Headlines

Education prevailed over frigid temperatures Wednesday morning as University of Texas students headed across Guadalupe Street toward campus.
Education prevailed over frigid temperatures Wednesday morning as University of Texas students headed across Guadalupe Street toward campus. (Photo by John Anderson)

• City Council is off this week, with its next regularly scheduled meeting set for Feb. 10; in the interim, the council's still mulling a presentation from Austin Water and the fallout from last week's Open Meetings fracas. See "Austin Water: The High Cost of Saving" and "Point Austin."

• Subfreezing temperatures hit much of the South and Midwest on Tuesday and Wednesday, leaving much of Texas, including large chunks of Austin, either without power or struggling under rolling blackouts as energy utilities tried to reboot the system; meanwhile, hundreds of local homeowners were freaked out by frozen pipes.

Headlines
Photo by John Anderson

• As Austin Energy workers scrambled to fix power outages across town, AE officials were weighing the pros and cons of entering into a proposed nuclear-for-coal trade with NRG Energy Inc. See "Naked City."

• Setting the wheels into motion for the 2010 Mobility Bond Program, the City Council last week officially kicked off the first phase of the bond measure that voters approved in Novem­ber, with an eye toward relieving traffic congestion through road improvements, bicycle lanes, trails, sidewalks, and transit options. The mobility effort includes about 50 projects in various areas of Austin.

• Having passed voter ID at lightning speed last week (see "The World According to Voter ID"), the Texas Senate decided to deal with a real emergency as Chairman Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, convened the first meeting of the Senate Finance Committee on Jan. 31 to discuss the budget. The consensus is that Texas is currently $27 billion short of being able to provide the same limited services it provided last biennium.

• Supporters of Austin candidate Dan Neil were a wee premature last week when they tweeted that the Republican had won his election challenge over Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin. In fact, at press time, lawyers for both sides were on day two of examining ballots and cross-examining the voters who cast them in a public hearing. The final decision could take weeks.

• New boss at the bat cave: The Austin American-Statesman has a new publisher, as Cox Media Group sales exec Jane Williams takes over the paper and its associated publications. Williams, a mainstay of the Atlanta TV market for the last 27 years, will replace Michael Vivio, who recently moved up the CMG food chain.

• First they tell us how much salt to put on our food (Gov. Rick Perry's lament) and now they want to take away our tobacky?! It's not that drastic – but a bill that would ban indoor smoking at public and work places has found bipartisan support among Texas voters, according to a poll by the Smoke-Free Texas Coalition; similar bans are already in place in 34 Texas cities, including Austin.

Barbara Bush, daughter of former President George W. Bush, has made a commercial for the New Yorkers for Marriage Equality campaign calling for the legalization of gay marriage. See, this is what happens when you let relatives move to the East Coast.

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