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News of the week, short and sweet

Fri., Dec. 10, 2010

• The city hosted two public forums Tuesday with the four finalists to be the next police monitor when Cliff Brown steps down at the end of the year to become a district judge. For a breakdown of the candidates, see "Point Austin," and Jordan Smith's "Choose Your Monitor: The Four Finalists," at the Newsdesk blog, austinchronicle.com/newsdesk.

City Council meets Thursday, Dec. 9, for its second-to-last meeting of the year. Fireworks should flare during council's 3pm incarnation as the Austin Housing Finance Corporation, during which members will decide on some $10 million in affordable housing proposals, including the controversial Marshall Apartments plan. See "City Hall Hustle."

• Time's up: Friday, Dec. 10, is the last day to fill out the Austin Comprehensive Plan public survey – available in English and Spanish at www.imagineaustin.net – concluding the third phase of public input. Never fear, though – after planners take a stab at a first draft of the plan, they'll be asking for opinions once again.

• The public can meet Abigail Smith, the last of five animal services officer candidates to be vetted, at a forum on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 6-7pm, at the Palmer Events Center. Due to a death in her family, Smith – director of the Tompkins County SPCA in Ithaca, N.Y. – was unable to attend the November forum with the other four finalists.

Headlines

• Colorado County and Fayette County pecan growers say sulfur dioxide from the coal-powered Fayette Power Project is killing their pecan trees. They have enlisted the Sierra Club's help in entreating both the Lower Colorado River Authority and Austin Energy – the plant's co-owners – to do something about it, but officials are denying culpability.

• Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, and Speaker Joe Straus have sent a letter asking state agencies to cut an extra 2.5% from their general revenue spending in 2011. This comes on top of the 5% cut they demanded in January.

Headlines

• With ranking Republican legislators discussing a wholesale overhaul of school funding in the upcoming session, Comptroller Susan Combs has released a report showing that per-student expenditure has risen by 63% over the last decade, nearly double the rate of inflation.

Elizabeth Edwards, spouse of disgraced former presidential candidate John Edwards, died Tuesday. She retained her grace throughout her lengthy and public battle with cancer; as she said when she was diagnosed, "When bad things happen, you don't let them take you down."

• President Barack Obama announced a compromise with congressional Republicans on extended tax cuts – in exchange for an extension of unemployment benefits – and (like most such deals) it appears to have made nobody happy. The agreement will still have to work its way through a polarized Senate and House.

Headlines

Quote of the Week

"Turn out the lights, the party's over."

– Willie Nelson lyric, often sung by former Monday Night Football announcer and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Don Meredith, who passed away Monday at age 72

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