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Reporter’s Notebook: Valuable lessons

Monday, August 6, 2018 by Austin Monitor

In other soccer news… Precourt Sports Ventures and the other parties involved in their ongoing lawsuit in Ohio – Major League Soccer, the city of Columbus, and the state of Ohio – will have to file updates every two weeks on the ongoing talks between the owners of the Columbus Crew and parties interested in keeping the team up north, i.e., not letting it move to Austin. Attorneys involved in the possible relocation told the Austin Monitor that at this point an injunction issued in Ohio is the only entanglement that could prevent the team’s move if Austin City Council votes this week to move forward with crafting a stadium agreement… Down the road in San Antonio, mayor Ron Nirenberg reportedly met with MLS leadership late last month to make another pitch of sorts for that city’s bid to receive an expansion team. That bid would reportedly be crippled if Austin lands a relocated team since the prospect of two teams in the same league operating profitably in markets that are an hour away from each other is a dim one… And when it comes to savvy timing, the announcement on Friday of the team name and other details for an Austin United Soccer League team that will play at Circuit of the Americas certainly seemed to be scheduled to get the attention of city decision-makers ahead of Thursday’s vote. The Austin Bold FC will begin play next spring, which would put the team in competition for attendance and attention with the proposed MLS team.

And even more… Wednesday’s special called City Council meeting on the proposal to use the city’s McKalla Place property for a professional soccer stadium briefly turned into a metaphorical turning out of pockets for a handful of Council members and speakers during public comment time. It began when Mayor Steve Adler spoke up after former Travis County auditor Susan Spataro spoke against several items in the term sheet guiding the city’s negotiations, asking her, “Are you being paid to be here today?” Adler’s question didn’t register as accusatory and rather seemed positioned to give Spataro a chance to deny widespread claims that she and other opponents of the stadium are financially backed by Bobby Epstein, co-owner of the Circuit of the Americas and partner in a United Soccer League franchise that would be in direct financial competition with the Major League Soccer team that is proposed to play at the McKalla stadium. Spataro denied being paid, and soon after, Council members Leslie Pool and Pio Renteria addressed similar accusations against them and Adler offered that he’s been painted as being paid by parties both for and against the stadium. Toward the end of public comment local conservationist Roy Whaley drew some chuckles, stating, “Typically I wear cargo shorts when I come here to speak. … I have six pockets and no one is in any of them.”

Musical chairs… At last Wednesday’s special called City Council meeting the city clerk’s office had Council members do the annual drawing of lots to determine who sits where on the dais. A big change in perspective is on the way for Council members Ellen Troxclair and Leslie Pool who will swap spots at the ends of the dais. Using the stage left orientation – with Mayor Steve Adler retaining the center spot – the order on the dais will be: Troxclair, Greg Casar, Alison Alter, Ann Kitchen, Jimmy Flannigan, Kathie Tovo, Pio Renteria, Ora Houston, Delia Garza, and Pool.

Thanks for the history lesson?… An atypically inscrutable memo from Parks and Recreation Department Acting Director Kimberly McNeeley landed on the desks of City Council last week. The August 3 memo detailed the 1969 relocation of 211 graves at Austin Memorial Park Cemetery to make way for MoPac. The memo helpfully includes coverage from the Austin American-Statesman, which details, among other things, “communication, complaints and the legal process followed; the selected contractor; and the methods used to relocate the remains.” What it does not include is a reason that this is a 2018 memo. Is it simply an educational push? Is it a harbinger of things to come? Stay tuned.

This week’s Reporter’s Notebook comes from the notebooks of Chad Swiatecki and Elizabeth Pagano.

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