Another Sad Night: Nearly 400 people, including Mayor Steve Adler and City Manager Spencer Cronk, gathered Saturday evening at St. James' Episcopal Church for a vigil to show solidarity with the Muslim community and honor the lives of those killed and wounded in the mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Austin plans to increase police presence around the city's mosques in light of the hateful attacks.
Beto's Big Bucks: After announcing his highly anticipated entry into the 2020 presidential race, former Rep. Beto O'Rourke collected $6.1 million in 24 hours, surpassing all competitors, including previous leader Sen. Bernie Sanders. After a campaign kickoff in El Paso, Beto will hold a rally in Downtown Austin at 9pm on March 30.
Bigger Than Texas: Speaking of O'Rourke, if you catch a flight at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in the next two weeks you'll likely spot a giant Beto head etched in grass. Kansas artist Stan Herd constructed a 2-acre portrait of the candidate from organic materials on Carson Creek Ranch, just north of ABIA.
Abortion Ruling Delayed: The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has postponed a decision in Whole Woman's Health v. Paxton – a challenge to a Texas law that, by placing restrictions on a common method of abortion care, amounts to a ban at 15 weeks of pregnancy – until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on a Louisiana law requiring abortion providers to obtain hospital admitting privileges. For now, the Texas law is on hold.
City Backs Beer-2-Go: No regular City Council meeting this week – the next is March 28, featuring hot zoning and transportation items (see "Mobility Plan’s Bad Date With ZAP," Mar. 22) and penalties for scooter scofflaws. Council will also consider additions to the city's legislative agenda, including support for inclusionary zoning and retail sales at breweries.
Session Meanders On: The 86th Texas Legislature hit the halfway mark – sine die is May 27 – at a still leisurely pace, with the House Appropriations Committee proposing a budget, Senate Finance still to come, and tentative steps on public school funding (see "Texas House Advances Ambitious School Finance Bill," Mar. 22).
Deep Eddy Closed: The West Austin swimming pool is getting shined up for spring and will be closed to the public through Sunday, April 7. Normal swim hours resume April 8 at 8am.
Hooters Be Gone: After last year's approval of the "Snoopy PUD" redevelopment – named in honor of former property owner Charles Schulz, creator of Peanuts – the wreckers came a-knockin' last week at the defunct breastaurant at South First and Riverside. The new 15-story RiverSouth tower is slated for completion in 2021.