News of the week, short and sweet
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
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