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Listen to Mayor Leffingwell's 'Spelman Report'

With Austin City Council member Bill Spelman still off the dais – recovering from surgery to remove a tumor on his pancreas – Mayor Lee Leffingwell paid tribute to council’s resident policy wonk with (what else?) a PowerPoint presentation this morning.

“We fully expect Council Member Bill Spelman to rejoin us soon, but I think it’s important that he know how things are going at City Hall in his absence,” Mayor Leffingwell said at the start of today’s council meeting. “So I’ve asked my staff to do some statistical analysis on how the business of the city is conducted in your absence, Bill.”

The admittedly crude presentation looked at four areas, inspiring the following color commentary from hizzoner:

  • Tie votes. (“Before we had none, and now we have some.”)
  • The number of special-called meetings. (“Way up.”)
  • Level of appreciation for Spelman’s thoughtfulness on the dais. (“As you can see, we seem to be more appreciative of your opinions while you are sitting at home versus when you are actually sitting here on the dais. I’m not exactly sure what that means, but I am sure it is complimentary.”)
  • PowerPoint presentations by the mayor (“This slide is the most interesting to me. It represents a huge shift in the way we’ve done business.  This is my first PowerPoint at a city council meeting.”)

When it comes to PowerPoint, Leffingwell has some catching up to do as Spelman is the dais’ undisputed master. Spelman’s 25 minute presentation on Water Treatment Plant No. 4 is the stuff of City Hall legend. (If you’re so inspired, you can click here and scroll down to “Item 13 (Part 3 of 3)” to watch.)

But Spelman’s absence hasn’t been a laughing matter. Health matters aside, Spelman’s leave has proven problematic as council attempts to finalize a November charter election and bond package before an Aug. 20 deadline. Council’s initial Tuesday vote on the bond package resulted in two tie votes (3-3).  

Spelman had surgery last Friday, and is expected to return to the dais in another week or so. And his colleagues are awaiting his return.

“In summary, tie votes are up, it takes longer to get things done, people are finally interested in your opinions, and I know how to do a PowerPoint presentation,” Leffingwell said at the end of his presentation. “Best wishes to you, Bill.” 

You canview "The Spelman Report" here, and listen to the mayor's commentary above. 

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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