Ryan Kailath

Dave Wilson Photography / http://davewilsonphotography.com/

Believe it or not, some young people in Austin during the second week of South by Southwest aren’t necessarily in town for free beer, live music and free (and occasionally questionable) promotional materials. Some brave the traffic and throngs of people in the hopes of winning a championship.

The University Interscholastic League – the state’s host and organizer of high school academic and athletic competitions – has held its UIL Basketball State Tournaments in Austin for more than 90 years. But, because of waning attendance and the high cost of Austin hotels during South by, UIL has decided to move the championship from the Frank Erwin Center down I-35 to San Antonio’s Alamodome starting next year. 

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“We hope to have services to our first customers by the middle of 2014.”

As recently as May 17, this message was posted on the Google Fiber website for Austin, according to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.

Well, July 2 marked the middle of 2014, and beside the announcement of a new employee, Austinites hungry for the tech giant’s ultra-fast Internet service – first promised in April 2013 – have received nary an update. Except for a vague update to the website, that is: “We hope to have services to our first customers later this year.”

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

With World Cup fever peaking, flag stores in Austin have been selling out of the old red, white and blue. The oldest red, white and blue, in fact – the Dutch flag, in use since 1572.

Flag stores always stock up for the Fourth of July, says Michele Kronberg, the self-described “boss-queen” of Austin Flag and Flagpole on South First Street. “It’s our busiest time of the year,” she says. “We don’t really have a Christmas season.” But exploding demand for foreign flags, driven by the World Cup, caught her off guard.

Callie Hernandez/KUT

Much attention has been placed on Austin City Council’s unanimous vote to endorse an urban rail plan for Austin. But $400 million of a proposed transportation bond that could reach voters in November is for road improvements as well.

Here's a breakdown of spending proposals, culled from the 2014 Austin Strategic Mobility Plan:

The largest chunk of the approved road package is $120 million to improve downtown access from I-35, with new access ramps and separate lanes for local and pass-through traffic. This portion would also cover improvements to an interchange at Riverside  Drive.

Ryan Kailath/KUT

Black-owned businesses in Texas are growing at a faster rate than Texas businesses as a whole – but they are trailing on several economic indicators, according to a new report.

The number of black-owned businesses in Texas increased 74 percent from 2002 to 2007, while the total number of Texas businesses rose only 25 percent in that period. While the increase seems impressive, the report goes on to say that this is largely because more than 95 percent of black-owned businesses in Texas are owned by single proprietors with no employees.

Flickr user Michelllaurence https://flic.kr/ps/QL6HQ

An hour before the Austin school district’s board meeting began last night, more than fifty labor advocates were crowded in the courtyard outside, chanting, with handmade signs. By the time doors opened, the crowd had doubled.

After nearly four hours of deliberation, the crowd got its wish and erupted in cheers. In a 5-4 split vote, the board voted to adopt federal prevailing wages for workers on upcoming construction projects at Austin schools.

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UPDATE: The Urban Renewal Board has granted DiverseArts a three-month license extension for Kenny Dorham's Backyard, contingent on compliance with the issues described below.

A mainstay of East Austin's African-American cultural scene may soon find itself homeless.

Kenny Dorham’s Backyard – a two-acre outdoor space named for the bebop trumpeter who once lived in Austin's East End – has hosted all-ages concerts, poetry events and film screenings on East 11th Street since March 2005.

But tonight, city staff will recommend to Austin's Urban Renewal Agency that the annual agreement granting the Backyard use of its land be denied. The Urban Renewal Board, made up of citizen volunteers, will then vote on whether or not to renew the license agreement.

flickr.com/neilconway

Advocates for the disabled are calling out drivers for parking illegally in handicapped spaces – and they now have both technology and government on their side.

A new app called Parking Mobility allows citizen volunteers to submit photos of handicapped parking violators directly to authorities. Today, the Travis County Commissioners Court voted unanimously to move forward with a six month pilot program allowing qualified volunteers to become deputies whose submissions can turn into citations. The current penalty for illegal parking in a handicapped space is a minimum fine of $500.