Joy Diaz

City Reporter

Joy Diaz has been a reporter with KUT on and off since 2005. Since joining KUT, Joy has covered education, healthcare and immigration. She is now the station’s city reporter.

Originally from Mexico, Joy moved to the U.S. in 1998 when her husband Luis was transferred from his job in Mexico City to train workers in a telecommunications plant in Virginia. While there, Joy worked for Roanoke's NPR station WVTF.

Joy speaks English and Spanish, which is a plus in a state like Texas. She graduated from Universidad de Cuautitlán Izcalli in Mexico City with a degree in journalism. In 2008 she took a break to devote herself to her two young children, before returning to the KUT studios. She loves reading, painting and spending time engaging with the community.  

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10-1
11:44 am
Thu October 23, 2014

Commercial Vacancies Could Provide a Foundation for Growth in District 4

KUT

Austin's new city council District 4 is one of the city's most compact districts, geographically speaking. It's easy to define as North Central Austin. One recognizable spot is Highland Mall, most of which closed years ago, starting a chain of building closures and subsequent vacancies in the area.

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10-1
2:07 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

Austin's New District 2 Council Member Faces an Old Problem: Infrastructure

As Austin voters head to the polls this Election Day they'll choose a city council candidate to represent their own geographic district.

So far, many of the candidates have promised to be the "voice" of their district and to fight for district-specific needs at City Hall. All this week and next, we’re looking at each of the city's ten districts to look at each district's unique needs.

Circuit of the Americas is one of the landmarks of District 2 – Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is in there too.

The district is long, stretching from Southeast Austin off of Highway 71 and
east of I-35. Last summer Ron Potts, who had recently retired from the city's Code Compliance Department, took KUT on a tour of the district.

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10-1
2:24 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

How Transportation & Investment Could Bring New Opportunities to Austin's District 1

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

Today, KUT starts taking a look at each of Austin's ten districts -- and their unique needs.

This is the first time Austinites will elect their council members from the city's newly drawn geographic districts.

District One stretches from Central Austin, north to Howard Lane and into the vast open fields east of State Highway 130.

It's also called the "African American Opportunity District," because it's the district with the largest share of African American voters in the city.

Eric Tang with UT Austin's Institute for Urban Policy, Research and Analysis released a report earlier this year detailing why Austin is the only major US city that over the last decade has seen a decline in its African American population. Tang says African Americans "face persistent inequalities" in three major areas: public education, policing and the job market.

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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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Austin
4:43 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

Austin’s Female Illusionists Becoming Socially, and Economically, Empowered

Both Kimberly and Gisette Deseo identify as female illussionists. They are "drag sisters." While their transformations can cost a bundle, their spending also contributes to a growing, economically-empowered drag and trans community in Austin.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

Traditional wisdom and cultural tropes might lead you to believe that women in Texas outspend their male counterparts when it comes to personal care items, clothing, and accessories.

That stereotype is mostly true, but in Austin there’s a growing group of men that might be bucking that trend: female illusionists. Some are transitioning into another gender. Others dress like females for fun or for show. 

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Border & Immigration
9:10 am
Thu October 9, 2014

Report: 'Systemic' Problems in Groups Overseeing Central American Migrants

A report calls problems within the Karnes County Residential Center "systemic," and expresses concern about a forthcoming immigrant detention facility opening in Dilley next month.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

A report released yesterday documents what it calls "systemic" problems in the two private prison companies the federal government hires to house undocumented Central American mothers and their children.

The report alleges detainees are being sexually harassed by guards in the recently-opened Karnes County Residential Center, which is run by the GEO Group, and expresses concern about a forthcoming center opening in Dilley next month, which will be run by CCA.

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Crime & Justice
11:17 am
Wed October 8, 2014

Big Impact and Little Payouts in Austin's Small Claims Courts

A judge awarded Veronica Avila Zavala $6,900 of the $12,000 she claimed a fake attorney stole from her, but has so far only received $900.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

Most probably couldn't articulate what a justice of the peace exactly does.

Television shows like “Judge Judy” and “The People’s Court” often trivialize the role of justices of the peace and the small claims courts they preside over.

Five small courtrooms of the Travis County justices of the peace handle settlements of $10,000 or less. In the grand scheme of things, the settlements are miniscule, hence the moniker of “small claims," but for some the rulings in these courts have huge implications.

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Austin
2:06 pm
Mon October 6, 2014

Efforts Gear Up to Reconnect Owners with Stolen Bikes

Ausitn Police hope a planned registry will reduce the number of recovered, but unclaimed, bikes that are later sold at city auctions.
KUT

Just as Austin has a thriving bicycling community, it's also home to bike thieves. Both groups stay pretty active. 

The city is perennially one of the worst cities nationwide when it comes to bicycle thefts, and the Austin Police Department wants to change that by beginning a program to register bikes, allowing the city to track stolen bikes and bolster reports of bike theft.

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2014 Elections
2:24 pm
Thu October 2, 2014

Could a New, Rail-Averse City Council Derail Prop 1?

A new proposal to build a light rail line in Austin isn't well-liked among City Council candidates.
Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

Austin voters are facing two major decisions this November.

First, Austinites will elect a new city council from brand new geographic districts, and voters will also decide whether to borrow $600 million to build a light rail line.

But, with so many City Hall hopefuls running on Prop 1-bashing stump speeches, what happens if voters approve the measure, and the next council has to implement policy they’ve sworn against?

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Austin
1:50 pm
Thu October 2, 2014

CPS Fires 3 Employees for Failing to Act in Colton Turner Case

Credit Texas Tribune

Child Protective Services has fired three caseworkers for failing to protect Colton Turner, the 2 year-old whose body was found buried in Southeast Austin last month. 

Colton Turner's mother, Meagan Work, and her boyfriend, Michael Brandt Turner, had been the subjects of four CPS investigations. Allegations included excessive drug use and the toddler's physical and sexual abuse.

Today, CPS spokesperson Patrick Crimmins called it a "very difficult case, a very tragic case."

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Affordable Housing
11:02 am
Thu October 2, 2014

Austin Bans Discrimination Against Voucher-Holding Renters (Update)

City council will vote on an ordinance that would make it illegal for landlords to deny rental applicants on Section 8 housing vouchers.
Wells Dunbar/KUT News

Austin’s long on housing stock, but the city's still struggling to expand affordable housing options across Austin.

Today, the Austin City Council passed an ordinance to “create” more affordable housing units by requiring existing apartments to accept Section 8 housing vouchers – subsidies from the Department of Housing and Urban Development that can pay up to 70 percent of rent for low-income, disabled and elderly tenants.

The ordinance increases options for Section 8 holders ninefold, but some landlords aren’t happy about it.

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Austin
10:00 am
Tue September 16, 2014

Could Lyft & Uber Soon Be Legal in Austin?

The battle between ride-sharing companies and the city has been going on for years, but a new proposal could allow the services to function within the law.
flickr.com/photos/raidokaldma

As of right now, ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft aren’t exactly legal.

They operate, sure, but the services' drivers face fines of up to $1,500 if they're caught driving-while-ride-sharing. While some tout the apps as a convenient alternative to cabs, many, including the City of Austin, argue the drivers don’t face the same regulatory and safety standards as their cabbie counterparts.

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Border & Immigration
8:59 am
Mon September 15, 2014

After Crossing Four Borders, Migrant Family Faces Two More Critical Battles

Sara Beltran-Rodriguez's daughter Neyely has a brain tumor. She's spent the last three years in and out of hospitals. Karnes County Residential Center granted the family temporary medical asylum.

Last month, hundreds of children who were attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border – many of them unaccompanied on their journey – were moved to a family detention center south of San Antonio.

The Karnes County Residential Center houses hundreds of immigrants that, as of now, stand little chance of being released from the facility.

In many cases, immigrants have been priced out of their release bonds, with some bonds as high as $25,000. In effect, the detainees have been denied the release, except for one family.

Sara Beltran Rodriguez and her daughter were the first to be released from the facility. And while they’ve traveled thousands of miles and crossed several borders on their journey to Texas, the family has another life-threatening battle to fight.

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2014 Elections
11:23 am
Mon September 8, 2014

As State & City Campaigns Ramp Up, County Races Remain Dormant

Travis County races don't typically draw the same profile as their statewide and city campaign counterparts.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

It’s election season and races are in full-swing. Whether it’s the governor’s race or the 78 candidates running for Austin City Council, candidates are busy attending rallies and debates.

But, with Election Day less than two months away, why haven't races at the county level been as active?

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Life & Arts
6:49 am
Mon September 8, 2014

Millions of Spanish-Speakers & Music Lovers Mourn the Loss of Gustavo Cerati

Gustavo Cerati passed away last week at the age of 55.
flickr.com/photos/laguiadesantiago/

Central Texans whose original zip codes are somewhere in Latin America or Spain may be mourning the loss of Argentine singer Gustavo Cerati, who died last week at the age of 55.

In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, when rock and pop music from the United States and England were the musical standard worldwide, along came Cerati and his band Soda Estéreo.

Take a look back at how they transformed the music industry in a couple dozen Spanish-speaking countries.

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2014 Elections
11:06 am
Wed September 3, 2014

Are Incumbent Council Candidates Campaigning on the Clock?

Four candidates for city office in the November elections currently have seats on the Austin City Council, but does that prominence give them an unfair advantage?
Bryan Winter/KUT

Of the seven current Austin City Council members, four are running for city office this November. Their current positions give them the name recognition, branding and political resumes an unknown challenger may not have.

But they also tow a fine line between their everyday council duties and their campaign duties.

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2014 Elections
2:58 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

Are Council Candidates' Packed Schedules Distancing Them from Voters' Voices?

Seventy-Eight Candidates are vying for a spot in City Hall this November, but some say they may lose sight of their constituents' needs.
Callie Hernandez for KUT News

Labor Day typically marks the homestretch of campaigns, both locally and statewide.

In Austin, 72 candidates across 10 districts, in addition to six mayoral candidates, should expect to have their schedules packed with forums, campaign appearances, stump speeches and fundraisers. But, amid all that hustle and bustle, will candidates get to know their districts and hear their voters before the Election Day?

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Austin
10:41 am
Mon September 1, 2014

How Will Austin Police Enforce the Hand-Held Device Ban?

The Austin City Council approved a ban on hand-held devices last week, which will take effect at the beginning of next year.
Credit via Xconomy

Starting in January, you won't be able to have your phone in your hands while driving your car, or while riding your bike.

The Austin City Council passed an ordinance Thursday prohibiting use of devices unless drivers are at a complete stop, or if there is an emergency. Those caught in the act by Austin police face a citation for a Class C misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $500 – though, the city has not yet finalized a fine structure for the ban.

While some studies suggest devices with hands-free capability doesn't necessarily reduce safety risk or increase reaction times, the move is an extension of the city's current ban on using devices while on the road. But what do Austin drivers think of the ban, and how Austin police plan to enforce it?

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Austin
7:58 am
Thu August 28, 2014

Austin's Experimental 'Micro-Housing' Project for Chronically Homeless Breaks Ground

The interior of one of the micro-homes. Some can be rented for as low as $180 per month.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Yesterday, a decade-long dream took root for Alan Graham of Mobile Loaves and Fishes. Graham and the organization celebrated the groundbreaking of Community First, a self-sustaining, employment-focused village for chronically homeless Austinites on the mend near Decker Lane.

The experiment aims to end homelessness by cheaply renting out up to 240 colorful cottages, offering tenants homegrown produce, employment services and a roof over their head in northeast Austin.

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2014 Elections
5:29 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

Can Ballot Placement Influence an Election Outcome?

City Clerk Jannette Goodall randomly draws candidate names by district and announces the order in which candidate names will appear on the ballot.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

For the 78 people running for Austin City Council and Mayor this fall, where their name is on the ballot can make a real difference on Election Day. And that was determined by a random drawing on Wednesday.

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