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Sunday News Roundup For January 9, 2010

US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (right) speaking to a constituent at a Congress On Your Corner event in May 2010. Giffords was critically wounded yesterday at an event in Tuscon. Six people were killed including a federal judge and a 9-year-old.
Image courtesy Gabrielle Giffords' Congressional website.
US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (right) speaking to a constituent at a Congress On Your Corner event in May 2010. Giffords was critically wounded yesterday at an event in Tuscon. Six people were killed including a federal judge and a 9-year-old.

All the papers lead today with the biggest national story of the weekend, a shooting in Tuscon, Arizona that killed six people, including a federal judge, and critically wounded US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

Some of the most comprehensive coverage can be found from news organizations with the biggest newsrooms such as the New York Times (including their slideshow of images from the scene), NPR, the Washington Post, CNN, and the LA Times.  But it’s also worth browsing coverage from local news outlets that often have more contacts within the city and state than national media. Check out coverage from the Tuscon Citizen, the Arizona Daily Star, the Arizona Republic, and Arizona TV stations KMSB,  KOLD,  KVOA, KGUN, KNXV and KPHO.

KUT News sought local reaction from Texas lawmakers last night, and spoke on the phone with US Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin) and US Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Austin). We also talked to a friend of Giffords’, Austin philanthropist Marc Winkelman, who told us Giffords “loves Austin" and has visited the city half-a-dozen times over the past five years.

KXAN interviewed Central Texas Congressman Ted Poe (R-Temple), a lawmaker who worked with Giffords’ on immigration issues.

"Gabby is feisty and she is a strong-willed woman.  I think she will be able to survive this if anybody could," Poe added.

After months of hand wringing over the Texas budget gap, estimated to be anywhere between $15 billion and $28 billion, the moment of reckoning is upon us. The 82nd Texas Legislature convenes in Austin this week, and most Texas news outlets are running preview pieces today.

Our political reporting partners, the Texas Tribune, posted this excellent primer that surveys the key issues of the budget, federalism, the Speakers race, immigration, redistricting, criminal justice, education, and energy. Read it and sound smart when you get stuck in the elevator with your boss on Monday morning.

On the speakers race, the Austin Chronicle’s Richard Whittaker blogged yesterday that Tea Party groups are threatening to swarm the legislature on Monday to pressure the House Republican Caucus into ousting incumbent speaker Joe Straus, a moderate Republican, and replacing him with McKinney Republican Ken Paxton.

The Dallas Morning News, meanwhile, examines the Herculean challenge of cutting $25 billion from the state’s budget while trying to avoid tax increases.

The underlying fear, from some in both parties, is that the budget-cutting zealousness could go too far. "You'll be gutting, literally gutting, some core services that government does for everybody," warned 16-year Rep. Burt Solomons, R-Carrollton, a key member of the House leadership. "You've got to be careful about crippling every program to the point of no recovery."

The Austin American-Statesman runs with a poll conducted jointly with other newspapers that found more than half of Texas voters want lawmakers not to cut public education and health care programs for children from low-income families.

Some 70 percent of respondents said lawmakers should not cut school spending, and 61 percent said they want no spending cuts on health care programs for children and low- to moderate-income families. "Everybody would like to make cuts, but it's hard to actually make them where the most spending is," pollster Mickey Blum said.

Freezing temperatures are in the forecast this week as an arctic blast bares down on Austin. That’s bad news for a lot of people, not the least of which are Central Texas farmers already coping with a drought. KEYE reports on the folks at Boggy Creek Farm.

They've laid out plant covers all week, to hopefully keep their crops alive. It’s a pretty arduous process – sometimes taking all day and involving several people – but that’s necessary. Because of how dry Central Texas has been, farmers could lose everything.

Finally, our buddies down in San Antonio are finally getting hip to the food truck revolution with the city opening its first mobile food trailer park. The San Antonio Express News’ gives us a nod in their lede.

What a tasty experiment: San Antonio, with a twist of Austin. That's how many described Saturday's grand opening of the Boardwalk on Bulverde, the Alamo City's first mobile food truck park, serving up a smorgasbord of gourmet dishes in an outdoor atmosphere not unlike a backyard barbecue.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @KUTnathan.