The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the grid operator for most of Texas, saw a new June record for peak electric demand on Monday, with electric use during the 4-5 pm hour averaging out at 65,047 megawatts (MW).
The previous record for June was 63,102 MW, which occurred on June 17, 2011. ERCOT’s all-time peak demand record occurred on Aug. 3, 2011, when electric use in the ERCOT region topped out at 68,379 MW. One MW is enough to power about 200 homes during peak demand periods, typically hot summer days like this one.
"As temperatures heat up throughout the state, electric use will follow closely," said ERCOT CEO Trip Doggett. "Last year, ERCOT was able to provide reliable electric power through the hottest summer on record. We hope energy users will help again this year by reducing the amount of electricity they use during the hours between 3 and 7 pm."
With temperatures expected to remain hot through much of the week, ERCOT expects to see tight grid conditions continue during the 3-7 pm hours. The forecast for Tuesday, June 26, calls for electric use to exceed 66,000 MW, with the possibility of topping out at more than 67,000 MW.
The National Weather Service has issued a Heat Advisory in effect from Noon until 9pm Tuesday.
The forecast high is expected to reach 106 degrees Tuesday; however, the heat index could reach 110 or higher. Temperatures will climb to the 100-degree mark by noon across much of south Central Texas.
High temperatures should return to the upper 90s by the weekend.
The NWS issues a heat advisory when a period of abnormally hot temperatures is expected. The combination of hot temperatures and humidity will combine to create a situation in which heat illnesses are possible. Drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors.
We're learning more about a suspicious death turned homicide in Northeast Austin that was discovered early Monday morning.
34-year old William Ervin was found dead with a gunshot wound in the 10700 block of Sprinkle Cutoff Road after a 911 caller reported a car that was run off the road. After investigating, police found the gunshot wound and injuries inconsistent with the crash.
Police believe the suspect in Ervin's murder flagged down another driver an hour earlier and displayed a handgun. That driver was able to flee and contact police.
If you have any information, call the APD Homicide Tip Line at 447-3588.
Austin police are investigating a "suspicious death" near the Samsung plant in Northeast Austin.
A 911 caller reported a car sitting off the roadway along Samsung Blvd near Sprinkle Cutoff around 12:20am Monday morning. When police arrived to investigate, they found a man in his thirties dead inside.
Originally, police ruled the death a traffic fatality. However, investigators changed that to a "suspicious death" after finding trauma on the victim's body not consistent with a traffic accident.
On June 6, 2012, at about 2:30am, two people broke into a trucking company at 5100 Wolf Lane, in the Del Valle area. The two were caught on video as they entered the property and as they left with their stolen merchandise. Among the items taken were one brown and one green Polaris ATV.
The suspects in this case spent about 45 minutes at the business, getting through the fence, breaking into a storage unit, loading their truck and trailer and leaving with the stolen items. They are described as white males in their 20’s, medium build with short hair.
The vehicle is a 1996 to 2000 Dodge truck, light colored (possible Gray), damage to the driver’s side, with running boards.
Anyone with information about this case or the identity of the suspects is asked to call Detective Kenny Murchison, at 512-854-7412, or Crime Stoppers at 472-TIPS (472-8477).
(CBS News) The showdown between the White House and key congressional Republicans over the administration's response to a controversial program that allowed guns into the hands of Mexican drug cartels kicked into high gear Wednesday.
President Obama granted Attorney General Eric Holder executive privilege on the matter, while the head of the House panel overseeing government conduct moved forward with proceedings to hold the nation's top law enforcement official in contempt of Congress.
By asserting executive privilege, the Justice Department can withhold documents from Congress, even if Congress has issued a subpoena, as the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has.
In a letter to Rep. Darrell Issa, R.-Cal., head of the Oversight Committee, Deputy Attorney General James Cole wrote, "Although we are deeply disappointed that the Committee appears intent on proceeding with a contempt vote, the Department remains willing to work with the Committee to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution of the outstanding issues."
At issue is documents over Operation Fast and Furious, an Arizona gunwalking program that put guns in the hands of illicit gun purchasers as a way to track Mexican smuggling cartels. As a result of the program, hundreds of guns showed up in Mexico and one was found at where a U.S. border agent was killed. Issa and his counterpart in the Senate, Charles Grassley, R-Iowa., opened an investigation into the case more than a year ago.
The contempt proceedings have led to a face-off between the Executive and Legislative branches. The Justice Department Wednesday asked the White House to get involved.
In a letter to President Obama asking for executive privilege, the attorney general wrote "that the Committee has not established that privileged documents are demonstrably critical to the responsible fulfillment of the Committee's legitimate legislative functions."
A White House aide told CBS News that this is the first time President Obama has asserted executive privilege, and noted that President George W. Bush used the privilege six times and President Bill Clinton used it 14 times.
With the White House's move, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, raised the prospect that the Obama administration was involved in Fast and Furious.
"Until now, everyone believed that the decisions regarding 'Fast and Furious' were confined to the Department of Justice. The White House decision to invoke executive privilege implies that White House officials were either involved in the 'Fast and Furious' operation or the cover-up that followed. The Administration has always insisted that wasn't the case. Were they lying, or are they now bending the law to hide the truth?" Boehner spokesperson Michael Steel wrote in a statement.
However, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee defended the president's assertion of executive privilege.
"In this case, it seems clear that the Administration was forced into this position by the Committee's unreasonable insistence on pressing forward with contempt despite the Attorney General's good faith offer," Rep. Cummings said at Wednesday's contempt proceedings.
A meeting held Tuesday evening between Rep. Issa and Holder was an attempt to work out an agreement over documents pertaining to the Fast and Furious case. But it ended without an agreement being reached.
Issa told reporters after the meeting, "If we receive no documents, we'll go forward. If we receive documents we will evaluate them."
In a letter to Issa sent later Tuesday evening, Deputy Attorney General James Cole wrote, "We regret that the Committee rejected our proposal. Our offer would have provided the Committee with unprecedented access to these documents, many of which are not covered by the Committee's subpoenas in this matter."
"We're not looking to hold people responsible. We're looking for document production," Issa said.
Issa's committee is looking for documents dating from February to December 2011 on how the Justice Department handled the Fast and Furious case.
Holder says he made Issa an "extraordinary" offer that includes documents, a briefing on those documents and answers to questions Issa and his committee might have.
"The ball is in their court," Holder said. "They rejected what I think is an extraordinary offer."
Sen. Grassley, who attended the meeting, told CBS News that Issa is right to proceed with contempt vote against Holder.
Austin ISD employees will get a three percent pay "bump" for the 2012-13 school year, after district trustees approved a $724.2 million spending plan Monday night.
The plan includes a one-time payment equivalent to a three percent pay raise for all district employees. Several new programs, including the IDEA charter school at Allan Elementary will also be launched using funds from the plan.
The pay raise is the first for district employees since 2009. The one-year increase totals approximately $14.16 million.
Trustees still need to agree on the revenue side of the budget, including whether they will call for a property tax referrendum on the November ballot. That decision is expected to be made sometime in August.
Austin ISD's board of trustees will get an opportunity to hear the public's comments on the district's $724.2 million budget Monday night.
The school board is expected to vote tonight on the district's spending, though it will not approve the final budget, which includes district revenue, until August. Board members are still considering whether to ask voters for a tax increase in November.
The spending plan includes using $14.2 million from the district's reserves to give employees a one-time payment equivalent to a 3 percent raise. That bump in pay could become permanent if the board moves forward with and voters approve the tax rate increase.
School trustees have said they want to wait on the tax decision until they know what other jurisdictions are doing.
Details are emerging in a police chase in South Austin that killed an innocent bystander late Friday afternoon.
At approximately 3:20pm, police received a call about a man breaking into a Ford F-250 pickup truck at Barton Creek Square mall. When police responded, Reynaldo Victor Hernandez Jr., took off south on Loop 360. Police gave chase, reaching speeds of 96 miles an hour.
The suspect took the South Lamar Blvd exit from 360 to the Ben White frontage road and continued eastbound along Ben White. At the intersection of Ben White and Pack Saddle Pass, the suspect collided with a Mitsubishi Lancer. The driver of the Lancer, 32-year old James Williford, was killed on impact.
Hernandez fled the accident on foot, entering a nearby Dollar General store and fleeing through the store's back door. Police apprehended him in the neighborhood behind the store.
Police charged Hernandez Jr., age 37, with first-degree murder in Williford's death, along with three other felonies and a misdemeanor, according to arrest affidavits. He remained in the Travis County Jail on Sunday with a bond of more than $1.2 million.
The Coca-Cola Co. plans to start selling its drinks in Burma for the first time in 60 years, following the U.S. government's decision to suspend investment sanctions on the country for its democratic reforms. CBS News reports.
The face-chewing attack that left homeless victim Ronald Poppo missing about 75 percent of his face along a Miami causeway has people calling Rudy Eugene a cannibal. However, an autopsy shows there was no human flesh in Eugene's stomach.
A law enforcement source told The Miami Herald that the post-death examination revealed a number of undigested pills in Eugene's stomach but no human flesh.
Investigators have not identified the pills yet and are unsure whether they played a role in Eugene's violent outburst. Toxicology tests will take weeks to complete. Eugene's autopsy records have not been released to the public, and will likely not become available until Miami-Dade prosecutors finish their review of the shooting. That could take more than a year.
A preliminary review reportedly found presence of marijuana in Eugene's system but it is doubtable whether the drug contributed to the face-chewing assault since marijuana doesn't usually spark violent attacks, The Herald reported.
The autopsy also revealed human flesh lodged between Eugene's teeth, a law enforcement source said. Earlier investigations discovered chunks of Poppo's flesh on the ground during the May 26 attack, as if they had been spit out.
Poppo, 65, is now recovering at Jackson Memorial Hospital, where a source told The Herald he has already undergone some skin grafts to help repair his face. Because of his condition, Poppo has been unable to tell Miami detectives what happened.
Eugene, 31, was laid to rest in Miami on Saturday, CBS Miami reports.
Ex-UT Longhorn and National NCAA Player of the Year, Kevin Durant opened the NBA Finals with a performance to remember. Durant led all scorers with 36 points as the Thunder rolled over the Miami Heat, 105-94 on Tuesday night.
Complete box scores and recap on Game 1 of the NBA Finals, here.
After last year's string of 90 days of triple digit heat, most Central Texans aren't looking forward to the thermometer hitting the century mark.
According to the National Weather Service, Monday marked the first triple-digit day of 2012. Camp Mabry reported a high of 101. By this time in 2011, we had already hit eight days of triple digit heat, with the first being recorded on May 25.
Tuesday has a slight chance of reaching the century mark again, with a forecast high of 97. The heat index, or "feels like" temperature, will still reach into the low 100s.
Temperatures will continue to gradually decline over the remainder of the week.
A project to build two express toll lanes on MoPac got a little closer to reality Monday night.
The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, or CAMPO, executive board agreed to allocate money to the 11-mile, $200 million project to be built by the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority. CTRMA will receive $130 million; in exchange, the tolling agency will repay the money by paying $230 million into a regional mobility fund over the next 25 years. CAMPO will be responsible for allocating that money.
Officials said that if the lanes were to be built under traditional financing methods, the project would cost $544 million.
The funding agreement still needs to be approved by the Texas Transportation Commission to take effect.
The latest "No Refusal" effort by Austin police to curb drinking and driving netted 51 arrests through Sunday morning.
According to numbers from APD, none of the 51 arrests were motorcyclists. 29 people were arrested Friday night into Saturday morning, and 22 were arrested Saturday night into Sunday morning. We'll expect numbers from APD for Sunday night later today.
During the 2011 ROT Rally, 37 people were arrested during a similar "No Refusal" effort.
It was a particularly deadly weekend on Austin roads, with close to 50,000 extra people on the roads with the Republic of Texas Biker Rally at the Expo Center.
Three fatal motorcycle wrecks occured between Friday morning and Saturday night, and a hit and run accident Saturday night killed a pedestrian.
It also seems to be an upward trend, according to numbers from APD - 36 people have died on Austin roadways so far this year, compared to 20 at this point last year. Police point out that they don't see an overall pattern in the rise in fatal crashes.
Leaders of the Senate and House intelligence committees said Thursday they were drafting legislation to further limit who can access highly classified information and possibly impose new penalties for revealing it.
The head of the House intelligence committee said he will investigate recent leaks, but the CIA and the Justice Department national security division said they would not cooperate.
The action comes after recent leaks of sensitive information about the covert drone and cyber wars against terrorism.
"There has been just a cascade of leaks coming out of the intelligence community in the last several weeks and months," the vice chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., told reporters. "It's our clear intention to put a stop to this."
The bipartisan news conference of the four top lawmakers was spurred by a series of media reports detailing everything from White House policy on the highly classified targeting of al Qaeda militants by drones and raids, to the White House reportedly deploying the cyber weapon known as Stuxnet, a malicious computer code that knocked Iranian nuclear processing centrifuges offline.
(CBS/AP) George Zimmerman has been given a new bond hearing, tentatively scheduled for June 29, reports CBS affiliate WKMG in Orlando. The former neighborhood watch volunteer charged with killing Florida teen Trayvon Martin will now sit in jail for at least a few more weeks.
(CBS News) First-term Republican Gov. Scott Walker has survived the Wisconsin recall election, beating back a labor-backed effort to unseat him and again handing defeat to his Democratic challenger, 58-year-old Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
With 94 percent of the expected vote in, Walker led Barrett 54 percent to 45 percent. Barrett conceded the race late Tuesday night, saying that while "the state remains divided," he hopes all sides will remain engaged to serve the interests of Wisconsin families.
The 44-year-old Walker -- the first governor in U.S. history to survive a recall election -- thanked cheering supporters late Tuesday.
"Tonight we tell Wisconsin, we tell our country, and we tell people all across the globe that voters really do want leaders who stand up and make the tough decisions," he said, adding, "the election is over, it's time to move Wisconsin forward."
Walker said that while "bringing our state together will take some time, no doubt about it," he believes "there is more that unites us than divides us." The Wisconsin governor said he planed to hold a meeting with the entire state legislature next week.
The recall fight, prompted by Walker's decision to strip Wisconsin public workers of their collective bargaining rights, has doubled as a proxy fight over whether Republicans can push through spending cuts and confront organized labor - and live to tell about it.
"Governor Walker has demonstrated over the past year what sound fiscal policies can do to turn an economy around, and I believe that in November voters across the country will demonstrate that they want the same in Washington, D.C.," presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said. "Tonight's results will echo beyond the borders of Wisconsin." The Romney campaign said the former Massachusetts governor called Walker to congratulate him Tuesday evening.
According to the Center for Public Integrity, candidates and outside groups spent in excess of $63 million on the recall election - an enormous figure that easily breaks the previous record of $37.4 million (set in the 2010 gubernatorial contest) for spending in a Wisconsin election. According to the New York Times, Walker and his Republican allies spent $45.6 million on the race as of May 21, while Barrett and his allies have spent $17.9 million.
Turnout had been expected to exceed the 2010 election total, with an estimated 2.8 million people expected to cast ballots. Reports emerged from Wisconsin Tuesday of robocalls informing voters, falsely, they don't have to vote if they signed the recall petition, among other attempts to depress turnout among Barrett voters using false information. The Walker campaign said in response to the reports that "any accusation that our campaign is making those calls is categorically false and unfounded."
CBS News exit polls found that 52 percent of voters in Wisconsin approve of how Walker has handled the issue of collective bargaining, and 54 percent approve of how he has handled job creation. Fifty-two percent said they approved of the recent changes to state law that limits collective bargaining for government workers, while 47 percent disapproved of these changes.
Fifty-one percent of Wisconsin voters in the early exit polls said they have a favorable view of unions for government workers -- a group that largely backed the recall -- while 45 percent have an unfavorable opinion of these unions.
The exit polls showed Barrett winning handily among union households, while Walker dominated among Tea Party voters. Walker also won by 9 points among independents. The polls showed Walker winning with men and those making more than $50,000, and Barrett winning among women and those making less than $50,000 per year.
Walker dominated Barrett in the money race this time around thanks in large part to donors from outside the state. As of campaign filings released on May 29, Walker had raised $30.5 million, with about two-thirds of that total coming from donors outside Wisconsin. Barrett had raised roughly $4 million, with about one-fourth coming from outside the state. Part of the disparity can be explained by the fact that Walker, as a sitting governor facing recall, is not subject to the state's legal limits on campaign contributions under Wisconsin law. Barrett, by contrast, was legally barred from accepting contributions in excess of $10,000 per person.
The rest of the spending in the race has been from outside ideological groups. The Tea Party-linked group Americans for Prosperity alone told CBS News it has spent $10 million on the race since January 2011 on what it says is education over the positive impact of Walker's budget reform efforts.
The effort to recall Walker effectively began last February. That's when the newly-elected governor, who had defeated Barrett in the 2010 election, released a budget plan that proposed elimination of most public employee bargaining rights.
Walker had suggested during his 2010 campaign that he would close the state's $3.6 billion budget shortfall in part through cuts to public employee pensions, but he said nothing about eliminating collective bargaining rights. His announcement galvanized many on the left, who began chanting "Recall Walker" at the Wisconsin statehouse as part of massive protests against the plan. Wisconsin Senate Democrats even temporarily fled the state in an ultimately futile effort to keep Walker's plan from being passed.
In January, Walker's opponents submitted more than 900,000 valid signatures to the state to trigger the recall election, far more than the 540,208 needed to do so. Barrett won the Democratic primary last month, beating organized labor's preferred candidate, and went on to promise to "end this civil war" by defeating Walker.
Walker defeated Barrett by nearly six points in the 2010 Wisconsin gubernatorial race.
Sixty percent of Wisconsin voters said in CBS News exit pollsthat recall elections are only appropriate for official misconduct. Twenty-seven percent said they think they are suitable for any reason, while 10 percent think they are never appropriate.
President Obama expressed support for Barrett but did not campaign in person for him, prompting grumbling from some Wisconsin Democrats and labor leaders. Among those who did was former President Bill Clinton, who said a Walker victory would prompt Republicans around the nation to conclude: "We're finally going to break every union in America. We're going to break every government in America. We're going to stop worrying about the middle class. We don't give a rip whether poor people will get to work their way into it. We've got our way now. We've got it all. Divide and conquer works."
Republicans called the race a test of whether they can push through the difficult reforms needed to deal with massive federal, state and local budget deficits.
"Governor Walker has shown that citizens and taxpayers can fight back - and prevail - against the runaway government costs imposed by labor bosses," Romney said Tuesday evening. "Tonight voters said 'no' to the tired, liberal ideas of yesterday, and 'yes' to fiscal responsibility and a new direction. I look forward to working with Governor Walker to help build a better, brighter future for all Americans."
Mr. Obama won Wisconsin by 14 points in 2008, but the recall fight has Republicans suggesting it may be within reach for Romney. The exit polls found that Mr. Obama led Romney 51 percent to 44 percent among voters in the recall election.
Tripp Wellde, State Director of Mr. Obama's re-election campaign in Wisconsin, pointed to that exit poll finding and said that despite the loss, "The power of Wisconsin's progressive, grassroots tradition was clearly on display throughout the run up to this election and we will continue to work together to ensure a brighter future for Wisconsin's middle class."
While Republicans held a major advantage on the airwaves thanks to the massive spending by Walker and his backers, Democrats had a big advantage in organization on the ground, thanks in part to a get-out-the-vote effort backed by organized labor. Walker's victory suggests that the newly-legal unlimited spending by super PACs and other outside groups - which was unleashed by a pair of recent Supreme Court decisions, including Citizens United - can overcome the ground game Democrats have steadily built up around the nation in recent years.
While a loss may well have effectively ended Walker's political career, his victory will elevate him to superstar status among conservatives and likely prompt talk of a future presidential run. It also feeds the notion that the influence of organized labor - which made the governor's defeat a top priority - continues to wane.
Also surviving recall elections on Tuesday were the state's Republican lieutenant governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, and three Republican state senators, according to the Associated Press. In a fourth state Senate recall election, Republicans were leading. If Democrats were able to triumph in any of the state senate elections, they would win a majority in the Wisconsin Senate and be able to block Walker's agenda even though he remains in office.
Owners of the Wood Ridge Apartments in East Austin were given an ultimatum Monday night.
The city's Building and Standards Comission gave David Andrews, of La Jolla, California, 75 days to make needed repairs to 10 of the 15 buildings at the complex.
Code compliance officers told the board that five of the 15 buildings had already been repaired, and they lifted the "vacate" order on Monday, allowing residents to return to their homes at the apartments' discretion - nearly three weeks after they had been forced from their homes after a balcony collapsed and officers found several safety violations at the complex.
The owner of the complex had been seeking 120 days to make the needed repairs.
The ongoing saga at an East Austin apartment complex where a balcony collapsed last month could take another turn tonight.
The city's Building and Standards Commission will consider the Wood Ridge Apartments at its meeting tonight. The commission could vote to vacate, repair, or demolish the apartments. And the city could end up in court if the complex's owners aren't happy with the outcome.
Affected residents have been homeless for more than two weeks since a balcony collapsed and code enforcement officers issued citations. They haven't been getting any answers from the apartment's management.
We'll update you as soon as the decision comes down tonight.