A Resolution To The Solution Of Meaningless City Council Resolutions

By Bill Oakey – July 11, 2015

On Friday I reported that the City Manager’s Office finally provided a response to the many months of questions surrounding the long-delayed May 1, 2014 City Council resolution dealing with special event fee waivers. Well, I am (somewhat, but not really) pleased to announce that late on Friday I received another update.

Update On July 10, 3:04 PM

From Mr. William “Bill” Manno:

Mr. Oakey, please see my responses below.

  1. Will the report include an evaluation of using ticket surcharges as an alternate funding source? Response: Surcharges are included in the discussion.
  1. Will your report to the City Council by October or earlier be coordinated with the Parkland Events Task Force as part of their review of special events funding? Response: That is very likely, however, we will have to wait until that task force begins to meet and sets its agendas.
  1. What is the status of the staff proposal for multi-year agreements for large special events that was addressed in the City Manager’s memo shown below? Will that topic be addressed in your report on alternate funding sources? Or will these be two separate reports? Response: They are related, but separate issues.

My Conclusions

Friday’s update showed that the resolution’s required deadline of August 2014 that got extended without City Council approval to August 2015, has now been extended to “October, if not sooner.” This little peek into the back rooms of City Hall should be a powerful lesson for anyone wishing to become engaged with “the process.” When I first became a citizen activist in the mid-1980’s, my mother started out by telling me what all mothers say, “You can’t fight City Hall.” Well, it tuns out that you can not only fight them, but you can win. However, the watchdog and reform business requires a level of patience and persistence that can only be described as crazy. Let me put it this way. If you really want to take on City Hall, you don’t do a little tiptoe up the steps and a little rap-tap on the door. You grab the entire building by its foundation and shake it till the bureaucrats’ eyeballs rattle in their sockets!

Lessons Learned From This Exercise

City Council resolutions with lofty language such as, “Now therefore, be it resolved…The City Manager Is Directed To,” and “This report is due back to the City Council no later than…” etc. carry about as much weight under today’s procedures as a feather in a hurricane. Stay tuned for an effort to establish a policy to make these resolutions respect the dignity of the folks who appear at the very top of the City’s official Organization Chart…The Residents of Austin.

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