Fri March 30, 2012
Live Blog: Mayor Leffingwell's 2012 State of the City Address
KUT News is in City Council Chambers at City Hall this afternoon, as Mayor Lee Leffingwell delivers his annual State of the City address. We're live blogging the speech, so refresh this page for updates.
12:44pm: Wrapping up. "We can and will leave Austin a better place than how we found it, and that’s saying something." And ... that's it!
12:41pm: Leffingwell issuing a call to bring together government, business, non-profits to address “one of Austin’s biggest challenges: our rapidly growing aging population.” Announces Mayor’s Task Force on Aging.
Leffingwell cites a study saying the Austin metro region has the third largest population nationwide of residents over 65 years of age. Also cites a high percentage of baby boomers, meaning more soon-to-be seniors. Personally announces he aims to raise $50,000.
12:34pm: Pivoting from creativity to "compassion." Trumpeting public service, city’s creation of “Chief Service Officer” position, Austin Corps, school tutoring programs, and help for returning female veterans.
12:28pm: Talking about music -- think we just dodged a dubstep joke there. Among the folks in attendance are Mohawk owner James Moody. "James, we salute you and your beard," Leffingwell says. All leading to the a recent study tabulating the economic impact of creative economies at $1.5 billion.
12:27pm: Moving on to geographic representation. Refers to work of Charter Revision Committee, and council's position to determine what makes it on the ballot. Strives to balance the "kind of change we want, and the kind of change that voters approve," alluding to some of the divisions in the committee’s recommendations. Calls for continued discussion leading up to the decision.
12:24pm: Topic three: schools. “We have everything at stake.” Topic four: Austin Energy. Advocates for caution in rate redesign, saying state lawmakers are in a position to determine whether city owned AE continues its monopoly position.
12:18pm: Speech is to focus on five areas. First is jobs; Leffingwell says Austin is “envy of the country.” “As of last week, Apple is my favorite fruit.” Quickly pivots to small, local business.
Second theme: traffic. Talks up 2010 bond transportation vote. Says bond election this year may “potentially” include rail.
“Thirty percent of this region’s jobs are located in or around downtown Austin. It’s simply not possible to build additional roads” in downtown, he offers, alluding to rail. “Stay tuned on that,” citing need for federal investment.
12:15PM: Says Austin is "stronger than it's ever been before." Theme of speech to be "keeping the lead."
12:14pm: Leffingwell jokes “If there was a list of cities that appear on lists, we’d be on that list.” Well, this is close.
12:12pm: "Let me cut right to the chase. Austin, Texas is the greatest city in America today."
12:06pm: Kicks off with very brief introduction from City Manager Marc Ott.
Leffingwell: "I'm Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell, or as people know me on YouTube, that old guy in the shower."
Thanks colleagues on City Council in attendance, who create "more drama each week than Downton Abbey."
Noon: Chambers are filling up before the speech starts. It's interesting to note the timing of the speech, first announced, as soon as I can tell, only yesterday. Of course, we're in the midst of endorsement season, and Mayor Leffingwell certainly wouldn't shun the chance to highlight some of Austin's recent successes.