Naked City

Off the Desk

The South Austin Democrats know a thing or two about drawing a crowd to their annual "Yeller Dawg" award shindig: You offer up a mess of barbecue, beer, co'cola, first of all, and pick an award recipient who's popular with the regular folk. In the latter case, that would be Mayor Kirk Watson, who has ticked off nearly everyone in town at one time or another but still manages to enjoy favorable ratings. In presenting the award at Zilker Clubhouse Tuesday night, SAD President Walter Timberlake -- a union man and yeller feller in his own right -- noted ironically how Watson was being honored in one corner of South Austin while his name was likely being dragged through the mud in another corner. "The Bouldin Creek Neighborhood Association is meeting tonight," Timberlake jested, "and they're roastin' him over there!" Watson, former chair of the Travis County Democratic Party, was so gracious in his acceptance of the handsome Yeller Dawg plaque that he stuck around and jawed with people until the end of the evening. SAD also owed its good turnout to the rapidly approaching January 2000 filing deadline for candidates -- a circumstance that created some good glad-handing opportunities for about half a dozen or so judicial and City Council hopefuls, some of whom sought a few private moments in the corner with political guru David Butts ...

Many of you may remember Geoff Rips from his days as a nonpaid school board trustee, or as a meagerly paid editor and later publisher of The Texas Observer. Starting this week, however, Rips began drawing a respectable salary as a coordinator of the Austin school district's foundation and development projects. Which is a fancy way of saying Rips will be charged with finding creative ways to bring new money into the district, through grants, etc., for the good of the kids. He's not sure what his "special projects" will be yet, but his personal pet interests include having programs in place to increase "parent engagement" with schools, which in turn enhances student achievement, studies show. Rips fills a position newly created by Superintendent Pat Forgione. Rips also gamely acknowledges he is bullish on the new superintendent, who he believes can pull AISD out of its long-running public relations nightmare. "I really believe this school district has the potential to be a model for a diverse urban district," Rips says ...

If you happen to be in the neighborhood around 7pm tonight, Thursday, Oct. 14, drop by the Baker School, 3908 Ave. B, for an Alliance to Save Hyde Park informational meeting and membership drive to rev up opposition to Hyde Park Baptist Church's expansion plans. By the Alliance's tally, the church has demolished 37 single-family homes since the Sixties, and already occupies over 287,000 square feet in Hyde Park. Enough is enough, says ASHP ...

Austin City Council regulars, take note: Starting early next year, the weekly meeting place will change from the City Hall annex on West Second to not one, but two temporary sites, miles apart from each other. The city's Kay Guedea, who was charged with nailing down a substitute home for council meetings, has found a board room at the LCRA offices on Lake Austin Blvd., and another space way out at the new airport. She says the council will alternate the meeting sites on a weekly basis while waiting out the construction of a new City Hall, which could take a couple of years.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

South Austin Democrats, Kirk Watson, Walter Timberlake, Travis County Democratic Party, David Butts, Geoff Rips, AISD, Pat Forgione, city council, city hall annex, Alliance to Save Hyde Park, Hyde Park Baptist Church

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