Bobby Blanchard

Intern for KUT News

Frankie Leon

From the Texas Tribune:

In an email forwarded to legislative staffers on Thursday, a Department of Public Safety captain warned of "glitter bombs" being sent to state lawmakers and attached a document titled "Glitter Bombing: Weapon of Choice for Gay Rights, Pro Choice Advocates." 

According to the DPS email, passed along to Senate chiefs of staff by Patsy Spaw, the secretary of the Senate, state Rep. Debbie Riddle's district office in Spring recently received such a parcel — a spring-loaded tube filled with glitter. 

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.

From The Texas Tribune:

During an appearance on The Daily Show in Austin on Monday, state Sen. Wendy Davis, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, dismissed speculation that Texas is showing no signs of turning blue.

Host Jon Stewart asked Davis about the "tough campaign" she has faced this year. Recent surveys, including the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll, have shown her trailing her Republican opponent, Attorney General Greg Abbott, by double digits.

"How conservative a place is Texas — and what is the demographic?" Stewart said. "We’ve heard a lot about 'it's flipping blue,' but it looks like it ain’t even flipping like a cool azure. What’s going on?"

Davis told Stewart that Texas "really is on its way."

Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

BROWNSVILLE — Calling South Texas the new frontier of space, Gov. Rick Perry, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and other Texas officials broke ground Monday morning at the site of a future private commercial orbital launch facility expected to boost Brownsville’s economy and start launching rockets in 2016.

Marjory Kamys Cotera & Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

From The Texas Tribune:

Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott's campaign manager is requesting a ruling from the Texas Ethics Commission on whether Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis' book deal and tour are illegal corporate campaign contributions.

In the three page letter sent Monday morning, Abbott campaign manager Wayne Hamilton argues the book is tied to her campaign. Corporate campaign contributions are illegal in Texas elections.

flickr.com/rutlo

Update: A sprawling discussion on the Austin page of Reddit - prompted by a photo of bicyclists on I-35 - has renewed interest in this topic. Read on for more details. 

Original story (April 3, 2013): Despite general public perception – and all standards of common sense – it’s actually legal to ride bicycles on the state highway.

Recently, users on the Austin page of Reddit got into a heated discussion about the legality of riding a bike on Mopac, when one user posted a photo of a couple people doing just that.

Liang Shi, KUT News

In response to recent national events, the University of Texas is putting additional safety procedures in place at the commencement ceremonies.

Backpacks, tote bags or any other kind of bag larger than 12 inches on any side will not be allowed into commencement. Anyone carrying a big this large will be turned away. Additionally, smaller bags including purses, camera cases and diaper bags will be inspected and searched.

University of Texas

Update: The full University of Texas System Board of Regents has voted to move forward with a plan for the future of its flagship campus – including the medical school. The plan passed without discussion. 

Update (May 8, 11:51 a.m.): A committee of the UT System Board of Regents approved an update to the university's master plan, including plans for UT's medical school, new teaching buildings and more. The plan could eventually move the Frank Erwin Center.

Bobby Blanchard for KUT News

Earlier today, law enforcement officers took part in a memorial for the 25 Texas police officers who died in service over the past two years.

Every two years, the Peace Officers Memorial Foundation of Texas hosts a candlelight vigil and a memorial ceremony and parade in May. The parade started at the Congress Avenue Bridge and ended at the Capitol, marched by a procession of color guard teams, police motorcycles, cyclists and pipe and drum corps. 

flickr.com/austintx

This weekend, parts of downtown Austin will be closed Saturday and Sunday for different events.

The March for Babies will start at 9 a.m. Saturday morning. Registration for those who want to march starts at 8 a.m. at Auditorium Shores. The march raises money for children who are born too early. As a result of the march, Congress Avenue and a few other streets will be closed in the morning on Saturday.

Liang Shi for KUT News

The University of Texas at Austin tower will be mostly dark tonight in honor of the 205 members of the UT community who died over the past year.

Dimming the tower is part of UT Remembers, an annual event that pays tribute to the UT students, faculty members, staffers and retirees who died in the past year. The following events are scheduled today:

Bobby Blanchard for KUT News

The Texas Civil Rights Project and Prison Legal News have filed a lawsuit against Corrections Corporation of America, claiming the company is withholding evidence of mismanagement and mistreatment of prison inmates.

The lawsuit claims that Corrections Corporation of America covered up the deaths of seven inmates at the Dawson State Jail in Dallas. Earlier this year, the death of an infant at the prison made headlines statewide. Bob Libal, director of Grassroots Leadership, said the lawsuit will shine light on the private prison industry.

City of Austin

The City of Austin’s trying something different this budget season: City department officials have made 20 videos that clock in at over 200 minutes, available on the city's YouTube channel.

The videos include everything from a basic overview of how revenue from taxes and utilities equate to city services, to a 25-minute financial forecast of public utility Austin Water. Each department’s financial forecast presentation is available online, so anyone who wants the lowdown on, say, the Public Works department, can get it.

Bobby Blanchard for KUT News

The City of Austin’s Commission on Immigrant Affairs unveiled emergency cards Friday designed to help first responders assist people who don’t speak English.

The business card-sized rectangles allow those people to hand over basic personal and medical information to emergency responders. This includes information such as name, allergies and other vital information needed in emergency situations.

TexasSports.com

University of Texas at Austin senior and defensive back Kenny Vaccaro will start donning gold and black instead of burnt orange.

Vaccaro was drafted 15th overall in the NFL draft last night by the New Orleans Saints. He will be the first Longhorn to play for the home of jazz since the Saints took Heisman trophy winner Ricky Williams in 1999. 

Vaccaro said (and tweeted) that he is excited to be a Saint.

Bobby Blanchard/KUT News

The City of Austin is offering a free, easy and anonymous way to dispose of expired prescription drugs.

The city will host its annual drug take-back day this Saturday at three locations around town, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The three take-back locations in Austin are Cornerstone Church, City of Austin Household Hazardous Waste Facility and Barton Creek Square Mall. At these locations, residents can anonymously drop of drugs and syringes in a way that is environmentally safe.

Bobby Blanchard, KUT News

The Travis County Taxpayers Union filed an ethics complaint with the Austin Independent School District, saying the proposed $892 million bond initiative on election ballots next month asks too much of taxpayers.

The group's treasurer, Donald Zimmerman, said the district’s current budget already covers the increase in maintenance cost that the proposition requests. Zimmerman also alleged that AISD acted unethically by providing an estimated cost to average taxpayers on signs promoting the bond.

flickr.com/barjack

The Austin police chief says he’s disappointed by the U.S. Senate’s failure to approve a new gun control measure. The legislation would have required federal background checks for all gun purchases, including those at gun shows and online.

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo sees the votes against Senate passage as defying what most citizens support.

Steve Rhode/Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/steverhode/

The Austin Police Chief is ordering  officers to stop getting warrantless blood draws from drunk driving suspects. The policy change comes after a ruling Wednesday from the U.S. Supreme Court that police in most cases must try to obtain a search warrant from a judge before ordering blood tests.

Texas Law allows a warrantless blood draws in certain cases, but Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo is calling on his officers to stop doing that, at least for the time being.

Bobby Blanchard for KUT News

On tax day, Gov. Rick Perry called for tax cuts for businesses amounting to $1.6 billion over the biennium.

Perry called for $1 million tax deduction for business earning under $20 million annually. He also called for a five percent cut on the franchise tax, which all corporations chartered in Texas pay.

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