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Council braces for a long Thursday meeting

Wednesday, December 10, 2014 by Elizabeth Pagano

With a final agenda that has more than 230 items on it so far, Austin’s last at-large City Council looks determined to go out with a bang, and a really long meeting. On Tuesday, members discussed how to best deal with their last meeting, which will take place this Thursday.

“It would be ironic, in a good way, if on our very last meeting, we finally learned how to manage our time,” said Council Member Bill Spelman.

While that may not prove to be the case, Council members did set aside some time during their work session to plot a strategy for Thursday’s meeting and work out how they could most efficiently tackle what Mayor Lee Leffingwell dubbed “the mega agenda.”

“There is the really very real possibility that we will not be able to finish on Thursday night,” said Leffingwell.

Though that wouldn’t be unprecedented, both Leffingwell and Council Member Laura Morrison pointed out that they should work to make it as easy as possible on those who had come down to speak at the meeting and could face hours and hours of waiting, only to be told to come back on Friday.

“What I want to avoid is getting to 2 o’clock in the morning and saying, ‘We’ve had enough, I want to recess, everyone go home now,’” said Leffingwell.

Leffingwell also gave notice that public testimony would probably be limited to 30 minutes per side, and asked groups to organize themselves accordingly.

Council Member Mike Martinez suggested it might be a better idea to wait and see how many of the items on the agenda passed on consent, and how many would involve long discussions.

“I’m somewhat optimistic, for whatever reason, that we can get done Thursday night,” said Martinez.

If not, everyone present seemed agreeable to the idea that they would evaluate the potential length of the meeting at noon, after the zoning cases at 2 p.m. and again at 4 p.m., when Council’s time-certain items could be discussed, and announce what items — if any — would be heard on Friday as soon as that could be determined.

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