Joy Diaz

Producer, Texas Standard

Texas Standard reporter Joy Diaz has amassed a lengthy and highly recognized body of work in public media reporting. Prior to joining Texas Standard, Joy was a reporter with Austin NPR station KUT on and off since 2005. There, she covered city news and politics, education, healthcare and immigration.
Originally from Mexico, Joy moved to the U.S. in 1998 when her husband Luis was transferred from his job in Mexico City to Virginia. While there, Joy worked for Roanoke 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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Texas Tribune

January usually marks a mad rush to the local tax office to pay property taxes. If you are a homeowner turning 65 years old, you can apply for a property tax exemption from Travis County and for a cap to your school taxes. It's a  perk for taxpayers that could affect local school districts. 

First, it’s important to note that thousands of Austinites will be turning 65 this year. That’s why last May, Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell appointed task force on aging. Angela Atwood serves on the task force. She say “aging is the issue of our time and Austin and Central Texas is an epicenter nationally.”

Joy Diaz, KUT News

Usually on New Years' Day, news outlets will tell you about the first birth of the year.

While the spotlight shines on Austin's first baby of 2013, we invited Gus Herzik to welcome that lucky child with some words of wisdom. 

Herzik has learned plenty in his lifetime - he'll turn 100 years old later this year.

Tim Gueramy and Tracey Haas, docbookmd.com

On the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, it’s likely that your doctor’s office may be closed at some point.

But doctors are never really off. There’s always someone on-call to take care of emergencies. And that someone could be from the Gueramy-Haas household here in Austin. The two-doctor home took some valuable lessons from a day of back-to-back emergencies and turned them into a better way to care for their patients.

Picture this: you’ve been married to the love of your life for almost a year. You’ve carefully selected the restaurant where you’ll have dinner on your anniversary, and you’ve made sure every detail is meaningful. When the big night arrives, everything is just as you’d imagined it: Both of you look sharp. The appetizers arrive. And … we’ll let Tracey Haas take it from here:

KUT News

Please don’t say your New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. As full of merit as your resolution is, it may not be tweeted out by city staff.  

Starting today and through Dec. 31, the city of Austin is encouraging Austinites to text their New Year resolutions to 512-518-5879.  But there’s a catch: you need to think about how your resolution will make the city better. City staff will then go through them and pick the most interesting responses.  

Wells Dunbar/KUT News

It may seem like government offices are in slow mode during the holiday season, but Austin's City Auditor is working against the clock. That's because there’s a very strict timeline the auditor needs to meet in order to put together the group that will draw Austin’s new city council district maps. 

The auditor is following the guidelines and timeline laid out in Proposition 3. That was the citizen-initiated charter amendment passed by Austin voters last month. But some of the terminology in Prop 3 needs to be tweaked into more official legal terms in some cases. In others, it just needs to be clarified. So, the City of Austin's Auditor, Kenneth Mory, is asking for citizen input.

Joy Diaz, KUT News

Dozens of boxes full of toys made their way to Austin’s Dell Children’s Hospital this morning, courtesy of Operation Blue Santa.

Santa and his reindeer could not be there since many of the kids are too sick to risk having the animals nearby. So volunteers from the Austin Police Department made sure there was enough holiday cheer to go around.

flickr.com/rhaaga

If you’ve been around Austin for a while, chances are you’ve heard Andrew Zuniga's sentiments before.

“This is not the same Austin I used to know,” Zuniga said. “Because I was away for 40 years see?”

Zuniga is a musician. He’s 79 years old.

“Well, it’s a lot bigger, a lot of traffic and more people,” he said.

Jessie Wang for KUT News

Austin City Council begrudgingly parted with $15.5 million Thursday to help complete construction of Water Treatment Plant No. 4  in northwest Austin.

The controversial plant was designed to provide the city’s growing population with more drinking water. But it’s been controversial since its proposal as environmental groups opposed its construction. Now many of those activists are saying I told you so.

flickr.com/code_martial

Thousands of Mexican fans flowed into Austin for F1 and the thrill of watching Mexican driver Sergio "Checo" Pérez speed around the track. David Besch was one of them. As he waited in line to get into the Circuit of the Americas stands , Besch said F1 in Austin reminded him of the thrill of his first race at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City.

“I was about eight or nine years old – I think. My uncle took me to the race. From then on, I didn’t stop watching it.”

Many of the fans this weekend said they were ready to see Mexico reopen its F1 track. Recent reports say the country’s leading business owners – among them Carlos Slim Domit, the son of one of the richest men in the world – are talking are talking about getting on the F1 schedule as early as next year.

Joy Diaz, KUT News

The group of Austinites that collected signatures to get a single-member district plan on the November ballot wants to remain a part of the process now that Proposition 3 has passed. 

Prop 3 supporters, Austinites for Geographic Representation, gathered at City Hall today to announce the formation of an “advisory committee” to ensure single-member districts by 2014.

Former state Senator Gonzalo Barrientos, one of Prop 3 most active promoters, was on hand. He says many of the original activists are eager to help. 

“There are many people in Austin who participated, who are experts and have decades of experience in the different fields of redistricting, of drawing lines, of fair representation,” Barrientos said. “And we want to facilitate the city efforts – whatever we can help with – we have hundreds of years of experience among all these folks.”

courtesy flickr.com/jonathanyoungblood

Austin’s commitment to becoming a “zero waste” city by 2040 came into question today, as the City Council approved adding exemptions to the plastic bag ban that takes effect in March 2013.

Restaurants will now be exempt from the bag ban. Some citizens expressed that the exemption deviates from the goals of the original ban and provides too big of a loophole. (Whole Foods, Central Market and Wheatsville Co-op all serve hot dishes, for example.) 

Mayor Lee Leffingwell disagrees. "This is addressing in a meaningful way something that's a real problem," Leffingwell said, "and we've done that for other uses of plastic bags where we've seen that there's not a reasonable alternative – newspapers, dry cleaning for example. I think it's pretty obvious once you think about it – obviously we didn't think about it [then], but once you do think about carrying out a bag full of barbeque sauce in a paper bag, it's not a good idea."

National Weather Service

Areas east of I-35 and the Austin metro area may see some severe storms this evening as a cold front moves through.

Forecasters say the main threats are wind and possibly large hail.  Rainfall is expected to be light and spotty – although some areas may get up to one inch of rain.

The National Weather Service has a severe thunderstorm watch in effect for parts of the eastern Central Texas until 9 p.m.; no watch has been issued for Travis County, but the NWS has issued a “hazardous weather outlook.”

Joy Diaz, KUT News

Update: Oct. 25, 2012 at 9 a.m.:

After airing this story on Monday, listeners have been wondering what happened to the Yount family.  The first thing was that a listener drove by the parking lot where they were and gave them a cell phone.  Others have called asking for ways in which they can help.  KUT now has a way to get in touch with the Younts.  If you have any interest in helping them, you can contact KUT.

Original Story posted on KUT.org Oct. 23, 2012 at 5:30 a.m.:

The city of Miami claims to have taken almost half of its homeless population off the streets in the last 10 years. In Austin, where homeless services are stretched to the limit, the City Council is looking for new solutions. Last night, council members met with officials from Miami. The challenges of one local homeless family that is struggling on the streets show how complex the problem can be.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

City Council waded back into the choppy waters of short-term rental regulation earlier today – and emerged largely unscathed.

By a vote of five to two, council decided to lower the fee for notifying neighbors about a rental property, and directed the city manager to re-evaluate other issues surrounding the rentals.

Owners who want to register their rentals with the city need to pay $476 for licensing and the notification fees. But over half of that – $241 – was just for the city to notify owners of properties within 100 feet about the existence of a rental. Today, council voted to lower that fee to $50.

Many short-term rentals are already rented for the opening weekend of Formula 1 in November – but only a handful are registered with the city.

Caleb Bryant Miller for KUT News

The Austin City Council will consider Thursday whether to authorize an agreement with Capital Metro to spend $5 million for urban rail planning. The bulk of the money ($4 million) will come from a federal grant that requires a local match of 20 percent ($1 million).

So why spend such a large sum when previous money hasn’t produced any visible results? That was a question raised by council member Bill Spelman at council’s work session Tuesday. “A lot of people are concerned that we are putting the cart before of the horse,” he said. “We are spending four million dollars when we really haven’t decided what to do”.            

In May, the city released recommended routes for the first two phases of Urban Rail. Robert Spillar is the director of the city’s Transportation Department, and he sees the release of the money as the next step. At Tuesday’s work session he said getting the city’s stamp of approval would allow the Transportation Department to “restart” the alternatives analysis. 

National Weather Service

Much anticipated relief from triple-digit temperatures is coming Saturday – but at a cost.

As KUT News reported yesterday, a dry cold front blowing in tomorrow is creating an elevated wildfire risk.

While Saturday’s high temperature is expected to be a comparatively cool 92 degrees, wind is coming from the north at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour.  Travis County Fire Marshall Hershel Lee says those conditions remind him of last year’s Memorial Day weekend, when wildfires broke out all over Central Texas.

KUT News

Save Our Springs Ordinance Celebrates Twenty Years

20 years ago today, Austin voters approved a historic ordinance that changed the way the city handles growth.  The Save Our Springs water quality ordinance marked the first in a series of battles between environmentalists and developers.

A proposed development project by the international mining company Freeport McMoRan catalyzed a grassroots movement to protect the Edwards Aquifer and Barton Springs.

The Save Our Springs group gathered signatures and drafted an ordinance that limited construction along the Edwards Aquifer such that only 15 percent or less of the land could be paved.  The ordinance was put on the ballot and voters passed it.

Joy Diaz, KUT News.

The small home on Rundberg Lane where Juan Pantoja Navarro grew up smells of flowers. Red roses, purple azaleas and yellow daisies are piled on the floor of the front room alongside some candles and a Bible. On the wall above, a collage of pictures highlights cherished moments in the life of this 23 year-old soldier.

Sgt. Navarro was killed by an explosive device July 7 in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Family and well-wishers crowd the tiny room as a near-constant stream of well-wishers flows into the house. Sgt. Navarro was the second youngest of 11 children. His parents immigrated to Austin from Mexico. He was one of just three in the family born in the U.S.

Joy Diaz for KUT News

While Austin doesn’t hold a citywide Fourth of July parade, it’s somewhat of a tradition for individual neighborhoods to hold their own Independence Day celebrations. 

KUT News traveled to the Delwood II neighborhood July 4th parade this morning. It’s the 50th annual parade the neighbors have held (which they claim makes it the longest running neighborhood parade in the city.)

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