Austin

Austin City Council
7:12 am
Mon January 26, 2015

As 10-1 Council Steps Forward, Meet the New Committees

Austin's City Council holds a rare work session today before tomorrow's scheduled council meeting.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

The new 10-1 Austin City Council will gavel in for its first regular meeting this week, and one of their ambitions is to be a more open, efficient council. To that end, they've indicated they want to move much of the nuts and bolts of policy-making to council committees, much in the way the state legislature works. The number of committees proposed is a big jump, from eight to at least 14 so far.

Here's what we know so far about the different committees:

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Austin
7:00 am
Mon January 26, 2015

Does the Future of Austin's 'No Kill' Animal Policy Lie in Creating a 'No Birth' Policy?

Two of the hundreds of cats Del Goss, of Montopolis, feeds every night. Goss' neighborhood is one of the poorest in Austin's District 3.
Credit Joy Diaz/KUT News

Among the many politically contentious issues the new Austin City Council will need to grapple with is the issue of “No Kill.” This February will mark the fourth consecutive year that Austin's shelters have achieved a no kill status, meaning that ten percent or fewer animals in shelter care are euthanized.

But, even with several measures including "no kill," Austin is still dealing with a large number of homeless animals.

Del Goss lives in Montopolis, one of Austin's poorest neighborhoods in City Council District 3. Every evening, he hops on his old white pick-up truck and heads to his friend Florence's. On the truck's bed sits a five-gallon plastic bucket full of cat food.

Goss feeds Florence's cats. And then he makes seven other stops to feed colonies of homeless animals.

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KUT Weekend
2:18 pm
Fri January 23, 2015

Listen to Our Weekly News Podcast!

KUT Weekend brings you our favorite stories from the KUT newsroom. Updated Fridays!

City Hall
11:06 am
Fri January 23, 2015

Council Postpones Salary Debate Until Next Week

Credit Callie Hernandez/KUT News

From the Austin Monitor:

On Thursday, City Council temporarily backed away from a plan that could have members voting to reduce their own salaries.

Council members voted 11-0 to postpone action on the resolution until their Jan. 29 meeting. The resolution directs the city manager to change the current office budgeting structure to allow Council members to decrease their individual compensation and shift funds within their offices. Mayor Steve Adler explained that the postponement will give Council members the opportunity to take a closer look at the proposition, then address it further at next week’s Tuesday work session.

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Austin
9:36 am
Fri January 23, 2015

City Leaders Join Obamacare Enrollment Push As Deadline Nears

Austin city leaders joined Get Cover America in a press conference on Jan. 22, 2015, to remind people about the upcoming deadline to sign up for health insurance through healthcare.gov.
Credit Callie Hernandez/KUT News

The end of the open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act is less than a month away. In Austin, city leaders are pushing hard to get the word out.

At City Hall Thursday, some Austin City Council members reminded people they have until Feb. 15 to sign up.

"I just want to join my colleagues in this great group in getting the message out to folks that now is the time to do it," Austin Mayor Steve Adler says. "It’s easier than you think, and there’s more assistance available than you might think."

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Austin Police
7:32 am
Fri January 23, 2015

Man Killed in Officer-Involved Shooting Near Slaughter Lane

Austin Police have said an officer-involved shooting shortly before 3 a.m. involved a man in his 60s who brandished a weapon at responding officers before he was shot by a two-year veteran officer.
Credit Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Update 11:26 a.m.: Austin police have identified the suspect who was killed: 61-year-old Robert Francis Mesch. Mesch was armed and suicidal, police say. Two-year police department veteran Daniel Hannah was the officer involved in the shooting, and he has since been placed on leave as a routine procedure. Police Chief Art Acevedo calls the shooting a "tragedy for everyone involved."

The Austin Police Department says an officer shot and killed a man in his early 60s. The shooting happened just before 4 a.m. near Bill Miller Bar-B-Q on West Slaughter.

Austin Police Department Chief Art Acevedo says a woman called police around 3:30 a.m. to say that her husband was threatening to kill himself and threatened her life as well. Two officers pursued the man in his tan pickup. Police say when he got out of the car near West Slaughter, the suspect was carrying a gun. The officer fired several rounds at the man. He was pronounced dead soon after.

Below, you can listen to the full audio of Acevedo's press conference from earlier this morning.

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Parks
3:48 pm
Thu January 22, 2015

City Plans to Repair Cyclocross Damage at Zilker

An aerial map of the affected portion of Zilker Park.

From the Austin Monitor:

City staff has revealed a one-year plan that they hope will remediate tree and turf damage related to a national Cyclocross championship held in Zilker Park earlier this month.

Watershed Protection Department Environmental Officer Chuck Lesniak told the Environmental Board Wednesday that Parks and Recreation Department staff and City Arborist Michael Embesi have “a pretty robust restoration plan in place to address any damage to root zones and trees.”

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Austin
10:46 am
Thu January 22, 2015

Who Are the Powerful People in Your Neighborhood?

Austin is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. But are powerful neighborhood groups preventing it from becoming denser and more affordable?
Credit Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

As you might have heard, and most probably have felt, Austin is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. But how it should handle that growth is an ongoing debate. As a new city council steps forward, it might help to take a look at some of the people who are likely to be a vocal part of that debate: your neighbors.

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Austin City Council
10:42 am
Thu January 22, 2015

Can't Make a City Council Meeting? Austin Now Offers Input Options Online

Austin City Council is offering online options for public input. The council's historically long meetings that stretch into the early morning have often hampered public input.
Credit KUT News

The new Austin City Council knows everyone has an opinion about what things it should be doing, what things it should change and how those changes could come about. A recurring theme along the current council’s campaign trail was that many Austinites felt unheard and sometimes outright disregarded by city politicians.

At the beginning of the year, council proposed altering its meeting and committee format to pare down their traditionally long meetings.  So, starting tonight, there will be new ways to communicate with council and the mayor.

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Austin
9:25 am
Thu January 22, 2015

What Do the US-Cuba Talks Mean for Refugee-Friendly Austin?

With the opening of U.S.-Cuban relations, some wonder how the diplomatic thaw will affect Austin, which has a history of harboring Cuban refugees.
Indrani via Flickr

For decades, Austin has been a host to thousands of refugees arriving from Cuba. In fact, up until around 2010, Cubans were the largest single group of refugees in the city.

Now that diplomatic talks have started between the United States and Cuba, some in Austin wonder what role will our city play in this new relationship.

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Weather
7:44 am
Thu January 22, 2015

As Rain Falls, Some Low Water Crossings Closed; Flood Advisory In Effect

Credit National Weather Service

Update (9:47am): The National Weather Service says there's now a flood advisory in effect until 11am for several counties in the Austin area.

Update (9:06 a.m.): The National Weather Service has ended the flood advisory it issued earlier this morning for parts of Central Texas. 

Low water crossings continue to close in the Austin Area.

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Austin
10:24 am
Wed January 21, 2015

Competing Hyde Parkers: Won't You Be In My Neighborhood Association?

Hyde Park Neighborhood Association.

For a city of nearly a million people, many big decisions in Austin tend to be influenced by a self-selected few. Lots of small recommendations by neighborhood associations can end up having a big impact on how Austin handles its growth. But now, changes in city governance and the neighborhoods themselves may upset the status quo. 

Take the neighborhood of Hyde Park. Lorre Weidlich moved to Hyde Park in the seventies when she moved to Austin for graduate school and immediately fell in love with the neighborhood. "I like the old houses, the vintage feel to it all, the streetscapes with all the bungalows," she says. "And it's also very much a community. It's a friendly place."

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Austin
1:39 pm
Mon January 19, 2015

In Photos: Marchers Reflect On MLK Day

Hundreds gather on the University of Texas campus for the annual Martin Luther King Day parade. After a short program of speakers and music, the parade makes its way to the Huston-Tillotson University campus where a community festival kicks off.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Temperatures on a warm winter Monday rose alongside the shouts and cheers of Austin politicians, students, and families who showed up for today's Martin Luther King Jr. Day March and Rally.

Hundreds of participants stood or sat on the steps of the University of Texas at Austin's East Mall, while at the podium above their heads UT faculty and local church members spoke about King's legacy. UT Austin President William Powers said he saw the ripples of King's work throughout the country – and as close to home as the UT football field.

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Sports
4:32 pm
Fri January 16, 2015

Cyclocross Organizers Issue Apology To Riders For Zilker Park Postponement

Cyclocross racers wait around Zilker Park on Sunday, January 11, while that day's races were postponed.
screenshot/USA Cycling

USA Cycling has issued an apology to its members for the postponement last Sunday of the Cyclocross championships in Austin.

By now you've probably heard the story: The Cyclocross races in Zilker Park were scheduled to end Sunday. But the city's Parks and Recreation Department postponed the event until Monday because of rain. 

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Austin
10:24 am
Fri January 16, 2015

City Orders Study on Bag Ban That State May Toss

The city's Zero Waste Advisory Commission will study the effectiveness of the city's bag ban. Governor-elect Greg Abbott believes the ban is a violation of state law.
Credit s-t-e-v-e-n/flickr

From the Austin Monitor:

Amid concerns that state leadership will take steps to limit city ordinances such as Austin’s plastic bag ban, the Zero Waste Advisory Commission has instructed city staff to study the ban in time to send the results to the state legislature.

The commission unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday requesting that the Austin Resource Recovery Department complete a study of the results of the city’s Single-Use Carryout Bag Ordinance by no later than May 1.

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Oil Prices
4:39 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

Are Companies With Large Vehicle Fleets Rejoicing Over Low Gas Prices?

Credit ThoseGuys119/flickr

You might think every company with a large vehicle fleet would be happy about the low gas prices we’re seeing right now. But when it comes to gas prices, things are never that simple.

One of the largest vehicle fleets in Austin belongs to the Austin Independent School District. AISD's Transportation Director Kris Hafezi oversees more than 1,000 vehicles. About half run on diesel, and about half run on gas. So fluctuating gas prices used to make him nervous – but not anymore. "[AISD] has a fixed fuel contract with our provider."

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Austin
10:26 am
Thu January 15, 2015

Here's Some of the Armadillo Memorabilia Being Auctioned Off This Weekend

A poster from the Armadillo's 1971 opening night with art by Michael Priest.
Burley Auction Group

This Saturday, Eddie Wilson, longtime proprietor of Threadgill’s and former owner of the Armadillo World Headquarters, will auction off a massive 500-item horde of memorabilia from the famous venue, which closed its doors in 1980.

Though the days of quarter-cup, dollar-pitcher beer prices may be bygone, Austinites looking to relive those cloudy memories can pick up plenty of classic concert posters with art from Austin luminary Michael Priest; an abundance of neon signs for now-defunct beers like Falstaff, Grand Prize, and Southern Special; and even the club’s house piano played by Ray Charles, Fats Domino, and Randy Newman.

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Wayback Wednesday
3:06 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Meet Austin's Gunslinging Lawman, Ben Thompson

Thompson was a gunslinger, professional gambler, Confederate cavalier, a mercenary in Mexico and a convict before taking over the office of City Marshal in 1881.
Credit Austin History Center

Today’s Wayback Wednesday recognizes the 134th anniversary of Ben Thompson’s assumption of the position of City Marshal. The 134th anniversary of what was ostensibly a city police chief may not seem like an auspicious anniversary to revisit, but Thompson wasn’t your typical police chief.

In his life, Thompson was a gunfighter and professional gambler, served as a member of the Confederate Cavalry, was a hired gun for the first (and only) Emperor of Mexico and was indicted (and later acquitted) for murder while serving as the city’s highest-ranking law enforcement officer.

Thompson was born in Knottingly, England in 1843, and his family moved to Austin in 1851. Six years later, while working as a newspaper typesetter, Thompson shot somebody – presumably for the first time. His friend, 14-year-old Joe Brown, bet Thompson that he couldn’t shoot.

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Education
6:36 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

Watch KLRU's Civic Summit With Austin ISD Superintendent Paul Cruz

Dr. Paul Cruz, interim Superintendent for the Austin Independent School District.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Dr. Paul Cruz is the only finalist for the superintendent position with Austin Independent School District. Tuesday night's Civic Summit, hosted by KLRU, will give the audience – students, teachers, and other community members – the opportunity to ask Cruz questions in a town hall-style meeting.

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Austin
6:30 am
Tue January 13, 2015

Find Out What's Buried Inside Austin's City Hall Time Capsule

A plaque marking the spot of Austin's city time capsule, to be opened in 2105.
Credit Joy Diaz/KUT News

Buried under the Austin City Hall building is a time capsule.

Today, that capsule is ten years old. The box is scheduled to be opened in 2105.

Since it’s very likely you and I won’t be alive 90 years from now, KUT asked the people who filled up the box to reveal some of the things that are in it.

It's hard to imagine the Austin of 2105, when the capsule is supposed to be opened.

If you just consider that we double our population every 20 years, you can picture how crowded Austin is likely to become.

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