Council's Not Here! Austin City Council comes back Jan. 7 for the inauguration of its two new and four re-elected members. The next proper meeting isn't until the end of January. The Travis County Commissioners Court, on the other hand, will have a voting session Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019, if you're in want of a meeting to attend.
He Got Fired! Cmdr. Jason Dusterhoft has been "indefinitely suspended" from the Austin Police Department. Months after an August incident in which he allegedly assaulted his ex-girlfriend at the Yellow Rose, the former assistant chief got the boot on Thursday for many offenses, including assault, dishonesty, and tampering with evidence. More on the sordid affair in 2019.
They Got Hired! City Manager Spencer Cronk anointed two new assistant city managers, neither of whom are the interims who've filled the slots for over a year. Development Services Director Rodney Gonzales leapfrogs his boss to take over "economic opportunity and affordability"; Christopher Shorter comes from D.C. to helm "health and environment" and "culture and lifelong learning." More ACM hiring announcements in 2019.
Send More Money! The Texas Commission on Public School Finance wrapped up its work with more than 30 recommendations, mostly incentive-based and targeted at improving academic outcomes for students in "greatest need," and adding at least $3 billion in new money. More legislative and school finance news in 2019.
Let's Vote Again! Gov. Greg Abbott has called super-quick special elections for Jan. 29 to fill two vacant Texas House seats held by Dems, which is kind of him. One is HD 145 in Houston, vacated by now-Sen. Carol Alvarado (replacing now-U.S. Rep. Sylvia Garcia); the other is HD 79 in El Paso, held by just re-elected but now retiring (for health reasons) Joe Pickett. Filing deadline is next Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019; early voting begins Jan. 14.
Cruz in Space! Still-U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz spent part of his pre-shutdown week filing a bill to create an Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space position within the Department of Defense. Cruz wants "a robust military approach to space." Our junior senator also carried the bill to fund NASA next year, which is just sitting there until the D.C. circus restarts in 2019.
Texas Has Trains! The Texas Department of Transportation showed its dedication to non-highway modes of travel by holding one (1) public hearing in early December on the latest update to the Texas Rail Plan, the federally mandated blueprint for all of TxDOT's rail activities. You can review the plan online and submit your comments until March 1, 2019.