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Lilly Rockwell
By Lilly Rockwell October 15, 2015

Adler plan to meet in each council district didn't progress

The last time we reviewed Steve Adler's promise to go on a City Council field trip of council districts, it was only a month-and-a-half into the Austin mayor's tenure. Adler, who had made the promise part of his platform for his first 100 days, had not yet done a tour of council districts, drawing a "Promise Stalled."

Those 100 days are over, so we're revisiting his promise to see if it gained traction.

Adler hasn't achieved the trips to council districts.

When we inquired, Adler said he broached the subject in January and City Council Member Ora Houston, who represents District 1, offered to lead the first tour. But his plan never got off the ground as council members' calendars began filling. In our visit with him, Adler cited the amount of time the council had spent in full 11-member meetings as a significant reason for not doing the promised tour. Adler had helped set up a new system of council committees comprised of four council members each, causing clusters of council members to convene far more frequently than the previous seven-member council came together, Adler told us.

"I have helped set up a system where the council members are spending and have spent a lot of time with each other," Adler said. "And I did that intentionally so that...we would all have a lot of time with each other to know each other as people, to build relationships with each, to understand where we are each coming from and what our priorities are."

Adler said he was hesitant to add to the members' already heavy meeting loads by pushing for single days when everyone gathers in individual districts. "I haven't had the heart to go to this group and try to take away what little precious time they all have (to themselves)," Adler said.

We're newly marking this a PROMISE BROKEN.

Promise Broken – The promise has not been fulfilled. This could occur because of inaction by the executive or lack of support from the legislative branch or other group that was critical for the promise to be fulfilled. A Promise Broken rating does not necessarily mean that the executive failed to advocate for the policy.

On Feb. 19, 2015, we wrote:

When mayoral candidate Steve Adler vowed to use his first few months as a time to get to know one another and city issues he said the entire body–10 Austinites newly elected from single-member districts, plus the mayor elected citywide–would meet together in each district for a day.

About a month into his tenure, there's no sign of council members following Adler's avowed plan to travel to each person's district for a day.

Jim Wick, the mayor's director of community engagement, said by phone the mayor's office is "still exploring" the option and has run into logistical roadblocks. "We found when we were doing scheduling for the policy forum workshops, it was very difficult to basically get 11 (member) schedules on the same day," he said.

Wick said there also could be issues with the open meetings act, which requires that council meetings be open to the public.  It wasn't clear if the entire council traveling around a member's district would be considered a public meeting under the law, which allows "ceremonial" and social events not to be open to the public.

"We haven't given up hope," Wick said. "We're still exploring the option – it just hasn't been on the front burner."

We're marking this promise Stalled, which means there is no movement on the promise.

Our Sources

Interview, Steve Adler, Aug. 21,2015

Telephone interview, Jim Wick, director of community engagement, Office of Austin Mayor Steve Adler, Feb. 17, 2015

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