Naked City

Headlines and happenings from Austin and beyond

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1549 protested on the University of Texas campus on Monday against what a union press release described as persistent mistreatment of the shuttle bus drivers and staff who run the shuttle system, including inadequate wages and health care. According to <i>The Daily Texa</i>n, ATC/Vancom, the company that manages the shuttle system for UT, will not comment publicly on the union's charges.
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1549 protested on the University of Texas campus on Monday against what a union press release described as "persistent mistreatment of the shuttle bus drivers and staff who run the shuttle system," including inadequate wages and health care. According to The Daily Texan, ATC/Vancom, the company that manages the shuttle system for UT, will not comment publicly on the union's charges. (Photo By John Anderson)


Headlines

Quote of the Week: "I ... find that Glasgow's use of deadly force was justified, as he had a reasonable belief that his life was in imminent danger." – Austin Police Chief Stan Knee, in his Feb. 9 memo announcing Scott Glasgow's 90-day suspension for the fatal shooting of Jessie Lee Owens.

Many Austinites are, like the Owens family, "befuddled" by the gentle discipline levied on Scott Glasgow. On the other hand, the Austin Police Association thinks the punishment was too severe – one of the reasons the union walked away from the meet-and-confer bargaining table this week. See p.24.

Meanwhile: We've got use-of-force numbers, the Statesman's got numbers, the city's got numbers, none of them agree, and do any of them get us even one little bit closer to fixing Austin and APD's race problems? Just thought we'd ask. See "Austin@Large," at right.

Election news heats up! See p.28 for the marquee CD 25 battle between Lloyd Doggett and Leticia Hinojosa and p.22 for Travis Co. news, starring Ron Davis and Celia Israel. Nationally, after John Kerry won the Tennessee and Virginia primaries, Gen. Wesley "Like Dean, but Southern" Clark packed up his campaign in his old kit bag. By the way, early voting in Texas begins Feb. 23.


Austin Stories

The Austin Police Association walked away from meet-and-confer contract negotiations with city officials on Feb. 10, "in light of the current political situation," according to a letter written by APA President Mike Sheffield and delivered to City Manager Toby Futrell Tuesday evening. Because of recent developments – the 90-day suspension of Officer Scott Glasgow and a press release from the police monitor's office that claims Glasgow's suspension was in conflict with the Citizen Review Panel's recommendation that the officer be terminated – union membership doesn't feel it is in their "best interest" to continue with negotiations "at this time." At press time, APA spokesperson Lt. Kim Nobles could not be reached for further comment. – Jordan Smith

The Austin Museum of Art has, as anticipated, abandoned its plans for a 125,000-square-foot building on the south side of Republic Square. Museum officials say they'll keep the Fourth and Colorado property but pursue less expensive options for a new Downtown home. AMOA has already raised and spent nearly $14 million in its current capital campaign, including about $5 million in fees to renowned museum architect Richard Gluckman. – M.C.M.

Texas Campaign for the Environment has applauded the HEB grocery chain for discontinuing the sale of disposable DVDs. Austin has been a test market in recent months for the Disney product, DVDs that oxidize and become unusable 48 hours after opening – thus relieving consumers of the need to return them to the video rental store, but with environmental consequences that should be obvious to anyone with half a brain. "We want to thank HEB for being responsive to community concerns and for making this environmentally friendly decision to stop selling this product," said TCE Director Robin Schneider. "We hope other retailers involved in the test market – 7-Eleven, Walgreens, Toys "R" Us, [and] Suncoast video – will [follow] suit and opt for more environmentally sustainable products." – Lee Nichols

Ellen Wartella, dean of UT's College of Communication, is leaving the post she's held since September 1993 to take over as executive vice-chancellor and provost at the University of California's Riverside campus, effective July 1. Under Wartella, the college doubled its endowment and "created synergy across and within disciplines," UT President Larry Faulkner said in a press release. UT vice-president and Provost Sheldon Ekland-Olson will appoint an interim dean while a search committee hunts for a permanent replacement. – J.S.

UT shuttle bus drivers, members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1549 held a rally Monday in the East Mall in response to what they call "persistent mistreatment of the shuttle bus drivers and staff who run the shuttle system." "Capital Metro, ATC, and the University have all played a major part in creating the problems that the drivers now face," said UT student Courtney Morris in a statement released by the union. "Concerned students can be a part of the solution." Capital Metro is the shuttle bus contractor for UT, and the union charges that subcontractor ATC/Vancom "has steadily eroded employee benefits within the last three years [including] no pay raises for senior drivers for three years, healthcare benefit and sick day cuts, and cutbacks on bathroom and lunch breaks." ATU President Norm Couture said the workers are pressing Cap Metro and UT to work toward a new collective bargaining agreement. ATU says about half of the system's 200 employees are union members. – Michael King

A new day dawned in Southwest Austin last week with the removal of one of the Circle C Homeowners Association board's longest-lasting fixtures – Steve Bartlett, a former business partner of Circle C developer Gary Bradley – who lost his re-election bid to resident Quentin Fennessy. Residents have spent the past year trying to break the circle that has kept the same CCHOA board members in power for 16 years. The board initially tried to brush off those efforts as merely the complaints of a handful of whiners. "We have newcomers who don't understand either the history of the organization or of the neighborhood," CCHOA Treasurer Ken Rigsbee told the Chronicle a year ago, "and they jump to incorrect assumptions and conclusions." Bartlett, a board member since 1988, proved an easy target because he lives outside of Circle C. More changes are in store, too, with the expansion of the board from three members to seven and the prospect of another "newcomer" replacing Rigsbee on the board. – Amy Smith

The city's pipeline ordinance was whittled down a notch last week with the City Council's vote to eliminate the $90 million insurance requirement for operators. The action wasn't by choice – in a ruling last year, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks struck down the provision in deciding a lawsuit brought by the Texas Oil & Gas Association. Everything else about the ordinance, including setback requirements, remains intact. So far. The council enacted the law in response to concerns that builders were being allowed to develop residences and other structures too close to the Longhorn Pipeline, which is expected to begin moving gasoline from Houston to El Paso later this year. – A.S.

The National Institutes of Health has awarded UT College of Pharmacy researcher Christine Duvauchelle a $1.3 million grant for a drug abuse study aimed at improving treatment strategies for cocaine addiction. Treatments for cocaine addiction have not been "particularly successful," Duvauchelle said in a press release, because the "learned associations" that users develop lead to frequent relapses. "For example, seeing people, places ... or even smelling odors associated with a person's cocaine-taking past can cause them to relapse," she said. "Cocaine use seems to cause an exaggerated learning effect as it takes advantage of the brain's natural reward system." Duvauchelle's study will examine cocaine-seeking behaviors and the effects on the brain's responses, which she said will help suggest better ways of determining when and how to treat addicts. – J.S.

The Survivor Network of Those Abused by Priests has formed a new support group for survivors in Austin and the surrounding areas and held its first meeting Feb. 9. For more info, call 713/204-8476. – L.N.


Beyond City Limits

Despite San Marcos Libertarians' strong opposition to a regional emissions testing program for vehicles, San Antonio-based HEB is doing its part to clear the air of some of those fumes. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week dubbed the company a charter member of the SmartWay Transport Partnership for incorporating new technologies and other fuel-saving practices in its trucking fleet. The company is the only Texas-based firm participating in the program and one of 15 companies honored Monday in Washington. According to a news release, HEB's fleet has already reduced air pollutants by more than 30%. The EPA's goal is to reduce up to 66 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and up to 200,000 tons of nitrogen oxide per year by 2012. To put that in perspective, it's equivalent to 12 million fewer cars on the road each year. – A.S.

The trial of five activists arrested near President George W. Bush's ranchette in Crawford kicked off in the city's municipal court on Feb. 6. The Crawford Five were charged with violating the city's parade and procession ordinance after being stopped by police while on their way to Bush's place last May. Police constructed a barricade, told the protesters their planned demonstration had not been approved by the city, and arrested the five after they refused to leave. The violation is only a class C misdemeanor – punishable by up to a $500 fine – but the defendants say the ordinance unconstitutionally restricts their free speech rights. During cross-examination by C5 attorney Jim Harrington (director of the Austin-based Texas Civil Rights Project), Crawford Police Chief Donnie Tidmore said that even wearing a political button without a permit could violate the city's parade and protest ordinance, the Waco Tribune-Herald reported. The trial is set to continue Feb. 16. – J.S.

If you missed the Federal Communications Commission hearing on localism in San Antonio on Jan. 28 (see "Anger Fills the Air(waves) at FCC Hearing," News, Feb. 6), you can view the entire five hours in streaming video at www.fcc.gov/realaudio/publicforums.html. – L.N.


Happenings

Want to tie the knot with your sweetie on Valentine's Day? Travis Co. Court-at-Law Judge Jan Breland is at your service. For one hour, from 11:30am to 12:30pm, Breland will be on hand, offering free wedding services in her cupid-and-Elvis-decorated courtroom in the County's Criminal Justice Center at 10th and San Antonio. For more info, call 854-9677.

Club Sembradores de Amistad, an Austin organization dedicated to supporting scholarship endowments for underprivileged college students, will hold its 10th annual Valentine's Day Ball on Saturday, Feb. 14, 5:30pm, at the Omni South Park Hotel, 4140 Governors Row. Seating is limited to 400 people, and tickets ($130 per couple, sponsor tables $1,250-2,000) must be bought in advance by calling 733-7775. Proceeds go toward scholarship endowment funds at UT-Austin, Concordia University, Huston-Tillotson College, and St. Edward's University.

It may not be the typical way to spend Valentine's Day, but a film showing this weekend should remind us that not all relationships are romantic and some need to be ended. Shelter, a documentary about domestic violence by Austin filmmaker Anne Lewis, will be screened on Saturday, Feb. 14, at 7pm, in UT's Bass Lecture Hall (inside the Sid Richardson Building at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, at 26th and Red River). Admission is free. Shelter tells the stories of five rural West Virginia women who come to the Family Refuge Center in Lewisburg, W.V., to find safety, freedom, and justice for themselves and their children. For details on the film, go to www.appalshop.org/headwaters/episode_203.htm. Following the film, Lewis and a panel of local activists will discuss the problem of domestic violence and the movement to end it. For more info, 458-8635 or e-mail pat@thirdcoastactivist.org.

Hate war? Love boobs? Burlesque for Peace will let you indulge both passions at a benefit for Adopt-a-Minefield (which seeks to rid the world of landmines) and the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan on Valentine's Day (Saturday, Feb. 14), at Arts on Real, 2826 Real, 10pm. The organizers say, "Expect to see amateur striptease, comedy, audience participation, and more at this sexy, crazy event," but warn that tickets will most likely sell out in advance, so go to www.burlesqueforpeace.com (warning: nudity, duh) right away.

The UT Peace and Conflict Studies program will host an appearance by Ambassador Gertrude Mongella, general secretary of the 1995 UN Beijing Women's Conference, on Sunday, Feb. 15, 2-6pm, in the LBJ Library auditorium (26th and Red River). Ambassador Mongella and a panel of scholars and activists will evaluate progress since the Beijing conference and explore alternatives for creating a more just and peaceful world. For more info, call 232-6316 or e-mail pcsc@mail.utexas.edu. Admission is free.

The Libertarian Distinguished Speaker Series will host a dinner at Threadgill's World Headquarters, 301 W. Riverside, on Sunday, Feb. 15, 4-6:30pm, featuring Libertarian Party U.S. presidential candidate Gary Nolan and former Austin City Council Member George Humphrey, who will discuss "Where Is Our Constitution When We Need It?" Dinner is optional, and will cost about $12. For more info, call 467-1776.

Austin ISD's Special Education Information Night will be Tuesday, Feb. 17, 7-8pm, at Rosedale School, 2117 W. 49th, sponsored by AISD's special education citizens' advisory committee and the family support cooperative. Special education administrators Joan Altobelli and Steve Hamman will participate in the discussion and answer questions, with free pizza and child care beginning at 6:30pm. For more info: 414-2049 or 414-0955.

As part of its celebration of Black History Month and the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education desegregation decision, Huston-Tillotson College will show the films The Tuskegee Airmen and Once Upon a Time ... When We Were Colored on Wednesday, Feb. 18, at 10am and 11am, respectively. Downs-Jones Library, Room 3, Huston-Tillotson campus (900 Chicon).

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