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The year in Austin: from the APD to urban rail

By Michael King, Fri., Jan. 3, 2014

Wendy Davis
Wendy Davis
Photo by Jana Birchum

1) THE WENDY FACTOR The Senate filibuster by Fort Worth's Wendy Davis didn't only mark the rise of a new Democratic champion, but the collision of increasingly reactionary abortion laws with statewide and national movements to fight back – with Austin at their epicenter. See "Top 10 Lege Stories."

2) HOW DRY WE ARE The (slightly diminished) statewide drought has had environmental and political repercussions in Austin, with the city attempting multi-modal solutions and promoting a regional response – but no long-term resolution in sight. See "Top 10 Environmental Stories."

3) DISTRICTS WE HAVE! For decades, it seemed like the day would never arrive when city representation would be ... more representative; the new year will finally bring a new, uncertain dispensation at City Hall. See "Top 10 City Council Stories."

4) INNOCENT OF NO CRIME After 21 years, a vile chapter in Travis County criminal justice was partly closed, as Fran and Dan Keller were freed two decades after conviction on fantastical ritual child abuse charges: next step, exoneration. See "Top 10 Criminal Justice Stories."

Rosemary Lehmberg
Rosemary Lehmberg

5) DRUNK WHILE PROSECUTING Travis County D.A. Rosemary Lehmberg (involved in both ends of the Keller case) had a very rough year: a spectacular, video-ed April DWI and jailing, months of public humilation, and a December removal trial that left her in office – presumably dried out and chastened. See "Top 10 Criminal Justice Stories."

6) WAITING FOR THE TRAIN It's still only a gleam in the mayor's eye, but urban rail took a big step forward with tentative routes recommended by Project Connect and City Council – the big 2014 question is whether the votes will be there for the bonds. See "Top 10 City Council Stories."

7) UNRIGHTEOUS SHOOT The July 26 shooting of Larry Eugene Jackson by Austin Police Detective Charles Kleinert after a mysterious foot chase rocked the city and added to the distressing list of APD killings of minority suspects – this one was bad, and still needs a thorough airing. See "Top 10 Criminal Justice Stories."

8) COACH GONE PRESIDENT REMAINS UT football coach Mack Brown walked the plank after 16 years, while President Bill Powers got only a tongue-lashing from the chancellor and regents – but the rank commercialization and politicization of higher education proceeds apace. See "Top 10 Education Stories."

9) WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA? AISD's attempt to impose an IDEA public charter on Allan Elementary eventually foundered and reverberated in trustee elections – but the school's future remains uncertain and the district's curriculum and enrollment issues largely unresolved. See "Top 10 Education Stories."

10) A DEAL'S A DEAL Despite White Lodg­ing's protests and threat of lawsuits, City Council declined to rework the developer's incentives deal and White is required to pay prevailing wages on its JW Marriott hotel in order to get the incentives – a precedent-setting victory for the local labor movement. See "Top 10 City Council Stories."

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