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Can't Tell the Players Without a Program
Going down to City Hall tomorrow for what's sure to be a memorable meeting over the Northcross/Wal-Mart/Big Box debacle? Bone up on all you city memos and such at the city's own Northcross information page here.

10:14AM Wed. Dec. 13, 2006, Wells Dunbar Read More | Comment »

Rodriguez Wins – One More Democrat in Congress
It's over. All 267 precincts have reported, and Democrat Ciro Rodriguez has upset Republican incumbent Henry Bonilla. Rodriguez racked up 38,247 votes (54%) to Bonilla's 32,165. That makes it 233 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

10:22PM Tue. Dec. 12, 2006, Lee Nichols Read More | Comment »

Rodriguez Leading Bonilla
Democrat Ciro Rodriguez appears to be pulling off an upset over incumbent Republican Henry Bonilla in Congressional District 23 tonight. At the moment, despite polling behind Bonilla in a Survey USA poll over the weekend, election returns are showing him solidly ahead, 57% to 43%. These totals include early voting numbers and 67% of tonight's ballot boxes. We don't know for certain which boxes have been counted and which are still out, but it would be nearly impossible at this point for Bonilla to make up an 8,000-vote deficit (out of 56,320 counted so far).

Rodriguez started the evening in the lead, with 54% of the early votes, and he has steadily increased it since. If Rodriguez wins, it won't be his first time in Congress. He represented District 28 from 1997 to 2005, but the Tom DeLay-driven redistricting of 2003 forced him into the same district as fellow Dem Henry Cuellar, who defeated Rodriguez in the 2004 primary. Rodriguez tried to regain his seat in this year's primary but narrowly lost again. However, when a Supreme Court decision redrew the boundaries of District 23 and he found himself living in Bonilla's district, he decided to enter the Nov. 7 special election.

For more on the background of this last remaining congressional race, see this earlier post.

8:45PM Tue. Dec. 12, 2006, Lee Nichols Read More | Comment »

Okay, We're a Bit Biased on This One …
… but we would really like to see some sort of shield law for journalists that can protect us from being jailed when we refuse prosecutors' and judges' demands to reveal our confidential sources. And maybe the upcoming legislative session is the one where we'll see that happen in Texas, as we have both some Democrats and one particularly powerful Republican on our side, Attorney General Greg Abbott. Today Rep. Aaron Peña filed House Bill 382 to create such a shield for journalists; while we haven't yet read the specifics of the bill (and the devil is always in the details), we like what we read in his press release:

4:46PM Tue. Dec. 12, 2006, Lee Nichols Read More | Comment »

Can You Handle the Truth?
If you still haven't seen An Inconvenient Truth, former Vice President Al Gore's documentary on the global warming crisis, there will be numerous watching parties nationwide on Saturday, Dec. 16, sponsored by AlGore.com and MoveOn.org, including several here in Austin. To find the one nearest you, click here and type in your ZIP code.

1:53PM Tue. Dec. 12, 2006, Lee Nichols Read More | Comment »

Housing Authority to Raze Thurmond Heights?
We received this note from a friend of OCEAN, the Organization of Central East Austin Neighborhoods this afternoon. Due to the timeliness of the notice, we're reprinting it below.

UPDATE: Question mark added to title. As a member of our news team writes, "They're in the very earliest stages of a public planning process to simply consider their alternatives. They are 6 -12 months away from taking a recommendation to their Board, as to whether or not it may make sense to redevelop the site. So it's no crisis," but your input will still prove valuable tonight.

Please mark your calendars to come to one of two very important public hearings on December 12, at 11am and 5:30pm, at 1124 S. IH-35.

The Housing Authority of the City of Austin has released plans to demolish the Thurmond Heights apartments, which is home to 144 low income families. The Housing Authority has indicated this is the first of several apartment complexes it plans to redevelop over the upcoming years as a mixed-income development, with no plans for 1-for-1 replacement of the affordable units. Lakeside Apartments in downtown Austin has been discussed as another development on the chopping block along with Chalmers in Central East Austin. Lakeside, by the way, which is reserved for seniors, is probably the last remaining affordable housing in downtown Austin for persons earning less than $24k/year – other than the homeless shelters.

1:41PM Tue. Dec. 12, 2006, Wells Dunbar Read More | Comment »

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City Council Notebook
From the Chronicle newsbunker to you...

Re: City Council Agenda, Thursday, December 14, 2006

Item 13: $130,000 for Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade and Douglas, Inc. for TOD Station Area Planning. Buys plans for Plaza Saltillo, Martin Luther King and Lamar-Justin.

Item 14: The West Austin Neighborhood Group's name is WANG. For real.

Item 41: Approve a resolution creating a Bond Oversight Committee for the City of Austin bonds approved on November 7, 2006.

Item 43: Spends $1,415,000 of that money for an Eastside park at Oak Springs Drive.

Item 44: Public Safety Task Force creation.

BIG ITEM 82: Northcross Resolution! North Austin's SOS moment at Council? The Omelettry's Last Stand? Burnet, durn it, learn it!

10:30: Briefing Presentation by Cid Galindo regarding the 2030 Town Center Initiative.

Citizen Communications: El Concilio kicking up dust as to who was the duly elected Holly Neighborhood Planning Area.

2pm: Briefing on homeless services

Zoning: A clutch of homes clamoring for historic designation, Redeemer Church returning on second and third reading.

5:30 Proclamations: Senator Gonzalo Barrientos Day, Farewell to the Cadeau.

6pm Public Hearings: Big Box ordinance. Bring a blanket.

12:56PM Tue. Dec. 12, 2006, Wells Dunbar Read More | Comment »

District 23 Run-Off Today
Only one seat in Congress hasn't been settled yet, there's reason to believe it may further pad the Democrats' margin of power in the House, and it's right here in Texas. District 23, which stretches from western San Antonio to eastern El Paso County, pits the two top vote-getters in a run-off from Nov. 7's special election, Republican incumbent Henry Bonilla against Democrat (and former Congressman) Ciro Rodriguez. You can follow the results by checking back in here at Chronic tonight after the 7pm poll closing (of course, since El Paso County, Hudspeth County, and part of Culberson County are in the Mountain Time Zone, a few polls won't close until 8pm Austin time); or you can also go directly to the Secretary of State Web site.

10:18AM Tue. Dec. 12, 2006, Lee Nichols Read More | Comment »

Wal-Mart Threat of the Day
Following up Brewster McCracken's assertation in a KVUE interview that Wal-Mart and Lincoln Properties wouldn't sue if council intervenes at Northcross, because "both companies are interested in continuing to do business in Austin," today comes more word from the Granola Cosa Nostra: Jennifer Kim's Statesman statement: "If (Wal-Mart) wants to have other developments in Austin, it's in their best interest to do this one right."

10:17AM Tue. Dec. 12, 2006, Wells Dunbar Read More | Comment »

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