Luke Quinton

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I'm a freelance writer for the Austin American Statesman and others. 

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Eli Reed/Magnum Photos

From Texas Standard:

Eli Reed's new book "A Long Walk Home" is the first career retrospective of his work.

Luke Quinton for KUT News

The Army announced recently that it plans to eliminate combat brigades at 12 military bases. That’s a total of 80,000 soldiers. The cutbacks come as communities are already dealing with government furloughs. But military towns are trying to keep the old boom and bust economy a thing of the past.

Fort Hood is like a city. When it became a base in the 1940s, it cleared out 1,200 farms. Now it’s home to more than 40,000 assigned soldiers and tens of thousands of civilian workers. The base brings $25 billion to the Texas economy each year.

Update: The Texas State Auditor has uncovered problems with the $462 million contract between the Texas Education Agency and the testing company, Pearson. The auditor released a report Tuesday. It found TEA doesn’t have a process or the training in place to monitor the contract.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

In the wake of last week and yesterday's rallies at the Capitol, the security detail under the dome has made some distinct changes to deal with large scale protests as the second special session begins.

The Supreme Court has overturned a portion of the Voting Rights Act. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott says this morning’s decision means a Texas voter ID law "will take effect immediately." Scroll down for updates. 

The high court struck down Section 4 of the act, which establishes a formula to identify portions of the county (primarily the South) where changes to elections must be approved by the Department of Justice. That was to ensure minority voting rights weren’t infringed upon.

From the court's opinion:

"Coverage today is based on decades-old data and eradicated practices. The formula captures States by reference to literacy tests and low voter registration and turnout in the 1960s and early 1970s. But such tests have been banned for over 40 years. And voter registration and turnout numbers in covered States have risen dramatically."

The court didn’t do away with Section 5 of the act – the portion that allows the Department of Justice to reject state laws it sees as discriminatory. Instead, the court says the new standards should be created, instead of the expanded coverage called for under Section 4.  

Rune Mathisen, Texas Tribune

When Gov. Rick Perry signed House Bill 5 this week, it signaled that the waves of complaints from parents opposed to high stakes testing, had caught hold. But one irony is that most people — even most journalists — still don’t know the actual  number of test students take.

Luke Quinton, KUT News

Is Austin's "brand" being diluted? 

The Austin Chamber of Commerce had a round-table discussion today that asked exactly that. The consensus was upbeat, but Jack McDonald, CEO of Silverback Enterprise Group, said a lack of affordable housing will be a more serious concern this decade ahead.

Courtesy Austin Food For Life

Austin's food scene is booming, but how are its workers faring?

The city has long had HAAM (Health Alliance for Austin Musicians) as a stopgap for musicians without health care. As Austin’s food scene rises to national prominence, Karla Loeb and her partner Brian Stubbs have seen a similar need for the city's chefs, busboys, servers and even farmers.

Daniel Reese


Last year’s Memorial Day weekend saw 191 car crashes, one death and 99 injuries, said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo. 

This year, APD, state police, and nearby counties are collaborating to counter hazardous driving, in an effort to make holiday weekends less destructive on Central Texas roads.


Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell says he’s considering a plan to lease out the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to help pay for future urban rail projects.

The list of airports that have successfully gone private is a short one.

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If the astounding explosion in West caught most Texans off-guard, it might be because they weren't aware that a chemical facility holding tremendous amounts of a deadly explosive fuel could operate within the confines of a town, incredibly close to homes and schools.


After predictions of a bumper crop, freezing temperatures hit Fredericksburg this week, forcing peach growers to use drastic measures to protect the fragile blooms.

Some lit hay bale fires and paid for helicopters to push warmer air down onto their crops.

@Cevola Flickr/

Fredericksburg peach trees are just starting to bloom, and growers in the Hill Country are cautiously optimistic about this year’s crop.

The cool weather early in the year that can lead to especially sweet peaches also can ruin them if there’s a cold snap too late in the season.

Luke Quinton/KUT News

How big is a satellite? Well, that depends. The University of Texas’s Satellite Design Lab just won a competition for its “cube satellite.” So just how small is a cube?

“The dimensions of the spacecraft are essentially the size of a loaf of bread,” said Katharine Brumbaugh, a Ph.D. student at the satellite lab. Her team’s cube satellite, Armadillo, just won a competition run by the Air Force, beating out nine other universities in the “cubesat” category. and

Update: Austin attorney Marc G. Rosenthal was convicted by a federal jury late last week. 

A statement from the Southern District of the U.S. Attorney's Office reads in part

After a four-week trial, jurors convicted Rosenthal of conspiring to bribe a state district judge, bribe witnesses in both state and federal court cases, file fraudulent personal injury cases in both state and federal courts, and deprive the citizens of Cameron County, Texas, of the right to honest services of an elected official.

Rosenthal's sentencing is scheduled in June. 

Original Post (1:49 p.m.): The ongoing saga of Marc G. Rosenthal continues winding its way down the rabbit hole. The Austin attorney, and former Mr. Texas bodybuilding champion, is currently on trial in Corpus Christi, accused of leading a conspiracy that turned trials in his favor.

KUT News

The automatic federal spending cuts set to take effect tomorrow could have a big impact on Texas. Specifically, cuts to army bases could cost the state’s economy nearly $2.5 billion.

For many people in Killeen, next to Fort Hood, the spending cuts are just abstract numbers. For Cheryl Eliano, president of the Fort Hood branch of the American Federation of Government Employees, they’re all too real.

Luke Quinton for KUT News

The funeral procession for ex-Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle drew hundreds to the Texas State Cemetery today. Crowds of spectators filled overpasses along the motorcade's procession route, from Midlothian, Texas to Austin, in order to offer their respects.

Howard Herring served in the Marine Corps in the sixties. Today was his first funeral service as a member of the Patriot Guard, a group of motorcycle riders who attend military funerals as guests of the family. Herring summed up the mood of many in attendance.

Photo by KUT News

The Pentagon says it will extend some benefits to same-sex domestic partners of military servicemembers. This comes a year and a half after the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy.

Outside the visitor’s center at Fort Hood, men and women in camouflage stream into the building, paperwork in hand. Paul Eagen, of nearby Copperas Cove, spent ten years working at Fort Hood.

Flickr user Images of Money,

State leaders routinely hail the "Texas Miracle" that's created one of the strongest economies in the country. 

Everyone mentions the growth and job opportunities across the Lone Star State, but a recent study by the Corporation for Enterprise Development shows that many Texans are striving on the edge of poverty.

Ben Philpott, KUT News

Governor Perry delivered his seventh State of the State speech to the Texas Legislature Tuesday. In it, he laid out his priorities for the session – from water to taxes transportation.  

KUT’s Emily Donahue checked in with PolitiFact Texas' Gardner Selby, whose team reckons Perry kept a little over half of his campaign promises.