Andrew Weber

Freelance reporter

Andrew Weber is a freelance reporter and associate editor for KUT News. A graduate of St. Edward's University with a degree in English, Andrew has previously interned with The Texas Tribune, The Austin American-Statesman and KOOP Radio.

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2014 City Council Runoff Elections
10:56 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Liveblog: The 2014 Austin City Council Runoff Elections

Mayor-elect Steve Adler shakes a young supporters hand at his Election Night party.
Joy Diaz/KUT

After years of build-up and build-out, tonight the Austin City Council will finally transfer from an at-large, seven-member council to a geographically elected council with 10 members. Two of the council seats were decided on Election Day in November – Delia Garza won the District 2 seat and Ann Kitchen won District 5. Council Member Kathie Tovo, after nearly beating fellow Council Member Chris Riley with 49 percent of the vote, won the District 9 seat after Riley’s November concession.

The remaining seven races, and the race for Mayor of Austin, will be decided by today’s runoff elections.

UPDATE: The final numbers are in. Here’s a look at the Austin City Council runoff winners according to the Travis County Clerk's unofficial voting totals:

District 1 – Ora Houston wins with 74.25 percent of the vote over opponent DeWayne Lofton

District 3 – Sabino “Pio” Renteria wins over Susana Almanza 59.76 percent over 40.24 percent

District 4 – Greg Casar wins the seat over opponent Laura Pressley with 64.62 percent of the vote. Pressley garnered 35.38 percent of the vote

District 6 – Don Zimmerman defeats Jimmy Flannigan with 51.21 percent in a close race. Flannigan carried Election Day, but his 48.79 percent in total runoffs wasn’t enough to win the seat.

District 7 – Leslie Pool wins with 66.23 percent over Jeb Boyt’s 33.77 percent.

District 8 – Ellen Troxclair wins the seat by less than 60 votes, earning 50.23 percent of the vote against opponent Ed Scruggs, who got 49.77 percent of the vote.

District 10 – Sheri Gallo defeats Mandy Dealey with 54.76 percent of the vote. Dealey got 45.24 percent of the vote.

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Google Fiber
9:38 am
Tue December 2, 2014

Google Fiber Opens Up Service Sign-Ups in South Austin

A map of the areas first in line to get Google Fiber Internet service.
Credit Google Fiber

Google Fiber announced the beginning of sign-ups yesterday in neighborhoods across South Austin.

The sign-up process puts enclaves, or “Fiberhoods,” in the queue for installation of the gigabit Internet service. Austinites living south of Barton Springs Road and north of U.S. Highway 290 will be the first to get service. 

Already there are 21 neighborhoods on that list of future Fiberhoods — nine in the surrounding area west of MoPac and between Barton Springs and 290; nine south of Lady Bird Lake; one neighborhood west of Manchaca Road; and two neighborhoods off South Congress Avenue. Those in the first group have until Jan. 29 to sign up for build out.

18 other neighborhoods just south of Lady Bird Lake have until Mar. 12 to sign up. 

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Fun Fun Fun Fest
1:26 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

Fest-Goers Turn to Chargebacks After Friday's Fun Fun Fun Fest Line Snafu

Fun Fun Fun Fest attendees waited hours in the will call line that stretched as far as City Hall to get into the festival on Friday.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

The Fun Fun Fun Fest will call line blew up the Internet on Friday night.

The hours-long line that backed up across Lady Bird Lake inspired a parody twitter account, a couple of irate Reddit threads and prompted an apology from the fest’s organizers, Transmission Entertainment.

The variables that caused the backup stretch almost as far as the line itself – the festival’s queue this year formed into one line, as opposed to multiple lines like in previous years, because of construction at Auditorium Shores; the will call line was understaffed; talks between the City of Austin and Transmission broke down as they were trying to find a quick fix for the line. The list goes on. And so did the line. Until about 8 p.m., when organizers dissolved the front gate and allowed people a chance to catch the last Friday acts free of charge.

For some, (including this reporter) it was a footnote to an otherwise pleasant festival experience. Others, it seemed, wanted revenge.

Since Transmission has kept a strict no refund policy since 2006, some are turning to credit card chargebacks, a work-around that could refund those with un-scanned tickets on the grounds that they didn’t get what they paid for.

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Technology
11:21 am
Fri November 7, 2014

Austin Startup Uses Dumb Phones to Bring Smart Solutions to Africa's Ebola Epidemic

Developers Doing Development hopes to use texts and voicemails to Africans to help combat food, water and safety crises.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

Smartphones are now the norm in the U.S., and in Austin, brandishing a flip phone in most situations is the social equivalent to wearing a dunce cap while riding a Segway. 

But in Africa and other developing countries, mobile-only networks dominate communications markets. In those places, a "brick", flip phone or “dumb” phone is a communication lifeline. 

So this weekend, Austin-based group Developers Doing Development is asking tech communities in both Austin and Madison, Wisconsin to bring smartphone-level coding to the dumb phone, and create apps that will provide on-the-ground updates and vital information to developing countries. 

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Transportation
10:58 am
Mon November 3, 2014

Audio Explainer: Austin's Billion-Dollar Rail and Roads Proposition

A map of the proposed 9.5 starter light rail line (in red) up for voter approval. Any extensions to the line would likely require additional property tax increases.
Credit Project Connect

Read our full explainer on the light rail and roads proposal here

A big-ticket item on the ballot in Austin this year is the $1 billion proposal to build a starter light rail line and improve state highways in the area.

The proposition, popularly known as Austin's Prop 1 (but on the ballot listed as 'Proposition, City of Austin'), has been a matter of much debate and a perennial talking point for those campaigning in city elections.

In the audio explainer below, KUT's Jennifer Stayton sits down with KUT reporter Terrence Henry, who's been covering the proposal, to talk about what's at stake, and what happens next, pass or fail.

2014 Elections
1:18 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

Austin-Grown Voting App Looks to Test Here and Expand Nationally

The Voting App aims to "empower" voters by providing information on local, county, state and national candidates.
Andrew Weber/KUT

Joe Santori was never a particularly political guy. He designed videogames.

The most he worried about fair representation or mapping data was whether or not the Green Lantern Corps was properly represented or if a map would clutter users’ screens in “DC Universe Online,” a massively multiplayer online role-playing game he worked on in 2011.

But in 2012, Santori got a gig working on the Texas Secretary of State’s Vote Texas app. It was, he says, remarkably similar: data for multiple parties had to be readily available on a screen, like in MMORPGs, and that data had to be specific to where that user was.

Santori decided that kind of data would be useful to Austin voters, and he set out on his own project: The Voting App.

Today, Santori’s firm ThinkVoting debuted The Voting App, a resource to view mock ballots, the League of Women Voters’ voting guide and candidate information across all of Austin’s 10 new geographic districts.

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Ebola
2:02 pm
Fri October 17, 2014

UT-Austin Student Being Monitored for Ebola Symptoms, Has Low Risk of Infection (Update)

Credit Todd Wiseman/Phil Moyer via Texas Tribune

Officials from the University of Texas at Austin and Travis County say a female UT-Austin student was on board the Frontier Airlines flight from Cleveland to Dallas which carried the Dallas area Ebola-affected nurse Amber Vinson.

The Travis County Health and Human Services Department is monitoring for symptoms of Ebola.  The student was not in close contact with Vinson and she is not showing symptoms of the virus. Officials urge there’s a “low risk” she contracted the virus because she was out of the three-foot radius around Vinson referred to as the "zone of concern" by officials.

The student will not attend classes at UT-Austin until after Nov. 3, according to UT Campus Safety and Security.

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2014 Elections
12:56 pm
Fri October 17, 2014

Meet the Candidates Running for Mayor of Austin

Austin voters will choose a new mayor on November 4, 2014.

KUT's Nathan Bernier sat invited the candidates running for the highest office in the City of Austin to our studios to speak with us about their visions for Austin.

Seven of the eight candidates talked about how they'll deal with issues such as affordability, traffic and transportation,  public education in an expanding city,  and why they want to be Mayor of Austin.

Still can't decide which candidate's getting your vote on Election Day? Below we've got the full audio and archived video of KUT's Ballot Boxing mayoral forum courtesy of KXAN.

Google Fiber
4:12 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

Google Announces December Fiber Signups for South Austin

A map of the area in South and Southeast Austin that will be eligible for Google Fiber service.
Google Fiber

After months of anticipation, Google announced today that it will open up signups for its gigabit-speed Google Fiber Internet service in December, starting with neighborhoods in South and Southeast Austin.

“We can only launch one seventh of the city at the time,” Mark Strama, head of Google Fiber’s Austin operations, said of the slow rollout. “The network will include 3000 miles of new fiber optic cables. It’s like going to Canada and back.”

According to Strama, new users that live in South and Southeast Austin can signup for Google Fiber by the end of the year. The company says the process is taking longer because the fiber network had to be planned and designed from scratch.

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2014 Elections
10:45 am
Fri October 10, 2014

Map: Where Do Austin's City Council Candidates Live?

Austin's switch to geographic representation is, quite literally, all about where you live.

All of the 78 candidates vying for a spot in City Hall will represent their own enclave in the 10-1 district format, which doesn't offer the most clean-cut of district boundaries.

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Texas Standard
4:47 pm
Tue October 7, 2014

Op-Ed: Austin Mom Kari Anne Roy on Child Protective Services & 'Unstructured Play'

Kari Anne Roy was visited by police and child protective services after a neighbor complained she had let her 6 year old son play outside across the street from her house.
Credit Courtesy of Kari Anne Roy

Austin parent Kari Anne Roy has attracted national attention and started a conversation about parental supervision.

In a blog post, Roy wrote that a well-intentioned neighbor escorted her 6-year-old son to her front porch and advised her that it was dangerous for him to be playing alone outside. Roy says her son was playing near a park bench 150 yards from her house, which, she says, is clearly visible from her porch. 

After the incident, she was visited by an Austin Police officer and later she and her children were interviewed by an investigator with Child Protective Services. She says she felt humiliated and angry, and that because of the incident — and the subsequent questioning from CPS — her three children felt as if they had done something wrong and "don't feel safe outside."

You can listen to Kari Anne Roy's commentary below. 

ACL 2014
12:42 pm
Fri October 3, 2014

How to Have a Carefree, Car-Free ACL Weekend

With Austin City Limits comes traffic, but there are plenty of options to avoid the
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

ACL is here. That means – whether you’re a native Austinite or an out-of-towner – there will be traffic.

I-35, MoPac, Congress Avenue, Barton Springs, South Lamar and any other stretch of paved road remotely near the downtown area will likely begin to resemble a parking lot by the time things kick-off this weekend. While there's plenty of parking, we can pretty much guarantee that none of it will be free.

So, with that in mind, here’s a guide to help you get from point A to point B without getting behind the wheel.

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Austin
6:26 pm
Thu October 2, 2014

Austin Moves Closer to Legalizing Ridesharing Services, Uber & Lyft

Services like Uber Black are technically legal under the law. Drivers must have a chauffer's license and charge a minimum amount of $55.
Wikimedia Commons user Bull-Doser

The Austin City Council voted Thursday evening to move forward with plans to allow temporarily ridesharing services to operate legally in the city. But with many details still to be worked out, ordinance sponsor Chris Riley moved to vote to approve only on second reading.

"Given the concerns we've heard from both of the companies in the room and the uncertainty as to whether this will work at all, then I'm inclined to suggest that we just pass this on second reading and give this further consideration, because I don't think we want to give something final approval on an emergency basis only to find that it just doesn't work," Riley said just before the vote.

Among the issues discussed Thursday afternoon: insurance, access for people with disabilities, equity for taxicab operators, limits on the number of consecutive hours drivers could be on the roads, limits on surge pricing at times of emergency, driver background checks -- what about taxes?

The measure passed on second reading, with only Council Member Laura Morrison voting no. The Council will revisit the matter at their next meeting on October 16.

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ACL 2014
2:41 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

Map: Austin City Limits Parking & Street Closures

It’s that time of year. The weather’s (kind of) cooling down and the vacation rental beds are about to warm up with music-loving out of towners.

Austin City Limits is upon us and while some may forego the fest, it’s safe to say many Austinites will join the revelry both at Zilker Park and downtown for the after-shows.

With that in mind, here’s a map of the street closures over the festival weekend and some of the parking spots in the downtown area suggested by the festival organizers and the City of Austin.

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Technology
4:47 pm
Thu September 25, 2014

Google Fiber Apologizes For Construction Inconvenience, But What Can Austin Expect?

Mayor Lee Leffingwell at the Google Fiber announcement on April 9, 2013.
Nathan Bernier/KUT

  Google offered an update earlier this week on its the impending high-speed, gigabit internet services coming to Austin.

But the announcement also came with an apology.  Google plans to buildout of 3,000 miles of fiber, and warned of impending inconveniences as contractors tinker with utility poles dig tunnels to bury the fiber.

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Business
4:49 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

Study: Texas' Income Inequality Could Affect State Revenues

Standard & Poor's says income inequality will tie Texas' hands in future budgeting issues, calling it a "systematic" problem.
Gabriel Cristover Perez/KUT

A new study from Standard & Poor’s suggests that income inequality is leading to lower state tax revenues in Texas. The study also finds inequality weakens overall economic growth, with a stronger effect in states like Texas that depend on sales tax revenues.

Still, the state has seen expanded growth in average tax revenue, the study said – 5.48 percent revenue growth from 2000 to 2009 compared to the 4.07 percent in sales tax-dependent states and 5.25 percent growth in income tax-dependent states.

The credit-rating agency says the growing gap slows potential growth and lowers the growth of the state's overall tax base, which is “stronger and only statistically significant” in sales tax-reliant states. The inequality could prove problematic in future budgeting, as S&P says Texas can’t correct the problem by simply raising taxes.

Texas currently has the sixth highest level of income inequality, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and the state’s lowest earners have seen their incomes drop 10 percent in the last decade. 

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Perry Indictment
7:46 am
Mon September 1, 2014

Perry Calls Lehmberg-Bashing Tweet ‘Unauthorized’

Perry outside the Travis County Justice Complex on the day of his booking.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Last night at around 7 p.m. Gov. Rick Perry tweeted an image from the blog the Patriot Post, which included a meme calling Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg “the most drunk democrat in Texas.”

The meme, which you can view below, reads “I don’t always drive drunk at 3x the legal blood alcohol limit…but when I do, I indict Gov. Perry for calling me out about it.” Perry since walked back the retweet but, it seems, not quickly enough. The tweet was picked up by screen-grabbers nationwide, garnering coverage from Mashable and the Huffington Post among others.

Shortly after, Perry deleted the tweet, saying he didn’t condone its message.

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Austin
2:43 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

City Council Will Consider Turning 'Barking Springs' Into an Off-Leash Park (Update)

Austin City Council will consider taking a look at turning the spillway outside Barton Springs Pool into a city park.
flickr.com/dingatx

Update: Council approved a study to turn the Barton Springs Pool spillway into a city park.

Original Post (Aug. 27, 2014): The Austin City Council will consider whether or not to turn the "free side" of Barton Springs Pool – some call it "Barking Springs" – into a city park.

A proposal from Council Member Chris Riley on tomorrow's agenda calls for studying the idea of turning the spillway that bridges the springs and Lady Bird Lake into an off-leash dog park, as well as allowing swimming there. Riley's resolution would direct City Manager Marc Ott to ask the Parks and Recreation Board and the Animal Advisory Commission what city code would need to be changed to make the park a possibility.

Earlier this month, the Austin Police Department banned drinking at the spillway after a rise in crime in the Barton Springs and Zilker Park areas.

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2014 Elections
10:19 am
Tue August 19, 2014

Here's Who's Running for Austin Mayor and City Council

Construction crews renovate the inside of the Austin City Council Chambers earlier this year, to make room for a larger council.
Bryan Winter/KUT News

Nearly two years after Austinites passed the 10-1 plan – which allows voters to elect city council members from their respective geographic district while the mayor is still elected by all voters – the plan has arrived at its penultimate step: The ballot is set. 

In total, 78 candidates submitted their names for voter approval ahead of the city and county elections in November. The ballot features some familiar faces, with current council members Chris Riley and Kathie Tovo pitted against each other in District 9 as well as a Sheryl Cole vs. Mike Martinez match up in the at-large race for mayor. 

Below you can find a full list of the candidates on the ballot listed by filing date:

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Austin
9:35 am
Tue August 19, 2014

PHOTOS: UT Students Gather in Support of Ferguson Demonstrations

Over one hundred people turned our for a rally on the south steps of the UT Tower. Organized by University of Texas students Jarius Sowells and Jasmine Graham the rally was meant to show support for the people of Ferguson, Mo.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Last night, 31 protestors were arrested in Ferguson, Missouri in the latest batch of demonstrations – some have turned violent – in the weeks following the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was unarmed, by Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson.

The event, and the controversy surrounding it, has inspired protests across the nation.

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