Naked City


At the June meeting of the National Sheriffs' Association, Travis County Sheriff Margo Frasier was elected to join the association's board of directors. The first woman ever elected to that body, Frasier will serve a two-year term and work on the legal affairs, domestic violence, traffic, and congressional affairs committees. -- J.S.

More than 1,000 activists from nonprofits across the state gathered at the LBJ School June 29 for the statewide meeting of the Texas Industrial Areas Foundation, a community organizing network. Attendees split into small groups to generate a list of demands they plan to present to state political candidates in September. One group of parents and teachers huddled to discuss the education budget crisis, describing its deleterious effects on class sizes, recruiting qualified teachers, and providing bilingual education. Other groups discussed health care, immigration, job training, living wages, and water security. On September 8, the IAF plans to fill the Erwin Center with 10,000 members who will present their demands to the candidates. "Our democracy is being held hostage to big money and partisan bickering," said Ofelia Zapata, co-chair of local IAF affiliate Austin Interfaith. "If we value our democracy, we must rejuvenate our public life through real conversations in our communities. Citizenship is more than voting or opinion polls -- it is real engagement in the life of the community." -- Michael May

Her aim was true: The World Meteorological Association, which decides which grade-school kids will be embarrassed every hurricane season, has retired "Allison" after last year's tropical storm killed 22 and cost $5 billion in Houston. Allison had been chosen to replace "Alicia," which also killed 22 and cost $5 billion (in today's dollars) in Houston in 1983. (Other Texan retirees include Allen, Beulah, and Carla.) Storms named "Allison" hit the Bayou City three times; the names rotate every six years. As we write, the first tropical depression of 2002 -- which, if it grows, will become Tropical Storm Arthur -- was heading toward Brownsville. -- Mike Clark-Madison

Across the border, Ciudad Juarez still has no mayor, after a Chihuahua state court annulled the second election in less than a year. Both have been won by the conservative P.A.N. -- or National Action Party, the party of Mexican President Vicente Fox -- which has ruled Juarez since 1993. The P.A.N. does not rule Chihuahua state, leading to charges of hanky-panky on both sides. Rampant crime in El Paso's twin city has spawned an anyone-but-P.A.N. coalition intent on taking back Juarez. -- M.C.M.

No tube-trash news this week, for obvious reasons: Officials in New Braunfels expect the Guadalupe River and Canyon Lake to remain closed for months after last week's devastating flood. However, Schlitterbahn has reopened after having sustained "no significant damage." You'll have to go the long way, though, while the Guadalupe bridges are checked for structural problems. -- M.C.M.

As Austin enters its fifth summer without Aquafest, the days of the big civic party in Texas appear numbered. The 46-year-old Pioneer Days celebration at the Fort Worth Stockyards has been canceled due to rising costs. Organizers say such community throwdowns "are a thing of the past." -- M.C.M.

Rosenberg waste-handler Teri Mathis owes the state $10,000 in environmental fines, but that didn't stop Gov. Rick Perry from reappointing her -- as a "rural water quality specialist" -- to a state panel on wastewater disposal. Mathis resigned last week when the press put two and two together. Perry's office said he didn't know about Mathis' troubles. -- M.C.M.

Don't buy that ceramic dachshund yet; the state's annual sales tax holiday weekend is coming up Aug. 2-4. Then again, if you want to help ease the city of Austin's financial burdens, buy it now instead. --M.C.M.

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