Some of the week's biggest news
• City Council is on holiday until Jan. 13, but one of its agenda items – consideration of a contract for the demolition of the Holly Street Power Plant – is tangled up in court. See "Raising Hell Over Razing Holly."
• The Austin Firefighters Association will reportedly file a grievance Thursday, Dec. 30, with the city over its current firefighter hiring plan, in the continuation of a long-standing dispute over the best method to increase racial diversity in the Austin Fire Department.
• Austin Police are investigating the fatal police shooting of a former suspect in the yogurt shop murder case. Maurice Pierce was killed Dec. 23, after police say he ran from an APD officer, then attacked him after the officer tried to subdue him. See "Pierce Shooting: 'Still About Four Murders.'"
• City Manager Marc Ott announced Wednesday his choice of former Travis County Sheriff Margo Frasier to be the city's next police monitor. Frasier, who will be the fourth person to hold the position and will be replacing Cliff Brown (who will become a district judge), will start work Jan. 18. For more on the selection of Frasier, see the Newsdesk blog at austinchronicle.com/newsdesk.
• Travis County commissioners voted Tuesday to move ahead on the $21.7 million purchase of a prized Downtown block bounded by Third and Fourth streets, and Guadalupe and San Antonio streets; the county intends to build a new civil courthouse on the site, which is where the Austin Museum of Art had once hoped to plant roots.
• Security measures at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport are back under the microscope after passenger Claire Hirschkind – a rape survivor with a pacemaker – was arrested on Dec. 22 for refusing to undergo a pat-down by Transportation Safety Authority employees.
• Austin-based Cielo Wind Power Inc. has signed a 15-year contract to sell wind-generated electricity from its Spinning Spur Wind Ranch to Xcel Energy, a power company that covers 3.4 million electrical customers in eight states. The planned turbine facility near Amarillo will generate 161 megawatts – enough to power 54,000 homes.
• The Environmental Protection Agency has taken over the issuance of Clean Air Act permits in Texas. The Dec. 23 decision came after the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said it would not implement new federal standards for greenhouse-gas emissions when granting permits to industrial polluters.
• Speaker Joe Straus has appointed Rep. Will Hartnett, R-Dallas, to head up the legislative panel hearing Republican Dan Neil's election challenge of his loss to Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin. Hartnett served as the master of discovery in three election challenges in 2005, including GOPer Jack Stick's unsuccessful attempt to dislodge Howard's legislative neighbor Mark Strama.
Quote of the Week
"A normal traffic stop with a regular person" is one thing. "A traffic stop with Maurice is still about four murders."
– Kimberly Pierce, wife of former yogurt shop murder suspect Maurice Pierce; he died this week during a traffic stop gone awry