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The Lead: Mayor Leffingwell Standing By Lance Armstrong

Leffingwell photo Jeff Heimsath for KUT News; Armstong photo

Good morning! Austin’s in for a chilly but sunnier day today, with highs in the lower 50s according to the National Weather Service.

Lead story: Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell is standing by Lance Armstrong. Oprah Winfrey says Armstrong admitted in an interview that he used performance-enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France. But Mayor Leffingwell says he’s still supports Armstrong. 

“As far as I’m concerned, for now, nothing changes,” Leffingwell tells KUT News. “Lance Armstrong has a very strong connection to the community and a very positive legacy. The work that he’s done with the Lance Armstrong Foundation is a great contribution to our community and to the entire country.”

Dr. Steven Ungerleider is chair of the sports journalism and ethics advisory panel at University of Texas, but he has also served on the ethics committee of the World Anti-Doping Agency – the agency that slapped Armstrong with a lifetime ban in August. Ungerleider believes that Armstrong’s admission will help the sport of cycling move forward.

“This can go a long way in cleaning up one of the dirtiest, most tainted sports ever,” he says. “And, by doing that, can clean up other sports.”

The World Anti-Doping Agency says it would only reconsider Armstrong’s ban if he confessed to authorities under oath.

City, county punt on gun show restrictions: Travis County Commissioners opted against pursuing action to stop gun shows at the Travis County Expo Center yesterday.

County Judge Sam Biscoe proposed that the county honor all existing gun shows at the expo center, but ask the director of the center to liaison with the court about future shows, especially events including “any licenses involving any usually high safety risks.”

The Austin City Council’s Health and Human Services committee discussed gun violence at its meeting yesterday, but stopped short of any discussion regarding gun shows at the expo center. (While the center is owned and operated by the county, it sits on city land.)

The committee heard from mayoral aid Andy Mormon on Mayor Leffingwell’s efforts with Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and Assistant Police Chief Sean Mannix described APD’s gun buyback efforts, which netted 340 weapons in 2010, and 441 in 2011. But discussion regarding the expo center occurred in private, as a briefing to council members from legal staff.

Nine gun shows are currently scheduled at the Expo Center this year.

Abbott’s eye-opening haul: Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is out-fundraising Governor Rick Perry by a margin of three-to-one. Abbott is widely rumored to be considering a run for Perry’s job next year.

Fresh numbers show Perry has $6 million cash on hand. Abbott, whose last competitive race was in 2002 against current State Sen. Kirk Watson, now has $18 million in his campaign war chest.

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.
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 X @KUTnathan.
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