Fri., Feb. 8, 2013
› The Texas school finance system is unconstitutional. On Feb. 4, Judge John Dietz ruled in favor of the hundreds of school districts that had sued the state over both how the current "Robin Hood" recapture system works, and how little money lawmakers allocated for public education (see "Dietz Rules Against School Finance System").
› After the Workers Defense Project last week issued a report alleging widespread employment practice violations across the state, construction workers are in the news again this week, in connection to city economic incentives. See "Then There's This" and "Bill of the Week."
› No City Council meeting until Feb. 14, but Mayor Lee Leffingwell delivered his State of the City address Tuesday, touching on Austin's growth, high employment, and transportation needs, including urban rail. See "Point Austin."
› You'll want to start keeping a closer eye on your water bill starting with your February statement, when a new rate structure and a 5% average rate increase takes effect. See www.austinwater.org for more info.
› Former Williamson County District Attorney-turned-Judge Ken Anderson is facing a rare court-of-inquiry this week to determine whether he deliberately withheld exculpatory evidence that might have kept Michael Morton from being wrongfully convicted and spending nearly 25 years behind bars for the murder of his wife.
› Housing, housing, housing: That's what's needed to help divert the mentally ill from the county's criminal justice system, stakeholders told the Public Safety Commission on Monday. Indeed, there's "not a unit in this county" currently available for felony offenders, said prosecutor Michelle Hallee, which makes it impossible to put any felony offenders on probation.
› State Board of Education Chair Barbara Cargill told a Senate Education Committee hearing last week that schools need to teach "all sides" of evolution science – suggesting that there might be a scientific nonevolutionary theory of biological origins. Commented Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller, "If Ms. Cargill wants textbooks to include 'another side,' then she's insisting that our schools teach something that isn't science."
› Federal District Judge James Nowlin on Jan. 31 declined to block the state's new puppy mill bill, ruling against the Responsible Pet Owners Alliance, which has sought to dismantle tightened regulations for large-scale dog and cat breeders. The Humane Society of the U.S. and the Texas Humane Legislation Network, which championed passage of the bill, argue that it merely ensures that breeders provide for the basic needs of animals in their care.
› "No post on Sundays" just became "no post on weekends." The United States Postal Service announced Wednesday that it would eliminate mail delivery on Saturdays in an effort to cut some of the agency's losses. The change is estimated to save USPS $2 billion annually.