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Monday, April 16, 2018 by Austin Monitor

Reporter’s Notebook: Collective concerns

No need to bug out… Word hit the street recently that the city was considering a rule that would require all homes to install insect screens. “Proposal would require homeowners to install insect screens,” said a KXAN headline. Buried near the bottom of the story is an important caveat: The proposed rule would only apply to homes without air conditioning. That was enough for Council Member Jimmy Flannigan to dismiss the controversy as much ado about nothing in a pun-filled Facebook post: “This really bugged us when we heard about it. So we screened through the information, consulted with the hive mind, and upon closer insect-ion, verified that it’s no-bug-deal. According to the Austin Code Department, the proposed rule only applies to structures that do not have mechanical ventilation. BOTTOM LINE: If you have air conditioning, the regulation would not apply. So you can stop swarming our inbox!”

Face the music… Sylvia Mendoza had little to say during citizen communication at City Council’s Thursday meeting, but she had a message, all of which was apparently contained in the lyrics of “Cold as Ice,” the 1977 classic by British-American rock band Foreigner. Mendoza held her phone up to the microphone and played the song for the entirety of her allotted three minutes. Later, Mendoza told the Austin Monitor that the song was meant to illustrate her frustration with Council for, among other things, not yet hiring Interim Police Chief Brian Manley to be the permanent chief.

Reinventing the hub?… There was quite a bit of side eye and “Yeah but, wait a minute” grumblings in local music circles earlier this month when word got out that the Austin Music Commission had requested $15 million be added to the city’s fall bond proposal to pay for creation of a music hub to help advance the Austin music industry. Much of the outcry was over the fact that the commission’s resolution and its discussion – save for one brief aside – left out any mention of Mosaic Sound Collective, the privately funded East Austin project that has modeled itself after the hub concept since at least 2016 and has pitched itself as a hybrid that will feature for-profit operations as well as nonprofit educational programs and, eventually, affordable housing options. Discussion on the ATX Music Wonks Facebook group got quickly heated over the size of the commission’s request when, according to The Austin Chronicle, Mosaic only needs $3.5 million to achieve full operation of its 3.2-acre site, plus another $3.2 million for the housing component on the surrounding 7.2 acres. But there appears to be some calming on the issue as commissioners have recently met with Mosaic founder Dan Redman and others connected to the project to discuss its future plans, though those commission members urge that no commitments can be made this early in the process. There is some irony in the dust-up because Redman is a semi-regular face at Music Commission meetings and Commissioner Stuart Sullivan operates a recording studio out of Mosaic, but neither attended the April meeting where they could have participated and made the public case for Mosaic as a partner or alternative to the hub effort.

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

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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.

Austin Code: Formerly known as Code Compliance, this is the city department that handles enforcement of city code violations. Its work is complaint-driven.

Austin Music Commission: The Austin Music Commission guides city practices on music development issues, including the SxSW music festival.

Council Member Jimmy Flannigan

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