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Top Morning Stories December 23, 2011

Taxis wait to pick up passengers arriving at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
Photo by I-Hwa Cheng for KUT News
Taxis wait to pick up passengers arriving at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

Gas prices are down. The airport is packed. Government offices are closing. And Governor Perry’s bus tour of Iowa is taking a break. Thank goodness it’s Friday. Here are some of the top stories that caught our eye this morning.

AISD Joins Largest School Finance Lawsuit

Remember the massive cuts to public education enacted by the Texas legislature earlier this year? That budget slashing may come back to haunt the state government, as it is now facing four lawsuits seeking to attack the education funding system. Yesterday, the largest of those suits was filed. It includes Austin, Round Rock, Houston and Dallas ISDs. The cases will not go to trial until next year.

Record Keeping Policies Hinder Abuse Investigation at Austin State Hospital

Explosive allegations of child sex abuse against a long-serving doctor at the Austin State Hospital have forced investigators to look decades into the past, but record keeping and reporting policies at state regulatory agencies are making the job difficult, the Austin American-Statesman reports.  

Dr. Charles Fischer worked at the state hospital near Guadalupe and 45th Streets for 21 years. He was fired in November, after the Department of Family and Protective Services accused him of sexually abusing two patients at the facility. Seven more patients have since come forward to accuse the doctor, but Fischer denies all allegations.

Will the lights stay on in 2012?

The Texas Tribune’s Kate Galbraith reports this morning on what the future holds for the state’s grid operator next year. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas came extremely close to implementing rolling blackouts to cities and towns across the state this summer, and a report earlier this month suggests power reserves could drop next year, increasing the likely number of blackouts to two in ten years. 

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.