News Roundup: Immigration, Coyotes, and Convictions

Cruz continues to cavil, Council protects coyotes, and more

Sen. Ted Cruz
Sen. Ted Cruz (photo by Jana Birchum)

In this week's news roundup – Ted Cruz continues his quest to be as oppositional as possible; no charges for an officer who fired at an oncoming car; Council finally resolves its "coyote conflict management strategy"; and more.

Reactions to President Obama’s Nov. 20 announcement that he’d act to prevent the deportation of certain undocumented immigrants continue. Ted Cruz, doing his darndest to be the Grinch who steals this year’s Christmas, doubled down on his opposition to the plan. Appearing on yesterday’s (Nov. 23) Fox News Sunday, he reiterated that “the majority leader [of the incoming Senate] should decline to bring to the floor of the Senate any nomination other than vital national security positions.” As host Chris Wallace pointed out, this would prevent the confirmation of a new attorney general, leaving current A.G. Eric Holder in the post. Earlier this year, Cruz had suggested the possibility of impeaching Holder for “defying Congress and defying the rule of law.”

Meanwhile, immigrants’ rights supporters’ enthusiasm for the president’s action was, on the whole, muted. Cristina Tzintzun, Workers Defense Project executive director, posted a statement that captured the general sentiment: “President Obama took an important first step in repairing this system.... This executive action still leaves millions vulnerable and is a temporary fix to a problem that requires long-term solutions. Congress must act and pass comprehensive immigration reform that provides a pathway to citizenship. Only with such a solution can we hope for a safe, sustainable, and united future.” We’ll have more on the local impact of Obama’s action in this week’s issue.

During last Thursday’s meeting, City Council postponed a vote on the proposed golf course at Decker Lake after a tense exchange between Mayor Lee Leffingwell, who supports the project, and Austin Water Utility Director Greg Meszaros, who expressed reservations about the amount of water the plan would require.

Council did manage to approve a resolution directing the city manager to adopt a “coyote conflict management strategy” that would allow a “lethal response” only after an individual coyote is determined to be a “threat to public safety.” Leffingwell cast the sole dissenting vote, saying he wasn’t sure that the strategy would adequately protect Austinites, their children, and pets from coyote attacks.

After a lengthy public hearing, Council also moved forward on Springdale Farms’ rezoning. Look for more details in this week’s issue of the Chronicle.

After eight hours and testimony from nine witnesses, a grand jury ruled Thursday that APD officer John Gabrielson will not face charges for firing his weapon at Fernando Estrada during an incident in North Austin on Jan. 25, 2014. Police said Gabrielson fired three shots at Estrada after Estrada tried to run him over in a Shell gas station’s parking lot. A motorist had flagged Gabrielson down to report Estrada for having hit several vehicles while trying to flee the scene. No one was injured in the shooting. Gabrielson has spent the time since the incident on administrative leave.

Miguel Macias was sentenced to 32 years in prison on Thursday after he was found guilty for aggravated assault on a public servant. Macias, 48, was determined to have used a getaway car as a weapon against APD officer Shane Cunningham in Aug. 2013. After stealing from a supply store, he and and accomplice used the car they were driving to crash into Cunningham’s cruiser, eventually pushing the vehicle 30 feet back into a tree. Cunningham began firing immediately upon impact, eventually hitting Macias five different times throughout the shootout.

Protestors gathered outside of the Downtown Wendy’s yesterday, asking that the company agree to become part of the Fair Food Program. The program, created by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, commits participants to buying only from tomato growers that meet certain labor standards, and to paying about a penny more per pound of tomatoes. The CIW has persuaded several corporations, such as Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, and Whole Foods, to sign on – Wendy’s is the lone holdout among the five largest fast food chains. Joining the Florida-based CIW on Sunday were local activists and UT students, including representatives from UT LULAC. CIW member Nely Rodriguez and Claudia Saenz of the Student/Farmworker Alliance will give a presentation on the issue tomorrow, Tuesday, Nov. 25, 6pm, at the Women’s Community Center.

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More Immigration
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