Elizabeth Pagano

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

From the Austin Monitor: According to an Austin Monitor poll, the fate of the mobility bond is anyone’s guess.

The poll was sponsored by Perry Lorenz and conducted by Public Policy Polling. On Oct. 5 and 6, Public Policy Polling surveyed 585 Austin voters by phone about November’s $720 million transportation bond.

Elizabeth Pagano / Austin Monitor

Two of the three candidates vying for the District 4 City Council seat faced off Monday in a packed North Austin coffeehouse and answered questions from those they hope to represent.

Incumbent Council Member Greg Casar has represented District 4 since his 2014 win. Candidate Louis Herrin III, who works as a state environmental engineer, is running for the District 4 seat for the second time. In 2014, Herrin garnered under 3 percent of the vote in his first run against Casar.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

From the Austin Monitor: A lengthy series of memos defending the city’s review of the Grove at Shoal Creek planned unit development emerged yesterday, and it could set the stage for the case returning to City Council later this month.

University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment via Flickr

From the Austin Monitor: The Public Safety Commission upped the ante Tuesday, calling for an additional $5.6 million to tackle a backlog of DNA cases that continue to accumulate while the city’s lab remains shuttered.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

From the Austin Monitor: City of Austin documents show that employees in the Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Department have made numerous complaints involving inappropriate behavior, a hostile work environment, sexual harassment and retaliation over the past five years. Many of those complaints revolve around Steve Ritchie, director of construction and development, and former Director Betsy Spencer’s alleged favoritism toward Ritchie.

Charlotte Carpenter for KUT News

From the Austin Monitor: Once again, the Historic Landmark Commission was the site of an ideological showdown over the fate of Russell Lee Elementary. And, on Monday night, it was also a face-off between the commission and the Austin Independent School District.

Graphic by Andrew Weber/KUT

From the Austin Monitor: A poll commissioned by the Austin Monitor with the help of sponsors shows that more people approve of Mayor Steve Adler’s job performance than that of City Council as a whole — with 51 percent of respondents endorsing Adler’s leadership, compared to 40 percent approval for Council.


From the Austin Monitor: To date, Austin’s billboards have remained as static as the code that regulates them. But some are calling for changes that could allow digital billboards in the city.

Callie Hernandez/KUT News.

From the Austin Monitor: In January, there was a shake-up at City Hall, with Austin ushering in its first geographically based City Council. Now, six months later, what has it meant? Most obviously, a lot more meetings.

Videos available on the city’s website show that the amount of time the new Council had spent in meetings from February through June 23, 2015, increased approximately 121 percent over the previous Council during the same span in 2014 — from 152.6 hours to 337.9 hours.

From the Austin Monitor: Yesterday, Assistant City Manager Anthony Snipes resigned.

Snipes had arranged the March training event designed to help staff deal with the deluge of female City Council members. That training drew national ridicule to City Hall and sparked widespread outrage.

In a memo to Mayor Steve Adler and Council, City Manager Marc Ott explained that he was verbally informed about the results of last week’s investigation into the training.

KUT News

From our city hall reporting partner, the Austin Monitor:

The Austin Monitor has learned that Austin City Manager Marc Ott has placed Assistant City Manager Anthony Snipes on paid administrative leave. The move comes after news broke that Snipes had organized a controversial training designed to help staff cope with a female-majority City Council.

via Flickr/smreilly

From the Austin Monitor: Citing budget shortfalls, water conservation issues and a lack of lifeguards, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department says it will close two pools and cut back pool operating hours this summer.

The department says it would cost the city $41 million to bring all of its public pools into good repair.

According to a memo written by Parks and Recreation Department Director Sara Hensley to the mayor and City Council, a shortage in lifeguards means that the city will not be able to open pools June 5, which is the first day of summer break.

From the Austin Monitor:

After months of speculation, the City of Austin posted the draft Zucker Report on its website Thursday night.

Last year, Zucker Systems performed an analysis of the Planning and Development Review Department, and while they did find “many exemplary features” within the department, a quick glance makes it clear why the city was less than eager to release the findings without some revision. The report is available, in its entirety, here.

It contains 464 recommendations and “opportunities for improvement.” Of those, 121 are considered high priority. The report recommends the city immediately fund $3.5 million in improvements for the department.

Liang Shi/KUT News

From the Austin Monitor:

Those familiar with the previous City Council’s strict adherence to procedural rules have been left dizzy by the new Council’s first few meetings. Last week, during the Garza Ranch discussion about the maximum allowable number of vehicle trips per day on the tract, that confusion reached new heights — and after some investigation, the Austin Monitor remains unable to determine who, if anyone, made the final amendment to the motion that was approved on first reading.

Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

From the Austin Monitor:

Mayor Steve Adler is trying to boost the chances that his 10 City Council colleagues will vote for a resolution directing the city manager to identify funding options for five new members of the mayor’s staff — at a projected annual cost of $490,645.

Even if Council approves the resolution today, it does not guarantee that his colleagues will vote to spend the money when the answers come back.

Last night, employing a tactic heretofore unseen by the Monitor, Adler sent out an email asking his supporters for help in approving a larger staff for his office. Adler took the unorthodox step of requesting that his supporters email other Council members to promote his plan.

KUT News

From the Austin Monitor:

District 6 City Council Member Don Zimmerman may be headed back to court, but this time as a defendant in a criminal prosecution.

On Thursday, Aleshire LAW PC attorney Bill Aleshire filed a criminal complaint against Zimmerman with the Travis County Attorney and the Texas Ethics Commission.

Callie Hernandez/KUT News

From the Austin Monitor:

On Thursday, City Council temporarily backed away from a plan that could have members voting to reduce their own salaries.

Council members voted 11-0 to postpone action on the resolution until their Jan. 29 meeting. The resolution directs the city manager to change the current office budgeting structure to allow Council members to decrease their individual compensation and shift funds within their offices. Mayor Steve Adler explained that the postponement will give Council members the opportunity to take a closer look at the proposition, then address it further at next week’s Tuesday work session.

Courtesy of City of Austin

This story comes to us from our city hall reporting partner, the Austin Monitor.

Wasting no time, Austin’s newly inaugurated City Council launched into a proposal Thursday to change its meetings and committee structures. The changes, members say, will make for a more efficient, more transparent city government.

For now, the details of the change remain tentative. Council will hold a public hearing Jan. 22 to discuss the change and plan to take up the changes for a vote at the first meeting, set for Jan. 29.

“I’ve been here seven years,” said City Manager Marc Ott. “And I can’t even remember how many times things have gotten to the point of my desk or even to the Council’s agenda where we recognized they had not been fully vetted. So, in other words, we found ourselves dealing with unanswered questions about staffing impact, fiscal impact and other kinds of impacts.”

Via Mark Stevens, flickr.com/photos/14723335@N05/

From the Austin Monitor:

Plans to convert downtown’s Seventh, Eighth, Brazos and Colorado streets from one-way to two-way streets are underway.

On Monday, City Council’s Comprehensive Planning and Transportation Committee heard a presentation on a timeline for the change from acting Transportation Department Assistant Director Jim Dale.

“A lot of cities have gone through this process, of being two-way initially, then going to one-way to help move capacity to move a lot more vehicles,” said Dale. “But as we start to look at the pedestrian realm and looking at the complete streets … the two-way conversion does lend itself to a more pedestrian-friendly environment, with a tendency to slow down traffic.”

Austin Monitor

Though early voting started on Monday, the race to City Council hasn’t come to a halt. Over the weekend, an endorsement from the Austin Tea Party had District 4 candidate Greg Casar crying foul and issuing allegations that the whole thing was a stunt to help his opponent win.

The Austin Tea Party sent out a flurry of messages on Twitter Saturday proclaiming their endorsement of Casar for District 4. Austin Tea Party Organizer Dean Wright also sent an email directly to Casar.