Monday, August 10, 2015 by Elizabeth Pagano

Reporter’s Notebook: The return

Council changes positions – literally… At their Thursday meeting, City Council members drew from a hat to determine where they will sit on the dais for the next six months. Mayor Steve Adler, who will remain seated in the middle between the city attorney and city manager, explained, “We decided as a Council we would do a rotation every six months or so, so we all sit next to one another.” Both Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo and Council Member Greg Casar will stay in their current positions, but the rest of the Council drew new seats. The new order, from right to left, is now: Tovo, Council Member Ora Houston, Council Member Don Zimmerman, Council Member Ellen Troxclair, Council Member Leslie Pool, Council Member Delia Garza, Council Member Pio Renteria, Council Member Sheri Gallo, Casar, and Council Member Ann Kitchen.

Coming soon… Those who are sad that November’s epic, historic City Council election is over may be cheered by progress on a documentary on the subject, which is expected to be released this November. The film, titled 10-1: Austin’s New Voice, is directed by Judy Maggio and Steve Conn. It promises to take an in-depth look at the election and what it changed in the city.

New environment for Environmental Commission?… The first meeting of the Environmental Board took place in City Hall’s Boards and Commissions Room, though it has been held in City Council Chambers in years before. That may be the new state of things, said Environmental Officer Chuck Lesniak, who explained that long Mobility Committee meetings had already pushed back the Environmental Commission start time nearly an hour on one occasion. Lesniak said there was an outside chance that the Mobility Committee might change its start time to 3 p.m. instead of 4 p.m. He said that most likely, however, the board would continue to meet in the smaller room, which has the disadvantage of not broadcasting live on Channel 6, though it does stream live online.

Zimmerman puts his own spin on elephant legislation “Another quick question on the same topic: I’m going to guess that, you know, 100 years ago, the elephants were brought in, you know, on ships, and they were foreign-born. But how many – what’s the makeup now? Are most or all the elephants born in the USA now?” – Zimmerman, asking the questions no one else thought to ask. (For the record, he was told that the elephants were born in the U.S.)

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Key Players & Topics In This Article

Austin City Council: The Austin City Council is the body with legislative purview over the City of Austin. It offers policy direction, while the office of the City Manager implements administrative actions based on those policies. Until 2012, the body contained seven members, including the city's Mayor, all elected at-large. In 2012, City of Austin residents voted to change that system and now 10 members of the Council are elected based on geographic districts. The Mayor continues to be elected at-large.

Austin City Council November 2014 Elections: The November 2014 Austin City Council elections marked a shift from an all-at-large City Council to one elected based mostly on geographic districts. The city's Mayor remains elected at-large.

City of Austin Environmental Commission: An advisory board to members of the Austin City Council. Its purview includes "all projects and programs which affect the quality of life for the citizens of Austin." In many cases, this includes development projects.

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