to make a guest appearance when the case comes back in 2006 . . . Zoning for the Lowe's on Brodie Lane and the Bouldin Meadows tracts may also be put off until January . . . On track . . . Six historic landmark cases will be on the consent agenda at Thursday's Council meeting. Historic Preservation Officer Steve Sadowsky says this brings the total number of historic cases to 30, which puts 2005 in line with most years when it comes to historic designations . . . Democrats endorsement meeting . . . The Central Austin Democrats will hold a special meeting tonight to vote on an endorsement in the House District 48 race at 6pm tonight in the Travis County Commissioners' Court Chambers, 314 W. 11th St. . . . Meetings . . . The Council's Emerging Technology and Telecommunications Subcommittee meets at 2pm in Council Chambers at City Hall . . . The Environmental Board meets at 6pm in Council Chambers at City Hall. . . . The Solid Waste Advisory Commission meets at 6:30pm in room 105 at Waller Creek Plaza. . . . The Capital Metro Board of Directors meets at 4pm at Cap Metro Headquarters, 2910 East Fifth St. . . . Anti-tollers erupt at CAMPO . . . Several supporters of the Austin Toll Party spoke at Monday's CAMPO meeting, criticizing the committee overseeing the independent review of the Central Texas toll road plan. "I do not believe the independent study is independent anymore," said Sal Costello. "The majority of the steering committee are folks that have voted to toll roads we've already paid for. That is not a fair steering committee." Costello's concerns were echoed by several other speakers, including Dan Jasinski, who called State Rep. Mike Krusee a "snake" before Chair Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos interrupted him. The two men engaged in a brief shouting match before Jasinski clarified that he was speaking only about Krusee, whom he criticized for not being present during the citizens' comments. Krusee was the driving force behind House Bill 3588, which allowed the creation of the CTRMA, which is currently building the region's first toll road, US 183A . . . SXSW Keynote . . . Legendary singer/songwriter Neil Young will be the keynote speaker at the year's opening session at the 20th annual South by Southwest Music Conference on March 16. Young will be joined by director Jonathan Demme, whose musical portrait of Young, "Neil Young / Heart Of Gold," will screen at SXSW. The Music & Media Conference takes place March 15 – 19 at the Austin Convention Center. More than 1,000 musical acts are expected to perform that week.

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