Tolly Moseley

Tolly Moseley is currently an intern at KUT News.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Student registration for IDEA Allan – the new in-district charter school for the Austin Independent School District – ended at midnight. It will be housed in the current Allan Elementary School campus on Gonzales Street and serve kindergartners as well as students in first, second and sixth grade next school year.

Matthew Randazzo is IDEA’s Chief Growth Officer. He says registration has been strong. In fact, there are more interested students than spaces. A lottery will have to be held for each grade level to determine which students will be able to attend.

Randazzo says the most popular grades for registration were kindergarten and sixth.

KUT News

City Elections Tomorrow

Election Day is tomorrow for the Austin municipal elections. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. Fourteen candidates are running for four seats on the Austin City Council, including mayor.

Perhaps the most closely watched aspect of the election is the challenge to Mayor Lee Leffingwell by former council member Brigid Shea. Shea accused Leffingwell earlier this week of violating campaign finance laws, and throughout the campaign, has maintained that Austin is becoming more unaffordable

That's a common refrain among political challengers – that they will protect the citizenry's collective pocketbook better than the last guy.  But in the case of Shea, currently a community strategist and consultant, the arrival of huge companies like Apple and Formula One cast her position in a different light. 

Photo by Teresa Viera for KUT News

Rental maternity clothing? Malnutrition-fighting porridge? Dust compressors? Soon, one of these inventions could be part of your daily life.

Beginning today and running through Saturday, the Global Venture Labs Investment Competition will evaluate business concepts from 40 teams around the world. Hosted by McCombs School of Business' Texas Venture Labs, it's the longest-running competition for graduate student entrepreneurs – the "Super Bowl of business plan competitions," as the school describes it in a press release.

To qualify for the competition, teams had to win regional competitions first, with competitors culled from 13 countries including Thailand, Brazil, Germany and Norway. UT's team has invented a product called eyeQ, which according to McCombs School of Business spokesperson Renee Hopkins, uses video-based technology to monitor consumer purchasing behavior. In other words: Stores get information about how their customers shop, and customers will get an retail experience in a brick and mortar store.

Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News

Tuition Going Up at UT, Texas A&M

Tuition at schools in the University of Texas and Texas A&M systems could have their tuition raised this week.

The University of Texas System regents will meet today to consider increasing rates (page 37 of agenda) at all nine of its campuses over the next two years. If the recommendations are approved, tuition for in-state residents at UT Austin would increase 2.6 percent annually for two years. Out-of-state tuition would increase 3.6 percent. The raise in tuition would raise an estimated $25 million. Rates at Texas A&M's main campus in College Station would not go up (page 14), but all other A&M campuses would see a ten dollar per credit hour increase for undergraduate classes.

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County Considers Apple Incentives, Again

The Travis County Commissioners Court will review an economic agreement with computing giant Apple today.

The City of Austin has pledged an estimated $8 million in tax rebates to bring the company here, and the state’s Texas Enterprise Fund is offering another $21 million in incentives. But in order for those to go through, the county must also approve a deal to bring Apple here. It would involve Travis County giving Apple between $5.4 and $6.4 million dollars in tax rebates over 15 years. So far, the agreement has been discussed at several Commissioners Court meetings, but hasn’t been finalized yet.

Obama photo courtesy Pete Souza via Wikipedia; Romney photo courtesy Gage Skidmore via Wikipedia.

Romney Leads Obama in Texas

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney would beat President Obama in Texas if an election were held today. At least that’s what a recent survey from Public Policy Polling has found.

The group surveyed nearly 600 Texans and 400 Republican primary voters and found that 50 percent would vote for Romney.  Forty-three percent said they would choose Obama.  The seven-point spread is a significant drop from the last presidential race in Texas when, in 2008, republican nominee John McCain captured the state by 13 points.

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Once a hippie holiday, now a fully mainstream observance (especially in Austin), Earth Day 2012 is coming this Sunday.  Get your credit card and your Djembe drum ready, because here in town, there are plenty of ways to celebrate Mother Earth, and give a little something back.


Over 110 Austin businesses will donate five percent of their profits to environmental causes, such as Friends of Barton Springs Pool and the Hill Country Conservancy.  That makes Sunday a great time to do grocery shopping (Whole Foods and Wheatsville Food Co-Op are participating), go to the cleaners (at Eco Clean Garment and Laundry), or take your pet to the vet (at Austin Vet Care), to name a few participants. 

Willie and a friend gets a sneak peek at his bronze likeness.
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Willie Nelson Statue Unveiled

A statue of famed country musician Willie Nelson will be unveiled today.

The eight-foot tall, one-ton statue will stand on the plaza located on Willie Nelson Boulevard (aka Second Street) and Lavaca Street, at the foot of the Austin City Limits Live Theater. Capital Area Statues has worked on the project over the past several years and as board president Lawrence Wright describes it, the statue will be another fixture of Austin’s culture.

“This gift to Austin will become an instant, iconic representation of our great city and its love affair with music.” 

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In June 2010, cable channel Starz canceled Party Down after just two seasons.  The critically revered but little seen show, which depicted Hollywood hopefuls working dreary day jobs for a catering company, was co-created and co-written by UT grad (and former San Antonio high school teacher) Rob Thomas.

Tonight, Thomas returns to Austin to screen the show's unaired pilot.

Shot at Thomas' house, the pilot was used to sell the show to Starz network.  Besides Lizzy Caplan, the spot included the whole original cast, including Jane Lynch (who would eventually leave to join the cast of Glee) and Adam Scott (who got snatched up by Parks & Recreation). 

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APD's Official Statement on Cisco the Dog 

The Austin Police Department has issued a statement regarding the controversial shooting of Cisco the dog on Saturday.

The incident, which drew national press and inspired a Justice for Cisco Facebook page that currently holds over 60,000 likes, led both Cisco's owner Michael Paxton and APD Chief Art Acevedo to speak with KLBJ-FM yesterday. In the interview, Paxton says: "Obviously there's a breakdown of training here.  You don't approach an unarmed man in his driveway with weapons drawn." (In March, KUT News reported on ramped up weapons training at APD, set to start in April).

Acevedo said: "I'm sorry on behalf on all the members of the department.  We know the pain's real."

Photo by KUT News

APD Officer Killed

An Austin Police Officer is dead after being shot while trying to arrest a suspect early this morning.

The officer was called to the Wal-Mart on Parmer and I-35 at around 2:20 a.m. When the officer arrived, police say he made contact with the suspect and the man immediately began to fight with the officer. Police say the suspect then pulled out a semi-automatic pistol and shot the officer at point-blank range in the neck area.

In a press conference, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said that two Wal-Mart employees tackled the suspect after he shot the police officer.  

Baylor Women's Win NCAA Championship

Baylor University's women’s basketball team clinched the NCAA national championship last night, besting Notre Dame 80 to 61.

The win sent the Lady Bears into the history books, topping off their undefeated season and making them the first NCAA basketball team ever to win 40 games in a season.

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Whole Foods Bans Unsustainable Seafood

Announced today and beginning on Earth Day (April 22), Whole Foods Market will no longer carry red-rated wild-caught fish, making it the first national grocer to enact such a move. 

Just what is a "red" rating? Using guidelines issued by Blue Ocean Institute and Monterey Bay Aquarium, the designation describes marine life afflicted by overfishing, or invasive fishing methods that harm surrounding species. 

Many of the usual suspects appear on the red-rated list for the Southeast region, which includes Texas: Albacore tuna, bluefin tuna, and imported shrimp. But Whole Foods will also say goodbye to mahi mahi, shark, red snapper, and tilapia – at least until those fish rebound in numbers.

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The Tejano Monument  will be unveiled tomorrow on the south lawn of the Texas Capitol. 

Over a decade in the making, the work is a monument honoring the contributions of Texas’ early Spanish-Mexican settlers and their descendants. The work was developed by Laredo artist Armando Hinojosa.  He was commissioned in 2001 to create the multi-statue piece. 

Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News

Weigh In on Downtown Wayfinding

The City of Austin is hosting a community forum tonight on the Downtown Austin Wayfinding Program, asking residents to sound off on the “draft philosophy” of the plan.

What is wayfinding? It’s an effort to better direct commuters and visitors through downtown, pointing pedestrians and cyclists to the best travel paths, and drivers to parking spots. The city states:

Over the past few months, the Downtown Wayfinding Project team has analyzed existing conditions in and around Downtown Austin and interviewed stakeholders in the community to gain an understanding of how commuters, residents, visitors, and tourists move through downtown. From that, the team has drafted a philosophy for navigating Downtown Austin that will serve as a foundation for developing acomprehensivewayfinding system.

Photo courtesy kevharb

Sweeping Drug Bust Targets Nightclub Owner, Family

Ten individuals connected to a downtown Austin club circuit were arrested yesterday on drug trafficking, money laundering, and firearms charges. 

Yassine Enterprises, which owns Pure, Spill, Kiss & Fly, Stack Burger Bar, Treasure Island, Hyde, Fuel, Malaia and Roial, is at the center of a coordinated effort between Austin police, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, the FBI, IRS, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

The investigation dates to 2007, and those taken into custody yesterday include Yassine Enterprises owner and President Hussein Ali "Mike" Yassine, his brothers Hadi Ali Yassine and Mohammed Ali Yassine, their assistant Marisse Marthe Ruales and six others.  Cocaine distribution and over $200,000 in money-laundered cash are two charges in the investigation, and authorities suspect the clubs involved were fronts for these and other illegal activities.

Photo illustration by Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Supreme Court Decision Affects Death Row Inmates?

Two Texas death row inmates, including one who is set to be executed next week, hope a ruling yesterday from the U.S. Supreme Court will give them another chance to prove their innocence or that their crimes don’t warrant the death penalty.

KUT’s reporting partner, The Texas Tribune, reports the high court’s ruling in a case out of Arizona, Martinez v. Ryan, could expand appeals access for inmates:

The nation’s highest court ruled that the failure of initial state habeas lawyers to argue that their client’s trial counsel was ineffective should not prevent the defendant from making that argument later on.

Photo by Eddie Seal of The Texas Tribune

Federal Funding for Texas's Women's Health Program to be Phased Out

Texas officials got the letter they expected from the federal government Thursday: federal funding for the state’s Women’s Health Program will be phased out in the near future. The program provides basic health screenings and contraceptive coverage to more than a 100,000 low-income women in Texas.

The dispute stems from a state rule that would exclude Planned Parenthood clinics from providing services under the program. Cindy Mann directs the federal Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services.

Photo courtesy Craig O'Neal,

Springsteen Delivering Keynote at SXSW Music

Need another sign South by Southwest Music is underway? 

Bruce Springsteen will give his SXSW keynote speech tomorrow at the Austin Convention Center, noon.  KUT will stream the talk live, and later than night, Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band will perform in Austin via a special ticket drawing.

You can follow KUT’s continuing SXSW coverage on this blog and at

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Attending South by Southwest is a little like entering IKEA for the first time. The sheer size of it is enough to make anyone sweat, and ask themselves nervously: "So, where do I go first?"