Meeting Like This: City Council meets today, Feb. 9, with a modest 51-Item agenda that includes a discussion of City Council meetings: How many is too many? Other business includes choosing a city manager search team, much-postponed City Auditor authority, and rezoning Plaza Saltillo. "Council Considers Zoning Change for Elysium Park," Feb. 10.
Living is Easy, Price Tag Is Hard: U.S. News & World Report, aka Rankings 'R' Us, announced Tuesday that Austin tops the mag's 2017 list of cities for "Best Places to Live," up one spot from 2016 (overtaking Denver). Mayor Steve Adler "celebrated what we're doing right," but acknowledged challenges in affordability, equity, and mobility.
Don't Burn, Baby: County commissioners issued the first burn ban of the year on Tuesday, due to "unusually warm temperatures, strong dry winds, and low relative humidity." The ban is expected to expire on March 6 unless the county judge, court, or fire marshal steps in. Commissioners will revisit outdoor burning on Feb. 14. Barbecuing in county parks is still allowed so long as the fire is "within a closeable container or a container with a lid."
On the Agenda: Progressive groups and legislators including Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, plan to launch a new reproductive health, rights, and justice policy campaign this week. The coordinated coalition includes the Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity, NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, ACLU of Texas, and Jane's Due Process. See our online coverage Thursday for more.
Dept. of Uneducation: U.S. Senate Republicans, with the help of an unprecedented tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence, confirmed Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary on Tuesday, following a 24-hour filibuster by Senate Democrats. DeVos, a businesswoman and GOP donor with no teaching experience, is an opponent of public education and supporter of school vouchers and school choice.
Eve of Destruction: Donald Trump offered to "destroy" the career of a Texas state Senator Tuesday during a meeting with the National Sheriff's Association. The reason? The lawmaker is making it hard for Rockwall County Sheriff Harold Eavenson to engage in asset forfeiture. Eavenson didn't name any legislator, though chances are he's talking about Sen. Konni Burton, R-Colleyville, a #NeverTrumper who has fought for civil liberties to protect personal information and property.
APD Freezer Malfunction: The broken freezer in APD's forensic lab may have stirred alarm about evidence collection, but Commander Michael Eveleth says none of the held samples were damaged. On Monday, Eveleth said the freezer contained evidence from 4,274 cases – 98.5% of which had already been analyzed. No issues have been reported. See "APD’s Backed Up DNA Backlog," Feb. 10, for more.