Austin

Turning the Corner
10:59 am
Fri May 9, 2014

How Teen Pregnancies at Mendez Middle School Were Cut Down to Zero

Last year 22 middle school students in Austin ISD became pregnant, but none were at Mendez Middle School, despite its location in the Austin neighborhood with the highest teen pregnancy rate. So what happened?
flickr.com/dongkwan

This article is part of KUT's yearlong series Turning the Corner, taking a look at Austin's Dove Springs neighborhood. For decades, the neighborhood has had a negative reputation. Now, many community members are trying to change the perception of the 78744 zip code. Listen to those stories here.

In the 2012-2013 school year, the Austin school district reported 303 student pregnancies districtwide. 22 of those pregnancies were middle school students.

Despite its location in the neighborhood with the highest rate of teen pregnancy in Travis County, none of them were at Mendez Middle School. So what happened? 

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Austin
2:51 pm
Thu May 8, 2014

Austinites Optimistic About City's Future: Results from the Inaugural Zandan Poll

Zandan Poll shows majority of Austin residents are proud of Austin, would recommend the city to others.
Zandan Poll Results Zandan Poll, KLRU, Cambia Group, Hill + Knowlton Strategies

Despite worries over the city’s growth, traffic issues, and affordability, a new poll shows majority of Austinites feel their city is headed in the “right direction.”

The Zandan Poll comes from KLRU, the Cambia Information Group, Hill + Knowlton Strategies, and the poll’s founder and namesake, Peter Zandan.

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Austin
10:40 am
Thu May 8, 2014

The Money Race for Austin City Council Starts Today

Credit Photo by KUT News

Today is the first day that campaigns and candidates for the Austin City Council can start soliciting or accepting political contributions. Although many things will be radically different this election cycle, asking for money will remain practically the same. 

When Austin voters changed the city’s form of government in 2012, they did not change anything when it comes to campaign contributions. Still, the city’s clerk Jannette Goodall says campaign contribution limits are adjusted every election cycle according to inflation.

For instance, the charter says 300 dollars “and I believe the current amount is 350,” says Goodall.

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Halloween Floods
11:06 am
Mon May 5, 2014

After Report Faults Halloween Flood Response, Is More Accountability Needed?

Rescue teams in Southeast Austin assist people stranded in rising flood waters in the early hours of Oct. 31, 2013. A city report faults officials for late activation of an emergency response center, among other shortcomings.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Update: Austin City Council member and mayoral candidate Mike Martinez is asking the city’s Public Safety Commission to consider recommending an independent review of city response to the deadly Halloween flooding.

A report done by city staff highlighted more than 100 response problems, including communication issues between agencies and with the general public. Read more about the findings in the original story below.

In emails to the commission, Martinez requests the group consider calling for an independent review. Martinez also finds fault with the framing of the city's report, writing "My general impression is that the failures and opportunities are large, and the successes are relatively small. Giving them equal weight with a tally of successes, opportunities, and failures seems to undermine the seriousness of any analysis." 

The Public Safety Commission will also hear reports from Austin Fire, Police and EMS about the response to last October’s flooding.

Original story (April 15): In Austin, it’s almost certain a flood will hit in the future. What we don’t know is when.

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Life & Arts
12:30 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

Cine Las Americas Brings Films to Austin You Won't See Anywhere Else (Update)

A still from "Pelo Malo" / Bad Hair by Mariana Rondón.
Cine Las Americas

Update: Today Cine Las Americas announced the award winners for the 17th Cine Las Americas International Film Festival. The grand jury awards went to:

  • Best Narrative Feature: MATEO, Dir. María Gamboa, Colombia/France
  • Best Documentary Feature: ROQUE DALTON, ¡FUSILEMOS LA NOCHE! (Roque Dalton, Let's Shoot the Night!), Dir. Tina Leish, Austria/El Salvador/Cuba
  • Best Narrative Short: PADRE (Father), Dir. Santiago 'Bou' Grasso, Argentina/France
  • Best Documentary Short: TRAZOS EN LA CUMBRE (Drawing on the Heights), Dir. Alejandro Victorero, Carlos Alejandro Molina, Venezuela

There's details on other winners and the audience awards on the Cine Las Americas website.

Original Story (April 22, 2014): The 17th Cine Las Americas film festival gets underway today.

The nearly week-long fest focuses on films by or about Latinos, indigenous peoples of the Americas and those from Spain and Portugal. They’re films you probably won’t see making the rounds later on in theaters.

KUT sat down with the festival’s Executive Director – Eugenio del Bosque to learn more.

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Mental Health
3:44 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

First Psychiatric Emergency Department in Central Texas Opens its Doors

Jesús Garza, Seton's president, speaks at an event shortly before Seton's psychiatric emergency department opened its doors on April 29, 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

The first psychiatric emergency department in Central Texas opened today at University Medical Center Brackenridge.

The department's aim is to divert patients away from general community emergency rooms into more appropriate and cost-effective care. Now Central Texas adults experiencing a behavioral health crisis can now get help at any time of the day.

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Austin
12:10 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

PHOTOS: Unclaimed Veterans Honored in Camp Mabry Ceremony

Ashlee Earley was presented with a flag in honor of her late father, Pfc. Donald George Danylock.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

Twelve U.S. servicemen whose remains were left unclaimed by family or friends received full military honors on Sunday morning in front of the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall at Camp Mabry in Austin.

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Austin
10:53 am
Mon April 28, 2014

Five Things You May Not Have Known About Eeyore’s Birthday

The scene at Eeyore's 2013 celebration in Peace Park.
Marissa Barnett for KUT News

Update: See some photos from Eeyore's 2014 bash below.

Original story (April 25):  It doesn’t get much more Austin weird than Eeyore’s Birthday Party – the annual Pease Park bacchanal known for outrageous costumes and booming drum circles.

This Saturday, April 26 is the 50th anniversary of the party. To mark the occasion, KUT News puts down the turkey leg to bring you five things you may not have known about the long-running festival.

  • It started as a UT thing.

Scott Sexton is the president of the Friends of the Forest foundation, the Austin nonprofit that puts on Eeyore’s birthday. He notes that the first celebration was dreamt up by UT English major Lloyd Birdwell Jr. and his fellow students.

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Austin
10:04 am
Mon April 28, 2014

Election Time: Early Voting For Municipal Elections Begins, Voter Registration Ends

flickr.com/ldcross

Early voting starts today for the May 10 municipal elections in cities across Central Texas.

Voters in Bee Cave, Manor, New Braunfels, Round Rock and West Lake Hills are choosing mayors and city council members. Several school districts are also holding bond elections. 

Early voting continues through Tuesday, May 6. Election Day for the municipal elections is Saturday, May 10. A valid photo identification is required to vote in person.

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Austin & Affordability
6:06 am
Mon April 28, 2014

Do Austinites Have Choices When it Comes to Housing?

A line of houses in the Mueller Development.
flickr.com/gjmj

If you live or work in the City of Austin, have you asked yourself why you chose to work or live where you do? Well, the City of Austin wants to know the answers to those questions to help plan for the future.

The city is conducting a “housing choice survey.” But with the current shortage of housing, do Austinites have any real choice in where they live?

Word on the street is that Austinites have very few housing choices. At least, that’s what rapper “Blind Man” says as he finds his way with his cane to a bench on East 11th Street.

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Austin
8:02 am
Fri April 25, 2014

PHOTOS: Mack Brown, Jack Ingram & Matthew McConaughey Raise Funds for Kids

Actor Matthew McConaughey is one of the founders of MJ&M, a foundation that aims to empower kids.
Laura Rice, KUT News

Three of Austin’s most famous residents kicked off an effort last night to raise money for charities that help young people.

Former UT-Austin Head Football Coach Mack Brown, county musician Jack Ingram and Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey make up “Mack Jack and McConaughey" – or MJ&M.

The trio’s inaugural fundraising campaign in 2013 raised more than $1 million.

"We thought this would be a home run," Mack Brown said. "Because when you get Jack Ingram and Sheryl Crow and when you get Matthew McConaughey to come in, it's special. And it's all for kids."

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Austin Police
8:47 am
Thu April 24, 2014

Audit Finds Problems With How APD Stores, Destroys Old Drug and Weapons Evidence

Austin Police display drugs and guns seized in an arrest. A report from Austin's City Auditor finds trouble with police storage procedure.
Divya Darsi for KUT News

This article is written by KUT's Austin City Hall reporting partner, the Austin Monitor.

A city audit found that drugs and firearms confiscated by the Austin Police Department are in some cases not adequately protected, with drugs sometimes stored in cardboard boxes outdoors.

In response, APD officials say they are re-evaluating the department’s evidence control policies.

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Constructions Starts at Shoal Creek
5:16 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Austin Restoring Banks, Paving Trails Along Shoal Creek

A rendering of a paved pathway along Shoal Creek, at Windsor and 24th Streets.
City of Austin Watershed Protection Department

After years of erosion, Austin is shoring up the downtown banks of the Shoal Creek trail starting Monday. Running from 15th Street to 28th Street, the project includes the eastern boundary of Pease Park.

According to Morgan Byars, supervising engineer for the project at the Watershed Protection Department, the erosion hasn’t only caused safety hazards, but an overall loss of greenspace.

“Severe bank erosion [is] affecting large heritage trees that potentially will fall into the creek,” Byars says. “We’ve got erosion very close to the trail system which presents a safety hazard for pedestrians and bikers, but also it’s just a general loss of parkland.”

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It's Taco Time
8:40 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

Mayor Leffingwell Gets a Breakfast Taco Intervention

Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell tries a migas taco from Veracruz All Natural.
Ilana Panich-Linsman, KUT News

Last month Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell made a much-debated statement while answering questions on Reddit: He said Taco Cabana makes some of his favorite breakfast tacos.

Mando Rayo, a self-described “taco journalist” in a city that takes its breakfast tacos very seriously, decided to press the issue. On Tuesday, Rayo picked up breakfast tacos from one of his favorite Austin taco spots, Veracruz All Natural, and hand-delivered them to Mayor Leffingwell’s office. 

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Bad Boyz Give Back
3:55 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

This Austin Biker Club Gave Kids an Easter They Won't Forget

Tamara Pruitt holds up one of several Easter baskets given away during the Bad Boyz and Girlz 4 Ever Motorcycle Club's raffle.
Jon Shapley for KUT News

Members of the Bad Boyz and Girlz 4 Ever motorcycle club gathered in East Austin Saturday for their fourth annual Easter celebration.

The motorcycle club, with the help of Boys and Girls Club of Austin, put on a family-friendly celebration including an Easter egg hunt, an Easter bunny, and a toy and bicycle give-away. Almost 70 children, most from nearby neighborhoods, came to participate.

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Boston Marathon, One Year Later
7:48 am
Mon April 21, 2014

Austin Runner Returns to Finish Boston Marathon

Michael Breen was 150 yards away from the finish line for the Boston Marathon last year before two explosions cut him off.
flickr.com/marc_buehler

Nearly 300 runners from the Austin area will be participating in the Boston Marathon today. It’s a group undeterred by two explosions that ripped through the crowds at the race last year, killing three spectators and wounding more than 260 others.

For many runners, the marathon ended abruptly. Race organizers invited most of those athletes back to run again this year. One Austinite isn’t passing up that chance.

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SXSW 2014
11:54 am
Fri April 18, 2014

Austin Police File More Charges Against SXSW Crash Suspect

A "ghost bike" is included in a makeshift memorial outside the Mohawk in this photo from March 17.
Credit Andrew Huygen for KUT News

The Austin Police Department has filed four more charges against the suspect accused of killing four people and injuring more than 20 people in downtown Austin on March 13

Roger Wade with the Travis County Sheriff's Office confirms that 21-year-old Rashad Charjuan Owens now has 25 aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charges filed against him as of April 17. He's also been charged with capital murder.

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Austin
10:27 am
Fri April 18, 2014

Council Withdraws Mid-Year Evaluation of City Manager

Austin City Manager Marc Ott gets a message from former Chief Financial Officer Leslie Browder in this 2011 photo.
Daniel Reese for KUT News

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

It seems that some City Council members were planning on giving City Manager Marc Ott – and perhaps others – a piece of their minds in private Thursday, but due to the absence of Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole, Mayor Lee Leffingwell was able to at least postpone that confrontation.

The executive session agenda for Thursday included four unusual items, each to do a mid-year evaluation of one of the Council’s appointees: Ott, City Auditor Kenneth Mory, Municipal Court Clerk Rebecca Stark and City Clerk Jannette Goodall.

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Education
6:38 am
Fri April 18, 2014

It's Good Friday – But Some Area School Districts Are Holding Classes

Several area school districts have to make up classes missed due to bad weather this winter.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Most Austin area school districts are closed today for the Good Friday holiday. But some students will be attending class.

That’s because they’re making up days off for bad weather earlier in the school year.

DO have school:

  • Burnet ISD will have regular school hours today.
  • Del Valle ISD is holding classes today.
  • Dripping Springs ISD is holding classes today and on Memorial Day to make up for canceled classes.
  • Eanes ISD is holding classes today. The rest of the school year will continue as planned.
  • Lockhart ISD will hold regular school hours today and on Memorial Day.
  • Manor ISD is holding classes today as a make-up. There will not be classes on Memorial Day.
  • Texas School for the Deaf will have regular school hours today.
  • Wimberley ISD is also holding classes this Good Friday.

DO NOT have school:

  • Austin ISD is off today. AISD has no make-up days scheduled for the rest of the school year.
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On My Block
6:00 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Austin: What's the One Thing That Would Make Life On Your Block Better?

What one thing would make life on your block better? KUT wants to hear from you.

What's the one thing that would make life on your block better?

As Austin prepares for its first elections with 10 new geographic districts, KUT is diving deeply into District One, which covers large parts of East Austin. But we want to hear from you, regardless of where you live. Tell us: What would make life better on your block? 

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