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Reporter’s Notebook: History lessons

Monday, July 9, 2018 by Elizabeth Pagano

Fighting for your government seems to run in families… With Independence Day looming on the horizon, not much was happening at the July 3 Zoning and Platting Commission meeting. In the spirit of patriotism, and to make everyone’s journey to City Hall worth their time, Jim Duncan, the vice chair of the commission, took the lull in proceedings as an opportune moment to present a unique piece of memorabilia. Although he was not technically a citizen that could speak during citizen communication, he told staff he would like to share his thoughts about the upcoming holiday, and it could “slap his wrists” later. Duncan then proceeded to put up a handwritten document from just prior to the Revolutionary War that showed his thrice-great-grandfather’s enrollment in the militia. He proudly noted that it is worth remembering why we celebrate this holiday: for those who were brave enough to speak their minds and fight for their country. The commission, however, did not need to put up much of a fight to adjourn the meeting and let everyone return home to celebrate (and hopefully contemplate the gravity of) the nation’s birthday.

Screen saver… Remember the insect screen kerfuffle that took place this spring? It’s back, kind of. According to a presentation given to the Building and Standards Commission at its most recent meeting, Code is now recommending that, “in consideration of the results of community input, internal departmental feedback and an already present ordinance that can address the concern of inadequate window protection it is the recommendation of the Austin Code Department to not consider implementation of the proposed amendment. Currently the concern related to substandard conditions or safety and health related complaints may be addressed by current ordinances within the International Property Maintenance Code.” However, a July 5 memo from Code director Cora Wright explains we will all have to wait in suspense a bit longer to hear what the commission thinks of the new proposal. “Unfortunately, the BSC’s agenda extended beyond 10:00 P.M.,” it reads, “at which point, the commission moved to table the item until their next scheduled meeting in July for discussion and action.”

Into the ring… A third candidate has joined the race for City Council’s District 9 seat. Not much is yet known about Linda O’Neal, whose candidate page on Facebook includes the tagline “Imagine Austin Affordable,” but that profile offers a few clues. For one, she doesn’t think that incumbent Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo should seek another term. She also offers up nine ways to make Austin affordable, which include ideas like expediting the permit process, ending tax incentives for big businesses, capping rent increases and encouraging a state income tax. O’Neal joins Tovo and Danielle Skidmore in the race.

This week’s Reporter’s Notebook comes from the notebooks of Jessi Devenyns and Elizabeth Pagano.

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