Austin City Council

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Guns were used in nearly a quarter of violent crimes and disorderly conduct cases in Austin from 2010 to 2012, according to an analysis by Austin police. 

Crimes most likely to involve the use of a gun were murders and robberies. About 40 percent of murders and 38 percent of robberies involved firearms. More than 17 percent of aggravated assault cases involved the use of guns. Firearms were used in almost three percent of the 675 rape cases reported from 2010 to 2012. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT

The Austin City Council is meeting in a work session today. They could talk about accepting a $3.5 million donation from event production company C3 Presents to make improvements to Auditorium Shores.

C3 Presents is a concert promotion and management company that puts on events such as the Austin Food and Wine Festival at the park. The city approved C3 Presents’ request for a second weekend for the popular Austin City Limits Festival in 2013 and later years.

flickr.com/atmtx

Update: The legislative session adjourns Monday – and Austin City Council members can breathe a collective sigh of relief.

All of the bills below disappeared into the legislative black hole – that is, they either never made it out of committee, or were never cleared for a vote.

Update (March 26): Here’s some additional bills that meet the Austin City Council’s definition of “Austin bashing” – legislation that would defang local policies.

  • HB 1858, Rep. Paul Workman (R-Austin)

The bill would ban cities from restricting the removal of trees if a developer or land owner deems the tree to be a fire hazard. Opponents worry the bill provides a work-around the city’s Heritage Tree Ordinance, and point to an additional piece of Workman legislation, HB 3087, as creating additional development loopholes for removing trees.

I-Hwa Cheng, KUT News

The City of Austin cooled the idea of creating a board to oversee Austin Energy.

The original idea was to form a board whose members are more knowledgeable than city council members are about the electric utility industry, but after concerns that its members would be insufficiently accountable to voters, the plan changed, leaving the proposed board with less authority.

flickr.com/monad68

A five-year effort from a group of Hispanic community leaders is about to wrap up. In 2008, the Austin City Council asked the group to evaluate the quality of life for Hispanics in the city. They found big disparities between Hispanics and their peers in areas including education, health care, even access to cultural institutions.

Last night, about fifty people came together at City Hall to share ideas on how Hispanics in Austin could bridge those gaps.

Callie Hernandez, KUT News

Today the city of Austin moves closer to a new form of government.

It’s the 10-1 plan chosen by voters in the November election: 10 geographic districts drawn by citizens plus the mayor serving at large.

Flickr, Harrison Tran http://www.flickr.com/photos/atx_is_over_9000/8626536854/sizes/m/in/photostream/

The City of Austin is getting ready to unveil its Hispanic/Latino Quality of Life Report.

A draft version of the report is available online and the city is looking for one more round of input from the public before presenting the report to the Mayor and City Council.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

How powerful should an independent Austin Energy board be?

That’s the question the Austin City Council is asking itself. Right now, the council governs the city-owned utility. But council members are talking about turning over that power to an independent board. And haggling over the power of this unelected panel continues to dominate talk at City Hall.

Jeff Heimsath/KUT News

The Austin City Council begins budget talks today after hearing a financial forecast for the city two weeks ago. This morning, the council will discuss budget presentations by city departments.

For the first time, those presentations are available for everyone to watch on the city’s YouTube channel. The city also included a video describing how revenue from taxes and utilities equate to city services.

City of Austin

The City of Austin’s trying something different this budget season: City department officials have made 20 videos that clock in at over 200 minutes, available on the city's YouTube channel.

The videos include everything from a basic overview of how revenue from taxes and utilities equate to city services, to a 25-minute financial forecast of public utility Austin Water. Each department’s financial forecast presentation is available online, so anyone who wants the lowdown on, say, the Public Works department, can get it.

Polcie photo Nathan Bernier; EMS photo Daniel Reese; Fire photo Callier Hernandez

Last week, the Austin City Council got its first look at the numbers for next year’s budget.

The financial outlook? Well … we’ll get back to you about that.

The thing is, Austin’s currently negotiating its three public safety contracts – police, fire and EMS. And budget staff call those contracts a wild card in the city’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget.

Marissa Barnett for KUT News

Volma Overton Sr. was a civil rights pioneer in Austin. He brought a hard-fought lawsuit to desegregate Austin schools – and brought his school-aged children with him to Austin’s segregated places, pushing against the racial boundaries of the time.

One of those children is Volma Overton Jr. KUT News recently sat down with him to talk about another front his father fought on: changing Austin’s form of at-large elections, where all candidates for City Council have to run citywide.

Wells Dunbar, KUT News

After seven tries and several decades, geographic representation is finally coming to the City of Austin. And as the city prepares, the vortex of activity swirls around … none other than three certified public accountants.

That’s the Applicant Review Panel. It’s a group of three CPAs, randomly selected from a group of applicants, who will vet applicants for the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. That’s the group that will ultimately draw the district lines.

Jessie Wang, KUT News

The Austin city council moved one step closer Thursday night toward creating an independent board to oversee the city-owned electric utility – Austin Energy. The council approved the transition on first reading – with council member Kathie Tovo absent. The ordinance has to be approved on three readings.

Ihwa Cheng for KUT News

The Austin City Council took the first step last night towards moving the governance of Austin Energy from the council to an independent board.

The council unanimously approved the transition on first reading – with council member Kathie Tovo absent. The ordinance will have to be approved on three readings.

Council members did make several changes to the original proposal last night – weakening the power of the independent board and giving more oversight back to council.

Jeff Heimsath/KUT News

This May, Austinites will learn the names of the people who will be drawing the city’s 10 new district maps, and then the redistricting process will start to take shape. After the maps are drawn, Austinites will learn the district boundaries. Then people interested in running for City Council will know which district they can represent. 

Seems like a lot of changes. And the biggest one is that the next Austin City Council is likely to be made up of rookies.

Mose Buchele, KUT News

Housing advocates in Austin and local religious and political leaders want to try again with a measure on November’s ballot for affordable housing dollars. So today they kicked off a Keep Austin Affordable campaign.

“As you know, the voters of Austin narrowly voted against the housing bonds last fall – not out of spite, or malice or unkindness,” said Marshall Jones with the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The City of Austin is known for its festivals. Last year, the city received 136 applications for street events.

The city says as the number of events continues to grow, the permitting process is getting more challenging. City officials want to hear from people about ways to streamline the process.

flickr.com/joeyparsons

The Austin City Council voted 5-2 last night to repeal the city’s Project Duration Ordinance, rules limiting how long a development can remain “grandfathered” under land-use rules in place at the time of the project’s conception.

In contrast to last week’s hearing, which featured hours of citizen testimony, public input was closed this time. The council discussion lasted just 15 minutes. Council members Laura Morrison and Kathie Tovo voted no.

Daniel Reese for KUT News

The Austin City Council is experimenting with a plan to reduce the availability of parking. Today, it approved a pilot program discussed last meeting “to reduce parking requirements for commercial businesses utilizing trip-reduction strategies.”

Council member Laura Morrison said the program was designed “to work with businesses around town and do a pilot in terms of allowing a reduction in their parking if there are mobility friendly amenities added.”

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