Joy Diaz

City reporter

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City Budget
2:23 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

2014 Austin City Budget Holds Line on Tax Rate (Update)

The Austin City Council may need three full days for budget adoption this year.
Liang Shi for KUT News

Update: For the first time since 2007, the Austin City Council has voted to lower the city’s property tax rate. The council finalized the fiscal year 2014 budget this afternoon.

Granted, the tax rate hasn’t fallen by much: two-hundredths of a penny (from 50.29 to 50.27 cents) for every $100 dollars of valuation. For the owner of a $200,000 home, that amounts to a savings of 40 cents a year. Mayor Lee Leffingwell had pressed for a bigger cut.

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Turning The Corner
10:46 am
Fri August 30, 2013

The Challenging Task of Cleaning Up Dove Springs

Ron Potts makes sure the city's codes and regulations are observed in Dove Springs. His three major challenges are trash piles, overgrown weeds and grass and broken fences.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The Dove Springs neighborhood in southeast Austin runs from Ben White to William Cannon, bound by Montopolis and Pleasant Valley on the east, and Interstate 35 on the west.  One of the issues affecting Dove Springs is its appearance. Piles of trash, broken fences and overgrown weeds and grass contribute to its visual blight. 

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Texas
10:35 am
Tue August 20, 2013

There's One Year Left in Obama's Deferred Action Immigration Program

Manuel Ramirez just received his DACA card. On the day President Obama approved DACA, Ramirez was traveling – an easy way to be detained and possibly deported. He says DACA has given him some peace of mind.
Joy Diaz, KUT News

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Austin
4:52 pm
Mon August 19, 2013

How Do Austin Property Taxes Compare Statewide?

Austin has a lower property tax rate than many other major cities - but that doesn't tell the whole story.
Travis County Appraisal District

Of the six largest cities in Texas, Austin is the one with the lowest property tax rate. But does that tell the whole story?

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Environment
3:38 pm
Tue August 13, 2013

How You Can Help Draw the Blueprint for Austin's Urban Forest

A healthy tree at Brentwood Park. With city help, several ailing trees there were returned to health.
Natalie Krebs for KUT News

The City of Austin is drafting its first comprehensive Urban Forest Plan.

The city hopes to work with Austinites to pinpoint areas of problem tree conditions and to look at possible solutions to transform the drought-stricken city into a truly green one.

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Police
3:43 pm
Fri August 9, 2013

Is Austin's Police Monitor Keeping a Close Enough Eye on the Cops?

The Austin Police Monitor's powers are prescribed in law - and the Austin Police Depatment's contract with the city.
Nasha Lee for KUT News

Every time an Austin police officer shoots their weapon, it triggers a series of investigations.

This year there have been three fatal APD shootings. The latest, July 26, when Police Det. Charles Kleinert shot Larry Jackson Jr.

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Transportation
3:05 pm
Fri August 2, 2013

A Deeper Look at Austin Plans to Bury I-35

Architect Sinclair Black’s “cut and cap” plan places access roads directly over the capped portion of I-35, freeing up more developable space.
Reconnect Austin

Austin traffic can be awful. And Austin drivers know that a great part of that congestion comes from stop-and-go traffic on Interstate 35.

Big problems demand big solutions – and the "cut and cap" proposal to bury I-35 is gaining momentum. The plan, developed by Austin architect Sinclair Black would “cut” I-35 from Cesar Chavez to 12th Street. Those lanes would then be built underground, and “capped” by something. The Austin City Council OK’d a closer look at the plan back in June.

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Austin
3:47 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

How Much Might It Cost to Draw Austin's City Council District Maps?

Wells Dunbar/KUT News

Austin is in the preliminary stages of drawing the city’s first geographic city council districts. Although a volunteer-staffed redistricting commission will do the bulk of the work, the process will still cost money. Some cities, like San Diego, have gone through the process. It may help to peek at that city's expenses as an exercise that may give us a rough estimate of what Austin's final redistricting tab might be.

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Geographic Representation
12:17 pm
Thu July 25, 2013

Now Hiring: Austin's Citizens Redistricting Commission

The job listing for Executive Director of Austin's redistricting commission. The group is expected to make additional hires as well.
tsae.org

When Austinites voted last fall to create the independent commission that will draw the city’s new geographic City Council districts, 14 citizens from all walks of life were chosen to be part of this commission.

The understanding was that average Austinites would lead the process. But it turns out the commission may hire an entire staff to give them a hand.

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Sports
10:58 am
Mon July 22, 2013

Meet the Austin Athlete Competing in the World Dwarf Games

Sam Bremen's strongest sport is soccer, but he’ll be competing in several other sports at the World Dwarf Games.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

This August, the World Dwarf Games celebrates its 20th anniversary. Every four years, athletes from around the world compete for international recognition at the games.

Sam Bremen is representing Austin.

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Texas
12:39 pm
Fri July 19, 2013

While Texas Restricts Abortions, Mexico Braces for a Boom

Women and girls cross the U.S. border into Nuevo Laredo, Mexico every day trying to put an end to their pregnancies. The one room clinic of Dr. Celia Gomez is one of the first clinics people find right across the border checkpoint.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

This week, Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed a law banning abortions after 20 weeks.

It also increases requirements for clinics and doctors that provide abortions. Clinics have a little over a year to upgrade to ambulatory surgical centers. Several clinics are expected to close, leaving women in poor and rural areas the most affected.

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Austin
1:51 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

Austin's Million-Dollar Plan to Restore Rundberg Underway

Austin Police are hosting a meeting tonight to discuss the Restore Rundberg project with the public.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Rundberg Lane is one of Austin’s  highest-crime areas.

From 2007 to 2011, the Rundberg area accounted for 11 percent of violent crime, which includes murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.

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Austin
5:05 am
Thu July 4, 2013

Channel Austin Celebrates Four Decades of Public Access TV

From a group of longhairs to a local institution, Channel Austin has lasted 40 years and counting.
courtesy Channel Austin

It’s been 40 years now for Channel Austin, the city’s only nonprofit that runs an independent television channel. And like people turning the big 4-0, Channel Austin is reflecting on its past and looking to the future.

Over the years, Channel Austin has had its brushes with fame.

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Texas
6:38 pm
Tue July 2, 2013

Travis County Looks at Funding Options for Public Integrity Unit

After the governor's announcement to de-fund the Public Integrity Unit in Travis County — an investigative unit with cases across the state. County Commissioners discussed future funding options at their meeting today.
Image by Matt Largey for KUT News

The future of the Public Integrity Unit - an arm of the Travis County's District Attorney's Office with about 600 statewide fraud cases open that was recently defunded by Gov. Rick Perry - is anything but certain. 

Today, the Travis County Commissioners Court  looked at some alternatives to fund the office, which could shutter its doors on Sept. 30 and leave 31 employees jobless. 

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