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Fri., July 31, 2009

• Austin Independent School District plans to announce its new repurposing proposal for Pearce Middle School before the end of the week. Details are not yet available, and the plan will still need approval by both the board of trustees and Commissioner of Education Robert Scott (see "Naked City").

Gail Roper
Gail Roper

• Leading economic indicators: Gail Roper, the city's IT chief, is moving back to Raleigh, N.C. – because she can't sell her home there. City Manager Marc Ott is expected to appoint an interim chief information officer soon. In more tech news, the city released the first of two requests for proposals to redesign the city website, this one calling for tech, architecture, and design recommendations for the final RFP.

• The new Austin City Council held its inaugural meeting on July 23, and as a nod to new Mayor Lee Leffingwell's former career as an airline pilot, Council Member Randi Shade passed out single-serving-size bags of pretzels.

• Nineteen-year-old James Richard "Ricky" Thompson has been charged with two counts of capital murder for the July 21 shooting deaths of John Goosey and Stacy Barnett in the West Campus area. The Austin Police Department said Thompson owed Goosey a "substantial sum" for marijuana. See "Double Murder: The Dark Side of Reefer Madness."

Wilfred Aguilar
Wilfred Aguilar

• And the drought goes on forever: The Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District is crafting a proposal that would require a 40% cutback in groundwater pumping for all permitted users.

• Defense lawyer and former County Court Judge Wilfred Aguilar died Tuesday of cancer at 60; Aguilar served on the bench from 1985 to 2000.

• Texas had 1.5 million children living in poverty in 2007, according to the new Kids Count report, an annual survey funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Travis County showed a very slight improvement on the child poverty front – 43,806 children in 2007, down from 43,978 in 2006. For state and local statistics, see datacenter.kidscount.org.

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• Local indie shop BookWoman is reeling after a ruinous week. First, two people distracted the cashier and stole money from the cash drawer; Tuesday night, a vandal fired a gun at the store, at 5501 N. Lamar, shattering the storefront windows and front door.

• The order of constitutional amendments on the Nov. 3 ballot has been set by a random drawing by Secretary of State Hope Andrade. The Proposition 1 slot goes to a measure allowing cities and counties to buy land next to military bases, but expect heavy campaigning on Proposition 11, limiting eminent domain. Voter registration ends Oct. 5.

• Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor won't be getting any votes from Texas when her confirmation comes to the U.S. Senate floor. Sen. John Cornyn voted (by proxy) against her ultimately successful nomination in the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday. Then Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison announced she intends to vote no in the Senate.

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Quote of the Week

"Another of the arguments I heard this morning and I saw on the signs across the street concerns 'rationing' of health care. What do you think we have right now?"

– Congressman Lloyd Doggett, commenting on opposition arguments to proposed reforms on health care

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