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City taking action in response to water failure as investigation underway

(The Austin Bulldog)

Following up on why the third boil water notice in four years occurred earlier this month, city leaders met in a specially called Austin City Council meeting for immediate and long-term action.

The water boil notice, which lasted from the evening of Feb. 5 through Feb. 8, was caused by “human error” at the Ullrich Water Plant. While no contaminants were found, Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros announced he would resign on Friday due to the incident. “I am just profoundly sorry that we had this event," Meszaros said.

What’s going to change at Austin Water?

  • Meetings have been conducted with staff at all three water treatment plants: Ullrich, Davis and Handcox.
  • Process controls protocols are being examined
  • Training protocols are being examined
  • Alarms, testing and notification procedures are under review
  • Added supervision on remote software access and plant monitoring

A full review of the events leading up to the operational error is taking place. So far, Meszaros says there was no gross negligence such as sleeping on the job or employees fabricating data. This issue was unrelated to the storm as well.

City council will meet again on Thursday at 10 a.m. to consider the audit resolution, followed by an oversight committee meeting on Feb. 23 at 1:30 p.m.


With deposition and trial looming, Elon Musk has offered $44B for Twitter, again

Elon Musk has proposed once again to buy Twitter for $54.20 a share.

The news that Musk is offering to carry on with the $44 billion buyout was first reported by Bloomberg. Now, a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission shows Musk made the proposal in a letter to the tech giant on Monday.

The New York Stock Exchange temporarily halted trading in Twitter stock twice Tuesday, first because of a big price move and the second time for a news event, presumably the announcement of Musk's renewed offer.

While the per share offer price on this latest proposal remains the same as the original offer, it’s unclear if Musk has made other term changes or if Twitter would reject it. According to other reports, a deal could be reached this week.

The stock closed at $52.00/share Tuesday, indicating market uncertainty around the $54.20 offer.

After Musk informed Twitter of plans to terminate the original agreement in July, Twitter sued. A trial has been expected in Delaware Chancery Court on Oct. 17.

With the proposition of a buyout on the table again, it revives the question of whether Musk might move Twitter from San Francisco to Central Texas.

He’s done so with some of his other companies. Tesla’s headquarters in southeast Travis County had its grand opening earlier this year and tunneling business The Boring Company moved to Pflugerville. At least two other Musk companies, SpaceX and Neuralink, have a Central Texas presence without being headquartered here.

Technology journalist Nilay Patel this afternoon voiced concerns that owning Twitter and Tesla together could be problematic for Musk, as his Tesla manufacturing facilities in Germany and China are both in countries that have disputes with Twitter over content moderation and censorship.

Telsa shares fell after the Twitter news became public, before rallying to close up, at $249.44.

Austin rents nearly double in a year and are now in the top 5 nationwide

While searching for a place to live, Austin renters will face monthly rates of nearly $3,000, a recent guide from rental marketplace Dwellsy shows.

The median rent in August this year was $2,930, a more than 86% increase since August 2021. That’s $820 more than the nationwide median asking rent in August and puts Austin just below the Bay Area, Boston and New York for large cities with the most expensive asking rent.

“Within this group, Austin, TX stands out for the highest increases in asking rent, which has nearly doubled since this time last year,” the study notes.

Outside of those large cities, however, others are seeing even higher rent spikes. Metro areas that ranked above Austin in one-year increases include those like Kansas City, MO with a 112% change in rent since last August and Tucson, AZ with a 124% change.

The data reflects large apartment communities, single-family homes and 2-6 unit buildings.