The Austin Chronicle


March 16, 2012, News

› This week's specially called City Council meeting (Thursday, March 15) will be pro forma and brief. Members have to adjust the schedule for their marathon Austin Energy work sessions and set a hearing for March 22 (the next regularly scheduled meeting) to review a proposed incentives deal with Apple for a new Austin campus and a promised 3,600 jobs (Austin is bidding against Phoenix). Work sessions are currently scheduled for March 19 and 20.

› Last week, a Travis County grand jury declined to indict Austin Police Officer Nathan Wagner in the May 2011 shooting of Byron Carter in disputed circumstances, and APD Chief Art Acevedo closed an administrative inquiry into the shooting as well, concluding that Wagner had acted reasonably considering "the totality of the evidence." See "Wagner Walks, Loewy Balks."

› As this issue goes to press Tuesday, Texans are rallying at the Capitol with Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards and the Texas Women's Health Express, a bus-tour effort to counteract Gov. Rick Perry's decision to defy federal law and ban PP from the Women's Health Program, ending basic health care for 130,000 Texas women. See "Perry Continues Assault on Women's Health Care," and "Point Austin."

› Travis Co. Assistant District Attorney Bryan Case, veteran director of the office's appellate division, has decided to drop out of the three-way Dem race to replace retiring Judge Mike Lynch on the 167th Court bench, saying he'll run for a spot on the Third Court of Appeals instead, challenging incumbent GOP Judge Bob Pemberton.

› On Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice declined to preclear (under the Voting Rights Act) the Texas Voter ID law enacted as an "emergency item" by the Lege last spring, saying that requiring government ID of all voters would discriminate against Hispanic voters. Gov. Perry denounced the decision as "federal overreaching" – it and similar laws from other states will eventually land in the Supreme Court.

› Think the redistricting maps are settled? Think again. Federal judges in the D.C. preclearance trial are still pondering whether Congressional District 25 – currently held by Democrat Lloyd Doggett – might have to be redrawn again.

› The Republican National Committee cannot use voter ethnicity to construct targeted election day monitoring. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a 1982 ruling that it must obtain court preapproval for all poll watching.

› Rain could not dampen the South by Southwest spirit. Even with downpours on the opening weekend of the Film and Interactive conferences, the annual Festival is heading for record attendance as the Music portion begins.

› Daily newspapers that carry the legendary, syndicated Doonesbury comic strip this week had to decide whether to run a series of strips skewering abortion politics and Texas' ultrasound-before-abortion law. The first two strips have run in the pages of the Austin American-Statesman.

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