Monday, April 22, 2019 by Austin Monitor

Reporter’s Notebook: Politics, resurrected

The return of Zimmerman… After a few years of (relative) silence from Don Zimmerman, it appears that the former District 6 Council member is once again ready to enter the fray. In an Easter Facebook post, Zimmerman announced he was throwing his famous hat into the ring and exploring a campaign to become Texas House of Representatives member for House District 47. Zimmerman said he made the decision after hearing that Paul Workman would not be pursuing re-election and that former Council Member Ellen Troxclair would not be running either. Zimmerman further explained, “For well over a decade, my public campaigns against tax increases have demonstrated that I’ve been very consistently and publicly working toward tax relief – not just voicing it for votes during the campaign season or whenever it’s convenient. I also worked tirelessly, as a problem-solving mechanical engineer, for traffic congestion relief and in opposition to wasteful mass transit boondoggles, efforts which will be far more effective from a seat in the Texas Legislature. … I’m Don Zimmerman, the Taxpayers’ Voice of Reason. While my conservative, liberty leaning record has been clear and consistent, it is up to my supporters and the voters at large to decide what brand of representation they want (and need) at the Texas Capitol. … I humbly ask for your feedback regarding my potential campaign, and the critical importance of making the single conservative-leaning Travis County House District pack as much of a punch as the five House seats controlled by liberal-progressives who oppose fiscal sanity and government restraint. … Your prayers are much appreciated as I, along with my family, consider taking this step to bring bold conservative leadership to Austin.”

Auditors receiving more complaints than usual… The Office of the City Auditor has received an unusually large number of ethics complaints during the first half of Fiscal Year 2019. Brian Molloy, chief of investigations, told the Council Audit and Finance Committee Wednesday that the office had received 155 complaints so far this year, compared to 122 complaints in the first half of FY 2018. He noted that it is the largest number of complaints received in a six-month period in the last four years. Molloy said that the office usually gets more allegations during the second half of the year than the first half, “so if this pace keeps up, we’ll have our largest year overall in the last four years and will finish with around 330 allegations.”

Currently, the office is working on nine open investigations, including eight allegations of misuse, abuse, theft and waste of city property and one allegation labeled “failure to enforce code.” Molloy said so far this fiscal year the office has completed five investigations and issued four reports. In the fifth case, the complaint was dismissed. Molloy said 71 percent of those reporting alleged waste, theft, misuse or abuse of city property complain anonymously. He also noted that only one percent of those making reports were contractors – as far as the office can tell. They intend to find a way to encourage contractors who observe violations of city ethics regulations to make reports. Roughly 60 percent of the allegations the auditor’s office receives are not within their jurisdiction and are referred to another department, notably Human Relations. Those include harassment, discrimination and retaliation. That’s about 34 percent of the allegations auditors receive. Another 10 percent are deemed to be departmental issues, he said.

Not to the moon, Alice… Turns out Mayor Steve Adler was more right than he realized back in February when he talked up the daunting challenge of sending the Kerbey Lane queso recipe – along with a wealth of other vital human info – to the moon. Word came Sunday that the unmanned Israeli rocket mission using a SpaceX Falcon rocket had crashed after losing communications as it was attempting to land on the moon’s surface. The venture between private industry and nonprofits based out of Israel is estimated to have cost $100 million, and national leaders there said another attempt at the landing would be made. That would give Adler a second chance at what was one of his more canny and memorable public statements: “We choose to send queso to the Moon – and maybe someday chips as well, not because these things are easy, but because they are hard,” he said. “The challenge to eat queso in zero gravity is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, among other key challenges, like next time remembering the chips.”

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

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Key Players & Topics In This Article

Don Zimmerman: Former Austin City Council Member for District 6 (2014-2016)

Mayor Steve Adler: Mayor of the city of Austin, elected in November 2014

Office of the City Auditor: This city department is created by the city's charter in order to establish and ensure "accountability transparency, and a culture of continuous improvement in city operations."

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