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The Lead: Austin Dreams of a Subway, Legislature Gears Up

Good morning. After yesterday’s warm weather, Austin’s facing much chillier temperatures today with regional highs in the 60s. Here’s some stories KUT News has been working on:

“The Waller Creek tunnel project downtown is digging up an old question: Why not a subway for Austin? That thought was on the top of Downtown Commissioner Jude Galligan’s mind after he saw the inside of the tunnel. ‘During the tour, I overheard discussions of people saying, why don’t we have subways in Austin?’ Galligan told me. ‘For a lot of us who have been following transportation, that’s a decade or two decade old discussion of why don’t we. Well, we don’t, because everybody believes it’s prohibitively expensive.’ But Galligan isn’t convinced by that argument. “

“By law, Texas lawmakers can’t increase state spending by more than the rate of increase of personal income. A couple of weeks ago the Legislative Budget Board set that rate at 10.7 percent, or about $7.5 billion more than the present budget. But immediately Republicans on the board, led by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, said they would use a different standard to cap state spending – which won’t account for the cuts made last legislative session.”

“Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst has asked the Senate Open Government Committee to take a look at possible revisions to the Public Information Act. Today, that committee heard testimony about how technologies are creating public information and how access to that information can affect government contractors.”

“The University of Texas Longhorns have what could be their toughest game of the year Saturday against seventh-ranked Kansas State. But the team is still dealing with a deflating loss to Texas Christian University on Thanksgiving night.”

And here’s some more stories from around the web:

  • Databases Expected to Help Police, Social Services in Sex Trafficking Cases (Statesman)
“A statewide nonprofit is developing two databases it says will help police and social services agencies across Texas better assist victims forced into the commercial sex trade. Children at Risk, a youth advocacy and research group based in Houston, plans to release the first online database by early next year, with information on more than 100 providers and shelters that offer medical, housing and counseling services to sex trafficking survivors. Another private, more comprehensive repository will be made available to selected nonprofits and law enforcement agencies.”

  • Austin Design Commission Votes for Further Study on Downtown Sound Mitigation (KVUE)
“A year ago Austin City Council directed Staff to study the issue of noise mitigation in downtown buildings. A few months ago, city staffers came back with a recommendation to the Design Commission that future multiple-dwellings downtown should include laminated coverings over glass to buffer the noise. On Monday night, the Design Commission decided that lamination wasn’t enough and they voted unanimously to recommend that Austin City Council take a deeper look at the issue.”

  • Video: Residents Keep Holidays Weird With Random Tree Trimming (KEYE)
“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas along Loop 360 as northwest Austin residents decorate hundreds of trees. … Legend has it that more than a decade ago one family started the tradition by decorating a tree when no one was watching. Since then it has caught on. More than 100 trees are wrapped with garland, ornaments and whatever people can find."

“Is John Mueller the new pit boss at Shiner Restaurant & Bar in historic Shiner, Texas? Sure sounds like it, according to RL Reeves, Jr. over at the Scrumptious Chef, who called the restaurant and ‘confirmed that the wiry pit boss has gone to ground in Shiner.’”

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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