Austin resident, on and off, mostly on, since 1986. Covering news of Central Texas and beyond since 1994. Father since 2010. Maker of sounds, informational and otherwise, since longer ago than any of the above.
Austin will remain in Stage 2 water restrictions despite above average rainfall for the year and the historic amount that fell in May. The city is also examining whether to adopt those restrictions permanently.
Update Sunday 3:30 p.m. University officials say that the commencement fireworks ceremony has been rescheduled for 10 p.m. tonight (Sunday), weather-permitting. Check back here for updates.
The University of Texas at Austin has cancelled the outdoor commencement ceremony planned for 8 p.m. Saturday due to inclement weather. UT said just before 5 p.m. that lightning had impeded the set-up for the outdoor event and that the threat of continuing inclement weather led the university "regretfully" to cancel the ceremony.
A point of order from state representative Mary Gonzalez (D-El Paso) delayed a vote on a bill that would remove a key function of the Public Integrity Unit. Among the duties of the Unit, a division of the Travis County District Attorney's Office, is investigating allegations of corruption leveled against state-level officials, such as members of the Texas Legislature or employees of state agencies.
Under the bill authored by state representative Phil King (R-Weatherford), that function would go away. Investigation would be the responsibility of the Texas Rangers, an elite division of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Prosecution would be handled by the District Attorney's Office in the home county of the accused.
The University of Texas at Austin made international news in recent weeks over confusion about what happened to hundreds of donated human brains. Now the university is forming a special three-member committee to look into the case.
It’s a big day for supporters of same-sex marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to take up the issue this year, which means same-sex marriages can continue in five states that currently ban the practice.
But where does that leave Texas?
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision against weighing in on same-sex marriage means it will soon be legal in 30 states and the District of Columbia.
But, in Texas, the marriages will not be allowed. A federal district judge ruled earlier this year that the Texas constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman relegates same-sex couples to second-class citizenship. But the judge also allowed the ban on same-sex marriages to continue while the case winds through the appeals process.
For the first time since September, state officials have declared today an Ozone Action Day in the Austin-area. The declaration means weather conditions are expected to be conducive to lower-than-normal air quality.
The Air Quality Index is forecast to bad enough to affect sensitive groups, such as those with asthma or heart disease, elderly people and children. The general public should be okay.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sets a minimum standard for ozone of 75 parts per billion.
“Our standard last year, we ended the 2013 ozone season at 73 parts per billion, so we’re actually okay, for now, but EPA expects to announce a new ozone standard in December of this year,” Clean Air Force of Central Texas director Sarah Holland says.
Final update on this story (Saturday 10:00 a.m.): The Austin Police Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety say this Amber Alert has been canceled. They say two-year-old Cheyenne Johnson is now safe and the suspect, Jesse Thomas, is in custody after a standoff with authorities in northwest Harris County.
UPDATE (10:00 p.m.): An Amber Alert has now been issued for Cheyenne Johnson. Anyone who may have information about this abduction is asked to call the Austin Police Department at (512) 297-0825 or 9-1-1.
Austin police are asking for help from the public in locating a child who was last seen at 1:54 Friday afternoon on the 1800 block of Anita Drive in South Austin.
Two-year-old Cheyenne Johnson is about two-and-a-half feet tall, weighs 25 pounds and has brown hair and brown eyes. She was wearing a navy blue shirt with flowers on it and navy blue shorts. She was last seen with 33-year-old Jesse Thomas, 6'01", about 220 pounds.
A major transportation plan took a significant step forward Thursday when the Austin City Council voted unanimously to put it on the November ballot.
It’s a billion-dollar proposition. Voters would agree to a $600 million bond for a 9.5-mile urban rail line, contingent upon two conditions: matching funds from the Federal Transit Administration or another federal or state source, and a future city council securing $400 million dollars for road projects. The ordinance does not specify a source for the additional $400 million.
The governor laid out a four-point plan for handling the situation, including increasing National Guard operations, screening immigrants for medical conditions and federal reimbursement of the money Texas has spent on border security.
The offices of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and Governor Rick Perry were quick to release statements lauding Monday’s Supreme Court decision on contraception. The ruling said family-owned and other closely held companies can opt out of an Affordable Care Act provision requiring they provide insurance coverage of birth control.
Sen. Ted Cruz and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott got a tour Monday of one facility housing immigrant children after they’re processed near the border: Joint Base San Antonio, where children wait for judicial hearings or to be placed with relatives.
Both Abbott and Cruz blame the increase in immigrants on the Obama administration’s deferred action for childhood arrivals policy, which offered a delay of immigration proceedings for children brought to the U.S. before 2007.
The City of Austin and the U.S. Justice Department have agreed to a settlement in a complaint over hiring practices at the Austin Fire Department (AFD).
The settlement follows an investigation finding that the AFD selection process had the effect of unfairly discriminating against African-American and Hispanic applicants.
Under the agreement, which still needs approval by a federal court, the Austin Fire Department would change its hiring process to bring it in compliance with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Title VII forbids the use of employment practices such as written tests resulting in disparate impact against any group, based on factors like race or national origin.
Marijuana advocates will march on the Texas Capitol Saturday as part of the annual Worldwide Marijuana March. In Austin, the marchers will include members of Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism (MAMMA), a newly-founded organization which describes itself as a conservative Christian group calling for the legalization of medicinal marijuana use in Texas.
University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall is now the subject of a criminal investigation.
The Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office has opened an investigation into Hall after receiving a complaint from a legislative committee considering impeachment proceedings against the regent.
The Texas Department of Public Safety released its annual report on criminal gang activity in Texas this week.
This year’s Texas Gang Threat Assessment found that gangs continue to pose a substantial threat to public safety. Central Texas is home to some of the most established gangs in the state. The report estimates that with more than 4,600 gangs, overall gang membership in this state is more than 100,000.