Matt Largey

Managing 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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Photo by Erika Aguilar and Matt Largey for KUT

Austin City Council Member Randi Shade has filed another ethics complaint against challenger Kathie Tovo.

It’s the second complaint based on an email sent by a Tovo supporter.  The Shade campaign says the email should have contained a disclaimer announcing it was from Tovo’s campaign. The city’s ethics commission tossed out a similar complaint last week, saying it did not have jurisdiction over the matter.

In the new complaint, Shade says the value of the address list the email were sent to exceeded the maximum contribution allowed under city ordinance.

Photo courtesy the Texas Tribune

Governor Rick Perry signed held a formal signing ceremony today for the state’s so-called “sonogram bill. ” It requires women seeking an abortion to undergo a sonogram before terminating their pregnancy. Doctors will have to make an image of the fetus and the sound of its heartbeat available.

Houston Republican, Senator Dan Patrick, says if this new procedure changes the mind of 20% of women who go in for an abortion, it would mean 10,000 - 15,000 additional births in Texas each year.

The law goes into effect September 1st.

Photo by KUT

The Texas House has given its approval to a bill that formalizes landowner’s full ownership of groundwater below their land.

Property rights advocates had pushed for the bill, which allows landowners to pump and sell groundwater, though the state would still be able to impose some restrictions.

Texas is one of the few states that still gives landowners control over the water underneath their property.

Photo courtesy of US Senator Christopher Coons on Flickr

Doctors at Seton Medical Center in Austin say they expect to discharge Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad today.

Fayyad was hospitalized Sunday, after complaining of chest pains. He was in Austin to attend his son’s graduation at UT-Austin.

Photo by KUT News

The Austin ISD Board of Trustees has approved a timeline for finishing the district’s controversial Facility Master Plan. At a meeting Monday night, the board okayed the timeline set out by Superintendent Meria Carstarphen. 

A report presented to the board in March by a citizens’ task force suggested closing as many as nine schools.

Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT.

Governor Perry and President Obama aren't meeting during Obama's visit to Texas today. And, perhaps not surprisingly, each side is blaming the other. 

The White House says Perry refused to meet the President in El Paso earlier today.

The Associated Press reports Perry's office said Obama declined an invitation to tour areas of the state scorched by wildfire or to meet in Austin. 

Photo courtesy the Texas Forest Service

APD Officer Shoots and Kills Armed Suspect

One man was killed by an Austin police officer early this morning in Southeast Austin.  About 1:00, police responded to a "shots fired" call in an apartment complex on Burton Drive, near East Oltorf Street.

"The suspect's a male Hispanic, about—approximately 29 years of age.  And what occurred in this incident is he was trying to gain entry by shooting into—at a apartment door, trying to get into a house where his ex-girlfriend resided," said Police Chief Art Acevedo.

Photo by Liang Shi/KUT News

The Austin City Council got its first look at budget projections for the next fiscal year today.

Budget managers told council members that falling property values and sales tax collections mean revenue is not keeping up with the cost of maintaining city services at current levels. The projections showed homeowners could face higher property taxes next year.

Smoke from the Oak Hill brush fire can be seen from the highway. Photo by KUT's Crystal Chavez.

8:30 p.m.  Austin Homeland Security and Emergency Management have updated the list of areas that will remain evacuated overnightHere is a map of the affected area.  Austin Community College says classes will run on normal schedule at the Pinnacle campus, located near the area of today's brush fire.

Photo courtesy the Texas Forest Service.

Wildfire Danger at Historic Highs Today

State officials are warning of extreme wildfire danger across much of the western half of Texas today, as hot, dry, windy conditions couple with low humidity. 

The Texas Forest Service was fighting several wildfires yesterday, but was bracing for more, reported the Associated Press.

Photo courtesy the Texas Forest Service

Officials are sending more resources to help battle a massive wildfire in West Texas that's already burned about 50,000 acres.

Photo courtesy of Andres Rueda/via Flickr

Lawyers for two condemned Texas prisoners are asking the U.S. Justice Department to investigate how the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has obtained drugs used in executions.

Their argument hinges on what sounds like a technicality: the address used to register the state's drug supply.

Photo by KUT News

A bill up for consideration in the Texas Legislature this session would mandate some retail outlets across the state to establish recycling programs for the plastic bags they hand out to customers.

Senate Bill 908, authored by Senator Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay), would require larger retail stores to offer bag recycling. It would not apply to Mom and Pop operations, but is aimed at stores like Wal-Mart and H-E-B.

Photo via Flickr user Andres Rueda.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials announced today that it will change one of the drugs in the three-drug cocktail used in executions in the state.

The drug sodium thiopental has been in short supply ever since the only U.S. manufacturers of the drug stopped production.

Image via Media Tools, courtesy Google, DigitalGlobe, GeoEye

 

Japan Death Toll Soars

Photo by Caleb Bryant Miller for KUT News.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a Texas death row inmate who is seeking to have DNA evidence in his murder case tested.  The court's decision means Hank Skinner won't be executed any time soon.

At issue in the case was not whether the DNA should be tested, but rather what procedures can be used in asking a court to order the testing.  Skinner's lawyers argued their client has a right to pursue a civil rights claim for the testing.

The decision reverses an appeals court ruling, and sending the case back to district court in Amarillo.

Photo by Callie Hernandez/KUT.

The Austin Bulldog, a non-profit investigative website, has filed a lawsuit against the City of Austin and members of the City Council, alleging they did not disclose records in compliance with the Texas Public Information Act.

Photo by KUT.

Officials at Austin's Town Lake Animal Center have announced they've surpassed a 90% live outcome rate for the first time last month.  February saw 92% of animals that entered the shelter leave alive.

The milestone means the shelter is now officially "no-kill", as defined by an implementation plan approved by city council almost one year ago.

In a memo to the city council today, interim animal services officer Filip Gecic said the shelter's rescue partners get a big share of the credit, although there were many factors that contributed to the shelter's success...

Courtesy the Texas Tribune.

TT/UT Poll: Texans Want Budget Cuts, But Unsure Where to Cut

A new poll from the Texas Tribune and the University of Texas finds that most Texas voters back spending cuts as a way to balance the state's budget in the next biennium. But voters are divided when it comes to identifying what specific programs they would cut.

From the Tribune's write-up:

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