Headlines / Quote of the Week

Headlines / Quote of the Week
courtesy of Sarah Wolf

Giant Park Purchase: This month Travis County is finalizing the $90 million purchase of 1,506 acres off Texas 71 between Bee Cave and Spicewood, the Statesman reported. It’s the most expensive land purchase in Travis County Parks’ history, made possible by the bond for park acquisition approved by voters last November. For more than 50 years, RGK Ranch has been a private family retreat. Nadya Scott donated roughly $30 million of her stake in the family ranch to facilitate the purchase.

No Confidence in No-Kill Leadership: Last weekend, volunteers at the Austin Animal Center and more than 100 supporters gathered at the Congress Avenue bridge to protest the leadership of Chief Animal Services Officer Don Bland. The Animal Advisory Commission passed a vote of no confidence in Bland two years ago, and now advocates say Council needs to remove him because, they say, he’s not committed to the no-kill priority. Read more online.

MMBA mostly serves premature babies
MMBA mostly serves premature babies (courtesy of the Mothers’ Milk Bank at Austin)

Big Breast Milk Milestone: Mothers’ Milk Bank at Austin is one of only 32 accredited nonprofit milk banks on the continent, and this week MMBA celebrated “25 years of saving babies so tiny they fit in your hand.” The bank has distributed more than 10 million ounces of breast milk, amounting to 30 million meals for premature and vulnerable infants.

The State of Our Local Environment: This week the city’s Watershed Protection Department announced the publication of this year’s State of Our Environment Report, which covers air quality, water, flora, and climate change concerns. It emphasizes increases in extreme weather events in recent years, the Austin Journal reports. Greenhouse gas emissions in the area are trending downward, but we had more poor air quality days last year than usual.

Delay to I-35 Project Voted Down: A handful of City Council members were hoping to freeze funding for the I-35 expansion before a study of its impact to air quality could be complete, but that freeze won’t happen, KUT reported this week. Monday, the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s planning board voted against the freeze.

APD Interim Chief Robin Henderson
APD Interim Chief Robin Henderson (photo by Jana Birchum)

Austin Free Press Begins: A new local news outlet, the Austin Free Press, launched Wednesday. The nonprofit news site started with a story on transit.

Border Property Damage Fund Launches: Under a law passed by the 88th Texas Legislature, ranchers and farmers on the state’s southern border can now seek compensation for immigration-related property damage. Lawmakers established the Landowner Compensation Fund last year, with compensation capped at $75,000, The Dallas Morning News reported.

APD Seeks New Chief: The city of Austin launched a national search for the next chief of the Austin Police Department May 15, KVUE reported. Interim chief Robin Henderson has been celebrated by some local advocates.

Austin FC wins in 2022
Austin FC wins in 2022 (photo by Jana Birchum)

What Church and State Separation: The Houston Chronicle reported this week on the blurring line between church and state in Texas’ public schools. A Rice University survey of the Texas educational landscape showed that “the separation is a legal technicality easily sidestepped,” the Houston Chronicle wrote. Publicly funded charter schools particularly blur the line, offering optional Bible study on campuses in some cases.

How A Divorce Imperils IVF in Texas: The Texas Supreme Court is considering taking up a case that could lead to Alabama-style restrictions on in vitro fertilization, the Texas Tribune reported this week. It started with a divorce in Denton and a disagreement over which parent should get to keep frozen embryos.

EV Charging Station Drama: KUT reports that an EV charging station could be coming to the 2700 block of East Cesar Chavez. The vehicle infrastructure company Voltera brought a proposal to Austin’s Planning Commission last month to build it on the parking lot of a vacant restaurant space. Nearby homeowners didn’t love the idea.

RFK Jr. in 2007
RFK Jr. in 2007 (photo by Daniel Schwen / CC BY-SA 4.0)

Suckers for Soccer: Major League Soccer announced Wednesday that the 2025 MLS All-Star Game will be held in Austin FC’s Q2 Stadium next summer. (The date hasn’t been announced.)

Students Fundraise for a Latinx Ceremony: Even though UT-Austin cut funding for a Latinx Grad ceremony, more than 200 UT-Austin students gathered this week for the only English- and Spanish-language graduation ceremony on campus. Senate Bill 17, the ban on DEI programs, led to the cut but students’ fundraising saved the day, KUT reported.

Indeed Layoffs: Following other significant layoffs in tech, Austin-based Indeed announced this week that it would lay off about 1,000 people, or roughly 8% of their total workforce, the Statesman reported. CEO Chris Hyams did not answer the Statesman’s questions about how many cuts would be to Austin-based positions.

RFK Jr. in ATX: Shortly after news broke of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s brain worm, the independent presidential candidate made a stop in Austin Monday night for a rally downtown. A Fox 7 Austin reporter questioned Kennedy about his controversial takes and RFK Jr. responded, “I’d like to know what I’ve ever said that’s extreme.” No problem! Here’s a couple examples: He has promoted a conspiracy theory about cellphones causing “leaky brain,” in which toxins “go into your brain,” and asserted that an imaginary surveillance system of all human movement makes the modern world inferior to Nazi Germany, because at least back then “you could hide in an attic like Anne Frank did.”

Headlines / Quote of the Week
photo by John Anderson

Quote of the Week

“You’ll be shocked to hear this, but it’s not me that’s responsible for this.”

– Gov. Greg Abbott this week, referring to school districts’ large budget deficits

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