Jo Clifton

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.

401(k) 2012 / creative commons licensed

From the Austin Monitor: The non-senior Austinite who owns a median-priced home and uses an average amount of water and electricity can expect his or her bill for taxes, fees and utilities to increase by about $12.48 per month for the 2017 Fiscal Year, under a proposal from the city’s budget staff.

From the Austin Monitor: According to a poll conducted for the Austin Monitor, a majority of those polled in City Council Member Don Zimmerman’s district — 52 percent — approve of how Council handled the Uber/Lyft election issue. At the same time, 51 percent said they would vote to re-elect their Council member, who was not mentioned by name in the question.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT

From The Austin Monitor: With their eyes on a possible transportation bond election in November, City Council members on Thursday kicked off a process for determining which items the public will be asked to weigh in on this fall.

Lyft via youtube

From the Austin Monitor: Mayor Steve Adler on Sunday revealed that he has been working with a representative of Lyft, one of the transportation network companies that has been backing an initiative on the May 7 ballot to prevent the city from enforcing mandatory fingerprinting for TNC drivers. Adler said he has been discussing with attorney Michael Whellan, who represents Lyft, the idea of entering into a Memorandum of Understanding with the TNCs.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

From the Austin Monitor: On Monday, during the first day of trial in City Council Member Don Zimmerman’s suit against the city, the District 6 Council member told federal Judge Lee Yeakel that his First Amendment rights are being violated by Austin’s campaign finance laws.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

From the Austin Monitor: Mayor Steve Adler will sponsor an item on next week’s City Council agenda authorizing fee waivers and payments by the city in connection with the 2016 South by Southwest Music, Film and Interactive Festival for up to $309,310, according to Jim Wick, the mayor’s director of community engagement.

Callie Hernandez for KUT News

From the Austin Monitor —  The City of Austin has lost its lawsuit to declare certain portions of the Texas tax code unconstitutional. The city had sued the Travis Central Appraisal District and owners of commercial and vacant properties in an attempt to overturn provisions related to how properties are appraised, claiming that those provisions unfairly favor commercial and vacant property owners and cause those properties to be undervalued.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

From our city hall reporting partner, the Austin Monitor:

City Council Member Don Zimmerman, who plans to run for re-election in 2016, has filed suit in federal court against the city of Austin, seeking to overturn four important provisions of the city’s campaign finance rules. If he wins, the changes would have an immediate and lasting impact on how elections are conducted and financed in Austin.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

From the Austin Monitor: Mayor Steve Adler reported Wednesday that his campaign still owes him more than $418,315. Adler’s campaign finance report indicates that he paid himself back $31,077 in January. However, the campaign has no money remaining to repay the rest.

Other mayors in the same situation, such as former Mayor Lee Leffingwell, have relied on fundraising after they left office to recoup some of their expenses. Leffingwell reported Wednesday that he had repaid himself $56,000 this year, leaving a debt close to $35,000.

Campaign finance reports were due on Wednesday from all City Council members and all Council candidates who had not previously closed down their accounts, as well as anyone else still spending or collecting funds.

flickr.com/lidocaineus

From the Austin Monitor: After hearing from several opponents of the proposed ordinance to require scrubbers on the smokestacks of restaurants that smoke meat, the City Council Committee on Economic Development voted unanimously Monday against supporting the ordinance.

Council Member Ora Houston made the motion not to pursue an ordinance initially proposed by Council Member Pio Renteria. Houston moved that individual complaints be referred to Code Compliance or the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

Update Thursday April 2, 2015, 4:20 p.m. At today’s meeting, the Austin City Council voted to start a stakeholder input process on possibly regulating barbecue smoke from restaurants.

Recommendations will be made by the city manager to the Health and Human Services Committee and the Economic Opportunity Committee. After July 31, there will be another chance for public comment.

ORIGINAL STORY from the Austin Monitor: In response to owners of barbecue restaurants worried about their future in Austin, City Council Member Pio Renteria is making some changes to his resolution directing city staff to create rules to regulate smoke from commercial barbecue smokestacks.

Originally, the resolution was written to require restaurants and mobile food vendors who use a wood or charcoal burning stove or grill within 150 feet of properties zoned residential to install exhaust systems called smoke scrubbers or similar devices.

Sue Jones/wikimedia commons

From the Austin Monitor:

Even though City Council froze the transfer from Austin Energy to the city’s general fund at $105 million in 2012, the amount the utility pays for support services has continued to grow. For the current fiscal year, the utility will fund more than $20 million for support services as well as to departments that may or may not have much to do with the utility.

The transfer, of course, is like a dividend payment to the taxpayers, reducing the amount they would have to pay to fund the city. It is used to defray costs and reduce taxes. The city uses various methods to allocate administrative costs, some of them intuitively obvious, but others not.

From the Austin Monitor:

Terrell Blodgett, professor emeritus at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, has written to Mayor Steve Adler and his City Council colleagues expressing concern about the mayor’s plan to add more staff for his office and lecturing him on the fact that the mayor has no more power than any of his Council colleagues or mayors before him.

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

From the Austin Monitor:

After hearing strong opposition from his colleagues as well as others, Mayor Steve Adler is proposing a complete revamp of his plan for additional staffing in the Mayor’s office.

Adler told the Austin Monitor Thursday that he would be pulling down his proposal to fund additional staff for the Mayor’s office through the Better Austin Foundation. Adler said he expects to have a total of nine staff members. He currently has four on his staff plus Sara Hartley, who is on loan from the public works department.

KUT News

From the Austin Monitor:

There are only two subsidized housing developments in City Council Member Don Zimmerman’s District 6, as compared to 47 in Council Member Ora Houston’s District 1 and 46 in Council Member Pio Renteria’s District 3, according to data compiled by the group Housing Works Austin.

But Zimmerman would like to make sure there is not another one in District 6. He is particularly opposed to the Cardinal Point Apartments that are to be developed by Foundation Communities, Inc. at 11011 1/2 Four Points Drive.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

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

According to a poll conducted this week among 942 likely Austin voters, mayoral candidate and attorney Steve Adler maintains a commanding lead over his runoff opponent, City Council Member Mike Martinez. When asked who they would be likely to vote for in the Dec. 16 runoff election, 56 percent of respondents said Adler, compared to 39 percent for Martinez. Only 5 percent said they were undecided.

Public Policy Polling of Raleigh, North Carolina, conducted the poll on Dec. 2 and 3. The poll was commissioned by the Austin Monitor and was made possible through a generous donation by Texas Disposal Systems.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

From The Austin Monitor:

A poll commissioned by the Austin Monitor shows that 56 percent of voters said they would likely vote for mayoral candidate Steve Adler, compared to 35 percent who said they would vote for his runoff opponent, City Council Member Mike Martinez. Only 8 percent of those polled indicated that they were undecided in the mayoral contest.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

From The Austin Monitor:

Austin City Council politics has hit the big time, with an out-of-state political action committee making numerous negative phone calls into the city to lambaste mayoral candidate Steve Adler.

Austin Monitor

From The Austin Monitor:

(This story was updated Oct. 2 to correct an editing error that overstated the risk of the city’s billing system overcharging residents for their water bills. The audit found no large-scale issues with water meter accuracy.)

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