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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Austin City Council
10:42 am
Thu January 22, 2015

Can't Make a City Council Meeting? Austin Now Offers Input Options Online

Austin City Council is offering online options for public input. The council's historically long meetings that stretch into the early morning have often hampered public input.
Credit KUT News

The new Austin City Council knows everyone has an opinion about what things it should be doing, what things it should change and how those changes could come about. A recurring theme along the current council’s campaign trail was that many Austinites felt unheard and sometimes outright disregarded by city politicians.

At the beginning of the year, council proposed altering its meeting and committee format to pare down their traditionally long meetings.  So, starting tonight, there will be new ways to communicate with council and the mayor.

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Austin
9:25 am
Thu January 22, 2015

What Do the US-Cuba Talks Mean for Refugee-Friendly Austin?

With the opening of U.S.-Cuban relations, some wonder how the diplomatic thaw will affect Austin, which has a history of harboring Cuban refugees.
Indrani via Flickr

For decades, Austin has been a host to thousands of refugees arriving from Cuba. In fact, up until around 2010, Cubans were the largest single group of refugees in the city.

Now that diplomatic talks have started between the United States and Cuba, some in Austin wonder what role will our city play in this new relationship.

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Immigration
5:05 pm
Fri January 16, 2015

Ahead of Deferred Actions, Mexican Consulates Issue Birth Certificates

Dozens of people trickled into the Mexican Consulate Friday to get certified copies of their birth certificates. The documents will be needed if Obama's deferred action for adults goes forward. Friday was the first day Consulates started issuing.
Joy Diaz/KUT News

Mexican Consulates all over the U.S. are now providing Mexican nationals with birth certificates. The change comes after President Obama's executive action that would prevent some undocumented adults from deportation. That program is believed to be similar to the deferred action for children.

In the past, birth certificates for Mexican nationals came from relatives back home, and the process normally took weeks, if not months.

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Oil Prices
4:39 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

Are Companies With Large Vehicle Fleets Rejoicing Over Low Gas Prices?

Credit ThoseGuys119/flickr

You might think every company with a large vehicle fleet would be happy about the low gas prices we’re seeing right now. But when it comes to gas prices, things are never that simple.

One of the largest vehicle fleets in Austin belongs to the Austin Independent School District. AISD's Transportation Director Kris Hafezi oversees more than 1,000 vehicles. About half run on diesel, and about half run on gas. So fluctuating gas prices used to make him nervous – but not anymore. "[AISD] has a fixed fuel contract with our provider."

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Austin
6:30 am
Tue January 13, 2015

Find Out What's Buried Inside Austin's City Hall Time Capsule

A plaque marking the spot of Austin's city time capsule, to be opened in 2105.
Credit Joy Diaz/KUT News

Buried under the Austin City Hall building is a time capsule.

Today, that capsule is ten years old. The box is scheduled to be opened in 2105.

Since it’s very likely you and I won’t be alive 90 years from now, KUT asked the people who filled up the box to reveal some of the things that are in it.

It's hard to imagine the Austin of 2105, when the capsule is supposed to be opened.

If you just consider that we double our population every 20 years, you can picture how crowded Austin is likely to become.

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Austin
5:16 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

How Will An Overpriced Housing Market and Low Oil Prices Affect Austin?

Credit creative commons

The price of oil is the lowest it's been since 2009. And housing prices have all but stopped rising in Austin. So, what could those two things mean for the Austin economy in 2015?

Angelos Angelou is one of Austin's most trusted economic forecasters.

He said he doesn't think Austin is facing a housing market bust, even though Austin's is one of the most overpriced housing markets in the nation. 

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Austin
5:08 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

Austin's New Mayor Wants to Hear From Every Austinite

Austin Mayor Steve Adler wants to reach the community-at-large.
Credit Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT News

Right now, if you live in Austin and you want to talk to your city council members, you have few options. You can sign up for citizen communications on Thursdays at noon, or you can wait until the end of regular business at a council meeting. That’s pretty much it.

And it isn't as though council members don't want people to call them or email them. But few people do.

Austin's new mayor Steve Adler believes the current system is leaving the community at large with no access to the officials it elected, that's why today, he and the new council are holding brainstorming sessions to find ways to get more people engaged. "Wouldn't it be great if people could give their testimony or their input on ideas on issues facing the city remotely?"

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Austin City Council
8:22 am
Wed January 7, 2015

New Mayor and 'Council of Firsts' Sworn In

New Mayor Steve Adler presents and award to outgoing Mayor Lee Leffingwell.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon KUT News

Hundreds of people attended the swearing in of Austin's new mayor and City Council last night. Once the council chamber was full, people stood in stairways and hallways and watched on screens as the new council members delivered their first messages to the geographic districts that elected them.

The diversity of those in attendance was significant. In the crowd, there were toddlers in their parents' arms and folks whose age demanded they move with the help of canes. Some wore the most sophisticated brands and others wore simple attire. But the faces of those in the crowd were similar in that they all looked hopeful, according to political consultant and former journalist Mike Madison.

"Even the people here who do this for a living, who have to be here every week, who are going to be fighting with these people going forward on issues that come up – they're still not jaded. They wouldn't be anywhere else,” Madison said.

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City Council
5:31 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Former Austin Female Mayor Calls First Female City Council Majority 'Historic'

Carole Keeton, then Carole McClellan, at a 1976 Austin School Board meeting at UT. Keeton went on to become Austin's first, and only, female mayor.
Austin Public Library

The new Austin City Council being sworn in tonight is historic in that it is the city's first council where the majority of its members – seven out of eleven – are women. 

It took more than a century for the first woman to make it to council. And even after that, Austin's female population continued to struggle for fair representation.

In 1977, Carole Keeton was the first woman to be elected mayor of Austin. No other woman has held that office since.

"Before this election there had only been 15 women – that's counting me as mayor, 14 council members and me as mayor – 15 women since 1839, and now, we've got seven out of eleven,” said Keeton, who calls this election "historic."

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Austin City Council
9:35 am
Tue January 6, 2015

LISTEN: What Do Austinites Want to See From the New City Council?

New council, new dais: the Austin City Council dais was revamped to accommodate the new 10-member council. But what do Austinites want to see from the 10-1 council?
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

Tonight, the new Austin City Council gets sworn in a ceremony at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

Each of the ten council members will be representing one of the city's 10 geographic districts at the dais, with the mayor representing the city as a whole.

With the new council heading in, we wanted to know what Austinites would like to see from their new representatives at City Hall. So, we went knocking on doors and asking pedestrians. Below, you can listen to some of their responses.

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Austin
11:48 am
Thu January 1, 2015

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

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 today, 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 in September 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 will carry a fine of around $300.

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
9:55 am
Sat December 27, 2014

QUIZ: How Well Do You Know Austin's 175-Year History?

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT; logo design by GSD&M

The City of Austin is having a birthday today.

It's one of the hardest anniversaries to pronounce – it's not a centennial or a bicentennial — or even a sesquicentennial, for that matter. But, outgoing Mayor Lee Leffingwell made it his mission earlier this year to memorize a 28-letter word used for the city’s 175th anniversary: a septaquintaquinquecentennial. 

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Austin
2:21 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Sexist Comment by Austin Police Officer: Isolated Incident or Part of Broader Culture?

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo says sexist comments from officers undermine a departmental goal of securing communities' trust.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Update (2:19 p.m.): Officer Andrew Pietrowski officially retired from the Austin Police Department on Friday, Dec. 12 after learning KUT would air his comments this week.

Original Story (9:07 a.m.): Police Chief Art Acevedo suspended two officers in November for making jokes about rape victims. The Austin Police Association said at the time that the respective three-day and five-day suspensions were "fair and appropriate." The incident took place after a local attorney had released a video in which the two Austin police officers are laughing and one of the officers comments: "Go ahead and call the cops. They can't un-rape you."

Recently, offensive comments were made to KUT's reporter Joy Diaz, while she was covering a police-related story. A quick warning: This story contains offensive remarks made about women. 

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo is convinced APD's culture is changing for the better. And says comments like "[cops]can't un-rape you" are examples of behavior that he calls "[the] extreme minority."

Statistically, when you consider the couple of thousand police officers in Austin, he’s right. However, there are still regrettable police shootings and some minorities still feel targeted by police. But Austin is no longer the ticking bomb some say it was before Acevedo took over the department in 2007. Questions still linger, however, about whether or not APD is clearly letting its officers know that inappropriate comments will not be tolerated.

Take for instance the recent comments of Officer Andrew Pietrowski.

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Austin
12:10 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Steve Adler's Goal: Turn Austin into Social Innovator for the World

Steve Adler is Austin's new Mayor. Up until now, he's been a political outsider. He is an attorney who believes in social causes.
Credit Joy Diaz, KUT News

  Steve Adler is Austin's new mayor. He easily defeated city councilman Mike Martinez in Tuesday's runoff election. But, even though Adler appeared to be the favorite in recent polls, he wasn't always expected to win this race.

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Onion Creek
10:45 am
Mon December 15, 2014

Over a Year After Floods, Onion Creek Properties Face Delayed Repairs, Liens

Floods on Halloween in 2013 inundated many homes in the Onion Creek neighborhood. Still, many properties in the area are still uninhabitable.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon for KUT

Some Southeast Austin neighbors fear they're in danger of losing their homes. Some Onion Creek homes have been uninhabitable since the 2013 Halloween floods hit the Onion Creek community.

Now, some contractors have placed liens on the once-inundated properties, claiming they need more money to finish the repairs.

“This is my flooded property that still isn't ready after over a year,” says Onion Creek resident Marilyn Barack on a cold morning.

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Energy & Environment
3:20 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

The City Wants Input on How to Make Austin Emissions-Free by 2050

The city wants to expand the use of solar panels ahead of its 2050 goal to make Austin greenhouse-free by 2050.
Austin Monitor

One of the city of Austin's sustainability goals is pretty ambitious - to be a net-zero greenhouse emissions city by 2050. In order to get there, it would take a city-wide buy in and that's why the city wants to get the community's pulse through a survey.

The 10 question-long survey is in English and Spanish, asking things like "Would you e-commute, or ride a bus?" and "What about putting up solar panels?" The answers to those questions aim to help the city start crafting a plan.

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2014 City Council Runoff Elections
9:51 am
Thu December 11, 2014

Gallo & Dealey Both Tout Experience in Battle for Wealthy, Politically Active District 10

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Both of the women running for District 10 have run for office before. Sheri Gallo ran for Travis County Commissioner in Precinct 2 nearly 12 years ago, and Mandy Dealey ran for Austin City Council nine years ago. Both women also argue that the district struggles with affordability as often as other districts across Austin, offering different solutions for the affluent, property rich district.

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2014 City Council Runoff Elections
11:29 am
Wed December 10, 2014

Scruggs, Troxclair & the Politically-Charged, Non-Partisan Race in District 8

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Still in the race for District 8's Austin City Council seat are Ellen Troxclair and Ed Scruggs, two candidates that are, for the most part, diametrically opposed from a political standpoint – though, technically, city elections are non-partisan.

Scruggs says he's a progressive with on-the-ground experience in D8, and hopes to expand affordable housing options and diversity in the district. Troxclair touts herself as a fiscal conservative, and believes her voice on city council could help Austin reduce unnecessary municipal spending and increase affordability in the district.

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2014 City Council Runoff Elections
2:13 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

District 7 Candidates Agree on Affordability, Diverge on Traffic

Mengwen Cao/KUT

It's the last week of early voting for the Austin City Council runoffs. So far, 27,000 people have cast a ballot, compared to about 100,000 Austinites who voted in the city's November election. 

In District 7, Jeb Boyt and Leslie Pool are the two candidates standing, heading into a runoff election on Dec. 16. Both Boyt and Pool say neighbors in District 7 are concerned with the state of their libraries and parks, but, as with almost every neighborhood in Austin, their main concern is affordability.

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2014 City Council Runoff Elections
9:41 am
Tue December 9, 2014

Zimmerman, Flannigan Offer Different Routes for Solving District 6's Traffic Woes

Mengwen Cao/KUT

Virtually everyone in Austin has the right to complain about traffic, but maybe none more so than those who live in District 6.

The district is one of the longest – going from Lake Travis all the way north to Jollyville, with some of the most congested roads from Parmer Lane to Ranch Road 2222 and FM 620.

District 6 candidates Don Zimmerman and Jimmy Flannigan agree that congestion is a crippling issue in the district, but that’s largely where their consensus concludes. KUT’s Joy Diaz sat down with both council candidates ahead of the Dec. 16 election runoff.

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