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Reporter’s Notebook: Music and moments of vindication

Monday, April 11, 2016 by Elizabeth Pagano

Which genre do you live in?… In case you missed it, the city’s district music summits kicked off this weekend with the punk/alternative summit in District 2. Even if you didn’t go, there are nine summits left to catch, each of which offers a genre’d opportunity to weigh in on the Austin Music and Creative Ecosystem Omnibus Resolution. The next summit will be the District 6 jazz summit, which takes place on April 16, followed by: the R&B/hip-hop summit in District 1, the District 5 blues/soul/world summit on April 23, the District 7 Americana/folk/acoustic summit on April 28, the District 8 classical and faith-based summit on April 29, the District 4 rock/hard rock/metal summit on April 30, the District 10 country and Western swing summit on May 5, the District 3 Latin summit on May 7, and the District 9 indie/EDM/pop rock summit on May 7. Complete details can be found here.

Right, that… Though he received a written reprimand for violating city code in October, City Council Member Don Zimmerman was fairly vindicated this past Thursday, according to a statement to the press from his office, when Council voted to repeal the sections of the code that he was found to have violated. The Ethics Review Commission, which found Zimmerman in violation, also recommended that those sections of code be repealed in order to help streamline the campaign finance filing process as part of a series of changes. In his statement, Zimmerman said, “I was singled out for an ethics complaint for not filling out a form that was duplicative. Even though others had not filled out these same forms, I was singled out for a written reprimand. This is the classical gotcha. I’m relieved we’re finally abolishing these worthless things that are nothing more than gotchas. When you talk to people in the community as to how people can be targeted for political reasons, this is Exhibit A.”

Now that’s initiatives!… In Austin, complaining about transportation can be a full-time job. And, despite the content of those complaints, so is transportation planning. This past week, the city’s Transportation Department compiled a document that shows the (many) transportation initiatives underway in 2016, in preparation for its upcoming Strategic Mobility Plan. As noted in the memo that precedes the document below, the timeline does not include capital projects like Interstate 35 and Loop 360.

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Hmmm… During the recent City Council discussion about the Dabney-Horne and Clyde Littlefield homes, Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo gave those listening a preview of some future plans that may soon come out of her office. Tovo, who has been taking a close look at how to require on-site affordable housing in density bonus programs over the past couple of years, is now looking at the University Neighborhood Overlay. She said, “This case, for me, has also brought up an interest in looking at the University Neighborhood Overlay. … I think we should look at all our fee-in-lieu programs. I know we’re doing that in response to one of the resolutions I brought. But in UNO, I believe that we should ask developers to construct that housing on-site. And if they want to apply for a fee-in-lieu, they should be able to demonstrate a compelling reason and to come to Council as we’ve asked them to do in Transit Oriented Developments.”

Fire. Ice. Cats. Dogs. Texas. France. District 6. District 9… In this wild age of bats and Kryptonians finding some mutual understanding after so much escalating, cartoonish aggression, there is always an opportunity for mutual understanding and bridge-building. Last Thursday at City Hall brought this point home. The stage was set with Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo’s lone stand against an effort to provide Austin Water utility customers an easier avenue to dispute unusually high bills. That measure passed City Council with a vote of 10-1. Before Mayor Steve Adler moved on to the next item of business, Council Member Don Zimmerman – the resident Leonidas on the dais, he who has so often found himself the one and only voice of opposition since his inauguration – pleaded for a quick point of privilege. Said Zimmerman, “I wanted to welcome the mayor pro tem to the 10-to-1 Club today.” With an action hero’s cool, dry wit, Tovo – who often staked out a contrarian position, along with former Council Member Laura Morrison, during her first term on Council – replied, “It’s OK. I’ve been in similar situations.”

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