Naked City

Off the Desk

What's all this about petition drive to recall Mayor Kirk Watson and his council? For now, it's just talk. The idea took hold shortly after council members voted, with no public discussion, to give themselves a raise, although the mayor declined to accept his take in the deal. Travis County GOP Chair Alan Sager says he's weighing the feasibility of putting the recall question on the November ballot. "I think we can get the signatures needed over the summer if we decide to go ahead with such a project," Sager said. But then, the county chair may want to choose his battles carefully this election year, since he's also trying to get 15 -- that's 15 -- local GOP candidates elected...

There's a GOP battle of another sort brewing, this time it's coming from the Log Cabin Republican corner, where the group's members are incensed that the GOP inclusiveness line doesn't include -- surprise! -- them. The Log Cabin's state chapter will hold a press conference at 1pm today in the Speaker's Committee Room at the Capitol to take the Republican Party to task for excluding gays (closeted folks notwithstanding) from the upcoming state convention. "This only means one thing -- if you are a Republican who happens to be gay, you are not welcome," said LCR's state president Steve Labinski. "It appeared silly when Chairman Susan Weddington took this [convention issue] to the press only days before Gov. Bush met with gay Republicans in Austin," Labinski said...

City Council aides are coming and going at such a dizzying pace it's hard to keep up. The newest addition to the aide family is Jerry Rusthoven, who started work last week in Mayor Pro Tem Jackie Goodman's office, replacing Richard Arellano. Rusthoven is well-versed in the inner workings of city government, having spent more than six years at the Development, Review and Inspection Department. In other hires, newly elected council member Danny Thomas has picked his campaign manager, Linda Dailey, as his aide. Incoming council member Will Wynn says he's still interviewing candidates and expects to make a decision within the next week. Wynn wasted no time, however, hiring Frank Kopic, the masterful executive secretary, who served under former Council Member Brigid Shea and outgoing Council Member Bill Spelman. Meanwhile, aide Kristen Vassallo has moved up the food chain -- from Spelman's office to the mayor's office, where she is chief of staff...

"Homes Not Horses!" is the banner cry of the Montopolis community these days. Neighbors, represented by PODER at a Wednesday morning press conference, are opposed to the Austin Jockey Club setting up a horse race track on 100 acres of land near U.S. 183 and SH 71. The proposal would require City Council approval to rezone the property. "This is one of a few areas of East Austin where there is an abundance of land available for affordable homes," said PODER member Roland Ortiz. "We don't want gambling, liquor by the drink, and the stench of horses in our neighborhood." ...

Out Smithville way, developers are cashing in on the historic town's pastoral features, popularized on the silver screen in "Hope Floats." Residents have unsuccessfully fought rezoning a chunk of land on Main Street that overlooks the Colorado River. The Smithville City Council rezoned the property from single-family to allow for the construction of three townhomes. Said one resident: "This is small-town politics and it stinks of money. I called for an environmental impact study and suggested the land be turned into a park for children. "Boy," the resident added, "am I naive"...

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Kirk Watson, Alan Sager, Jerry Rusthoven, Jackie Goodman, Richard Arellano, Linda Dailey, Danny Thomas, Will Wynn, Frank Kopic, Brigid Shea, Bill Spelman, PODER, Austin Jockey Club, Roland Ortiz, Smithville City Council

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