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Monday, January 18, 2016 by Austin Monitor

Reporter’s Notebook: Peacocks and loose lips

Wherever you go, there you are… Though it seems that former Austin Energy General Manager Larry Weis is eager to put Austin behind him, it looks as though he may be taking a bit of his history with him to Seattle. And that may not be a good thing. Last week, the¬†Seattle Times reported that Seattle City Council members were “troubled” by blunt comments Weis made to the Austin American-Statesman just before leaving to start his new job as CEO and general manager of Seattle City Light. This could be a significant hurdle indeed for Weis, as Seattle Council members have yet to confirm his position. Of course, the article also claims that “Austin elects council members, one of whom becomes mayor,” by way of explaining our system of government, so the Austin Monitor will wait to see how this all plays out. Following the publication of Weis’ interview, City Manager Marc Ott disavowed himself of Weis’ comments and objected in general to the idea of giving an exit interview to the press.

Attempted peacock block? (Updated)… If you really want to know what a peacock cry sounds like, ask Carol Eckelkamp, president of the Delwood II Neighborhood Association. She is not a fan of the peacocks that are wandering around her neighborhood, which is near the Mueller development, and referred to them as a nuisance when she spoke at the Monday meeting of the Animal Advisory Commission last week. Right in the middle of her appeal for the city to do something about the peacocks, she surprised everyone in the room by letting out a loud, imitation peacock cry. She followed up by saying that peacocks are not conducive to sleep and requested that the city enforce the codes and laws in place, especially with mating season approaching. Peacocks have received a lot of attention in Austin lately. Though they have been a familiar sight in Delwood II since the early 2000s and the Bouldin Creek Neighborhood near Green Acres since the 1960s, some newer residents are (apparently) not fans. In response, Austinites have formed the Peacock Liberation Front to protect the Bouldin Creek birds. There’s no word yet on whether the eastern flock will inspire similar levels of support, but it does have its own Facebook page. Update: Eckelkamp is not the president of the Delwood II NA. The neighborhood association supports the peacocks, officially, and even has a “peacock committee.”

Maybe the Koch brothers aren’t as rich as we thought?… Since its formation, the Friends of Hyde Park neighborhood association has weathered more than a few accusations about its funding. Last week, Friends of Hyde Park member Pete Gilcrease finally came clean in the Hyde Park Austin Neighborhood Association Yahoo group, responding directly to recent pressure from Hyde Park Neighborhood Association Co-Vice President Adrian Skinner. Gilcrease told the Monitor, “They can’t comprehend that anyone that’s not being paid by a developer or is a developer would believe the things that we believe.” In his post, Gilcrease writes:

“Because of Adrian’s insistence that Friends of Hyde Park disclose our finances, I’ve reluctantly included the full disclosure of expenses and income/revenue for Friends of Hyde Park below (we were hoping to keep this secret, but have thus been outwitted). If anyone wants, I can send a spreadsheet of the complete expenses and revenue so you can better sort through all of the various information below more easily.

Expenses – $0

Revenue – $0

————

Net Total – $0

The following items are things that the FoHP officers personally paid for, but aren’t part of FoHP. As you can see, a select few have completely bankrolled from the shadows this nefarious group.

12/31/2014 $11.17 – website registration

01/04/2015 $12 – hosting

1/1/2016 – $25.16 – website renewal

~$50 in other hosting costs in 2015″

Gilcrease explains, “Friends of Hyde Park and Friends of Austin Neighborhoods both do not even have a bank account. Neither group has ever taken any money from anyone and have no finances.”

This week’s Reporter’s Notebook comes from the notebooks of Vicky Garza and Elizabeth Pagano.

This story has been corrected, as information that the Delwood II Neighborhood Association officially supports its neighborhood peacocks was incorrect. It has also been changed to reflect the correct name of the Yahoo group, which is “Hyde Park Austin Neighborhood,” not “Hyde Park Neighborhood Association.”

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Key Players & Topics In This Article

Animal Advisory Commission: The Animal Advisory Commission advises the Austin City Council and the Travis County Commissioners Court on Texas Health and Safety Code compliance regarding animal shelters and on animal welfare policies.

Austin Energy: As a municipally-owned electric utility, Austin Energy is a rarity in the largely deregulated State of Texas. It's annual budget clocks in at over $1 billion. The utility's annual direct transfer of a Council-determined percentage of its revenues offers the city a notable revenue stream.

Friends of Austin Neighborhoods

Hyde Park Neighborhood Association: Hyde Park is defined by West 38 Street to the south, West 51 Street to the north, Duval Street to the east, and Guadalupe Street to the west. Hyde Park contains two historic districts, the Hyde Park Historic District and the Shadow Lawn Historic District, and several other individual historic buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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