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Local Government

As Bastrop wildfire forces evacuations, Travis County issues burn ban

On Tuesday, the Travis County Commissioners Court unanimously approved a burn ban, beginning Thursday, Jan. 20, at the behest of the fire marshal. The ban comes after a few fires broke out in Travis County over the weekend, and a…

Eckhardt cleared of judicial conduct sanction

Austin state Sen. Sarah Eckhardt, a lifelong Democrat, has won her battle with the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct. In December 2020, the commission issued an admonition against Eckhardt for comments she made as Travis County Judge in 2017…

As ERAP well dries, county turns to other sources to meet renters’ needs

Travis County Health and Human Services broke the bad news to commissioners Tuesday that the U.S. Treasury will not be granting the county’s request for an additional $7.8 million in Emergency Rental Assistance funds. This means hundreds of people counting…

End of an era: DeBeauvoir ready for new challenges

Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir, who has served as the county’s chief elections officer as well as the overseer of numerous county records, including deeds and marriage licenses, announced in November that she would not seek reelection. After nearly 36…

County Attorney Garza's first priority is public safety

Delia Garza’s life as Travis County Attorney is a lot different than when she sat on Austin’s City Council. But the one thing that has stayed consistent, she said, is that no two days look alike. Since Garza took on…

Brown: The stakes are high for the county judge

Unlike the city of Austin, Travis County doesn’t have a behind-the-scenes manager directing operations, overseeing staff and preparing budgets. But it does have Andy Brown, the county judge, head of the Commissioners Court and a former senior adviser to Beto…

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Ann Howard reflects on a turbulent first year in office

From the winter storm last February to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Travis County Commissioner Ann Howard has seen a lot this past year. The Austin Monitor sat down with Howard to reflect on 2021 and the highs and lows that came…

Shea: A career spent combating the climate crisis

In the summer of 1988, Brigid Shea unfolded a copy of The New York Times and read a front-page story that changed the trajectory of her life, about a NASA scientist who had testified to Congress about the life-threatening consequences…

Gómez: Longest-serving commissioner finding new ways of doing business

With new members on the court this past year, Travis County Commissioner Margaret Gómez has been rethinking the court’s longtime processes. (Ann Howard, who represents Precinct 3, assumed office at the start of 2021, while County Judge Andy Brown assumed…

Where some see problems, Travillion sees opportunities

Travis County Precinct 1 Commissioner Jeff Travillion acknowledges that 2021 was a “challenging year.” But where others saw problems, Travillion saw opportunities. In areas lacking basic amenities like hospitals, clinics and pharmacies, Travillion made use of public schools and community…

Diversion programs can reduce mass incarceration in Travis County

At Thursday’s work session, the Travis County Commissioners Court fielded discussion about the benefits of, and recent updates to, several jail diversion programs underway in Travis County. Such programs included pretrial and pre-charge diversion programs, as well as a DWI…

Council opts to pursue settlements in police brutality suits, puts limit on legal spending

City Council has chosen to pursue settlements in two lawsuits stemming from protests last summer outside the Austin Police Department headquarters. Council last week unanimously approved two resolutions to cap legal spending on the cases brought by Justin Howell and…

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