Headlines

• An innocuous-seeming City Council item reorganizing the top ranks of the Austin Fire Department instead stoked controversy, as new Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr's plans to diversify the chiefs met with backlash from department members and a council wary of increased costs. See "City Hall Hustle," and listen to our podcast, Hust FM, at austinchronicle.com/hustle.

• "In conclusion, Mayor-elect Leffingwell is qualified to assume office under the Texas Constitution and the Texas Election Code without holding a run-off election." So says City Attorney David Smith, referring to grumbles from the Carole Strayhorn camp that because Lee Leffingwell didn't win 50% of the electorate, the legality of his election was in doubt. See "Naked City."

• Local environmental-justice group PODER (People Organized in Defense of Earth and Her Resources) filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the city, inquiring what criteria the city used in selecting groups to receive more than $2 million in federal stimulus dollars. PODER and the Community Development Commission supported using the funds for emergency home repairs, but City Council approved staff recommendations to build community centers staffed by LifeWorks and PeopleFund. See "Naked City."

Headlines

• Stay alert next time you're picking up some razors or dropping off some photos: In one week, the same suspect robbed two South Austin Walgreens, armed with a knife. Police describe the suspect as between 30 and 49 years old, around 5 feet 10 inches, with a thin build, balding, and with brown hair cut into a flattop.

• Facing flagging reserves, Capital Metro decided this week to take out a $10 million line of credit. Cap Metro board member and City Council Member Mike Martinez voted against the move, saying the agency should explore cost-cutting measures before taking on a loan.

• Viva guns and tobacky! The National Rifle Association and tobacco lobbyists scored rounds at the Lege this week with state senators, effectively killing a proposed smoking ban while reviving a once-dead bill to allow concealed guns on college campuses. Will the House give campus guns the final nod? For more Lege coverage, see "When Good Things Happen to Bad Bills – and Vice Versa."

Headlines
Photo by Jana Birchum

Barbara Ann Radnofsky, the Harris Co. lawyer who challenged U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison for her seat in 2006, announced a run for Texas attorney general. Also in the race: Republican Ted Cruz and wild card Barry Cooper, the former Texas drug cop turned Drug War foe who now uses his narco knowledge to help people avoid getting popped.

• Green man on campus: Jim Walker – Envision Central Texas board chair, executive director of the Central Texas Sustainability Indicators Project, and longtime community leader for the Mueller Airport redevelopment – has been appointed director of sustainability for the University of Texas.

Headlines
Photo by John Anderson

• Congressional reps were expected in town this Thursday, May 21, for a look-see of the Department of Veterans Affairs' Brain Imaging and Recovery Laboratory, beset with problems since the program's former director, whistle-blower Robert Van Boven, accused higher-ups of fraud and other wrongdoings.


Quote of the Week

"It is very important, based on my conversations, my experiences in the city, that you begin to change this culture that keeps Austin as white as possible. That is unacceptable."

– Austin NAACP's Nelson Linder, on the Austin Fire Depart­ment's diversity debate

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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