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Agenda Texas
10:29 am
Fri February 13, 2015

Border Security and Battle Lines in Austin

Texas lawmakers want border security, but what kind? And how much will it cost?
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

It's about a month into the 84th Texas Legislative session, and this week saw the first cracks in any unified front among the state's Republican leadership.

Just like every Texas legislative session – ever, the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the House won't always agree on things. And that was highlighted this week in the debate over border security.

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Same-Sex Marriage
4:30 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

Gay Couples Ask Court to Lift Hold on Same-Sex Marriage in Texas

Plaintiffs in a case against the same-sex marriage ban in Texas are asking the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to lift a stay on a federal judge's ruling that the gay marriage ban is unconstitutional.
Karina Kling/Time Warner Cable News

Plaintiffs in a case challenging the same-sex marriage ban in Texas have filed a new request [read PDF here] asking the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to lift a stay on a federal judge’s ruling that the Texas ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. That stay is in place while the appeals process continues.

Last year, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia in San Antonio ruled against the gay marriage ban in Texas, but he put that decision on hold temporarily while Texas appealed it.

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University of Texas
3:50 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

Watch: UT President Powers Addresses Admissions Report Findings

University president Bill Powers speaks at a previous Tribune events.
Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune:

University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers has helped secure college admittance for some students over the objections of the admissions office, according to an external review of lawmaker and regent influence at the flagship campus.

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Education
12:12 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

Tensions Rise as School Board Discussion Turns to Race

Austin school board members Ted Gordon (left) and Robert Schneider.
KUT News

An Austin school board discussion about equity between the district’s campuses grew tense this week when the conversation between two school board members turned to diversity at the district’s nationally recognized high school, Liberal Arts and Science Academy. LASA is a magnet program located on the upper floors of LBJ High School, which mostly educates minority students.

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Austin
10:22 am
Thu February 12, 2015

Property Tax Exemptions, Explained in Terms of Pie

How much pie (ok, it's cheesecake) equals a property tax exemption?
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

Today the Austin City Council will talk about the possibility of implementing a twenty percent homestead property tax exemption. It's something many of the newly elected council members promised on the campaign trail last year.

So, what exactly does a twenty percent homestead exemption mean for homeowners?

Let's look at your property taxes as a whole, as though they were a pie.

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Austin
8:43 am
Thu February 12, 2015

Watch: Austin Unveils the World's Nosiest Lamp Posts

A text from a thing.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

Think of a time you’ve talked to an object that can’t talk back. Maybe you’ve yelled at your car when it wouldn’t start, or screamed at the leg of a table after stubbing your toe on it.

While Austinites have always had the option to talk to inanimate objects while walking down the street, now the objects will talk – or rather, text – back.

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Wayback Wednesday
3:43 pm
Wed February 11, 2015

How Chicken Salad Helped Bring Down a Texas Governor

A campaign poster from James "Pa" Ferguson's first run for governor. He was elected in the 1914 election and served one full term, but was impeached in the first year of his second.
Credit Texas State Library

Today’s Wayback Wednesday marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the end of James “Pa” Ferguson’s tenure as governor of Texas. The unlikely harbinger of his premature departure from the Governor’s Mansion? Chicken salad.

One hundred years ago today, in Ferguson’s first month as governor, the legislature passed a bill to pay for the groceries of his predecessor, O.B. Colquitt, with services and sundries on Colquitt’s tab including butter, eggs, feed for horses, car repairs, stationary, punch and chicken salad, among others.

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In Black America Podcast
3:03 pm
Wed February 11, 2015

The Legacy of John Saunders Chase

John S. Chase, seen in 1998, was the first licensed African American architect in Texas and a political power broker
Credit Houston Chronicle photo library

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with the late John Saunders Chase, the first African American graduate of The University of Texas at Austin and the first African American President of The Texas Exes.

Chase was a pioneering architect who broke barriers in Texas and elsewhere. He served as CEO of John S. Chase Architect Inc., a firm he founded in 1952 after graduating from UT-Austin as its first African American architecture student. He also was the first African American architect to be licensed in the state of Texas and the first to be admitted to the Texas Society of Architects and the American Institute of Architects’ Houston (TX) chapter. His architectural imprint can be seen globally. He was commissioned to design the U.S. Embassy in Tunis, Tunisia.

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Texas
1:24 pm
Wed February 11, 2015

Erroneous Toll Bills Fuel Criticism at TxDOT Hearing

Bill Jacobus/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune:

Approximately 30,000 Texas drivers with valid TxTag accounts erroneously received bills in the mail for using the state’s toll roads, officials with the Texas Department of Transportation and Xerox told state senators Wednesday during a tense hearing.

“I thought it was going to be a large number, but I didn’t think it would be so large,” state Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, said a a Senate Transportation Committee hearing. TxDOT officials said they plan to refund all of the people who were erroneously charged, but they acknowledged there could be others who might not know they were incorrectly charged.

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Austin
10:48 am
Wed February 11, 2015

Zimmerman Struggles to Stop Subsidized Housing

District 6 council member Don Zimmerman.
Credit KUT News

From the Austin Monitor:

There are only two subsidized housing developments in City Council Member Don Zimmerman’s District 6, as compared to 47 in Council Member Ora Houston’s District 1 and 46 in Council Member Pio Renteria’s District 3, according to data compiled by the group Housing Works Austin.

But Zimmerman would like to make sure there is not another one in District 6. He is particularly opposed to the Cardinal Point Apartments that are to be developed by Foundation Communities, Inc. at 11011 1/2 Four Points Drive.

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Energy & Environment
9:35 am
Wed February 11, 2015

EPA Team Looking At Relationship Between Quakes and Disposal Well

Philip Dellinger is head of the EPA’s Underground Injection Control Section for Region 6 in Dallas.
Credit Philip Issa/KUT News

The earthquakes that have shaken Dallas and Irving, Texas the last several months have people looking into whether oil and gas activity in the area plays a role.  Some of those people work at the Environmental Protection Agency. But EPA researchers say they’re not getting the data they’ve requested from Texas state oil and gas regulators to investigate the link.

Philip Dellinger is head of the EPA’s Underground Injection Control Section in Dallas.  At a conference of the Groundwater Protection Council on Tuesday, he showed early results from a study his team conducted on earthquakes around Irving.

The group looked at the use of waste water disposal wells closest to Irving earthquakes. Dellinger does not necessarily believe the recent quakes are related to disposal wells, where waste water from oil and gas drilling is pumped underground. But these types of wells have caused other earthquakes, so his team wanted to see what wells were close to the Irving events.

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StoryCorps
5:30 am
Wed February 11, 2015

Naomi and Suzette Hanser on WWII's Black Curtain

Naomi and Suzette Hanser at the StoryCorps mobile booth

Naomi Hanser recently interviewed her mother Suzette in the StoryCorps mobile booth, and Suzette shared many stories about her family. Her Polish father and French mother fell in love in Paris 100 years ago; he came to America in 1915 and she followed in 1916. By the early days of World War II, when Suzette was a child, they were living in New York and hoping to hear from their family members still in France.

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Austin
6:07 pm
Tue February 10, 2015

School for the Deaf Staff, Students React to Potential Downsizing

Miguel Gutierrez, Jr./KUT News

The Texas School for the Deaf sits on 67 acres in between South 1st and South Congress. It looks more like a small college campus than a traditional school building. But then again, says school superintendent Claire Bugen, this isn't a traditional school.

"We serve students from age zero, in our parent/infant program, through home visits. And then when the student is 18 months old, they start to come on campus for part-time services. Now these are local students. All the way through age 22. So our continuum of services is very broad," Bugen says.

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The Border
2:23 pm
Tue February 10, 2015

Patrick Wants $12 Million to Keep Guard on Border

Dan Patrick, then the lieutenant governor-elect, is shown speaking to reporters at the Texas Capitol on Jan. 8, 2015.
Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune:

Saying that drug cartels are “ramping up” their efforts as the Texas National Guard prepares to leave the Rio Grande Valley next month, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced Tuesday that he’s seeking an additional $12 million to keep the troops there through May.

Beyond that, he added at a Capitol news conference, he would work to get a supplemental bill to fund deployments through August, in the hopes that the Texas Legislature would pass a budget that includes deployment funding beyond that. The Senate’s budget includes about $815 million for border security, which is more than the previous seven years combined.

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Texas
12:20 pm
Tue February 10, 2015

Previously Unseen Footage of Selma March Found in Amarillo

A screenshot from Joe Jeoffroy's home video of the Selma march. Watch the full video below.
Joe Jeoffroy

When representatives from the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) went to collect home videos to digitize in Amarillo, they were excited to see some Texas family footage – maybe a barbecue or a birth or a child's first steps.

But they were even more excited when they stumbled upon a high-quality 16mm home movie of a pivotal point in the civil rights movement: the 1965 Selma, Ala. protest march.

Amarillo resident Joe Jeoffroy brought his father's 1960s home movie collection to TAMI's video roundup to get the films digitized, and he mentioned that one of the videos might contain his father's footage from Selma. 

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Austin
9:18 am
Tue February 10, 2015

What Does It Mean If Some City Council Districts Have Children and Some Don't?

Despite their close proximity, Districts 4 and 9 have a huge gap in the number of children in each, and some wonder how that will affect each district's budgets and policies going forward.
Miguel Gutierrez, Jr./KUT News

Every one of Austin's 10 geographic districts is unique, but there's one fact they share: Each has roughly 80,000 people.

That allows for a relative population equality between the districts, but the differences in district-to-district demographics can be anything but equal.

One of the biggest differences is between Districts 4 and 9.

District 9 has about a fourth of the number of children in District 4 and some wonder if that disparity will affect how the Austin City Council prioritizes money for each district in future budgets.

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Same-Sex Marriage
3:43 pm
Mon February 9, 2015

What Does the Alabama Marriage Ruling Mean for Texas?

Morguefile

Alabama is now the 37th state to allow same-sex marriage. In January, a federal judge struck down that state’s gay marriage ban, and a federal appeals court let it stand.  

The process went like this:

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Arts Eclectic
1:55 pm
Mon February 9, 2015

Experience '100 Heartbreaks' at the Sahara Lounge

Joanna Garner as Charlane Tucker

100 Heartbreaks was originally performed as a one-woman show in Seattle some eight years ago. After that run, writer and performer Joanna Garner found herself, like her heroine Chalane Tucker, longing to play with a real-deal band. 

Following a move to Austin and some tinkering with the script, Garner's now starring in a new-and-improved, expanded version of the show. No longer a solo project, 100 Heartbreaks now features a full cast and band, under the direction of Jess Hutchison and musical direction of Peter Stopchinski.

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Life & Arts
11:01 am
Mon February 9, 2015

Austin Choral Group Wins Its First Grammy

Austin choral group Conspirare won a Grammy last night for Best Choral Performance for its recording The Sacred Spirit of Russia. The group, which formed in 1991, has been nominated five times in previous years, but last night marked its first win.

The winning record includes the group covering Russian composers such as Sergei Rachmaninoff and Alexander Gretchaninov. The album was recorded in Austin in 2013 at St. Martin's Lutheran Church.

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StoryCorps
5:30 am
Mon February 9, 2015

Steven Webb and Jeremy Stubbs on Getting Married

Steven Webb and Jeremy Stubbs at the StoryCorps mobile booth

Steven Webb and his husband Jeremy Stubbs recently had a conversation in the StoryCorps mobile booth. They talked about their lives growing up, their experiences coming out to their families, and their time together, including their recent wedding.  

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