Council’s coffee talks return April 20

Published 9:59 am Tuesday, April 2, 2013

It’s official: Conversations with the Council will take place at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 20, at Gymocha.

The Austin City Council informally approved the date and discussed future Conversation dates through the end of summer, likely on the second or third Saturday of every month. The meetings, formerly known as Coffee with the Council, are an informal way for local residents to approach council members with questions or concerns.

The council started the meetings last April, but stopped them in July 2012 as the conversations were dominated by only a few people who didn’t always have city-related issues to discuss. In addition, council members said then-mayoral candidate Dick Lang used the last Coffee with the Council meeting in 2012 to stump for election.

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Those issues may not happen with the new meetings, as a council member would act as chair, allowing residents to speak on issues for two minutes before switching to another speaker, and ensuring everyone has the chance to discuss something before letting people speak again. The new meetings would also be suspended 90 days before an election.

Council member Judy Enright reaffirmed the council’s rules as guidelines, but said the important thing was for two or three council members to be there “to have each other’s backs in case someone gets out of hand.”

“Even if it’s another council member,” she said.

The council hasn’t decided which members will attend the April meeting. Gymocha is at 1300 14th St. NW.