AM Update: 9/3/12
9:08 am
Mon September 3, 2012

AM Update: Labor Day Closures, UT System Framework, America's Best Bathroom?

Happy Labor Day! It will be a pretty hot one with an expected high of 100.

City of Austin Offices Closed – But Animal Center Open

It’s Labor Day and that means City of Austin offices are closed – as are recreation centers, senior centers and libraries.

But the Austin Animal Center is open today and is offering free adoptions. The center says they received lots of new pets in August but that adoptions were slow. It’s once again “severely overcapacity” and has no room for incoming animals. The free adoptions are being offered at the Austin Animal Center at 7201 Levander Loop and the Town Lake Animal Center at 1156 W. Cesar Chavez.

City pools, golf courses and tennis centers are also open today.

Trash and recycling collections will remain on schedule.

UT System Framework, One Year Later

As the one-year anniversary of University of Texas Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa’s “Framework for Advancing Excellence” passes, those affected by the plan are reflecting on the changes.

The plan focuses on four areas: student opportunity, the university’s economic prosperity, improving quality of life by offering research-based solutions, and efficient and productive stewardship of the system.

The Texas Tribune reports that one year later, Cigarroa’s plan has produced some results: “The system has revamped its major teaching awards, launched a service providing online courses, and created a $10 million startup venture fund,” the Tribune writes. The framework is not without its detractors, however:

But questions over what constitutes success — particularly in determining how to set up an incentive pay plan for university presidents that was called for in the framework and approved last month — have revived old concerns.

Jenifer Sarver, a spokeswoman for the Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education, which was created in 2011 by a group who were concerned about the direction [UT System Board of Regents Chair Gene Powell] intended to lead the board, said the framework could be a powerful tool. “But, if it’s going to be top-down and prescriptive, or used as a vehicle to funnel pet projects of the regents,” she said, “it’s not going to be effective, and it’s not going to improve quality for Texas students.”

You can read Chancellor Cigarroa’s own update on the framework’s progress online.

Is America’s Best Restroom in New Braunfels?

The convenience store chain Buc-ee’s likes to brag on billboards about its clean restrooms. But are their bathrooms the best in America?

A poll by Cintas – the company behind a number of cleaning products and services – shows the restrooms at the New Braunfels Buc-ees are in the top 10. Now, the public is invited to vote for the big winner.

The New Braunfels stalls are western-themed and are pitted against bathrooms in San Francisco, Hollywood and New York. A finalist in Las Vegas features plush, red velvet seats and gold plated faucets. Another in Washington, D.C. has oversized wood barrels for sinks.

Voting ends Oct. 26.