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Reporter’s Notebook: Regarding Twitter

Monday, January 9, 2017 by Austin Monitor

Vela to Dukes: Time to go… Embattled state Rep. Dawnna Dukes (Austin) has reneged on her promise to step down from her seat, leaving in limbo those who were hoping to replace her and actively campaigning to do so. One of them, Chito Vela, released a statement Saturday that said Dukes’ indecision “hurts the people she represents.” In an interview with the Austin Monitor, Vela said Dukes was putting her own interests above those of her constituents. Dukes, Vela recalled, said in September that she was planning to resign due to medical issues. “She said in her own statement that she was basically injured and that she was unable to serve,” he said. “That brings up a whole host of unanswered questions.” Vela, a longtime progressive activist and attorney who specializes in immigration and criminal defense, also said in his statement that his campaign would continue, regardless, though a special election has not been called and is pending Dukes’ actual resignation.

Adler talks Nook… Mayor Steve Adler is still gathering facts surrounding the ongoing noise complaint lawsuit between the Westin Austin Downtown hotel and the Nook Amphitheater and hasn’t yet decided how the city might intercede and attempt to resolve the matter. The dispute became public over the holiday break, while Adler and his family were on a vacation in Africa. He said Friday that he had just gotten up to speed on the basics and had asked city staff to get him as much information as possible so he could determine what role he or the city should play. The $1 million lawsuit came after months of negotiations between the two sides, who appeared to be close to an agreement in late 2016 before the suit was filed. Legal experts have said it is unlikely that the matter will ever get to trial but that the row is a high-profile one that crystallizes the friction between Austin’s growth and its history as a live music hub, which is a matter Adler has made one of his top priorities. “If there’s a way for me or the city to help with that, I’d like to,” he said. “I’m a strong believer in risk and agent of change issues. You don’t plop a venue in the middle of a bunch of housing, and likewise you shouldn’t set up something residential right near a music venue. From a policy standpoint, it appears pretty clear to me.”

Twitter police… Hopeless Twitter addicts may have caught the Texas Department of Transportation’s Austin District hitting a minor digital pothole on Friday morning. Just before 8:00 a.m., the district’s official Twitter account retweeted a local talk radio station. That original tweet contained a CBS News clip of a New York Times reporter expressing skepticism about claims that Russia’s meddling had any real impact on the outcome of November’s presidential election. The content of the clip appeared to have little to do with local transportation infrastructure, which made TxDOT’s retweet mildly controversial (and amusing). When asked about the reason for using the district’s imprimatur to share material that was sympathetic to President-elect Donald Trump rather than, say, information about weekend road closures, the office’s Twitter account replied, “Electronic error. Disregard please.” Perhaps the agency experienced subsequent electronic errors over the weekend, because both the original retweet and the subsequent explanation have both been scrubbed. But not before being screencapped.

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Better living through satire… Over the holidays, a new website called Undevelop Austin had those on social media wondering, “Is this a joke?” In short, yes: The website that explicitly advocates reducing jobs, making Austin expensive, increasing traffic congestion and generally “reversing urban development” is a very pointed joke. According to the “about” section on the site, “Yes, this site is mostly satire. The part that is not satire is that we still feel that Austin was a much nicer place to live twenty five years ago. Hopefully, the New Austin will eventually evolve into something almost as nice, even if you can’t get everywhere by car in 20 minutes.”

This week’s Reporter’s Notebook comes from the notebooks of Jack Craver, Caleb Pritchard, Chad Swiatecki and Elizabeth Pagano.

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