Austin affordable housing’s big bond, dashcam video lawsuit, former South Texas mayor gets eight years

Austin City Council last week approved a $925 million bond issue — more than 44 percent higher than what city staff recommended, due mostly to an affordable housing package far larger than any the city has attempted.

The City of Carrollton’s initial refusal to provide a copy of police dashcam footage to a local attorney has turned into a federal case complete with alleged First Amendment violations. Attorney Stephen Le Brocq has accused the city, a local law firm and three city employees of retaliation and depriving him of his First Amendment rights. Le Brocq filed the federal suit in June after the city refused to provide him with a video file of footage in a basic traffic stop case.

The former mayor of Crystal City was sentenced this week to eight years in federal prison for corruption. In addition to the time behind bars, Ricardo Lopez was sentenced to pay $24,000 in restitution and spend three years under federal supervision upon release. In June 2017, a federal jury in Del Rio found Lopez and William James Jonas III, Crystal City’s former city manager and city attorney, guilty of bribery, wire fraud and theft counts from a corruption probe. Lopez, who was arrested in February 2016 at a city council meeting, resigned a few days later.

Austin announced that it will not enforce its five-year-old ban on plastic grocery bags after the Texas Supreme Court ruled the bans were illegal in 12 Texas cities. The announcement came just days after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sent letters to the mayors and city councils in each of the cities informing them of the Supreme Court ruling that the bag ban in Laredo was illegal, as reported by The Texas Monitor on June 22.