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TipSheet: This week’s Council committees

Monday, October 26, 2015 by Elizabeth Pagano

As part of our ongoing effort to keep readers up to date with all that is going on at City Hall, we present our tip sheet for Austin City Council committees. As usual, we will be offering highlights of meetings, with links to entire agendas.

Public Safety Council Committee

Monday, Oct. 26, 4 p.m.

2. Staff briefing, invited testimony, and policy discussion regarding police body cameras, including development of the Austin Police Department’s request for proposal.

Monitor’s take: In the recently passed budget, City Council limited the number of new police officers, but it did approve $3 million for new APD body cameras, with a promise to add 500 cameras by the end of the year. With that deadline fast approaching, this looks to be a step toward making that goal a reality.

4. Staff briefing, invited testimony, and policy discussion regarding South by Southwest.

Monitor’s take: This past year’s South by Southwest was generally regarded as more subdued (in part, no doubt, because of rainy weather). However, at a recent Public Safety Commission meeting, police officials identified the fest as an ongoing strain on their resources. It will be interesting to see what comes out of this discussion given both that assertion and the fact that the special events ordinance appears to have been recently resurrected.

Audit and Finance Committee

Wednesday, Oct. 28, 9 a.m.

4. Austin Energy Low-Income Weatherization Program Audit, which evaluated whether Austin Energy is administering the weatherization program effectively and efficiently (City Auditor)

Monitor’s take: Austin Energy’s low-income weatherization program has been called out by activist Paul Robbins as “an economic absurdity” in the recent past, so this audit promises to be great fun.

6. Draft resolution regarding lobbyist reform, including proposed changes to City Code Chapter 4-8 pertaining to regulation of lobbyists, and City Code Chapter 2-7 pertaining to the Ethics Review Commission

Monitor’s take: Proposed changes to the city’s Lobbying Ordinance are back, and with opponents now organized, a lengthy discussion about the changes is pretty much guaranteed. We have heard that alternative language will be proposed that would narrow the scope of who is considered a lobbyist under the new rules.

8. Draft resolution regarding mandating disclosure of campaign contributions and expenditures by non-profits and other entities not currently required to disclose their funding (“dark money” sources)

Monitor’s take: Audit and Finance will also tackle campaign finance reform at its Wednesday meeting. Here’s a video primer on dark money, which the draft resolution will address. Such funding played a greater role in the most-recent City Council election than it had in years past, so it will be interesting to see what once (and future) candidates think about the proposed reform.

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Key Players & Topics In This Article

Austin City Council Audit and Finance Committee: A sub-group of the Austin City Council whose members are charged with oversight of city fiscal operations and anything that falls under the purview of the Office of the City Auditor. Reports and documents for the committee can be found here.

Austin City Council Public Safety Committee: A City Council committee that reviews safety issues, including code enforcement, disaster preparedness and criminal justice.

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