Headlines

City Council doesn't meet again until March 1, but it's hosting a community discussion on the Austin Energy rate increase today (Thursday, Feb. 16) at 2pm. See "Then There's This," for more on the AE rate debate.

› For the second time, criminal justice blogger Scott Henson was detained by Austin Pol­ice and questioned as a kidnapper after being spotted walking with his granddaughter. He's white; she's black. This time, though, Henson's blog post (www.gritsforbreakfast.blogspot.com) grabbed the attention of journos and bloggers across the country and around the globe. APD Chief Art Ace­vedo, we're told, is going to review the incident.

› Newly minted critic of excessive testing Com­mis­sioner of Education Robert Scott has found unexpected allies in a confederation of Dallas-area school superintendents. The North Texas Regional Consortium signed a letter of support for Scott after he was savaged by the Texas Association of Business for saying the Texas system is a "perversion of its original intent."

› Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones announced her resignation so she can concentrate on running against Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio. This could render moot a suit filed by former Travis County Judge Bill Aleshire, who claimed she violated residency rules by running for this seat while claiming a state salary in Austin. However, Wentworth is demanding that Ames Jones repay $30,000 in wages.

› The state of Texas and plaintiffs in the seemingly never-ending redistricting case are struggling to reach some form of compromise. As the Chronicle went to press, two days of hearings in San Antonio had yielded a solid Senate map, but the others were still up in the air. See "Doggett Seat a Sticking Point in Redistricting," and follow our updated coverage at austinchronicle.com/newsdesk.

› Consummate researcher and activist Paul Rob­bins this week released a new report, "Hard To Swallow," which shows Austin's water costs are higher than in any other large city in Texas. The report says the water utility has the highest cost per unit of combined water and wastewater in all rate classes. The complete findings are at www.environmentaldirectory.info.

› What do you want from your transportation bond? The city asks residents to prioritize the proposal's guiding principals via SpeakUpAustin.org through Feb. 29. Texas Sen. Kirk Watson has warned the bond may fall off the ballot if costly plans for an Austin medical school move ahead.

› Travis County congressional hopeful Dan Grant has accused GOP Rep. Mike McCaul of hypocrisy and "unethical stock trades," noting that McCaul lobbied Secretary of State Hillary Rod­ham Clinton to approve TransCanada's controversial Keystone XL pipeline the day after he bought shares in the oil firm.

› Hays Community Action Network has announced a memorial service for local government watchdog and longtime Chronicle correspondent Charles O'Dell: Saturday, March 3, 2pm, at the Wizard Academy, 16221 Crystal Hills Dr.

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