The Austin Chronicle


August 19, 2011, News

• City Council convenes today (Thursday, Aug. 18), taking up topics ranging from regulation of predatory payday lenders to the revamped expansion of paid parking hours Downtown. See "City Hall Hustle" and "Finding the Way to Downtown Parking."

• Not listed on the agenda but supposedly due to council today is an estimate from engin­eering firm CDM on the cost of a five- or 10-year construction shutdown of Water Treatment Plant No. 4. Council's Audit and Finance Committee held a special-called meeting Monday to discuss past jobs by WTP4 contractor MWH. Council Mem­ber Bill Spelman has asked the Office of the City Auditor to review the estimate council receives.

• Some city email news that doesn't involve the county prosecutor: This week, all city of Austin email addresses changed from an unwieldy to (And just when we had gotten the hang of it.) No need to swap out your address book, as emails to the old suffix will still go through, but the city made the change "with hopes this will be much easier to remember."

• Work crews this week began building a long-planned shaft for the Waller Creek tunnel between Fourth and Fifth Streets and I-35. The good news is there will be no lane closures. That's the plan anyway. The shaft project is expected to take about four months.

• One of Capital Metro's twice-annual schedule adjustments begins Sunday. While most changes are minor, two notable ones are: Route 18 (MLK) and the Enfield Road UT shuttle are being combined, and the MetroRail connector buses from the Downtown Station are being discontinued. (MetroRail ridership is up, but people weren't following up with bus trips.)

• Parks advocates were up in arms this week as the Parks and Recreation Department floated plans to privatize the Austin Recrea­tion Center and the Eastside Dottie Jordan Rec Center.

• With final maps expected before the end of the month, Travis County commissioners are still struggling over how to redistrict their own precincts. At their Aug. 16 meeting, Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt warned that the process of going ballot box by ballot box will leave the county with "meat loaf rather than cordon bleu."

• The Longhorns could be looking for a new rival as Texas A&M continues to flirt with the idea of dumping the Big 12 for the SEC. Just when it seemed negotiations had collapsed, A&M's board of regents voted Aug. 15 to keep exploring a switch.

• Austin streets will echo with the distinctive buzz of a Formula One engine this Saturday when Red Bull Racing brings one of its cars to town to film part of a TV spot just north of the Capitol.

• Gov. Rick Perry formally jumped into the Republican presidential nomination fight on Aug. 13, and the national press is starting to pore over the details of his political career, much of which is covered in the Perry Trap, our complete archive of vintage and breaking stories about Gov. Goodhair. Visit or follow @ThePerryTrap on Twitter.

• The Georgia-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Aug. 12 issued a ruling that would strike down a portion of the federal health care reform law requiring individuals to buy health insurance. That oversteps the government's power, the court ruled. Gov. Rick Perry and Attor­ney General Greg Abbott have praised the ruling.

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