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Headlines / Quote of the Week

September 15, 2023, News

Where's the Blood
We Are Blood, the sole provider of blood for 10 Central Texas counties, is suffering from decreased donations while the need at area hospitals and medical centers is at a record high. In order to keep pace with demand, they need 200 donors per day. You can make an appointment online.

Rent Flattens, Maybe Falls?
Although supply is finally catching up with demand, slightly lowering the average rent for an apartment in Austin these days, developers say that coding and zoning changes at the state or local level inhibit the development of cheaper housing. Members of the Austin Apartment Association said last week that the city will probably see rents flatten for the next few years. And we could even see some rents fall.

A Smaller Splash
To preserve water during this historic drought, the Parks and Recreation Department is modifying hours for the remainder of Splash Pad Season through October 31. Only the Liz Carpenter and Pease Splash Pads will remain unaffected. Visit for updated operating schedules.

Locking the Hot Boxes
Amid record heat, and prisoners' reports of deaths, lying in vomit, and using toilet water to cool their bodies in cells that are not air-conditioned, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice announced Sept. 6 its decision to lock down every prison in the state, limiting inmates' access to showers. We asked the TDCJ a lot of questions and they didn't answer most. As of Sept. 12, some units have resumed normal protocol. Read more here.

Special Treatment for Bernie
As millions swelter in Texas prisons, a federal judge in Austin has temporarily ordered Bernie Tiede – subject of the Richard Linklater film Bernie – to be removed from his cell and given air conditioning because of his fragile health. Could this lead to structural change? We'll see …

Paxton Impeachment Plays Out
The entertainment that is suspended A.G. Ken Paxton's impeachment trial continues. For a recap of some of its most interesting moments so far, read former Chronicle News Editor Michael King's column online.

Firefighters Get Their Contract
After years of heated negotiations and about a year without a contract in place, Austin firefighters have finally come to an agreement with the city. The contract, which is effective immediately, comes from a three-member arbitration panel. As such, it is non-negotiable and leaves the AFA dissatisfied and the city looking forward to settling the next contract through collective bargaining.

Batteries Save the Day
This summer, large industrial batteries have played a small but important role in boosting energy supply during critical hours. One recent evening, battery storage accounted for 3% of the overall supply, enough to power 434,000 homes, The Texas Tribune reported.

Unwelcome Medicaid Changes
Medicaid waivers for parents caring for disabled children through the Community Living Assistance & Support Services program have been recently modified to increase the base pay for caretakers – often parents who left jobs to take care of loved ones. But with the increase comes the loss of overtime compensation, which in the end will hurt the people it was purported to help, The Texas Tribune reports.

GOP's Voter Suppression Challenged
Senate Bill 1, the Republican Party's 2021 voter suppression bill, is finally being tested in court. The large, complex law that critics say has disenfranchised voters is being challenged by over 20 state and national organizations. They claim the bill violates the federal Voting Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the First, 14th, and 15th Amendments, among other things. The trial is underway in San Antonio.

Flo's D-Day Postponed
Despite multiple arborists' opinions that the iconic tree Flo at Barton Springs is in imminent danger of crushing an unsuspecting swimmer, a small group of citizens have rallied to postpone Flo's removal. Diagnosed with brittle cinder fungus last month, it is expected to collapse within the next five years. Considering the risks, arborists say it should come down, but those with a soft spot for her say no.

"We have more tools than ever to prevent the worst outcomes from COVID-19."

– CDC Director Mandy Cohen, recommending the updated COVID vaccine before a predicted surge this fall

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