Axios Austin

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Hey, it's Thursday.

๐Ÿ˜Ž Today's weather: Sunny, warmer, with a high of 86.

Today's newsletter is 915 words โ€” a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Council to vote on new city manager

Austin City Hall. Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

The Austin City Council is poised today to name T.C. Broadnax, Dallas city manager for the past seven years, as Austin's new city manager.

Why it matters: The city manager is basically the city CEO, carrying out the legislative and policy objectives of the elected council members.

  • The city manager prepares and executes Austin's $5.5 billion budget and oversees a city staff of more than 16,000 employees.

Catch up quick: Austin's last full-time city manager, Spencer Cronk, was fired after the city's botched response to a winter storm last year that left hundreds of thousands of Austinites without power and amid tensions with City Council members over police labor negotiations.

Between the lines: Citing her reputation for accessibility, some city employee unions had favored the other finalist, Sara Hensley, a former Austin city official who is currently the city manager of Denton.

  • In a public forum last month, Broadnax highlighted his efforts to shepherd unhoused people into housing; his long experience in city management; and his implementation of Dallas' racial equity initiatives.

What they're saying: "The scope of TC's experience tipped the balance for me," Austin Council member Leslie Pool said on a city message board last month.

๐Ÿ’ญ Our Dallas colleague Tasha Tsiaperas' thought bubble: Broadnax has been an elusive, behind-the-scenes figure in Dallas politics, occasionally drawing ire from City Council members.

  • He was pretty scandal-free, managed a decent budget and weathered flighty Dallas politicians. But, in the end, it's not really clear if the city is better for his tenure.

2. Our James Beard finalists

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

An Austin chef and a Lockhart BBQ spot are among the finalists for the 2024 James Beard awards.

Why it matters: The famed James Beard awards recognize talent in the restaurant industry โ€” and the list released Wednesday confirms that Texas has plenty of that.

Zoom in: Tracy Malechek-Ezekiel, of Birdie's, is a finalist in the Best Chef category for Texas. Other finalists in that category include:

  • Emmanuel Chavez, Tatemรณ (Houston)
  • Misti Norris, Petra and the Beast (Dallas)
  • Ana Liz Pulido, Ana Liz Taqueria (Mission)
  • Christopher Cullum, Cullum's Attaboy (San Antonio)

Also, Barbs-B-Q, the highly touted women-led smoked-meat purveyor in Lockhart, is in the running for the nation's best new restaurant.

Zoom out: Overall, Texas has 11 restaurants and chefs on the finalists list.

What they're saying: "I have no words other then a massive THANK YOU to our entire team," Malechek-Ezekiel wrote on Instagram yesterday.

What's next: The winners will be revealed at a gala in Chicago on June 10.

3. ๐Ÿค  The Roundup: Wrangling the news

A line of voters outside of a Williamson County polling station in Round Rock in 2022. Photo: SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP via Getty Images

๐Ÿ—ณ๏ธ Election administrators in Williamson and Hays counties are among those who received a request from a voter registration management software vendor to pay tens of thousands of dollars to help the company stay afloat. (Votebeat)

๐Ÿ›’ H-E-B has purchased land in Manor for a potential new store. (Austin Business Journal ๐Ÿ”’)

๐Ÿ’ป Elon Musk's X said Kylie McRoberts will lead the company's Austin-based Safety Center of Excellence. (CBS News)

๐Ÿš‚ Fourth graders at the Cathedral School of St. Mary's used parts from their old toys to build electrical circuits. (ATX Good News)

4. Weekender guide

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

๐Ÿงบ Make a picnic and listen to Austin pop musician San Gabriel play at the French Legation as part of the "Under the Oaks" series. Friday at 6pm, free.

โœ๏ธ Attend a screenplay reading of "Love, From Ellie," about a 9-year-old trying to throw a party at a memorial for her father. Friday at 7pm at the Motion Media Arts Center, $30.

๐Ÿฆž Celebrate one year of Aaron Franklin's Uptown Sports Club with a crawfish boil and jambalaya at the East Austin spot from 11am-3pm Saturday.

๐Ÿš› Climb into something very heavy duty at the Touch-a-Truck event at the Divine Savior Academy in Liberty Hill. Saturday, 10am-2pm, free.

๐ŸŽถ Listen to traditional South Asian music with a performance of Nizami Qawwali and the jazz collective Atlas Maior at the Vesper Austin. Saturday, 4-7pm. $15.

๐Ÿš€ Get in the mood for the eclipse by stopping by the Austin Nature and Science Center's NASA Mars exhibit. Saturday, 10am-4pm and Sunday, noon-4pm, free.

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5. An eclipse sculpture to go

The new sculpture at Waterloo Park. Photo courtesy Waterloo Greenway

A new installation in Waterloo Park pays tribute to Indigenous interpretations of eclipses.

What's happening: "Serpent of the Sun and the Moon," by El Salvador-born artist Guadalupe Maravilla, depicts a serpent holding two gongs โ€” a Sun gong coming from a cloud, and Moon gong from the mouth of a serpent.

  • Each gong resonates at the frequency of their corresponding celestial bodies, according to the artist.
  • The artwork is supported by the Simons Foundation, which promotes math and science, and presented through a partnership of Waterloo Greenway, the Fusebox Festival and The Contemporary Austin.

What they're saying: "My art is informed by the ancient cultures from Mexico and Central America," Maravilla told the American-Statesman. "They used advanced mathematics, including the number zero, and knew the solar system well."

Thanks to Chloe Gonzales for editing and Kate Sommers-Dawes and Yasmeen Altaji for copy editing this newsletter.

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