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Austin Stories

Like Cher and Madonna, our favorite hometown industrial behemoth wants to go the one-name route; shareholders will be asked to drop "Computer" and simply become Dell Inc. Honchos note that the company, which has branched into printers, servers, and other tech tools, aims to do more than just sell PCs. -- M.C.M.

Marcus McTear, the 16-year-old Reagan High sophomore charged with the March 28 fatal stabbing of former girlfriend and fellow Reagan student Ortralla Mosley, was in court May 1 for a brief pretrial hearing in front of District Judge Jeanne Meurer. The Travis Co. District Attorney's office is seeking to have McTear certified as an adult to stand trial for Mosley's murder; that hearing is scheduled to begin May 20. -- Jordan Smith

Today (Thursday) City Council will consider a new ordinance to regulate high-residency "superduplexes." City staff's proposal would require additional building constraints for projects in single-family zoning with more than six bedrooms (or more than 3,400 square feet), including limiting height to two stories and restricting parking in the front or side yards. The Planning Commission offered an alternative that sets occupancy limits for duplexes to six unrelated adults but which allows up to seven bedrooms and a much greater building size. They also recommend grandfathering existing duplexes from any new occupancy limits. A new ordinance will replace the current superduplex moratorium, which expires May 29. -- Lauri Apple

Austin ISD officials on April 30 unveiled plans for a districtwide comprehensive safety plan review and the formation of a Community Safety Task Force. The 15-member (at least) task force will advise AISD Superintendent Pat Forgione on "how best to enhance the safety of students, staff, and the community throughout the district." The task force, to be composed of parents, teachers, principals, and members of the faith community, will also gather input from campus-level meetings, and by July 18, the panel will collect and analyze safety data and create checklists for AISD's 107 campuses to use as they create individual safety plans. These plans would be due back to AISD officials by Sept. 30. -- J.S.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled April 30 that Travis Co. should not have to pay a $2.8 million judgment to contractor Fluor Daniel Inc., levied by a federal jury last year. In February 2002 the contractor won its claim that the county should pay for cost overruns on the troublesome Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center, which houses the county's criminal courts. The appeals court disagreed, ruling last week that the county has sovereign immunity from the contractual claim. -- J.S.

Preservationists and backers of an Old West Austin Historic District scored a major victory this week when a review board of the Texas Historical Commission approved the district's nomination 8-0. The nomination now goes on to the U.S. Parks Service for a final seal of approval, which will likely take 30 to 45 days to process. Advocates boast that Old West Austin stands to become the largest Texas district on the National Register of Historic Places. -- L.A.

A Travis Co. jury last week placed a $7.75 million value on a disputed Downtown block, but former property owner Harry Whittington -- who has for three years fought the city's efforts to condemn the parcel at Fifth and Red River for a new Convention Center garage -- still plans to appeal a judge's ruling last October siding with the city that the garage is a "public necessity." Whittington hopes the city's budget crunch will force officials to have second thoughts about building a $20 million parking garage. "Our preference is to have the land back," he said. "A parking garage adds no enhancement at all to our property." -- Amy Smith

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More by Mike Clark-Madison
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