The Austin Chronicle


April 10, 2015, News

No formal City Council meeting this week (next is April 16) while the committees get rolling and the reverberations proceed from the Zucker Report on Planning and Development. See "Public Notice," and "Council."

Meanwhile, the Never-Ending District 4 campaign proceeds with defeated Council candidate Laura Pressley's contest of last year's election and run-off, which arrived in court Monday before a skeptical visiting district judge, Daniel Mills. See "D4 Contest: Pressley Marches On."

Williamson County Judge Tim Wright surrendered to U.S. Marshals Tuesday after being indicted on nine federal charges of selling guns to a felon and helping smuggle weapons to Mexico. He faces up to 70 years in prison if found guilty.

APD announced a new training and education program designed to replace one-day suspensions handed down to officers for minor infractions. The policy is being hailed by the Police Associa­tion and Office of the Police Monitor, though some believe it will lead to less transparency; under the new provisions, those whose disciplines would have been made public will now stay under APD purview.

AISD could see a boost of between $20 mil­lion and $40 million under HB 1759, the new school finance legislation laid out by Public Educa­tion Committee Chair Jimmie Don Aycock. Aycock warns his bill is a short-term fix, and the system still needs a major overhaul (see "Lege Lines").

Texas Rangers could start investigating corruption cases, as state Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, dumped plans to move the state's Public Integrity Unit to the Attorney General's office. However, she may not have the 19 votes she needs to move the PIU away from the Travis Co. District Attorney, who currently handles such cases.

No Hate in the Lone Star State: Unlikely allies Rep. Celia Israel, D-Austin, and Texas Association of Business CEO Bill Hammond joined with lawmakers on April 7 to oppose proposed "religious freedom" bills. Hammond called them "bad for business" and evoked the boycotts of Indiana after it passed similar anti-LGBT legislation.

It wasn't all flowers for Hammond: A furious Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Humble, said Hammond and Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce VP Drew Scheberle were "out of your mind" for opposing SB 149, adding graduation committees to evaluate students failing the STAAR end-of-course tests.

Debate continues in Washington over a tentative, multi-country agreement with Iran on limiting its nuclear weapons research in exchange for a gradual lifting of economic sanctions. GOP presidential candidates and Congres­sion­al leadership denounced the agreement, but President Obama defended it as the best alternative to war.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul launched his bid for president this week, behind fellow Tea Party darling, Sen. Ted Cruz. Paul touted his anti-big-government bona fides and criticized national surveillance practices in his announcement speech.

UT Athletic Director Steve Patterson announced Shaka Smart as successor to ousted men's basketball coach Rick Barnes on Friday. Smart, 38, arrives in Austin after six years at Virginia Commonwealth University. In 2011, he took the small school to the NCAA Tournament's Final Four. See: "UT Basketball Scores New Leadership."

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