40,000 cus­tomers may have re­ceived wrong power bills

Glitch with ven­dor meant out-of-date amounts on emails.

Austin American-Statesman - - COMMUNITY NEWS - Con­tact Ben Wear at 512-445-3698. Twit­ter: @bwear Amer­i­can-States­man staff 512-246-0040.

and min­utes later the coun­cil voted 7-4 to ap­prove the zon­ing changes sought by En­deavor and Cap­i­tal Metro.

Coun­cil Mem­bers Ali­son Al­ter, Ora Houston, Les­lie Pool and Tovo dis­sented.

The prac­ti­cal ef­fect of the ne­go­ti­a­tions and the com­plex deal: En­deavor will be able to build a 125-foot-high of­fice build­ing, rather than just 70 feet, or four sto­ries, as ap­proved in an ear­lier vote. En­deavor, Cap­i­tal Metro and the city would each kick in $540,000 for a fund to sub­si­dize af­ford­able housing in the gen­eral Plaza Saltillo area.

En­deavor would also pay about $600,000 to­ward an af­ford­able housing fund based on the size of the taller of­fice build­ing.

But of­fi­cials with the de­vel­oper noted Fri­day that they still have the op­tion to go with the shorter, 70-foot of­fice build­ing and forgo most of the af­ford­abil­ity housing pay­ments. And the eco­nomics of the sit­u­a­tion could push the com­pany in that di­rec­tion.

“The coun­cil ap­proved the project with four sto­ries but granted En­deavor an op­tion to in­crease the height of the of­fice build­ing to eight sto­ries (or 125 feet) pro­vided we make ad­di­tional con­tri­bu­tions ex­ceed­ing $1 mil­lion to­ward en­hanc­ing af­ford­abil- ity in the neigh­bor­hoods sur­round­ing the project,” said Jason Thum­lert, a prin­ci­pal with En­deavor, in a state­ment Fri­day af­ter­noon. “In the com­ing months, we will be mak­ing the de­ter­mina- tion to build ei­ther a four- or eight-story build­ing.”

Ei­ther way, the 800 apart­ments planned for the Capi- case told the board Fri­day that most of the 1,400-plus com­plaints lodged against Burzyn­ski had been dis­missed by the State Of­fice of Ad­min­is­tra­tive Hear­ings. Burzyn­ski didn’t fi­nan­cially or phys­i­cally harm pa­tients named in the com­plaint, the judge had ruled.

The com p laints that weren’t dis­missed in­cluded ac­cu­sa­tions that Burzyn­ski didn’t prop­erly in­form a pa­tient when he changed the pa­tient’s treat­ment plan, that he al­lowed one of his staff mem­bers to mis­rep­re­sent her­self to pa­tients as a doc­tor and that he im­prop- 11-acre par­cel to be de­vel­oped tal Metro site would in­clude 141 units with be­low-mar­ket rents re­served for peo­ple mak­ing 50 per­cent or less of me­dian fam­ily in­come in Austin.

“I don’t think any of us are ex­cited by any of these op­tions,” Coun­cil Mem­ber Delia Garza, who also serves on the Cap­i­tal Metro board, said at the meet­ing Thurs- day night. “I would have pre­ferred that En­deavor con­trib­ute more. I wasn’t a big fan of Cap­i­tal Metro hav­ing to put more skin in the game.”

En­deavor, un­der a 99-year lease with Cap­i­tal Metro, erly charged pa­tients for treat­ment.

“The judges found that Dr. Burzyn­ski was not hon­est with his pa­tients. They found that he did not ad­e­quately in­form them about the treat­ments that they were re­ceiv­ing,” said Amy Swan­hold, an at­tor­ney for the med­i­cal board, at the meet­ing.

She called Burzyn­ski a “po­ten­tial harm to the pub- lic,” and charged that he is dis­hon­est to pa­tients who come to him “search­ing for hope.”

Burzyn­ski, a na­tive of Poland, per­formed research at the Bay­lor Col­lege of Medicine in Houston in the late 1970s, and, in 1993, won ap­proval from the U.S. Food will build the de­vel­op­ment’s ground-floor retail and that of­fice build­ing, while Colum­bus Realty Part­ners will build the apart­ments in a trio of four- and five- story mixed-use build­ings. Diana McIver & As­so­ci­ates will build a sep­a­rate 100- unit apart­ment build­ing near the Plaza Saltillo Metro­Rail sta­tion, with lower, more af­ford­able rents for al­most all of the units.

En­deavor of­fi­cials last month said con­struc­tion could be­gin as soon as two months after the zon­ing mat­ter is re­solved. But it was un­clear Fri­day if the poten- tial changes ap­proved early Fri­day would de­lay that con- struc­tion.

Build­ing the de­vel­op­ment should take about two years, said of­fi­cials with En­deavor, which is sep­a­rately in­volved with the Amer­i­can-States- man’s own­ers to re­de­velop the site where the newspa- per op­er­ates.

The coun­cil, be­cause of its power over zon­ing, found it­self as the fi­nal ar­biter in a dis­pute that be­gan al­most three years ago when the Cap­i­tal Metro board chose En­deavor and its part­ners over a com­pet­ing de­velop- and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion to per­form a clin­i­cal trial of an­ti­neo­plas­tons, a drug reg­i­men he says he de­vel­oped, as a treat­ment for can­cer. Al­though Burzyn­ski said it cures can­cer, the Na­tional Can­cer In­sti­tute says an­ti­neo- plas­tons aren’t ap­proved by the FDA for the preven­tion or treat­ment of any dis­ease.

Burzyn­ski uses an­ti­neo- plas­tons as a method of treat­ment at his Houston clinic, where 95 per­cent of his can­cer pa­tients are ter­mi­nally ill.

“We try to do our best to pro­vide ex­cel­lent care for our pa­tients. They rely on our treat­ment to live,” Burzyn­ski told the Amer­i­can-States­man. He ac­cused the Texas Med­i­cal Board of harassing him and cover- ment group fa­vored by long- time neigh­bor­hood ac­tivists.

Both devel­op­ers of­fered mixed-use de­vel­op­ments for the par­cel, and both said pub­licly that 25 per­cent of the apart­ment units would have af­ford­able rents.

The los­ing bid­der, headed by Cen­tral Austin devel­op­ers Perry Lorenz and Larry War­shaw, pro­posed a 125-footh­igh ho­tel. En­deavor’s tall- est build­ing was to be 60 feet high, and its pro­posal of­fered a full-size gro­cery store. Cap- ital Metro board mem­bers, in ap­prov­ing En­deavor, said they wanted to max­i­mize Cap­i­tal Metro’s fi­nan­cial re­turn from the prop­erty.

En­deavor, through the zon­ing be­fore the city, sought per­mis­sion to build most of the de­vel­op­ment at 68 to 70 feet high, with the taller of­fice build­ing a block from the high­way, rather than the 60-foot max­i­mum avail­able un­der the site’s ex­ist­ing zon- ing sta­tus.

The gro­cery store, mean- while, has fallen out of the plan be­cause, of­fi­cials have said, no gro­cery chain was in­ter­ested in lo­cat­ing one there.

En­deavor and Cap­i­tal Metro of­fi­cials say that in un­der­ly­ing doc­u­ments from the 2014 bid process, the de­vel­oper pledged to make just 15 per­cent of the units af­ford­able, go­ing to 25 per- cent only if the city of Austin sub­si­dized those lower rates.

Cap­i­tal Metro has de­clined to re­lease those bids and the draft con­tract, which, the agency says, would bring it more than $200 mil­lion over the 99-year life of the agree­ment. ing up the cure for can­cer.

Many of his sup­port­ers showed up Fri­day, at­test­ing to the life­sav­ing treat­ment they and their loved ones re­ceived from Burzyn­ski.

Sophia Get­tino, 21, flew from New York to Austin to at­tend Fri­day’s hear- ing. Doc­tors found a brain tu­mor in her when she was 10 months old, and, al­though she tried other more con­ven­tional treat­ments, noth­ing worked un­til she started see­ing Burzyn­ski, she said.

“I’ve been in re­mis­sion since I was 7 years old, and I’m here to­day” be­cause of Burzyn­ski, Get­tino said.

Pay close at­ten­tion to that on­line billing no­tice you just got from Austin Energy: It may be out­dated.

The city util­ity an­nounced Thurs­day that up to 40,000 cus­tomers may have re­ceived an email about their bill that in­cludes old data, and there­fore an in­cor­rect bal­ance amount.

“Cus­tomers who re­ceived an email in the past 24 hours no­ti­fy­ing them that their on­line bill is ready should look at the billing date,” Austin Energy said in a state­ment re­leased Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

“If the billing date is not Fe­bru­ary or March 2017, they should delete and dis­re­gard the email with­out con- cern,” the state­ment said. “If the billing date is cur- rent, they should take what­ever ac­tion they usu­ally take to pay their City of Austin bills.”

Austin Energy em­pha­sized ex­tin­guish the flames him- self with fire ex­tin­guish­ers, said Vaughan, and fire­fight­ers were no­ti­fied around 9 a.m.

He said they heard ex­plo- sions dur­ing the fire that could have been small cans of propane the owner was stor­ing at the com­plex.

The blaze didn’t reach the big tanks at the main propane busi­ness, Vaughan said.

Fif­teen fire­fight­ers from Tay­lor, Rockdale, Cameron and Mi­lano bat­tled the flames for an hour and a half to bring the fire un­der con- trol, he said.

One of the prob­lems, Vaughan said, was that fire­fight­ers had to be cau­tious bat­tling the blaze be­cause they didn’t know what the busi­ness owner had stored on the prop­erty.

They couldn’t stop the fire from spread­ing to the this was not a prob­lem with the billing sys­tem.

Rather, the util­ity said, a ven­dor had tested an email alert sys­tem us­ing old data.

The util­ity said it is “in­ves­ti­gat­ing the ven­dor er­ror and putting in place safe­guards to avoid re­cur­rence. We apol­o­gize for in­con­ve­nience or con­fu­sion.”

So how can cus­tomers find their cor­rect bal­ance?

Log into the On­line Cus­tomer Care por­tal at austinen­ergy.com, which will have your cur­rent bal­ance. Or call (512) 494-9400. auto up­hol­stery busi­ness on a neigh­bor­ing prop­erty be­cause the apart­ment com­plex was about 2 feet from the busi­ness, he said.

Joe Cava­zos, owner of the de­stroyed auto up­hol­stery East End Trim Shop, said he was out­side his busi­ness when he saw flames com­ing from the apart­ment com­plex next door.

“The next thing I know,” he said, “there were flames ev­ery­where.”

Cava­zos said he didn’t have in­sur­ance for the 50-yearold busi­ness.

Be­fore the flames charred his shop, how­ever, Cava­zos said he man­aged to save one piece of work. He opened the door to a shed the fire hadn’t reached. In­side was a beau­ti­ful set of red-and­white re­uphol­stered leather car seats.

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