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Reporter’s Notebook: Roses are red, violets are blue

Tuesday, February 20, 2018 by Elizabeth Pagano

He who speaks the loudest wins… During a discussion about a proposed public voucher program last Monday, it appeared that two camps were forming among the commissioners of the Charter Review Commission. There were those who lauded the equity promised by this public campaign funding solution, and there were those who utterly dismissed the idea. Commissioners Fred Lewis and Matt Hersh took center stage as each vied to persuade the other members of the commission to share his standpoint. Each side had data to support its perspective, and so the debate was settled the old-fashioned way: Speak your views loudly to make sure they are heard by the most people. To intermittently add some drama to the discussion and display support or dissent of certain remarks, members of the public hissed expletives from their seats. Due to his obligations at another commission meeting, Lewis had to leave before the commission took its vote, but it turned out in his favor anyway.

A Valentine to the proletariat… Among the hundreds of people who addressed City Council in favor of a paid sick leave ordinance Thursday was a sizable contingent from the Austin chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, which was offering free peanut butter sandwiches and vegan tacos outside City Hall. Lying on the dais in front of Council Member Greg Casar was a red rose, a historic symbol of socialism. Asked on Twitter whether the rose was an expression of solidarity with the DSA, Casar replied: “The paid sick days ordinance would be a great, belated Valentine’s Day gift to the social good of Austin.”

Stop getting our hopes up… At 5:36 p.m., Thursday, Mayor Steve Adler adjourned City Council for dinner. He suggested that Council members return to the dais to take up the sick leave ordinance at 6:45. Council Member Ora Houston suggested they come back earlier, given the large number of people who had signed up to speak on the matter. Adler agreed with the idea but was careful to set realistic expectations: “OK, we’re going to say 6:30, but we’re really going to start at 6:45 – sharp!” Council reconvened at 7:18 p.m.

This week’s Reporter’s Notebook comes from the notebooks of Jessi Devenyns and Jack Craver.

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