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Stories by Jo Clifton

Monday, June 26, 2017 by Jo Clifton

Second Austin Energy employee investigated

For the second time this month, the Office of the City Auditor has released a report alleging that an Austin Energy employee has misused his computer, email account and telephone to work on his secondary employment. According to an investigation…

Friday, June 23, 2017 by Jo Clifton

Council OKs $6.9 million in fee waivers for state

Despite Gov. Greg Abbott’s long list of proposed topics for an upcoming special session of the Texas Legislature that look a lot like Austin bashing, City Council voted Thursday to allow staff to negotiate an interlocal agreement with the Texas…

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 by Jo Clifton

Is a grueling special session ahead?

Brie Franco, the city’s intergovernmental relations officer, told City Council at Tuesday’s work session that although Austin had “some positive outcomes” during the just-ended legislative session, many of the items defeated by the city and its allies are likely to…

Friday, June 16, 2017 by Jo Clifton

Auditors to look at firefighters’ overtime

After considerable complaint from its newest members, Jimmy Flannigan and Alison Alter, City Council voted last month to amend the city’s General Fund budget by transferring $3.5 million from a stabilization reserve fund into the Austin Fire Department’s budget to pay…

Thursday, June 15, 2017 by Jo Clifton

Talk starts for 2018 city bond election

City Council got a first look during its work session on Tuesday at an initial list of staff bond proposals that could go to voters in November of 2018. That list included a total of $640 million in bonds, with…

Wednesday, June 14, 2017 by Jo Clifton

Casar: End curfew law that targets minorities

Seventy-six percent of teenagers accused of juvenile curfew violations from 2014 through 2016 were minorities, with Hispanics making up the majority of those cited by the Austin Police Department, according to the department’s own records. The law prohibits persons under…

Monday, June 12, 2017 by Jo Clifton

Council hears all about plumbing rules

City Council heard arguments Thursday from supporters of the Uniform Plumbing Code, which included members of the city’s commission on plumbing matters, and supporters of the International Residential (plumbing) Code, which included other plumbers, representatives of the home builders association…

Thursday, June 8, 2017 by Jo Clifton

Austin’s fleet maintenance costly, audit shows

The cost of providing routine oil changes and inspections of the city’s light-duty, nonpublic safety vehicles is more than twice the cost of an oil change and inspection at a private company, according to an audit released by the Office…

Wednesday, June 7, 2017 by Jo Clifton

Budget stresses show in child care discussion

Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo faced strong resistance at Tuesday’s work session to her resolution directing the city manager to find funding to continue a child care services program for homeless families. Tovo and her cosponsors, City Council members Delia…

Tuesday, June 6, 2017 by Jo Clifton

Lake Austin group sues city over open meetings

A group of Lake Austin homeowners on Monday sued the city of Austin, claiming that the city’s notice concerning the zoning and waiver of environmental regulations on what is known as the Champion tract, was inadequate and therefore violated the…

Friday, June 2, 2017 by Jo Clifton

Is audit trouble for Austin Energy employee?

The City Auditor’s Integrity Unit has found evidence that Austin Energy employee Steven Salinas solicited and accepted employment from developers over whose projects he had discretionary authority in his position as a lead electric distribution designer. However, while auditors found…

Wednesday, May 31, 2017 by Jo Clifton

Visit Austin contract included lobbying Council

When the CEO for the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau, recently renamed Visit Austin, signed his employment contract with the organization last May, the contract included an addendum directing him to develop a strategy for lobbying City Council to enlarge…

Thursday, May 25, 2017 by Jo Clifton

Updated: Visit Austin provides some data, withholds some

The Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau, now operating as Visit Austin, released to the Austin Monitor on Wednesday a list of its 50 highest-paid employees, by job title and salary, not by name, as well as a compilation of the…

Tuesday, May 23, 2017 by Jo Clifton

Bunch sues Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau

Austin activist Bill Bunch filed suit after hours Monday against the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau (which on April 28 filed an assumed name certificate allowing it to operate under the name Visit Austin) for refusing to disclose the salaries of its…

Friday, May 19, 2017 by Jo Clifton

Council hopes new rules will shorten meetings

Meetings that stretch into the wee hours of the morning, lengthy work sessions, budget briefings and additional special called meetings have taken a toll on the 10-1 City Council, those feisty newcomers who thought they could reinvent the wheel when…

Thursday, May 18, 2017 by Jo Clifton

Mayor suggests changes to public safety pay

Paying for Austin’s public safety needs could add more than $75.9 million to the city’s General Fund budget over the next five years – with more than two-thirds of that funding going to the Austin Police Department, according to the…

Wednesday, May 17, 2017 by Jo Clifton

Anti-annexation bill now biggest threat to city

Although there were numerous legislative proposals that threatened Austin at the beginning of the current session of the Texas Legislature, the one that now appears to put Austin’s ability to grow and pay for its services in greatest jeopardy is…

Tuesday, May 16, 2017 by Jo Clifton

Pool proposes campaign finance rule changes

City Council Member Leslie Pool will be bringing forward an amendment to the city’s campaign finance law in June. Pool’s proposal is an attempt to remedy the city’s First Amendment problem with part of the old law, which federal Judge…

Friday, May 12, 2017 by Jo Clifton

Council outlaws vaping, postpones demolition case

At its abbreviated meeting on Thursday, City Council directed the city manager to make changes to the city’s smoking ordinance to clarify that “smoking” includes electronic smoking devices as well as regular cigarettes, so that vaping will no longer be…

Thursday, May 11, 2017 by Jo Clifton

Council ponders how to pay for golf

Most of Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department programs operate on money from the city’s General Fund, but at some point in the past City Council designated golf as an enterprise fund. City staff reported to Council at last week’s budget…

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