Fri., Feb. 19, 2010
• Just in time for South by Southwest comes a controversial council decision declaring only Austin Police, or those otherwise sanctioned by our police chief, eligible to run traffic control on street-closing events. See "City Hall Hustle."
• Mayor Lee Leffingwell (r) unveiled his AustinCorps initiative this week, making good on a proposal from the campaign trail. A hundred high school seniors will spend the 2010 fall semester learning the workings of city government, followed up in the spring with city internships. "AustinCorps will offer our students a rare chance to see local government in action up close, and I fully expect it to make a lifelong impact," said Austin ISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen.
• Mayor Pro Tem? There's an app for that. Last week, MPT Mike Martinez launched his own iPhone app, Martinez for Austin, containing contact information, a calendar, photos, and more. Martinez is eligible to run for re-election for his current Place 2 seat in 2012.
• Eric Skeeter, whose Sixth Street sucker punch of Nikolas Evans resulted in his death last spring (see "Crime and the City Solution," June 26, 2009) was sentenced to 10 years probation this week in a plea bargain.
• Texas vs. science (again): The anti-D.C. Texas trio of Gov. Rick Perry, Attorney General Greg Abbott, and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples are suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over its finding that industrially produced carbon dioxide is a pollutant.
• Gov. Perry is leading primary challengers Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Debra Medina in the polls, but not necessarily by enough to avoid a run-off. And new numbers show leading Democratic contender Bill White only six points behind Perry in a head-to-head race; meanwhile, Farouk Shami's guv campaign appears to be imploding as we write. See "Naked City."
• Keeping Waco wacky: Kenneth Starr (r), the former federal special prosecutor who was broadly accused of partisan motives during the abortive Whitewater prosecution of President Bill Clinton, has been appointed president of Baylor University.
• The Texas Supreme Court has agreed to hear the state's appeal to keep the $5 nude entertainment fee on the books. Two lower courts have already ruled the fee (variously nicknamed the pole tax, the stripper surcharge, or the titty tax) as unconstitutional. The hearing will be March 25 in San Antonio.
Quote of the Week
"Seriously, can we hunt these people down and muzzle them?"
– An unnamed Farouk Shami campaign staffer, venting anger in an e-mail (inadvertently sent to reporters) over unauthorized press statements sent out by people within the Shami camp. See "Naked City."
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