Andrew Weber

Web Producer

Andrew Weber is a web producer 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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Austin History Center, via Portal to Texas History

This week marks the 127th anniversary of the Texas State Capitol’s dedication. Well, not necessarily. May 14 marked the completion of the Capitol, along with a week-long celebration to dedicate it, but the state didn’t accept Pomeranian builder Gustav Wilke’s granite-domed monument to Texas because of structural issues — chiefly, the copper roof leaked.

The building was officially dedicated seven months later, but Wilke’s architectural prowess wasn’t blamed for the building’s initial shoddiness — he would later go on to build some of the world’s first skyscrapers. Ultimately, the capitol building’s inconsistencies, exacerbated by a Chicago-based syndicate bankrolling Wilke’s operation, a years-long labor strike and a handful Texas convicts and Scottish strike-busters, contributed to the project’s hamstringing.

KUT News

Pitmasters across Texas may have mixed feelings about Aaron Franklin winning the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Southwest this week, but it does mark the first time the prestigious culinary award’s honored a barbecue pitmaster.

But brisket, for which Franklin is well known, was not always so revered. This Wayback Wednesday looks back on the days before beef became haute cuisine, when you used the whole cow because you had to, not because you wanted to — back when beef was used for everything from "beef tea" to bread pudding.

Austin History Center

Today's Wayback Wednesday looks back at Austin's onetime Victorian-era literary magazine, The Rolling Stone. The DIY-minded rag published short stories, cartoons and other Onion-esque items, but it is largely known as the first creative sandbox for its publisher, William Sydney Porter.

Porter, a North Carolina transplant who moved to Austin in the late 1880s, worked as a druggist and as a clerk at the General Land Office before he took a job at the First National Bank as a teller. It was during his time as a teller that he started The Rolling Stone in 1895. A year later, in April of 1896, Porter printed the last issue after being fired from the bank for embezzling money. Turns out he was using the money to support his enterprise, a crime that would land him time in federal prison, where he would continue writing under his now-famous pseudonym: O. Henry.

Miguel Gutierrez, Jr./KUT

For the past 10 years, the Austin skyline’s been in a state of constant flux. In the past year alone, two towers have gone up in the downtown area: the Colorado Tower and the IBC Bank Plaza. Those two buildings, which combine for nearly 570,000 square feet in office and retail space, were all but leased by the time they opened their doors.

But, for some buildings, the wait is a little longer.

For some buildings – like the former headquarters of La Bare on Riverside Drive, the boxy little historic building at Congress and Riverside just down the road, and even some properties in the heart of Downtown Austin, just a few blocks from the Capitol – the wait is seemingly interminable, leaving daily passersby wondering why such high-value real estate lies vacant in the middle of a Austin’s development boom.

Burley Auction Group

Today marks the 142nd anniversary of the state’s repeal of the Texas State Police. Like all states, Texas has a statewide law enforcement agency in the Texas Department of Public Safety’s state troopers, but the first iteration of the concept, which lasted only three years, was as unabashedly radical as it was a bloodstained, crooked and altogether haphazardly assembled endeavor.

The group of white, black and Hispanic men who fought on both sides of the Civil War – some were criminals, others were law enforcement who went on to serve in the Texas Rangers – were an incredibly effective force.

In their first month, the police made 978 arrests, according to the governor, of which 239 were for murder or attempted murder – the year prior, the state handily led the nation in deaths. They also enforced Reconstruction-era policies designed to protect African-Americans that were largely derided statewide, like guarding polling locations. However, they were also accused of murdering suspects, were essentially an illegal military extension of the state’s top office and were led by a corrupt, embezzling Adjutant General.

ACL via YouTube

Today’s Wayback Wednesday looks back at some memorable performances of the 41-year-old music program. One of ACL's creators, Bill Arhos, passed away last Saturday at the age of 80. So as a tribute of sorts, we’ve compiled videos from the show’s four-decade run, with a song from the show’s inaugural broadcast in 1974 with Willie Nelson, a 1982 set from Emmylou Harris, a cut from what would be Stevie Ray Vaughan’s final performance at Studio 6A, and a recent tune from Rodrigo y Gabriela.

Check out the full video playlist below.

KUT News

Craigslist and other online forums are all about connections. Some are hilariously missed. But other times those connections go horribly awry, and one party is left with less than they bargained for — or worse.

So to combat scams, robberies and assaults resulting from online transactions, Craigslist suggests that people make “high-value” exchanges at local police stations. And police departments across the country have started opening up their doors to buyers and sellers and creating so-called Craigslist safe zones.

Wikipedia

It’s April Fools' Day, the holiday that not only celebrates but encourages folks to play jokes and pranks on their loved ones and coworkers.

Sometimes, those jokes and pranks don’t turn out so well. So in honor of April Fools' Day, this Wayback Wednesday looks back on the jokes and pranks in Texas’ history that, even if they landed at the time, would likely fall flat today.

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

This week, the Texas Senate Education committee started to tackle multiple bills that would create school voucher programs. The proposals are strongly supported by conservative lawmakers, especially Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick.

One bill filed by Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) would create a grant giving parents 60 percent of the annual cost for maintenance and operations per student, or about $5,200, through the proposed Taxpayer Savings Grant. Another bill would give 75 percent of that annual per-student funding to parents, or just over $6,500 though the so-called Education Tuition Grant.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Despite the best efforts by Austinites to dissuade out-of-towners from moving here, they are. The city’s grown more than any other metropolitan area over the last five years, and with all that growth comes plenty of noise. That's not to mention the additional noise brought about by events like SXSW, which draw thousands of party-happy visitors from all over the world.

So it's not surprising that as Austin grows larger, it might also be growing louder. Over the past five years, noise complaints in Austin have gone up by 470 percent, from 2,782 total complaints in 2010 to 13,100 in 2014. Still, only 1.5 percent of those have faced citation – 515 out of 33,107, according to city data obtained by KUT. Below you can view the increase in noise complaints from 2010 to 2014 in an interactive map.

Austin History Center

Today marks the beginning of SXSW Music — the final stretch of the three-headed chimera of a festival that draws in droves of music-loving revelers and fills the streets of downtown Austin with both music and traffic.

Ryan Loyd/TPR

For the 61 percent of economically disadvantaged students who attend Austin Public Schools, private school tuition might seem impossible for their families to afford. Sometimes public school is the only option for parents or guardians, and they are forced to keep their children in schools that are struggling academically.

Some Republican state lawmakers say that shouldn’t be the case.

“Not just the wealthy who can send their children to private school, and not just those who have the mobility to move to the suburbs," Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said at the beginning of the 2015 legislative session.  "But for parents in the inner cities where their children are trapped in failing schools, it is their right to have those same opportunities.”

US National Archives and Records Administration

For today’s Wayback Wednesday, we look back at a portrait by famed landscape artist Peter Hurd that Lyndon B. Johnson wished nobody would’ve ever seen:

Hacker group Anonymous recently launched a campaign against Austin-based website the Daily Dot. The hacktivist collective released a video Monday night encouraging netizens and advertisers to boycott the site on social media after it was revealed the site had published articles written by Hector “Sabu” Monsegur, a former Anonymous hacker turned FBI informant.

PICA 26827, Austin History Center, Austin Public Library

Today's Wayback Wednesday takes a look back at Guadalupe Street, before it was awash in the glow of stop lights and rush hour brake lights.

YouTube

Many predict this year’s South By Southwest will be pared down compared to years past. While the days of giant Doritos vending machines are gone, there are still a couple of corporate-backed buildouts and events to lure in fest-goers.

So, we decided to rummage through city permits to preview some of the stranger requests from South By sponsors.

Today, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 in favor of regulations which enact so-called "net neutrality." The vote allows the agency to penalize “throttling” — leveraging Internet speeds to clients on a case-by-case basis — by broadband providers like Comcast and AT&T.

The FCC’s order prohibits a broadband provider from blocking (legal) content, slowing any speeds on the basis of content or providing “fast lanes” for preferred customers on any Internet-enabled device. As nearly 4 million public commentators argued, if left unabated, throttling could limit the ability of the “little guys.”

Tyler Pratt/KUT

In today’s Wayback Wednesday, we remember the 179th anniversary of William Barret Travis’ letter from the Alamo. The letter, in which the garrison commander requested reinforcements to the besieged Bexar mission, was sent on February 24, 1836, and he famously signed his letter “Victory or Death.”

It served the purpose of rattling the sabers of Texas rebels before Santa Anna’s massacre of around 200 troops on March 6.

ffion atkinson/flickr

Nothing puts the brakes on Austin drivers like winter weather. In a freeze last year, emergency services responded to more than 250 accidents, none of which were fatal, in one day. While the late starts at schools and offices across the city this morning preempted a slew of pileups, drivers in North Texas could see as much as four inches of snow from a cold snap that’s expected to last until tomorrow morning.

Suffice to say, there are sure to be a few accidents in Texas over the next few days, but, snow or no, a recent ruling from the Texas Supreme Court could affect court cases handling everything from fender benders to fatal accidents to faulty airbag lawsuits in courts.

Screengrab via the City of Austin's YouTube

Cleaning up after four-legged friends is a paramount part of dog ownership.

As many can attest, there’s nothing worse than stepping in a canine’s gastrointestinal afterthoughts, not to mention the host of health hazards to other pups that could be transmitted by not picking up after one’s dog.

Being the dog-friendly city it is, many an Austin apartment manager struggles with those who refuse to clean up after their pets. Now, one apartment complex is taking fecal matters to the next level by using DNA testing to sniff out irresponsible owners.

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