Naked City

Off the Desk

School doesn't start until Monday, but AISD has already gotten its first "needs-to-improve" rating of the semester. Elizabeth Christian, who chairs the Greater Austin Chamber's education committee, delivered the grade at a Wednesday morning press conference to release the findings of a "satisfaction survey" of 1,176 parents. Miraculously, 57% of those polled gave the hobbled district a score of eight or better on a scale of 10, while just over 10% indicated a high rate of dissatisfaction. The overall average was 7.3. But Christian also sounded a note of urgency, noting that 42.3% of the parents said they would put their child in a private school if they could. On the latter point, Christian warned that AISD must work harder to avoid losing children to schools outside of the district. Results of the poll, conducted by the University of Texas Office of Survey Research, can be found on the Chamber's Web site, www.austinchamber.org...

In other back-to-school news, UT President Larry Faulkner is threatening disciplinary action against staff members who participate in a Sept. 6-8 sick-out to protest low wages and higher insurance premiums. University Staff Association President Peg Kramer says Faulkner's threats only serve to "enrage, unify, and embolden" the staff; she estimates at least 6,000 of the UT workforce will join in the sick-out...

Steve Labinski, president of the Log Cabin Republicans of Texas, was jubilant the other day as he recounted the behind-the-scenes strides the gay GOP contingent made at the national convention. Never mind the Texas delegates' head-bowing stunt during a speech by Jim Kolbe, the openly gay Arizona congressman, who spoke on free trade. "They turned what would have been a mundane speech into a media event," Labinski said of the protesters. "The social conservatives wanted Gary Bauer and Alan Keyes to speak [and they didn't], but Jim Kolbe got to speak and he had three minutes of prime time!" The LCR prez is equally heartened by the fact that Dick Cheney is both a VP nominee and the father of an out lesbian. "We kind of have the best of both worlds now," Labinski said, predicting that Mary Cheney's sexual orientation won't be an issue during the campaign. Apart from the far right's agenda, he added, "moderate Republicans are being much more inclusive this election year"...

Turns out Mary Cheney has made several trips to Austin and has even joined in the annual "Splash" ritual at Hippie Hollow -- all in the name of corporate ambassadorship for Coors Brewing Co., an outfit once known for being decidedly anti-gay until Cheney changed all that. "She did an awesome job for Coors," said Dianne Hardy-Garcia, executive director of the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas. "She's really sharp." Hardy-Garcia credits Cheney for rebuilding Coors' relationship with LGRL and other minority organizations, which had previously led a successful boycott against the brewing company. Cheney resigned from Coors in May and reportedly plans to use her stellar stumping skills to help her dad on the campaign trail...

The Green Party made the grade in Texas, landing a spot on the Nov. 7 statewide ballot, where presidential candidate Ralph Nader will top the ticket. State Party officials collected a whopping 75,911 signatures from voters who didn't participate in either the Democratic or Republican primaries...

And for all you Libertarians out there, your Party's presidential candidate, Harry Browne, will make a campaign stop here for a free meet-and-greet event, 7-9:30pm Thursday, Aug. 17. The venue couldn't be confirmed at press time, so turn to www.austinliberty.org for more details.

  • More of the Story

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    Six months after its well ran dry, Northridge Acres gets a begrudging promise of water from the Austin City Council.

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    TDHCA announces its latest tax credit allocations for low-income housing under unusual scrutiny, but critics of the agency find few improvements or surprises.
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    Beverly Griffith and Raul Alvarez rain on the mayor’s bond parade by adding a few proposals of their own; Cedar Avenue settlement goes back into mediation.

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    In a surprisingly uncontentious meeting, the CAMPO board discusses several less prominent, but still important, road and rail-related items.

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    He may be running for president, but some state employees still call him George Jr.

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