The Austin Chronicle


September 27, 2019, News

Impeachment in the Air: U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi finally gave her assent to a formal impeachment inquiry Tuesday, just in time for Trump's latest scandal (or are they all really one scandal?) to explode Wednesday with the release of a smoking-gun summary of his conniving with the Ukranian president.

Reed Appeal: Lawyers for condemned Texas prisoner Rodney Reed have appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, insisting Texas courts have ignored Reed's "comprehensive and persuasive showing" of his innocence. Convicted for the 1996 murder of Stacey Stites, after many rejected appeals, Reed is scheduled for execution Nov. 20.

Eldridge Off Rape Case: District Judge Chantal Eldridge was recused from a sexual assault case she presided over in January where a jury found the defendant guilty of rape, but Eldridge failed to proceed with punishment. In August, the Travis County D.A.'s Office accused the judge of suffering from personal bias and filed a motion for her to recuse herself from the case, which visiting Judge Dan Mills granted on Sept. 20.

Court the Budget: Commissioners Court approved the $1.2 billion Travis County FY 2020 budget Tuesday, with a maximum 8% increase to the property tax rate in anticipation of the 3.5% cap imposed for next year by the 86th Legislature. It includes raises for all county employees (including commissioners) and $4.3 million in first-year matching funds for the Texas Indigent Defense Commission grant to support public defenders.

Funding the Right: The ultraconservative Empower Texans PAC at the center of the scandal threatening to take down House Speaker Dennis Bonnen is usually described as being funded primarily by West Texas oil billionaires, notably Tim Dunn. But where is Dunn getting his money? A report released Wednesday by the Public Accountability Initiative shows big institutional investors – the California Public Employees' Retirement System, the University of Michigan, etc. – have stakes in Dunn's companies.

PHAM plus PACE: Joining the PHAM PAC formed to oppose Proposition B (the Convention Center deal) on November's municipal ballot is the PACE PAC, formed to oppose Prop A (the soccer deal). At issue is the citizen initiative's ordinance language that, PACE says, threatens city support for nice things like the Long Center, Trail of Lights, Zilker Kite Festival, ACL Fest, and SXSW.

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