Mose Buchele

Senior Reporter, StateImpact Texas

Mose Buchele is the Austin-based broadcast reporter for KUT's NPR partnership StateImpact Texas . He has been on staff at KUT 90.5  since 2009, covering local and state issues.  Mose has also worked as a blogger on politics and an education reporter at his hometown paper in Western Massachusetts. He holds masters degrees in Latin American Studies and Journalism from UT Austin.

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The Texas Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that the state can continue to charge the so-called "pole tax," a $5 per patron tax at strip clubs. 

A lower court had ruled that the tax violated the constitutional right to free speech. But in an opinion issued August 25, the Supreme Court said the tax did not present a burden on speech.

Delivering the opinion Justice Nathan L. Hecht wrote:

Texans are being asked to conserve electricity as the The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) saw its operating reserves dropped below 2,300 megawatts due to the extreme heat.

“We are asking Texas residents and businesses to reduce their electricity use until 7 p.m. today,” ERCOT vice president Kent Saathoff said in a press release.  “We don’t expect to need additional steps in the emergency procedures today unless we lose a significant amount of generation over the peak period.”

Later, in a conference call with reporters, Saathoff suggested that students returning to school this week might have contributed to an increase in power consumption as districts turned on lights and turned down A/C systems.

Tensions were high at Travis County Commissioners Court on Tuesday as the court voted on a new precinct map that left some commissioners accusing others of gerrymandering and behind the scenes negotiations.

Photo by KUT News.

The first ten movies confirmed for the 2011 Austin film festival were made public Tuesday.

The offerings run the gamut from thrillers, to comedies, to documentaries. They include big names like Glenn Close (in the cross-dressing period piece "Albert Nobbs") and Antonio Banderas (in the animated feature "Puss in Boots")  as well as local-boys-made-good the Duplass brothers,  the writer/directors of "Jeff Who Lives at Home."

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.


Austin Energy has posted a message on twitter that: "Power fully restored at 7:50 pm to all customers affected by Airport Blvd/Springdale/E. 12th St area outage."


With the temperature at over 104 degrees residents of East Austin lost power Tuesday evening. Reports began coming in a little before 6:00 PM of a power outage centered in the Rosewood neighborhood between East Martin Luther King Boulevard and East Seventh Street

Photo from Austin Energy. Map enhanced by Torrie Hardcastle for KUT News

Update: Austin Energy has released an updated version of this map. You can find it and an explanation here.

Earlier: Texas is currently in Energy Emergency Alert Level 2 as the electricity grid struggles to power air conditioning amid sweltering temperatures. Level 3 would require energy companies like Austin Energy to begin rolling blackouts like those we experienced if February.

After the energy crisis this winter, Austin Energy General Manager Larry Weis gave a presentation on the power emergency. The presentation included a map delineating areas of the city connected to so-called "load shed" circuits. These are the circuits that are the first to get turned off in the event of rolling blackouts.

The closure of the Central Unit in Sugarland leaves its mark as the first Texas prison to be shuttered in the history of the state. But it also leaves its mark on musical history. In his story in the Austin American Stateman, Mike Ward reveals how the 102 year old facility is said to be the inspiration for the Leadbelly classic "midnight special."


The Electric Reliability Council of Texas is asking Texans to conserve electricity from 3 to 7 PM today, as hot weather and higher-than-average energy use strain the state's electric grid.

"[Electric] capacity is expected to be very tight over the peak today, and ERCOT operators are closely monitoring the situation," ERCOT said in a media release.

Forecast for peak demand today is more than 68,684 megawatts. Texas hit an all-time record  yesterday when electric use exceeded 67,929 megawatts. 

Photo by Jessie Wang for KUT News.

Remember when the city asked Austinites if they wanted to pay for downtown parking on nights and weekends? Most people asked said "no," then the city went ahead and extended downtown metered parking hours anyway?

It turns out, that vote was not the end to the downtown parking debate.

This Thursday's  City Council meeting could bring final votes on some long-debated changes to Austin policy, even as it re-ignites debate on other issues that seemed settled just a few months ago (I'm looking at you, downtown metered parking).

Photo by Full Throttle Productions

The lawsuit against Texas State Comptroller Susan Combs over a deal to subsidize an F1 racetrack was officially dropped today.  That was not a surprise to plaintiffs, who said a decision by District Court Judge Rhonda Hurley the week before left them with no way to move forward.

Photo courtesy of Antonia Warren with Casa de Espana Austin.

The Spanish national team arrived in Austin Monday to compete in the Davis Cup quarterfinals at the Frank Erwin Center.  The international competition stretches through the year as different countries compete in different venues across the globe.  The contest here in Austin will leave one national team advancing to the semifinals while the other team returns home (or stays home, as the case may be) in defeat.

Photo courtesy of the Austin Fire Department


President Obama has declared 45 Texas counties to be federally recognized disaster areas, following the wildfires that scorched millions of acres of land from April 6 to May 3, 2011. The president had previously denied the declaration, angering Texas Governor Rick Perry, who criticized the decision.

The declaration means that the counties can now avail themselves of federal aid.

The declaration comes as Texans endure a continuing drought and brace for the possibility of more fires from outdoor cooking and fireworks this 4th of July weekend.

Pepper Vs. Pepper

Jul 1, 2011
Photo by Mose Buchele for KUT News.

The Doctor is in.... court.

If you're a fan of "Dublin Dr. Pepper," that variety of the soda made from pure cane sugar, you may want to stock up. Dr. Pepper Snapple Group Inc. is suing the Dr Pepper Bottling Co. of Dublin, Texas for breaking the terms of their contract.

Photo by Nasha Lee / KUT News

Lake Austin may be closed to boats and other water vehicles on July4th, but the City of Austin wants people to know that when it comes to "splash pads," it's got you covered.

Bartholomew Splash Pad is back in operation after repairs, and the Liz Carpenter fountain in Butler Park will be open on July 4th. That splash pad is normally closed on Mondays for maintenance.

Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT news.

Most of the lanes closed around the W Hotel have been reopened.  The streets were shut down due to safety concerns after glass started falling from hotel balconies.   

The falling glass not only snarled traffic around the hotel and forced the closure of the W itself, for a day or two it turned the building into a site for local curiosity seekers. (OK, it was no Congress Street "Bat Bridge," but the "W" can probably count itself as the most photographed Downtown Austin building of the summer).

Photo by Bob Daemmrich for the Texas Tribune.

The Texas Supreme Court ruled Friday that Texas Governor Rick Perry's travel plans and itineraries can be kept secret, overturning the rulings of two lower courts. The original case centered on whether DPS travel vouchers, normally subject to open records requests, should be made public in the case of the Governor's trips, reports the Houston Chronicle.

Photo by Erik Reyna for KUT News.

Special Session Nearing an End

Screen shot by Mose Buchele for KUT News.

Austinites will have to wait till next week to know the fate of a planned Formula One racetrack in Southeastern Travis County, but its not just Austinites paying attention.  People from around the world are voicing their opinions on the racetrack in online forums, op-eds and emails to City Hall. 

The debate is driving a lot more traffic to the City's TV station as well.

Channel Six, the station that broadcasts city meetings, normally attracts between 300 to 400 viewers to its websites during council meetings. But not on Thursday.