Joy Diaz

Senior Reporter, City Government

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 a Senior Reporter covering the city beat.

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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Raido Kalma/flickr

Many things have changed in the five years since the Austin City Council last approved a contract with taxi franchises.

For one, ride service companies like Uber and Lyft have become more of a norm than an anomaly. Still, cab companies say their drivers are not operating on a level playing field when it comes to regulations.

Now, the Austin City Council, for the first time, says it's going to do an analysis of exactly how level the field is.

Sarah Jasmine Montgomery/KUT

Travis County and the City of Austin take part in a regular fiscal dance with the State of Texas over who pays the costs of government. Over the next three days, KUT News and the Austin Monitor will look at key examples of that interaction in our series, “The Buck Starts Here.” Today, we take on Austin’s Municipal Courts. 

When Austin residents are handed traffic tickets or other Municipal Court fees and fines, they likely assume that the city is profiting handsomely from those often colorful sheets of paper. If they could see where those revenues go, however, they might come to a different conclusion.

In fact, the city’s current budget projects that the court will face a roughly $3.7 million shortfall in the fiscal year that started in October by incurring about $19.7 million in general expenses and pulling in about $16 million in general revenue. On top of that, it projects that the court will fall short in three of its special revenue funds and break even on the fourth.

Joy Diaz/KUT News

For the mothers and children detained at an immigrant facility in Karnes County, about 100 miles south of Austin, their best chance for release is to find attorneys willing to represent them pro bono.

And in turn, the lawyers willing to take on these cases need specific training. So this week at the University of Texas School of Law, a group of immigration attorneys attended a training session to brush up on the type of asylum cases faced by the women and children housed at Karnes County Residential Center.

Screenshot from Youtube.

Update Wednesday, April 15, 2015, 3:30 p.m. Council member Don Zimmerman confirmed that Rebecca Forest has stepped down from her appointment to the Immigrant Affairs Commission.

Of Forest's remarks, made at the 2011 rally (see the youtube video below), Zimmerman said, "I don't judge Rebecca Forest by a clumsy remark. I judge her based on ten years of knowing her, and she's not a bigoted person."

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

Almost 100 years after the day it opened, the Austin State Supported Living Center (SSLC), a home for adults with severe developmental disabilities, is scheduled to close in 2017.

The Legislature's Sunset Commission ordered its closure during the last legislative session. But the order still needed legislative approval.

That approval came from the Senate this week, in the form of Senate Bill 204. And the House is expected to follow suit.

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

It's been 100 days since the new Austin City Council and Mayor Steve Adler took office, and last night Adler delivered his first State of the City address.

It was a packed and very diverse event — with nearly a thousand in attendance — which was a change of pace from the typically subdued addresses of the past.

While the event was free and open to the public, it wasn't free for the Mayor. As he told reporters afterwards, he and his wife paid to rent AISD's Performing Arts Center for the occasion. While he didn't say how much it cost, he did say he also footed the bill for a set from Austin musician Max Frost, who performed "White Lies," perhaps a curious choice for a political event.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

This is normally a busy time of year for anyone involved with city elections in Austin. Some school districts and local governments in the area have things on the ballot.

But it's the first time Austinites will not be voting for city council in May, and this new timing may help solve a city-wide voting challenge: finding an open polling place.

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

This legislative session, Texas lawmakers are considering seven bills dealing with raising the state's minimum wage.

One of the bills would bring it up from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour for an estimated 2.4 million Texans. But there are pros and cons to raising the state's minimum wage.

Joy Diaz/KUT News

There are more than 100 registered neighborhood associations in Austin. Sometimes there are even multiple associations in the same neighborhood. In mobile home communities, however, they're rare — not just in Austin, but nationwide.

But after the neighbors at Stonegate Mobile Home Park in North Central Austin started feeling pressured by fees from management, they decided to organize their own.

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

In 1998, the federal government mandated that breast reconstructions after a mastectomy be covered by health insurance. That was the last time anything really big happened in the field of breast reconstruction, and while it was a huge development, it wasn't an improvement to the procedure itself.

But an Austin company is aiming to transform outcomes for breast reconstruction patients through the use of 3D printing technology.

Warning: This story contains some frank discussions and revealing images of human anatomy.

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

Hispanics are twice as likely to start a small business as any other group in the United States, according to a report commissioned by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

But the failure rate for small businesses is high – nearly 50 percent don't make it. An organization in Austin hopes it can train small business owners the skills to succeed.

sopitas.com

Next week will be six months since 43 students from a rural teaching school disappeared in Southwest Mexico.

The government of Mexico says the students are dead.

But family members believe the government is misleading them. That's why some came to Texas hoping to keep their case alive.

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

Churches are among the most segregated places in the country, according to a study by religious scholar Curtiss Paul DeYoung. He found that only five percent of churches in the U.S. are racially integrated.

But it happens that there's at least one integrated house of worship here in Austin: Muslims and Quakers have been sharing the same space on MLK Boulevard for a couple of years.

Kate Ter Haar/flickr

The company that runs an immigrant prison in Raymondville, Tex., has lost its contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The facility was nicknamed "Ritmo" – like Guantanamo Bay's Gitmo. But, the reported abuses that earned it its Gitmo-like reputation are not the reason why it lost its contract. The contract was revoked after a two-day riot broke out there last month.

Joseph B/flickr

The challenges facing Child Protective Services in Texas are well known. The agency is underfunded and never seems to have enough personnel to adequately care for the thousands of children in its system.

But, this year, the agency did something different: CPS is looking for ways to prevent crises from happening in the first place.

Jon Shapley/KUT News

Mason Endres still needs a knee brace to walk. She's one of the 23 survivors of the car crash that killed four people at South by Southwest last year. Endres set aside this morning to visit St. David's Hospital and thank the staff for her recovery.

May Endres, Mason's mom, corralled a big group of doctors and nurses for a photo. 

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

There's a new petition making the rounds through Texas and the United States.

Its goal is to end the incarceration of immigrant mothers and children. A catalyst for the petition was a recent wave of suicide attempts by some of the women in detention in facilities in Texas.

KUT News

Today marks the one-year anniversary in the crash at SXSW that killed four people.

One of them was musician and Amsterdam-based producer Steven Craenmehr.

KUT's Joy Diaz reports Craenmehr's family has sued the festival and wants it to make significant changes to the way it handles crowds.

Ashley Park/KUT News

It’s been almost a year since Rashad Owens drove his car into SXSW festivalgoers after a late-night show. Four people died, and another 23 were injured during the police chase of Owens on March 13 last year.

For this year's festival, the city of Austin and the Austin Police Department say they are not taking any chances.

Caleb Bryant Miller/KUT News

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wants the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate last month's riot at a private immigrant prison in Raymondville, Tex. That's because the ACLU does not believe the prison is able to do a good job investigating itself.

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