• Vota! Vota! Vota! City of Austin voters on Saturday will decide three City Council races, with all three incumbents running for re-election. Council Members Laura Morrison and Chris Riley are expected to win in a walk, but Randi Shade's heavily contested scramble could go to a June 18 run-off, most likely against challenger Kathie Tovo. Check austinchronicle.com/elections for updates, and find our endorsements and other election info.
• City Council faces some heady topics on the agenda for today's meeting (Thursday, May 12), including drastic changes to the city's social service contracts, the Holly Street Power Plant contract controversy, and the city's tax breaks for historic homes. See "City Hall Hustle."
• The city of Austin is cutting back dramatically on the number of nonprofits it helps fund in an attempt to refocus on safety net services and agencies that help people transition out of poverty. Major charities that didn't make the cut, like the Salvation Army and education advocates Capital IDEA, now have to fill yet another gap in their already depleted coffers.
• This month marks the 15th anniversary of the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan, a federally protected conservation area formed by the city of Austin, Travis County, and other partners. A ceremony and open house to celebrate the official signing of the plan will take place Friday, May 13, 2-5pm, at Reicher Ranch, 3621 FM 620 S.
• For the ninth year in a row, Austin Energy outsold every other utility-sponsored renewable energy program (850 in all) in the country, according to the U.S. Department of Energy's recently released 2010 rankings. Altogether, AE's GreenChoice customers gobbled up 754.2 million kilowatt-hours of green power.
• Austin ISD will get a one-time cash injection of $14 million, courtesy of the long-delayed Federal Education Jobs Funding, the Texas Education Agency announced May 6. The money will decrease the amount the district has to take out of its fund balance to cover the shortfall created by the state budget.
• The House and Senate have selected the 10 lawmakers to form the conference committee on Senate Bill 1, the state budget for the 2012-13 biennium. Their job will be to bridge the $11 billion gap between the draft budgets from the two chambers. See "Senate Budget Lesser of Two Evils."
• The ticking clock echoes louder in the House this week. With sine die – the end of the legislative session – on May 30, the deadline to get bills out of committee has passed, and representatives only have until this Friday, May 13, to consider nonlocal House bills and joint resolutions on third reading.
• The last shadows of bipartisanship collapsed in the Legislature this weekend as the Republican caucus steamrolled through a series of high-profile, ultraconservative bills, such as a crackdown on so-called sanctuary cities and major changes to the right to sue in civil court, with little or no Democratic input. Even with its supermajority, the GOP was reduced to regularly suspending the normal rules of debate to get its agenda passed.