Fri., March 15, 2013
› City Council closed the deal with National Instruments Corp. last week and will take a look at regulating ridesharing next week, but is on SXSW hiatus this week. When they next meet March 21, members will reconsider what to do about rewriting "project dormancy" regs and spend some time on parking: see "Council Notes: Know What's Below."
› Be there or be square: Thousands of SXSW Festivalgoers will be on Downtown streets at least until Sunday, so either join in the chaos and merriment or spend the weekend in church -- which is probably a Festival venue. New slogan: Only one hotel fire so far!
› After City Council voted last week to research potential regulations for ridesharing, new taxi-app company SideCar announced it would sue the city in response to a "cease-and-desist" order against its local operations. Talk about road rage. See "SideCar to City: Have App, Will Travel ... to Court."
› The mother of Courtney Griffin, killed in 2011 by former Capitol staffer Gabrielle Nestande in a hit-and-run, filed a negligence suit against Nestande March 11 seeking more than $1 million in damages. Laurie Griffin also filed suit against Clive Bar, arguing that they overserved Nestande the evening before she hit and killed Griffin. In February, Nestande was sentenced to 10 years probation for criminally negligent homicide.
› The University of Texas released new documents this week related to sociology professor Mark Regnerus' New Family Structures Study, which implied that children of same-sex couples fare worse than those of opposite-sex couples. The documents reveal that the right-wing think tank the Witherspoon Institute specifically commissioned the study to influence the Supreme Court's opinions on pending marriage equality cases, and suggest the institute may have improperly influenced the results.
› A federal grant awarded this week will help more than 30 Texas counties, including Bastrop, in their ongoing recovery from the 2011 wildfires that ravaged much of the state. The $406,000 in funding from the U.S. Department of Labor will help pay for temporary jobs created as part of the continuing cleanup and restoration. The latest grant brings the Texas total to more than $1.2 million received in federal assistance.
› Friday, March 8, marked the legislative filing deadline for new bills. Now the action turns toward the big issues: more money for public schools (unlikely), Medicaid expansion (still a long shot, but trending positive), and lots of attention to water and transportation. How about gondola canals from Houston to Dallas?
› Houston Democratic state Sen. Sylvia Garcia joined the Lege ranks this week after defeating Carol Alvarado in a bitterly fought special election to replace the late Sen. Mario Gallegos Jr.