Headlines

Eric Mitchell, election night 1997
Eric Mitchell, election night 1997 (Photo by Jana Birchum)

• We didn't know we'd be saying goodbye so soon, but former Austin City Council Member Eric Mit­chell died Monday from brain cancer. He was 57. A combative figure with an eloquent tongue, Mitchell always made for good News copy in the Chronicle pages; he became a political lightning rod for environmentalists, who recruited a candidate to run against him in 1997, leading to his defeat. After an unsuccessful mayoral run in 2001, Mitchell moved back home to Atlanta, where he died.

• City Council meets today, Thursday, Feb. 17, following another Wednesday work session, with Austin ISD's financial woes receiving attention at both meetings. See "City Hall Hustle."

• Staff and families say they were blindsided by the announcement late Friday afternoon that AISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen is proposing laying off 1,017 employees, including teachers, support staff, and administrators; see "AISD Takes Stock of Impending Layoffs."

Austin's Arab community and supporters gathered Friday at the Texas Capitol for what turned into a celebration of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's resignation – one day after he refused to step down.
Austin's Arab community and supporters gathered Friday at the Texas Capitol for what turned into a celebration of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's resignation – one day after he refused to step down. (Photo by Jana Birchum)

• The May City Council ballot grew more crowded this week, with Toby Ryan declaring a run against Laura Morrison in Place 4. Ryan, a radio personality on 101X, took leave from the airwaves Thursday, Feb. 10, the day before naming a campaign treasurer. Music and entertainment concerns, including sound permitting and potentially expanding paid parking hours Downtown, are issues Ryan says he'll emphasize in his campaign.

• Time to pay that parking ticket. The city of Aus­tin, including Austin Municipal Court, will join 248 other jurisdictions in the fifth annual Great Texas Warrant Roundup beginning March 5. The crackdown will target outstanding traffic, city ordinance, penal code, and other warrants.

• The Texas House and Senate have hit the ground running with multiple meetings on the state's $27 billion deficit. While some conservatives insist it's only $15 billion in the red, the "cuts, cuts, and only cuts" rhetoric is already cooling in favor of closing tax loopholes and tapping the Rainy Day Fund.

• Former Denver Bronco Dan Neil is hoping for a fourth-quarter reversal in his election challenge against Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin. Even though master of discovery Will Hartnett said Howard's four-vote win stands, Neil said he wants to contest the ruling to the full House. See "Howard Wins in a Squeaker."

• After struggling for years against stiff competition, bookstore chain Borders has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and is closing three Austin stores as part of a move that will shutter 30% of its locations across the country.

• Government offices and local libraries will be closed Monday for Presidents Day, in observance of the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln (Feb. 12) and George Washington (Feb. 22).

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