Headlines / Quote of the Week

Big Money in Lake Travis ISD: School board races in Austin’s suburbs have been more contentious since the COVID-19 pandemic, with anti-mask, anti-vax, and pro-book banning candidates raising large sums of money to challenge traditional candidates. Now the Statesman is reporting how that scenario is playing out in Lake Travis ISD, where candidates and PACs have spent over $56,000 on the school board races from January through the end of March.

Marjorie Taylor Greene (Photo by Gage Skiidmore / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Far-Right Resistance: This week, Congress passed a massive $95 billion foreign aid package with international implications. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., threatened to oust House Speaker Mike Johnson if he sought the help of Democrats to pass it. President Joe Biden was expected to sign the bill as we went to press, and Greene had not yet made good on her threats.

Dana Bash was not expecting that from U.S. Rep. Gonzales (Screenshot via YouTube / CNN)

Scumbags, Klansmen, and Neo-Nazis: U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-San Antonio, blasted the right flank of the Republican party this week telling CNN some of his colleagues used to hide their racism but now aren’t ashamed of it. Gonzales was set off by Republicans opposing aid to Israel, Taiwan and Ukraine. “I serve with some real scumbags like [Florida Congressman] Matt Gaetz,” Gonzales said, before calling out Rep. Bob Good as a “known neo-Nazi.”

Agrihood Possibilities: Some members of City Council signaled interest this week in “agrihood” planned communities in East Austin – these combine farmland and housing developments, the Austin Monitor reported.

Bird is the Word: No Texas city has bird-friendly building policies for new construction, but the Travis Audubon Society is pushing for Austin, a designated “Bird City,” to lead the way, the Austin Monitor reported.

Samsung in Taylor Booming: In what the Austin Business Journal described as one of the largest economic development projects in U.S. history, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. plans to increase its investment at its sites in Taylor and Austin sites to $45 billion.

Musk 1, Rivers 0: Tesla has again sidestepped environmental regulations, removing 2,100 acres around the Colorado River and its Tesla Gigafactory from Austin’s extraterritorial jurisdiction, the Austin Business Journal reported Tuesday. This time, it’s using Senate Bill 2038, a law passed last session that allows developers to skirt environmental and flooding standards that the city could enforce in its ETJ. Hutto and Lockhart have joined around a dozen other municipalities in a legal challenge to SB 2038.

Tesla Gigafactory (Photo by Jana Birchum)

Karma for Tesla?: In distinctly more L-shaped news for the tech giant, Tesla has laid off 10% of its global workforce, or 14,000 jobs, after the company’s stock prices dropped 40% this year. Locally, the Gigafactory – Travis County’s largest private employer – will see 12% of its workers, or 2,688 people, out of a job by June. This month, Tesla also cut prices of its Model Y, X, and S vehicles by $2,000.

The Right to Counsel, On Occasion: Travis County began testing a program this week to provide defense attorneys to low-income defendants during bail hearings. The test shifts, held Tuesday and Thursday, covered a small fraction of the total number of bail hearings this month, KUT reported.

ERs Turning Pregnant Women Away: An AP News investigation into complaints filed with the federal government found Texas emergency rooms have turned pregnant women away, leaving one woman in Houston to miscarry in a lobby restroom. In a 911 call, her husband told first responders, “She is bleeding a lot and had a miscarriage.”

Private 911 Calls: In Austin, first responders’ radio became private Monday. Austin first responders are shifting to an Advanced Encryption Standard, no longer allowing radio audio to be accessed by the general population, KVUE reported.

First-ever Appraisal District Election: Early voting is underway in the first-ever election for members of the Travis Central Appraisal District’s Board of Directors. As of Tuesday night, about 1% of Travis County’s registered voters had cast a ballot in the election. Read the Chronicle’s endorsements here.

State troopers arrest a protester (Photo by Lina Fisher)

Pro-Palestine Protest Crackdown: UT police, APD, and state DPS troopers in riot gear wielding batons arrested at least 10 students at a peaceful, pro-Palestine protest at UT-Austin Wednesday. Video showed troopers on horses attempting to limit the group’s movement and crashing into bushes to violently arrest protesters, seemingly at random. Read more online.

Screenshot via YouTube / CNN

Quote of the Week

“These people used to walk around with white hoods at night. Now they’re walking around with white hoods in the daytime.”

– U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-San Antonio, ripping into his party’s right flank over foreign aid

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