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Reporter’s Notebook: The meatloaf index

Monday, September 17, 2018 by Elizabeth Pagano

Don’t tell your constituents… During a Cap Metro board meeting at the Austin Convention Center attended by City Council members, transportation consultant Jeffrey Tumlin bemoaned the current state of transportation planning in most American cities, which prioritizes minimizing “vehicle delay instead of people delay.” The result, he said, is a situation in which the person riding on a bus is considered 1/40th as important as the person driving in a single-occupancy vehicle. He advocated shifting the preference back toward public transit, “not because people who ride the bus are better people,” but because such a system moves a large number of people far more quickly than a car-dependent system. Later on, Council Member Jimmy Flannigan, who had arrived via scooter from City Hall, issued a tongue-in-cheek objection: “I disagree. I think you are a better person if you use the bus.” He better hope Don Zimmerman didn’t hear that.

Who killed Threadgill’s?… Mayoral candidate Laura Morrison sought to blame her opponent, Mayor Steve Adler, for the recent news that Threadgill’s World Headquarters on Riverside Drive will soon close due to rent increases that owner Eddie Wilson said he can’t afford. On Wednesday, Morrison tweeted: “Austin’s Iconic Threadgill’s World Headquarters is closing due to rising property taxes while California multi-millionaire Anthony Precourt gets a pass from my opponent on paying hundreds of millions in property taxes. #backwards #AdlersAustin #enough” Plenty of others on Twitter disagreed that local government was the true culprit. Said one person: “Property taxes are going up because of the State’s unfunded mandates. Threadgill’s is closing because people don’t go out for meatloaf anymore.”

HOT topic… There’s almost certain to be a plethora of phone calls and possibly horse trading going on in the Austin arts community this week following a memo released last week that details the recommended funding levels for the 2019 budget year for the 54 arts organizations that receive money from the city. The new funding levels in some cases vary wildly from what was received in the current budget. The $7.6 million in arts funding comes at least in part from receipts in the city’s portion of the Hotel Occupancy Tax. Sightlines arts magazine reported that tax collections did not increase for the new budget and an increase in applicants played a role in the changes in allocation totals. City Council is expected to consider the funding levels at Thursday’s meeting.

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

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