Monday, October 12, 2015 by Austin Monitor

Reporter’s Notebook: This will be on the test

Political perspective… Travis County politics, though technically partisan, are generally free of the bitter squabbling that typifies ossified proceedings in more visible bodies such as the state Legislature or U.S. Congress. But occasional events sometimes serve as a reminder that commissioners are not immune to ideological categorization. A county staff member provoked one such event during a routine photo-op at last week’s regular voting session. Camera in hand, the staffer directed Commissioner Gerald Daugherty to best fit in the frame with his colleagues and the team from STAR Flight. “You seem to be leaning to the left, sir,” said the staffer to the court’s lone Republican. Without missing a beat, Daugherty fired back, “It’s your left, but my right.”

Bond, Transportation Bond… Citing the need for regional cooperation, Mayor Steve Adler said this weekend that he is thinking about a transportation bond election for November 2016. “The conversation is wide open at this point,” he said, adding, “it would be exciting if everybody in the region had a Proposition 1 that was the same.” One project he is envisioning for that bond proposition is adding dedicated transit lanes to I-35. “As a region, we should be trying to do that,” he said. Adler added that he is also interested in other projects, including, possibly, pedestrian improvements. He indicated that he is open to suggestions about nontransportation bonds, although he said he does not yet know how much the city might have in bonding capacity next year. Adler pointed out that City Council already has a Bond Oversight Commission, so Council would not need to appoint a new committee to look into the future potential bonds. According to the city website, “The Mayor and Council shall work with the commission to set priorities and goals of each new bond issue to be submitted to the voters” and advise Council on bond proposals and “implementation of projects approved in bond elections.” However, the normally 11-member commission currently has only four members: Duke Browne, appointed by Council Member Ora Houston; Moses Garcia, appointed by Council Member Ann Kitchen; Jay Sands, appointed by Council Member Sheri Gallo; and Charles Thomas, appointed by Council Member Don Zimmerman.

Opal saga continues… Last month, the Reporter’s Notebook brought you the story of the Opal from Adelaide, which had been collecting dust in storage. According to a recent post by Amy Smith, who is a policy adviser for Council Member Leslie Pool, “Efforts are underway for the City of Austin to return an opal to the City of Adelaide. Officials from both cities have traded correspondence and Council Member Pool is drafting a resolution for Council to officially approve the return of the gem.” We have embedded a recent exchange between Austin City Manager Marc Ott and Adelaide Acting Chief Executive Officer Stephen Hains about the opal below.

Download (PDF, 78KB)

Trivial pursuits… Regular readers of the Reporter’s Notebook are probably in a good position to clean up at the Austin Monitor/Austin Facial Hair Club’s first trivia night. The event, which will take place on Oct. 26 at the Mohawk, will feature extra-special guest (and former Council Member) Bill Spelman as well as prizes and drink specials. And, because Halloween is two weeks long in Austin, costumes are encouraged. More information is available here – see you there!

This week’s Reporter’s Notebook comes from the files of Caleb Pritchard, Jo Clifton and Elizabeth Pagano.

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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.

Travis County Commissioners Court: The legislative body for Travis County. It includes representatives from the four Travis County Precincts, as well as the County Judge. The County Judge serves as the chair of the Court.

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