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.

Ways to Connect

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.

Image courtesy Forty Two

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:

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. 

Updated at 4:45pm: Round Rock school officials say the school is still being searched.  The WilCo Sheriff's Office is giving them a tentative re-opening time of 7 pm.  As of now, the search has not yielded anything out of the ordinary.   RRISD officials say, as far as they can tell, school is still on at Deerpark and Live Oak as usual on Wednesday.

Updated at 2:45 pm: Bomb sniffing dogs are searching Deerpark Middle School and Live Oak Elementary School in Round Rock. Both schools were evacuated around noon due because of a bomb threat.

Veteran's Day Parade Austin
Photo by Matt Largey for KUT News.

Thousands of people marked Veteran’s Day with a parade this morning in downtown Austin.  Gabriel Galindo served two tours in Iraq.  He now supports other veterans through the Texas Veterans Commission.   Galindo says when veterans leave the service, they often don’t want to talk to someone who hasn’t been through what they’ve been through.

Photo by KUT

The City of Austin has announced the list of finalists for the Chief Animal Services Officer position that's been vacant since May.  The finalist chosen for the job will have authority over the city's shelter operations, and will oversee the move from Town Lake Animal Center to the city's new shelter in East Austin. 

The finalists will be in Austin on Monday, November 8th for interviews and a public meet-and-greet.  The city is wants feedback from the public.

From the City of Austin:

Travis County Criminal Justice Complex
Photo by Erik Reyna KUT

Jury Selection Begins Today in Delay Trial

Jury selection begins in an Austin courtroom today for the conspiracy trial of former House Leader Tom Delay.

Delay is charged with conspiring to launder $190,000 in corporate donations through campaign accounts in the midst of the 2002 elections.

His lawyers have argued that he won’t be able to get a fair trial in Austin, because of his role in the 2003 redistricting that cost some longtime Democratic state lawmakers their seats.