The Austin Chronicle


July 2, 2010, News

City Council has entered its summer hiatus, returning to the dais for a full meeting July 29. Recycling contract negotiations and planning for upcoming bond elections will give the council a bunch to mull in the meantime. See "City Hall Hustle," and "TDS, Balcones to Split City Recycling Work."

• The city held its first public forum with Austin Energy general manager candidates this week, after one finalist dropped out and questions mounted over the parameters of the search. See "The Flickering Search for an AE Chief."

• The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday overturned Texas' flexible air-permitting policy, saying the state standards violate the Clean Air Act.

Austin Community College's empire keeps growing: In anticipation of a vote by Hays County residents to join its taxing district, ACC has purchased 96 acres in Kyle, south of Austin. This brings recent land acquisitions to a total of $35.4 million.

• Local artist/music lover/entrepreneur Luke Zimmermann – best known to generations of University of Texas students as the co-owner, with wife Pat Mares, of Ruby's BBQ on Guadalupe – died June 26 at the age of 61. For more, see "Page Two" and "Food-o-File," Food.

Public school teachers scored a rare victory this week. School superintendents have been fighting over whether House Bill 3646, passed last session, ordered them to give teachers a raise across one year or two. Attorney General Greg Abbott issued an opinion Tuesday that the legislation covered both years. The news is a boon to struggling teachers, but a headache for financially strapped school districts.

• Services for former Gov. Dolph Briscoe Jr., who died June 27, will be held today, Thursday, July 1, in his hometown of Uvalde. A moderate Demo­crat who remained active in party politics until his health began to decline, Briscoe served as governor during the oil-drenched Seventies. He will be buried in a cemetery on the family ranch.

• The Green Party of Texas is being denied ballot access in the November election after Travis County District Judge John Dietz ruled last week that the signatures on their petitions were paid for with illegal corporate contributions. The court heard that Republicans close to Gov. Rick Perry were involved in not one but two potentially illegal petition drives, apparently intended to split the Democratic vote in the general election.

• Who'll stop the rain? Hurricane Alex, the first hurricane of the 2010 season, was expected to make landfall in South Texas late Wednesday, amid growing concern over its impact on attempts to clean up the Gulf oil disaster.

Chronicle staff writer Jordan Smith was named a runner-up for a Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism for her investigative story, "Believing the Children" (March 27, 2009), on the flawed 1991-1992 inquiry and prosecution of a southwest Austin day care center. The Casey awards are sponsored by the University of Maryland's Journalism Center on Children & Families.

Quote of the Week

"They have now kissed and made up."

– Council Member Bill Spelman, asked to com­ment on a tense exchange between City Manager Marc Ott and former Austin Energy General Manager Roger Duncan over the search for AE's new gener­al manager (see "A Glimpse at AE's GM Candidates")

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