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Austin Mayor’s Race, Longhorns Basketball, Real Winter and more

Michael Barnes
mbarnes@statesman.com

POLITICS: Two candidates drop from Austin mayor’s race. From Marty Toohey’s story in the Statesman: “And then there was one. Over a span of roughly 24 hours, the field of mayoral candidates set to vie for the “outsider” mantle in the upcoming election was winnowed from three to one. Patsy Woods Martin, the organizer of the “I Live Here, I Give Here” campaign, shocked political observers late Sunday by announcing her withdrawal from the race just days after announcing her candidacy. Then Monday evening, civic activist and former 3M Company executive Bill McLellan told the American-Statesman that he, too, was dropping out the race, after having announced late last year he was seeking the city’s top office as Austin transitions to a new political system. The suddenly narrowed field leaves attorney Steve Adler the clear favorite to attract the support of people looking for new blood at City Hall. http://shar.es/UFRfS(Frankly relieved that I won’t be forced to choose among friends.)

SPORTS: Horns finally back in the Top 25. From Kevin Lyttle’s story in the Statesman: “A familiar face has found its way back into the Top 25 men’s college basketball poll after a lengthy absence. Texas, we missed ya. The Longhorns, out of the national media poll since the end of the 2010-11 season, checked in Monday at No. 25 on the heels of three consecutive victories against ranked teams for the first time in school history. Even the sleepy fan base is excited … at least for the next game. King Kansas, the nine-time defending Big 12 champion, invades the Erwin Center on Saturday, and a full house of 16,540 is practically guaranteed.” http://shar.es/UFBnG(This season has been intense. Thank you LHN.)

WEATHER: Austinites getting accustomed to the cold. From Claudia Grisales story in the Statesman: “Icy conditions have caused multiple school closures, including Austin, Leander, Round Rock and Georgetown, and have wreaked havoc on Central Texas roads. Light freezing rain and sleet are expected to fall until about 10 a.m., and temperatures will not rise above freezing until at least noon, officials said. A winter weather advisory is in effect until noon. Several school districts have canceled classes today, while others are operating on a delay. Austin Community College is also closed. To check school, road and other closings, click here.” http://shar.es/UFTaS(Pity our friends up north. Infinitely worse.)

TRANSIT: TxDOT studies high-speed rail. From Aman Batheja’s story in the Texas Tribune. “As the potential for high-speed rail projects in Texas draws more interest than it has in decades, the Texas Department of Transportation is moving forward this week on two different efforts to give the concept a fair shake. The Texas Transportation Commission is expected to vote Thursday at its monthly meeting on the creation of a high-speed rail commission focused on the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Separately, TxDOT is holding a series of public meetings around Texas and Oklahoma, starting this week, to hear comments on a study looking at the feasibility of high-speed rail projects between Oklahoma City and South Texas. Texas Transportation Commissioner Victor Vandergriff stressed that the two initiatives should not be interpreted as a decision by TxDOT to develop any high-speed rail projects in Texas.” http://trib.it/19XPDF7(If only …)

MEDIA: Telling stories about the future of journalism. From George Packer’s story in The New Yorker: “Ezra Klein, who started Wonkblog, at the Washington Post, is taking his talents and a few of his colleagues to Vox Media, where, he told David Carr, of the Times, “We really wanted to build something from the ground up that helps people understand the news better. We are not just trying to scale Wonkblog, we want to improve the technology of news, and Vox has a vision of how to solve some of that.” I wasn’t sure what Klein meant by this, so I went over to Vox’s technology site, The Verge, where he had posted an explanation of the new publication: “Today, we are better than ever at telling people what’s happening, but not nearly good enough at giving them the crucial contextual information necessary to understand what’s happened…. Our mission is to create a site that’s as good at explaining the world as it is at reporting on it.” http://nyr.kr/1i7952r (It’s all packaging and delivery.)