• U.S. census forms are due today (Thursday, April 1), but as of March 29, only 39% of Texans had returned their forms, with Travis County ranking second slowest among urban counties. "I know how the story's going to end if we don't turn it around," said Travis County Constable Bruce Elfant of the potential loss of federal funding. Final figures for national returns are expected to be well below the 2000 figure of 67%, leaving census takers to pick up the slack.

Early voting in the April 13 primary run-offs runs through this coming week, Monday-Friday, April 5-9. See austinchronicle.com/elections for more on the races, voting info, and our endorsements.

• The city of Austin this week welcomed Texas Relays fans with open arms (and a few subliminal mea culpas) as the annual event – also known as "Black Mardi Gras" – kicked off March 31 and continues through Saturday. Government and business leaders are trying to reverse last year's snub (police barricades and closed businesses) to thousands of African-American tourists.


• Mayor Lee Leffingwell wants to make the Mexican free-tailed bat the official animal of Austin. He's proposing a June 6 "Night of the Bat" including a concert on Congress Avenue bridge and a screening of the 1966 Batman movie with Adam West (TV's original caped crusader) in attendance. There's no City Council meeting this week, so council will consider the resolution April 8.

• Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst found himself on the arts pages of The New York Times after he joined protesters in pressuring students at Tarleton State University in Stephensville to cancel an evening of one-act plays. The university cited safety concerns over one piece, a workshop version of Terrence McNally's Corpus Christi that includes a depiction of a gay Christ-like figure. See "Naked City" for more.

• Further increasing its Internet presence, the Austin American-Statesman has acquired In Fact Daily, an online news site focusing on city and county issues. IFD Editor Jo Clifton announced that it will remain a separate entity and "there will be no 'rebranding.'" For more info, see "'Statesman' Buys In Fact Daily."

• Surprising no one, Republican Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison has announced that she's abandoning her earlier pledge to resign after her failed primary challenge to Gov. Rick Perry. She will complete her term, which expires in 2012, and her announcement does not rule out running for another term.

• The mayor's office has released a video of several residents recounting their up-close experience of spotting a very large fish in Lady Bird Lake. One man said the fish was bigger than his boat. Look for "Giant Fish in Lady Bird Lake in Austin, Texas" at www.youtube.com.

Quote of the Week


"Thank goodness for Lubbock!"

– Education Austin President Louis Malfaro, announcing that Austin Independent School District, the fifth largest district in Texas, ranks 49th out of the Top 50 districts in terms of teacher pay

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