News

Caleb Bryant Miller for KUT News

From the Austin Monitor: The Urban Transportation Commission has once again given a boost to advocates for light rail in Austin.

At its meeting last week, the commission voted unanimously to recommend that City Council consider putting bonds for “rail options” on the November ballot.

Bob Daemmrich / Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: Coming together, at least for now, is not easy.

That was on full display over the past three days here at the Texas GOP convention, where a party once solidly behind favorite son Ted Cruz in the presidential race grappled with uniting behind his fiercest rival and now the presumptive nominee, Donald Trump. There was little visible resistance to Trump, but the ambivalence loomed large over the Kay Bailey Hutchison Center less than two weeks after Cruz bowed out of the race. 

In this "Best of" Higher Ed episode, KUT's Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger reflect on what commencement means and discuss what most students actually take away from their college experiences.  It may not be exactly what you'd expect.


UPDATE 5 p.m.: There's a flash flood warning in effect for southwest Austin and western Travis County until 6:30 p.m.

KUT Weekend brings you our favorite stories from the KUT newsroom. Updated Fridays!

Miguel Guitierrez Jr./KUT

Last year, 102 people died on Austin’s roads. All this week, we’ve been looking at the plan in our series – the Road to Zero.

While we’ve heard the stories of victims and loved ones, we haven’t heard from those who respond to these deaths – in the minutes and days after. KUT’s Audrey McGlinchy spoke with three members of the Austin Police Department about their work and the toll it takes.


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

This week, the Vision Zero draft plan moved through the city council’s Mobility Committee this week. The committee voted 3 to 1 to send it to the full council for final vote. If approved, it’s up to the Vision Zero task force and various city departments to make sure the recommendations become a reality. Not everyone is confident the lead department, Austin Transportation, can handle that responsibility.


From Texas Standard:

Friday morning the Obama administration issued a directive – what some on the right see as a decree – telling every public school district in the country to allow transgender students to use bathrooms that match their gender identity. If schools refuse to allow this, they could be in violation of the Civil Rights act of 1964.

The notice comes in the middle of a heated national debate over bathroom laws in public spaces, but it has no official force of law behind it. It amounts to what the New York Times calls an “implicit threat.”

Attached to the letter that went out to schools across the U.S., was a 25-page booklet of what are called emerging practices, or tips on how to comply.


Flickr/Charles Wagner (CC BY-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

It's here: A long-awaited decision from the Texas Supreme Court on how schools are funded. The plaintiffs are two-thirds of the state's school districts, charter schools and even business interests, all claiming that the Texas way of financing education is so inefficient as to be unconstitutional.

Now the state's highest court has handed down its opinion.

Kate McGee, education reporter for KUT in Austin, says the court ruled the state's school finance system isn't unconstitutional. The court's opinions – three concurring opinions with no dissents – say the system "satisfies minimal requirements," reversing a lower court's decision that the state's school finance is so bad as to be illegal.


Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

Republican Party leaders and activists are meeting in Dallas this week for their bi-annual convention. Aside from discussing party platforms and future legislative priorities, leaders are trying to gin up excitement ahead of this year’s presidential election. However, that’s proving to be tougher than usual in a state that overwhelmingly supported Sen. Ted Cruz in the Republican presidential primary.


Figuring out how the nature of relationships changes over time can be tough, especially for kids and their parents.

In this edition of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Bob Duke and Dr. Art Markman talk about the challenges of parenting your kids as they transition into adulthood, and what to do to make this easier and mutually beneficial.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

Andrew Nierengarten used to make most of his income driving for Uber and Lyft. But since the two companies exited Austin Monday, he’s been working for another ride-hailing app: Get Me. And he says since the failure of Proposition 1, passengers assume he has been fingerprinted.


Austin is facing its first weekend in more than two years without Uber or Lyft. Both companies pulled out Monday to protest voter rejection of Proposition 1, which would have eliminated mandatory fingerprint-based background checks.

Opponents of Prop 1 responded to Uber and Lyft’s threat to leave by arguing that if there is money to be made on ride-hailing in Austin, other companies will replace them. The city’s taxis are not able to meet demand during peak hours and special events, according to one study, but anyone who’s tried to call a cab on a Saturday night prior to the arrival of Uber and Lyft could tell you that.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./ KUT News

This story is part of our series, The Road to Zerowhich explores traffic deaths and injuries in Austin and the city's plan to prevent them.

Traffic fatalities are down nationwide, but new research shows those declines are mostly among highly educated people. If you have less than a high school diploma, the rate of death in a car crash has actually increased.

Bob Daemmrich / Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: Members of the University of Texas System Board of Regents met Thursday expecting to approve new rules for guns on their 14 campuses. Instead, they raised new worries about the proposed guidelines and signaled intent to try to change them, especially at the flagship UT Austin.

In a 45-minute discussion, regents became bogged down in debate over issues like trigger guards, bullets in gun chambers, and if and how faculty should be able to ban weapons in their individual offices. Practically every regent seemed to have a unique opinion. A consensus seemed out of reach. Ultimately, the regents delayed a vote on the issue and will take it up again at a future meeting.

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

On April 17, around 7:50 in the early evening, an explosion at the Adair Grain and West Fertilizer Company rocked the small town of West, Texas. That was three years ago.

Fifteen people died, including 12 volunteers fighting the fire at the plant. More than 160 people were injured. The blast was so severe it caused a small earthquake – the concussion waves were visible to the naked eye. A nearby middle school, nursing home and apartment complex were demolished. Neighborhood homes were destroyed.

It seemed possible that the fires could have been started by a short circuit somewhere – the facility was old – or that a golf cart with dodgy electrics might have been the spark that set off the blaze. But state and federal officials say the explosion at West was the outcome of a criminal act.


Miguel Guitierrez Jr./KUT

City officials are in the process of surveying East Austin to determine which buildings qualify for historic preservation, but some residents want to put a stop to any demolition until that survey is complete.


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

This story is part of our series, The Road to Zerowhich explores traffic deaths and injuries in Austin and the city's plan to prevent them.

She had already started cooking the eggs and bacon.

Deborah Tatum, 49, was reaching for a can of biscuits when she learned her son was dead. Her daughter rushed into the kitchen, telling her a police officer was on the phone.


KUT

This story is part of our series, The Road to Zero, which explores traffic deaths and injuries in Austin and the city's plan to prevent them.

High speeds are one of the biggest killers on our roadways. As city officials tackle an uptick in traffic fatalities here in Austin, speed limits come up a lot.


A Look Back at Some of Texas' Traffic-Related PSAs

May 11, 2016
Texas Archive of the Moving Image

This week we’re examining Austin’s record-breaking number of traffic fatalities in 2015. But, the issues of pedestrian safety, fatal crashes and roadway engineering are, obviously, not new issues when it comes to public safety on Austin’s roadways.

Here’s a look back at some vintage PSAs involving vehicle, pedestrian and bike safety. 

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