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NAAO plans endorsement meeting
The Network of Asian-American Organizations and its member organizations will host a candidate forum Saturday. Candidates for Mayor and City Council who responded to an NAAO candidate questionnaire will be permitted to speak on a first-come, first-serve basis and as time permits. Thirty-one candidates responded to the questionnaire. The NAAO political action committee, which is a separate group, will announce candidate endorsements after the forum. The meeting is set for 9:30 a.m. to noon at the Asian-American Resource Center, 8401 Cameron Road.
Media tour of Urban Rail route planned
The Project Connect: Central Corridor Study Team is inviting local media types (that’s us) to tour the adopted Urban Rail Locally Preferred Alternative route next week. Attendees will be driven by bus through the 9.5-mile LPA route, stopping at destinations along the way to discuss characteristics of each stop and the influence each area had on definition of the LPA. In addition to the Project Connect team, reporters and their camera-toting sidekicks will get some face time with several people involved with the rail project, including: Mayor Lee Leffingwell, Capital Metro Board Member John Langmore, Downtown Alliance Executive Director Charlie Betts, UT Sustainability Director Jim Walker and ACC President Dr. Richard Rhodes. Look for the results on your 10 o’clock news Wednesday. The tour begins at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Daniel E. Ruiz Branch Library, 1600 Grove Blvd.
State to invest in Schwab expansion in El Paso, Austin
Our bespectacled governor, Rick Perry, is apparently sending more than the Texas National Guard to the border these days… Now he’s sending stockbrokers. He announced Thursday that the Texas Enterprise Fund is making two multimillion-dollar investments in the Charles Schwab Corporation, one for a new operations center in El Paso and another to boost Schwab’s presence in Austin. The TEF is providing $1.45 million for the El Paso project, which is scheduled to create 445 jobs and $21.5 million in capital investment over the next 10 years. The $4.5 million TEF investment in the Austin project would create 823 jobs and a $210 million investment over the next decade. The El Paso operation is the newest major employment center for Schwab, joining its San Francisco corporate headquarters along with Denver, Phoenix, Indianapolis, Richfield, Chicago, Orlando and Austin as cities with significant numbers of employees. The financial services company also has some 320 retail branch offices across the U.S.
Thursday, July 24, 2014 by Jo Clifton
Morrison quashes rumor
Contrary to rumors, Council Member Laura Morrison has not declared her support for District 4 candidate Laura Pressley. Morrison said she has a favorite in that race and plans to announce her choice later this summer. But she said that choice is not Pressley. So far, Morrison has endorsed her colleague Kathie Tovo over her other colleague, Chris Riley, for District 9. She also said she favors Leslie Pool in the District 7 race . . .
The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Transportation Policy Board – CAMPO Nominations Committee meets at Travis County, Room 2.700, 700 Lavaca Street at 1:30 p.m. . . The Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District board meets at 6 p.m. at agency headquarters at 1124 Regal Row in Manchaca . . . The Community Emergency Response Team meets at 6:30 p.m. at the Combined Transportation Emergency Communications Center, 5010 Old Manor Road.
New candidate for Mayor
Ronald J. “Ron” Culver jumped into the Mayor’s race yesterday, appointing himself his own campaign treasurer and filing the necessary paperwork to be on the ballot. His address indicates he lives in far Northwest Austin in Williamson County. Culver pledged not to collect or spend more than $500 on the race. Otherwise, the only candidate who has actually filed for Mayor is Mike Martinez, who did so Monday.
Many candidates and prospective candidates were present at Wednesday’s Austin Neighborhoods Council meeting. However, those gathered for the meeting offered applause for just two – District 3’s Susana Almanza and District 1’s Ora Houston. Neighborhood interests have traditionally held sway in Austin City Council elections. We’ll have to wait until Nov. 5 to see if that is true under the new system with many more candidates and voters.
Two more join the battle
Two more City Council candidates made it official Tuesday by filing their ballot applications for a spot on the Nov. 4 ballot. Jeb Boyt filed for the District 7 seat and Margie Burciaga filed for the District 10 spot. That brings the total of official candidates to nine.
Texans for Accountable Government has declared its support for anti-fluoride activist Laura Pressley, a candidate in the District 4 race. The largest donor to this group was Jeff Kantoff, identified online as a member of Ron Paul Republicans Meetup Group. Austinites for Geographic Representation filed the appropriate paperwork for dissolution of their political action committee. Stacy Suits, campaign treasurer, declared no further expenditures would be made and there was no money left in their coffers. After all, they won their fight more than 18 months ago when Austinites finally agreed to single-member districts. Let’s Go Austin, the PAC collecting money to support Austin’s rail project on the November ballot, raised about $76,000. Of that, the Downtown Austin Alliance contributed $37,000, dwarfing others’ donations. Tyson Tuttle, the CEO of Silicon Labs, contributed $10,000. The architects of Page Southerland Page gave $5,000, as did Texas Gas Service. Rather surprisingly, the Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association donated $4,000 to the effort. Engineers and land planners Cunningham- Allen, Inc. gave $2,500.
City employee killed in crash
Ernesto Gonzales, a 22-year veteran of the city’s Resource Recovery Department, died Tuesday in a crash near Austin Bergstrom International Airport. Police say a pickup truck driven by Gonzales was involved in a head-on collision with a tractor-trailer on FM 973 near Eva Street. Police say Gonzales was pronounced dead at the scene. City Manager Marc Ott issued a statement Tuesday offering condolences to Gonzales’ family and co-workers.
Zumba Time at Zilker Park
The Parks and Recreation Department is planning to ‘Zelebrate’ Zumba at Zilker Park Thursday. Attendees may enjoy a group Zumba class and giveaways. Zumba is a popular dance fitness program. On July 1, Mayor Lee Leffingwell proclaimed July as Parks Month in support of PARD and the National Recreation and Park Association’s nationwide initiative to promote healthy communities through recreation and leisure. The “Zumbathon Zelebration” is set for 10 a.m. at Zilker Park, 2100 Barton Springs Road.
Appraisal issue returns to Austin Monitor Radio
Travis County Intergovernmental Relations Coordinator Deece Eckstein joins Monitor Publisher Mike Kanin to talk about ongoing concerns associated with the Travis Central Appraisal District’s property tax appraisal process. Tune to 91.7FM KOOP at 2 p.m. today to hear the discussion.
The Commission on Immigrant Affairs plans a special called meeting at 6:30 p.m. at the Terrazas Branch Library, 1105 E. Cesar Chavez Street . . . The Building and Standards Commission meets at 6:30 p.m. at One Texas Center, 505 Barton Springs Road.
Eager to run
Council Member Mike Martinez was officially the first to file documents required to get his name on the ballot under the heading of Mayor. He filed just after 9 a.m. Monday, with Susana Almanza filing for District 3; Mike Rodriguez and David Senecal filing for District 5; Jimmy Flannigan and Jay Wiley filing for District 6; and Melissa Zone filing for District 7.
Campaign finance reports from committees
Political Action Committees were also required to file contribution and expenditure reports last week. A peek at them shows nothing too exciting, however.ChangeAustin.org. reported collecting only about $658, all of it from founder Brian Rodgers, and spending about $2,600 on salaries. Linda Curtis, the PAC treasurer, got about $1,200 of that as a consulting fee. The PAC reported no remaining funds.
City seeks input on Housing First program
The City of Austin is seeking development team members familiar with the Housing First model of Permanent Supportive Housing to provide insights for the city’s program. The Austin Housing Finance Corp. and Health and Human Services Departments want input on the best approaches to solicit partners for Housing First developments for the Austin community. A Request for Information was released Monday and responses are due by Aug. 4. The housing agency is looking for teams with experience in design, construction and/or operations of Housing First Permanent Supportive Housing. Later, the city will solicit its first “Housing First PSH development” providing at least 50 units to highly vulnerable, chronically homeless individuals. Click here to download the RFQ.
Capital Planning Office wins award
The city’sCapital Planning Office has received the Public Technology Institute’s 2013-14 Technology Solutions Award for its Strategic Capital Investments GIS mapping analysis, which can be found in the Long-Range Capital Improvement Program Strategic Plan. The Public Technology Institute’s annual Solutions Awards Competition recognizes PTI member local governments that demonstrate how they use technology to solve specific problems, improve community services and internal operations and reduce costs. The Capital Investments GIS Mapping Analysis, also known as the Strategic Investment Areas Overlay Analysis, overlays city initiatives identified by the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan with infrastructure need. For more information, click here.
The Planning Commission meets at 6 p.m. at One Texas Center, 505 Barton Springs Road . . . The Travis County Commissioners Court meets at 9 a.m. in Chambers at 700 Lavaca St. . . . TheWilliamson County Commissioners Court meeting at 9:30 a.m. in the Williamson County Courthouse in Georgetown . . . The Hays County Commissioners meet at 9 a.m. in the Hays County Courthouse in San Marcos. . . . The Parks and Recreation Board meeting is canceled . . . . (Note: Double-check your meeting’s location. Some meetings are in different venues due to remodeling of the Council Chambers at City Hall.)
Monday, July 21, 2014 by Michael Kanin
Today’s the day
Those 64 or so citizens who have declared they would like to be candidates for Mayor or City Council can start filing the paperwork today to make themselves official candidates for the 11 seats. And Council Member Mike Martinez, who is running for Mayor, plans to be among the first to file. According to a press release from his campaign, Martinez will file the necessary paperwork and signatures to get his name on the Nov. 4 ballot around 9 a.m. The filing deadline is Aug. 18. Winners will have until Jan. 6 to get ready to serve. But we can expect several runoffs, with the date for that election December 16.
Monday, July 21, 2014 by Michael Kanin
In addition to the five candidates already in the race to represent City Council District 5, there is an additional candidate. But don’t expect to hear much from or about David Senecal, who signed up on July 14 and pledged not to collect or spend more than $500 on the race (excluding filing fees). His opponents include Dan Buda, Jason Denny, Dave Floyd, Ann Kitchen, and Mike Rodriguez.