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TipSheet: Travis County, 3.07.2017

Tuesday, March 7, 2017 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.

8. Receive Racial Profiling Report for Calendar Year 2016 from the Travis County Sheriff’s Office. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: Per state law, the Sheriff’s Office is once again providing the results of its annual racial profiling report. This time, the report observes that “while it is interesting to review the data, it is impossible to draw significant definitive conclusions from the data.” Nonetheless – and spoiler alert – the paper ultimately finds that “the data does not support a conclusion that the Travis County Sheriff’s Office racially profiles traffic offenders/pedestrians when initiating a detention or search.” Perhaps most astonishing is that, of the 38,542 traffic stops deputies performed last year, 1,162 of them resulted in searches and 100 percent of those searches produced some form of contraband. Zounds.

15. Consider and take appropriate action on the following regarding the 2017 Bond Referendum: Provide charge to Citizens Bond Advisory Committee. (Commissioners Shea & Travillion)

Monitor’s Take: Last week, the court assembled the 2017 Citizens Bond Advisory Committee. This week, it will give the CBAC members their marching orders. This time around, the 15-member panel will be given the dual responsibility of selecting items for a November bond referendum while also identifying more urgent projects that could be included in the Fiscal Year 2018 budget.

23. Approve Contract No. 4400003187, Capital Area Private Defender Service, for Forensic Review Project. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: Nobody said cleaning up the mess made by the implosion of the Austin Police Department’s DNA lab was gonna be cheap. The county is taking on the Capital Area Private Defender Service to find any defendants whose cases may have been affected by the lab’s questionable forensics over the years and offer legal assistance. The total cost of the contract, which runs through the end of September, is $647,212.12.

29. Consider and take appropriate action on legislative matters, including: a. Update on legislative activities. b. Legislation relating to broker agreements for the sale of certain surplus property by a county. c. Modifications to the Priorities, Policy Positions, and Positions on Other Proposals sections of the Travis County Legislative Agenda. (Commissioners Shea & Daugherty)

Monitor’s Take: Per a decision the court reached last week, the county’s legislative agenda will be tweaked to include the pursuit of just one new civil court and one new criminal court. Originally, the plan had been to ask for two new civil courts, which means that Intergovernmental Relations Coordinator Deece Eckstein’s ultra cushy job just got even easier.

30. Consider and take appropriate action on issues related to the North Campus Development Project at 5325–5335 Airport Boulevard. (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: Last week, County Judge Sarah Eckhardt broke the news that the North Campus project had hit “a roadblock.” As we reported in today’s edition, that roadblock came in the form of lost financial assistance from the state thanks to intervention on behalf of a competing project by state Rep. Dawnna Dukes. It’s expected that staff will brief the court about the unexpected wrinkle so that the county can begin developing a Plan B.

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