The Austin Chronicle


August 21, 2009, News

Don't drink or breathe. Austin's severe drought hit another dry benchmark this week, as the city declared Stage 2 watering restrictions – meaning, among other things, only once-a-week watering. Meanwhile, officials warned that Austin's ozone levels are about to exceed federal standards, bringing yet another list of no-nos, mostly related to driving. At least if you're not taking your car out, you probably won't need to wash it – two birds with one stone. See "Forecast Calls for Conservation" and "Naked City."

• Summer's over, and the Austin Independent School District school year begins on Aug. 24, with a repurposed Pearce Middle School opening its doors for the first time and Reagan High entering its make-or-break fifth year under enhanced scrutiny from state accountability standards.

• South Austin gas station clerk Juan Romero has been charged with murder for shooting Jorge Luis Vielma after Vielma stole some beer. Romero fired multiple rounds at the unarmed Vielma and could face a life sentence.

• Korea-based Samsung Austin Semiconductor began laying off more than 500 workers as it moved to close one fab shop and upgrade another – for which it plans to hire 150-200 technicians next year.

• Texas congressional Democrats remain on the offensive in their support of health care reform: After Lloyd Doggett braved the storm of anti-reform activists at town hall meetings in Austin, Chet Edwards has announced a series of public forums around his district. CD 17 includes suburbs of Fort Worth, Waco, and Bryan.

John Mackey, CEO of Austin-based Whole Foods Market, has been blasted for writing an op-ed decrying health care reform and suggesting consumers should just make better health decisions (like, say, shopping at Whole Foods). The store now faces a shopper boycott (see "Point Austin").

• Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison made it official, formally announcing she's in the race to replace Gov. Rick Perry. The career officeholders immediately began charging each other with being insufficiently anti-government. See "Naked City."

• Former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom "the Hammer" DeLay has signed up as a contestant on ABC's Dancing With the Stars. Will he choose the Texas two-step or jailhouse rock? DeLay is still under indictment for campaign finance violations.

• Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Sharon Keller testified in a hearing before the state's Commission on Judicial Conduct, defending her refusal to accept an appeal of a death penalty case because, as she put it, "We close at 5pm." See "Naked City."

Quote of the Week

"As one of his shareholders and regular customers, I think John should stick to Whole Foods, because he certainly offers no formula for Whole Health Care Access."

– U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, on Whole Foods CEO John Mackey's Wall Street Journal op-ed decrying "socialist" health care reform and instead proposing "free market"-based reforms

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