Austin

Downtown
2:48 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

How Downtown Austin Lost Two Parking Spaces - And Gained a 'Parklet'

Patrons utilize the new street patio installed on Congress Avenue.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

609 Congress Ave. has its two parking spots occupied – and you can circle the block all you want, but you won’t get a space there.

That’s because the two spots in front of the Royal Blue Grocery have been converted into a street patio. With the city’s blessing, Royal Blue has converted the spots as part of a pilot program testing the feasibility of future conversions.

The idea behind the street patio is to make the city more pedestrian-friendly and less auto-centric. “The two parking spaces at 609 Congress are estimated to have housed about five cars per day total,” reads a release from the office of Chris Riley, the Austin City Council’s resident urban design wonk. “If this ‘street patio’ performs as successfully as the ones in other cities have, that space will be opened up to hundreds of people to use each day.”

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Police
12:01 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

Travis County DA Seeks Death Penalty for Accused Cop Killer

Police officer Jaime Padron's memorial motorcade. Brandon Daniel is accused of killing Padron, and may be looking at the death penalty.
Austin Police Dept.; Motorcade photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

Brandon Daniel may be facing the death penalty for allegedly killing of Austin Police Officer Jaime Padron.

The Austin American-Statesman quotes District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg as saying seeking the death penalty for Daniel “is the right thing to do.”

Daniel was charged with capital murder in April of this year for the killing of Officer Padron at an area Wal-Mart.

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The Lead
8:48 am
Tue November 20, 2012

The Lead: F1 Debrief, Road Safety and Pedestrian Deaths

Good morning. Austin can expect partly cloudy skies and a seasonably warm high in the 80s, according to the National Weather Service. Here’s some stories KUT News has been working on:

“The Austin Chamber of Commerce is calling Austin’s first Formula 1 race a ‘smashing’ success.

While the chamber acknowledges that there will be some lessons learned and that some businesses didn’t get the crowds they’d hoped for, officials say it all went pretty smoothly.”

For many Austinites, Formula One meant road closures, traffic jams and roaring choppers. But for some local nonprofits, it also meant an uptick in donations.

The Boys and Girls Club of the Austin Area and Austin Partners in Education each walked away with $26,000 in donations from F1 weekend, thanks to an agreement between Circuit of the Americas andHotels for Hope, a local hotel broker that raises money for charities.”

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formula 1
11:27 am
Sun November 18, 2012

Formula 1 in Austin: Sunday

Circuit of the Americas

It's the last day of Formula 1 racing action. After two days of practice runs and qualifying races, the first U.S. Grand Prix since 2007 gets underway at 1 p.m. today.

KUT News is compiling the best tweets, pics and more about the race, expected to draw some 120,000 people to the Circuit of the Americas.

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formula 1
12:02 pm
Sat November 17, 2012

Photos: Austin Fan Fest

An artist works on a F1-emblazoned kiosk at Austin Fan Fest.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas isn't the only big event this weekend: event organizers have also launched the Austin Fan Fest this race weekend. Located in the Warehouse District downtown, the festival features music, food and drink, and lots of displays and promotions for Formula 1 gearheads.

Photographer Filipa Rodrigues took in the scene Friday evening for KUT News. Take a look at her photos, posted to KUT's Flickr page.

Formula 1
12:50 pm
Fri November 16, 2012

Timeline: F1 Takes Off in Austin

How is Austin reacting to Formula 1? Our F1 timeline may help answer that question.
Ticket photo by Mark Dewey for KUT News; all other photos by Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

It's finally here: Austin's Formula 1 Grand Prix marks the sport's first stateside race in several years. Austinites and F1 fans alike have taken to social media to log their reactions. And KUT News is compiling Twitter users' pictures, rants, raves and traffic updates via Storify.

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Formula 1
11:59 am
Fri November 16, 2012

Austin's Formula 1 Survival Guide: Here's What You Need to Know

An F1 racer parked in downtown Austin.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Just two years after the idea was first floated, Formula 1 is a go in Austin.

The U.S. Grand Prix at Elroy, Texas’ Circuit of the Americas track is this Sunday, Nov. 16.  But a full weekend of practice sessions, qualifying races and more will entertain an estimated 300,000 attendees over the entire weekend.

Meanwhile, local officials and regular citizens alike are prepping for visitors. City management has activated its emergency area command to monitor traffic and public safety in conjunction with additional state and federal authorities. Regular Austinites are facing a choice: batten down the hatches and avoid the madness, or embrace it. Even without F1 tickets, the latter should be easy with events like Austin Fan Fest closing downtown streets and offering free entertainment.

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Formula 1
2:58 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Video: What Does Austin Really Think of F1?

While the Formula 1 Grand Prix’s Austin debut has inspired excitement among racing fans, many Austinites are wary. Since the announcement, questions over public investment in the race and the Circuit of the Americas track have largely dominated the discussion over F1.

Promoters initially asked the city to pay millions into a trust fund to cover fees associated with the event, before private investors offered up the cash themselves. Brinksmanship between local promoters and F1 bosses nearly derailed the project as well.

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The Lead
9:04 am
Thu November 15, 2012

The Lead: F1 Rounds the Corner

Good Thursday morning to all. We’ve got a beautiful day ahead of us as we rev up for the festivities Formula 1 is bringing our way. There will be partly sunny skies, with a high near 65. As for tonight, the skies will be cloudy, with low near 50.

Here are some stories KUT News and our partners have been working on this week:

Some of the 100,000 people expected for Austin’s first Formula One race have already started streaming into town. The international sporting event has a reputation of attracting the super rich, and there may be some truth to that. “We’re flying in our own celebrity DJ,” said Nicholas Frankl, an event promoter who with his sister runs My Yacht Group. “We have Lamborghini sponsoring the event. We have the most expensive Champagne available in America today, called Comte de Mazeray. It’s 24-karat gold-infused Champagne.”

DNA testing that death row inmate Hank Skinner sought for more than a decade further implicates him in the New Year’s Eve 1993 triple murder for which he was sentenced to die, according to an advisory that the Texas Attorney General’s Office filed Wednesday in Gray County state district court. But a lawyer for Skinner, who was convicted in 1995 of the murders of his live-in girlfriend, Twila Busby, and her two adult sons in Pampa, said the DNA testing is incomplete and indicates that another person may have been at the scene of the crimes.

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Formula 1
2:42 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

What Austin Needs to Know About the Actual F1 Race This Weekend

An F1 racer parked in downtown Austin promotes the race.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Ready or not, Formula 1 has arrived.

As Austin readies for an onslaught of some 100,000 visitors, we’ve heard lots about traffic planshelicopter permits, and even counter-terrorism measures.  But what about the actual race: the cars, the drivers and the sport itself? Confused? KUT News has assembled a primer on this weekend’s Formula 1 race.

  • What Sort of Cars Are These?

The FIA Formula One World Championship is the highest class of single-seater auto racing that is authorized by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile.

The "formula" in Formula 1 refers to a set of guidelines that each racing car must adhere to. The results are state-of-the-art.

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The Lead
8:31 am
Wed November 14, 2012

The Lead: Austin Homeless Question Police Push Downtown

Good morning. After a chilly start, Austin should warm to highs in the mid-60s, according to the National Weather Service. Here’s some stories KUT News has been working on.

"Violent crime in Austin’s downtown area has risen by nearly 17 percent, according to the latest FBI statistics, although Austin police say the city remains one of the safest in the nation.  Police have ramped up their downtown presence. And that’s raising its own set of concerns among advocates for the city’s homeless."

"Texas Governor Rick Perry has given his support to a bill that would have recipients of unemployment benefits submit to drug tests. Those failing a test would be denied benefits for 12 months, or until they completed a drug treatment program."

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Austin
7:54 am
Wed November 14, 2012

With Bag Ban Looming, the City's Taking Local Business to School

The Bag Ban will start in March of 2013, but some items are still up in the air.
www.flickr.com/photos/arselectronica

Confused about Austin’s coming bag ban? You’re not alone.

Austin Resource Recovery, tasked with reaching the city’s zero waste by 2040, is hosting carryout bag training sessions for local businesses at the Austin City Hall this morning.

The training is designed prepare businesses for the plastic bag ban that takes effect in March 2013.

Originally, the ban barred the use of most single use paper and plastic bags, but late last week the City Council approved adding some exemptions. Now, restaurants will largely be exempt.

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Weather
6:48 pm
Tue November 13, 2012

Freeze Warning for Central Texas

National Weather Service

The National Weather Service has issued a freeze warning for Central Texas tonight.

Temperatures are expected to keep falling this evening into early Wednesday morning, leading the NWS to issue a freeze warning for Travis County and surrounding counties. It begins at 3 a.m. and currently runs through 9 a.m. Austin is expecting highs in the mid-to-high 60s tomorrow, according to AccuWeather.

You can stay up on current conditions through the NWS website.

Mexican American Cultural Center
11:28 am
Tue November 13, 2012

What Do You Want to See Next to the MACC? (Updated)

The city wants to find a use for the empty lot that will benefit the cultural center.
flickr.com/mirsasha

Update: The first of two community meetings on what to do with land next to the Mexican American Cultural Center is occurring tonight. Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department “is seeking community input to develop a range of options” for the parcel neighboring the center. The meeting is at the Mexican American Cultural Center, 600 River St., at 6:30 p.m.

Original Post (Nov. 2, 11:11 a.m.): The Mexican American Cultural Center is celebrating Dia De Los Muertos or “Day of the Dead” with a family-friendly event tomorrow.

But sugar skulls aren't the only attraction. The public is also invited to use the event to share input on what should happen to the lot next to the cultural center.

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The Lead
8:33 am
Tue November 13, 2012

The Lead: 2013 Lege Gearing Up, Statesman Names New Publisher

Good morning. The National Weather Service says to expect highs in the 60s and gusty winds today. Here’s a look at stories KUT News has been working on:

"The Texas House has formed a committee to look into how the state would handle “sequestration.” That’s the package of automatic federal spending cuts and tax increases that take effect at the end of the year — the so-called 'fiscal cliff.' That includes about $109 billion in cuts.

The committee was put together by House Speaker Joe Straus, who said in a news release that he hoped Congress would be able to find a way to reduce the deficit without increasing taxes or cutting jobs."

"Today is the first day Texas lawmakers can file bills ahead of the 2013 legislative session. The 200 or so early bills are usually a hodgepodge of political statements, second attempts and high priority legislation. …

Several first-day bills filed by Republicans in 2010 focused on illegal immigration, and efforts to curb it in Texas. Maybe because of Mitt Romney's poor performance among Hispanics (or maybe not), there were no immigration bills filed by mid-afternoon today."

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Education
7:13 am
Tue November 13, 2012

UT System May Construct $100 Million Austin Office

A view towards downtown Austin from the UT Tower.
Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

The University of Texas System Board of Regents will meet in Tyler this week and consider, among many things, whether to approve the construction of a system office building in downtown Austin that is projected to cost $102,417,000.

The UT System's downtown Austin offices are currently spread across five aging buildings — the oldest has been around for more than 130 years — with mounting maintenance costs. Officials determined that a change was in order. They decided that the best option would be to construct a 16-story building comprising 258,500 square feet of office space and garage capacity for more than 650 vehicles in a spot — close to the state Capitol and the University of Texas at Austin — where two of their current buildings sit.

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Energy
4:51 pm
Mon November 12, 2012

Despite ‘Green’ Label, Austin a Growing Oil and Gas Hub

About 175 people attended a happy hour held by the Austin Petroleum Exploration Society on Nov. 1. Austin is increasingly becoming an oil and gas hub.
Callie Richmond for Texas Tribune

Subjects like solar panels and smart-grid technologies become a topic of discussion at plenty of Austin happy hours. But when dozens of people gathered at a lakeside bar earlier this month, the talk drifted toward oil prices, shale plays and hydraulic fracturing.

“When you think Austin, you don’t think oil and gas,” said David Tovar, a geoscience technician at Three Rivers, an oil and gas company based in Austin, as he held a pint of Texas brew. The native Texan ended up at Three Rivers after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with a geological sciences degree.

Despite its “Keep Austin Weird” slogan and passion for clean energy, Austin is increasingly attracting oil and gas companies like Three Rivers, a small firm founded in 2009 that focuses on oil development in West Texas and New Mexico, aided by the high oil prices of recent years. Austin’s oil industry, about 4,000 workers strong, is still dwarfed by Houston and Dallas. But the city’s entrepreneurial bent and reputation as an attractive place to live, along with the top-tier petroleum engineering program at UT, have trumped the fact that Austin is far from the oilfields.

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The Lead
8:39 am
Mon November 12, 2012

The Lead: Veterans Day News, Armstrong Out at Livestrong

Good morning. This morning's chilly temperatures  aren't going anywhere; the National Weather Service says the season’s first freeze is expected in the Hill Country tonight. Here’s some stories KUT News has been working on:

On Monday, state officials and business leaders will also gather at the Capitol to show gratitude. The event is part of Operation Enduring Opportunity, which encourages businesses nationwide to hire and recruit veterans and their spouses.

On Veterans Day, Americans salute those who have served this country in the armed forces. But service takes many forms: and this year, KUT followed one family dealing with military service. From the soldier whose family has served for generations dating back to World War I, to the family who had to learn how to live without him.

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Veterans Day
8:24 am
Mon November 12, 2012

Veterans Day Celebrations and Closures

This year Veterans Day observations will be two days, Sunday and Monday
KUT News

Sunday, Nov. 11 is Veterans Day. On Monday, city, state and federal government offices will be closed in observance of the holiday.

There are several events planned over the two days to celebrate the service of U.S. military veterans. 

On Sunday, Austin and Travis County will host a Veterans Day Parade downtown. The parade will kick off at 9 a.m. on the South Congress Bridge and head to the Texas Capitol.  At 11 a.m., the Commemorative Air Force of San Marcos will hold a memorial and flyover at the south steps of the Capitol. (You can find information about street closures here.)

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Crime
6:49 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

Are There Juggalo Gangs in Austin? (Update)

An anonymous cop says that Juggalo gangs may be responsible for a rise in crime downtown.
clockwise from left; FBI, Ohio Attorney General's Office

Update: A commenter below and others on social media have noted Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo was asked about the FOX 7 story on KLBJ 93.7's "Dudley and Bob Show" this morning. Some believe he disputed the report on Juggalo gang members in Austin.

KUT News spoke with Chief Acevedo this afternoon. He says he does not dispute the content of FOX 7's reporting.

Original Post (12:47 p.m.): Has the dark carnival spread to Austin?

An anonymous Austin Police detective is saying that Juggalo gangs – fans of rap crew the Insane Clown Posse engaged in criminal activity – may be responsible for an increase in downtown crime.

FOX 7 News reports:

“The crimes associated with Juggalos include assaults, thefts and drug use.

‘They're doing a lot of pocket checks where they use force to take something from somebody. Or they'll come up [and] pick someone's pocket,’ the detective said.

The victims, officers say, are downtown patrons who have had too much to drink. The homeless have also been targeted.”

For those not in the know, Insane Clown Posse is a Detroit-based rap group that has slowly amassed one of the most devoted fanbases in underground music.

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