City of Austin http://kut.org en Austin Has $300K Available for Neighborhood Projects - Want to Build a Community Garden? http://kut.org/post/austin-has-300k-available-neighborhood-projects-want-build-community-garden <p>If you've ever taken a look around your neighborhood and had an idea for a project, this might be your chance to make it happen.</p><p>Right now,&nbsp;the City of Austin&nbsp;has <a href="http://austintexas.gov/neighborhoodpartnering">a little over $300,000 for projects</a> –&nbsp;and it wants to stretch this money even further by partnering with neighborhoods.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/151857578&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe> Thu, 29 May 2014 17:45:18 +0000 Joy Diaz 10513 at http://kut.org Austin Has $300K Available for Neighborhood Projects - Want to Build a Community Garden? Austin Releases SXSW Survey Results, But Offers Few Opinions http://kut.org/post/austin-releases-sxsw-survey-results-offers-few-opinions <p>The City of Austin's special event office Wednesday night&nbsp;presented the <a href="http://austintexas.gov/sites/default/files/files/CityStage/Austin_Center_for_Events_Survey_Results.pdf">results of a feedback survey </a>on this year’s South by Southwest music festival.</p><p>Bill Manno, Corporate Special Events Program Manger for the City of Austin, hinted at possible changes they're discussing, but some meeting attendees say they still aren't sure of the point of the survey and felt it was vague and the questions were ambiguous.</p><p>“What are perceived as the problems that we’re addressing here?" asked Jimmy Stewart, owner of <a href="http://do512.com/">Do 512</a>, an event listing and RSVP site in Austin. "That’s where I’m unclear. This questionnaire is passed, we went over&nbsp;the&nbsp;results, but what are the problems? What are the objectives?”</p><p>When Stewart asked that question to the panel, they didn’t have a specific answer.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/151816973&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><div style="margin-top:0;margin-bottom:0;"> Thu, 29 May 2014 11:05:10 +0000 Kate McGee 10512 at http://kut.org Austin Releases SXSW Survey Results, But Offers Few Opinions City Council Members Concerned About Handling of $231K Employee Overpayment http://kut.org/post/city-council-members-concerned-about-handling-231k-employee-overpayment <p><em>This story comes to us from our city hall reporting partner, the <a href="http://austinmonitor.com">Austin Monitor</a>.</em></p><p>Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole and Council Member Bill Spelman, who both sit on the Council’s Audit and Finance Committee, as well as a local attorney with expertise in employment law, have expressed concern over the city’s handling of an employee who <a href="http://kut.org/post/clerical-error-causes-city-austin-overpay-ems-employee-200000" target="_blank">received more than $200,000 in salary overpayments</a> but was only required to repay $6,000 of it.</p><p>Cole, chair of the audit committee, told the <em>Austin Monitor</em>, "It is unacceptable for this error to have occurred in 2004 and not be discovered until 2011. The fact that it took two additional years to address the matter adds to my deep frustration upon being made aware of this issue. The employee should be required to repay these public funds to the extent legally pursuable."</p><p>An aide in Cole’s office told the <em>Austin Monitor</em> Thursday that she plans to put the matter on next Wednesday’s Audit and Finance Committee agenda. Fri, 23 May 2014 12:12:55 +0000 Mike Kanin 10481 at http://kut.org City Council Members Concerned About Handling of $231K Employee Overpayment Clerical Error Causes City of Austin to Overpay EMS Employee by $200,000 http://kut.org/post/clerical-error-causes-city-austin-overpay-ems-employee-200000 <p><em>This story comes to us from our city hall reporting partner, the <a href="http://austinmonitor.com">Austin Monitor</a>.</em></p><p>The City of Austin has overpaid a former Austin/Travis County paramedic by perhaps as much as $200,000 over an eight-year period that began in 2004. Though the problem was first discovered in 2011, it took until 2013 for the city to correct it.</p><p>According to a memo from Assistant City Attorney Lee Crawford, the city is legally entitled to “recover the amount of overpaid wages that (the employee) received for the last two years,” as of 2013. Crawford puts that figure at $68,014.55. However, under an agreement between the city and the overpaid employee, the employee was only required to return $6,240.00 of the total. Wed, 14 May 2014 11:17:49 +0000 Mike Kanin 10413 at http://kut.org Clerical Error Causes City of Austin to Overpay EMS Employee by $200,000 After Report Faults Halloween Flood Response, Is More Accountability Needed? http://kut.org/post/after-report-faults-halloween-flood-response-more-accountability-needed <p><strong>Update</strong>: Austin City Council member and <a href="http://www.thehallmonitor.org/mayorial-candidates">mayoral candidate</a> Mike Martinez is asking the city’s <a href="http://www.austintexas.gov/psc">Public Safety Commission</a> to consider recommending an independent review of city response to the deadly Halloween flooding.</p><p>A report done by city staff highlighted more than 100 response problems, including communication issues between agencies and with the general public. Read more about the findings in the original story below.</p><p>In <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1153978-email-from-mike-martinez-to-public-safty.html">emails to the commission</a>, Martinez requests the group consider calling for an independent review. Martinez also finds fault with the framing of the city's report, writing "My general impression is that the failures and opportunities are large, and the successes are relatively small. Giving them equal weight with a tally of successes, opportunities, and failures seems to undermine the seriousness of any analysis."&nbsp;</p><p>The Public Safety Commission <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1153971-public-safety-commission-may-5-agenda.html">will also hear reports</a> from Austin Fire, Police and EMS about the response to last October’s flooding.</p><p><strong>Original story</strong> (April 15):&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.5;">In Austin, it’s almost certain a flood will hit in the future. What we don’t know is when.</span></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/144714838&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe> Mon, 05 May 2014 16:06:32 +0000 Joy Diaz 10220 at http://kut.org After Report Faults Halloween Flood Response, Is More Accountability Needed? Do Austinites Have Choices When it Comes to Housing? http://kut.org/post/do-austinites-have-choices-when-it-comes-housing <p>If you live or work in the City of Austin, have you asked yourself why you chose to work or live where you do? Well, the City of Austin wants to know the answers to those questions to help plan for the future.</p><p>The city is conducting a<a href="http://www.austintexas.gov/housingsurvey" target="_blank"> “housing choice survey.”</a>&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.5;">But with the current shortage of housing, do </span>Austinites<span style="line-height: 1.5;"> have any real choice in where they live?</span></p><p>Word on the street is that Austinites have very few housing choices. At least, that’s what rapper “Blind Man” says as he finds his way with his cane to a bench on East 11<sup>th</sup> Street. Mon, 28 Apr 2014 11:06:20 +0000 Joy Diaz 10304 at http://kut.org Do Austinites Have Choices When it Comes to Housing? Report Lists Over 100 Lessons From Austin's Deadly Halloween Floods http://kut.org/post/report-lists-over-100-lessons-austins-deadly-halloween-floods <p>It’s taken the City of Austin and Travis County almost six months to finalize a report detailing <span style="line-height: 1.5;">emergency response to the 2013 Halloween floods:&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">what worked, what needs improvement and what – flat out – did not work.</span></p><p><a href="http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/edims/pio/document.cfm?id=208521" style="line-height: 1.5;">See the full report here [PDF].</a></p><p>The report repeatedly highlights communication problems: between agencies, then between first responders, then with the general public. There was no clear channel of communication. There was no awareness about the kind of people who lived in the affected area either: a majority-minority community that does not primarily communicate using English.</p><p> Sun, 13 Apr 2014 21:33:58 +0000 Joy Diaz 10205 at http://kut.org Report Lists Over 100 Lessons From Austin's Deadly Halloween Floods City, Firefighters Union Headed for Mediation in Hiring Dispute http://kut.org/post/city-firefighters-union-headed-mediation-hiring-dispute <p><em>This article is written by KUT's City Hall reporting partner, the</em>&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.austinmonitor.com/">Austin Monitor</a>.&nbsp;</em></p><p>The Austin Firefighters Association (AFA) – the union for City of Austin’s firefighters – and city management are headed to federal mediation over lingering accusations of hiring discrimination. Asked how long the mediation process might take AFA head Bob Nicks Tuesday declined to speculate.</p><p>Also, at Tuesday’s work session Council Member Mike Martinez, former head of the firefighters union, announced from the dais that city staff had requested a week’s postponement for council ratification of a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice.</p><p> Wed, 26 Feb 2014 14:47:02 +0000 Mike Kanin 9851 at http://kut.org City, Firefighters Union Headed for Mediation in Hiring Dispute Onion Creek Residents Worry About Mold After Halloween Floods http://kut.org/post/onion-creek-residents-worry-about-mold-after-halloween-floods <p>The mostly uninhabited neighborhood of Onion Creek in southeast Austin has experienced some growth.&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.5;">But it’s growth the few neighbors who are back do not welcome.</span></p><p>Mold and mildew is growing in many of the homes that were left uninhabited after last year’s floods, which could create health problems for those living in Onion Creek.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/132124323&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p> Thu, 30 Jan 2014 14:41:33 +0000 Joy Diaz 9674 at http://kut.org Onion Creek Residents Worry About Mold After Halloween Floods MLK Day Cleanup Rids Flood-Stricken Onion Creek Park of Debris http://kut.org/post/mlk-day-cleanup-rids-flood-stricken-onion-creek-park-debris <p>The flood-stricken neighborhood of Onion Creek honored the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. today by cleaning a community park that’s been covered with debris since last year’s Halloween flood.</p><p>Metallic doors, glass from broken windows, gas tanks were among the many items strewn about the park.&nbsp;Mary-Lee&nbsp;Plumb-Mentjes&nbsp;filled an entire bucket with broken glass. “I’ve always picked up trash,”&nbsp;Plumb-Mentjes&nbsp;said. “We’ve been given two hands [and] I feel we should use [them] when we see something,”</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F130514912&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe> Mon, 20 Jan 2014 21:06:53 +0000 Joy Diaz 9594 at http://kut.org MLK Day Cleanup Rids Flood-Stricken Onion Creek Park of Debris MLK Day 2014 Events and Closures http://kut.org/post/mlk-day-2014-events-and-closures <p><strong>Austin’s Annual Community Celebration:</strong></p><p>The annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day march from the University of Texas at Austin campus to Huston-Tillotson University starts at 9 a.m. Marchers will meet at the MLK statue near Speedway and West 23<sup>rd</sup> Street at UT.</p><p>An <a href="http://www.mlkcelebration.com/" target="_blank">MLK Day festival</a> begins at Huston-Tillotson after the march. It runs until 3 p.m.</p><p>There will be some road and lane closures for the march and festival – affected roadways include the I-35 frontage roads, North Congress Avenue and 11<sup>th</sup> Street.</p><p><a href="http://austintexas.gov/sites/default/files/files/Transportation/Special_Events/MAP_MLK2014_v2.pdf" target="_blank">Click here</a> to see the full parade route.</p><p> Mon, 20 Jan 2014 14:34:57 +0000 Laura Rice 9589 at http://kut.org MLK Day 2014 Events and Closures Why Some Flood Homeowners Think Twice Before Selling to the City of Austin http://kut.org/post/why-some-flood-homeowners-think-twice-selling-city-austin <p>The city of Austin has made offers to buy at least two dozen homes <a href="http://kut.org/post/austin-travis-county-works-rebuild-devastating-halloween-floods" target="_blank">damaged by the Halloween flood</a>. Why then, are some homeowners refusing to sell?</p><p>Floods are nothing new in South East Austin’s Onion Creek neighborhood. And neither is the <a href="http://austintexas.gov/department/onion-creek" target="_blank">city’s buyout program.</a> It began back in 1998. The idea has always been to buy homes in the floodplain using taxpayer money to avoid future loss of life and property damages.</p><p>Terry Morris, a contractor and a real estate agent in Austin, owns a duplex in Onion Creek that’s been on the city’s buyout list for years. He recently opted out of the program. <iframe width="100%" height="166" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/129740380&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=true"></iframe> Thu, 16 Jan 2014 12:48:25 +0000 Joy Diaz 9565 at http://kut.org Why Some Flood Homeowners Think Twice Before Selling to the City of Austin MAP: With 10-1 Map In the Books, Austin Concludes Redistricting (Update) http://kut.org/post/map-10-1-map-books-austin-concludes-redistricting-update <p><strong>Update: </strong>Austin’s Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission voted unanimously last night to certify the district maps for future city council elections.</p><p>The group split the city into ten districts. Starting next November, voters in each district will elect a single city council member. Previously, all council members were elected at-large.</p><p>Check out this interactive version of the district map:</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="440" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" scrolling="no" src="https://maps.google.com/maps?q=http:%2F%2Faustinredistricting.org%2FFinal%2Fab9Plan1120.kmz&amp;hl=en&amp;sll=30.2961,-97.732971&amp;sspn=0.608281,1.014862&amp;t=h&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;ll=30.295832,-97.733002&amp;spn=0.521726,0.797882&amp;z=10&amp;output=embed" width="580"></iframe><br /><em><small><a href="https://maps.google.com/maps?q=http:%2F%2Faustinredistricting.org%2FFinal%2Fab9Plan1120.kmz&amp;hl=en&amp;sll=30.2961,-97.732971&amp;sspn=0.608281,1.014862&amp;t=h&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;ll=30.295832,-97.733002&amp;spn=0.521726,0.797882&amp;z=10&amp;source=embed" style="color:#0000FF;text-align:left">View Larger Map</a></small></em></p><p> Tue, 26 Nov 2013 13:49:59 +0000 Carrie Powell & Laura Rice 9263 at http://kut.org Austin's Getting a Chief Innovation Officer. (So What the Heck Does That Mean?) http://kut.org/post/austins-getting-chief-innovation-officer-so-what-heck-does-mean <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The City of Austin will soon name a leader for its newly created Innovation Office.</span></p><p>So what exactly will this person do – and does Austin need one?</p><p>Innovation – like sustainability, transparency, and social responsibility – are buzzwords the public sector is appropriating from the&nbsp;business world. Austin established its own <a href="http://www.austintexas.gov/sustainability">Office of Sustainability</a> in 2010.</p><p> Mon, 18 Nov 2013 22:29:32 +0000 Carrie Powell 9210 at http://kut.org Austin's Getting a Chief Innovation Officer. (So What the Heck Does That Mean?) Do Austin Policies Help or Hurt Affordable Housing? http://kut.org/post/do-austin-policies-help-or-hurt-affordable-housing <p>Austin&rsquo;s the fastest-growing large city in the country.</p><p>All of the city&rsquo;s socio-economic groups are growing &ndash; from the very affluent to people with lower incomes. It&rsquo;s those low-income&nbsp;Austinites&nbsp;who struggle to find housing as prices climb higher.</p><p>Starting next week, Austin voters will decide whether to approve&nbsp;<a href="http://kut.org/post/learn-more-about-austins-65-million-affordable-housing-vote-tonight">$65 million in bonds</a>&nbsp;to pay for affordable housing initiatives.&nbsp;But regardless of the election results, the need is not likely to go away soon.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/115466251" width="100%"></iframe></p><p> Tue, 15 Oct 2013 15:50:24 +0000 Joy Diaz 8938 at http://kut.org Do Austin Policies Help or Hurt Affordable Housing? Austin Charges ACL $53,000. Chicago Has Lollapalooza Pay 28 Times That http://kut.org/post/austin-charges-acl-53000-chicago-has-lollapalooza-pay-28-times <p>The Austin City Limits Music Festival isn&rsquo;t the only production put on by parent company&nbsp;<a href="http://www.c3presents.com//">C3 Presents</a>. In addition to booking and promoting Austin concerts throughout the year, C3 also puts on Chicago&rsquo;s annual <a href="http://www.lollapalooza.com/">Lollapalooza</a> music festival.</p><p>Like ACL, Lollapalooza is hosted on public parkland, requiring a contract with the city. So how do the contracts compare? KUT scoured C3&rsquo;s deals with Austin and Chicago to find out.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F114937389&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p> Fri, 11 Oct 2013 21:14:16 +0000 Tyler Pratt & Wells Dunbar 8914 at http://kut.org Austin Charges ACL $53,000. Chicago Has Lollapalooza Pay 28 Times That Austin's Urban Farm Proposals Have Some Neighbors Crying Foul http://kut.org/post/austins-urban-farm-proposals-have-some-neighbors-crying-foul <p>After dishing the dirt for months, new regulations are in the offing for Austin&#39;s urban farms.</p><p>Last week, Austin&rsquo;s Planning Commission recommended a set of revisions to the city&rsquo;s urban farm ordinance. And while the proposed changes would establish stricter criteria on raising some livestock, some East Austin residents say the proposals don&rsquo;t go far enough.</p><p> Mon, 30 Sep 2013 20:48:20 +0000 Ryan Groves 8807 at http://kut.org Austin's Urban Farm Proposals Have Some Neighbors Crying Foul The Challenging Task of Cleaning Up Dove Springs http://kut.org/post/challenging-task-cleaning-dove-springs <div><em>The Dove Springs neighborhood in southeast Austin runs from Ben White to William Cannon, bound by&nbsp;Montopolis&nbsp;and Pleasant Valley on the east, and Interstate 35 on the west.&nbsp;</em><em style="line-height: 1.5;">One of the issues affecting Dove Springs is its appearance. Piles of trash, broken fences and overgrown weeds and grass contribute to its visual blight.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Ron Potts is at the wheel.</span></p></div><p></p><div><p>“We’re going down&nbsp;Stassney, because normally&nbsp;Stassney&nbsp;is pretty horrible in my vision.” He works for the City of Austin’s Code Compliance office, the guys that enforce the city’s codes and regulations.</p></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F107945752" width="100%"></iframe></p><p> Fri, 30 Aug 2013 15:46:51 +0000 Joy Diaz 8573 at http://kut.org The Challenging Task of Cleaning Up Dove Springs Austin Redistricting Group Asks: How Should We Draw District Maps? http://kut.org/post/austin-redistricting-group-asks-how-should-we-draw-district-maps <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Last November, Austin voters approved a plan to fundamentally change the city’s elections and form of government: Right now, all City Council members run citywide and represent all of Austin. But after&nbsp;</span><a href="http://kutnews.org/post/now-prop-3-passed-backers-look-stay-part-process" style="line-height: 1.5;">the passage of Prop 3</a><span style="line-height: 1.5;">, beginning next year, they’ll be elected by district.</span></p> Wed, 21 Aug 2013 21:15:51 +0000 Wells Dunbar 8488 at http://kut.org Austin Redistricting Group Asks: How Should We Draw District Maps? How Do Austin Property Taxes Compare Statewide? http://kut.org/post/how-do-austin-property-taxes-compare-statewide <p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F106211483" width="100%"></iframe></p><p></p><p>Of the six largest cities in Texas, Austin is the one with the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tml.org/Surveys/pdfsurveys/2013taxndebt.pdf">lowest property tax rate</a>. But does that tell the whole story?</p><p> Mon, 19 Aug 2013 21:52:58 +0000 Joy Diaz 8508 at http://kut.org How Do Austin Property Taxes Compare Statewide?