• Bye-bye, George; hello, Barack: President Barack Obama moves into the White House as former President George W. Bush retires to Dallas ... and we can get back to the work of rebuilding our country and community.

• The Legislature essentially went on inauguration hiatus after last week's House overthrow of former Speaker Tom Craddick and the big two-thirds dustup in the Senate; this week promises committee appointments and budget drafts. The House reconvenes Jan. 22; the Senate stays away until Jan. 26. See "On the Lege."

• The State Board of Education met Wednesday to consider and vote on the public school science curriculum, in part to determine whether Texas students should consider evolutionary biology as confirmed knowledge or just some idle notion dreamed up by secular humanists to annoy true believers.

Marc Ott
Marc Ott (Photo by Jana Birchum)

• The 2009 City Council lumbered into operation, approving a master plan for improvements to Barton Springs Pool, formally adopting a zero-waste plan (see "Naked City"), and enacting a temporary moratorium on outdoor music permits until it sorts out Live Music Task Force recommendations.

• Red ink and dark days: On Jan. 16, City Manager Marc Ott announced hiring and pay review freezes for all city staff and asked departments to find an extra $15 million in budget cuts.

Lee Leffingwell
Lee Leffingwell (Photo by John Anderson)

• Council Member Lee Leffingwell launched his campaign for mayor on Friday, triggering the fight for his Place 1 seat and making the race between him and Mayor Pro Tem Brewster McCracken official. Meanwhile, 'tis the season for serious mayoral and council candidates to start fattening their war chests, as the latest round of campaign finance reports shows; see "Campaign Money Fattening Local Coffers."

• The Backyard, a popular music venue west of Austin, received rezoning approval from the city of Bee Cave to relocate to a new 35-acre spot off Highway 71, west of the 620 intersection. The former site had lost its Hill Country magic as retail development replaced the venue's backdrop of trees; Willie Nelson played the closing night show in October. Groundbreaking at the new site begins this spring.

• The Hutto Citizens Group galvanized activists countywide to form the Williamson County Public Policy Coalition, which will "foster better county government" and oppose, among other things, expansion of the regional landfill (aka "Mount Hutto") and repeated contract renewals allowing T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor to jail noncriminal immigrant families.

Photo by John Anderson

Quote of the Week

"To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."

– President Barack Obama

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