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Top Morning Stories August 19, 2011

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Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News
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City council revised a plan to extend downtown metered parking hours and is reconsidering a settlement with the family of a teen fatally shot by a police officer in 2009.

City Council Revises Downtown Parking Plan

After much hand wringing, Austin City Council has voted on new rules for parking downtown. In March, the council voted to extend downtown metered parking until midnight every day but Sunday. After public outcry, some council members proposed postponing the plan and possibly scrapping it altogether.

Yesterdays vote is being billed as a compromise. Under the new rules, parking meters will run until midnight Thursday, Friday and Saturday, but only until six PM Monday through Wednesday.  Extended hours will be enforced from Lady Bird Lake to 8th Street, instead of 10th Street as was initially planned. Council member Laura Morrison voted against extending hours in March, but voted in favor of the new plan.

Correction: The plan was changed to extend extend meter hours back to 10th St. And Morrison voted against the plan, although it was passed 6-1.

“I’ve been concerned all along that adding paid metered parking at night could just basically wipe out one layer of folks that enjoy and live and work and play downtown in the evenings," Morrison told KUT news.

The City plans to start enforcing the new rules on October 3.

Council Planning Settlement of Sanders Case

The Austin American-Statesman has learned that Austin City Council is considering settlement of a $750,000 lawsuit with the family of a man fatally shot by a police officer in 2009.

City Council member Sheryl Cole the Statesman she is leading the effort to settle with the family of Nathaniel Sanders II and she could now have the four votes needed with the election of Kathie Tovo. 

Council Members Laura Morrison and Bill Spelman said they also plan to support the effort to resolve the suit — the same stance they held last year, when the council voted 4-3 against settling. "It's time we look the tough ones in the eye and not be afraid," Cole said Thursday. She said ending the case would "avoid further costly litigation on this controversial lawsuit and promote community reconciliation." Tovo said settling will "move our community forward on many fronts."

The Statesman also reports officials with the Austin Police Union oppose settlement, stating it would indicate error on the part of officer Leonardo Quintana.

Late Thursday, Sgt. Wayne Vincent, the police union president, maintained the opinion that the case should not be settled. "Our position is that we think a jury ought to hear it, and the facts should come out," he said.

The current lawsuit is set to go to trial in November

Texas Attorney General Accuses Company of Diluting Gas

Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a lawsuit Thursday accusing a gas provider of diluting medium and premium grade fuel with regular unleaded at 143 Texas stations. The lawsuit claims Petroleum Wholesale LLP and related defendants falsified octane levels and could face up to $20,000 for each violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

The attorney general's office alleges that the opeartors of Sunmart Travel Centers and Convenience Stores diluted fuel in more than 1,000 instances. The majority of such "cross-dumping" incidents are alleged to have occurred in and around Houston, but two central Texas stations have been identified as locations where cross dumping supposedly occurred. One is in Bastrop along Hwy 71 and another is in Georgetown on I-35.

This is the third enforcement action the state has taken against Petroleum Wholesale. In November 2010, the company was charged $30 million for intentionally rigging gas pumps to deliver less than a full gallon. Petroleum Wholesale was also ordered to pay $100,000 in December 2009 for failing to properly protect its customers’ personally identifying information.