Austin voters who go to the polls on Could 1 may have no candidates to vote for. As a substitute, they may have quite a few inquiries to reply about how Austin’s authorities must be run and whether or not to reinstate the ban on tenting, sitting or mendacity on a public sidewalk or soliciting cash between 7 a.m. and seven p.m.

Voters may even have to contemplate whether or not Austin firefighters ought to be capable to require town to take part in binding arbitration. Lastly, voters might want to determine whether or not to undertake an ordinance that may enable Metropolis Council to nominate a director of police oversight, reasonably than having town supervisor do this.

In response to a petition filed by Austinites for Progressive Reform, Council selected poll language that features altering the type of Austin’s metropolis authorities from Council-manager to what’s generally known as a strong-mayor system. The latter would eradicate town supervisor and provides the mayor veto energy over laws.

Mayor Steve Adler and Council Member Ann Kitchen had a prolonged and reasonably heated debate concerning the language regarding veto energy and whether or not so as to add a phrase about how the veto may very well be overridden. Adler needed so as to add the language, however misplaced the argument.

Ultimately, Council permitted poll language that reads: “Shall the Metropolis Constitution be amended to vary the type of metropolis authorities from ‘council-manager’ to ‘robust mayor-council,’ which can eradicate the place {of professional} metropolis supervisor and designate an elected mayor because the chief administrative and govt officer of town with veto energy over all laws which incorporates the funds; and with sole authority to rent and hearth most dept heads and direct employees; and with no articulated or said constitution authority to require the mayor to implement Council choices.”

Anticipating the necessity for an extra Council member, APR requested a vote on including one other geographic Council district, which might end in 11 single-member districts. Council determined so as to add that merchandise to the poll as a stand-alone concern. So it’s attainable Austinites may reject the strong-mayor type of authorities however vote in favor of an extra district, which might imply town would have an even-numbered, 12-member Council. That might result in some fascinating issues down the road.

Residents against the strong-mayor measure gathered in entrance of Metropolis Corridor.

Council additionally permitted language asking voters to determine whether or not the mayor must be elected in presidential election years, and offering for the mayor elected in 2022 to serve solely a two-year time period. As well as, voters will get to determine in the event that they want to have ranked-choice voting “if such voting is permitted by state regulation,” which isn’t at present the case. Voters may even be capable to weigh in on a brand new marketing campaign finance system, changing the present system.

Along with the constitution amendments and ordinances delivered to Council by citizen-initiated petitions, Council permitted a proposal from Council Member Greg Casar asking voters to approve a constitution modification that may enable Council to nominate a director of police oversight. At present, that particular person is appointed by Metropolis Supervisor Spencer Cronk. The vote to position the merchandise on the Could poll was 10-1, with Council Member Mackenzie Kelly opposed.

Earlier than starting discussions and voting on the poll language, Council heard from about 30 individuals who signed up to discuss the totally different propositions. A number of got here to specific help for the tenting ban, whereas others opposed it.

Matt Mackowiak, one of many leaders of Save Austin Now, warned Council that his group didn’t just like the poll language proposed by Metropolis Lawyer Anne Morgan. He later advised the Austin Monitor, “They instantly described our ordinance poll language in such a means that makes it really feel like we’re making an attempt to criminalize homeless folks, which we’re not. And it instantly factors to citations, which I feel prejudices voters towards the whole lot of what we’re proposing.”

Mackowiak mentioned town’s language constituted “editorial remark and … seeks to disenfranchise the rights of the 26,000 individuals who signed the petition.” He mentioned his group would file go well with towards town in the event that they had been dissatisfied with the final word language.

The language permitted by Council reads: “Shall an ordinance be adopted that may create a prison offense and a penalty for anybody sitting or mendacity down on a public sidewalk or sleeping open air in and close to the downtown space and the realm across the College of Texas campus; create a prison offense and penalty for solicitation, outlined as requesting cash or one other factor of worth, at particular hours and areas or for solicitation in a public space that’s deemed aggressive in method; create a prison offense and penalty for anybody tenting in any public space not designated by the Parks and Recreation Division?”

There have been additionally audio system each for and towards the strong-mayor type of authorities and a bunch of labor union members who demonstrated exterior of Metropolis Corridor to voice their opposition to the APR proposal. Clearly, the gadgets that may draw probably the most consideration within the subsequent two months are the tenting ban and the proposal to eradicate town supervisor and exchange him with a powerful mayor.

The Austin Monitor’s work is made attainable by donations from the neighborhood. Although our reporting covers donors on occasion, we’re cautious to maintain enterprise and editorial efforts separate whereas sustaining transparency. A whole checklist of donors is obtainable here, and our code of ethics is defined here.

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