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
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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2014 City Council Runoff Elections
11:12 am
Thu December 4, 2014

In District 4 Runoff, Issues Take a Backseat to Madcap Politics

The race for Austin City Council District 4 has arguably been the most contentious fight in the city's first 10-1 election, from negative campaigning to concerns over 9/11 beliefs. This election, North Central Austin voters will choose between Laura Pressley and Greg Casar in the District 4 runoff.

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2014 City Council Runoff Elections
11:04 am
Wed December 3, 2014

Sister-Brother Runoff Candidates Have Dueling Views for the Future of District 3

Candidates Susana Almanza and Sabino "Pio" Renteria at KUT's Ballot Boxing City Council candidate forum on Sept. 29.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

District 3 runoff candidates Susana Almanza and Sabino "Pio" Renteria have a lot in common. They’re both Southeast Austin-based community activists, they’ve both pushed to expand affordable housing efforts in Austin and, strangely enough, they’re siblings.

While they both hope to boost affordable housing stock and develop the burgeoning district responsibly, they plan to go about it in a different way if elected to the Austin City Council.

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Austin Energy
9:48 am
Tue December 2, 2014

Austin Energy Low-Income Assistance Program Benefits Some High-Earners

Austin Energy's program designed to benefit low-income customers has, some say, inadvertently benefitted wealthy customers.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/jvk

With hundreds of thousands of customers, Austin Energy must rely on computer programs to filter through their customer database when it sends out bills. As intricately as some of these systems are designed, there are a few recent instances in which those programs have led to unintended consequences.

If you're an Austin Energy customer you may have noticed one item on your bill called a "Community Benefit Charge,” a fee which partly helps low-income Austin Energy customers pay their bills. Some of that money, however, is actually going to wealthy customers.

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2014 City Council Runoff Elections
12:30 pm
Mon December 1, 2014

DeWayne Lofton & Ora Houston Push for African-American Engagement in D1 Runoff

Early voting in local runoff elections starts today. One of the seven Austin City Council races that will be decided in this election is in District 1, also known as Austin’s African-American Opportunity District.

Originally, nine people ran for this seat, but now the field’s been whittled down two contenders: Dwayne Lofton and Ora Houston.

Today, KUT will begin a series examining each Austin City Council runoff campaign as candidates try to get their supporters back to the polls.

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Austin
12:46 am
Thu November 20, 2014

A Marriage in Transition

Greg Abbink and Joan Henke were married in 2012. Greg was born a female. This summer, he decided to transition.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

Tonight, in cities all around the world, people will gather together to remember those from the transgender community who have died. It's called the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Austin's memorial will be at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Tonight's speaker is Greg Abbink, the first transgender police officer in the Austin Police Department. He joined the force after serving in the Army. Back then, his name was Emily Abbink. This summer, Emily decided to transition her appearance to that of a male.

"Because even at five years old, I vividly remember asking my parents, 'Why did God make me a girl?'" he says. "I used to pray at night that I would wake up as a boy."

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Austin
10:41 am
Thu November 13, 2014

Looming State School Closure Leaves Austin's Most Vulnerable in Limbo

Judi Stonedale visits her 42 year-old daughter Julie Isbell at least once a week. Stonedale says her daughter gets outstanding care at ASSLC.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

Eviction notices have gone out to 77 people who live at Austin's State Supported Living Center on 35th Street and MoPac. The state’s Sunset Advisory Commission has recommended closing the facility which opened in 1917 and services 28 counties in Central Texas.

All of the people who live at the center have serious developmental disabilities, and a handful have already moved out.

As the eviction notices come in, residents and their families are searching for new housing alternatives as the state prepares for a likely sale that could turn the 94-acre property into a mixed-use development. But some say the commission doesn’t have the final word in the facility’s closure, and promise to fight.

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2014 Mayoral Runoff
11:29 am
Thu November 6, 2014

Adler and Martinez Look to Ramp Up Fundraising Ahead of Mayoral Runoff

Both Mike Martinez and Steve Adler have sunk over $100,000 into their campaigns for Mayor of Austin.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

There was a time when it didn't cost a whole lot to win a race for Austin mayor.

Up until the election of outgoing Mayor Lee Leffingwell, mayoral elections in Austin were typically won with less than $300,000 – sometimes with much less.

But with the city's rapid expansion and efforts to combat low voter turnout, this year's mayoral election has produced the most expensive campaigns in the office's history -- and it's not over.

For the next six weeks, run-off candidates Mike Martinez and Steve Adler are poised to ramp up their fundraising efforts in the hopes of luring voters to the polls for the Dec. 16 runoff.

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Austin
6:00 am
Tue November 4, 2014

Amid Unprecedented Number of City Candidates in Austin, You Only Need to Vote for Two

If you've felt overwhelmed by the unprecedented number of candidates running this political season, fear not.

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10-1
9:05 am
Mon November 3, 2014

In District 10, Worry on Both Sides of Debate Over Private Wells

Photo credits (L to R, top to bottom): Filipa Rodrigues for KUT, flickr.com/photos/atmtx , Filipa Rodrigues for KUT and flickr.com/photos/bougher7

This election, Austinites are voting in 10 different geographically drawn city council districts. So, we’ve been taking a look at each of the city's 10 new districts.

In the final installment in our series, KUT's Joy Diaz takes a look at District 10, which covers Tarrytown, Spicewood Springs Road, Northwest Hills and ends just at U.S. Highway 183.

There are many issues District 10 neighbors would like the new Austin City Council to address, but water is one that gets folks here pretty animated. Specifically, how the city addresses the drilling of private wells.

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Austin
6:42 pm
Sat November 1, 2014

A Story of Survival: One Year After the Halloween Floods

From left to right: Lawrence Joiner, Acelee Joiner, Kailynn Childers, Alyssa Joiner, Natalie Lindsey, Isaac Jacobs, and Bene Jacobs.
Ilana Panich-Linsman, KUT News

It was still dark the morning of Halloween 2013 when hundreds of families in Onion Creek, a neighborhood in South East Austin, woke up to rising water in their homes.

Bene Jacobs and her family survived the flood by taking refuge on their neighbor's roof.

She remembers that morning clearly.

Bene and her partner Lawrence waded through the waters with their three children in tow. Ten-year-old Isaac was in Lawrence's arms. Isaac was born with special needs. His wheelchair would have been swept by the fast moving waters. Alyssa was five at the time and Acelee, a toddler.

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10-1
1:33 pm
Thu October 30, 2014

The Long-Term Problems of Short-Term Rentals in District 9

Photo credits (L to R, top to bottom): Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT, City of Austin, Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT, flickr.com/photos/gold41 and Filipa Rodriguex for KUT.

Austinites are voting in 10 different geographically drawn city council districts this election. We’ve been taking a look at each of those districts.

Today, we’ll a look at District 9, a compact district that touches Oltorf and goes up through downtown and the UT campus to just south of U.S. Highway 290.

At its heart is the Clarksville neighborhood, with its historic freedman's homes. It’s one of many district neighborhoods dealing with a problem some say robs the city of revenue, disrupts neighborhoods and lowers property values in the much-coveted, centrally-located district: short term rentals.

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10-1
1:15 pm
Wed October 29, 2014

In District 8, Years of Growing Frustration Over Elusive Traffic Solutions

Photo credits (L to R, top to bottom): Filipa Rodrigues for KUT, Mary Kang/KUT, Patrick Dentler/KUT, flickr.com/photos/danatx and flickr.com/photos/dawilson

This week, KUT is continuing its look at each of the city's 10 districts and at some of their unique needs.

Today, we're looking at District 8, which includes “the Y” at Oak Hill, where State Highway 71 and U.S. Highway 290 intersect, and stretches from Brodie Lane to Circle C and then goes all the way to Southwest Parkway.

The population in the district and surrounding areas has grown 200 percent from 1990 to 2010, according to city estimates, causing traffic along major roadways here to grow in tandem.

For years, many in District 8 have pushed for an extension of State Highway 45, saying that the southwestern extension of the highway could serve as a pressure valve to relieve congestion in Southwest Austin. Others have argued against the project, citing environmental concerns.

While the project shows signs of moving forward after years in limbo, some say more innovative, less costly solutions could do the job.

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