Naked City

Off the Desk

Who's running and who's not appears to be the question of the week as prospective candidates for City Council are still "talking to people" to gauge whether they'd have a snowball's chance at the polls. One candidate you can count on is incumbent Willie Lewis, who is expected to announce his re-election bid for Place 6 next Tuesday, followed that evening by a fundraiser at Fado. But wait, he may have some lively competition in Danny Thomas, an Austin police officer, ordained minister, and longtime East Austin resident. Should Thomas file for this seat, it seems Lewis might risk losing the coveted endorsement of the police PAC, but we'll see what happens.

Next up is Place 5, where we thought by now Bill Spelman would have announced he's running again, but since the filing deadline isn't until March 22 he may be trying to put more distance between himself and his "yes" vote on the Town Lake Gotham project, a move that drew the ire of some South Austinites. In any case, he'll face bicycle advocate Amy Babich, who has announced with the avowed purpose of turning Austin into a full-fledged bicycle town.

An interesting dynamic is shaping up in Place 2, where Gus Garcia is stepping down. Activist Raul Alvarez will try for the seat, and is expected to attract a cross-section of support in both the environmental and Hispanic activist communities. Attorney Rafael Quintanilla said this week that he'll also run for Garcia's seat, and businessman Manuel Zuniga told the Chronicle he's definitely not running but will instead help Quintanilla "because I feel strongly that he is a candidate of the Hispanic community and [Alvarez] is a candidate of the SOS community." But that ain't necessarily so. Alvarez has strong Eastside support from his work with PODER, whose members, many of them at least, backed Zuniga two years ago in his runoff with Spelman, whose victory effectively eliminated Place 5 as the designated "Hispanic seat." But all that is another story ...

Momentum is picking up in the Dist. 48 race for the Texas House of Representatives, where Ann Kitchen secured the labor endorsement last weekend. And her opponent for the Democratic nomination, Mandy Dealey, has hired Peck Young as her political consultant. Meanwhile, Kitchen's maroon and white campaign signs and Dealey's red, white, and blue signs are cropping up all over Southwest Austin. On the Republican side, the word among the button-down crowd is that attorney Jill Warren is the one to beat in the field of seven jockeying for the nomination in the March GOP primary...

Politics of a different color -- blue -- are playing out at the Austin Police Department, where Chief Stan Knee, after two years on the job, has finally gotten the opportunity to handpick and expand his team of assistant chiefs. That's all well and good, says union boss Mike Sheffield, but did the chief ever hear of a little thing called civil service? "This is taking a shot at the basic tenets of civil service, all in the name of saving money which, in the scope of a $1.4 billion budget, seems to be a small amount." Civil service, Sheffield went on to say, was created to "prevent the type of systemic corruption that you find when you have a police department where promotion can be based on good-old-boy favoritism"...

Jesus is coming ... you can look for him in your mailbox this spring. It's all part of the "JESUS Video Project of Texas," an outgrowth of Campus Crusade for Christ that vows to send the Jesus video to every Texas residence (that would be 8.3 million copies) during the week of April 17.

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    The latest public hearing on the proposed Longhorn pipeline through south Austin brings out 2,000 protesters and a few supporters to speak the gas pipeline, whose environmental impact is being debated.

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    Political consultant Ted Delisi, whose work for Gov. George W. Bush and other clients has drawn criticism in recent months, leaves his full-time position as Attorney General John Cornyn's press aide.

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    The annual Austin Environmental Directory includes, for the first time, a report card rating Austin's environmental record. The outlook looks dismal on the surface, but the verdict isn't all doom and gloom.
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    Charting Travis Co. Land Use (in square miles)

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    Bartenders who worked at private tents during A2K say they were bilked out of thousands of dollars by the tents' promoter, who is nowhere to be found.

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    MLK Community Celebration

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willie lewis, danny thomas, bill spelman, gus garcia, manuel zuniga, rafael quintanilla, raul alvarez, mandy dealey, ann kitchen, jill warren

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