Naked City

News briefs from Austin, the region, and beyond

Naked City
Photo by John Anderson

CAN THE COUNTY WALK ON WATER? Tecolote Farm, whose well-documented water troubles have brought the organic family farm to the brink of bankruptcy, is finally getting its day in court. Travis Co. commissioners will hold a work session at 1:30pm today (Thursday, March 5) where they will hear from Katie and David Pitre (pictured), as well as scientists and hydrologists who've been studying Tecolote's wells, which started drying up when two massive water pumps were installed at the county's East Metropolitan Park, just down the street from Tecolote. Nevertheless, Katie Pitre said they have a "good working relationship with Judge [Sam] Biscoe," who recently nominated her to be on the Sustainable Food Policy Board; she says the county has long maintained that if its wells are causing the drop in the localized water table, the county will make things right. Recent studies commissioned by the Pitres have shown that this is the case. Commissioner Ron Davis represents Tecolote in Precinct 1, and his staff said his office was flooded with e-mails and calls in the days leading up to this afternoon's work session. – Jacob Cottingham

Cap Metro Labor Woes Continue At last week's Capital Metro board meeting, staff reported the agency was mostly progressing toward its goals – but not toward improved labor relations, apparently. Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1091 President Jay Wyatt presented a petition demanding the firing of Cap Metro President/CEO Fred Gilliam. Among other things, the petition accused Gilliam of deceiving the public on MetroRail's costs, inaccurate audits, bad-faith bargaining, and falsely accusing an employee of harassing him (the employee was fired but reinstated through arbitration). Gilliam did not respond, but his "track record of success at Capital Metro is undisputed," a Cap Metro spokesman said. "I can certainly understand where they're coming from and why they're frustrated," said Austin City Council and Cap Metro board member Mike Martinez, a former firefighters union leader. "I was the only board member to not vote for a bonus for Fred last year." He said Gilliam has done "a fair job," but last year's strike damaged community goodwill built up by employees. "I think that's a very vicious cycle we've been in for a long time, and we need to get out of it." – Lee Nichols

Capital Metro took the media on a field trip to Leander on Monday to show off the new MetroRail line that connects Downtown with the sleepy suburbs north of Austin. The new service, which begins Monday, March 30, is aimed primarily at commuters, with north- and southbound trips scheduled mainly during the morning and evening rush hours.
Capital Metro took the media on a field trip to Leander on Monday to show off the new MetroRail line that connects Downtown with the sleepy suburbs north of Austin. The new service, which begins Monday, March 30, is aimed primarily at commuters, with north- and southbound trips scheduled mainly during the morning and evening rush hours. (Photo by Nora Ankrum)

'Killer' Keller not asked to resign Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Lawrence Meyers this week told The Dallas Morning News that he and his colleagues have not urged Presiding Judge Sharon "Killer" Keller to resign her post. "It would not be for me to tell her what to do," Meyers told the editorial board. Keller has been charged with willfully violating her official duties and bringing discredit to the court by blocking the last-minute appeal of death row inmate Michael Richard on Sept. 25, 2007, by telling lawyers the court closed at 5pm and would not accept his appeal. Keller will face a public hearing on those charges, filed by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct last month. According to The Dallas Morning News, the court's general counsel, Edward Marty, resigned in the wake of the incident. But Keller, Meyers told the paper, seems "determined to air it out." (For more, see "Judge 'Killer' Keller to Face Trial," Feb. 27.) – Jordan Smith

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