The Austin Chronicle

The Daily Hustle: 12/15/10

By Wells Dunbar, December 15, 2010, 1:04pm, Newsdesk

Is Thursday Water Treatment Plant No. 4's last hurrah?

You'll recall City Council approved a controversial funding package for WTP4, so each expenditure no longer requires public scrutiny.

The battle's moved to the neighborhoods, with Spicewood Springs residents opposing excavation of a shaft opposite their homes. Tomorrow, that comes to council.

Item 98 on council's agenda is a public hearing on the use of parkland to site the shaft, needed to excavate material to run WTP4's Jollyville transmission main from the plant to storage reservoirs. It's required by Chapter 26 of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code, which, according to agenda backup, "provides that the use of parkland for non-park purposes may be approved upon a finding that there is no feasible and prudent alternative to the use of the parkland and that the contemplated use includes all reasonable planning to minimize harm to the parkland" – a case the well-organized Spicewood opposition will no doubt be out in full force to make.

Still, with the 4-3 council majority in favor of the plant holding steady, and all funding for the plant locked and loaded, should Item 98 pass tomorrow, it's hard not to see the brawl over WTP4 as essentially all over but the shouting.

… BREAKING: Lee Leffingwell has announced he won't be running in 2012 – for president. On Monday, CNN analyst Paul Begala compared Sarah Palin's half-term as Alaska governor to Leffingwell's mayoral tenure, saying (somewhat inaccurately) "Lee Leffingwell's been the mayor of Austin for about as long as Sarah Palin was governor of Alaska, but nobody is saying that Lee Leffingwell ought to be president."

The remark was noted by Statesman's Ken "No Wonder Print is Dying" Herman, who took a break from mocking minorities to mark Begala's words. Even more hilariously, it was deconstructed by the Statesman's PolitiFact service, the program that rates statements as either true or false as the paper's apparently incapable of doing so itself.

Today, Leffingwell cited the attention on his blog, writing "the obvious undertone of this escalating international media feeding frenzy is an intense desire among a strong majority of Americans for my leadership in Washington.

"Accordingly, I have spoken this week with my first choice for VP, Eddie Wilson of Threadgills," Hizzoner continues. "After many long seconds of conversation, Eddie has determined that he would prefer to spend all eternity eating Swanson's frozen TV dinners and watching re-runs of "Family Matters" over agreeing to be my running mate."

The nation's loss is our gain, we suppose.

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