• City Council convenes today, Thursday, June 10, with a relatively light agenda by recent standards, although proposed changes to historic landmark zoning may spark some debate. See "City Hall Hustle."
• City Manager Marc Ott this week unveiled an initial round of proposed budget cuts totaling more than $28 million. The city's first budget forum is scheduled for June 15; make comments and vote on priorities online at www.cityofaustin.org. As of Wednesday, most online participants supported ending fee waivers and co-sponsorships of parks-related events. For more, see "Naked City."
• A fire early Wednesday destroyed the Barr Mansion ballroom, a popular venue for weddings and progressive fundraisers. Lightning is believed to have caused the blaze.
• The city announced Wednesday that Samsung will spend $3.6 billion expanding its semiconductor fabrication plant, creating 400 to 500 permanent positions (after laying off a similar number last year) and 1,000 temporary construction jobs. "This type of investment speaks volumes about our city's image on the national and international level," Mayor Lee Leffingwell said in announcing the expansion.
• Austin Community College President Stephen Kinslow announced this week he'll resign when his contract expires in June 2011. ACC has seen its greatest growth – in both student head count and bricks-and-mortar projects – in the five years since Kinslow took the helm; the institution plans for even more growth.
• Complicated discussions could see the Longhorns leaving the Big 12 after the presidents and chancellors of the Pac-10 schools authorized Commissioner Larry Scott to target UT-Austin, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech to expand the league. However, Baylor is lobbying lawmakers to block any deal unless it is also included in any switch.
• Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and the Austin American-Statesman have traded barbs over the logic (or illogic) of the state's decision to fast-track licensed concealed handgun carriers through the new security provisions at the state Capitol. The debate has overshadowed the more basic problem of there being no coherent background check policy in place for allowing quick access to the building.
• Fausto Cardenas, the man who caused the State Preservation Board to add metal detectors at the Capitol doors after allegedly firing shots outside the building, had his bond dropped June 8, from $250,000 to $150,000, despite prosecutors' warnings that he's a flight risk. Cardenas is charged with making a terroristic threat and faces up to 10 years in jail if convicted.
Quote of the Week
"Needless to say, many of these remaining cuts present difficult choices that would negatively impact services – in some cases significantly."
– City Manager Marc Ott, in a memo outlining $9.3 million in budget reductions and $19.2 million in cuts to as-yet-unfunded services in the city budget