City of Austin staff suggests cutting out the live music at Council Meetings

In these times of ridesharing wars and contentious planned unit development discussions, Austin City Council meetings sometimes go into the wee hours of Friday morning. 

So council recently asked the City Manager's office to come up with some ideas for speeding things along. 

At Tuesday's work session city staff laid out a number of options: one of them -- limiting the ceremonial proclamations and cutting out the music that happens around dinner-time on Thursday. 

They suggested bringing back live music on the City Hall plaza every Friday at noon.

Council Member Ann Kitchen isn't a fan of losing the Thursday tradition. 

"One of the values of the live music in the chamber is the fact that it's broadcast -- which I think is really important for the public and also...you know for the bands," Kitchen said.

But staff said they might be able to televise the performances, they'd check with ATXN to see if it's possible.

The most recent artist to be recognized at City Hall is Austin vocalist Courtney Santana.

"The music is a great break for City Council.  It's a way for us to connect, it's a networking opportunity.  You know I've gotten other work from singing in the council chambers," Santana said.

Mayor Pro-Tem Kathie Tovo presented her with a proclamation naming March 3rd "Courtney Santana Day." 

Tovo wasn't there for Tuesday's work session discussion but she's against the idea of doing away with the council tradition.  She says it would only save about 20 minutes.  But she does like the idea of bringing back the "music on the plaza."

"It's a great event and it's a great way to showcase live music.  I'd like to do it in addition to the music at the council meetings though.  I think a lot of people look forward to the piece of the council day that includes the live music if you've been in the chambers all day waiting for your item to come up," Tovo said.

"I would agree with the Mayor Pro-Tem's suggestion to have both just because there's something about the ceremony of honoring our musicians and saying 'we value what you bring to our city.'  If you take that component away then it's just another performance," Santana said.

Nothing has been decided on this yet and it definitely seems like council members would like to keep the music tradition in the chambers.
               
Mayor Pro-Tem Tovo says city staff is going back and working on the options and they'll talk about them again at their next work session.

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