The Austin Chronicle


October 18, 2013, News

City Council meets today (Oct. 17) with plenty of thorny issues: an urban farms ordinance, a special events ordinance, impact fees, a PUD or two, cemeteries and aquariums. See "Council: Grow Your Own," p.20.

› Then again, by Thursday morning we should know whether the federal government has defaulted on its debts, throwing the entire international economy into uncertainty – cemetery decorations may be the last things on Council's mind.

› According to a report just released by researchers at UC-Berkeley and the Univ. of Illinois, "The fast-food industry costs Texas taxpayers $556 million annually in public assistance because 52% of fast-food worker families in Texas need the assistance to get by." Local activists are pressuring fast-food corporations to pay their workers a living wage.

› Despite last-minute appeals to halt his execution, challenging the state's use of compounded instead of manufactured pentobarbital, the state of Texas went forward with the Oct. 9 lethal injection of Michael Yowell, who killed his family in 1998. Additional challenges to the state's hide-and-seek approach to public disclosure of its execution-drug protocol notwithstanding, three executions remain on the 2013 calendar, with the next, Arthur Brown Jr., slated for Oct. 29.

› Last weekend's devastating rainstorms dumped 11 inches of water on Austin, flooding homes, roads, parks, trails, and water treatment plants, and causing the last day of the ACL Festival to be canceled. However, the Highland Lakes are still at less than 34% of capacity.

› Under a quarter of the construction cash spent by Austin ISD in the last decade went to minority-owned and women businesses. According to an Oct. 14 report to trustees, those contractors received 23.3% of the $576.7 million awarded from the 2004 and 2008 bonds, most of that to non-minority women.

Lanier High School was briefly put on lockdown Oct. 15 after a 17-year-old student fatally shot himself on campus. The unidentified student had reportedly posted a picture of himself holding a gun to his head on Facebook prior to the suicide.

› The GOP lieutenant governor primary heats up with Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson demanding that Sen. Dan Patrick, release all his tax records plus details of his 1986 bankruptcy. Meanwhile, embattled incumbent David Dew­hurst told Tarrant County Tea Partiers that he thinks President Obama should be impeached.

› Conservative media group Agendawise is suing Dewhurst and Speaker Joe Straus for the right to provide their own legislative video stream. The group claims it should have the same access to Capitol media servers as Grande, Time Warner, and the Texas Tribune.

› Novelist, musician, and perennial joke candidate Kinky Friedman announced he'll seek the Dem­ocratic nomination for agriculture commissioner – a race he lost in 2010. Dems seem unlikely to forgive his indie run for governor in 2006, or how he backed Rick Perry for president in 2012.

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