Naked City

Beyond City Limits

Voters in Webberville and Volente will go to the polls Saturday to decide whether to incorporate those two Travis Co. burgs as actual villages. Volente, on the north shore of Lake Travis, already lies within the city of Austin's extraterritorial jurisdiction; Webberville, between Austin and Bastrop, will come close if the Austin City Council approves an item on today's agenda to add nearly 1,700 acres to Austin's ETJ, right up to Webberville's proposed town limits. In both communities, neighbors are divided on incorporation, and for similar reasons. Supporters want more control over their area's land use, quality of life, and unique heritage (and want to avoid ever being annexed by Austin), while opponents think townhood would lead to higher taxes, more government intrusion, and manipulation by powerful outside forces. Volente has been grappling with incorporation proposals since at least 1998; Webberville has only tackled the issue recently with the expansion of several local industrial facilities. -- M.C.M.

Lawyers for Michael Morales, brother of former state attorney general and gubernatorial candidate Dan Morales, announced that their client would plead guilty to federal extortion charges in connection with a plot to blackmail Tony Sanchez, who beat Dan Morales in last year's Democratic primary before falling to Gov. Rick Perry. Using an assumed name, the younger Morales, a musician and Grammy Award-winning record producer, allegedly threatened Sanchez with disclosure of a long-ago misdeed when the Laredo millionaire was a law student (the nature of this revelation has not been disclosed) unless Sanchez coughed up $280,000. Michael Morales faces two years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000; Dan Morales called the case "bizarre" but said his brother had not been able to discuss the situation with relatives. -- M.C.M.

Local architecture lovers are dismayed by the plans of San Antonio's McNay Art Museum to demolish the unfinished and unused San Antonio Art Institute building -- designed by postmodern architecture giant Charles Moore -- to make room for a new expansion. The $5 million cost of Moore's building, his only San Antonio project, helped bankrupt the institute in 1993, the same year Moore died; the McNay says retrofitting the building as exhibit space would be too expensive. The international renown of Moore, who finished his career in Austin as a member of UT's architecture faculty, is sufficient to justify preservation of the institute, except that the building is less than 25 years old -- and thus not protected by the Alamo City's preservation ordinance. McNay officials say they'll preserve elements of the building and offer them to the Charles Moore Institute for the Study of Place here in Austin. Trendy French architect Jean-Paul Viguier is designing the McNay expansion. -- M.C.M.

Despite that danged budget shortfall, state taxpayers are footing the bill for the legal defense of former Gov. Rick Perry aide Mike McKinney -- one of three aides named in a slander suit by former Texas Lottery Commission Director Linda Cloud. According to the Associated Press, taxpayers will pay for the $400-per-hour services of Austin attorney Jim George. Perry general counsel Bill Jones told the AP the outside counsel was hired because there may be a conflict of interest in having the attorney general's office represent all three defendants. Perry aides Kathy Walt and Gene Acuña are being represented by AG lawyers. -- J.S.

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