Monday, March 27, 2017 by Austin Monitor

Reporter’s Notebook: Which came first?

Rock ‘n’ roll is here to stay… Don’t expect the early evening musical performances at City Council meetings to go away anytime soon. Asked recently about a city staff recommendation to remove the quickie concerts from the agenda of Council’s notoriously lengthy meetings, Mayor Steve Adler said that he hasn’t heard from any Council members who seem interested in the change, which could shave as much as half an hour from meetings that occasionally stretch into early morning. “I haven’t heard from anyone interested in making that change. Staff was looking at any effort we could make, and I hope that if we did (eliminate music), they’d propose an equal and commensurate celebration of music in place of that.” The length of Council meetings has become an issue of some concern, and city staff is examining many options for how to trim the clock. But Adler and several Council members have now spoken in favor of keeping the 5:30 p.m. performance that many feel fits with Austin’s reputation as the Live Music Capital of the World.

Green eggs and sham… Usually, we are happy for anyone who is able to avoid more than five hours of discussion about a planned unit development. However, this past Thursday’s Council meeting was an exception, or at least a partial one. As a service to those who were unable to watch, tuned in late or have not been able to catch up via social media, we have embedded the amazing testimony of Idee Kwak, eggbreaker and artist, below:

But seriously… After devoting the bulk of its meeting to this one case, Council members debated whether to allow just as much public testimony when the case returns for third reading. Ultimately, they voted to allow “abbreviated” testimony for the third reading, but not before Council Member Greg Casar attempted to bring some late-breaking perspective to the proceedings. “I just want to note that our Council and our staff’s time is valuable. There’s opportunity costs to everything that we do,” he said. “And while I respect the public’s right to continue communicating with us … the amount of time we’ve spent taking public testimony on this case and other West Austin zoning cases is so disproportionate to the time that I need to spend, and everybody needs to spend, talking to their constituents dealing with issues that I’m picking up tomorrow morning at 8.” Casar noted that, unlike the matter before Council until well-past midnight, the early meetings he had scheduled Friday concerned actual “life and death” issues.

Goodbye, pie in the sky… And, finally, we would like to acknowledge the sad truth reported by the Austin American-Statesman over the weekend: The dream of gondolas over Austin is dead for now, thanks to a killjoy report from the city of Austin, the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority.

This week’s Reporter’s Notebook comes from the notebooks of Chad Swiatecki 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.

CTRMA: The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority. A governmental agency created, according to its web site, in 2002 to "improve the transportation system in Williamson and Travis counties." The site also notes that the agency's "mission is to implement innovative, multi-modal transportation solutions that reduce congestion and create transportation choices that enhance quality of life and economic vitality." In addition to other responsibilities, the agency oversees a set of toll roads in the region.

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