Naked City

Austin Stories

The University of Texas won approval from the State Board of Education last week to open an elementary charter school in East Austin. The new campus will be the first school formed under 2001 legislation which allows public colleges and universities to receive charters. The school is scheduled to open in August on East Sixth, serving pre-K through first grade and adding a grade (up to fifth) each subsequent school year. While Austin ISD leaders and some Eastside residents worry that UT's charter will compete with the area's existing (and often successful) public schools, other neighborhood leaders are strongly supportive of the plan. The UT System Board of Regents has budgeted $750,000 to get the school up and running. -- M.C.M.

Testimony concluded Nov. 20 in the protracted arbitration hearing of former Austin police officer Tim Enlow. Enlow finished up six days of testimony resolutely denying the city's assertions that he lied on police reports and to Internal Affairs detectives and insisting he was not engaged in racial profiling -- or impartial attitude, or whatever the city is calling it this week -- when he pulled over two teens last year. The hearing began in September but was cut short when lawyers for the Statesman sued to allow cameras in the hearing room. The cameras were rolling this week as witnesses took the stand on Enlow's behalf -- saying they never knew him to be anything less than completely professional and even-handed. Each side now has until Feb. 15 to file summary briefs with arbitrator Harold Moore, who will make his decision by April. (For more on the case see "Matters of Perception," Sept. 27.) -- Jordan Smith

The Save Our Springs Alliance has introduced a new and improved version of its "Make Gary Pay" Web site (www.makegarypay.org) to stir up public demand for equal harassment under the law. The alliance, along with many others, wants the feds to force Austin developer Gary Bradley to pay the $73 million he still owes on loans he obtained in the 1980s before the S&L meltdown. Bradley took out the loans to build Circle C Ranch but hopes his subsequent bankruptcy filing will erase the debt. The feds have until mid-December to sustain their claim that Bradley used deceptive means to obtain the loans and is using deceptive means to avoid repaying them. -- Amy Smith

On Nov. 12, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks ruled that the state must either allow murderer Clyde Durbin to withdraw his 33-year-old guilty plea -- and set his case for trial -- or set him free. Durbin was sent to jail for the grisly 1969 murder of two UT students. He pled guilty to the crime in exchange for a promise by the Burnet Co. district attorney's office that, when the time came, they would not protest his bid for parole. But when Durbin was up for parole in 1985, the state did protest, causing the parole board to deny his release. "If a defendant was denied due process because of a breached plea agreement, a court cannot ignore the constitutional error simply because it believes the public is better off with the defendant imprisoned," Sparks wrote. The state must decide what to do by today (Thursday). -- J.S.

Want to live in the Villas on Guadalupe? Well, you can't -- even if you could afford the $1,700 rent for a two-bedroom, two-bath flat -- because all 150 units have been snatched up, say its developers. The Villas caused a stir earlier this year when the North University Neighborhood Assoc. fiercely fought the mega-dense complex, arguing it would generate even more traffic in the car-swamped area, raise their property taxes, and establish a precedent for other developers to build big. City Council approved the Villas anyway; several members claimed the project would enable students now commuting to live closer to campus. "If the only people who can afford these kinds of apartments are students who move in straight from dormitories -- who are used to paying high dollars for housing -- what about all those poor students who are living way far away on Riverside?" asks NUNA member Pam Morris. "Weren't these apartments supposed to be for them?" -- Lauri Apple

Cover it up! That's what UT said about an ad from the Crazy Lady topless bar on the back of this year's official UT phone directory. The directory is compiled and sold by an out-of-state firm but is printed by Texas Student Publications, the UT department that also operates The Daily Texan, KVRX radio, and KVR-TV. When the ad caught the eye of UT President Larry Faulkner, a recall of the directories was ordered. The solution may be as silly as the fuss: TSP Director Kathy Lawrence said TSP tentatively plans to place stickers over the offending ads in copies sent out to UT departments, and students may also request stickers of their own. "In the future, Lawrence said, "we will have firmly established guidelines" on what types of ads to accept. -- Lee Nichols

Locally owned Texas Disposal Systems and international garbage powerhouse Waste Management Inc. -- whose Austin Community Landfill has been the subject of neighbor complaints of noxious odors -- will meet in Travis Co. District Court today, Nov. 21, for a hearing on whether documents related to environmental and public health concerns at WMI's landfill should be sealed (as WMI wants) or made public (as TDS wants). This is the latest stage of a lawsuit TDS filed in 1997 against WMI, citing defamation and business disparagement. The trial (postponed from this summer) is set for next February -- L.A.

The Austin-San Antonio Commuter Rail District is now, officially, finally, real, after the San Antonio City Council agreed to join last week. The Alamo City -- one of the four entities (along with Austin and Travis and Bexar counties) that needed to create the district under its 1997 enabling legislation -- has appointed City Councilman Carroll Robinson and Sam Barshop, former chair of the Austin-San Antonio Corridor Council, to the rail district board. Other board members include Austin Mayor Gus Garcia and state Sens. Gonzalo Barrientos and Jeff Wentworth (who co-authored the 1997 bill). -- M.C.M.

The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce has gone south -- literally. The chamber moved out of its button-down Congress Avenue address two weeks ago to new (to them) digs at 210 Barton Springs Rd., near South First. The rent is cheaper and the parking is free. -- A.S.

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