Naked City

Austin Stories

Stay current on the mayor's race at www.austinmayor.com, a blog that seeks contributions from candidates' campaigns. Voters can also join in the hot online action through chats, forums, conferences, feedback forums, straw polls, and other interactivities. For now, the site's most useful elements are its cluster of campaign-related articles and a beefy list of Austincentric links. -- Lauri Apple

Former President Bill Clinton appeared before a crowd of nearly 7,500 at UT's Frank Erwin Center Feb. 12 to deliver a lecture on "the road to peace" as part of the 20th anniversary of the Liz Carpenter Distinguished Speaker Series. Taking the spotlight to the strains of "Don't Stop," his signature Fleetwood Mac tune, Clinton began with talk of peace through diplomacy. While generally deferential to the Bush administration, Clinton saved harsh comments for the end of his nearly 90-minute speech, calling Bush's proposed budget and tax cuts the "biggest mistake ever made." "It is unbelievable enough that while I'm supposed to get a tax cut, [Bush] wants to make it harder for a family of four, making under $33,000 [per year] to qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit," he said. "That's bad ethics and bad economics, and that's bad for this country." -- Jordan Smith

The contractor for the troubled Barton Springs Road project is getting seven days to improve its work performance -- or else. City public-works officials will meet today (Thursday) with Tom Ryan, owner of Ryan-O Excavating, to go over new ground rules. The conflict (this time) is over the replacement of a wastewater line; the company stopped work on the line two weeks ago due to a pay dispute, said the city's Leon Barba. A water line broke last week, and the city blames the contractor. If resolution isn't reached, Barba said, the city will terminate the contract. -- Amy Smith

Federal lawyers say Gary Bradley made a series of financial transfers before he filed for bankruptcy last year and then provided false information to the court in order to win a dismissal of his debt. In a complaint filed Feb. 13, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. seeks to block that discharge on grounds that Bradley tried to defraud creditors through several maneuvers made within a year of his July 2002 bankruptcy. The FDIC alleges Bradley transferred two promissory notes, gave his fiancée jewelry and money, sold or transferred property, and then failed to list these transactions on his Chapter 7 filings. The Save Our Springs Alliance, a longtime Bradley foe, says the FDIC is taking the easy way out; SOS attorney Brad Rockwell wants the agency to pursue fraud charges over the loans Bradley obtained in 1985 to build Circle C Ranch. The developer defaulted on the loans and today owes the feds more than $73 million, money that Rockwell says will probably never be recovered. Bradley has 30 days to respond to the FDIC complaint. His attorney was unavailable at press time. -- A.S.

City Council members continue to hear from citizens about the anti-war resolution passed Feb. 6. The offices of Gus Garcia, Jackie Goodman, Raul Alvarez, and Daryl Slusher -- all of whom backed the resolution -- say that they've received primarily positive feedback, but Betty Dunkerley's office reports "definitely" receiving more calls against the resolution. Dunkerley joined Will Wynn in abstaining on the measure. Wynn and Danny Thomas couldn't be reached for final tallies. -- L.A.

Also at City Hall: Last week the Council unanimously directed City Manager Toby Futrell to begin work on a moratorium on building "superduplexes," structures zoned single-family that often house a dozen or more residents. Sponsored by Mayor Pro Tem Jackie Goodman, the resolution also asks the city's Planning and Zoning and Platting Commissions to develop a superduplex amendment to the Land Development Code. A public hearing on the matter could come as early as March 27. In recent months, UT-area neighborhoods have grown increasingly worried about a number of superduplex projects, and neighborhood activists are now reporting a superduplex boom across the city. -- L.A.

The city is set to release 1,600 sterile grass carp into Lake Austin by the end of next week as part of its ongoing efforts to combat the hydrilla scourge. The grass-carp plan has been challenged in court by fishermen's groups who fear that the voracious carp will devour not only the noxious water weed but all other vegetation and destroy what is now one of Texas' best bass lakes. That case, challenging the city's permit to release nearly 7,000 carp as part of a state-crafted hydrilla management plan, will go to trial in March; plaintiffs withdrew their request for a temporary injunction last week, allowing the first carp to enter Lake Austin as scheduled. -- M.C.M.

For at least the third time in as many years, anti-choicers Justice for All (not the Houston-based pro-death penalty group of the same name) returned to UT this week to display gigantic, grotesque pictures of mangled fetuses -- their idea of an abortion deterrent. The Lilith Fund, which helps low-income women get access to reproductive services, responded with a protest and a pledge drive. Send your spare change to Lilith Fund, PO Box 200662, Austin, TX 78720. -- L.A.

The Business Section: Citing poor sales and troubles with the landlord, Fiesta is closing its South Lamar location, the only grocery store in the Barton Hills/Zilker area. Also going dark are all four Austin CC's Coffee House locations; the Louisiana chain is pulling out of Texas entirely. But the Salt Lick is bucking the trend, announcing plans for an upscale "bistro" location in Davenport Village, next to Susan Dell's dress shop. And The Tavern ("Air Conditioned") will reportedly reopen at 12th and Lamar in May, with the help of investors including KVET star Bob Cole. -- M.C.M.

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