Matt Largey

News Editor

Matt has been a reporter at KUT off and on since 2006.  He came to Austin from Boston, then went back for a while--but couldn't stand to be away--so he came back to Austin.  Matt grew up in Maine (but hates lobster), and while it might sound hard to believe, he thinks Maine and Texas are remarkably similar.

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Texas
1:04 pm
Mon September 26, 2011

If Government Shuts Down, So Does FEMA Aid in Bastrop

At the height of the wildfires that left around 34,000 acres scorched, smoke billows behind an American Flag.
Photo by Lizzie Chen for KUT News.

The current budget standoff in D.C. has some serious implications for disaster relief efforts here  in Central Texas. As lawmakers scramble to find a short term fix, one thing is becoming clear:  If FEMA doesn't receive new funding, aid work will cease.

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Central Texas Wildfires
2:54 pm
Thu September 22, 2011

Federal Disaster Aid Now Available for Bastrop County

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says funding is now available for governments and non-profits responding to the Bastrop fire.
Photo by Jeff Heimsath/KUT News

The Federal Emergency Management Agency today announced direct assistance has been approved for clean up of the Bastrop County Complex Fire.

The state and local governments, along with eligible non-profit organizations, can apply for reimbursement of costs incurred from the fire. 

From FEMA:

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Texas
4:19 pm
Tue September 20, 2011

U.S. Supreme Court Stays Cleve Foster Execution

Cleve Foster was scheduled to be executed tonight for the rape and murder of a Fort Worth woman in 2002.
Photo by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice

For the second time in a week, the U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily stayed an execution in Texas.

Cleve Foster, a former Army recruiter, was scheduled to die this evening for the 2002 rape and murder of 28 year-old Nyanuer Pal, of Fort Worth. Foster's co-defendant died in prison last year.

This is the third time the high court has halted Foster's execution. Lawyers have argued he received ineffective counsel during his trial and earlier appeals.

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Politics
4:16 pm
Mon September 19, 2011

Tea Party Targets Perry On "Sanctuary Cities"

Texas Tea Party activists are trying to pressure Governor Perry to toughen his stance on illegal immigration. At a press conference today inside the State Capitol, several groups issued an open letter Rick Perry, demanding he call a special legislative session to pass a ban on so-called “sanctuary cities.”

The bill explicitly prohibits local police agencies from telling officers they can’t check the immigration status of a suspect. Supporters of the legislation sense a new vulnerability in Perry, who is now seeking the Republican presidential nomination.

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Wildfires
12:09 pm
Wed September 7, 2011

Video of Texas Wildfires From Space

The crew of the International Space Station got a bird's eye view of the wildfires burning in Texas. 

From 220 miles above the Earth, the crew captured this video clearly showing the smoke plumes emanating from several of the fires.

"It is a sad sight with all the fires burning in Texas right now. See one major one, and three smaller ones," said flight engineer Mike Fossum.

Breaking
6:30 pm
Sun September 4, 2011

Bastrop Fire Forces Hundreds to Evacuate

Smoke can be seen for miles as fire sweeps through Bastrop County. Photo by Matt Largey for KUT News.

12:00 a.m. UPDATE: More from KUT's Matt Largey at Bastrop Middle School:

"The folks sitting here, looking around, they look like they're kind of in shock. Obviously this is a difficult situation for them. They look exactly as you'd expect somebody to look like, who's just had to flee their home because of a wildfire."

Bastrop Middle School is one of several shelters set up for Bastrop County residents who've been forced to evacuate.

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Environment
3:57 pm
Mon August 22, 2011

Lawmaker Asks LCRA To Suspend Lake Releases

The high water mark under a bridge near a Lower Colorado River Authority pump house that transfers water from the Colorado River to irrigation canals that supply water to the rice fields around Bay City, Texas Friday, June, 10, 2011.
Photo by Michael Stravato/The Texas Tribune

Citing falling lake levels amid the driest nine-month period in state history, the chair of the Texas Senate's Natural Resources Committee is calling on the Lower Colorado River Authority to take emergency actions that would suspend the release of water from the Highland Lakes for interruptible customers downstream.

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Health
4:26 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Study: Romantic Sexual Relationships Deter Teen Delinquency

Photo by Flickr user ElenahNeshcuet

A new study co-authored by a University of Texas at Austin psychologist finds sexually active teenagers in romantic relationships are less likely to exhibit anti-social behavior than their peers who have casual sex.

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Austin
2:28 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

City Budget Could See More Money From Austin Energy, Higher Tax Rate

Photo by Liang Shi/KUT News

Austin City Council got some surprises at a budget meeting today, both pleasant ones for the city’s fiscal outlook.

City budget officers told the Council it underestimated how high the city’s property tax rate could be under the rollback rate. That means the city will be able to raise taxes higher then once believed without having to get voter approval.

If City Council chooses to raise property taxes to the new rollback rate, it would generate an additional $1.6 million in revenue.

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Texas
12:26 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Report: Texas Crop Losses At $5.2 Billion

The drought has taken its toll on a Burleson County pasture.
Photo by Blair Fannin/Texas AgriLife Extension Service

State agriculture officials say farmers and ranchers in Texas have suffered $5.2 billion in losses since last November, due to the current drought.

That tops the previous record for agriculture losses set back in 2006.

The losses cut across most of the state's crops, including cotton, corn, wheat, sorghum and hay.

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Energy
2:22 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

ERCOT Bringing Old Power Plants Back Online

Photo by Daniel Reese/KUT News

The quasi-state agency that operates the Texas electric grid is reviving several old power plants to help avoid more power emergencies amid continued triple-digit temperatures. 

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas nearly ran short of power on four days in one week earlier this month. It was forced to declare power emergencies those days, and on one occasion took some industrial customers offline temporarily to avoid the need for rolling blackouts.

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2012 Presidential Election
4:58 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

Colbert to Iowa Republicans: Write In 'Rick Parry'

TV satirist Stephen Colbert's political action committee is out with it's first ad, taking aim at Governor Rick Perry, ahead of this weekend's Iowa Straw Poll.

In the video, Colbert's "super" PAC, which can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money supporting or opposing a candidate, urges Iowa Republicans to write in the name "Rick Parry" on their straw poll ballots.

"That's Parry with an 'A' for America. With an 'A' for Iowa," the ad says.

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News Brief
7:47 am
Mon July 25, 2011

Top Morning Stories Monday, July 25, 2011

Warren Jeffs faces sexual assault charges in San Angelo. Jury selection in the high-profile case begins today.
Photo courtesy Reagan County Sherriff's Department

Warren Jeffs Trial seeking Jurors

Jury selection starts in San Angelo today in the sexual assault trial of polygamist religious leader Warren Jeffs. Jury selection in the high profile case is expected to be difficult, since few people in the town are unfamiliar with the case. If convicted, Jeffs faces a maximum sentence of life in prison for sexual assault of one child and aggravated sexual assault of another. He will face bigamy charges in a separate case in October.

Leffingwell to Announce Possible Ban on Plastic Bags

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Top Stories
4:11 pm
Sun July 24, 2011

Top Stories for Sunday July 24, 2011

The Chester W. Ditto Golf Course in Arlington, Texas, recently began using reclaimed water from Fort Worth's wastewater treatment plant.
Photo by Djakhangir Zakhidov for the Texas Tribune

President Perry and the EPA

The Statesman has a piece today about how a President Rick Perry might affect the Environmental Protection Agency. Perry has been highly critical of the EPA in his time as governor, pushing back on the agencies efforts to bring Texas' environmental regulations under tighter control. The Statesman's Asher Price writes that Perry has used the EPA as an example of what he sees as federal intrusion.  

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Transportation
5:01 pm
Wed July 6, 2011

Deal Struck On Mexican Trucks In U.S.

Photo by Flickr user pantagrapher

U.S. and Mexican authorities today signed an agreement that will allow trucks from both countries to carry goods far beyond the border separating the two.

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Texas
2:54 pm
Tue July 5, 2011

State Board Declines to Stop Execution of Mexican National

Photo of Humberto Leal, courtesy the Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Updated 4:40 pm: The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles has voted to deny a request for reprieve from death row inmate Humberto Leal.

From the AP:

The panel voted 4-1 Tuesday to deny a reprieve request for 38-year-old Humberto. The same board refused by a 5-0 vote to commute Leal's death sentence to life in prison.

Leal's attorney issued a statement on the denial this afternoon. 

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles’ recommendation against a reprieve for Humberto Leal ignores the views of the U.S. government and Solicitor General, former diplomats, military leaders, judges and prosecutors, and organizations representing Americans abroad who believe that Mr. Leal’s execution would threaten the safety of Americans overseas and undermine the international interests of the United States. 

Earlier: State lawyers are asking the U.S. Supreme Court not to stop the execution of Mexican national Humberto Leal. The 38-year-old is scheduled to be killed on Thursday in Huntsville for the rape and murder of a 16-year-old San Antonio girl in 1994.

As KUT reported last week, Leal’s lawyers are appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court on the basis that Leal’s execution would violate an international treaty.

That’s because Leal was not made aware of his right to contact the Mexican consulate when he was arrested, a right guaranteed by the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. His lawyers argue he may never have been convicted, or sentenced to death, if he had access to legal help.

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Business
11:59 am
Tue July 5, 2011

Last Shuttle Mission Means Fewer Space Jobs

Photo by Matt Largey/KUT News

The Space Shuttle Atlantis will lift off Friday - the last shuttle mission for NASA.

Contractors who work on the shuttle program have been getting pink slips for the past year and a half, as the program winds down. But thousands more in Florida, Alabama and Texas will be out of a job after the final mission. 

USA Today reports on how Florida's Space Coast economy will be impacted by the end of the program.

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Austin
6:28 pm
Tue June 28, 2011

W Hotel To Shut Down Temporarily, Replace Glass Panels

The W Hotel and Residences in downtown Austin, where glass panels on the exterior of the building have shattered and fallen from the building three times in as many weeks.
Photo by Matt Largey for KUT News

Updated 10:20pm: The developer of the W Hotel in downtown Austin says the hotel will close temporarily, and all the glass panels on the building's exterior balconies will be replaced. 

That's after more panels shattered and fell from the building Tuesday.

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Top Stories
9:12 am
Mon June 27, 2011

Top Morning Stories for June 27, 2011

Photo by KUT News

Cap Metro Board Nears Bus Operation Vote

The board of directors of the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority will vote today on whether to abolish StarTran, the subsidiary company it formed in 1991 to manage its bus driver and maintenance crews.

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Top Stories
9:07 am
Mon June 20, 2011

Top Morning Stories June 20, 2011

Photo by Nathan Bernier/KUT News

AISD Makes Gains On TAKS

More than 80 percent of students in the Austin Independent School District passed the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test, according to district data released to the Statesman. The district's board of trustees is expected to receive the data at  its meeting tonight. 

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