Early success is an exciting thing for any band, but with it comes the added pressure of keeping the momentum going. The Rocketboys were facing that early on, juggling a hectic…
The Austin City Council voted this morning to spend part of the city’s $14 million budget surplus on measures approved by voters in November. That includes implementing a civil service system for city employees andcreating city council districts, plus funds for maintenance of city-owned cemeteries.
But what to do with the rest of the $11.5 million that came from higher-than-expected sales tax and development revenues is still up for debate.
Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole proposed putting aside $4 million to lower city property taxes by half a cent in 2014. But council member Mike Martinez says he won’t vote for that because it would only provide 12 months of relief.
“I certainly agree that we need to talk about property tax relief. But, for me, the place to do that is when we are adopting the budget and potentially increasing taxes to cover that budget,” Martinez said.
The Pentagon says it will extend some benefits to same-sex domestic partners of military servicemembers. This comes a year and a half after the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy.
Outside the visitor’s center at Fort Hood, men and women in camouflage stream into the building, paperwork in hand. Paul Eagen, of nearby Copperas Cove, spent ten years working at Fort Hood.
“I’ve been to Iraq. I’ve been stabbed and shot at as a contractor,” he said.
But giving benefits to the spouses of gay and lesbian service members isn’t something that keeps Eagen up at night.
“They’re doing the same task I am,” said Eagen. “They’re surviving, they’re over there protecting. Leave ‘em alone!”
Not everyone agrees with Eagen. Several older men heading to the visitors center voiced their opinion, but didn’t want to go on tape.
“Mister, you don’t want to hear what I would say,” said one guy in a veteran’s baseball cap. Another invoked Sodom and Gomorrah from the Old Testament.
At the Killeen Mall, Tilee Grimm explained what having military benefits means for her, as the wife of an infantryman.
“Well, I can shop at the commissary, the PX, get cigarettes and gas at the shopettes,” she said.
The commissary is a grocery store; the PX stands for “post exchange.” It’s a place that sells furniture, clothing and other household goods. You need a military ID to shop at these stores on base. But until now partners of gay and lesbian service members weren’t able to get those IDs.
Wow, we just realized that today is Mardi Gras! That makes a lot of the stuff we’ve seen around the office today make slightly more sense, even if some of it is still pretty unsettling (I’m not giving any details, Hawk Mendenhall, but you know what you did).
Today’s podcast doesn’t have anything to do with that, of course, but we did actually thrown in a little Valentine’s thing to try and make it a bit timely. So that’s something, right?
We’ve got two items that might be of interest to you. First off, it’s Tabled Fables: Hansel and Gretel, a really interesting take on the fable that we think you’ll enjoy.
And then we’ll get sort-of-timely by bringing you St. Valentine, Gangster of Love. Enjoy it with somebody you love or something.
Music certainly knows no boundaries. Texas Music Matters recently explored the connections between Texas and Louisiana sounds; even with natural and political borders, bot…
The Blackwells really are a hidden treasure in this town. Originally from Asheville, NC, the quintet has mostly kept a low profile while playing gigs around town, but I’m…
Unsolved mysteries are by their very nature interesting and quite often make for good drama. Our perception and understanding of these mysteries is more often than not informed by television, film, articles and so on. In this Views and Brews discussion, recorded live at the Cactus Cafe, we explored one area where the myths are profound and emotions run high—the relationship between psychics who work with law enforcement agencies.
Artist Wendy Wagner works in many different media; she’s been painting and drawing since childhood, and in her adult years, she’s expanded into many other artforms. The characters from her paintings inspired her to create sculptures, which then led her to create soft sculpture, plush versions of the same characters. Then she found herself learning animation to set those characters in motion.
Whichever media she’s working in, Wendy’s vibrant colors and sense of wonder shine through, helping to create the sense that all the works belong to the same world.
Last year, Wendy was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor; after several surgeries to remove the tumor, she now has a left side deficit in her vision, meaning that she has lost peripheral vision on the left side of both eyes. As a result, she says, she’s found herself misplacing things (remote controls, cel phones, art supplies) and has to remind herself to “look to the left” to find them, hence the title of her current show.
The works on display in “Look to the Left” were begun before her diagnosis. Wendy says that when she realized how much work she’d accomplished with a brain tumor she knew she couldn’t use her medical condition as an excuse not to continue working.
We’re still about a month away from March Madness, but Austin City Council members are already filling out their brackets.
The council is deliberating what to do with a $14 million budget surplus at mid-fiscal year – the result of higher-than-expected sales tax and development revenues. The council held one work session delving into the topic already; at its work session tomorrow, the council’s posted to take action spending all or part of the available surplus.
So what projects will council members fund?
As people prepare to celebrate Mardi Gras, the Austin Police Department has declared a “no-refusal” for Fat Tuesday.
During no-refusal actions, officers can obtain blood search warrants on suspects who refuse to willingly provide a breath sample or cooperate with a blood test. Another Mardi Gras no-refusal action was in place over the weekend, and APD said 18 people were arrested under the initiative.
No-refusal is an attempt to enforce driving while intoxicated laws. Earlier in February, APD declared no-refusal for Superbowl Sunday; 21 people were arrested. Drivers caught with a blood alcohol concentration level of .15 or higher face up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine if convicted.
No-refusal will run from 9 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12 until 5 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13.
Beginning this fall, the University of Texas will start offering free online courses through the non-profit organization EdX.
The UT Board of Regents authorized a partne…
Austin’s Bag Ordinance goes into effect soon. Starting March 1, the majority of Austin businesses will stop providing single-use paper and plastic bags. That’s because the City of Austin has a goal of zero waste by the year 2040. This measure is among the first steps toward that goal. Businesses and customers alike are already making some adjustments.
Aiden Cohen struggles with the curse of the suburban shopper: “I have a bunch of reusable bags in my trunk,” says Cohen, “but I don’t always bring them into the place where I’m doing my shopping.” Cohen is not only a shopper; he’s also with Austin Resource Recovery, the agency in charge of promoting the city’s bag ordinance. Right now, if you forget your reusable bag, it’s not a big deal. But three weeks from now, you’ll probably have to pay for bags. Paper and plastic bags will come with handles and they’ll be thick enough to be used 100 times. The ordinance makes businesses responsible for reminding customers with signs posted inside by the check out counter and outside at the parking lot or by the door.
The 83rd Texas Legislature has already called for spending to improve the state’s water infrastructure. Now, Governor Rick Perry’s saying the economy depends on another major investment:
“We’ll have to deal with our transportation needs if we want to keep our winning streak going,” Perry said. “I mean that is just the facts.”
Where Does the Money Go?
So how will the legislature react? Well a good place to start is in the office of the Senate’s Transportation Committee member Robert Nichols. And the first question to ask: Does the Texas Department of Transportation have the money it needs to maintain our roads?
“Not on a permanent basis at all,” Nichols said. “We have a fundamental problem, and that is the revenues that TxDOT have long term do not allow enough money to maintain and preserve the system, while adding the additional new capacity that we need.”
House Transportation Chair Larry Phillips (R-Sherman) said TxDOT has between $3 and $7 billion in transportation needs. So it will be up to Phillips, Nichols and others figure out how to pay for it.
“I have proposed a constitutional amendment to take the current sales tax that you pay on your vehicles, and dedicate them to the roads that they’re dependent upon,” Nichols said.
The tax currently brings in about $3 billion dollars a year. Nichols’ bill would gradually shift that money away from the state’s general fund and fully into TxDOT’s budget. He said over 10 years that would bring $13 billion to TxDOT.