Headlines / Quote of the Week
Trouble in Paradise: Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, is in big trouble. Despite having overseen the passage of what even Gov. Greg Abbott touted as some of the most conservative bills in recent history, Phelan isn’t far-right enough for some of Texas’ GOP, The Texas Tribune reports. Divisions in the party became stark in 2023, with the House impeaching A.G. Ken Paxton and sinking Abbott’s school voucher plan. Phelan is now up against the well-funded David Covey, an oil and gas consultant who supports the Texas secession movement.
Oath to Wife and God: Phelan is not backing down against Paxton, though. In a new campaign ad, he says “Vengeful Paxton is the reason” Donald Trump endorsed Phelan’s primary challenger. “If Paxton will break an oath to his wife and God, why would he tell Trump – or you – the truth?”
Mayors to Spare: Austinites have another mayoral option. Doug Greco, former executive director of Central Texas Interfaith, announced his bid Monday. He’s up against longtime former City Council Member Kathie Tovo and East Austin advocate Carmen Llanes Pulido. Mayor Kirk Watson hasn’t formally announced, but says he intends to run.
Shit show: ... but in Austin, it’s really the city manager who runs the (shit) show. Tuesday, the Austin American-Statesman reported that a city manager in Bozeman, Montana (with a population under 60,000), accidentally recorded himself telling a colleague that he was approached for the Austin job. “But they’re a shit show,” he said, before explaining the base salary was $475,000.
Austin’s Grammys Presence: Black Pumas, Ruthie Foster, Willie Nelson, the Miró Quartet, film producer Debra Davis, and Paul Simon – who now lives in Wimberley – were nominated for Grammys at the 66th annual awards show. None of the acts took home awards, but local bassist/producer Nick Clark took the stage. Read more about the nominations online.
County Politely Declines: Remember the $2 million controversial study of Austin’s homelessness response that the city was contracting the consulting giant McKinsey to do? Well, Travis County will not be participating. County commissioners weren’t convinced McKinsey was the right firm to do it.
Burger Joint Stays!: Dirty Martin’s, a legendary burger joint, and other local businesses slated for demolition due to the city's $5 billion light rail project are no longer in the line of fire, the Austin Business Journal reported.
Babies Having Babies: Following abortion bans in Texas, more than a decade of decline in the state’s teen birth rate stopped and then turned into a modest increase, according to a new report from the University of Houston.
Border Convoy Does Its Thing: Sarah Palin and Ted Nugent headlined the “Take Our Border Back” rally in Dripping Springs last week ahead of their stop at the border, CBS Austin reported.
Abbott’s “Invasion”: Activists aren’t the only ones at the border. Abbott and 11 other Republican governors went to Eagle Pass Sunday for a show of force. Only two weeks ago Abbott invoked a clause in the U.S. Constitution that he claims gives governors the right to defend their states due to “invasion.” Several of his counterparts have sent their state’s National Guardsmen our way, the Statesman reported.
AI Capital of the World?: AI’s on the rise here. UT-Austin announced last week that it’s launching one of the most powerful artificial intelligence hubs in the academic world, called the Center for Generative AI. Meanwhile, last month Apple announced it was closing the San Diego office where they focus on Siri and AI features and relocating more than 100 jobs to Austin, Axios reported.
Shutting Down: Easy Tiger, a bake shop and beer garden, announced it will close its East Seventh location at the end of April due to challenging weather conditions and increased costs. Easy Tiger’s other locations will remain open.
Starting Up: Armadillo Den, a far south Austin bar and patio, is expanding with two new locations this year. Dainty Dillo, in the Govalle neighborhood, is expected to open in late February. Chalmers, in the East Cesar Chavez neighborhood, is expected to open in March.
Toys and Collectibles: Speaking of new business, Mutant, an Austin-based posters, vinyl, toys, and collectibles firm, recently started up. It’s a collaboration between SpectreVision, Talon Entertainment Finance CEO Steven Demmler, and four former Mondo mainstays, including Alamo Drafthouse and Mondo founder Tim League. Read more online.
Indigenous Course Canned: Last month, State Board of Education Chairman Aaron Kinsey, newly appointed by Abbott, pulled a board agenda item that would offer an American Indian/Native Studies Ethnic Studies elective course in the 2024-25 school year, the Texas Observer reported. Advocates fear it will be stalled indefinitely.
Arrest at Pro-Israel Talk: UT police arrested a man at an on-campus event for criminal trespass, resisting arrest, and evading last week. The event, hosted by the business school’s right-wing donor-funded Salem Center, was called “Israel’s Moral War.” An event description for the talk by Yaron Brook said he would “explain why it might be morally necessary for Israel to not only see Hamas, but the Palestinian population at large as an enemy.”
More E-Bikes!: Cap Metro launched a program to expand its bike-share program with the city of Austin. As part of this, Cap Metro will completely replace its full bicycle fleet with e-bikes. Currently, only 43 percent of the 600 bikes are e-bikes, the Austin Monitor reported.
Quote of the Week
“But they’re a shit show.”
– Now-suspended Bozeman, Montana, City Manager Jeff Mihelich, referring to the city of Austin’s interest in him for city manager