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Thank You for Smoking
This snarkily playful little comedy gets so wrapped up in its own barbed witticisms that it fails to land even the lightest sucker-punches on the institutions it aims to skewer.
Film Review  March 31, 2006, by Marc Savlov
"...Reitman’s film (adapted from Christopher Buckley’s novel) is, like a tobacconist’s teeth, a spotty affair, dull and pitted, albeit with occasional bright spots that bring to mind some of the more conservative moments of the Coen brothers. Once Nick bonds with legendary tobacco kingpin (Duvall, chewing the scenery like some sort of hellish bipedal ruminant on Skoal) and is officially ushered into the arms of the industry for whom he speaks, Thank You for Smoking eschews biting social commentary in favor of farce, and the film’s promised tone – one of outraged, surrealistic agitprop – never recovers..."

Duck Season
Despite being a movie about youthful inertia among some Mexico City adolescents stuck at home by themselves, Duck Season is squirmy, restless and avidly visual.
Film Review  March 24, 2006, by Marrit Ingman
"...If there's any answer to the boys' disaffection – Flam's parents are divorcing bitterly, and Moko is realizing that he's gay – it comes in the form of Rita's pot brownies. But even as the foursome inevitably bonds in their shared plight of purposelessness, they leave behind messy bowls, broken bric-a-brac, and 300 half-eaten chocolates..."

The Hills Have Eyes
This remake ratchets up the gore while subtly rewiring some of the characters, but it never manages the nagging subtexts Craven so handily injected into the original horror film.
Film Review  March 10, 2006, by Marc Savlov
"...Levine, here filling Martin Speer’s boots as the “normal” family’s crotchety, ex-cop pop, adds another gleaming notch in the stock of his 12-gauge arsenal of memorable character parts, and Quinlan’s mom fairly reeks of apple pie and soccer practice. Unfortunately, Aja underplays the familial bonds between his Sawney Bean-esque cannibal kin, which lessens the emotional impact of the story considerably..."

Beside the Point: Council's Best Friends
Austin is a dog's - not to mention city manager's - town.
News Column  February 24, 2006, by Wells Dunbar
"...While May might already be unduly crowded, with controversy anew over the committee's final recommendations, and new council members taking their seats, a bond election won't add to the logjam. A couple of weeks ago, council decided to delay bonds for a November ballot, but last week the gang went through the motions, with Chief Financial Officer John Stephens delivering a wonk-rich presentation on bond-debt management..."

To Bond, or Not to Bond?
Bonds dominate the immediate City Council horizon
News Story  January 13, 2006, by Wells Dunbar
"..."I'm kinda out of line in this," said David Sullivan, veteran of 1998's bond process, "trying to introduce this in this late stage. But I'm duty-bound to make this recommendation." Sullivan's apologetic suggestion, which came during last week's final meeting of the public outreach subcommittee, was to ask the council to shovel an additional $200 million in general revenue bonds (repaid from city operating funds) on top of the committee's $614.8 million in general obligation bonds (repaid from property taxes) for dealing with SH 130..."

Naked City
Headlines and happenings from Austin and beyond
News Story  November 4, 2005
"...DeLay also hopes to be granted a change of venue from Travis Co. – despite our widespread reputation for being soft on crime.Naked City• Turnout for early voting on the constitutional amendments and county bonds has been predictably light in Travis County, even with the hot-button issue of gay marriage on Proposition 2..."

Transporter 2
For all its gimmicky mayhem, Transporter 2 is an improvement over the original, completely setting aside such yawn-inducing cinematic standbys as a romantic interest and realism.
Film Review  September 9, 2005, by Marc Savlov

Naked City
Headlines and happenings from Austin and beyond
News Story  September 2, 2005
"...• Travis County will be voting on about $151 million in bonds this November, following a decision Tuesday from the county's Commissioners Court. The commissioners added $30 million to the proposed bond package, with funding falling into three categories: Roads and parks take the lion's share, at more than $62 million each, while improvements to the county jail take $23 million..."

Lege Notes
Odds and ends – mostly odds – from beneath the pink granite dome
News Column  July 22, 2005
"...• Flinging it all against the wall to see how much will stick, Gov. Rick Perry also added tuition revenue bonds to the Special's call..."

Eat, Memory
The food staff on their fondness for holidays past: epiphanies, friendship, near-disaster, disaster, and always a full plate
Food Story  December 24, 2004, by Claudia Alarcón
"...We called ourselves "the mañana men," as in "I'll do it mañana." During those early years we dated, became roommates, and traveled with one another. We built strong bonds that we knew would last forever..."

Naked City
Toll road segments poised to drop like flies
News Story  November 12, 2004, by Kimberly Reeves
"...It gives the toll road authority the ability to both draw revenue and build loyalty to particular toll roads. But the backing away from the model in Central Texas raises the question of just how the toll-revenue bonds the CTRMA aims to sell to pay for its road projects will be paid back..."

Friday Night Lights
H.G. Bissinger’s classic book about the secular religion of high school football was lovingly adapted for film prior to becoming a TV show.
Film Review  October 8, 2004, by Marjorie Baumgarten
"...The characters are barely individuated, and it doesn’t help that the players are covered up by uniforms and helmets for much of the time. The film’s biographical taglines at the end, which inform us what each student did after high school, come as something of a surprise since we’re never given enough narrative material to build bonds with the players so that we might care what they have accomplished in their post-Panthers careers..."

School Bond Proposals Roll to Victory
All six bond propositions to build, renovate, and expand AISD schools pass
News Story  September 17, 2004, by Rachel Proctor May
"...In addition, the district has to hammer out with the labor community how much the guys in the hard hats get paid. In August, the Central Labor Council threatened to oppose the bonds if the district didn't update its wage scale, stuck at 1988 levels..."

The Traffic Report
Rail rolls forward, but toll roads encounter slowing
News Story  September 10, 2004, by Mike Clark-Madison
"...30 meeting, the Cap Metro board included in the "notice of election" for the Nov. 2 referendum the caveat that the Red Line "commuter rail urban service" – as opposed to future "regional" rail service, including Austin-to-San Antonio rail on the current Union Pacific (MoPac) tracks, along with future service on the abandoned MoKan right-of-way east of I-35 – would be built "with no new or increased taxes and no issuance of bonds."..."

Austin ISD bond election
News Story  September 10, 2004
"...Some new schools are undeniably needed; others may threaten the Edwards Aquifer recharge or contributing zones. On balance, we're persuaded that AISD must serve the school-age children of all neighborhoods and will do so in Save Our Springs-compliant campuses – but the bonds should not be a blank check for future expansion...."

Naked City
Headlines and happenings from Austin and beyond
News Story  August 27, 2004, by Mike Clark-Madison
"...11 AISD bond ballot. The guide is nonpartisan, with arguments both pro and con on the proposed bonds..."

Our readers talk back.
Columns  July 23, 2004
"...Or perhaps ask why Gov. Perry and the toll-road warriors want to lock us into tens of billions of 30- to 40-year road bonds based on the assumption that people will continue driving more and more just when global oil production is about to peak..."

Toll Road Plan Remains in Fast Lane
But Gerald Daugherty (of all people) wants to slow road-building down
News Story  July 9, 2004, by Kimberly Reeves
"...The CTRMA, the Texas Department of Transportation, and local toll road backers on CAMPO have argued for months that the only way to get needed new highway capacity in the Austin metro area – at least within our lifetimes – is to embrace a toll strategy. Not only does the CTRMA plan depend on the revenues raised by toll-backed bonds, it also presumes state funding that, plan backers say, would only be available if the roads were tolled, and would go to Houston and Dallas if Austin balks on tolls...."

Naked City
Tunnel project may be more expensive, less lucrative than once thought
News Story  June 25, 2004, by Kimberly Reeves
"...Frequent floods along Waller Creek have over the years diminished the development potential of the eastern edge of the central business district, and Austin voters approved $25 million in bonds in May 1998 to build a flood-control bypass tunnel – a project discussed for decades – that would effectively remove from the creek's 100-year flood plain more than 25 acres of highly valuable downtown land. Development on that land, the city suggests, could add $1 billion to the property tax rolls and boost the amenities around the expanded Austin Convention Center and Hilton Hotel..."

Naked City
The CAMPO board sticks up for fiscal equity on the highway front
News Story  June 18, 2004, by Kimberly Reeves
"...Of course, that assumes there will be profits, beyond the debt service on the 40-year toll revenue bonds that help fund the CTRMA plan. For the authority's first project – the US 183-A bypass around Cedar Park, which CAMPO has already approved – the reckoning will come in October, when revenue forecasts are matched with project costs..."

Here Come the Transporters
In the endless Central Texas transportation wars, the lions and the lambs look for ways to make peace
News Story  June 4, 2004, by Mike Clark-Madison
"...Questions about the RMA's powers, its governing structure, and its accountability to the citizenry will all have to be grappled with via the Legislature. Questions about the soundness of toll revenue bonds, and about deficit financing of highways in general, likewise need to be asked at the Capitol and across the street at TxDOT, as well as on Wall Street..."

Our readers talk back.
Columns  May 7, 2004
"...Questions About Bonds..."

Naked City
Breaking news from Austin, the region, and elsewhere
News Story  November 21, 2003, by Mike Clark-Madison
"...because the company provides major financial backing for the nation's private prison industry. Lehman Brothers, a global investment banking firm, has underwritten $600 million in bonds for the UT System since 1988 and has also helped secure finances for several of the nation's largest private-prison vendors -- including organizing the 2002 bailout of Corrections Corporation of America, in part by providing the recently bankrupt company with a $715 million loan, according to NWOM..."

Open Range
Kevin Costner’s Open Range is the best new Western to come out of Hollywood in a long time. But given the small number of Westerns churned out these days, that...
Film Review  August 15, 2003, by Marjorie Baumgarten
"...Costner and Duvall play the freegrazers Charley and Boss, who’ve traversed the countryside together with their cattle for the last 10 years. They are classic Western cowboy types with unspoken bonds and vaguely mysterious pasts..."

Naked City
Bikes vs. Cars at CAMPO
News Story  May 23, 2003, by Lauri Apple
"...Even if the CAMPO board sympathizes with cyclists and votes to keep the funding system intact, says city bicycle/pedestrian program coordinator Linda DuPriest, the fact that staff recommended opening up bike/ped funds to road projects is "really, really demoralizing. [CAMPO] is supposed to be multimodal." Although Austin voters approved bonds in 1998 and 2000 to set aside local money for bike/ped projects, the city wouldn't be able to leverage those bonds with federal funds if the STP 4C money is diverted to intersections and traffic lights...."

The Chronicle endorsements
News Story  May 2, 2003
"...ACC Prop. 2Issue $99 million of general obligation bonds of the ACC district for construction, renovation, and equipment of college buildings districtwide (including Phase 2 of the Health Sciences Bldg..."

May 3 Election Ballot
News Story  April 18, 2003
"...1Increasing the Austin Community College maintenance tax rate by an additional $0.02 above the existing $0.05 rate in 2004 and by an additional $0.01 in 2005 and an additional $0.01 in 2006.ACC Prop. 2Issue $99 million of general obligation bonds of the ACC district for construction, renovation, and equipment of college buildings districtwide (including Phase 2 of the Health Sciences Bldg..."

Everybody Loves a Wynn-er
Will Wynn is his own flavor of ice cream -- pure vanilla, but mixed with nuts
News Story  February 14, 2003, by Mike Clark-Madison
"...That is, both the businessmen and the enviros could agree that developing Downtown -- "which has been 100% impervious cover for more than 100 years" -- was in their respective interests. Watson, of course, threw his considerable energies behind this platform, and Austin's New Deal was ratified in May 1998, when voters approved bonds to both expand the Convention Center and acquire conservation lands over the Edwards Aquifer..."

News Top 10s
News Story  January 3, 2003
"...He and wife Wendy were central figures in the energy deregulatory shenanigans that made possible the looting and collapse of Enron, and Phil just couldn't leave the Senate without poisoning the air in one more Texas campaign. He called the historic Democratic primary debate between Tony Sanchez and Dan Morales in Spanish an attempt to "sever the bonds that bind [Texans and Americans] together." Yo, Phil, take your bonds, your stocks, and your campaign-cash paybacks for service duly rendered -- and go home...."

Maid in Manhattan
Ever since the out-of-left-field hit of My Big Fat Greek Wedding this year, everyone has been wondering where the next mega-successful romantic comedy was going to come from. The field...
Film Review  December 13, 2002, by Marjorie Baumgarten
"...Neither woman feels as though she'll turn into a charwoman at the stroke of midnight, but when the time comes each eagerly grasps her shot at the brass ring. Marisa's bonds with her fellow maids and her disapproving and old-fashioned Latina mom seem to have more to do with the potential for sequels rather than anything happening in the immediate tense..."

The Chronicle Endorsements, Nov. 2002
The Chronicle endorses for the 2002 November general election
News Story  November 1, 2002
"...20 in Western Travis Co. will determine the issuance of $6 million in bonds for water system improvements and the levy of taxes to pay off the bonds..."

The Chronicle Endorsements, Nov. 2002
The Chronicle endorses for the 2002 November general election
News Story  October 25, 2002
"...20 in Western Travis Co. will determine the issuance of $6 million in bonds for water system improvements and the levy of taxes to pay off the bonds..."

Disputing the "Deputy' in Deputy Ruiz
Can a deputy still be a deputy without swearing to oaths required by law? One lawyer doesn't think so.
News Story  September 13, 2002, by Jordan Smith
"...The clearest case of legal action involving the oath is Prieto Bail Bonds v. State, decided in May 1999 by the 8th Court of Appeals in El Paso..."

Road Rage
The Barton Springs Road project has encountered more than few speed bumps
News Story  August 30, 2002, by Amy Smith
"...The Barton Springs Road "improvements" -- from Lamar to Robert E. Lee at Barton Creek -- have been a foregone conclusion since 1984, when voters approved $1.6 million in bonds to finance the job..."

Our readers talk back.
Columns  March 8, 2002
"...One doesn't have to be a political analyst to know about the contributions that Jeff Heckler has made to this community, his work against the Longhorn Pipeline is only one example. I was disappointed when you decided to stray from your time-honored, pro-environment tradition and give your support to the incumbent, thereby de facto endorsing her enthusiasm for highway bonds and other corporate interests..."

Our readers talk back.
Columns  March 1, 2002
"...A look at Chronicle endorsements in previous county bond issues would actually suggest a strong philosophical divide between the Chronicle and Sonleitner. In 1997 the Chronicle opposed county bonds that Sonleitner supported for SH 45 South over the aquifer, saying "No roads over the aquifer ....."

Our readers talk back.
Columns  February 8, 2002
"...It seems as if Richard Aleksander and Roxanne Wheless have realized the potential for the influx of possibly hundreds of millions of dollars into the Austin area economy through the production of films locally. It seems equally as obvious that they have the vision that Gary Bonds lacks in realizing that the responsibility of the Austin Film Commission is to recognize the crucial relationship between the film industry, the local government, and the private businesses..."

Naked City
News Story  February 8, 2002, by Lauri Apple
"...On Saturday, voters approved $49 million in mold-busting bonds for the Austin Independent School District. The money will also help AISD fix leaks, improve ventilation systems, and install ADA-compliant fire alarm systems and ramps..."

Our readers talk back.
Columns  February 1, 2002
"...It seems as if Richard Aleksander and Roxanne Wheless have realized the potential for the influx of possibly hundreds of millions of dollars into the Austin area economy through the production of films locally. It seems equally as obvious that they have the vision that Gary Bonds lacks in realizing that the responsibility of the Austin Film Commission is to recognize the crucial relationship between the film industry, the local government, and the private businesses..."

Feb. 2 Election Endorsements
News Story  February 1, 2002
"...Yes on the AISD "health & safety" bonds..."

Snow Dogs
The marketing weasels over at Disney deserve to have their beady little eyes gouged out with flaming icicles for the fast one they've pulled on audiences with Snow Dogs. It's...

Film Review  January 18, 2002, by Marc Savlov
"...There he meets up with the father he never knew (Coburn, part crusty, part salty, all fun), acquaints himself with various and sundry oddball townsfolk (not too odd, though -- this isn't Northern Exposure by a long shot), and learns about life, love, and a dog named Demon. In between he topples over a cliff, almost freezes to death, and is nearly devoured by the ravenous husky team (with their big, big eyes) with whom he eventually, predictably bonds..."

Naked City
Upcoming Events
News Story  November 2, 2001
"...Austin Mayor, Travis Co. Bonds, Texas Constitutional Amendments..."

Round Up the Usual Suspects
Cap Metro tries to re-make its image, Beverly Griffith considers her options, and the budget strains
News Story  August 24, 2001, by Mike Clark-Madison
"...Our quality of life -- for a long time to come -- depends on our choice of leadership," she writes in her second statement since Watson's bailout, a document that could pass as a platform if she were actually running, and which (with a few modifications) could also be Garcia's platform. They're familiar issues if you've been watching Griffith: fiscal responsibility with Austin Energy, closely monitoring the buildout of our transportation bonds, a question-settling scientific study of what we really need to do to protect Barton Springs, buying more parkland and conservation easements, floating affordable housing bonds on the ever-more-crowded and crucial November 2002 ballot..."

No Water, Plenty of Sewage
News Story  August 17, 2001, by Jordan Smith
"...1992: The city's Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Georgetown Industrial Foundation consider a water park for economic development and tourism, to be underwritten with "4B corporation bonds." It is one of more than a dozen incentive deals in the works for existing or prospective businesses, and development issues become central to subsequent City Council campaigns...."

On the Edge
It's possible that all you ever need to know about On the Edge is that at one point its working title was The Smiling Suicide Club. That, and also that...
Film Review  August 10, 2001, by Marjorie Baumgarten
"...Figure (Rea, with his signature knack for doleful passivity in full flower here). Eventually, Jonathan bonds with two others in Dr..."

Lean and ... Leaner
A preview of the city's proposed (and shrinking) budget
News Story  August 3, 2001, by Mike Clark-Madison
"...Throughout the Boom, Garza and Mayor Kirk Watson have tried to spend as much money as possible on capital projects, via three bond elections and with millions in cash each year held back from the operating budget. This year is no different, with not only bonds and cash but also the city's rebated Capital Metro sales taxes going into land, buildings, and other assets..."

Planet of the Apes
As a tremendous fan of the 1968 original, as well as director Tim Burton and Austin-based co-screenwriter William Broyles, my hopes were high going into this update of Franklin J....
Film Review  July 27, 2001, by Marc Savlov
"...The script likens the apes' society to that of ancient Rome, with the scheming, warlike General Thade (an all but unrecognizable Tim Roth) as its militaristic fist and David Warner's Senator Sandar as one of its heads of state. There's also Sandor's daughter Ari (Bonham Carter), a chimpanzee activist for human rights who quickly bonds with the captured Leo, and the conniving orangutan slave trader Limbo..."

Naked City
Rick Green and Ken Armbrister push a flurry of bills creating special water and development districts -- including the reviled, though much-revised, "Bradley bill" -- through their respective chambers at the Legislature.
News Story  May 4, 2001, by Erica C. Barnett
"...(And nary a hair blown out of place!) The bills, squeezed onto the House Local and Consent Calendar over rising objections from the Save Our Springs Alliance, Hays County Water Planning Partnership, and the Save Barton Creek Association, would create several quasi-governmental districts that would be exempt from some of the development controls that apply in surrounding Dripping Springs. (One, to be developed by Cypress Realty, would become a 2,700-acre "Water Control and Improvement District" that would include some 2,700 houses -- an average of one home per acre, or triple the maximum density allowed over the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone under current law.) The districts would also have the power to issue bonds, impose taxes, and condemn land for development..."

Naked City
Council Watch
News Story  April 27, 2001, by Emily Pyle
"...Pawn shops will be out-and-out barred from the area. Liquor stores, "cocktail lounges," and bail bonds services will be permitted as conditional uses -- that is, a proposed liquor store would need the approval of the Planning Commission and, if appealed by neighborhood residents, the City Council itself...."

Naked City
Bills that would create a special taxing and development district for Gary Bradley's Spillar Tract land move forward at the Lege, despite Bradley's apparent violation of his agreement with the city.
News Story  April 20, 2001, by Erica C. Barnett
"...On Tuesday, he got a little help from Victoria Democrat (and frequent Austin-basher) Ken Armbrister, who filed legislation in the Senate that would create a similar district with slightly reduced powers (eminent domain, for one, is out), to be known as the "Hays County Education District." All of the new district's tax revenues would go into the coffers of the Hays County Consolidated Independent School District Educational Foundation to promote "employment, commerce, and economic development through the provision of educational facilities, programs, and services in Hays County" -- possibly, some speculate, by locating a school or school district facilities on Bradley's development. That wouldn't happen, however, until all of the district's bonds and other obligations are paid off, a big sticking point in the earlier version of the legislation...."

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