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 Mayor Moves to Downtown Austin

Mid-year reports must show changes in
‘substantial interests’ for first half 2015

by Ken Martin
Posted August 7, 2015 Friday 10:09am

Steve AdlerSteve AdlerMayor Steve Adler no longer has an interest in or draws income from the Barron & Adler LLP law firm, Council Member Greg Casar now has a domestic partner, and Council Member Don Zimmerman did not timely file the required mid-year report—despite reminders of July 17 and July 29 sent by the City Clerk’s office.

The Austin Bulldog notified Zimmerman August 5 that his report was overdue and Austin City Code Section 2-7-99 provides that failure to file financial statements “shall be punished by a fine in an amount not exceeding $500.” Zimmerman filed his update August 6, six days late.

The mayor reported that he sold his homestead in West Austin and now resides in two condominiums he already owned in the W Hotel, across Second Street from City Hall. The Travis Central Appraisal District website lists the combined values of these two units at $3.5 million, but does not indicate that he has claimed a homestead exemption. Adler in a sense follows in the footsteps of another mayor, Will Wynn, who lived in West Austin when first elected and later moved downtown.

These are a few of the highlights gleaned from a review of the mid-year updates to sworn Statements of Financial Information (SFI) that Austin’s elected officials are required to file per Austin City Code Section 2-7-72(A). (Copies of these reports are linked at the bottom of this article.)

Out of sight, out of mind

These records are not published by the City of Austin. They were obtained by The Austin Bulldog through a public information request and are published here as part of our ongoing five-year-plus project to provide increased transparency and accountability for public officials. Monitoring the assets and liabilities of elected officials provides a means for the public to detect potential conflicts of interest.

The mid-year reports reviewed here reflect only changes in the information contained in SFIs that were filed in April 2015 covering calendar year 2014 and published in The Austin Bulldog’s report of June 15, 2015, “An Economically Diverse City Council.” That report included extensive analysis and a detailed spreadsheet that covered not only the Statements of Financial Information but also the Personal Financial Statements required by state law, which do not require mid-year updates.

The mayor reported he draws no income from and has no clients with Barron & Adler LLP, the law firm specializing in eminent domain cases. The firm’s website still lists him as “Founding Partner Retired (2014).”

At The Austin Bulldog’s request, Adler clarified his status, saying via e-mail, “I’ve retired from the law firm, as my old firm indicates on its website (see the page listing attorneys) and I am no longer practicing law. 

“Yes, the law firm continues to use the names of its founders, both Barron and Adler, which I understand the State Bar allows in such situations. I have no relationship with the law firm, other than with respect to the receivable for the buyout being paid by the firm.” 

The mayor’s changes in investments listed in his SFI include “Bought: Verb Inc.” This is an Austin-based company that, according to its website, “helps clients solve complex social and environmental issues by tapping into the power of social entrepreneurs around the world. We use competitions and prizes to attract, mobilize and strengthen social ventures while providing our clients with tangible business benefits.” Mayor Adler clarified his holdings in the company by e-mail, saying, “Diane and I purchased stock in Verb Inc.”

Adler’s update indicates he is no longer a board member of Ballet Austin, Breakthrough Austin, or the Anti-Defamation League (Austin).

Adler’s wife, Diane Land, is no longer a board member of The Contemporary Austin or The Contemporary Austin Endowment, and she is no longer an executive committee member or advisory council of the Anti-Defamation League (Austin). Land is chief executive officer of West Ninth LLC, which manages the two-story structure at 603 W. 9th St., valued at $539,251, that Adler used as a campaign office (behind the law offices of Barron & Adler).

The council members

District 1 Council Member Ora Houston—Reported no significant changes to previous information.

Delia GarzaDelia GarzaDistrict 2 Council Member Delia Garza—Reported for the first time her husband, Ramiro Martinez Jr., whose occupation is doing accounting for fitness company Onnit. The couple married in January.

Garza reported being appointed to the Capital Metro Board of Directors and to the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.

District 3 Council Member Sabino Renteria—Reported no significant changes to previous information supplied for himself and his wife, Lori Cervenak-Renteria, who is retired.

Greg CasarGreg CasarDistrict 4 Council Member Greg Casar—Reported having moved from the Koenig Lane apartment he occupied during his 2014 election campaign into the house he purchased on Skyview Road in the district. The Travis Central Appraisal District website lists the value of the property at $324,412, but does not indicate that he has claimed a homestead exemption.

Casar reported for the first time having a domestic partner, Asha Dane’el, a coordinator for the Austin Independent School District.

He also reported three debts not previously listed, including a $300,000 loan taken April 2015 and two separate loans of $20,000 to $50,000 existing since May 2010.

Ann KitchenAnn KitchenDistrict 5 Council Member Ann Kitchen—Reported that her husband, Mark Yznaga, no longer consults for Health & Community Strategies, and has terminated his work with Opticos Design Inc. The City of Austin has paid $1,212,928 to Opticos so far for work on the CodeNEXT project to rewrite the Land Development Code, according to Austin Finance Online. That fulfills the pledge he made to The Austin Bulldog before the polls closed on election night, November 4, 2014, that he would resign if Kitchen were elected. (See Two Women Win Without Runoffs, November 5, 2014.)

Kitchen reported that she is no longer on the board of directors of Liveable City or TexHealth Central Texas, and that Yznaga is now a board member of Liveable City.

District 6 Council Member Don Zimmerman—Reported no changes to previous information submitted for himself and his wife, Jennifer Zimmerman, whose occupation is teacher and customer support agent.

District 7 Council Member Leslie Pool—Reported no significant changes to previous information submitted for herself and domestic partner Will Grover, a radiology technician with the Seton Family of Hospitals.

District 8 Council Member Ellen Troxclair—Reported no significant changes to previous information submitted for herself and husband, attorney Caleb Troxclair.

Kathie TovoKathie TovoDistrict 9 Council Member Kathie Tovo—Reported two new architecture clients for her husband, Tom Hurt: Robert and Lorin Bryce of Austin and Michael and Michelle Whitney of Houston.

Tovo reported changes in 20 different stocks (see Item 4 of her updated SFI) and the couple paid off a $400,000 residential mortgage as well as a loan of $200,000.

The council member is no longer a board member of Campfire USA Balcones Council but remains a program advisory board member.

Sheri GalloSheri GalloDistrict 10 Council Member Sheri Gallo—Reported that she no longer draws income from Mortgage Pros, a company in which she previously reported earning between $1 but less than $10,000.

Gallo reported no other changes in assets, liabilities, or income for she and husband William Hudspeth, chairman of Austin Trust Company.

Links to current financial statements 

Mayor Steve Adler SFI July Update 2015

District 1 Council Member Ora Houston SFI July Update 2015

District 2 Council Member Delia Garza SFI July Update 2015

District 3 Council Member Sabino Renteria SFI July Update 2015

District 4 Council Member Greg Casar SFI July Update 2015

District 5 Council Member Ann Kitchen SFI July Update 2015

District 6 Council Member Don Zimmerman SFI July Update 2015

District 7 Council Member Leslie Pool SFI July Update 2015

District 8 Council Member Ellen Troxclair SFI July Update 2015

District 9 Council Member Kathie Tovo SFI July Update 2015

District 10 Council Member Sheri Gallo SFI July Update 2015

Links to previous financial statements

2014 Personal Financial Activity of Mayor, City Council Members, City Manager & City Attorney (a detailed spreadsheet that provides an overview of information extracted from the individual statements)

Mayor Steve Adler 2014 Personal Financial Statement (Chapter 145)

Mayor Steve Adler 2014 Statement of Financial Information (City Code)

District 1 Council Member Ora Houston 2014 Personal Financial Statement (Chapter 145)

District 1 Council Member Ora Houston 2014 Statement of Financial Information (City Code)

District 2 Council Member Delia Garza 2014 Personal Financial Statement (Chapter 145)

District 2 Council Member Delia Garza 2014 Statement of Financial Information (City Code)

District 3 Council Member Sabino Renteria 2014 Personal Financial Statement (Chapter 145)

District 3 Council Member Sabino Renteria 2014 Statement of Financial Information (City Code)

District 4 Council Member Gregorio Casar 2014 Personal Financial Statement (Chapter 145) 

District 4 Council Member Gregorio Casar Statement of Financial Information (City Code)

District 5 Council Member Ann Kitchen 2014 Personal Financial Statement (Chapter 145)

District 5 Council Member Ann Kitchen 2014 Statement of Financial Information (City Code)

District 6 Council Member Don Zimmerman 2014 Personal Financial Statement (Chapter 145)

District 6 Council Member Don Zimmerman 2014 Statement of Financial Information (City Code)

District 7 Council Member Leslie Pool 2014 Personal Financial Statement (Chapter 145)

District 7 Council Member Leslie Pool 2014 Statement of Financial Information (City Code)

District 8 Council Member Ellen Troxclair 2014 Personal Financial Statement (Chapter 145)

District 8 Council Member Ellen Troxclair 2014 Statement of Financial Information (City Code)

District 9 Council Member Kathie Tovo 2014 Personal Financial Statement (Chapter 145)

District 9 Council Member Kathie Tovo 2014 Statement of Financial Information (City Code)

District 10 Council Member Sheri Gallo 2014 Financial Statement (Chapter 145)

District 10 Council Member Sheri Gallo 2014 Statement of Financial Information (City Code)

City Manager Marc Ott 2014 Personal Financial Statement (Chapter 145)

City Manager Marc Ott 2014 Statement of Financial Information (City Code)

Interim City Attorney Anne Morgan 2014 Personal Financial Statement (Chapter 145)

Interim City Attorney Anne Morgan 2014 Statement of Financial Information (City Code)

Interim Intergovernmental Affairs Officer Karen Kennard Financial Statement (Chapter 145): Not required to file for 2014.

Interim Intergovernmental Affairs Officer Karen Kennard 2014 Statement of Financial Information (City Code)

Related Bulldog coverage:

Candidates Rich and Poor Competing, Sept. 30, 2014

Monitoring City Staff Conflicts of Interest, June 4, 2014

Austin Governed by the Well-To-Do, May 17, 2013

Some Council Members’ Finances Change Significantly, August 22, 2012

How Rich Are Austin’s Mayor and Council Members? June 27, 2012

Council Member Martinez Reports Big Gains in Financial Assets, August 17, 2011

Council Members Riley and Shade May Have Violated City Code, June 2, 2011

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