Monday, February 6, 2017 by Austin Monitor

Reporter’s Notebook: Just more fake news

Alt-facts… The national press has caught wind of Travis County’s skirmish with Gov. Greg Abbott over immigration policy, for better and worse. Reputable outlets such as CBS News and the Washington Post have deigned to talk to County Judge Sarah Eckhardt about the imbroglio that was sparked by Sheriff Sally Hernandez’s decision to no longer voluntarily comply with most requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement to detain suspected undocumented immigrants at the county jail even after they have been cleared for release. But in this modern age, the matter has also inevitably drawn the attention of outlets with less dedication to the principles of actual journalism, including Breitbart, that post-facts voice of the alt-right. On Wednesday, the organization published a piece by Warner Todd Huston that slammed Eckhardt for wearing a “pussyhat” during a recent Commissioners Court meeting. The post claims “a short investigation was launched” and that the incident “caused residents to quiz Texas authorities as to whether or not a sitting judge is allowed to wear partisan political paraphernalia on the bench.” To back up the claim, Huston included a tweet from @rambobiggs who asked, “(C)ould you expect to have a fair trial especially as a man if you saw this?” Noticing the article’s obvious and erroneous implication that Eckhardt is a trial judge who should remain apolitical, a nosy freelancer sent an email to Huston to set the record straight. He replied that the “investigation” he mentioned was simply a story about the matter produced by KVUE and also that he is aware of the distinction between a conventional judge and a county judge. “My editors didn’t think it was too important to the story to go into that. After all, in the story we didn’t really say what kind of ‘judge’ she is,” Huston wrote. In case you were wondering what kind of “news source” Breitbart is.

Photo by Allen Demling

The cat came back… Two years after the Jumpolin piñata store’s demolition, the grudge against the Blue Cat Cafe continues, as evidenced by a fresh round of posters on the east side. A group calling itself “Defend Our Hoodz – Defiende El Barrio – Austin” has not waivered in its call to boycott the cafe, which now stands on the former site of the piñata shop. The latest posters also make the accusation that “Trump supporters, white supremacists and neo-nazis love Blue Cat Cafe,” citing comments from a recent campaign to raise money after the cafe was vandalized as proof. This weekend, Defiende El Barrio will hold a demonstration to mark the two-year anniversary of Jumpolin’s demolition and to protest East Austin’s gentrification.

The gate came back, too… Once upon a time, City Council approved a gate in Crestview as part of a zoning case that came under fire once residents actually moved into the development. This past week brought a reminder that “gategate” is still very much a thing, and the battle over whether it should remain bolted shut came to a head after the chain holding the gate shut was cut, then repaired, then cut. … A source tells the Austin Monitor that the battle over the gate has, indeed, reached a fever pitch once again, with “gate defenders” sitting into the evening guarding the gate against further harm on at least one occasion.

Let’s just face it, time is a flat circle… Finally, from the Hyde Park listserv, the “naked jogger” is back. From the Monitor‘s very cursory research, police were hoping to track down a (the?) naked jogger in December 2014. Then, over the weekend, there was this report from Officer Everett Beldin, who is a beat cop in the Hyde Park neighborhood. “Resident saw the naked jogger this morning at approximately 6:40-45am. Resident was running north on AVE H around 54th and the naked man was standing at the intersection of AVE H and 55th. There was a female coming south on AVE H and was closer to him than the resident was, but the resident does not think she saw the naked man. The naked man bolted east on 55th and then the female jogger turned as well. When the resident got to the intersection at 55th and H and looked east, the resident saw the naked man hiding behind a car on 5th. … Resident described the naked man to be about 6′ tall, white, athletic build, possibly middle aged.”

This week’s Reporter’s Notebook comes from the notebooks of Caleb Pritchard and Elizabeth Pagano.

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Key Players & Topics In This Article

Crestview: Crestview is a north central Austin neighborhood bounded by Wooten and West Anderson Lane to the north, Allandale and Burnet Road to the west, Brentwood and Justin Lane to the south and the Highland neighborhood and North Lamar Boulevard to the east.

East Austin: East Austin is the quadrant of Austin that, generally speaking, is east of IH-35.

Judge Sarah Eckhardt: Eckhardt was elected Travis County Judge in November 2014, after previously serving as the Precinct 2 County Commissioner.

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