occupy-wallstreet-cant-afford-lobbyist.previewQ: What do “McMansions”, “heritage” trees, bike lanes, residential co-ops, short-term rentals, historic building designations, residential art studios, mixed-use zoning, watershed protection, and sound and smoking ordinances all have in common?

A: They all fall under the scope of the Land Development Code advisory group. The LDC advisory group is charged with an integral role in Austin city planning, advising Council on decisions ranging from design standards to technical code standards to subdivision regulations to zoning ordinances, as part of the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan. http://www.ancweb.org/docs/meetingHandouts/Code%20Revision%20ANC_01_23_2013.pdf

In less than 72 hours, Bill Spelman plans to introduce a resolution for passage by Austin City Council allowing City Manager Marc Ott to appoint up to 4 registered City of Austin lobbyists with “particular expertise” to sit on the LDC advisory group. Sheryl Cole and Mayor Leffingwell have cosponsored. Currently, ZERO lobbyists are allowed to sit on this 11-member advisory group. If passed, this resolution would allow lobbyists to make up more than one-third of the LDC advisory group. Kathie Tovo’s staff has raised concerns about this resolution and would like input.

While lobbyists for environmental groups, local independent businesses and non-profit groups are on the city list, the City Manager’s office has a less than stellar track record when making determinations such as these. In 2012, when charged by Council to divest City funds from Bank of America, instead of investigating local banks and credit unions, the City Manager’s office chose Chase Bank, and Council voted to support his decision. 

You are urged to voice your opinion on agenda item #29, NOW.

1. Please email or call the Mayor and all Council Members today to ask them to vote NO ON AGENDA ITEM #29. More time is needed to respond to the potential corporate threat to Austin’s future this resolution presents. At the very least, the resolution should precisely define the “particular expertise” of the lobbyists the City Manager is allowed to select. Are these lobbyists that represent the interests of our families, friends and neighbors, or those that represent the interests of big banks, developers, and multinational corporations?
2. Please sign up in person at the City Hall kiosks Tuesday 1/29 and Wednesday 1/30 to speak at Thursday’s Council Meeting AGAINST Agenda Item #29. Instructions are at http://austintexas.gov/department/citizen-participation-council-meetings
3. Please appear at the City Council meeting at 10 a.m. sharp on Thursday, January 31 to speak out AGAINST Agenda Item #29. Parking is free in the City Hall parking garage.

Read agenda item #29 here:

Here are the 57 registered City of Austin lobbyists who want to help decide Austin’s future.  http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/cityclerk/lobbyist/list_lobbyists.cfm?start=1  Which lobbyists will the City Manager pick? Tom “Smitty” Smith, an ardent environmentalist with the non-profit watchdog group Public Citizen? Or Donald Lucardi, who represents Citigroup? Gregario Cesar of non-profit Workers Defense Project, who represents the interests of low-income workers? Or “Trey” Salinas III, who represents the interests of Wal-Mart and Circuit of the Americas?

Here is the original resolution forming the Land Development Code advisory group, which agenda item #29 will amend, if passed: http://www.austintexas.gov/edims/document.cfm?id=181433

Email all Council members here at once: http://www.austintexas.gov/mail/all-council-members

Contact information for Mayor, Council and Staff:

Lee Leffingwell, Mayor – COSPONSOR
Amy Everhart (Policy Director) amy.everhart@austintexas.gov

Sheryl Cole, Mayor Pro Tem, Place 6 – COSPONSOR
Michael McGill (Policy Director) michael.mcgill@austintexas.gov

Bill Spelman, Place 5 – SPONSOR
Heidi Gerbracht (Policy Director) heidi.gerbracht@austintexas.gov

Laura Morrison, Place 4
Leslie Hethcox (Constituent Liaison) leslie.hethcox@austintexas.gov

Kathie Tovo, Place 3
Shannon Halley (Policy Aide) shannon.halley@austintexas.gov

Mike Martinez, Place 2
Robert Garza (Chief of Staff)

Chris Riley, Place 1
Matt Parkerson (Executive Assistant) matt.parkerson@austintexas.gov

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