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U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius (r) greets an employee as she tours the CommUnity Care East Austin Health Center 
with Central Health President and CEO Patricia Young Brown. Sebelius was in friendly territory last week to promote the Affordable Care Act.
U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius (r) greets an employee as she tours the CommUnity Care East Austin Health Center with Central Health President and CEO Patricia Young Brown. Sebelius was in friendly territory last week to promote the Affordable Care Act. (Photo by Jana Birchum)

› Fresh from raising wage and benefit standards on economic development projects and impact fees for new developments, City Council takes a Halloween break until Nov. 7, when it will consider rental property registration programs, among other things. See "Council."

› As of Wednesday morning, a whopping 21,609 voters – 3.5% of those registered – had managed to trundle down to the polls for early voting in the Nov. 5 election. You've still got a couple of days to get it to 4%, making the anticipated 8% overall at least a possibility. See "Lonely at the Polls."

› The Chronicle hits the street today on Halloween – a scary enough prospect in itself – and y'all can wear your Ted-dy Cruz-er masks as you support the local economy and the TABC on Sixth Street. Bike at your own risk, since you won't be able to use the park trails after 10pm.

› Health and Human Services Sec. Kathleen Sebelius and Vice President Joe Biden were in town this week, Sebelius promoting the federal health care exchange and local facilitators, and Biden the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

› It's raining: the drought eased just a bit in Central Texas over the last few weeks, with the eastern part of Travis County upgraded from "moderate drought" to "abnormally dry," about as good as we can hope for these days. Lakes Travis and Buchanan remain severely low, with "severe drought" still ruling the whole region.

Austin ISD continues to implement its controversial policy to turn Pearce and Garcia Middle Schools into single-sex campuses in 2014. On Oct. 28, the board formally adopted reconstitution plans for both, and selected Ivette Savina, currently principal at Northwest Early College High in Canutillo ISD, to lead the girls' school.

› As impeachment hearings into UT Regent Wal­lace Hall's alleged abuse of his office continue, the UT System Board of Regents has rewritten its rules on open records requests, defusing a sore point between admin and campuses. Hall is accused of using such requests in a witch hunt against UT Austin President Bill Powers.

Travis County Commissioners Tuesday punted for a week a decision on a 100-year-old live oak tree, which stands in the way of a road-widening project in far-South Austin. Neighbors near Frate Barker Road want the tree transplanted and have raised funds to care for "Cami" once it's moved to another site. Commissioners are weighing cost options for relocating the tree.

› Before casting her vote Monday morning, Sen. Wendy Davis had to sign an affidavit avowing that she was the person registered. The new Texas voter ID law is reportedly causing trouble for other women who, like Davis, have changed their name because of marriage or divorce.

› Arch Tea Partier Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, whose district reaches into southwest Travis County, will face another GOP primary challenger, San Antonio businessman Mike Novak. Former San Antonio City Council member Elisa Chan declared her candidacy in September.

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