The Man From El Paso generated mild enthusiasm among the crowd at the North Door for 2020 Dems Debate 2.1 on Tuesday, July 30. The watch party for the Travis County Democratic Party also featured state Sen. Kirk Watson, Council Member Paige Ellis, a bevy of young activists, and many new fans of Marianne Williamson. The third debate round, with a smaller field of survivors and probably just one night of TV action, will take place in Houston in September. (Photo by Jana Birchum)

Break Has Ended: City Council returns Aug. 8, with a mere 139-Item agenda. Notable topics include the creation of a local government corporation to fundraise for efforts to reduce homelessness, site identification for public water fountains, a resolution "declaring a climate emergency," and a zoning hearing for a planned development on Riverside. See more in "Public Notice: They're Baaack!," Aug. 2.

Not Just Us! Conservative think tank the Texas Public Policy Foundation filed suit to halt Dallas' paid sick leave ordinance, mimicking their 2018 attack on Austin's similar rule. TPPF, part of the Koch Bros. network, has successfully blocked the worker protection here and in San Antonio.

What Secretary of State? It's been more than 60 days since Texas Secretary of State David Whitley resigned in the wake of a voter purge scandal; Gov. Greg Abbott has yet to find his replacement, though the Texas Constitution requires that he make a nomination "without delay." Is Abbott's inaction fueled by spite after Democrats effectively blocked Whitley's nomination? We wouldn't put it past him.

The Less the Merrier: In the presidential nomination game show, 20 2020 Democrats fought for face time Tuesday and Wednesday night, in hopes of making an impression before the field is winnowed to a manageable number this September in Houston on Cut Day.

Too Darn Hot: With summer's dog days here, the city launched a "heat awareness" web page featuring heat illness symptoms and a map of "cooling centers" (libraries and other public places) where folks can find respite. Last year, heat killed five Austinites, and there were nearly 500 heat-related hospital visits; see www.austintexas.gov/heataware.

Fix 290 Twice? Two lawsuits were filed this week by neighbors and enviro groups hoping to stop or alter the Texas Department of Trans­port­ation's plans for the U.S. 290/71 interchange and "Oak Hill Parkway." Save Our Springs sued in defense of salamanders; another coalition sued requesting mediation "for a better project," such as the "Liveable Oak Hill" parkway concept.

Did You Say Blockchain? The city's Office of Innovation has received a $409,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to test a blockchain-enabled digital identity platform that can help give those experiencing homelessness IDs to access housing and social services.

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