City Council Elections
9:18 pm
Sat May 12, 2012

Austin Election Results: Update

Photo courtesy flickr.com/vox_efx

Update (Midnight): Here are the final results.

Mayor’s race

Clay Dafoe: 5,307 10.86%

Lee Leffingwell (incumbent): 25,434 52.06%

Brigid Shea: 18,115 37.08%

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City Council Elections
8:44 pm
Sat May 12, 2012

Sheryl Cole Returning to Place 6

Mayor Pro Tem Cole's seat on the City Council is safe.
Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News

With a commanding 70 percent of the early vote, it's safe to say Place 6 Austin City Council member Sheryl Cole is assured a third term on the council.

KUT News conducted interviews with all 14 of the candidates running for local office. Cole describes several issues will face this year, including the Austin Energy rate redesign, increasing affordability and more.

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City Council Elections
7:51 pm
Sat May 12, 2012

Austin Early Voting Results

Did you follow this graffiti's advice? Only 5% of registered voters voted early.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/ginapina

Early voting results are out in the Austin city elections. All incumbents are in the lead.

In the mayor's race, Lee Leffingwell is leading Brigid Shea by a margin that should probably hold all night.  

In Place 2 things are closer, but incumbent Mike Martinez still leads Laura Pressley.

In the most crowded race, Place 5 incumbent Bill Spelman is having little trouble, with 55% of the vote – currently enough to keep him out of a runoff.

Place 6 council member Sheryl Cole leads challenger Shaun Ireland, 70 percent to 30 percent.

Mayor’s race

Clay Dafoe: 11.10%, 2,287

Lee Leffingwell (incumbent): 55.25%, 11,381

Brigid Shea: 33.65%, 6,932

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City Council Elections
8:32 am
Sat May 12, 2012

City Elections: All You Need to Know to Participate

Photo by Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Do you care at all about who runs the City of Austin? If not, you can go back to sleep. Otherwise, get pumped. Today is your chance to participate in the democratic process. Fourteen people are running for three city council positions and the mayor’s post.

Here’s a list of polling stations across the city [PDF]. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. During early voting, fewer than five percent of registered voters cast ballots. That’s down about 25 percent from the last mayoral election in Austin.

To make your decision easier for you, we interviewed every candidate and posted links to those interviews right here. You can also find links to newspaper and other endorsements below that.

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Austin
4:50 pm
Fri May 11, 2012

‘No Kill’ and At Capacity: What Should the Austin Animal Center Do Now?

Austin's new home for strays is already operating well above capacity.
Photo by KUT News

The new Austin Animal Center, opened only in November 2011, is already well over capacity. And the city is asking for your input on what to do now.

While the new center has helped with the city’s ‘”no kill” goals – maintaining a 90 percent “live outcomes” rate for pets that pass through the shelter – it’s straining. And it’s not just seasonal, city officials say.

‘Since April the animal intakes at the city shelter are not leveling off and the Animal Services Office can not keep up with the high number of intakes versus those animals that are being adopted or rescued by the City’s partner animal rescue groups,” city officials write in a press release.

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Health
3:55 pm
Fri May 11, 2012

Eyes Overworked? Put Down the iPad for '20-20-20' Vision

Brief breaks from computer screens fight eye strain, a doctor says.
Photo by Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Most students would agree that cramming for finals is painful. 

But one overlooked stressor is eye strain, which can result in computer vision syndrome. A recent BBC article noted 90% of matriculating students in major Asian cities are suffering from nearsightedness.

According to Dr. Benjamin Warta, a VSP optometrist with Vision Care Specialists in Denver, Colorado, people that engage in daily or extended work, reading, or entertainment viewing on a screen near their face – “close work,” as Dr. Warta calls it – tend to show a definite increase in eye-strain.

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Business
3:15 pm
Fri May 11, 2012

Asian Chambers of Commerce Merge to Serve Growing Population

Austin’s Asian population is growing – and now it’s leading to some big changes for two organizations that support Asian businesses.
Photo courtesy Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce

Austin’s population is more Asian than Texas as a whole – but it has a lower percentage of Asian-owned businesses.  That’s one reason two local chambers of Commerce are merging.

Today the Texas Asian Chamber of Commerce and the Austin Asian American Chamber of Commerce officially joined forces to form one group: the Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce.

Board member Ying McGuire says the united chamber will offer help to Asian-Americans, immigrants and refugees.

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Education
2:35 pm
Fri May 11, 2012

More Interested Students than Spots at IDEA Allan

Allan Elementary will be home to an in-district charter school next year.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Student registration for IDEA Allan – the new in-district charter school for the Austin Independent School District – ended at midnight. It will be housed in the current Allan Elementary School campus on Gonzales Street and serve kindergartners as well as students in first, second and sixth grade next school year.

Matthew Randazzo is IDEA’s Chief Growth Officer. He says registration has been strong. In fact, there are more interested students than spaces. A lottery will have to be held for each grade level to determine which students will be able to attend.

Randazzo says the most popular grades for registration were kindergarten and sixth.

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Arts and Culture
1:17 pm
Fri May 11, 2012

Author Charlaine Harris on 'Deadlocked,' 'True Blood,' and What's Next for Sookie Stackhouse

'Deadlocked' is the second-to-last novel in the Stackhouse series.
Image courtesy Ace Books

Author Charlaine Harris may not be a household name, but her creation Sookie Stackhouse is. The spunky, problem-prone heroine of Harris’ supernatural fiction series – the inspiration for HBO’s hit series “True Blood” – is at it again in “Deadlocked,” the latest in the Stackhouse series.

Harris will be at BookPeople this Saturday, May 12 at 7 p.m. She recently spoke with KUT News about “Deadlocked,” achieving success after a tumultuous start, and her post-Stackhouse plans.

KUT News: “Deadlocked” is the twelfth in the Sookie Stackhouse series, correct?

Charlaine Harris: Yes, the twelfth, the penultimate book. I just felt like I had said everything about Sookie that I had it in me to say, and I really don’t like to extend the series when the heat isn’t in me.

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Texas
10:25 am
Fri May 11, 2012

Fake Twitter Feeds, Deceptive Websites Shake Up Primary

Image by Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Looking for state Sen. Jeff Wentworth’s personal website? It's not jeffwentworth.com, an attack site that blasts the 20-year San Antonio incumbent as “the most liberal Republican senator in Austin.”

Want to know what Ted Cruz, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, says on Twitter? Don't follow @RealTedCruz, which calls the former state solicitor general a “trial lawyer standing with a Chinese conglomerate to kill American jobs.” 

Straddling the line between dirty tricks and political strategy is as old as elections. And campaign impersonation dates at least as far back as the 1970s, when Donald Segretti, President Richard Nixon’s re-election operative, forged letters seeking to discredit Democratic presidential candidate Edmund Muskie — a move that landed Segretti in prison.

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Politics
9:28 am
Fri May 11, 2012

Video: Sen. Dan Patrick Responds to E-mail Fight with Sen. Carona

Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, talks about his dust-up with Sen. John Carona at TribLive on May 10, 2012.
Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

A public battle between two Texas Senators doesn't appear to be ending anytime soon.

State Senator Dan Patrick, R-Houston, and state Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas had their heated e-mail exchange leaked to the media earlier this week. The correspondence, obtained and published by the political news website, the Quorum Report, showed Patrick accusing Carona of spreading rumors that Patrick and his wife were splitting after decades of marriage.

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Opinion
8:49 am
Fri May 11, 2012

New Republic: On Gay Marriage There's no Downside

A supporter of President Barack Obama holds a placard on May 10, 2012 near a private residence where Obama was attending a campaign fundraiser in Seattle. Obama voiced his support of gay marriage May 9, 2012 during an interview.
Mandel Ngan AFP/GettyImages

Originally published on Fri May 11, 2012 8:09 am

Ruy Teixeira is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and editor of America's New Swing Region: Changing Politics and Demographics in the Mountain West.

Will Obama's Wednesday embrace of same-sex marriage equality hurt him in November? The short answer is: possible, but not likely.

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AM Update
7:54 am
Fri May 11, 2012

AM Update: City Elections Tomorrow, Central Texas Weather Rundown, World's Longest Guitar Solo

Who will work here come June? You decide on Saturday.
Photo courtesy KUT News

City Elections Tomorrow

Election Day is tomorrow for the Austin municipal elections. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. Fourteen candidates are running for four seats on the Austin City Council, including mayor.

Perhaps the most closely watched aspect of the election is the challenge to Mayor Lee Leffingwell by former council member Brigid Shea. Shea accused Leffingwell earlier this week of violating campaign finance laws, and throughout the campaign, has maintained that Austin is becoming more unaffordable

That's a common refrain among political challengers – that they will protect the citizenry's collective pocketbook better than the last guy.  But in the case of Shea, currently a community strategist and consultant, the arrival of huge companies like Apple and Formula One cast her position in a different light. 

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City Council Elections
4:48 pm
Thu May 10, 2012

Ethics, Schmethics: When Candidates Trade Accusations, Who’s There to Decide?

As election day nears, ethics accusations become common on the campaign trail.
Photo by Liang Shi for KUT News

On Monday, mayoral candidate Brigid Shea held a press conference accusing her opponent Lee Leffingwell of violating the city’s campaign finance laws. Leffingwell’s campaign denies the charge. And as of yesterday afternoon, the Shea campaign had not filed a formal complaint with the city’s Ethics Review Commission.

Surprising? Not exactly. Candidates accusing each other of ethics violations is a move many campaigns make as election day approaches.

In last year’s bitterly contested Place 3 Austin City Council run-off, incumbent Randi Shade filed an ethics complaint against challenger Kathie Tovo. And in the 2009 mayoral election, Lee Leffingwell alleged fundraising impropriety on the part of opponent Brewster McCracken.

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University of Texas
3:36 pm
Thu May 10, 2012

Cigarroa: Chairman Didn't Direct Me to Fire Powers

University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa, responding to a news report suggesting UT Board of Regents Chairman Gene Powell had asked him to fire University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers, said Thursday that Powell "never directed me to fire anyone." 

Cigarroa's statement follows a blog post late Wednesday from Texas Monthly Senior Executive Editor Paul Burka. Citing an unnamed source, Burka wrote that the regents are angry at Powers for publicly expressing disappointment with their decision — made with encouragement from Gov. Rick Perry — to reject Powers' request for a slight tuition increase. Burka wrote that Powell asked Cigarroa to officially recommend that they fire Powers, and that Cigarroa refused. The post suggested the board would likely call a special meeting to take action. 

The report sparked an overnight social media campaign on Powers' behalf. 

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Weather
3:06 pm
Thu May 10, 2012

Severe Thunderstorm and Flash Flood Watch for Central Texas

A flash flood watch is expected at 6 p.m. for Central Texas.
Image courtesy National Weather Service

Update: Austin and Central Texas are now under a severe thunderstorm watch. The region has already had a couple of tornado warnings today around San Antonio. But there's still the chance of damaging storms in Austin through the early part of the evening.

"Right now the Austin area remains under a severe thunderstorm watch until 8 o'clock tonight, which is mainly for the possibility of large hail and damaging winds,” says Bob Rose, chief meteorologist for the Lower Colorado River Authority. “But sometimes you can get tornadoes even under a severe thunderstorm watch as well. So it's not totally out of the question because this is a very dynamic system."

Rose says some parts of Central Texas could get up to six inches of rain by tomorrow.

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Austin
2:02 pm
Thu May 10, 2012

Artists and Hipsters: Do You Know Who Pasted This Poster Up?

The "Artists & Hipsters" poster, photographed in 2010.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/allaboutgeorge

In East Austin, there’s a sight more common than new condos, food trailers and Tejano bars repurposed into young, hip "dives:" It's the poster seen above.

“Artists & Hipsters: How are you helping to gentrify East Austin? What are you doing to fight it?,” the poster reads. The earliest date we can find for a photo of the poster on Flickr goes back to 2008, but longtime Austinites (including this author) remember seeing the poster even before then.

The poster has captured the attention of one eastside artist, who’s looking to create a dialogue around its message.

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Arts and Culture
12:36 pm
Thu May 10, 2012

Former Momo’s Owner Opens Austin-Themed Venue in NYC

A look inside Paul Oveisi' s new Austin-themed bar in NYC called Zirzamin
Photo courtesy of Zirzamin's Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/zirzaminnyc

In case you were wondering what Momo’s owner Paul Oveisi had been up to since the venue closed in late December, he’s been busy creating an Austin-themed venue in Manhattan.

Zirzamin, which is Farsi for “underground,” is located in a cellar bar in Greenwich Village and has a small menu that includes breakfast tacos (2 for $6), “Austin-style” chile con queso ($5), brisket tacos (2 for $6) and Lone Star beer.

“Ultimately, there will be music every night of the week. We'll certainly bring in some Austin acts but it's gonna be an eclectic mix of world music, funky ensembles, and surprise guests,” Oveisi told the New York City/Austin music blog IndieSounds. “It won't be predictable but it will be good.”

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Health
11:33 am
Thu May 10, 2012

Recalculating The Health Bill In McAllen, Texas

Branded: Hospitals in McAllen, Texas, may not be as costly as first thought.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu May 10, 2012 10:43 am

Remember McAllen? It's the Texas border town that became synonymous with wasteful medical spending during the nation's big health care debate. Even Barack Obama was talking about it.

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Business
10:56 am
Thu May 10, 2012

Postal Service Presents Plan to Keep Thousands of Rural Post Offices Open

This post office in Cat Spring, Texas is one slated for fewer hours instead of closure under a new proposal.
Photo courtesy Jimmy Wayne, flickr.com/auvet

The United States Postal Service has announced a plan that will keep thousands of small and rural post offices open – cancelling an earlier plan to close up to 3,700 locations. The new plan will keep the current post office locations in place but will modify their hours of operation.

Lobby and post office box services will remain the same, but over 13,000 smaller post offices could reduce their business day to two to six hours, including over a dozen location in Blanco, Martindale, Maxwell and Caldwell counties.

Postmaster General and USPS CEO Patrick R. Donahoe cites demand from customers as the reason for the shift. “We believe today’s announcement will serve our customers’ needs and allow us to achieve real savings to help the Postal Service return to long-term financial stability,” he says in a press release.

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