Crystal Chavez, KUT News

Morning Edition Producer

Crystal Chavez has been at KUT since January 2007.  She currently produces the Central Texas content for Morning Edition and starts her day in the newsroom at 4:30 a.m.  Crystal is a 2005 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin’s College of Communication.  Her hometown is Corpus Christi, Texas.

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Education
10:03 am
Thu January 12, 2012

Manor High School Evacuated, Bomb Squad On Scene (Updated)

Update: The following announcement is posted on the Manor ISD website:

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News Brief
5:32 am
Thu January 12, 2012

Top Morning Stories 01/12/12: Stratfor Chief on Hacking, State Parks Get Financial Boost

Photo by Caleb Bryant Miller/KUT News

Stratfor Chief Lays Out Hacking Ordeal

Austin-based intelligence analysis firm Stratfor's website is back up and running after hackers, who claimed to be with the group Anonymous, stole thousands of credit card numbers and other personal information belonging to Stratfor customers.

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News Brief
5:55 am
Wed January 11, 2012

Top Morning Stories 01/11/12: Commission Taking Up Bags Ban, Recovery Work Resumes in Bastrop

Tonight a City of Austin commission will review the city's proposed single-use bags ban.
Photo by KUT News.

City Commission to Review Proposed Bags Ban

The City of Austin’s Solid Waste Advisory Commission is scheduled to take up a proposed plastic bags ban tonight. The draft ban would ban single-use plastic and paper bags starting in January 2013. And from this June to December businesses would have to charge ten cents a bag.

Tonight’s Solid Waste Advisory Commission meeting starts at six thirty at City Hall. The Austin City Council would still have to vote on the ban before it could take effect.

Recovery Work Resuming in Bastrop

Recovery work will resume in wildfire-damaged Bastrop County. Federal officials yesterday cleared Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative to get back to work clearing trees, picking up debris and putting up electric lines and meters in burned areas.

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News Brief
5:53 am
Tue January 10, 2012

Top Morning Stories 01/10/12: Tx Primary Could be Delayed, Police Meet with Community about Murder

Photo by Matt Largey/KUT News

Texas Primaries Could be Delayed Further

The Texas Primary Election is scheduled for April 3rd but the U.S. Supreme Court could delay it. The Court heard arguments Monday in a case that could determine what Texas’ legislative and congressional districts look like for the upcoming primaries.

Legal wrangling over proposed redistricting maps already delayed the state's primaries by a month. As KUT's Matt Largey reported during Morning Edition, Monday’s Supreme Court hearing left open the possibility the primaries could be delayed further.

Police Meet with Neighbors about Central Austin Murder

Austin Police met with residents last night concerned about their safety after the New Year's Day murder of 29-year-old Esme Barrera.

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News Brief
6:16 am
Mon January 9, 2012

Top Morning Stories 12/09/12: Supreme Court Hears TX Redistricting, Texas Drug Trial to Begin

Photo by KUT News.

Supreme Court Hears Texas Redistricting Case Today

Today the U.S. Supreme Court takes up Texas' redistricting maps. Legal teams from Texas are gathered in Washington for oral arguments over which redistricting maps should be used for this year’s primary elections.

At stake are the congressional and legislative boundaries the state of Texas will use for the next decade. And as KERA’s Shelley Kofler reports, the impact on minority voters is at issue.

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Austin
12:54 pm
Thu January 5, 2012

Gov. Perry Cautious with the Media

Texas Governor Rick Perry speaking to reporters the morning after the 2012 Iowa Caucus.
Photo by Matt Largey/KUT News.

Texas Governor Rick Perry is taking his campaign to New Hampshire and South Carolina, which hold GOP presidential primary elections this month. Perry had members of the press corps scratching their heads after Iowa over the mixed messages from his campaign staff.

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News Brief
5:18 am
Thu December 29, 2011

Top Morning Stories 12/29/11: Horns Win Holiday Bowl, Stratfor Offering ID Protection After Breach

Logo courtesy of the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl.

Longhorns Top Cal in the Holiday Bowl

The UT Tower was lit burnt orange this morning. The Texas Longhorns won last night’s Holiday Bowl in San Diego. Texas beat the Cal Golden Bears 21-10. The Horn’s defense forced five turnovers. Quarterback David Ash threw one touchdown and caught a touchdown pass.

The win brings Texas’ overall record this season to 8-5. This was a return to a bowl game for the Horns who weren’t bowl-eligible last season.

Next Up, the Alamo Bowl...

Another Big 12 team plays tonight. The Baylor Bears will take on the University of Washington in the Alamo Bowl. The Bears finished up the regular season 9-3. The Washington Huskies finished 7-5.

Baylor’s going into the game with this year’s Heisman Trophy winner- quarterback Robert Griffin III. The Alamo Bowl starts at 8 p.m. in San Antonio.

Stratfor Providing Free ID Protection Services Following Security Breach

The Austin-based intelligence company Statfor is providing one year of identity protection services for free to its members whose personal information may have been compromised.

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Austin
5:45 am
Wed December 28, 2011

Top Morning Stories 12/28/11: Holiday Bowl Tonight, Teen Leaves Inspiring Video Before Passing Away

The Texas Longhorns and California Golden Bears meet in the 2011 Holiday Bowl tonight at San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium.
Photo courtesy of holidaybowl.com

Holiday Bowl Time!

Texas and California clash tonight in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego. The Texas Longhorn football team is looking for its eighth win of the season. A lot’s at stake for the Horns and the California Golden Bears. Both ended the regular season 7-5. And both teams are making a return to a bowl game after not qualifying last season.

Tonight’s game starts at 7:00 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.

Free Pet IDs Ahead of New Year's Eve

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Austin
6:05 am
Tue December 27, 2011

Top Morning Stories 12/27/11: Final Stretch in Iowa, AFD Searching for Arson Suspect

Gov. Rick Perry resumes his bus tour of Iowa this week. He's hoping to change the minds of more Hawkeye State Republicans. The Iowa caucuses, the first test of the 2012 GOP presidential nominating process, are a week from today.
Photo by Ben Philpott/KUT News.

The Final Stretch in Iowa

There's just one week to go until the Iowa Republican presidential caucuses. An average of recent polls shows Texas Congressman Ron Paul leading the field of GOP candidates in Iowa. Governor Rick Perry comes in at fourth place. Perry will continue trying to win over voters, as he resumes his bus tour of Iowa this week.

Perry Dominates Most-Read Trib Stories

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Austin
12:53 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

Occupiers Helping Out IDEA Charter Opponents

Photo by KUT News.

The Austin Independent School District says all 30 slots are filled to speak at tonight’s specially-called board meeting. The board is scheduled to vote on a contentious proposal to partner with a charter school operator to run programs at two East Austin schools. Members last week delayed a vote to partner with IDEA Public Schools amid some questions on the contract and pushback from some teachers and parents.

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economy
1:15 pm
Fri December 16, 2011

Holiday Hiring Helps Lower Austin Jobless Rate

Photo by KUT News

New figures show the unemployment rate in Texas dropped slightly from this time last year. Texas’ jobless rate was at 8.1  percent last month, compared to 8.3 percent in November 2010.  The Texas Workforce Commission released the numbers today.

The Austin metro area’s unemployment rate was 6.6 percent last month. It was 7.1 percent in November 2010. Austin lost 600 jobs last month, many in construction and professional and business services.

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News Brief
8:03 am
Fri December 16, 2011

Top Morning Stories 12/16/11: ACC Accreditation on Warning, Perry Compares Himself to Tebow

Austin Community College's Rio Grande campus. ACC's accreditation has been put under a warning status.
Photo by KUT News.

ACC Accreditation on Warning

A warning has been placed on Austin Community College's accreditation status for the next six months. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS) says it issued the public sanction because ACC violated rules for reporting significant changes to its academic programs. ACC is still accredited.

The SACS Board will review ACC's status again in June 2012. At that time it could lift the warning, keep it in place, or as a last resort remove the college's membership. Accreditation is used to determine eligibility for federal financial aid and gives colleges a reputable standing.

ACC responded to the warning in a statement to the Austin American-Statesman:

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News Brief
7:05 am
Thu December 15, 2011

Top Morning Stories 12/15/11: State Water Plan, Final Vote on Austin Parks Smoking Ban

The Texas Water Development Board will vote on the 2012 Water Plan at their meeting today.
Photo by Reshma Kirpalani/KUT News

Vote Today on State Water Plan

We may not be thinking about the drought as much with the rain we've seen in Central Texas. But the prolonged dry spell is still going on, the state’s population is growing, and water supplies are getting tighter. Today the Texas Water Development Board is scheduled to vote on its 2012 State Water Plan. The report calls for billions of dollars in water infrastructure projects and conservation- to meet water needs over the next half century.

The board is limited in power. It does give out loans and grants to local governments, but it would ultimately be up to local officials to carry out the state water plan.

You can read the plan and check out a power point presentation on it here.

Final Vote on Parks Smoking Ban

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News Brief
5:25 am
Wed December 14, 2011

Top Morning Stories 12/14/11: TX Election Maps, Dates Still in Limbo, Floods Possible after Fires

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (right) with LBJ Presidential Library and Museum director Mark Updegrove on December 13, 2011. Holder vowed to fight the redistricting maps passed by the Texas Legislature.
Photo by Matt Largey/KUT News

Texas Redistricting Maps, Election Dates Still Up in the Air

Lawyers for the Texas Republican and Democratic parties plan to meet with a mediator to figure out primary election dates for next year. It appears candidates will have until Monday to file to run for state legislative and congressional seats. Texas elections are in limbo because the U.S. Supreme court blocked interim maps drawn by a San Antonio court. And maps drawn by the Texas Legislature still haven’t been approved by a Washington court.

It's still unclear if all primary elections will be held in March as regularly scheduled, whether they will be pushed back or whether we could have two split primaries on separate days. Ross Ramsey, with our political reporting partner, The Texas Tribune, has more on those possibilities in his article here.

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News Brief
6:07 am
Tue December 13, 2011

Top Morning Stories 12/13/11: AISD Board Delays IDEA Vote, Court Hearing on Texas Elections

People protested Monday outside the AISD's headquarters. They spoke out against a proposal for in-district charter programs at some East Austin schools.
Photo by Nathan Bernier/KUT News

AISD Delays Vote on Partnership with IDEA Charter Operators

The Austin Independent School District’s Board put off a controversial vote last night on whether to partner with a charter school operator from South Texas to run in-district college prep programs in East Austin.

Three board members took issue with the latest version of the proposed contract with IDEA Public Schools. Those three board members have been skeptical about partnering with the charter school. The board delayed a vote until next week. KUT's Nathan Bernier was at last night's meeting and reported dozens of people showed up to protest the IDEA charter proposal.

The board did vote last night to reject all bids from those interested in buying two AISD administrative centers, including district headquarters on West Sixth Street.

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News Brief
5:27 am
Mon December 12, 2011

Top Morning Stories 12/12/11: AISD to Vote on IDEA Charter Programs, New Performing Arts Center

Photo by KUT News.

AISD Board to Vote on In-District Charter, Dual Language Programs

The Austin Independent School District’s Board has a long agenda and is scheduled to take several important votes tonight. The board is voting on whether to partner with a charter school to run programs at some East Austin campuses. Some teachers and parents are opposed to the proposed contract with IDEA Public Schools.

The board is also voting on adding more dual language programs, in which students are taught in two different languages at the same time. The goal is for students in those programs to become bilingual.

Here are more of the district's so-called Annual Academic and Facilities Recommendations being voted on tonight:

  • Address overcrowding in north-central elementary schools in the 2012-13 school year by: eliminating the sixth grade at Barrington, Brown and Walnut Creek elementary schools; creating a Pre-K center at Dobie Middle School and moving pre-K programs at Graham and Hart to Dobie; making Webb a pre-K-8 school, and reassigning part of the Barrington attendance zone to Webb; and moving remaining Barrington Pre-K to Reilly.
  • Establish an in-district charter agreement with Responsive Education Solutions to operate a graduation pathway program at Lanier and Travis high schools for students who have dropped out or are at risk of dropping out.

Also on the agenda: whether to keep or sell the district’s headquarters on West Sixth Street and the Baker Administrative Center in Hyde Park. Staff is recommending the board reject all submitted bids.

Board to Review Design for AISD Performing Arts Center

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Texas
12:41 pm
Fri December 9, 2011

Specialty Plates Spark Controversy

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles Board has approved a specialty license plate that reads “One State Under God." It has three Christian crosses on it.

The DMV board voted 4-3 yesterday to approve the plate.

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News Brief
6:08 am
Fri December 9, 2011

Top Morning Stories 12/9/11: City Misses Deadline for Stimulus Money, UT Law Dean Resigns

The City of Austin missed a tight deadline for federal stimulus money to help low-income families weatherize their homes.
Photo by KUT News.

City Losses Out on Federal Weatherization Money

More than 50 low income households in Austin won’t get federal stimulus money to make their homes more energy efficient. $600,000 in federal weatherization funds were on the table. But the city of Austin missed a deadline to get $400,000 of that money because of a lack of communication among city leaders and staffers. The council did vote yesterday to approve the remaining $200,000.

Council members spent a great amount of time questioning department heads and the city manager to see where the breakdown in communication happened. You can watch that interaction in the video archive from yesterday's council meeting here.

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News Brief
5:22 am
Thu December 8, 2011

Top Morning Stories 12/08/11:Council Voting on Parks Smoking Ban, Water May be Cut Off for Farmers

Photo courtesy of Shannon Holman: http://www.flickr.com/photos/shannonholman/2830804591/

City Council to Vote on Permanent Parks Smoking Ban

The Austin City Council is scheduled to vote today on an ordinance to permanently ban smoking at all city parks. That includes athletic fields, nature preserves and swimming pools. Golf courses would be exempt from the ban. There could also be exemptions for some special events. The proposed ordinance includes several reasons for the ban including:

Tobacco related litter is the most common form of litter and over 40,000 cigarette butts have been collected from 39 Parks and Recreation Department sites this year. Cigarettes also pose a significant fire risk. According to the Austin Fire Department, 9 out of 10 fires along our roadways are caused by cigarettes and at least 25% of all wildfires have been caused by cigarettes.

Tobacco use is the number one cause of death and disability in Austin and Travis County. By restricting smoking in City parks, the Department is protecting the health, safety and welfare of community members

Smoking in city parks is prohibited right now because of a city-issued burn ban still in effect. But if this ordinance is passed, smoking would not be allowed at parks even after the burn ban is lifted.

While we're talking about parks, KUT's Matt Largey reported during Morning Edition, on the struggle state parks officials are having in funding state parks. Texas Parks & Wildlife says it needs more than $4 million to keep parks running.

TCEQ Approves Plan that Could Cut Off Water for Farmers

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News Brief
5:53 am
Wed December 7, 2011

Top Morning Stories 12/7/11: Austin's Formula One Race is On, TX Parks & Wildlife Asking for Help

Construction is set to resume immediately for the Circuit of the Americas track southeast of Austin. Local organizers have reached a deal with Formula One management for the 2012 race.
Photo by KUT News.

Austin's F1 Race is On

Local organizers told KUT News this morning that an agreement has been reached over a contract with Formula One management. Also today in New Dehli, India the World Motor Sport Council officially approved the 2012 F1 calendar. It includes Austin’s U.S. Grand Prix next November. F1 Boss Bernie Ecclestone had set today as the final deadline to reach a deal for Austin’s race after the contract had been in dispute.

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