Austin City Council
4:58 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

Are New Changes to Austin's Bag Ban Too Lenient?

Some retailers thanked council today for exempting restaurants from Austin's bag ban; others felt it created a loophole.
courtesy flickr.com/jonathanyoungblood

Austin’s commitment to becoming a “zero waste” city by 2040 came into question today, as the City Council approved adding exemptions to the plastic bag ban that takes effect in March 2013.

Restaurants will now be exempt from the bag ban. Some citizens expressed that the exemption deviates from the goals of the original ban and provides too big of a loophole. (Whole Foods, Central Market and Wheatsville Co-op all serve hot dishes, for example.) 

Mayor Lee Leffingwell disagrees. "This is addressing in a meaningful way something that's a real problem," Leffingwell said, "and we've done that for other uses of plastic bags where we've seen that there's not a reasonable alternative – newspapers, dry cleaning for example. I think it's pretty obvious once you think about it – obviously we didn't think about it [then], but once you do think about carrying out a bag full of barbeque sauce in a paper bag, it's not a good idea."

Read more
Drugs
4:16 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

As Pot Initiatives Pass in Colorado and Washington, Mexico May Reconsider Drug Policy

Could legal U.S. pot – even in a few states – alter U.S.-Mexico relations?
flickr.com/stayfadedphotography

The head of incoming Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto's transition team says that Mexico may re-evaluate its policies regarding marijuana export to the United States.

Currently, Mexico works with the United States to discourage the growing of pot within Mexico, and to prevent its shipment across the border to the United States.

But today Luis Videgaray, a top aid to Peña Nieto, characterized votes by Colorado and Washington to legalize marijuana use and personal cultivation as a game changer.

The Washington Times reports that in remarks to a Mexico City radio station, Videgaray said that "obviously we can't handle a product that is illegal in Mexico, trying to stop its transfer to the United States, when in the United States, at least in part of the United States, it now has a different status."

Read more
Transportation
3:55 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

The City Hopes These Signs and Kiosks Will Help You Navigate Downtown Austin

Design plans also include signs displaying parking garage capacity.
MERJE, via the City of Austin

The Austin City Council hopes to make downtown Austin easier to get around.

The city's Planning and Development Review Department presented progress on the Downtown Austin Wayfinding System this morning. Under this plan, inconsistent and vague signs downtown would become more uniform and detailed. Gateways into downtown (like the passage under I-35 on Seventh Street) would also get a facelift.

In addition to increased signage, the design firm the city has contracted with – Pennsylvania-based MERJE – has created signs that are in step with international logos for parking, transportation, information and more, with an Austin flair. 

Read more
Middle East
3:17 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

Pentagon Says Iran Fired On Unarmed U.S. Drone Flying Over Persian Gulf

In this Sept. 6, 2007 photo, an MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle flies over a range in Nevada.
MSgt. Scott Reed AP

Originally published on Thu November 8, 2012 2:07 pm

Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said that Iranian warplanes fired on an unarmed U.S. drone in the Persian Gulf on Nov. 1.

According to Reuters, Little said the MQ1 Predator drone, which returned safely to its base, was in international waters at the time. Reuters adds:

Read more
Medical School
2:20 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

Lawsuit Aims to Stop Certification of Medical School Vote

A scene from Prop 1's victory party. A legal battle is brewing over the ballot language for the medical school vote.
Kelly Connelly for KUT News

Travis County voters passed Central Health Proposition 1 this week, which increases property taxes to help bring a medical school to Austin.

But a group of citizens is trying to stop the vote from being certified or canvassed.

A lawsuit filed by the Travis County Taxpayers Union (TCTU) says the ballot language of Prop 1 was misleading and made promises that the health care district is not legally able to fulfill.

“We want a federal judge to agree with us that the misleading and illegal ballot language contributed to the victory of Prop 1 at the polls. So the point being, if they had told the truth, we thing the voting outcome would have been different,” Don Zimmerman, TCTU Treasurer, says.

Read more
Women's Health
12:55 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

Planned Parenthood Seeks Temporary Injunction to Stay in Women's Health Program (Update)

Credit flickr.com/dogra, Lizzie Chen for KUT News

Update: Planned Parenthood received a temporary injunction against the state today. You can read more here

Original Post: Planned Parenthood is awaiting a judge’s ruling on their request to extend an injunction against the State of Texas banning its clinics from the Women’s Health Program. The program provides basic screenings and other health services for 130,000 low-income Texas women.

Texas is trying to enforce a law that says state money can’t go to clinics affiliated with abortion clinics. That would exclude Planned Parenthood, which has been the program’s largest provider.

Two weeks ago, Planned Parenthood won a temporary restraining order allowing its clinics to stay in the program. Now, Planned Parenthood is trying to extend the time its clinics can stay in the program.

Read more
Criminal Justice
10:51 am
Thu November 8, 2012

Texas Judge Who Beat His Daughter Is Reinstated To Bench

Hillary Adams (left) as her father was striking her with a belt. She set up a video camera to record what she says was one of many such beatings.
YouTube.com (warning, video is graphic)

Originally published on Thu November 8, 2012 6:36 am

There was outrage across the nation last November when video of a 2004 beating that a local judge in Texas gave to his 16-year-old daughter went viral.

Within days, Aransas County Court-at-Law Judge William Adams was suspended by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Read more
Austin City Council
9:52 am
Thu November 8, 2012

City Council Preview: F1 Coming In for a Landing

Back at it: City Council shakes off its election hangover today.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Thanks to this week’s election fever, you’d be forgiven for forgetting there’s an Austin City Council meeting this week. But there is (albeit mercifully, the 98-item agenda isn’t a terribly contentious affair). Here’s a few agenda highlights:

Raising Hel(icopters): A pair of items related to helicopter permits hover onto the dais this week. The impending Formula 1 race (eight days away and counting) means charter helicopter companies are looking to ferry high-rolling race attendees to and from the track via chopper.

Council members Laura Morrison and Kathie Tovo have sponsored two resolutions (Items 51 and 52) relating to both temporary and permanent “helistops.” The former would limit temporary stops to a cumulative total of 18 trips, far fewer than the dozens anticipated. The Austin Chronicle says that “judging from Tuesday's work session, it won't be an easy sell, at least not quickly – other members were skeptical that they knew enough yet to regulate the process and, even should such an ordinance pass, it could not take effect in time for this month's race.”

Read more
The Lead
8:33 am
Thu November 8, 2012

The Lead: Austin Elections Debrief

Good morning. That dense fog advisory is still in effect, so stay safe on the roads. Here’s some stories KUT News has been working on.

“Nonprofits that help people in Austin get into housing are scrambling to come up with a plan B after Tuesday’s election. They were expecting Austinites to pass Proposition 15, which called for $78 million to build affordable homes and maintain existing ones. They never expected it to fail at the polls.”

“Austin’s form of government will never be the same. Voters have approved sweeping changes to way Austinites will vote in the future and who will represent them at City Hall. It all comes down to single-member districts, but it will be a long road from election night to a 10-1 City Council.

A citizens’ commission will draw the district boundaries. And that commission will get to work quickly. Prop 3 calls for the city auditor to start looking for volunteers next month, with an eye toward elections in November 2014.”

Read more
Transportation
7:46 am
Thu November 8, 2012

Drivers Beware: Dense Fog Advisory this Morning

Visibility could drop below one quarter of a mile this morning.
flickr.com/green-ghost

The National Weather Service has issued a Dense Fog Advisory for much of Central Texas this morning. The advisory is in effect until 10 a.m.

Forecasters say areas of dense fog are expected through the morning—especially along and southeast of I-35. Visibility could drop below one quarter of a mile.

Counties under the advisory:

  • Travis
  • Williamson
  • Hays
  • Bastrop
  • Lee
  • Caldwell
Read more
Austin
7:00 am
Thu November 8, 2012

The Battle for Lake Austin: Hydrilla vs Asian Grass Carp

Grass carp are an invasive species themselves. That's why the fish released into Lake Austin are sterile.
Dan O'Keefe, Michigan Sea Grant

The battle for Lake Austin continues: 6,000 sterile Asian grass carp were released into the lake this week in an effort to combat the invasive water plant hydrilla. That brings the total number of Asian grass carp stocked in Lake Austin to 11,000 this summer and 40,000 overall.

Hydrilla is a non-native aquatic plant that has spread rapidly in Lake Austin since it was first discovered in 1999. It grows to be very thick and can clog up pipes that carry drinking water from the lake. It can also cause problems for those who use the lake for recreation.

Mary Gilroy, an environmental scientist with the City of Austin, told KUT News earlier this year that if the plants get thick enough, they pose a danger to swimmers.

Read more
Texas
6:36 am
Thu November 8, 2012

Beard Issue Continues to Hold Up Fort Hood Shooting Trial

Hasan's beard has become a focus of court appearances for months.
Bell County Sheriff's Department

Attorneys for the Army psychiatrist accused in the Fort Hood shooting have filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.

Maj. Nidal Hasan has grown a beard in his time behind bars awaiting trial for the 2009 shooting—an act his lawyers say is an expression of his Muslim faith. But the facial hair violates Army regulations.

Hasan has be held in contempt of court several times for refusing to shave. In September, a judge ordered Hasan to shave or be forcibly shaved. Hasan's counsel appealed that decision but it was upheld last month. Now, they're appealing again.

Read more
formula 1
7:29 pm
Wed November 7, 2012

Safety First: City Unveils Public Safety Plans for F1 Weekend

Police Chief Art Acevedo and City Manager Marc Ott talk about the increased public safety measure taken for F1 weekend
Tyler Pratt for KUT News

The City of Austin says it’s prepared to handle any and all public safety issues that may arise during the upcoming F1 weekend 10 days from now.

“I’m smiling because I’m ready,” said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo. “We’ll absolutely have a tremendously positive impact in terms of public safety and in terms of the enjoyment of our residents and our visitors.”

Read more
2012 Presidential Election
2:33 pm
Wed November 7, 2012

Five Truisms About the 2012 Election ... That Weren't True

The taller candidate always wins? Think again.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 7, 2012 1:16 pm

The balloons have fallen, the bunting's down, and President Obama has been re-elected.

That means Mitt Romney has been defeated — and with him, many election aspects that we presumed to be true. (You know what they say about presume — it makes a pres out of u and me.)

Maybe it's because we're sailing into a new and uncharted century. Maybe it's because of climate change or polar shift or Mayan calendrical mayhem. But the presidential election of 2012 provided a highly unusual, if not unique, set of circumstances.

Read more
Alamo Drafthouse
2:13 pm
Wed November 7, 2012

New Alamo Drafthouse Rule: Arrive On Time, Or Miss the Movie

Talk about a first world problem: Meme makers are having fun with the Drafthouse's new policy.
Brandon Mulder

The Alamo Drafthouse has taken yet another step to craft their image as a place for cinephiles, where politeness and respect for movie purists is of upmost importance. Their “Don’t Talk/Don’t Text” ethos has adopted another degree of enforced manners -- punctuality. 

On its blog, the Drafthouse writes:

“Quite simply, no one will be seated once the film has begun. If you show up after the feature starts, you have missed it. The plane has left the terminal.”

House lights dim, theater doors shut. And this includes pre-show trailers. Caught behind some congestion on the way to the Drafthouse to catch a flick? Might as well turn around. In a traffic-riddled town, public feedback on this major decision has been mixed. 

Read more
Education
1:33 pm
Wed November 7, 2012

UT Moves Forward on Med School

UT President Bill Powers speaking at a news conference today about the passage of Proposition 1
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Now that Proposition 1 has passed, the University of Texas is moving ahead with plans for its new medical school.

UT officials held a press conference this morning about a possible timeline for the complex. University President Bill Powers said with an aggressive approach, the first freshman class could start as soon as 2015. “This isn’t off in the 2020s,” Powers said. “We might take a little breather today and start tomorrow on all the processes. We’d like to break ground within a year.”

Read more
Health
12:38 pm
Wed November 7, 2012

With Obama's Victory, Health Law Stays On Track

In June, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was making the case for the repeal of the administration's health law. With his defeat, the law is looking secure.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Wed November 7, 2012 11:58 am

After a shaky few years, President Obama's health care legacy looks secure.

His health overhaul law barely made it through Congress and to his desk. Then there were the legal challenges, launched when the ink of his signature was barely dry, that were resolved by a surprising Supreme Court ruling in June.

Read more
2012 Presidential Election
10:05 am
Wed November 7, 2012

VIDEO: An Awkward Moment, As Karl Rove Objects To Fox's Ohio Call

When Fox News called Ohio for President Obama, analyst Karl Rove insisted that the decision was premature. Click here to watch the conversation.
Fox News

Originally published on Wed November 7, 2012 9:39 am

If you were plugged into the polls, odds are nothing really surprised you about last night.

That's why one of the most dramatic moments of night had to be when GOP strategist and major fundraiser Karl Rove threw a bomb in the middle of the Fox News broadcast.

Read more
2012 Election
9:35 am
Wed November 7, 2012

Following a Technical Delay, Unofficial Results From Williamson County Are In

A technician was called to fix a voting machine in Williamson County.
flickr.com/mattblaze

Williamson County released its unofficial elections totals early this morning, following a technical delay that required one of the voting machines to be read by a technician.

Following poll closures last night, one of the iVotronic machines at a Williamson County precinct malfunctioned and election administrators at the precinct were unable to access the results from that machine. Administrators called a technician to obtain the results from the machine. 

"The backlight went out on one of our voting machines and so the election judge couldn't see the screen in order to get it properly closed. And so we had a technician that had come down from Dallas to repair the machine so that we could get the votes counted from that machine," Connie Watson, Public Affairs Manager for Williamson County, says.

Read more
UT Longhorn Football
8:11 am
Wed November 7, 2012

Former UT Coach Darrell K Royal Passes Away

Former UT Football Coach Darrell K Royal.
texassports.com

Longtime University of Texas football coach Darrell Royal passed away this morning. He was 88-years-old.

Royal coached the Longhorns from 1957 to 1976 and led the team to three National Championships. Royal also served as athletic director from 1962 to 1979.

The University honored Royal in 1996 by renaming the football stadium, Darrell K Royal-Memorial Stadium. During the announcement, UT System chancellor William Cunningham said, “No individual has contributed more to athletics at UT-Austin than Darrell Royal. He is a living legend.”

Royal was the all-time winningest coach of the Longhorns.  KUT spoke with Royal's wife, Edith, last month. She said Royal enjoyed attending UT football games long after he retired from coaching the team.

A friend of the Royal family told KUT News that plans for his memorial services are underway. The LBJ Presidential Library has set up a memorial page for Royal with photos and a phone conversation between Royal and President Lyndon Baines Johnson. 

After the news of Royal's passing broke this morning, fans used Twitter to express their reactions and condolences:

Richard Justice, an MLB.com correspondent (@richardjustice): "RIP Darrell Royal.  Man of integrity and humor, intimidating and kind, absolutely brilliant with people."

Brian Jones (@BJ_CFB), a former UT football player and current football analyst for CBS Sports: "Thoughts and prayers to the Darrell Royal family and Longhorn Nation!  We lost a great one!"

Cole Constien (@ColeConstien): "Thank you for the memories Darrell Royal.  You have a place in every true sports fan's heart.  Rest in peace."

Yvette (@YLoTexas): "Rest in peace Coach Darrell Royal.  A great man, champion and Texan.  The Eyes of Texas shed a tear today.  Hook 'em."

Jeff Howe (@JeffHowe247), a football reporter for 247Sports.com:"Somber start to the day with the passing of Darrell Royla at age 88.  He's responsible for why so many cheer for the Longhorns."

Here's a statement from Governor Rick Perry on the passing of Darrell Royal:

“Darrell Royal was a coaching icon and the face of football in the Lone Star State for a generation of Texans. His legacy can be counted in national championships, but also in his unending devotion to his university and in the Darrell K Royal Research Fund for Alzheimer’s Disease. Anita and I join Texans everywhere in mourning his loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with his beloved wife, Edith, son, Mack, and his extended family and friends.”

Current UT Football Head Coach Mack Brown also shared his thoughts:

"Today is a very sad day. I lost a wonderful friend, a mentor, a confidant and my hero. College football lost maybe its best ever and the world lost a great man. I can hardly put in words how much Coach Royal means to me and all that he has done for me and my family. I wouldn't even be at Texas without Coach. His council and friendship meant a lot to me before I came to Texas, but it's been my guiding light for my 15 years here.

"Coach gave so much more to the State of Texas and college football than he took away. He forgot more football than most of us will ever know, including me. His impact on the game, the coaches and players, the community and the millions of lives he touched, is insurmountable. He will be missed in so many ways.

Read more

Pages