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Reporter’s Notebook: A doozy of a notebook

Tuesday, September 5, 2017 by Austin Monitor

A doozy of a day… Council Member Ora Houston is a consistent advocate for citizen input. But that doesn’t mean she has to enjoy it. “Thank you Jesus,” she muttered to herself when City Council voted at 9:40 p.m. Thursday to approve a Hotel Occupancy Tax proposal after taking comment from scores of citizens on the matters. “How long did that take?” Her comment was likely not intended to be public, but it was picked up and broadcast to the masses by a hot mic on the dais. The answer to her question: Roughly three and a half hours, not counting the dinner break or the subsequent hour of debate and testimony on a similar measure, much of which came from people who had already spoken that night. The next day Houston replied on Twitter to the Austin Monitor’s tweet about her comments: “Last night was a doozy! Y’all be safe & kind this weekend!”

Everything is FINE… Council is just about a week away from approving the new budget, so that means that it’s a great time to trawl the City Council budget questions for fun minutiae among the billions. This week, a question from Council Member Greg Casar about the number of cases sent to the Buildings and Standards Commission and the city attorney caught our eye. Specifically, a table illustrating the past three years or so of fines, and the percentage of assessed fines that have actually been collected. Observe:

Throwback Tuesday?… Long holiday weekends can be a good time for reflection. Of course, when the Monitor reflects, we only remember city meetings. This past weekend, we remembered an exchange that definitely belongs in the Reporter’s Notebook files, from all the way back on Aug. 17. At that meeting, Council officially created the so-called “gentrification task force” charged with addressing issues of displacement in the city. As a helpful gesture, and an even more-helpful reminder of the various ways the city has attempted to address this issue over the years, Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo compiled a partial list of resolutions and ordinances that have addressed things like tenant displacement, affordable housing and preservation in recent memory. That list, ladies and gentlemen, appears to have 77 items on it? (Please let us know if our count was wrong.) Those items were included in the resolution creating the task force. Casar added one more resolution – a 2015 resolution that addressed gentrification and economic segregation within CodeNEXT. That resolution was also included, though Council Member Ellen Troxclair abstained from voting on its inclusion.

This week’s Reporter’s Notebook comes from the notebooks of Jack Craver and Elizabeth Pagano.

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