Fri., Sept. 27, 2013
• On Tuesday, Travis County Commissioners Court approved a scaled-down version of the Southeast roads, pushed by Pct. 4 Commissioner Margaret Gómez, that critics call "corporate welfare" for Formula One Circuit of the Americas. The vote was 3-0-2, with Commissioners Bruce Todd and Ron Davis abstaining.
› In the wake of budget adoption, the meeting agenda has accumulated once again for City Council, with annexations, dozens of zoning cases, and short-term rental regs. See "Council: Short-Term Rentals, Long-term Meeting."
› The Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission finally began drafting City Council district maps last weekend – leading immediately to criticism from groups lobbying the commissioners for particular maps that they're being too damned independent. The ICRC is working toward a December mapping deadline.
› The Trail of Lights will have a little more sparkle this year. Mayor Lee Leffingwell and trail organizers announced Wednesday morning that the holiday tradition will return to a 15-day schedule. Getting there will be easier, too, with expanded shuttle service and new parking options.
› A Travis County grand jury last week declined to indict Austin Police Officer Justin Boehm, who fired his gun at an unarmed man during a routine traffic stop. The man, 54-year-old James Barton, had gotten out of his car and was walking toward Boehm when the officer fired; he said he thought Barton was going for a weapon. Barton was actually going for his wallet. Fortunately, Boehm missed his mark.
› If last weekend's rains were not quite the drought buster hoped for, they did have some positive effects. Outgoing LCRA General Manager Becky Motal announced Monday that the downpour helped raise Highland Lakes water levels. And, citing a decreased risk of wildfire, Travis County Fire Marshal Hershel Lee lifted the county burn ban on Friday.
› District Judge Ken Anderson this week resigned his post. The former Williamson County D.A. is facing both civil and criminal charges in connection with allegations that he knowingly withheld evidence that 27 years ago could have proven that Michael Morton, wrongly imprisoned for more than two decades, did not kill his wife.
› As the Oct. 1 enrollment rollout of the Obamacare Health Insurance Marketplace nears, the GOP continues its partisan crusade to block the law, with a marathon 'filibuster' by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz – comparing the health care expansion variously to the moon and the Nazis.
› A Koch brothers-backed group has unveiled a creepy ad featuring a speculum-wielding Uncle Sam designed to convince young women that they should opt out of coverage under the new health care law. Although Obamacare brings parity for women's health, the ad – funded by the same folks who funneled money into the fight to pass Texas' new abortion regulations – tells women that they should decline to let "government play doctor." See Newsdesk blog, Sept. 20.