• City Manager Marc Ott and a contingent of city officials and community members are expected to return today (Thursday, July 15) from a reconnaissance mission to Turlock, Calif., to see Larry Weis – one of the two recently interviewed candidates for Austin Energy's general manager position – in his native habitat. Ott told council members last week that he believes Weis is the "best fit for Austin."

• City Council doesn't meet again until July 28, but work continues behind the scenes on initiatives to revamp the city's social service contracting process and plans for a November transportation bond election. See "City Hall Hustle."

• The city appears ready to settle a lawsuit with the family of Nathaniel Sanders II, the teenager killed by since-fired Austin Police Officer Leonardo Quintana. See "Sanders Family to Settle With City?"

• Austin will get a new city website ... someday ... but piecemeal improvements continue to the site. The city recently launched a new boards and commissions portal, listing agendas, approved meeting minutes, and more. Visit www.cityofaustin.org/cityclerk/bc_info_center.htm.

• Fishy story: Zilker Botanical Garden managers recently announced that 13 koi fish were stolen late last month from the park's Isamu Taniguchi Japanese Garden; the colorful Japanese carp can fetch a few hundred a pop, although this particular variety of fish were valued between $150 and $200, according to park officials.


• The brouhaha over a contested remodel at 1915 David St. finally died at the Board of Adjustment on Monday; attorney Mike McHone withdrew his client's permits and his requested appeals – after fighting the Original West University Neighborhood Association for 10 months.

Campaign finance reports for the November general election are due today (Thursday, July 15), so get ready for a torrent of donor-related smear stories.

• Should the State Board of Education close the book on textbooks? A recent poll conducted for the Texas Freedom Network showed 72% of respondents believe teachers and academic scholars, not the SBOE, should write curriculum and textbook standards.

• Mayor Lee Leffingwell (right) has set the 3C Chal­lenge to encourage Austinites to cut their daily water consumption from an average of 167 gallons a day to the Texas Water Development Board's target of 140 gallons by 2020.Austin Water customers who take the pledge to "Commit, Calculate and Conserve" could win a new energy-efficient washing machine and dryer.


Quote of the Week

"The program is no longer geared toward protecting rare gems and has turned into a racket that the wealthy are manipulating to avoid taxes."

– Alfred Stanley, in an e-mail follow-up to his comments to Travis County Commissioners on historic property tax exemptions

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