Edited By Mike Clark-Madison, Fri., Oct. 24, 2003
Quote of the Week: "Why is this man in the White House? The majority of Americans did not vote for him. Why is he there? And I tell you this morning that he's in the White House because God put him there for a time such as this." -- Army Lt. Gen. William "Jerry" Boykin, newly appointed deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence, on the theological intricacies of democracy in the U.S. See p.25.
A Travis Co. grand jury returned an indictment of Austin Police Officer Scott Glasgow for "criminally negligent homicide" in the June 14 shooting death of Jesse Lee Owens. See p.26.
Williamson Co. Sheriff John Maspero apologized to constituents and announced that he will undergo alcohol abuse treatment in the wake of being picked up last week by Georgetown police officers responding to calls about a drunken man relieving himself along the highway. See p.28.
At least four federal lawsuits were filed last week to oppose congressional re-redistricting: two in Marshall, one in Victoria, and another in the Tyler U.S. District Court that drew the congressional lines in 2001. See p.20.
After nearly a year of appeals, delay, and a final rejection by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Texas Association of Business turned over documents requested by a Travis Co. grand jury for an investigation of the TAB's possible use of corporate funding to underwrite 2002 state legislative campaigns. Said Travis Co. DA Ronnie Earle, "If we have reached the point where a corporation can buy an election, then democracy is on life support. The investigation will continue." See p.26
Former Gov. Preston Smith, 91, died Saturday in Lubbock. Smith, a Democrat, served in the Texas House, the Senate, and as lieutenant governor under Gov. John Connally. He was elected governor in 1968 and served two terms.
As expected, the landowner who came within a whisker of selling his property to Wal-Mart is pursuing legal action in response to the retailer's decision to vacate the controversial site at MoPac and Slaughter. SR Ridge Limited Partnership, the property owner, has obtained a temporary restraining order prohibiting Wal-Mart and its local developer, Endeavor Real Estate Group, from destroying documents or other correspondence pertaining to their negotiations with Mayor Will Wynn, various council members, and neighborhood and environmental reps. Those negotiations ultimately led to Wal-Mart and Endeavor's departure from the environmentally sensitive land. The landowner's attorney, Brian Cassidy, had also sought a TRO against the city, but a state district judge accepted the city's arguments that, as a matter of policy, those records aren't at risk of being destroyed. Earlier this month, Cassidy filed a rather thorough open-records request with the city, which the city tossed to the state attorney general's office for an opinion. See p.24 for more big-box news. -- Amy Smith
District 5 trustee and AISD board Vice-President Ingrid Taylor announced Wednesday that she will not run next spring for another term on the board. In an open letter to friends and colleagues, Taylor said she was gratified by the progress made by the district since 2000 -- in accountability, achievement, planning, academic standards -- and acknowledged that much remains to be done. "We all have a stake in the success of our schools," Taylor wrote, "and we must all contribute to our students through volunteering, building and supporting educational leadership, and involving ourselves in school business. I plan to continue in those endeavors as a private citizen." -- Michael King
The AISD Community Safety Task Force will hold a series of meetings over the next two months to gather more input from district parents, students, teachers, and staff regarding safety issues within schools. The task force, created after the March murder of 15-year-old Ortralla Mosley at Reagan High, is charged with reviewing school safety policies and helping to develop safety plans at each AISD campus. Last month, several members said they weren't sure the task force was getting at the heart of the issue and that they needed more community input. According to an AISD press release, the task force "strongly encourages all who care about the safety of children to join in these discussions." So far, four meetings are scheduled, all at 7pm: Wednesday, Nov. 12, at Mount Calvary Baptist Church, 6510 Berkman; Monday, Nov. 17, at Dolores Catholic Church, 1111 Montopolis; Tuesday, Dec. 2, at Faith Presbyterian Church, 1314 E. Oltorf; Thursday, Dec. 4, at St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, 8134 Mesa. Learn more at www.austin.isd.tenet.edu/about/initiatives/ctf/index.phtml. -- Jordan Smith
In the wake of reports confirming that local developer Harry Savio, executive vice-president of the Home Builders Association of Greater Austin, has acted as a proxy member for state Rep. Jack Stick on the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization -- centrally involved in regional transportation planning -- the Save Our Springs Alliance has filed an open-records request covering Savio's involvement with CAMPO. In a letter to Savio, SOS Director Bill Bunch points out that as a CAMPO proxy Savio is acting as a public official and is therefore subject to the Texas Public Information Act. The letter asks for copies of all relevant documentation from Savio, including any correspondence between him and Stick or others concerning Savio's service on the board. -- M.K.
Item No. 27 on the City Council's Oct. 23 agenda reads (in part): "Authorize negotiation and execution of an amendment to the professional services agreement with Halliburton KBR, formerly Brown and Root Services, Austin, TX, for engineering services for the West Bouldin Creek Wastewater Interceptor Phase A-2 and B, in the amount of $520,000, for a total contract amount not to exceed $1,170,000 ... (recommended by the Water & Wastewater Commission)." Anti-war activists, denouncing Halliburton as an Iraq war profiteer, are lobbying council to oppose the contract in light of last year's vote opposing the war as unjust and inimical to the welfare of local citizens. Said Debbie Russell, "Corporations that directly profit from the death of innocent thousands, have no business with Austin -- a 'city for peace.'" -- M.K.
Ever happy to continue the fine tradition of McCarthyism, the UT chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas announced that they will create a Professor Watch List, to "provide information to students about professors who push a political agenda on their students and use the classroom as a launch pad for their own political crusades." The YCT says the list will be released during registration time for the spring 2004 semester. The YCT is accepting nominations for the list at studentorgs.utexas.edu/yct. -- Lee Nichols
KUT webmaster, fill-in deejay, and frequent Chronicle music reviewer Jim Caligiuri has been fired from the station after he accidentally posted an, um, improper message to a Republican billboard using a KUT e-mail address. But before you send nasty e-mails to KUT complaining about censorship, be aware that he apparently wasn't fired for the political content of the message, but because -- as Caligiuri himself admits -- his anti-GOP remarks were over-the-top obscene. So obscene -- involving an athletic and highly unlikely, unnatural act between President Bush and the monitors of the Web site -- it even made Naked City blush. "I don't even know how I got to this Republican Web site. I don't even know what it was that I sent it to. It was a site looking for comments." Caligiuri sent one, but says he didn't realize it had been sent with a KUT address attached to it. "There was no name on it, just 'KUT.'" Apparently the receiver of the message contacted KUT and it was traced to Caligiuri's computer. Caligiuri was disappointed that KUT deemed the incident grounds for firing, but says the comment "crossed the line on a lot of levels, which may explain their actions." KUT general manager Stewart Vanderwilt would not comment. Caligiuri -- who was purged from KOOP radio during its absurd infighting in the late Nineties -- says he isn't sure where he'll go to spin records now, but plans to briefly "enjoy retirement." -- L.N.
Beyond City Limits
If anything, last week's symbolic "Marriage Protection Week," lauded by President Bush and conservative organizations, helped strengthen the resolve of Texas gay rights activists. On Wednesday, the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas and the Human Rights Campaign-Austin held a town hall meeting on civil marriage equality, the third in a series across Texas. Panelists included LGRL executive director Randall Ellis, HRC field organizer Bo Shuff, family counselor Sue Marriott, St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church pastor Dr. Jim Rigby, and family law attorney Jim Arth. On a national scale, gay rights advocates are preparing for a battle in Washington, where U.S. Sen. John Cornyn is leading a constitutional amendment campaign to turn Marriage Protection Week into a legally binding 365-days-a-year gig. To combat that effort, LGRL offers a petition on its new Web site, www.marriageequalitytx.org, which also provides regular updates from the front line. On another score, the tax-deductible program
Another Way Texas Shares enables
state employees and many federal, county, and city employees to contribute to the LGRL Calkin Fund (along with other progressive causes) through automatic payroll deductions. See www.lgrl.org, or call Heath Riddles at 474-5475 for more info. -- A.S
U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Austin coordinated the Democrats' whip count in opposition to last week's House vote on the Bush administration's $87 billion blank check on Iraq. Doggett and his colleagues worked the "no" votes from an initial handful to 125 against (with two additional "no" votes not present). Doggett credited the many e-mails, faxes, and phone calls to House offices, and said, "I am really pleased with the strong message of today's vote that so many House Democrats support the troops by demanding the administration be held accountable. ... This vote has nothing to do about supplying Kevlar vests to our troops; it is about providing 'political Kevlar' to the defenders of a failed policy." -- M.K.
Following a report last week that she might resign due to illness, state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, released a statement confirming an unspecified physical condition that turned up in routine examination but insisting that she intends to remain in office. "Amid speculations and news accounts that say I'm resigning," Van de Putte said, "let me set the record straight. I look forward to continuing to serve the constituents of District 26 and I will continue to work hard day to day on their issues. ... While I take my health concerns seriously, I will continue to consult with my physician to determine my proper health regimen. ... I appreciate the concerns of my friends, supporters and colleagues, but rest assured I will continue to work on the important issues my constituents have elected me to do." -- M.K.
Sheldon Rampton, co-author (with John Stauber) of Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush's War on Iraq, will speak tonight, Thursday, Oct 23, on "The Battle for Your Brain: How Commercial and Government Propaganda Have Created a Permanent Information War," at 7pm in Room 105 of Gearing Hall, UT campus -- 24th between Whitis and University Avenue. (For an interview with Rampton, see "Naked City: The Propaganda Industry," Oct. 17.)
Also tonight at 7pm, the Interfaith Community for Palestinian Rights will screen the BBC video Israel's Secret Weapons. The 2003 documentary highlights Israel's nonconventional weapons at the Dimona Nuclear Plant and whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu, who was allegedly illegally kidnapped by Israeli agents in 1986 and jailed ever since. Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest, 606 Rathervue Place. Suggested donation: $5.
The Texas General Land Office sponsors the 10th annual Border Energy Forum Thursday & Friday, Oct. 23 & 24, at the Marriott Hotel, 701 E. 11th. This year's forum, titled "Connecting for the Future," brings together a mix of industry and government leaders to discuss innovative strategies on energy issues -- including the use of natural gas and renewable resources, energy efficiency, and using cleaner transportation fuels. For more info, call 463-5039 or go to www.glo.state.tx.us/energy/border.
Dr. Juan R.I. Cole, a professor of modern Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan, will speak on "Shi'ite Politics in Post-Saddam Iraq" at UT's Communications Building C, at 26th and Guadalupe, room A.2.320, on Friday, Oct. 24, at 4pm.
On Friday, Oct. 24, at 7pm, a panel will discuss "An American Crisis: Prison Expansion, Communities, and Families in the U.S." The panel will feature Kamau Marcharia, an exonerated ex-prisoner who is organizing against private prisons in African-American communities in the South, and Joan Burnham, executive director of the Texas Inmate Families Association. UT campus, room 3.122 in the University Teaching Center, Speedway and 21st.
On Saturday, Oct. 25, at 5:30pm, a series of short films about the prison-industrial complex will be screened by Project 875, a community organization fighting prison expansion. The films include Close Tallulah Now and Books Not Bars. UT campus, third floor in the University Teaching Center, Speedway and 21st.
A staged reading of Eve Ensler's play Necessary Targets will benefit SafePlace and the Austin Circle of Theaters on Wednesday, Oct. 29, 8pm, at the Paramount Theatre. The play focuses on how violence against women is used as an instrument of war. Tickets are $25-100, available through Star Tickets (469-SHOW) and Austix (474-TIXS).
The Community Mentoring Network, a program of Austin Area Interreligious Ministries, is seeking adults to mentor youth involved in the juvenile justice system. Mentors' roles include listening, guiding, coaching, teaching, and being a friend; orientation is held the last Thursday of each month (Oct. 30), 6:30-8pm, at 701 Tillery Ste. 8. For more info, call 386-9145 x15, or go to www.aaimaustin.org.