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Reporter’s Notebook: Disagreement and understanding

Monday, August 13, 2018 by Austin Monitor

I know you are but what am I?… On Saturday afternoon, Council Member Leslie Pool, the lead critic of the proposed soccer stadium deal, posted a message on Facebook taking aim at the arguments that Mayor Steve Adler and others have made in support of the deal: “It’s frustrating trying to engage a debate on concrete issues like financial returns when your debate opponent defaults to intangible appeals, e.g., ‘doing this will bring people together.’ I’m debating costs and he’s debating emotions. That’s not a recipe for agreement or understanding.” Less than an hour later, Council Member Jimmy Flannigan, a perennial Pool antagonist, particularly on land use issues, posted his own status. “It’s frustrating trying to engage a debate on concrete issues like financial returns when your debate opponent defaults to intangible appeals, e.g., ‘doing this will change the character of the neighborhood.’ I’m debating costs and they’re debating emotions. That’s not a recipe for agreement or understanding.”

Think of the children… For all the negotiations over millions of dollars in taxes, transit funding and (of course) traffic concerns surrounding Austin’s deliberations over the McKalla Place property and a possible soccer stadium there, some of the most heated exchanges at Thursday’s City Council meeting came over the question of gender equity that has sprung up late in the process. At issue was the matter of how much money Precourt Sports Ventures will contribute to youth soccer programs for boys and girls in Austin, a question that came about because the soccer academy required by Major League Soccer in franchise cities is only for boys. Council members pressed PSV attorney Richard Suttle about the total amount of a recent agreement with Lonestar Soccer Club of Austin to fund girls’ soccer programs, but Suttle and Lonestar President Buck Baccus declined to disclose terms of their negotiations. Suttle, who answered several minutes of grilling on the equity issue from Council members Alison Alter, Leslie Pool and Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo, at first downplayed the issue. “What you’ve heard tonight is that the folks out there are not as hung up on boys and girls and community benefits as you are,” to which Alter shot back, “They don’t have a vote like those of us up here do, so we have a right to ask you whatever questions we need to.”

Workers’ paradise?… Workers pouring into Austin from Houston, New York City and San Francisco pushed the city to the top of a recent LinkedIn study that found it to be the U.S. city attracting the most workers. In July, hiring in Austin was up 14.3 percent from a year prior compared to 4.6 percent nationally, and LinkedIn found that just over 1 percent of its users based in Austin had arrived in the city within the past 12 months. Although business leaders locally have grown increasingly concerned about problems with filling open positions in technical fields, the study found that Austin ranks 10th in the intensity of its need to fill jobs for data science skills and placed eighth on a list of major cities with the largest skills shortages, with specific problems in oral communication and digital literacy.

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

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