Austin City Council

Austin
1:39 pm
Fri November 7, 2014

Austin City Council Seeks to Further Limit City's Role in Secure Communities Program

Speakers at Thursday's Austin City Council meeting emphasized that deportations hurt families.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

The Austin City Council is taking steps to limit its role in Federal Secure Communities, a program that relies on partnerships among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to deport undocumented immigrants. The program has been criticized for detaining and deporting individuals charged with misdemeanors, rather than serious crimes.

On Thursday night, the council voted unanimously to instruct city staff to make amendments to a proposed interlocal agreement with Travis County. The new language would require the Travis County Sheriff's Office to only honor detainer requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when there are judge-issued arrest warrants or probably cause of crime.

The amendments, proposed by Council Member Mike Martinez, were intended to “either minimize the impact of Secure Communities on Austin families, or increase transparency around the program” and its impact.

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Austin
8:56 am
Thu November 6, 2014

Austin City Council Returns to Renovated Chambers Today

The new Austin City Council chamber opens today and features an expanded dais and updgraded audio-video equipment.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

Austin City Council returns to City Hall today with a brand new council dais ahead of the city's new 11-member council.

The $1.7 million renovation started in early July and was slated to complete construction in last month, and includes audio-visual upgrades and the building out of four new offices to the executive suites on City Hall’s second floor. Construction on those offices is set to be done by Thanksgiving.

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Texas Elections 2014
10:19 am
Wed November 5, 2014

Election Results Roundup: Final Numbers From Texas and Austin Races

Governor-elect Greg Abbott celebrates at the ACL Live Moody Theater on Tuesday night with his fellow Republicans. They swept statewide offices on Election Day.
Mengwen Cao/KUT

Election Day totals are in.

Republicans swept the statewide elections, with Greg Abbott winning the gubernatorial race and Dan Patrick besting San Antonio Democrat Leticia Van de Putte for Lieutenant Governor in the top two races.

Citywide races weren't so clear-cut. There will be nine run-offs in races for Austin City Council and for Mayor of Austin. Council Member Mike Martinez trails Austin attorney Steve Adler 29.63 percent to his nearly 37 percent. Delia Garza and Ann Kitchen were the only two Austin City Council candidates to win their districts with more than 50 percent of the vote in Districts 2 and 5, respectively. The rest of the races will be decided in run-off elections in December. 

Additionally, three Austin School Board elections went to run-offs; Sarah Eckhardt became the first female Travis County Judge; and Texas passed a statewide road improvement bond.

While Austinites couldn't forge consensus on council candidates, they did vote down by a wide margin a billion-dollar proposition to build a light rail system and accompanying road improvements, with 57 percent of Austinites voting against and nearly 43 percent voting for it.

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Austin's 10-1 Elections
6:42 am
Wed November 5, 2014

Final Totals: Most Austin City Council Races Headed to Run-Offs

Mike Martinez at the Scoot-Inn celebrating his campaign.
Joy Diaz

Updated throughout with Final Totals.

The race to be Austin's next mayor is not over yet. It's headed to a Dec. 16 run-off election because neither of the top two vote-getters received more than 50 percent of the total. Just two city council members have been elected – the top two candidates from the other districts will also head to the run-off.

A total of 78 candidates campaigned in the city’s first election under the 10-1 system of geographic representation.

Mayor of Austin: Steve Adler came out on top in the race for mayor with 36.76 percent. Mike Martinez garnered 29.63 percent of the vote. The run-off election is Dec. 16.

District 1: Ora Houston was just short of the votes needed to win District 1 outright. She received 49.12 percent of the vote. DeWayne Lofton came in second with 14.41 percent of the vote. This race will head to a run-off.

District 2: Delia Garza won District 2 with 65.76 percent of the vote.

District 3: Susana Almanza led the race with 20.99 percent of the vote. She will face her brother, Sabino "Pio" Renteria, in a  run-off. Renteria earned 18.80 percent of the vote.

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2014 Elections
9:28 am
Tue November 4, 2014

Where to Vote in Travis County This Election Day

It's Election Day.

Voters in Travis County can vote at any polling place -- not just their precinct location. This map from the Travis County Clerk shows all voting locations in Travis County. 

Transportation
7:56 am
Tue November 4, 2014

Austin's Rail and Roads Bond: An Explainer to End All Explainers

A map of the proposed starter light rail from East Riverside to Highland.
Credit Project Connect

Update, Nov. 5: Austin voters decided against the light rail and road improvements proposal, commonly known as Austin's 'Prop 1.' The final tally of votes had the proposal losing by a wide margin, with 57 percent of voters saying "No" and 43 percent voting "Yes." That's a 14-point loss for the light rail and roads proposal. 

Original story, Nov. 4: It's the biggest debt proposal in Austin history, and it comes to a billion dollars in all: $600 million of it for a starter light rail line, with $400 million for improvements to state roads.

There's a lot to unpack here, and plenty of debate on the merits of this transportation proposal. So here it is, the (hopefully) last explainer you'll need this election for Austin's rail and roads proposition, featuring our reporting over the many months (and years) leading up to today's decision. 

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Austin
6:00 am
Tue November 4, 2014

Amid Unprecedented Number of City Candidates in Austin, You Only Need to Vote for Two

If you've felt overwhelmed by the unprecedented number of candidates running this political season, fear not.

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2014 Elections
12:22 pm
Fri October 31, 2014

Lack of Early Voting Locations in Dove Springs Concerns Residents

Credit Photo by KUT News

Isabel Rios is standing outside the Fiesta Supermarket on Stassney Lane, approaching shoppers as they walk toward the store. It's the only early voting location near Dove Springs.

"Hola!" she says, walking toward a couple shoppers. "Hello. Votan? Votan, señoras?” 

Rios is stumping for District 2 city council candidate Edward Reyes at Fiesta, the closest early voting location to the Dove Springs neighborhood. She and Reyes say their job has turned from campaigning to encouraging people to vote at all. 

“Just talking and encouraging people to vote," Rios says. "Trying to engage people as we can.”

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Austin
12:09 pm
Thu October 30, 2014

District 4 Council Candidate Laura Pressley's Views Include 9/11 Conspiracy

"Something was planted in the buildings," Pressley said in June 2012.
Credit pressleyforaustin.com

Austin City Council District 4 Candidate Laura Pressley has come under scrutiny for some of her views, including a 'Fluoride Free' campaign for the city's drinking water and claims that electricity smart meters cause her legs to twitch.

These and several other views of Pressley's were cataloged this week by the Austin Chronicle. And there's another wrinkle to the candidate's perspectives: A newly-discovered recording shows that Pressley also claims that the attacks of September 11, 2001 on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were actually a controlled demolition. 

Pressley made her views known at an event two years ago at the alternative bookstore Brave New Books titled '9/11 Debate: How Strong is the Evidence of a Larger Conspiracy?' Pressley jumped in during a question and answer session after the panel had concluded and attacked panelist Daniel Krawisz for not knowing about a "study" that linked traces of explosives found at the site of the destruction to explosives used by the U.S. military.

You can listen to the full exchange here:


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2014 Elections
2:24 pm
Thu October 2, 2014

Could a New, Rail-Averse City Council Derail Prop 1?

A new proposal to build a light rail line in Austin isn't well-liked among City Council candidates.
Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

Austin voters are facing two major decisions this November.

First, Austinites will elect a new city council from brand new geographic districts, and voters will also decide whether to borrow $600 million to build a light rail line.

But, with so many City Hall hopefuls running on Prop 1-bashing stump speeches, what happens if voters approve the measure, and the next council has to implement policy they’ve sworn against?

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2014 Elections
11:19 am
Thu September 18, 2014

Listen: The Ballot Boxing District 4 Forum

Candidates gathered at Marchesa Hall on Sept. 17 for KUT's District 4 Ballot Boxing City Council candidate forum.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

The Ballot Boxing series continued last night with the Austin City Council candidate forum for District 4 in North Austin. Seven of the eight candidates gathered at the Marchesa Hall with moderators Michael Kanin of the Austin Monitor and Regina Rodriguez of Univision 62.

You can view a photo gallery above and listen to the full audio of the forum below.

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City Council
9:58 am
Wed September 10, 2014

City Council Adopts $3.5 Billion 2015 Budget

The Austin City Council Approved a $3.5 billion budget for 2015 yesterday, lowering the tax rate to 48.09 cents per $100 of taxable valuation.
Credit Austin Monitor

This story comes to us from our city hall reporting partner, the Austin Monitor.

City Council adopted the Fiscal Year 2015 budget and tax rate Tuesday, despite Mayor Lee Leffingwell’s dissent.

Council members voted in favor of an operating budget with an $854 million general fund after approving a set of amendments this week that totaled $3.4 million. They also increased combined enterprise and internal service fund spending by $1.2 million, and critical one-time expenditure fund spending by $3.3 million.

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2014 Elections
2:58 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

Are Council Candidates' Packed Schedules Distancing Them from Voters' Voices?

Seventy-Eight Candidates are vying for a spot in City Hall this November, but some say they may lose sight of their constituents' needs.
Callie Hernandez for KUT News

Labor Day typically marks the homestretch of campaigns, both locally and statewide.

In Austin, 72 candidates across 10 districts, in addition to six mayoral candidates, should expect to have their schedules packed with forums, campaign appearances, stump speeches and fundraisers. But, amid all that hustle and bustle, will candidates get to know their districts and hear their voters before the Election Day?

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10-1
2:11 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

Ballot Boxing: The Austin City Council District Forums

Join KUT, the Austin Monitor, Univision 62, KXAN and the Austin Chronicle for our series of in-district Austin City Council candidate forums. All forums begin at 7 P.M. They are free and open to the public.
RSVP is recommended. 

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2014 Elections
5:29 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

Can Ballot Placement Influence an Election Outcome?

City Clerk Jannette Goodall randomly draws candidate names by district and announces the order in which candidate names will appear on the ballot.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

For the 78 people running for Austin City Council and Mayor this fall, where their name is on the ballot can make a real difference on Election Day. And that was determined by a random drawing on Wednesday.

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2014 Elections
10:19 am
Tue August 19, 2014

Here's Who's Running for Austin Mayor and City Council

Construction crews renovate the inside of the Austin City Council Chambers earlier this year, to make room for a larger council.
Bryan Winter/KUT News

Nearly two years after Austinites passed the 10-1 plan – which allows voters to elect city council members from their respective geographic district while the mayor is still elected by all voters – the plan has arrived at its penultimate step: The ballot is set. 

In total, 78 candidates submitted their names for voter approval ahead of the city and county elections in November. The ballot features some familiar faces, with current council members Chris Riley and Kathie Tovo pitted against each other in District 9 as well as a Sheryl Cole vs. Mike Martinez match up in the at-large race for mayor. 

Below you can find a full list of the candidates on the ballot listed by filing date:

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2014 Elections
10:14 am
Mon August 18, 2014

Could the Hyperlocal Focus of 10-1 Reverse the Push to Make Austin a 'World Class' City?

The Circuit of the Americas track has been a boon for Austin's international reputation, but it's come with a cost. Geographic representation, some say, will allow for more on-the-ground, hyperlocal governance.
flickr.com/oxherder

Today is the last day candidates can file to run in the next Austin City Council election. Those elected in November will represent one of Austin’s 10 new geographic districts.  Some campaigns are already underway, and candidates are hearing about needs that are exclusive to their district.

A lot of those district-exclusive needs don't involve more international flights or starting another international festival in Austin.

So if the candidates, once they're elected, focus on solving the small-scale problems their constituents bring to their attention during the campaign season, Austin may experience radical changes over the next decade or so.

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Transportation
7:13 am
Fri August 8, 2014

Urban Rail and Road Improvement Plan Will Go to Austin Voters in November

Supporters of urban rail hope it will relieve traffic congestion, but some transit advocates aren't convinced it will work.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrlaugh/6705429685

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.

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Austin City Council
9:20 am
Thu August 7, 2014

Austin Could Create a Municipal ID Program

Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole says the municipally issued identification cards would allow undocumented immigrants to report crimes without fear of deportation.
Daniel Reese/KUT

Today, the Austin City Council could decide whether or not to move forward on municipal identification cards – cards which would allow undocumented immigrants to identify themselves without the fear of deportation.

The item on the council's agenda (PDF) would permit the city manager to conduct a study of the ID program to be delivered to council later this year.

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Austin
10:13 am
Tue July 22, 2014

Running for Austin City Council? The Time to File is Here

Earlier this month, crews began renovating the dais in City Hall in order to fit 11 council members. The filing period to run for council this fall opened this week.
Bryan Winter/KUT

Austin City Council hopefuls are trickling into City Hall to file for a place on the ballot.

The application period, opened yesterday, goes through August 18. While currently just a handful of people have filed, the election is generating excitement that's hard to come by in local politics

Jannette Goodall is Austin's City Clerk. But if you didn't know that, you'd think she's a wedding planner – for months, Goodall and her staff have been prepping for this moment. "You're kind of planning for the big ball, you know? It's kind of fun," she says.

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