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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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:

Image by KUT News

Officials with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas continue to identify more power plants that went offline during the power emergency that struck the state two weeks ago. Normally, details on plant failures would be confidential for 60 days, because of market rules set up by the Public Utility Commission of Texas.  But ERCOT has asked power generators to agree to a waiver of that period. 

Courtesy the Office of Congressman Michael McCaul

Austin Congressman Michael McCaul (R-Austin) expressed support for democratic reforms, saying a stable Egypt is good for American interests.  McCaul sits on the House Foreign Affairs committee. He said the U.S. should provide a supporting role for bringing "free and fair elections".  But he cautioned that the U.S. cannot take too big a role.

Photo by Flickr user Al Jazeera English

Reaction to the end of President Hosni Mubarak's rule in Egypt is pouring in from around the world.

Here in Austin, Austin Community College associate professor Roy Casagranda - who's half Egyptian - heard the news on BBC Radio this morning.  He says at first, he didn't have the kind of elation that Egyptian protesters probably did when they heard, because he knew there was much more to do.

Photo courtesy of Miranda Martin/via Flickr

The state's electric grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), says it's expecting to set a winter record for power demand Thursday morning between 7 and 8 a.m. ERCOT is asking people to conserve power to help minimize the risk of rolling blackouts like the ones that swept across Texas last week.

Courtesy UT-Austin.

University of Texas at Austin President William Powers has been hospitalized.  University officials say Powers was admitted today for treatment of a blockage in an artery leading to his lungs.  The pulmonary embolism was found during a medical exam this morning. 

"They just want to keep him in the hospital for three days, and just monitor it and make sure it goes away.  And he's doing fine," said Nancy Brazzil, a deputy to the President.

Powers was scheduled to speak to a legislative committee tomorrow morning about higher education and the state budget.

Photo by Nasha Lee/KUT.

It's been reported that last week's rolling blackouts that left parts of the state in the dark for 15 minutes or more--in some cases, a lot more)--made for sky-high wholesale electric prices.

Photo by Matt Largey/KUT.

Hundreds of people flocked to Murchison Middle School this morning for the chance to sled on fresh powder.  Cardboard boxes, Tupperware tops and even a Big Wheels tricycle with cardboard duct taped to the wheels passed for sleds.

Meantime, in Butler Park near the Palmer Events Center...

Photo by KUT.

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is seeing some flight delays and cancelations in the midst of the arctic weather impacting much of the U.S.  Several flights have been delayed up to several hours, and at least a few departing flights have been canceled. 

Remember to call your airline or check your flights online before you head to the airport.

Photo by Conspirator

Students at Westwood High School in Round Rock have been let out early today, due to the frequency of power outages. 

In a statement, the district said most schools are experiencing some kind of outages, but they were particularly bad at Westwood.

The pattern has been consistent through the morning and in the best interest of the students, the district chose to do an release early. Regular bus services will be made available to students, however; if students wish to remain on campus they may do so since all staff will remain until the end of the day.

Image by Matt Largey for KUT News

Former US House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was sentenced to three years in prison for money laundering and conspiracy.

DeLay was sentenced by senior judge Pat Priest to three years for the conspiracy conviction and five years for money laundering. The five years sentence was probated. That means DeLay would serve ten year probation instead.

DeLay is being booked right now at the Travis County jail, but will be released on $20,000 bond pending appeal.

Earlier details.

Update at 12:15 pmBoth sides have rested in the sentencing phase of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's trial.  DeLay himself is expected to address the court when it reconvenes at 1:15 pm.

The defense only called one character witness: former US House Speaker Dennis Hastert. He testified about DeLay's political motivations and values.  Under questioning from assistant District Attorney Gary Cobb, Hastert said DeLay had not expressed remorse for the crimes he was convicted of in November.