The Austin Chronicle

https://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2010-04-09/990700/

Headlines

April 9, 2010, News

• City Council takes up several contentious issues today (Thursday, April 8): requiring disclaimers at so-called "crisis pregnancy centers," allowing for the reactivation of dormant building permits, and a $280,00 contract (with optional extensions) for a North Carolina group to lead minority recruitment outreach at the Austin Fire Department. See "City Hall Hustle."

• City staffers have whittled down an ambitious "bicycle boulevard" plan slated for Nueces Street, while crafting a new version that would divert more bike traffic to Rio Grande. See "Bump in the Road for Bike Boulevard."

• Texans laid claim to $23 million in federal stimulus funds Wednesday morning as part of the Texas Trade Up Appliance Rebate Program. Those lucky enough to reserve their rebates before the funds ran out – a little after noon – will be swapping out their old, energy-hogging appliances for new, efficient models later this month. For everyone else, there's a waiting list: www.texaspowerfulsmart.org.

• Electoral lethargy: By the second day of early voting in the April 13 primary run-offs, Travis County reported that only 2,108 Democrats and 2,487 Republicans – a grand total of 0.46% of eligible voters – had cast ballots. Early voting ends Friday.

• New hope for the Cactus Cafe? The Texas Union said Wednesday it is considering three options for the historic venue: Leave it alone, hand it to a third party, or enter a partnership deal with KUT Radio. See "Off the Record" for more.

• Last week Jay Wyatt, the feisty president of Capital Metro's employee union, was returned to his job at the transportation authority. Wyatt was dismissed more than six months ago amid nebulous sexual harassment charges, but observers wondered whether Wyatt's well-publicized clashes with Cap Metro management were behind his firing.

• The Office of National Drug Control Policy has named Austin a "high-intensity drug trafficking area" – a staging area for Mexican drug cartels. This and other fearful news was delivered Monday to the city's Public Safety Commission. See "Reefer Madness."

Advocacy Inc. of Austin, a nonprofit watchdog for the rights of people with disabilities, has filed complaints with the U.S. Justice Department against South by Southwest Inc. and Panasonic Corp. of North America, claiming some of the Film and Interactive events were not accessible to people in wheelchairs.

• The National Transportation Safety Board has released its initial report on Joe Stack's Feb. 18 kamikaze-style attack on the IRS building in North Austin. The report now goes to the FBI, which is leading the investigation. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, has called for the incident to be classified as domestic terrorism.

Quote of the Week

"If Ken Lay were alive today, he'd say, 'My God, what have they done?'"

– Texas Association of Bus­i­ness President Bill Hammond, criticizing the new health care reform law while curiously invoking the name of the Enron founder who died before he was sentenced to prison for corporate fraud

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