Jackie Goodman leaves Delia Garza’s staff

Jo writes about some super-duper insider personnel changes at City Hall:

Austin Energy director of local government relations, (Mark) Dreyfus has retired “after nearly 19 years of dedicated service to Austin Energy.” But there was no party and no City Council recognition of his contributions to the utility.

I always enjoyed talking with Mark. I’ll miss seeing him around City Hall. He never hesitated to tell me when I got something wrong in my coverage of AE, but he also made a point of expressing appreciation for accurate reporting.

This was the most interesting development:

Former Mayor Pro Tem Jackie Goodman, who has worked for District 2 Council Member Delia Garza for the past two years, has also left her City Hall job. The Austin Monitor could not reach Goodman for comment but heard that Goodman and Garza did not see eye to eye on CodeNEXT and other policy issues.

No kidding! During her time on the Zoning and Platting Commission, Goodman was a reliable supporter of the “neighbors.” In fact, right before she left, she collaborated with other neighborhood-aligned commissioners to replace urbanist Chair Gabe Rojas with Tom Webber, who was friendlier to their views.  It was somewhat puzzling that she was appointed to the commission by Garza, an outspoken housing/urbanism advocate. And equally puzzling when Garza hired her as a full-time staffer. Well, not that puzzling:

Goodman, who served on the at-large Council for more than a decade, had initially planned to run for the District 2 seat in 2014, but decided not to run and supported Garza instead.

I had some interesting conversations with Jackie. I appreciated that she regularly wrote over 1,000 words (in multiple colors and fonts for emphasis or digressions) in response to questions about zoning cases I emailed her (2,600 was her record). She thought it was worth it. To wit: “Well, you ask little bitty questions that don’t have little bitty answers.”

You know who else is leaving Garza’s office? Garza! No, not Delia. Her aide, Kate, who is no relation.

Kate Garza, also an aide to Council Member Garza, plans to leave City Hall at the end of June. She told the Monitor Tuesday that she is very excited to go to work for Ascension, the parent company of the Seton Healthcare Family, in July.

And then it looks like Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo is bringing back her aide, Shannon Halley, to replace Joi Harden, who is taking a leadership position with the Planning and Zoning Department. It will be interesting to see to whether Harden expresses Tovo’s perspective on planning as a city staffer. Yes, city staff is theoretically neutral, but they all have opinions that shape their interpretation of the code and which types of development they’ll recommend.

Thanks to all of these folks for their service to our city.

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