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Headlines / Quote of the Week

December 29, 2023, News

Troopers on the Move: The Texas Department of Public Safety's Austin Violent Crimes Task Force stopped patrolling Austin last weekend. They're headed to the border to enforce the new law making it a state crime to cross the border illegally, KUT reported. The partnership between the Austin Police Department and DPS began in March, and APD ended the initiative that spring, though DPS has still been patrolling.

Questioning Paxton: Last week, in the whistleblower suit against Attorney General Ken Paxton, Travis County District Judge Jan Soifer granted the whistleblowers' motion to compel depositions (under-oath questioning) from Paxton and three of his top aides. "In this case, I believe the plaintiffs have shown good cause that these four people have unique and superior knowledge of discoverable information," Soifer said.

UT-AusTwin: To better understand how extreme weather caused by climate change effects UT-Austin's campus, UT researchers have created what they call a "digital twin" of the university's grid. With electricity demand rising with hotter summers, demand will eventually surpass what the school's natural gas power plant can generate, a researcher told KUT. The digital twin, like a 3D Google map, allows users to see data about energy use at each of the school's buildings.

No Standards for Mass Shootings: The U.S. has endured more than 120 mass shootings in the last 25 years, and we really don't know how to handle them. An investigation published this week by ProPublica, The Texas Tribune, and FRONTLINE had three key findings. First, active shooter training varies widely across the country; second, officers make similar mistakes repeatedly; and third, there is no agreed-upon national standard defining who should conduct after-action assessments of law enforcement's response or what those assessments should examine.

Barton Bridge Is Falling Down: The nearly century-old Barton Springs Road Bridge is coming down. It leads to Zilker Park and MoPac, but city officials say it needs to be replaced, KUT reported. City Council gave its blessing to move forward with a rebuild of the historic bridge, which opened in 1926, the same year Zilker Park expanded to 300 acres.

Retired Texas Teachers Get a Boost: Thanks to the cost-of-living adjustment approved by voters in November, retired Texas teachers will see pension payments go up in the new year. Proposition 9 authorized an increase between 2% and 6% depending on when the teacher retired.

Seattle Says, "Hell No": Seattle Children's Hospital isn't about to give up medical records about Texas teens receiving gender affirming care. In November, shortly after a new Texas law went into effect banning the use of hormone therapy for transgender youth, the Texas Office of the Attorney General sent the hospital system a subpoena. The A.G. suspects the hospital has provided hormone therapy to Texas teens, but Seattle Children's sued to block the subpoena, filing a petition in the Travis County District Court earlier this month, The Texas Tribune reported.

Free Bus Fare for Unhoused Austinites: The Cap Metro Transportation Authority Board of Directors voted unanimously Monday to approve a free, two-year transit pass for homeless and housing-insecure Austinites. Advocates including Texas Harm Reduction Alliance have been pushing for this since 2022, the Austin Monitor reported.

Calling for Cease-Fire: The Austin for Palestine Coalition held a vigil outside of City Hall Dec. 23, honoring Palestinians who've died in the Israel-Hamas war. A baby doll laid on rubble where they stood. The ralliers also demanded that Council adopt a cease-fire resolution. Three Council members have expressed support for such a resolution.

Quote of the Week

"A cease-fire resolution – it's moral. That's to show that we stand for humanity, we stand with our community in Austin, Texas. And in Austin history we know our community, our people in Austin, always stood for human rights."

– Rallier outside Austin City Hall during last week’s vigil for Palestinians, speaking to KVUE

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