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Jo Clifton is the Politics Editor for the Austin Monitor.
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Planning appointments move forward
Friday, February 22, 2019 by Jo Clifton
Council moved forward with appointments to the Planning Commission Thursday, asserting that District 1 Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison made a good selection when she chose Patrick Howard to serve on the commission, despite the possibility that some would see him as working in a field related to real estate. Howard is the executive director of the Travis County Housing Authority. Harper-Madison said, “I am so grateful to be in a position to nominate a qualified candidate to serve on the Planning Commission on behalf of District 1.” She noted that Howard holds a certification from the American Institute of Certified Planners and has an extensive background in planning. However, his job is not related to real estate or land development, she said. Mayor Steve Adler and Council members Greg Casar and Jimmy Flannigan both said they agreed that Howard is not in the development business and is fully qualified to serve. Casar referred to the Austin Monitor story on the subject, saying he is in complete agreement with former County Judge Bill Aleshire who said when voters approved an amendment to the city charter limiting the number of real estate professionals who could serve on the commission they were not thinking about people from the Housing Authority. The appointment comes none too soon for the commission. According to Jerry Rusthoven of the Planning and Zoning Department, a number of zoning cases had to be postponed Thursday because when the commission met they did not have a quorum. Harper-Madison removed Tracy Witte from the commission a few weeks ago. Council Member Ann Kitchen’s appointment to the commission, Assistant County Attorney Tom Nuckols, resigned last year at about the same time that Attorney General Ken Paxton filed his suit. Also on Thursday Kitchen appointed Rob Schneider, saying his job at the AARP has nothing to do with real estate or development.