City Hall happenings: Ott under review, supporters of mobility bond speak out
UPDATE: The job performance review for City Manager Ott ended a little before 5:00 PM. Mayor Adler says the majority of council approves of Ott and wants to keep him. Tomorrow during Executive Session, Ott's salary and bonus will be discussed. Ott calls the meeting a "good conversation." He says it's too far off to tell what he will do if offered the position with the City/County Management Association.
The Austin City Council is about to take the month of July off. So this is a big week for them tying up some loose ends. Among them, reviewing the job performance of City Manager Marc Ott.
The review is happening behind closed doors in executive session. They started talking at noon and we've been told the meeting may last until 7 or 8 tonight.
Ott has been taking some heat for different things over the last several years. Most recently he reprimanded Police Chief Art Acevedo for talking too much in public about the shooting of unarmed teen David Joseph. Many sided with the chief.
Earlier this week, Ott sent a letter to Mayor Adler and council saying he's a finalist for the Executive Director job at the City/County Management Association. Adding that he's been recruited by cities all over the world but always declined because of his love for Austin.
Council Member Don Zimmerman is in support of removing Ott. He stepped out of this afternoon's meeting and told us so far the majority of council doesn't feel the same way.
"The letter that was released Monday in my opinion was nothing but a political tool to try to invoke sympathy and maybe get his supporters to say 'oh he might be going to another job, we better give him a bunch more money.' Remember what happened with the police chief and the job in San Antonio? 'oh let's put a bunch of money in front of him to keep him here!' I think the City Manager wants us to do the same," Zimmerman said.
Another big topic at tomorrow's council meeting, council will decide what November's mobility bond will look like. Wednesday morning, businesses and community groups came together at City Hall to support the Mayor's idea for fixing traffic.
Adler is proposing a $720 million mobility bond.
It may sound pricy but Adler is hoping council and later voters will quote "go big or go home."
In fact, he's calling it the "go big corridor plan."
Businesses and groups who support the Mayor's plan talked it up at City Hall Wednesday morning.
"This sized package will be a compliment to Senator Watson's valiant efforts to leverage money from this package into creating billions of dollars in investment to at least improve if not fix I-35," said Ted Siff with the "Get Austin Moving Coalition."
Siff says he prefers to describe the plan as 'transformative.' He says the word 'big' applies to every version of the bond that's been pitched...including the $300 million version the Mobility Committee decided on...but he says the Mayor's plan will create real change.
"It's affordable in that it would require only 2 cents or about $5 a month in additional property taxes, actually over the next several years," Siff said.
The plan calls for nearly $500 million in improvements for roads like North and South Lamar, Guadalupe and many more. Also sidewalks, trails and bike lanes.
Last week, Bike Texas told Fox 7, the Mayor's 'go big' plan is too big.
"We would say it should be $500 million and that it should be about $300 million for sidewalks and protected bike lanes for the reasons I mentioned before for public health, quality of life and congestion easement and then $200 million on the corridors," said Robin Stallings with Bike Texas.
But Bike Austin thinks 720 mil is the only way to ride.
"The biggest problem right now and I think it applies to cyclists and drivers, is that we're expected to mix on our roads and that creates a stressful situation for everybody. The brilliance of this plan to transform our corridors is that it will not only move traffic more efficiently, it will create protected bike lanes to keep cyclists out of your way if you're driving," said Miller Nuttle with Bike Austin.
Also on Thursday, ridesharing is back on the agenda. The controversial fingerprinting rules that forced Uber and Lyft out aren't even being enforced because there are no penalties set for violating the rules.
Council is expected to fix that.