Fri., May 3, 2013
› It's a mini-marathon for City Council on Thursday, May 2 – a 9am-4:30pm budget work session means that, with any luck, they'll adjourn before dark. Not so next week, May 9, when they'll be revisiting Austin Energy governance (second reading) and short-term rental regs, and Mayor Leffingwell plans to discuss leasing Austin-Bergstrom International Airport for urban rail funding: bring your popcorn!
› Though a motion for summary judgment is still outstanding, lawyers involved in the civil rights case against APD Officer Nathan Wagner by the family of Byron Carter Jr., shot and killed in 2011, are ready to go to trial. The city of Austin has not made any moves to settle the case, and the lawyers have agreed that the week of June 10 would be "ideal" for trial.
› The likely combatants to replace retiring Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe next year stepped closer to the ring this week, as County Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt formally declared her candidacy Wednesday, and County Democratic Party Chair Andy Brown announced he will step down while "exploring new opportunities."
› As Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg continues to serve her sentence for driving while intoxicated, County Attorney David Escamilla assumed the civil lawsuit addressing her potential removal; for more on the background, the politics, and the legal details, see "What Happens Next?"
› Travis County will auction off inventory from the shuttered RunTex store next week to collect more than $17,000 owed in overdue taxes. A separate legal dispute over unpaid rent resulted in the store's court-ordered closure April 4. The auction will be on Tuesday, 11am (preview starts at 10am), at the running shop, 422 W. Riverside.
› The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments Aug. 27 in an appeal brought by Colton Pitonyak, sentenced to 55 years in prison for the 2005 murder of Jennifer Cave. A three-judge panel will consider whether Travis County prosecutors unlawfully withheld evidence from Pitonyak's defense team that another person, Laura Hall, had confessed to the crime.
› Gov. Rick Perry has demanded an apology from California's The Sacramento Bee after it ran an editorial cartoon linking Texas' lax regulatory system with the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas. The Bee has refused to pull down the cartoon by Pulitzer-shortlisted artist Jack Ohman, and the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists condemns Perry's statement as "intimidation." See "Point Austin."
› The Food and Drug Administration announced this week that Plan B One-Step single-dose emergency contraception will be available over-the-counter for women 15 and older. The move comes after a court last year ruled that the decision to withhold it was based on politics. Women's health advocates applauded the decision, saying it will help reduce unintended pregnancy.
› By a one-vote margin, the full panel of judges for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals April 30 declined to revive a case brought against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives by the National Rifle Association and several young adults, including Andrew Payne of Lubbock, who argued that the law prohibiting anyone under 21 from lawfully owning a firearm was unconstitutional.