Naked City

News briefs from Austin, the region, and beyond

The best and worst of times are playing out on East Sixth Street as two neighboring food establishments – the Best Wurst food cart and P.arkside fine-dining restaurant – appear unable to happily coexist within a few feet of each other. Parkside opposes Best Wurst's permit renewal and says it conflicts with the restaurant's plans to build a balcony and operate a sidewalk cafe. Best Wurst is standing its ground, while its band of Sixth Street devotees are providing a whole lot of dish on Facebook. For more, see <b><a href=http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Issue/column?oid=oid%3A1055959>Food-o-File</a></b>.
The best and worst of times are playing out on East Sixth Street as two neighboring food establishments – the Best Wurst food cart and P.arkside fine-dining restaurant – appear unable to happily coexist within a few feet of each other. Parkside opposes Best Wurst's permit renewal and says it conflicts with the restaurant's plans to build a balcony and operate a sidewalk cafe. Best Wurst is standing its ground, while its band of Sixth Street devotees are providing a whole lot of dish on Facebook. For more, see "Food-o-File." (Photo by Jana Birchum)

Money for Mother Nature

Nature lovers can look forward to a new and improved Barton Creek Trail thanks to a $105,000 grant awarded by Impact Austin to the Austin Parks Foun­da­tion for its Barton Creek Trail Corps Project. The foundation will work throughout 2011 with American YouthWorks Environ­ment­al Corps members, the city Parks Department, the Hill Country Conservancy, and community volunteer groups to improve the eight-mile main trail and surrounding landscape; thanks to an additional grant from REI, work will begin this Septem­ber. Projects include correcting severe erosion, flood damage, and soil compaction; removing invasive species (ligustrum, chinaberry, nandina); and restoring native plants and trees. Want to volunteer? Join in – or bring a whole group – on National Trails Day, Sept. 25, 9am-noon. (For more info, visit www.austinparks.org.)... The Zilker Tree Rescue Project needs volunteers, too. Seventy-five dead trees have had to be removed from the park recently, and 89 others require treatment by arborists; mean­while, volunteers are needed to water and mulch hundreds more. APF is raising up to $100,000 for the effort and organizing volunteer workdays. If you can help lead a mulch crew (pick any day, and bring anywhere from five to 50 people), e-mail apf@austinparks.org – Katherine Gregor

Campaigning Off Air

Dan Neil (l) & Erin Hogan, hosts of the 104.9FM radio show <i>The Bud Light Morning Rush</i>
Dan Neil (l) & Erin Hogan, hosts of the 104.9FM radio show The Bud Light Morning Rush (Photo by ESPNAustin.com)

House candidate and sports radio host Dan Neil is trying to blame opponent Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, for the fact that his employers at 104.9FM the Horn are complying with Federal Communications Com­mis­sion regulations. In a July 12 press release, Neil's campaign claimed Howard "forced Republican opponent Dan Neil off the airwaves, harming his ability to make a living." Not quite: Accord­ing to management at the ESPN affiliate, Neil is still on staff and the decision to remove him from the air was made solely by attorneys for station owner Border Media. The FCC requires that candidates who are in broadcasting either be removed from the air or their opponents must be given equal access to air time. Neil went on hiatus from his show May 13, before the station contacted Howard's campaign to discuss options. The Howard campaign was happy to negotiate, but station attorneys decided to err on the side of caution and remove Neil for the duration of his campaign. So why bring this up months later? Neil spokesman Zach Vaughn said, "The formal decision only came at the end of June, maybe early July." Station Vice President Bob Proud confirmed that Neil is still a station employee, adding, "We're hoping to find other ways to use him until such a time as we can put him back on the air." – Richard Whittaker

Open Meetings vs. First Amendment

Texas Attorney Gen­er­al Greg Abbott is asking the federal court to dismiss the city of Alpine's challenge to the Texas Open Meetings Act, a law requiring that government officials post public notice before meeting in a quorum to discuss public matters. The city filed suit, arguing that the law's criminal provision violates First Amend­ment protections. Abbott's brief to the district court in Pecos cries foul on that: "At bottom, [the public officials'] constitutional attack is about protecting not free speech, but secret speech," reads the A.G.'s brief. There is a limited right to engage in such "anonymous speech, where necessary to protect private persons against unjust retaliation," the brief continues. "But what [city officials] seek here is not protection against unjust retaliation – but rather, immunity for government officials from political accountability to their constituents." Abbott notes in a press release that previous such challenges to the law have failed – including in the federal court in Pecos. – Jordan Smith

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