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August 23, 2002, News

A packed budget hearing Aug. 20 at Austin Independent School District's Sixth Street headquarters ended with a unanimous vote by the district's trustees to approve a 3% pay raise for teachers and school staff. AISD Superintendent Pat Forgione had proposed a 2% pay raise, which riled Education Austin, the union that represents the majority of AISD teachers. EA was hoping for a 4% raise. -- Jordan Smith

Supporters of BookPeople and Waterloo Records, worried about the inclusion of a Borders in the proposed Sixth+Lamar retail/office development, have created a Web site,, to rally opposition to what they call "potential misuse of public funds." In an earlier incarnation that included a movie theatre, the Sixth+Lamar project received $2.2 million in Smart Growth incentives and fee waivers, which City Council will have to approve again. Among other things, the site catalogs articles written about the proposed development, asks viewers to contact the City Council, and calls for a boycott of national book chains. -- L.A.

Though the City Council approved the Villas on Guadalupe upscale student housing complex a few months ago, rumors have continued to circulate about the controversial project, located between the Drag and Hemphill Park. The Watershed Protection and Development Review Dept. approved the project's site plan Aug. 20; contrary to rumors, staff say, the site plan complies with the zoning ordinance passed by the council for the project, permitting 123 units instead of the original 150 sought by the developers. Staff has not yet approved the building permits, which must be consistent with the site plan. -- L.A.

On this week's installment of The Daryl Slusher Show, Mayor Gus Garcia donated $250 to Slusher's "Buy Stratus Land" fund, and said his family would donate more in the future. Garcia voted with the council's 6-1 majority (Raul Alvarez dissented) that approved the Stratus settlement, which permits development and awards the developer at least $15 million in incentives. Checks should be made to the Save Barton Creek Association and mailed to PO Box 5923, Austin, 78763. Be sure to write "Buy Stratus Land" on the check, lest your contribution slip into the wrong coffer. -- L.A.

Bob Honts, who once told The Daily Texan that homeless people caused Sixth Street's crime rate to escalate (somehow neglecting to mention those ubiquitous drunks from the suburbs), has posted signs near traffic-heavy Austin roadways boasting that if only he were Travis Co. Judge, you'd be downtown or home "by now." Does that mean Honts will work to bring light rail to Austin -- or maybe a heliport system? Don't bet on it: The former County Commissioner didn't become known as the "the Road Warrior" for nothing. The GOP pavement pusher is challenging presiding County Judge Sam Biscoe in November. -- L.A.

And you thought Austin had real problems: This week the City Council will consider on third reading an ordinance banning parking on lawns. Sponsored by Danny Thomas, Betty Dunkerley, and Mayor Gus Garcia, the ordinance enjoys the support of 63 neighborhood associations, according to a draft available at Enforcement will be complaint-based: After receiving a call from a neighbor, the errant property owner will receive two verbal warnings, then a citation. The standard fine is $40, $20 if paid early. The main rationale behind the ordinance: protecting property values, which might not matter very much to those who rent or are too poor to own any property... -- L.A.

While passenger traffic at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport continues to drop, July data shows that Vanguard Airlines' passengers increased by 37% last month. Unfortunately, however, the airline declared bankruptcy at the end of the month. Midwest Express Airlines announced plans this week to take Vanguard's place at Bergstrom. -- L.A.

The new president of the Million Mom March's Central Texas Chapter is not a mom but a man -- Mike McAnally, who replaces chapter founder Anna Astalas. The MMM educates the community about public health and safety issues regarding guns and gun laws. Coming soon: a woman-only Million Man March. -- L.A.

Gov. Rick Perry has asked TxDOT to delay adopting new rules restricting the number of driveways (and the space between them) on highway frontage roads and other state-maintained roadways. This is Round Two of a TxDOT effort that began when the agency proposed eliminating frontage roads altogether, saying the heavy commercial traffic on them contributed to road congestion. (Duh.) The new TxDOT rules could limit new driveways on state roads (which in Austin include streets like Lamar, Airport, Koenig, and MLK as well as the highways and frontage roads) to one every half-mile; developers, naturally, don't like this. -- Mike Clark-Madison

The city's Urban Transportation Commission passed a resolution this week supporting a striping and traffic-calming plan for Shoal Creek Boulevard developed by neighbors, consultant Charles Gandy, and emergency services representatives, among others. The resolution says the boulevard should be improved in sections with curves, hills, and other potentially dangerous sections; possible improvements "may require parking restrictions." Neighbors say the plan still needs much preparation before it's presented to City Council. -- L.A.

Rockin' in Round Rock: Dell Computer Corp. announced its first-quarter profits were up 11% over last year, although that's mostly because last year the tech titan took a big write-off after closing factories and laying off thousands of people. Michael Dell predicts that the computer market will rebound before the end of 2002. -- M.C.M.

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