News briefs from Austin, the region, and beyond
What's Happening at City Hall Today?
City Council will consider a host of contractual arrangements at its meeting today, Thursday, Aug. 26. Item 7 on the agenda executes contracts with three companies, including defense contractor KBR, for various construction and repair jobs, for an estimated total of $3 million between the three companies – another instance of our peace-resolution-passing council doing business with a war profiteer. Item 28 is designed to stem sales of stolen scrap metal and air-conditioning units, requiring out-of-town scrap purchasers to possess a city permit, licensing for A/C professionals wishing to sell units, updated Department of Public Safety reporting, and more. On the heels of last week's presentation of Austin Energy's financial plans and timeline in developing new electric rates comes Item 33, a proposed $2 million contract with consultants R.W. Beck and a $1 million agreement with "environmental economists" J. Stowe & Co. to develop a "utility rate study to determine the cost of service for Austin Energy," benchmarking the power utility's expenses against other utilities. And Item 43 from Laura Morrison, Randi Shade, and Chris Riley urges Time Warner not to migrate Channel 6 and other public channels to higher station numbers requiring a digital cable box. – Wells Dunbar
Bastrop Police Chief Linked to Rodney Reed case
According to an arrest affidavit, Bastrop Police Chief David Board (pictured) had a strong odor of alcohol about him and was glassy-eyed and wobbly when he was pulled over Aug. 17 by an Austin Police officer on suspicion of drunken driving, after being spotted swerving into other lanes of traffic and onto the shoulder and making a left turn from a far right lane. This is Board's second DWI; he was first popped for driving drunk in 1985. Whether he'll be allowed to keep his job remains to be decided; if convicted, he faces up to a year in jail for the class A misdemeanor charge. Incidentally, Board was with the Bastrop Police Department back in the spring of 1997 and was instrumental in directing investigators' attention to Rodney Reed as a possible suspect in the murder of Stacey Stites the year before. Reed was sentenced to die for killing Stites, a crime he maintains he did not commit. Instead, Reed argues that a far more likely suspect was Stites' then-fiancé, former Giddings Police Officer Jimmy Fennell, who is now in prison after being convicted of an unrelated kidnapping and sexual assault. Reed says Fennell was furious to discover that Reed and Stites were having an affair. (For more on the Reed case, see "Who Killed Stacey Stites?" May 24, 2002.) – Jordan Smith
Guilty Plea in West Campus Murder
James "Ricky" Thompson pleaded guilty Monday to murdering 22-year-old Stacy Barnett last year in a West Campus condo she shared with her boyfriend, 21-year-old John Goosey. Police have said that Thompson murdered the couple because he owed Goosey roughly $9,000 for marijuana Goosey had supplied him. Thompson received a life sentence for killing Barnett and will reportedly plead guilty to murdering Goosey as well, in exchange for another life sentence that would run concurrent to the first. Thompson has also agreed to testify against two co-defendants, Samuel Gifford, 19, and Roy Renick, 21, who allegedly helped Thompson plan the crime – including helping him fashion a silencer for the gun that was used to murder the young couple. – J.S.