• There's no City Council meeting this week; council returns next week to clear several items from its plate before taking the following Thursday off for Thanksgiving. The Nov. 19 agenda includes a report from Austin Energy on how the utility can more effectively run its solar power rebate program.
• Council last week punted the Grayco South Shore Planned Unit Development to Dec. 17, directing city staff to draft language for the PUD ordinance that addresses affordable housing. Final approval of the proposed project has been marked by a series of postponements because of questions surrounding the affordability issue. The development, and others that follow, will remove a sizeable portion of the city's affordable-housing stock in the increasingly desirable East Riverside area.
• Capital Metro will begin evening track testing for its MetroRail on Nov. 16. Trains will run from 3pm to 8:30pm, while freight trains will use the tracks from 9pm to 2pm the next day. The Red Line from Downtown to Leander is expected to start carrying passengers in early 2010. The transit agency warns road users to watch for trains and stay off crossings.
• Three appointees were named to the Capital Metro board of directors Monday, under new rules requiring members to possess specific skills. Nonprofit director Frank Fernández has a decade of financial/accounting experience, transportation consultant John Langmore has 10-plus years of management experience, and Mayor Pro Tem Mike Martinez serves as an elected official. All three are Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization appointments.
• After a tempestuous four months in the job, Austin ISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen will have much to discuss when she delivers a State of the District speech Tuesday, Nov. 17. See "Res Publica" for time and location.
• A Central East Austin neighborhood has been designated as an African American Cultural Heritage District by the Texas Commission on the Arts, one of seven communities to secure the title this year. See "Res Publica" for celebration details.
• New chair of the Texas Forensic Science Commission John Bradley went toe-to-toe with the Senate Criminal Justice Committee Nov. 10, when he suggested that his agency, charged with examining potentially exonerating scientific trial evidence, should be able to work in increased secrecy. He then accused Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, of a conflict of interest because he is a member of the Innocence Commission.
• Health care reform is headed to the U.S. Senate after the House of Representatives passed the bill 220-215 on Nov. 7. However, conservatives have attacked the bill for containing a public option, some progressives attacked the public option for being too weak, and women's health advocates savaged it for including the Stupak-Pitts amendment, which would block access to abortion care through funding restrictions.
Quote of the Week
"Guezz I am so smart I scare myself."
– From an internal Austin Police Department e-mail sent by Detective Chris Dunn in trying to gather evidence to justify a police officer's fatal shooting of Nathaniel Sanders II. Dunn has since been fired.