I'll have more on the police ordinance that Council approved on Monday...Have a good weekend.
Casar & Doggett call on feds for ice storm assistance: The two Austin congressman call on the Biden administration to "grant Texas' request for a major disaster declaration." The aftermath of the storm requires "additional coordination and a wider range of long-term federal recovery programs."
Mueller NA opposes I-35 expansion: In a letter to Mayor Kirk Watson, City Council, TxDOT and CAMPO, the Mueller Neighborhood Association says that while the status quo is bad, the plan to expand I-35 is worse. "In essence, TxDOT plans to: put more cars sitting on the road through Central Austin, further entrench the physical divide in our city, further choking it with air pollution, and further eroding the tax base in one of the most economically productive cities in the nation."
"Bottom line up front: TXDOT's proposals are worse than nothing, send TXDOT back to the drawing board."
Even neighborhood associations are right sometimes.
Goodnight gets a fire station: The city breaks ground on a new joint Fire/EMS station at the Goodnight Ranch, the master-planned community between Onion Creek Park & Slaughter Lane in Southeast Austin. This is the fourth of the five new Fire/EMS stations called for in a 2018 City Council resolution aimed at addressing slow response times in certain parts of town.
Another $1.5M in protest settlements: Council approves another three settlements with people shot with "less-lethal" rounds by police officers during the first days of the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests. Three plaintiffs agreed to settlements of $375,000, $450,000 and $675,000. The city has now paid over $17 million in settlements linked to APD's response to the protests.
A good summary of City Council's inertia on I-35:
Watson quietly casts lone no vote on I-35 resolution
City Council voted 10-1 in favor of a resolution that ever-so-nicely asks the Texas Dept of Transportation to consider a number of changes to its proposed expansion of I-35 but does not challenge the expansion itself. The requested changes include more east-west crossings, slower design speeds for the frontage roads, better drainage and, of course, covering as much of the highway as possible with caps for green space and new development.
This followed testimony from dozens of citizens, nearly all of whom spoke in favor of rejecting the expansion entirely.
"If the city can’t even say in an official capacity what we all know to be true –– that I-35 should not be expanded –– then what hope is there?" asked Miriam Schoenfield, a UT professor. "And what message does it send to the next generation if we can’t even say it?"
The sole nay came from Mayor Kirk Watson, who was instrumental in securing the funding for the expansion during his years in the Texas Senate. In a statement posted on the Council message board earlier this week, Watson suggested that the resolution was unlikely to change anything but could harm the city's relationship with the state.