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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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 http://www.flickr.com/photos/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.

Image courtesy Forty Two http://www.flickr.com/photos/samxf42/

The Round Rock Independent School District says it is implementing a hiring freeze in anticipation of budget cuts in the upcoming Texas legislative session.

In a release today, Round Rock ISD Superintendent Dr. Jesús. H. Chávez said the district is reducing spending by at least five percent - or about $17 million - in preparation for the cuts in state education.

Image courtesy Kari Sullivan/Flickr

Austin Community College announced this afternoon that it has bought the 13-acre Macy's property at Highland Mall.

ACC is paying $5 million for the site and plans to renovate the retail space to potentially include classrooms, administrative offices and a conference center.

In a press release, ACC president/CEO Dr. Stephen Kinslow said the space would be used for future expansion:

Traffic
Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News.

Nationally, gas prices are hovering around $3 a gallon these days. It’s far off the record price of more than $4.10 in the summer of 2008. Remember those days? Well, what about $5 dollar, even $10 dollar a gallon for gas?

To understand the rest of this story, you need to get one concept: peak oil.

Photo courtesy Town Lake Animal Center

Austin City Manager Marc Ott has named Abigail Smith the sole finalist for the chief animal services officer position.  In a memo to the Mayor and City Council Members, Ott said the city received many positive comments about Smith -- who's currently the executive director of the Tompkins County SPCA in Ithaca, NY.

Moontower at night
Image courtesy Matthew Rutledge

Two historically significant moonlight towers, or moontowers, were removed to make way for the development of two downtown high-rise buildings, but both structures were completed months and neither moontower has been returned to its original location.

Defense Attorney Dick DeGuerin
Photo by Matt Largey/KUT News

Judge Pat Priest is warning lawyers they may be working late tonight. As of now, the jury has not come back with a verdict on the third day of deliberations. Priest says alternatives--including the possibility of having the jury deliberate on Thanksgiving--are worse than putting in some overtime today.

The jury earlier requested copies of several interviews DeLay did with news organizations, and with former DA Ronnie Earle.

Travis County Assistant District Attorney Gary Cobb
Photo by Matt Largey/KUT News

Updated at 11:50am: Jurors have asked yet another question, this time about the language of the conspiracy charge against Tom DeLay.  Jurors wanted to know if DeLay had to agree to both parts of the alleged conspiracy -- both sending corporate money to the Republican National Committee and sending an equal amount of money back to Texas legislative candidates -- to be found guilty of conspiracy. 

Updated at 4:45pm: The jury has told Judge Pat Priest they are making headway in their deliberations, but they want to go home for the day.  Lawyers on both sides are not objecting.  Deliberations will resume tomorrow.

Updated at 2:10pm: The jury in the Tom DeLay trial is still deliberating after a break for lunch.  When they came back from the break, they submitted a long list of evidence they want to see in the jury room. 

Photo by Matt Largey for KUT News.

Updated at 5:35pm: After the jury asked several questions of the judge during their deliberations, Judge Pat Priest says he will send jurors home for the night, without weighing in on one of their questions.  Deliberations will resume in the morning.

Updated at 1:43 pm: Closing arguments have finished the case has been handed to the jury.

Earlier: Lawyers in the  trial of former U.S. House majority leader Tom DeLay are finishing their closing arguments today. 

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