Headlines

City Council meets Thursday, March 1, to discuss, among other things, Austin Energy's proposed rate increase, additional taxi permits, and a boating concession on Lady Bird Lake.

› In a special-called meeting on Feb. 22, council tackled the AE rate increase in depth and ordered City Auditor Kenneth Mory to review the utility's proposal.

› Bids are in on the Lady Bird Lake boardwalk, and all eight are higher than anticipated by city staff. The lowest bid for the milelong project was $20.7 million from Jay-Reese Contractors – $3.3 million more than the estimate made prior to the 2010 bond election.

› After drawing widespread criticism from animal lovers for euthanizing a pet dog for killing a neighbor's chickens, Hays County authorities temporarily suspended a county ordinance that calls for killing a dog that is "known to have attacked sheep, goats, calves or other domestic animals or fowls." County commissioners are set to amend the law at their Feb. 28 meeting.

Mark Alan Norwood, accused of capital murder in the 1986 bludgeoning death of Christine Mor­ton in Williamson County, appeared in court Feb. 22; Assistant Attorney General Lisa Tanner has asked the court for a gag order in the case, which has nabbed headlines since last year when Christine's husband, Michael, originally convicted of the murder, was exonerated after DNA evidence pointed to Norwood as the real killer. A preliminary court date has been set for late March.

› The redistricting battles continue, as the San Antonio court is now taking briefs on redrawing districts. Democrats and minority voting rights groups now fear the Mexican Amer­i­can Legis­lative Caucus is wavering in its pledge to protect Congressional District 25 – Travis County's multiethnic seat held by Lloyd Doggett.

› The U.S. Supreme Court announced Feb. 21 that it will hear a case later this year concerning the race-conscious admissions policy at UT. The court last ruled on the question of affirmative action in 2003; the court's decision to hear this case suggests to many that the more conservative court is poised to overturn more than three decades of jurisprudence allowing racial considerations in school admissions.

› Democrats are calling for a special legislative session on school finance after the latest budget forecast from the Comptroller's Office showed an unexpected $1.6 billion bump in tax revenue. At a House Appropriations Committee meeting on Feb. 21, Reps. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, and Ruth Jones McClendon, D-San Antonio, recommended the cash partially replace the $4 billion cut from schools last session.

› Democratic congressional hopeful Dan Grant continues to hammer on Rep. Mike McCaul's ethics after McCaul and five other members of the U.S. House Ethics Committee recused themselves from an investigation into Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California. Grant accused McCaul of "inappropriate behavior during this investigation."

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