Suicide in the pediatrician’s office
Austin police this week are still investigating the apparent suicide at the Children’s Medical Group, which includes two pediatricians. According to Lieutenant Jeff Greenwald, the alleged gunman, Dr. Bharat Narumanchi spent weeks end-stage cancer and was recently turned down to volunteer.
“So we have a feeling that his terminal cancer probably played a big role and whatever happened in his life and what happened,” says Greenwald.
Greenwald says Narumanchi entered the building with multiple guns and took hostages, all but one of which escaped. Dr. Katherine Dodson was found dead next to Narumanchi, but his specific reason for killing her remains unclear.
The council buys another homeless hotel
Austin City Council has decided to buy another hotel for the homeless. City guides approved spending $ 6.7 million on another hotel near the intersection of Wells Branch and Mopac to house the homeless. Mayor Steve Adler says this will add the needed solutions to the housing solution.
“I’m excited. The hotel will continue to develop and support 65 residential units on a permanent basis,” says Adler.
The council also agreed to postpone the decision to buy another hotel in District 6 until next week. However, Adler is confident that the majority of the council will continue to support the purchase
“We’ll be pushing this again next week in District 6. There are 83 units of permanent support housing,” he says.
New Mayor Pro Tem
Austin City Council has a new Mayor Pro TEM. Early expectations were that Greg Casar would get the role, but the winds quickly changed when the attorney began to feel that a woman would be better suited for the job. Now Natasha Harper-Madison has officially received the role. She says she believes she is both female and black, which uniquely qualifies her for the position.
“We will continue to have conversations about public safety and homelessness, and I think these are issues that we all know are largely rooted in institutional racism,” says Harper-Madison.
She will hold the title of Mayor Pro TEM for one year and will be awarded to Alison Alter the next year.
New EMS district in Pflugerville
The discussion on EMS funding by the Pflugerville City Council continues. The city postponed its decision this week to allow a vote to create a new emergency service district. Proponents say the proposed GNI would raise residents’ taxes but fully fund the EMS mission in the region.
“We’re working through the process to understand how sensible and necessary this district would be and whether we should allow them to advance an election to create this district,” said Councilor Doug Weiss.
While Weiss agrees that the funding solution is required, he is not convinced that the proposed additional tax district would do the trick.
Travis County has more than a dozen fewer hospital beds in use this morning than a day ago. There are currently 559 COVID patients hospitalized, according to Austin Public Health, and progress is still being made on active cases, which dropped to 5,333 this morning. Around 66,900 cases have been confirmed with nearly 61,000 recoveries.
The ups and downs in local COVID numbers are definitely seen right now in Williamson County, where available hospital bed space has increased over the week. Today, however, hospital capacity has dropped slightly to 17%. A total of 1,801 cases are active with 142 more than a day ago. 28,367 people have recovered from the 30,469 confirmed cases.
WalMart vaccine access
Central Texas is about to have yet another option for access to COVID vaccines. This is WalMart. Stores across the country have already started receiving cans, and a location on Highway 71 in Bastrop will also receive some. However, this location is reportedly not yet making them available to the public. The online scheduling for appointments should begin next week.
Texans support the legislation
Police reform and the legalization of marijuana and casino gambling are supported by the majority of Texans. This is the result of a new survey by the University of Houston. Of all the laws that Austin lawmakers consider, police reform is among the frontrunners.
“Things like banning chokeholds and requiring officers to intervene when another officer uses excessive force. These are in the 1980s and 1990s, ”says Mark Jones of the University of Houston’s Hobby School of Public Affairs.
He says 61% of Texans support marijuana legalization, but mostly by party-political standards.
“That’s 76% of Democrats compared to just 36% of Republicans,” says Jones. 58% of Texans surveyed are in favor of legalizing casino gambling.
New tower planned for Rainey St.
If you’ve been to Austin for any length of time, you know the skyline looks very different now than it did years ago. Within another year, it could take on even more shape with the addition of a planned 64-story tower on the Red River in the Rainey Street District. It would be the second tallest building in the city at 802 feet. The statesman reports that it could be ready by 2025.