Texas Harm Reduction Alliance hosts a die-in at the state Capitol Wednesday, Feb. 15, to commemorate the more than 5,000 Texans who died from drug overdoses in 2021, per the CDC. Delegations from around the state drove in to hear drug users, overdose survivors, harm reduction activists, and state and local elected officials advocate for legalizing fentanyl testing strips and providing funding for naloxone, safe syringe disposal programs, supportive housing, and other reforms. (Photo by Lina Fisher)
What Are Three UT Students and 100 Grand? Four seasons after their first appearances as teen contestants, three UT students will return for a Jeopardy! High School Reunion Tournament. The wiz kids, now wiz twentysomethings, will compete for a $100,000 grand prize in a series beginning Feb. 20. See senior biology major Alison Purcell Feb. 21, senior mechanical engineering student Rohan Kapileshwari Feb. 27, and junior public health major Anish Maddipoti Feb. 28.
This Is Jeopardy! (But Literally Though) KUT reported this week that pregnant Texans on Medicaid face logistical nightmares seeking prenatal treatment. Although the federal health insurance program covers about half of all births in the state, those on Medicaid are more likely to be rejected by a hospital, while minorities on Medicaid experience providers with low cultural competency, among other dire consequences.
Now Entering the Studio Is Today’s Defendant Attorney General Ken Paxton has agreed to apologize and pay $3.3 million to four whistleblowers whom he improperly fired after they accused him of bribery and abuse of office. The A.G. is still under FBI investigation for those charges, though this settlement ends the lawsuit over ousting top deputies. Paxton also faces an ongoing felony indictment for suspected securities fraud related to his private business deals in 2011.
What Is Forming a Union? Tesla employees in Buffalo, N.Y., are forming a union, Tesla Workers United. They “want Tesla to be the company [they] know it can be.” We’ll see if Austin Tesla employees follow suit.
What Is Ineffectual Staffing? Advocacy nonprofit Disability Rights Texas is requesting the Texas Education Agency to investigate Austin ISD‘s waitlist to evaluate students with special education services. In a letter, they ask the TEA to appoint a “conservator or management team” for the special education department. Staff shortages (only 1 in 3 roles are filled) led to a backlog of 800 students awaiting initial evaluations.
What Is the Live Music Capital of the World? In a city lauded worldwide for live music, one might think a duo of unanimous Council votes to adopt changes to the land use code to support more concert venues would begin in earnest sooner than six months after passage. Think again. The city has barely made progress on changing the code, and Economic Development Department staff say it’ll take another six months.
What Is Shelter From the Storm? In response to the recent ice storm, Council has directed the city manager (now Jesús Garza) to reevaluate how extreme weather shelters operate during emergencies. Of special importance, city staff should identify barriers that homeless Austinites face getting into these shelters.
Quote of the Week
“[Six months] is absolutely absurd and has nothing to do with what was directed in the Council resolution.”
– Music Venue Alliance Austin Founder Rebecca Reynolds on Austin’s slow change to land use code to support venues, per Council’s July direction