Audrey McGlinchy

City Hall Reporter

Audrey McGlinchy is the City Hall reporter at KUT, covering the Austin City Council and the policies they discuss. She comes to Texas from Brooklyn, where she tried her hand at publishing, public relations and nannying. Audrey holds English and journalism degrees from Wesleyan University and the City University of New York. She got her start in journalism as an intern at KUT Radio during a summer break from graduate school. While completing her master's degree in New York City, she interned at the New York Times Magazine and Guernica Magazine.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Unbeknownst to some, the City of Austin has licensed five ride-hailing companies for operation. In case you haven’t opened your mailbox or clicked on your TV recently, two of those companies, Uber and Lyft, are currently embroiled in a public vote over what regulations the companies should be subject to.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

The City of Austin’s Vision Zero plan continued its final parade through boards and commissions Monday with a visit to the Public Safety Commission. And while some commissioners were dissatisfied with the 94-page document, others had little to say.

“About the only thing I can say is the pictures are pretty,” said Commissioner Mike Levy to open the discussion. “It was as if it basically has nothing to do with what the task force did.”

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

When she’s not driving for ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft, Sara Kaminsky works as a personal trainer. In fact, I exited her Toyota Corolla with a brochure for Shakeology, a weight loss program that helped Kaminsky shed more than 100 pounds over two years.

I confessed that I needed to get in shape. “I could help you with that,” said Kaminsky. But mostly she helped me with a free ride Thursday morning to my nearest polling station, at Maplewood Elementary School.


Miguel Guitierrez Jr. / KUT

At the City of Austin’s budget season opener Wednesday, council members heard again of Austin’s two cities: the city’s widening economic divisions amidst claims that the city is “an economic star.”

“This is extraordinary growth,” economic consultant Jon Hockenyos told council members as he pointed out a 4.6 percent increase in jobs last year, plus an anticipated 7 to 8 percent gain in personal income in the coming year. “It is hard to imagine any other community that has consistently grown in the aggregate that the Austin metro area has.”

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

In both sides of the tug of war over what rules should govern ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft in Austin, everyone seems to agree that having more transportation options is a potential antidote for DWIs.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

The drone idles on a small runway at the Austin Radio Control Association, just east of the city. It’s got a grey body and a white nose, across which someone has painted a sinister smile. The controls are tested, and then the small aircraft takes off.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

Austin City Council members may have been overly optimistic that a 9-year-old’s karaoke machine could carry their comments to reporters. Nonetheless, they pushed on.

Armed both with a “singing machine” borrowed from Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo’s daughter and with printed versions of the two currently competing ride-hailing ordinances, five council members gathered outside City Hall on Tuesday.

Miguel Guitierrez Jr./KUT

Eduardo Gutierrez picked me up in his Ford Crown Victoria. I knew the make of his car and his license plate, plus I had an idea of what he looked like. But no sticker or emblem on Gutierrez’s car alerted me to the fact that he is an Uber driver. In this respect, according to city code, he and the company are outside the law.

When asked if Gutierrez was offered a decal, he said no.


Miguel Guitierrez Jr./KUT

Austin voters will head to the polls on Saturday, May 7 to vote for or against Proposition 1. How did we get here? In December, the Austin City Council passed an ordinance that, over time, requires Uber and Lyft drivers to undergo fingerprint-based background checks, among other things. The companies have said they cannot operate under these mandates.

Miguel Guitierrez Jr./KUT

Amidst talk of the potential plusses of a swollen Austin Convention Center, some council members Monday heard for the first time publicly about a recent consultant review of the Travis County Expo Center.


Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The department charged with policing overgrown grass, short-term rentals and illegally discarded junk fails to follow a consistent protocol for overseeing violations and does not enforce violations with equal fervor on city-owned property, reads a report by the City of Austin auditor. In a review of 306 code complaints, the auditor took issue with 77 percent of them.


Jorge Sanhueza Lyon/KUT

For once, rules batted around on the dais did not concern Uber and Lyft drivers.

Austin City Council members Thursday approved nationwide criminal background checks for would-be chauffeur permit holders – those authorized to drive taxicabs, pedicabs, limos or city charter buses. It’s another step in what has been a lengthy attempt to align the regulations that govern cab drivers and ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft.


Miguel Guitierrez Jr./KUT

More power over more highways.

That’s part of what the Austin Police Department hopes to attain in its effort to reverse last year’s record number of fatal car accidents, which resulted in 102 deaths, and limit the number of pedestrian deaths, which totaled 30 last year.


Jorge Sanhueza Lyon/KUT

Jimmy Reed, 78, stands in front of his childhood home on East Austin’s Garden Street. It has been stripped to the 1920s wooden frame, and the barely 800-square-foot home looks more condemned than livable.


Miguel Guitierrez Jr./KUT

Recently, local political action committee Ridesharing Works for Austin hired two Republican campaign veterans – Reed Galen and Travis Considine. Between them, they’ve worked on campaigns for John McCain, George W. Bush and Rick Perry.

And in what feels like the same breath, the Travis County Democratic Party formally took a stance in opposition of Proposition 1, the ride-hailing regulations proposed by Ridesharing Works for Austin as an alternative to those passed by the city. The regulations were submitted by petition in January.


Miguel Guitierrez Jr./KUT

On 6th Street just past midnight, small herds of young people mill in the street or near the entrances of bars – some smoking cigarettes, others looking at their phones. Virginia Alexander honks at them to move. She is trying to drive her ATV down the street to get to the trash cans.


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Some Austin tech leaders have said that the Austin City Council’s recent regulations of companies like Uber, Lyft and AirBnB are driving investment and innovation out of the city. So, South by Southwest Interactive seemed like the best time to test this perception on folks outside of Austin.


Jorge Sanhueza Lyon/KUT

Recently, residents of the city’s East Cesar Chavez neighborhood asked a city of Austin committee to put in place interim controls potentially limiting the influx of new bars, restaurants and breweries. The decision was delayed – and then eventually denied.

Had the action gone through, it would have been a rare decision. As things stand now, neighbors are at a loss for what power they have to temper the rapid development of East Austin.


jamesjordan from flickr

Despite two confirmed cases of the mosquito-borne virus Zika in Travis County, the city of Austin says it will not make any big changes to its mosquito control strategy as the warm season opens – a time ripe for insect breeding. 


Callie Hernandez for KUT News

A petition submitted by a political action committee attempting to recall Austin City Council member Ann Kitchen has been rejected by the City Clerk. The PAC Austin4All failed to notarize any of the petition's 989 pages, which was required to attest to the validity of the statement at the top of each petition: “The reason for [Council member Ann Kitchen's] recall is because she has purposefully hurt businesses that employ citizens of Austin.”

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