The Austin Chronicle


April 20, 2012, News

• As we go to press Wednesday, City Council is concluding its first day of the formal beginning of the budget cycle (which ends in September), with Budget Officer Ed Van Eenoo forecasting a slowly but steadily improving financial situation while anticipating a small property tax rate hike. With no regular meeting Thursday, the rest of the week was devoted to work sessions, including last Saturday's Lakeway Austin Energy kvetchfest. Many more budget sessions to come.

• Campaigning for the May 12 city council election continued in earnest, with several more campaign forums around town. Thirty-day-out campaign finance reports came out last week, showing most of the money going to incumbents, Mayor Lee Leffingwell swamping everyone with the help of several contribution bundlers, a couple of long shots filing $0, and a report of contribution violations in Place 2, where challenger Laura Pressley announced she would return donations she had accepted from corporations (see "Point Austin").

• The Texas Forensic Science Commission has voted unanimously to begin an investigation into the Austin Police Department crime lab after complaints about its handling of drug evidence.

• Saturday, April 21 is Give 5% to Mother Earth Day – more than 120 businesses will donate 5% of all sales to a list of local environmental charities, including the Friends of Barton Springs Pool, the Sierra Club, and the Clean Water Fund.

• On Wednesday afternoon, 18 UT-Austin students – members of the "Make UT Sweatshop Free Coa­lition" – began occupying the office of UT-Aus­tin President Bill Powers, demanding the university join the international Workers Rights Consort­ium, which monitors working conditions at factories such as those producing Longhorn apparel. A rally with some 25 supporting organizations took place simultaneously on the West Mall.

• The Travis County Commissioners Court voted Tuesday to procede with tax rebates for Apple, and to pay for roads to the Formula One development.

• Travis County Republicans and Democrats meet for their respective county conventions this weekend, even though the primaries aren't scheduled until May 29. See "Party Conventions Party Down."

• Texas' underfunded school districts will finally get their day in court. State District Judge John Dietz has set a hearing date of Oct. 22 for the four different suits being brought against the state over the $5.4 billion cut in funding passed by the Legislature last session.

• In his first big policy announcement since his botched presidential run, on April 16, Gov. Rick Perry announced his Texas Budget Compact – a five-point pledge that would lock state spending in at its current slashed levels through a constitutional amendment.

• After a 10-hour debate last week, Connecticut lawmakers approved a measure to repeal the death penalty. Gov. Dannel Malloy has said he will sign the measure, making Connecticut the 17th state to outlaw the death penalty.

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