Joy Diaz

City reporter

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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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Geographic Representation
6:01 am
Wed January 9, 2013

How Many People Are Barred From Serving on Austin's Redistricting Commission?

The scene at Lee Leffingwell's election watch party last May. Conflict of interest standards in Prop 3 will exclude many politically-involved Austinites.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

In recent years, only two cities – San Diego and Minneapolis – have gone through the process Austin is initiating: drawing geographic city council districts that reflect the city's diversity.

Now Austin is giving it a try, beginning the process of assembling an independent citizens redistricting commission. The search is on for a diverse group of Austinites that will make up the commission.

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Geographic Representation
12:55 pm
Tue January 8, 2013

Will Tax Time Hurt the City’s Hunt for Redistricting Volunteers?

As accountants' busiest time of year approaches - tax season - the city is looking for CPAs to get Austin's redistricting process going.
flickr.com/kozumel

Audio story as it aired on KUT 90.5 FM

Starting next week, citizens can apply to serve on the independent redistricting commission that will draw Austin's 10 city council districts. 

Commission applicants will be sorted through by a group of three certified public accountants. They will be in charge of getting the redistricting commission going by creating a pool of the 60 most qualified applicants. Out of those candidates, a group of 14 will ultimately draw Austin's first district maps. (Click here for an overview of the redistricting process.)

But the timing is a little crazy, because W-2 forms are in the mail as we speak. And right about now is the kick-off of the busiest time of the year for CPAs:  tax season. But Austin needs CPAs to apply as volunteers now, in order to kick off the entire district-drawing process. 

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