Naked City

Off the Desk

When the city tooted its horn last year for working out a no-subsidy deal on a new Convention Center hotel, there were skeptics all around who swore that dirt would never turn on the project without the city footing part of the bill. Turns out those skeptics were right. The City Council is scheduled to vote today, Thu., June 29, on whether to siphon $15 million out of the Convention Center reserve fund to help Landmark/Hilton get the $225 million hotel off the ground. One group unhappy with the subsidy plan is the Austin Hotel & Motel Association, which represents the booming industry that's helping to feed the Convention Center's reserve kitty in the first place. In a memo sent to council members last Friday, the trade group's board of directors diplomatically stated that while it supports the construction of the hotel, "AHMA would prefer that an alternate funding source be found." Amy Miller, the group's executive director, had no comment beyond the written statement...

Just when we thought the battle over airport locations was long over, another airport controversy is poised to take flight. This time, battlelines are being drawn in the city of Pflugerville, where officials are weighing whether to build an airport to compensate for the closure of Robert Mueller Municipal Airport and the Austin Executive Airpark. Landowners who could be affected by the plan -- primarily those residing in rural areas just east of Pflugerville and the proposed SH 130 -- filled a church hall one evening last week to voice opposition to the proposal. Some of the folks who turned out are veterans of the Manor airport battle that was fought some years back. Their refrain goes something like this: "We shouldn't have to fight two airports in one lifetime." But Pflugerville Mayor Doyle Bridgefarmer views the airport as an opportunity of a lifetime. "There is a niche here that we could fill," he said. Watch for fireworks of a different sort when the city's Aviation Steering Committee holds a public hearing at 7pm, Wednesday, July 12 at the Pflugerville High School...

Austin-based confirmed this week what had already made the rounds in local tech circles:that Jerry Weissberg, the company's chief executive officer, resigned earlier this month "to pursue other interests." The unofficial word is that Weissberg's resignation caught many inside the company off guard, as he had only recently helped ibooks secure $30 million in its second round of venture financing. Whatever the reason, Weissberg still intends to serve the board in an advisory capacity, said ibooks spokeswoman Barbara Reichert, of California-based McLean Public Relations. She said Guy Hoffman, an ibooks board member and partner in TL Ventures (and an ibooks investor) is serving as interim CEO...

While a CEO jumping ship after less than a year on the job does tend to initiate tongue-wagging at cocktail parties, job-hopping is pretty much a fact of life in the new economy. Recent findings of an "Austin 2000" survey of 1,100 employees revealed some interesting facts about the local workforce: Forty-eight percent of local high-tech workers have been with the same company just two years or less, while 16% said they were either actively looking for new work or waiting for opportunity to knock...

On the abandoned vehicle front, there's a mild debate brewing at City Hall over whether civilians or police officers should be handling the junk-car beat. The line from the Austin Police Association is that the job should remain under APD's purview, due to the potentially volatile nature of trying to convince a car owner that the Chevy he's had up on blocks for a couple of years is a blight to the neighborhood. City Council will vote today to accept (or decline) a federal community policing grant to create eight new civilian jobs for the abandoned car beat.

  • More of the Story

  • Naked City

    In a marathon Planning Commission meeting, three neighborhood plans get approved while one, the controversial East Cesar Chavez plan, gets postponed after a lengthy and heated discussion.

    Naked City

    TDHCA board chair Michael E. Jones says he's found a way to keep indicted board member Florita Bell Griffin from participating in official business; the fate of millions of dollars in federal tax-credit housing subsidies depends on whether Griffin agrees to recuse herself.
  • Naked City

    The Texas Funeral Services Commisison apparently has dismissed a fine against the funeral home that botched the embalming of slain TV anchorman Tres Hood.

    Naked City

    In the ongoing trial in Waco, the Branch Davidians’ attorney is arguing that the FBI was too quick to resort to massive weaponry during its siege on the Davidians’ compound, endangering the lives of women and children inside.

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