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Elizabeth Pagano is the editor of the Austin Monitor.
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Contact Team trouble in District 3
Wednesday, September 17, 2014 by Elizabeth Pagano
A member of the Govalle-Johnston Terrace neighborhood who last year tried to stop PUD zoning for the project known as thinkEast has complained to the city about the participation of PODER leader and City Council candidate Susana Almanza on the neighborhood planning contact team. Alex Zankich sent a letter to Greg Guernsey, director of the Planning and Development Review Department, alleging that Almanza should not be on the team because she lives in Montopolis and is chair of that neighborhood’s contact team. According to the city’s website, Daniel Llanes is the primary contact and Janie Rangel the secondary contact for that neighborhood. However, city planner Margaret Valenti said that she has the official list (which is not online) and Almanza is listed as the secondary contact. Llanes said that Almanza’s organization, PODER, is the member, and that anyone in the organization can take on the duties of the neighborhood contact team member. He also explained that Rangel is the vice chair, but asked that someone else be the secondary contact for health reasons. Zankich wants the city to somehow remove Almanza from the team. But that can’t happen under city regulations, which give the city no authority over the neighborhood teams. According to Carol Haywood, comprehensive planning manager, only the neighborhood team itself can remove or select members. She said, “The city can’t be the bad guy, the big enforcer guy, and know what’s going on in all the neighborhoods … It’s up to the people who vote these people into office to take care of their situation.”
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