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.  

Pages

Austin
11:26 am
Mon February 18, 2013

What Austin Businesses Are Doing With Their Leftover Plastic Bags

South Congress business owners plan on creating a "SoCo" bag to comply with the reusable bag ordinance.
flickr.com/heatheronhertravels

Story as it aired on KUT News 90.5 FM

In less than two weeks, Austin’s new reusable bag ordinance goes into effect.

Most Austin businesses, whether big or small, have until now bought plastic bags in bulk to save money. Big department stores and retailers can go through thousands of bags in a matter of days. But for smaller stores it can take months to use up inventory. So what will those businesses do with all those bags?

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Austin
5:07 am
Thu February 14, 2013

Can an Independent Crime Lab Ease Austin's Testing Backlog?

Austin's crime lab is running behind in testing. This week, police chief Art Acevedo was asked why.
City of Austin

The backlog in forensic DNA evidence in Austin is so serious that local judges and the Travis County district attorney called the mayor and City Council members to discuss the situation. Then they followed up with letters.

On Tuesday, the council agreed to fund three new jobs for forensic chemists. But the embarrassment prompted council member Laura Morrison to promote a new idea in dealing with the city’s forensic needs.

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Austin
7:45 am
Mon February 11, 2013

Businesses, Customers Get Ready for Austin's Bag Ordinance

So-called single-use plastic bags will no longer be available at most Austin stores beginning March 1.
courtesy flickr.com/adav

Story as it aired on KUT 90.5 FM

Austin’s Bag Ordinance goes into effect soon. Starting March 1, the majority of Austin businesses will stop providing single-use paper and plastic bags. That’s because the City of Austin has a goal of zero waste by the year 2040. This measure is among the first steps toward that goal. Businesses and customers alike are already making some adjustments.

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Austin
5:33 am
Fri February 8, 2013

Diversity Lacking Among Austin's District Commission Applicants

The next Austin City Council will be chosen by district.
Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

Austin’s city auditor is practically begging more people to apply to be on the board that will draw the first geographic districts for the City Council. So far, fewer than 100 have applied, and they are overwhelmingly white and male.

It’s not the kind of wide participation proponents of the charter amendment that created district representation had in mind. But it’s similar to what happened in San Diego, a city that was just redistricted in 2011.

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Austin
5:05 am
Thu February 7, 2013

Austin Energy May Get Independent Oversight Board

The City Council may relinquish direct control of the utility.
KUT News

A week from today the Austin City Council will consider whether to relinquish most of its governing power over Austin Energy and create an independent board to oversee the utility.

In anticipation of the council’s actions, State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, filed legislation Wednesday that would allow Austin council members to create the board without a public referendum. Such a change could mean changes for customers.

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Austin
11:10 am
Wed February 6, 2013

Listen: How Austin African-Americans Made History in 1967

Clarence McClure hold a picture of some of the original "lions" from Austin.
Credit Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. The proclamation was not enforced in Texas until June of 1865, two and a half years after the fact. The state’s history has a mixed record when it comes to change and racial equality. So it may be surprising to know that the capital city is home to the country’s first African American Lions Club, found

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Education
6:42 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

Judge: State's Education Funding System Unconstitutional

  • Story as it aired on KUT 90.5 FM

More than 600 school districts from across Texas are celebrating now that Judge John Dietz from the 250th District Court found the state’s school finance system was unconstitutional. Meanwhile, state attorneys are gearing up to appeal the ruling to the Texas Supreme Court.   

The lead attorney for the state in this case is Nichole Bunker-Henderson. She told the court, “It is true, as the plaintiffs have alleged, that we have all been asked to do more with less. State agencies cut nearly 10 percent of their budgets, and districts less than half of that. Our system did not collapse," she said. "It did not fall off the bridge. Perhaps the system became more efficient.”

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Austin
10:29 am
Mon February 4, 2013

While State Cemetery Prospers, Austin Resting Place in Disrepair

A graveyard angel keeps watch over Oakwood Cemetary in East Austin.
flickr.com/ericinsf

Story as it aired on KUT 90.5 FM

Cemeteries in many cities are considered important historical places, memorials to famous and influential people. Consider the Granary in Boston, Highgate in London, the Pere Lachaise in Paris.  But in Austin only one cemetery fits that category – and the State Cemetery is maintained by Texas. 

And the contrast between the state cemetery in Austin and the city owned ones - is breathtaking. 

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Austin
5:07 am
Fri February 1, 2013

Development Code Overhaul Won't Come Easy

The first draft of the new code will be finished in 2015.
Callie Hernandez, KUT News

Austin is completely rewriting its building, zoning and land use codes for the first time in almost 30 years. The Land Development Code has remained virtually untouched for so long, in part, because of its length and complexity.

Jackie Goodman is so familiar with the Land Development Code that the acronym LDC just rolls off her tongue. During her 12 years on the Austin City Council and even more on the Planning Commission, the LDC was Goodman’s go-to document. So she can explain what’s in it.

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Austin
5:13 am
Thu January 31, 2013

Austin Considers Allowing All-Night Access to Trails

The Pfluger Bridge near Lamar Street is a rare section of Austin urban trail open 24 hours.
Joy Diaz, KUT News

The Austin City Council could decide today whether to start a pilot program aimed at keeping some hike and bike trails open 24 hours a day.

The proposal by council member Chris Riley has little support from his peers because it comes with the hefty price tag: a little over $3 million a year for extra police patrols. But whether it goes forward or not, the program is making the city think about how it will patrol trails in the future.

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Austin City Council
10:51 am
Wed January 30, 2013

What Should Austin Do With a $14 Million Surplus?

An end-of-the-fiscal-year surplus has City Hall abuzz with possibilties.
Liang Shi for KUT News
  • Story as it aired on KUT 90.5 FM

A larger than expected surplus from fiscal year 2012, plus higher sales tax revenues has Austin City Council members discussing which projects should be funded.

That was the talk yesterday at a special mid-year budget session, and with more than $14 million on the table, the possibilities are near endless.  

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Austin
1:28 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

Meet The Man Looking to Make Austin a More Walkable City

An artist's rendering shows how one Dallas intersection could be revamped for walkability.
Walkable and Livable Communities Institute

Story as it aired on KUT 90.5 FM

During 2012 alone, 22 pedestrians were killed in Austin. As a means of transportation, or commuting to and from work, walking is tough. The city is too spread out, and outside the urban core, the transportation system doesn’t encourage walking. 

But some Austin officials want to change that. That’s why they invited a “walkability” expert to learn how some streets can be transformed into walkable spaces. 

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Special Coverage
10:37 am
Fri January 25, 2013

Entrevista en Español Jueza Sonia Sotomayor

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor was at Book People this week promoting
Credit Joy Diaz

La Jueza de la Suprema Corte de Justicia de los Estados Unidos, Sonia Sotomayor vino a Austin esta semana a promover su libro My Beloved World, (Mi Mundo Amado). En el libro, la señora Sotomayor invita a los lectores a conocerla de una manera muy íntima. A través de cada página, uno puede entender las circunstancias que forjaron su destino.

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Politics
5:00 am
Fri January 25, 2013

Group Says It Can Turn Texas Blue

A Democratic group says it can make Texas more blue than red.
Flickr user Fifi LePew, bit.ly/YqObEH

Texas Democrats have been fighting an uphill battle against Republicans for years. The state has been firmly red since 2002. But a new Washington-based group, Battleground Texas, wants to invest tens of millions of dollars to turn Texas blue.

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Arts and Culture
5:36 pm
Wed January 23, 2013

An Unlikely Supreme Court Justice

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will appear at BookPeople tonight.
Joy Diaz/KUT News

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is in Austin today promoting her new memoir My Beloved World, which gives readers an intimate look into the circumstances that shaped her character.

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Health
8:38 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

Smoking Ban Proposed For Patios - And Its Backers May Surprise You

A city official says the ban is aimed at protecting children.
courtesy flickr.com/lindseykone/

Fewer than 1 in 5 Austinites identifies as a smoker, according to the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department. And those who smoke are finding it harder to do so -- Austin bars, restaurants and parks ban smoking. Major employers like UT and Samsung prohibit smoking on their campuses.

Now there’s a push to ban smoking at bar and restaurant patios as well.

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Austin
5:35 am
Wed January 16, 2013

City to Reimburse Redistricting Volunteers - But How Much?

Council members say commute expenses of redistricing volunteers won't be covered - but trips into the community may.
flickr.com/amyashcraft

Story as it aired on KUT 90.5 FM

This summer, a group of 14 volunteers will begin the process of drawing new maps for Austin City Council districts.

The commission will work between six months and a year on those maps. And some of their expenses will be paid for by the city. Now, Austin City Council members are trying to hammer out what they think will be a “reasonable and necessary expense.”

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Transportation
5:07 am
Tue January 15, 2013

City Investigation Aims to Reduce Traffic Deaths

A council resolution looks to get to the bottom of a recent spike in traffic fatalities.
flickr.com/mirsasha

For almost 10 years, traffic deaths were relatively low in Austin. Then last year they spiked. Now two city council members want a study to look into why so many people died on Austin’s roads in 2012.

Austin City Council Member Laura Morrison is certain that population growth cannot be the reason for so many traffic deaths. At least, not the only reason.  “We got to figure out why,” Morrison says. “That spike and that increase is actually a trend that we are seeing nationwide. So, I suspect there’s something going on much more generally across the nation that our increase might be related to.”

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Business
5:22 am
Fri January 11, 2013

Documented or Not, Tax Time is Coming

Even undocumented immigrants can file tax returns.
KUT News

Contrary to what you may have heard, people in the country illegally can file a return. They use a special IRS-issued number called an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN). But new IRS rules effective this month mean some changes for people using ITINs.

In 2010, the latest available data from the IRS, nearly 18 million people paid their taxes with ITINs.

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Texas
5:05 am
Thu January 10, 2013

Border Tourism Still Hurting from Drug Violence

Border towns are seeing less tourism in the past few years.
KUT News staff

For years now, Mexico has been going through turbulent times. Violence between the drug cartels and the Mexican Army is a daily occurrence in some places. But the country’s new president, Enrique Peña Nieto, is set on repairing Mexico’s image and even restoring peace. That’s welcome news for border towns in Mexico -- and Texas.

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