The Lead
8:53 am
Wed January 30, 2013

The Lead: CPRIT-Funded Group Closes, County OKs Smoking Ban

Good morning. The National Weather Service still has Central Texas under a Red Flag Warning until 6 p.m. tonight. The humidity will be low and the winds are high, meaning higher wildfire danger.

Austin’s in for otherwise nice weather today, with temperatures cooling to the 60s after this week’s warm streak.

Lead Story: The non-profit that got the biggest grant so far from the state’s troubled cancer-fighting agency is going out of business. The Clinical Trials Network of Texas says it has run out of money after the taxpayer-funded Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) began withholding payments.

The project had been awarded a $25 million grant, but CPRIT began withholding money after an audit uncovered a questionable financial arrangement: namely, that $25 million was awarded to the Clinical Trials Network before it even existed. 

CPRIT is also under investigation over its grant awards process.

Death Row Reprieve: A judge has halted the execution of a Texas woman hours before she was scheduled to go to the death chamber. Kimberly McCarthy was convicted of murdering her neighbor in 1997 and set to die last night.

Her lawyers argue her jury was improperly selected on the basis of race. McCarthy is black and her jury was made up of 11 whites and one black person. She would have been the first woman put to death in the U.S. since 2010.

County OKs Smoking Ban: Travis County Commissioners voted unanimously yesterday to ban the use of tobacco products on all county property: that includes outdoor areas within 15 feet of a doorway, garages and parking lots and private vehicles located there. The new policy goes into effect April 7.

Commissioners also voted to put a burn ban back in place in the county.