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TipSheet: Travis County, 12.06.16

Tuesday, December 6, 2016 by Caleb Pritchard

The Travis County Commissioners Court meets at 9 a.m. Tuesday. In the interest of space, we’ve decided not to post the entire agenda here. The County Clerk’s office hosts a copy at its website.

3. Approve resolution of appreciation for the Citizen Advisory Committee on Civil and Family Court Capacity. (Judge Eckhardt & Commissioner Shea)

Monitor’s Take: Serving on the committee looking over staffs’ shoulders as they search for a new civil courthouse site is tough, grueling work, but don’t let ‘em tell you that it’s thankless. Pending the approval of this resolution, the Commissioners Court will recognize the pro-bono effort of the 25-person committee throughout 2016 to closely examine potential sites and whittle the list down to just a handful of locations.

5. Approve setting a public hearing on Tuesday, December 20, 2016, to receive comments regarding the issuance of a mass gathering permit for Euphoria Music Festival to be held on April 6–10, 2017, at 9507 Sherman Road, Austin, Texas 78742. (Judge Eckhardt & Commissioner Gómez)

Monitor’s Take: Used to be, this item would cause no sense of small dread for concert organizers and freelance journalists alike. That was back when the Court was still feeling out its mass gathering permitting process reforms. Since then, however, staff and elected officials appear pretty comfortable with the new adjustments, and it’s unlikely that much drama will result from the hearing that will come from this item (but don’t bet the farm on it).

6. Consider and take appropriate action on the DNA testing issues in the Austin Police Department Forensics Services Division, DNA Unit. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: After hearing last month about the recent disaster within APD’s DNA unit, the Commissioners Court is positioned to take action. Since that discussion, Judge Eckhardt has pow-wowed with Mayor Steve Adler, County Attorney David Escamilla, and District Attorney-elect Margaret Moor, along with city and county staff, to put together a plan for moving forward. The two-pronged approach involves examining how DNA testing failures may have affected past and pending criminal cases, and exploring new options for advanced forensics in the community. The latter could involve a separate unit established via an interlocal agreement between the city and county. Look for action on that at next week’s meeting.

9. Consider and take appropriate action on appointments to the Central Health Board of Managers. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: Part of this item will be the ratification of the City Council Health and Human Services Committee’s recommendation on Monday that Abigail Aiken be appointed to Central Health’s board. That recommendation itself was a ratification of sorts of the Court’s designation last week of Aiken as its primary choice (with attorney Fred Lewis as the runner-up). County staff is also recommending that the Court reappoint board member Guadalupe Zamora, who is eligible to re-up on his expiring term without having to compete with new candidates.

12. Receive presentation from developers on the proposed Bella Fortuna Public Improvement District. (Commissioner Gómez)

Monitor’s Take: The PIDs keep coming! In this case, the developer is looking to build 415 single-family homes and 200 apartment units on 158 acres in south central Travis County. The creation of a public improvement district would clear the way for such amenities as ballparks, bike trails, and “enhanced landscaping and front entrance,” according to the item’s backup material. Also of note, the developer promises that this project, south of Slaughter Lane and east of Interstate 35, will be a “multi-modal transportation site.”

16. Consider and take appropriate on an appointment to the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority Board of Directors. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: CTRMA board member Nikelle Meade is nearing the end of her most recent term, opening up the possibility that the Court infuses fresh blood into the controversial toll road agency’s leadership. However, county staff have recommended that Meade, who has sat on the board since 2009, be allowed to maintain her post, something that could draw fire from Commissioner Brigid Shea, who has in the past rankled at the board’s roster of real estate professionals.

This TipSheet has been corrected. Guadalupe Zamora is male, not female.

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Key Players & Topics In This Article

Travis County Commissioners Court: The legislative body for Travis County. It includes representatives from the four Travis County Precincts, as well as the County Judge. The County Judge serves as the chair of the Court.

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