Public Notice: Out of Their Cold, Dead Brains
GOP refuses to be sensible about guns
This week, just after Texas' open carry law went into effect, President Barack Obama made a major address regarding "commonsense gun safety measures" that he will pursue by executive action. To wit:
"Number one, anybody in the business of selling firearms must get a license and conduct background checks. ... We're also taking steps to make the background check system more efficient. ...
"Number two, we're going to do everything we can to ensure the smart and effective enforcement of gun safety laws that are already on the books, which means we're going to add 200 more ATF agents and investigators. We're going to require firearms dealers to report more lost or stolen guns on a timely basis. We're working with advocates to protect victims of domestic abuse from gun violence. ...
"Number three, we're going to do more to help those suffering from mental illness get the help that they need ... to ensure that federal mental health records are submitted to the background check system, and remove barriers that prevent states from reporting relevant information. ...
"Number four, we're going to boost gun safety technology ... to advance research. We're going to work with the private sector to update firearms technology [with items like child-proof triggers and embedded chips to locate missing or stolen guns]."
So, yes, those do seem like commonsense initiatives, don't they? Measures that have been endorsed, in fact, by everyone from Ronald Reagan to George Bush to a wide range of law enforcement associations. But it didn't take long for current GOP leaders to dismiss the ideas without a second thought.
Or first thought, for that matter. Five minutes before the White House press release containing the President's remarks arrived in my inbox, this did (reprinted in its entirety and with, I think, no comment necessary):
"Governor Greg Abbott released the following statement in response to President Obama's executive actions imposing gun control measures across the country.
"'The Bill of Rights was added as a specific safeguard to prevent the federal government from denying Americans those guaranteed rights,' said Governor Abbott. 'Today, the President trampled the purpose and substance of the Bill of Rights by unilaterally imposing Second Amendment restrictions. After failing to pass gun control measures through Congress, the President is yet again resorting to unilateral executive action in place of the democratic process. Despite the President's latest attempt to undermine our liberty, Texas will take every action to protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.'"
Things are pretty quiet down at City Hall, but there are two significant city planning meetings this week:
The Planning Commission's Committee on the Comprehensive Plan will hold a public meeting today, Jan. 7, reviewing the 2016-17 Long-Range Capital Improvement Program Strategic Plan, designed to keep the city's capital expenditures in line with the Imagine Austin comprehensive plan. All meetings are public, and citizen comment is invited. 6-8pm at One Texas Center, 505 Barton Springs Rd., Room 500. The committee will bring draft recommendations to the full Planning Commission later in the spring; see the current Long-Range CIP plan at www.austintexas.gov/strategicplan.
And there's a CodeNEXT Public Comment Meeting: The city's Land Development Code Advisory Group (CAG) will hold a special meeting to hear public comments, concerns, or suggestions about Austin's ongoing LDC rewrite or land development generally, Tue., Jan. 12, 6pm, at Town Lake Center, 721 Barton Springs Rd. Speakers will get three minutes each. Parking is available in the garage behind the building.
The Austin Parks and Recreation Department and Dougherty Arts Center will hold a second community engagement meeting to discuss the proposed Alliance Children's Garden in Butler Park, Thu., Jan. 7, 6:30-7:30pm in the upstairs meeting room of the Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Rd. See more at www.austintexas.gov/alliancechildrensgarden.
PARD is also planning potential park improvements in the Barton Springs Bathhouse Zone; staff will present their Draft Recommendations this Saturday, Jan. 9, from 2-4pm, at Zilker Botanical Gardens. See info at www.austintexas.gov/zilkerimprovements.
Destination: ACC Saturday is intended to help students register for Austin Community College's spring session (beginning Jan. 19). Bring photo ID, proof of residency, and academic records to the Cypress Creek, Highland, or Riverside campus, 9am-4pm this Saturday, Jan. 9. Info or RSVP at www.austincc.edu/destination.
Should Austin make the once-per-week watering limitation permanent? Conversation Corps is a program of hosted conversations taking place in various public venues. This month's topic – water restrictions and long-term sustainability – should produce lively discussion. The first few meetings are Sat., Jan. 9, 2pm, at Genuine Joe Coffeehouse, 2001 W. Anderson; Mon., Jan. 11, 11am, at Strange Brew, 5326 Manchaca Rd., and 6:30pm, at Patika, 2159 S. Lamar. Check www.atxtalks.org as more locations and times are added.
Have you always wanted to be a Cat Enrichment Volunteer? That's just one of several new volunteer positions the Austin Animal Center is looking to fill. There are orientation sessions the next two Saturdays, Jan. 9 & 16, and on through February. See more info at www.austintexas.gov/department/animal-services.
Community Tax Centers Volunteer Cupcake Social. The Foundation Communities Community Tax Centers program expects to help some 20,000 low-income families in greater Austin this tax season. To do that, they need 600 active volunteers, for daytime, evening, or weekend shifts at locations around Austin. No accounting experience necessary, but CPAs can earn continuing professional education credit. Learn about the program and meet the staff: Mon., Jan. 11, 5-7pm, at Community Financial Center – South, 2600 W. Stassney. www.foundcom.org.
The Austin History Center will host a reception in honor of Mathews and Metz Elementary schools' 100th birthdays on Tue., Jan. 12, 6:30-8:30pm, at the Austin History Center, 810 Guadalupe. It's in conjunction with the AHC's exhibit "Making the Grade: Austin's First Public Schools." The exhibit, up through March 27, explores "the difficulties Austin faced in establishing a free public school system in the 1870s, and what life was like for students and teachers." More info at www.austinhistorycenter.org.