Students, parents, and advocates marched Dec. 12 from Eastside Memorial High School to Allan Elementary in protest of a charter school proposal.
Students, parents, and advocates marched Dec. 12 from Eastside Memorial High School to Allan Elementary in protest of a charter school proposal. (Photo by John Anderson)

• Austin ISD's Dec. 12 board meeting collapsed after midnight into furious accusations as trustees split over the plan to let IDEA Public Schools run the Eastside Memorial Vertical Team as an in-district charter. Many residents and community groups are livid over what they see as tone deafness and a lack of due diligence by the board in pushing the deal; it comes back for discussion, possible contract revision, and a potential vote next Monday, Dec. 19. See "Kicking Around an IDEA."

• City Council meets today (Thursday, Dec. 15), its final meeting of 2011: It's a jam-packed agenda, including final approval of a smoking ban in public parks, adoption of a solid waste master plan, and more. See "City Hall Hustle."

• Also on the council agenda: potential approval of an economic development agreement with US Farathane Corp. The plastic auto parts maker would create 228 jobs over three years for incentives totaling $213,000. Council members applauded the creation of blue-collar, manufacturing jobs (in contrast to deals inked with companies like Facebook and PayPal), but have questioned the low-paying wages of Farathane's most entry-level positions – about $11/hour.

• Primary season? What primary season? As the U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily blocked the interim Texas House, Senate, and congres­sion­al maps drafted by a federal three-judge panel in San Antonio, it remains unclear what will happen next. The lack of maps or a clear calendar means potential candidates don't know which seats they will run for, or even when the primaries may be. See "Supremes Block Texas Maps: What Now?."

• The recent stay of redrawn Texas congressional redistricting maps by the Supreme Court has also thrown the election calendar into chaos. City Council added a late item to consider the effects on the municipal election calendar, perhaps restarting the recent and unsuccessful effort to move City Council elections to Novem­ber. The confusion also reached the Travis County Com­mis­sion­­ers Court, which declined to act on its own recently redrawn districts until the election timing is clarified ... whenever that happens.

• After months of complaining that he's being ignored by the media, Texas Congressman Ron Paul is making GOP presidential primary headlines. The latest Iowa polls find him in a statistical tie with current frontrunner Newt Gingrich, with less than three weeks before that state's primary caucuses. Gov. Rick Perry still languishes in single digits despite a last-ditch bus tour and an expensive, more-Christian-than-thou TV blitz.

• The federal government has denied reauthorization of Texas' Women's Health Program as long as it contains a provision eliminating Planned Parenthood from participating as a provider. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said it will extend the program through the end of March 2012 in the hope that state and federal officials reach a compromise. For more, see "Is the Women's Health Program Dead?," Newsdesk blog, Dec. 13.

• U.S Attorney General Eric Holder spoke at UT's LBJ School Tuesday evening and reiterated the Obama administration's support for the Voting Rights Act generally and specifically vowed to fight the Texas congressional redistricting maps currently under review in D.C. federal court.

• University of Texas School of Law Dean Larry Sager resigned abruptly last week after documents obtained through open records requests revealed questionable and inequitable compensation practices under his management. Stefanie Lindquist, associate dean for academic affairs, has been named interim dean.

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