Monday, April 21, 2014

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Austin

Citizen panel could draw lines for 10-1 city representation

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TWC News: Citizen panel could draw lines for 10-1 city representation
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The Austin City Council is slated to vote on guidelines for a 15-citizen panel to draw boundary lines for 10 city council members.

The new lines would move Austin from a council made up of six members who all serve the whole city, to 10 members who each serve a specific part of town.

"We spent many, many hours and about six months out of our year to make our recommendations to our city government and to the people of Austin," Charter Revision Committee Chair Gonzalo Barrientos said.

All of the current council members live within five miles of city hall, and none live south of Lady Bird Lake.

Issues like carports being converted into garages and rooms years earlier are now the responsibility of current homeowners to correct, Barrientos says that could be fixed with a 10-1 system.

"They may be going forth to set up a map committee before the voters approve it. I think they ought to put 10-1 on the ballot, so the voters can say yea or nay," he said.

Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole sponsored the guidelines. She says it's the only way to ensure the process is truly independent.

"People are having a decline in the trust of government," Cole said. "That they don't work for the city, which they don't lobby for the city, that they don't give large sums of money to city council members."

If approved, voters could apply starting May 1. The city auditor would choose volunteers at random June 15.

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