Steve Adler's mayoral victory over Council Member Mike Martinez was no real surprise – "We were always the underdog," said Martinez – but the 67-33% margin was overwhelming. Adler welcomed a mandate for change, and the promised support of his defeated opponent: "We need to seize this opportunity."
AISD Trustees voted unanimously Dec. 15 to select Interim Superintendent Paul Cruz as the sole finalist to become the next permanent district CEO – an easy decision, since the two other finalists withdrew. Under state law, the board must wait 21 days before formally offering a contract.
Shorter airport lines? On Dec. 15, Austin Bergstrom International Airport opened its new customs facility, capable of processing up to 600 passengers per hour, triple its current capacity. This is part of the Terminal East Infill expansion and modernization retrofit, intended to be complete by summer 2015.
Alumni sources claim former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is in the running to become UT's next president, after president Bill Powers steps down in 2015. Former U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is said to be another contender. However, at this point, it's all speculation. A committee will interview candidates in January, and regents will vote on finalists in March.
Short term rentals are still a headache for Austin's code enforcement office: According to a Dec. 15 report to the Council Audit and Finance Committee, 28% of identified unlicensed STRs failed to comply with city regulations even after staff intervened, and there have been no prosecutions of property owners to date.
Former Travis Co. GOP state Rep. Jack Stick has resigned as chief counsel to the Health and Human Services Commission as questions mount over his role in awarding a no-bid contract worth $110 million for Medicaid fraud detection.
Gov. Rick Perry has called three special elections for Tuesday, Jan. 6. Filing closes Dec. 22 for the seats of Bexar County Democrats Sen. Leticia Van de Putte and Rep. Mike Villarreal, both of whom are running for San Antonio mayor, and Rep. Tim Kleinschmidt, R-Lexington, who is joining the Agriculture Commission.
State Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, plans to introduce a bill next month that would remove the threat of arrest, jail time, and a criminal record for possession of small amounts of marijuana. "Our current marijuana policy in Texas just isn't working," Moody said Monday. "We need a new approach that allows us to more effectively utilize our limited criminal justice resources."
A new contender for Worst Texas Congressman: GOP Rep. Blake Farenthold is being sued by his former communications director, Lauren Greene, for sexual harassment, in a lawsuit alleging a hostile work environment and gender discrimination.