Wells Dunbar

Online Editor

As  online editor for KUT News, Wells Dunbar covers news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond. Before joining the KUT family, Wells served as staff writer and news blog editor at The Austin Chronicle, and covered the Texas Legislature for Gallery Watch. Hailing from El Paso, Wells is a longtime Austin resident whose interests include technology and social media, film and music, and spending quality time with his wife and cat.

Pages

Austin
11:33 am
Mon July 29, 2013

Loud, Late Night Amber Alert Rattles iPhone Users: How to Change Settings

Some iPhone users were unaware they would receive new "Government Alerts” – until they were notified of an Amber Alert last night.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

An Amber Alert issued late yesterday evening was a wake-up call to many iPhone users in Texas.

An alert was issued close to 10:45 last night for abducted children in San Angelo, Texas, 200 miles northwest of Austin. An Amber Alert was then sent to iPhone users in Austin – which was announced with a loud, jarring tone. 

Read more
Texas
6:45 pm
Thu July 25, 2013

Eric Holder: Texas Should Still Clear Election Changes With U.S.

After a decision weakening the Voting Rights Act, Texas implemented a controversial Voter ID law.
Texas Dept. of Public Safety

Update: (6:43 p.m.) U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s speech Thursday mark the beginning of a new fight over the Voting Rights Act.

“It’s clear that Texas is the big test case for what may be a potentially broader effort to use the bail in mechanism to patch some of the damage caused by Supreme Court in Shelby v Holder into our voting rights regime," UT Law Professor Joseph Fishkin says.

Last month, the Supreme Court ruled Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional. It’s the formula that determines which states need federal approval to change their voting laws or practices. Without the formula, there are no guidelines to determine which jurisdictions need their voting laws and practices pre-approved. Now the federal government is arguing Texas requires pre approval under another provision—section three. 

Read more
Texas
9:14 am
Thu July 18, 2013

Watch the Daily Show's Lewis Black Rip Rick Perry

“Texas is calling?” Good thing I got caller ID,” Black says

Gov. Rick Perry’s radio and TV ads seeking to lure out-of-state jobs to Texas are beginning to get some serious pushback: Not from California Gov. Jerry Brown this time, or editorial pages in Connecticut or Illinois, but instead The Daily Show’s Lewis Black.

On last night’s Daily Show, comedian Black excoriated Gov. Perry’s latest round of business-poaching ads. Targeting employers in New York State, Perry says his state offers a reprieve to the Empire State’s atmosphere of “over-taxation, over-regulation and frivolous litigation.”

Read more
Politics
4:51 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

Committee Weighs Impeaching UT Regent: How We Got Here and What's Next

A view from the 40 Acres to the State Capitol. The fight between UT's Board of Regents and the legislature is widely seen as a proxy fight between Bill Powers and Gov. Perry.
flickr.com/jasonunbound

Update: The Texas House Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations met Monday to discuss an investigation that could lead to impeachment proceedings against a University of Texas System Regent.

The committee is tasked with deciding which articles for impeachment it could possibly bring against Wallace Hall. But at a committee hearing, lawmakers found there's little historic precedent to guide the process. According to Jeff Archer with the Texas Legislative Counsel, there have been few attempts to impeach a public official in Texas and there’s no definition or standard for what’s considered an impeachable offense. 

Read more
Austin
2:55 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

Why Austin's the Reason 7-Eleven Stays Open Around the Clock

The south campus 7-Eleven location. Austin had the first 24-hour location of the company.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

If you're heading to 7-Eleven today for a free Slurpee, raise your glass to the city of Austin and her Texas Longhorns: After all, it was here in Austin the convenience store giant first went 24/7.

In its corporate history, the Dallas-based chain writes that in 1963 “one 7-Eleven store in Austin, Texas, located close to the University of Texas, stayed so busy after a football game, it couldn’t close. The store just remained open.” That night’s success kept the store open 24 hours from there on out - inspiring other locations to do the same.

Read more
Politics
4:55 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Watch: Abortion Rights Advocate Gets Personal - Then Gets Kicked Out

There's been countless explosive moments in Texas' ongoing legislative battle over abortion — but few moments like this posted to YouTube. 

Yesterday, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee heard testimony on Senate Bill 1, which would restrict abortions across Texas. Some 13 hours of testimony later, committee chair Sen. Jane Nelson called on abortion rights advocate Sarah Slamen, whose two minutes included pointed descriptors of the committee members themselves – language that got her ejected.

Read more
Austin
3:05 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Conservative Texas Think Tank Looks to Influence Local Policy

Voters cast their ballots at a Houston polling place. The Texas Public Policy Foundation, traditionally focused on state legislation, is now looking to influence local policy.
flickr.com/luna715

After influencing state policy at the Capitol, the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) – a non-profit conservative think tank – is now turning its attention to local municipal governments.

TPPF officials say its new Center for Local Governance will work on the local level to tackle issues including spending, funding, local control and government transparency.

Read more
Breaking
12:31 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

DOMA Struck Down: What’s Next for Same-Sex Couples in Texas?

A rally at the Texas Capitol in May, when the U.S. Supreme Court began hearing the DOMA and Prop 8 cases.
Tyler Pratt, KUT News

Update: The U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings on two same-sex marriage cases today means those unions will now be recognized by the federal government. In separate cases, the court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, and the state of California can now resume efforts to legalize same sex marriage.

But neither of these rulings will directly affect Texas residents. 

“The ruling today was limited in the sense it didn’t extend to strike down defense of marriage acts that exist on state level," says Chuck Smith, executive director of Equality Texas.

Texas’ own Defense Against Marriage Act will remain on the books. Gov. Rick Perry signed the law in 2003.  In 2005, the state legislature also passed a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage. If that amendment were repealed, it would need two-thirds approval by the state House and Senate. It would then go to voters for final approval. 

Same sex marriage is legal in 12 states and the District of Columbia. 

Read more
Voting Rights Act
5:39 pm
Tue June 25, 2013

Voting Rights Act Partially Overturned; Texas Implements Voter ID Law

flickr.com/tabor-roeder

The Supreme Court has overturned a portion of the Voting Rights Act. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott says this morning’s decision means a Texas voter ID law "will take effect immediately." Scroll down for updates. 

The high court struck down Section 4 of the act, which establishes a formula to identify portions of the county (primarily the South) where changes to elections must be approved by the Department of Justice. That was to ensure minority voting rights weren’t infringed upon.

From the court's opinion:

"Coverage today is based on decades-old data and eradicated practices. The formula captures States by reference to literacy tests and low voter registration and turnout in the 1960s and early 1970s. But such tests have been banned for over 40 years. And voter registration and turnout numbers in covered States have risen dramatically."

The court didn’t do away with Section 5 of the act – the portion that allows the Department of Justice to reject state laws it sees as discriminatory. Instead, the court says the new standards should be created, instead of the expanded coverage called for under Section 4.  

Read more
ROT Rally
8:56 am
Mon June 17, 2013

Photos: ROT Rally Weekend 2013

ROT Rally riders sped to a safer celebration this year.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Another Republic of Texas Biker Rally has come and gone.

In contrast to years past, this year’s ROT Rally was marred by fewer deaths and injuries. Only one death was reported – on Thursday, when a woman fell off a motorcycle into a guardrail on Interstate 35. Austin/Travis County EMS have listed all its motorcycle incident responses over ROT Rally weekend. 

Read more
West Plant Explosion
5:04 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

FEMA Denies Rebuilding Aid to West, Texas (Update)

A decimated apartment complex in West, one month after the explosion.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Update: The Federal Emergency Management Agency is refusing to provide money to help rebuild the town of West after April’s deadly fertilizer plant explosion.

FEMA has approved more than $7 million in aid and loans to West residents impacted by the blast, but has denied assistance for things like crisis counseling, legal services, and unemployment assistance.  

Read more
FOOD
12:33 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

Kerbey Lane 'Eat-In' Seeks Cafe at Mueller Development (Update)

Mmm, pancakes: Kerbey Lane's signature dish is welcomed by members of the Mueller community looking for a nearby local eatery.
flickr.com/kevinliuzzo

Update: Dennis Mick with the Mueller Neighborhood Association says 119 Mueller and East Austin residents dined at Kerbey Lane last night "to encourage management to consider a location in the Mueller community."

Original post (June 11): How’s this for a chant: What do we want? Migas! When do we want ‘em? Now!

Dozens of residents of the Mueller neighborhood will stage an “eat-in” at the original Kerbey Lane Cafe tonight. Except the purpose isn’t to protest – instead, it’s designed to show residents’ hopes for a Kerbey Lane in their burgeoning Austin neighborhood.

Read more
Austin
2:34 pm
Wed June 5, 2013

KUT News Tries Out Austin's 'Budget in a Box'

It's time to play everyone's favorite game!

The city's Budget in a Box gives folks outside city hall a chance to learn about the city's budgeting process, then try on the shoes of a city budgeter, cutting, padding and managing programs and agencies that keep the city humming along.

KUT News acquired a copy of the game and we gave a two reporters and a few interns the chance to give the budgeting process the old college try. Click the video below to see how we fared.

Read more
Education
11:42 am
Wed June 5, 2013

Ann Richards HS Grad Raises Funds for a Path to Citizenship

Ann Richards School graduate, and former KUT News intern, Ana González is helping undocumented students continue their education.
Courtesy of The Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders

The first graduating class at the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders receives their diplomas this Saturday.

Among the graduates is 17-year-old Ana González, who was the subject of an Austin American-Statesman story profiling the school’s first grads.

Read more
Science
12:20 pm
Fri May 31, 2013

Longhorn Astronaut Karen Nyberg Returns to International Space

The latest International Space Station crew (including Nyberg) blasted off from Kazakhstan on May 29, 2013 (Kazakh time).
NASA/Bill Ingalls

There’s a UT Longhorn in space right now.

This week, Karen Nyberg blasted off to the International Space Station. She was the sole NASA astronaut aboard the Russian Soyuz rocket that left May 28. She was joined by Fyodor Yurchikhin with the Russian Federal Space Agency, and Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency.

Read more

Pages