Oh, Pro Tempores: City Council inauguration days aren't heavy on the headlines, but Monday evening the new Council was confirmed – including brand-newbies Natasha Harper-Madison and Paige Ellis, and new Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza, nominated by predecessor Kathie Tovo. On Tuesday, in the 86th Texas Legislature, Austin Sen. Kirk Watson was elected president pro tempore of the Senate.
Danny and Denny: Lite Guv Dan Patrick was absent on day one of the 86th session, reportedly attending a meeting on "border security" at the White House. Presumably, President Donald Trump was recruiting Patrick as a megaphone for this week's "border crisis" barnstorming tour of Texas. On the House side, as expected, Angleton Republican Dennis Bonnen was elected speaker, succeeding the retiring Joe Straus.
Tornillo Without Tents: In somewhat better news, federal officials announced that they expect to close the Tornillo tent facility, near El Paso, by the end of January, as they succeed in finding sponsors and temporary homes for the hundreds of unaccompanied minor immigrants held there since the Trump administration's crackdown on immigrants seeking asylum. About 850 of the once 2,500 children remain to be placed, either with a sponsor or in another Office of Refugee Resettlement shelter.
Howdy to Hiott: Former Austin American-Statesman editor Debbie Hiott has been named as the new general manager and executive director of media operations for KUT and KUTX-FM. Starting as a college intern, Hiott spent 28 years at the Statesman, the last seven as editor-in-chief. After the paper was purchased by GateHouse Media, Hiott accepted a buyout offer in August.
New Elections Chief Geetha Lingham, the former assistant director of the Elections Division at the Travis County Clerk's Office, has been promoted to lead the division effective Jan. 16. The clerk's office administers elections for approximately 150 governmental entities in Travis County, as well as state and federal contests. Lingham's predecessor and former boss, Michael Winn, is headed to Houston to bring the election team there – long stultified by incompetent demagogue Stan Stanart, the recently deposed Harris County Clerk – into the 21st century.
Downsizing in Dallas: Staffers at The Dallas Morning News learned Monday that the newspaper's parent company, the A.H. Belo Corporation, had opted to lay off 43 of their co-workers, including 24 newsroom staffers. DMN management blamed the cuts on lackluster advertising revenue and indicated a new focus on "becoming the best possible subscriber-first digital organization," said A.H. Belo CFO Katy Murray.