Naked City


Quote of the Week: "You don't really think about the significance of the fact that 'Now I'm a U.S. senator,' and all the responsibility that goes with that." -- U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, in D.C. for his new-Senator orientation, speaking of the heat of the campaign.

Seton Healthcare Network, which is getting really good at dropping bombshells on stunned Austinites, announced this week it has hired former City Manager Jesus Garza -- who negotiated the city's controversial lease agreement with Seton -- to oversee operations at four Seton hospitals, including city-owned Brackenridge Hospital. See Seton's Latest Surprise.

Austin Community College will once again ask voters to approve an increase in its property tax rate -- even as a state audit says not-very-nice things about the current ACC leadership. See Your Neighbors, Your Money.

Farmers Insurance Group reached an amicable settlement -- well, amicable to the company, maybe not to the citizenry -- in its legal wranglings with the state. See Farmers Walks.

The City Council may need ear protection tonight as it holds a public hearing on the latest noise ordinance draft. City Hall calls the draft, which sets an 85-decibel limit downtown (75 dB in residential areas), "the result of a collaborative problem solving process." "We believe this process has resulted in a good product," says Asst. City Mgr. Laura Huffman. Not everyone agrees, and the council has already punted making a final decision until the new year. See Dancing About Architecture.

In case the noise ordinance doesn't provide sufficient cause for nattering about how much City Hall really supports the music scene, the council is also set to re-fund the Austin Music Network.

The other big item on Thursday's agenda: finally considering city staff's "near-term" Downtown transportation package, with or without two-way streets. Probably without, for now. (See "The Devil in the Details," Oct. 4). A new group, Citizens for Keeping Downtown Austin Accessible, has formed to keep the streets one-way, an issue that's pitted the Downtown Austin Alliance (which wants two-way streets) against the Chamber of Commerce and Real Estate Council of Austin.

President Bush proved his cynicism is indeed boundless by appointing unindicted war criminal and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to lead the "independent" inquiry into September 11.

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