Fri., Nov. 29, 2013
› No City Council meeting this week – Happy Thanksgiving! – and no regular session until Dec. 12 (work session Dec. 10), while everybody celebrates and considers what was postponed from last Thursday, when a couple of big issues dominated the day.
› Specifically, it was officially dinnertime at Council last week, with spirited discussion of a proposed study of "Healthy Food Zones" – defeated after stout opposition from fast food- and convenience store-owners – and a dramatic debate over new urban farm regs, enacted with revisions. See "Council: Eat Your Vegetables!."
› On Saturday, Nov. 23, the Workers Defense Project led a demonstration against the contractors on the 7 Rio high-rise project at Seventh and Rio Grande, when a worker was fired after reporting a workplace accident and injuries to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The WDP is urging OSHA to investigate the incident as a protected whistleblower.
› As cooler temperatures hit, Austinites are still recovering from the Halloween floods. Austin ISD announced that it has already raised $142,900 via the Austin Project for the 360 students and 25 staffers who lost their homes either temporarily or permanently. For more info or to donate, go to www.theaustinproject.org.
› A broken heating system forced the Austin History Center to close its doors Tuesday and Wednesday, ahead of its planned closure Thursday and Friday for Thanksgiving.
› The post-House Bill 2 world may be decidedly bleak for women in need of legal abortion care, but this week there's a bit of good news: Planned Parenthood's South Austin surgical center is back in business. Last Friday, the facility secured the hospital admitting privileges required by the law.
› Austin Community College adjunct faculty were stunned last week to receive an administrative memo effectively limiting their future part-time hours to 28 hours a week – the official response to the new federal Affordable Care Act that would mandate health insurance for employees working at least 30 hours a week. The policy would both limit teachers' incomes and bar them from benefits; faculty are fighting the change.
› Attorney General Greg Abbott wants the Texas Supreme Court to circumvent the school finance lawsuit, saying that Judge John Dietz abused his position by allowing new evidence to be heard in the case. Lawyers for school districts challenging the current funding system say this is just an attempt to derail Dietz's next hearings, scheduled for January.
› The deadly West Fertilizer explosion will be on state lawmakers' agenda next session, as Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has added ammonium nitrate storage and disaster response to the legislative interim charges. Child protection, the Texas Windstorm Insurance Assoc., and residential property insurance provided through the Texas FAIR Plan Assoc. are also on the call.