News briefs from Austin, the state, and beyond
• Sharpening her campaign message on the economy, mayoral candidate Carole Keeton Strayhorn painted a bleak financial picture at a press conference Monday, pointing to the growth in the city's budget as families' incomes steadily declined. Strayhorn indirectly cited her two key rivals – Brewster McCracken and Lee Leffingwell – as among those who failed to rein in spending. See "City Hall Hustle."
• After eight months of public consultation, the Austin Independent School District board of trustees Monday set the attendance zone for the new Southwest middle school. The plan has infuriated families at Mills Elementary, whose boundaries get cut down the middle.
• Colorado ranch owner Jeff Hawn, the Austin-based CEO of Attachmate, was sentenced to 10 days in jail for giving hunters permission to kill 32 of his neighbor's bison, which had wandered unwittingly onto his land.
• Last month, for the first time since July, the Austin-Round Rock metropolitan statistical area lost jobs – 1,800 of them, in fact. That brings the unemployment rate to 5.2%, well above where we stood a year ago (3.6%) but still below the state and national rates, which stand and 6% and 7.2% respectively.
• Big week for fans of local politics and free food: Bill Spelman launched his run for City Council Place 5 at Scholz Garten on Jan. 22, while Place 1 candidate Chris Riley met the faithful at Threadgill's on Jan. 23.
• Gov. Rick Perry delivered his State of the State address to the House and Senate. Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, called it less State of the State, more "state of the Republican primary for governor."
• At a Jan. 25 meeting with 300 close friends, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison confirmed that she'll be challenging Gov. Rick Perry in 2010. She then released a list of 600 supporters, including some former big Perry donors.
• What's wrong with Robert's? New rules of order for the Texas House reduce the number of committees, add members to the existing ones, and curb the power of the speaker to ignore the reps.
• What now for the Bushies? Karl Rove has asked the Obama administration to help shelter him from a congressional subpoena, while former Bush Communications Director Dan Bartlett becomes an adjunct professor at UT's LBJ School of Public Affairs.
Quote of the Week
"Too many things are broken, and today, the governor failed to propose solutions to fix many of the things that have been broken during his tenure as governor."
– Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, responding Tuesday to Gov. Rick Perry's State of the State address