Austin City Manager in hot seat over offensive seminar

Austin City Manager Marc Ott is in the hot seat tonight.

This, after a seminar on how to communicate with female city council members... came off as stereotypical.

The new city council is made up by a majority of women, those of who the seminar targeted.

Due to the controversial remarks that were made, many are asking who is responsible for allowing this to happen?

The City of Austin offers dozens of training sessions to their staff annually.

One offered in March didn't provide the learning experience you might expect.

"Where normally I would have presented the financial argument, my elected officials said 'Mr. manager, I don't want to hear about the financial side of it. I want to hear about how this impacts the overall community, how it impacts the families, the youth and the children. So it may make good financial sense but if I want to get it through and get the necessary votes, I have to present it a totally different way," says former Lauderdale Lakes City Manager Jonathan Allen.

A trend that former Lauderdale Lakes City Manager Jonathan Allen says he has seen over his 20 year career.

The seminar was titled "The Changing Dynamics in Governance: Women Leading in Local Government, explaining how to communicate with female city council members.

"All of us reject the speaker's remarks and the basic assumptions. This is not the leadership message we want to send to our youth and for our community," says Mayor Pro-Tem Kathie Tovo, Austin City Council.

Allen also talked about how female city council members are more likely to ask questions and make decisions emotionally.

Something not everyone sees as a bad thing.

"We do agree that a larger council with more diverse experience will be and is asking more questions, and that's good. That's a strength that we all bring to the table, as women and as men," says Council Member Ann Kitchen, Austin City Council, District 5.

A press conference in regards to the situation was held on Wednesday.

"I'm not here to sugarcoat this. This was a bad set of circumstances and it should not have happened," says City Manager Marc Ott, City of Austin.

Community members are upset this would ever happen here, in a progressive city like Austin.

City Manager Marc Ott takes full responsibility for the seminar not being vetted.

"Completely inconsistent with our values as an organization and the workforce that supports the values of this organization. Entirely inconsistent with the values of the City of Austin," says Ott.

Over at KLBJ, it was the main topic for the Jeff Ward show.

"How are we not outraged the first five minutes of this guy's speech?" says Jeff Ward, radio talk-show host.

The public weighed in, "I hope you can take all my steam away because I've just been pacing the floor. I dont know where all the professional women in Austin are and why they aren't calling in and demanding Marc Ott's resignation."

This caller is a retired accountant for a state agency.

She says it's a problem she's faced before, "Yea I talked a lot. I talked a lot and I complained about having conferences hiring jerks like this to come in and tell us how we can feel better about ourselves and deal with each other."

The training video was pulled from the City of Austin's website.

It's still unsure whether the city manager will be asked to resign.

For now, city council says they will continue to change things for the better.

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