Austin

Austin
12:46 am
Thu November 20, 2014

A Marriage in Transition

Greg Abbink and Joan Henke were married in 2012. Greg was born a female. This summer, he decided to transition.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

Tonight, in cities all around the world, people will gather together to remember those from the transgender community who have died. It's called the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Austin's memorial will be at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Tonight's speaker is Greg Abbink, the first transgender police officer in the Austin Police Department. He joined the force after serving in the Army. Back then, his name was Emily Abbink. This summer, Emily decided to transition her appearance to that of a male.

"Because even at five years old, I vividly remember asking my parents, 'Why did God make me a girl?'" he says. "I used to pray at night that I would wake up as a boy."

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2014 Mayoral Runoff
10:32 am
Mon November 17, 2014

Poll: Steve Adler Increases Runoff Lead Over Mike Martinez

Steve Adler increased his lead over Council Member Mike Martinez in the runoff for the Austin mayoral race.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

From The Austin Monitor:

A poll commissioned by the Austin Monitor shows that 56 percent of voters said they would likely vote for mayoral candidate Steve Adler, compared to 35 percent who said they would vote for his runoff opponent, City Council Member Mike Martinez. Only 8 percent of those polled indicated that they were undecided in the mayoral contest.

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Austin
10:05 am
Mon November 17, 2014

Check Out the High-End Golf Course Proposed For East Austin Tonight

Courtesy of the City of Austin

A plan to turn 735 acres of East Austin parkland into a high-end golf course will get a public airing this evening. The City of Austin is hosting a meeting on the proposal for Walter E. Long park from 4:30 to 7:30 at the Morris Williams Golf Course at 3851 Manor Road

The city says the plan will bring jobs and tourist money to the east side. Under the proposal, developers would pay to build and maintain the course and give the city a cut of the revenue. That appeals to the Parks Department which doesn’t currently do upkeep on the land.

But there’s opposition.  Some residents don’t think Austin should give up so much space to a costly sport that a lot of people don’t play. The parkland is in Austin's City Council District 1. Ora Houston, the front-runner for the District 1 seat opposes the plan and has asked the City to postpone a vote until after the new council is seated.

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Austin
10:41 am
Thu November 13, 2014

Looming State School Closure Leaves Austin's Most Vulnerable in Limbo

Judi Stonedale visits her 42 year-old daughter Julie Isbell at least once a week. Stonedale says her daughter gets outstanding care at ASSLC.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

Eviction notices have gone out to 77 people who live at Austin's State Supported Living Center on 35th Street and MoPac. The state’s Sunset Advisory Commission has recommended closing the facility which opened in 1917 and services 28 counties in Central Texas.

All of the people who live at the center have serious developmental disabilities, and a handful have already moved out.

As the eviction notices come in, residents and their families are searching for new housing alternatives as the state prepares for a likely sale that could turn the 94-acre property into a mixed-use development. But some say the commission doesn’t have the final word in the facility’s closure, and promise to fight.

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Austin
7:46 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

Gay Rights Group Gives Austin Policies Top Score

A banner at the city-owned Long Center welcomes people celebrating gay pride in 2010.
Austin Chronicle https://flic.kr/p/88nevS

Austin received the highest possible score in a new report card measuring city policies toward lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) scored 353 cities nationwide, including 22 in Texas, and gave Austin a score of 100 out of 100.

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Veterans Day 2014
8:36 am
Tue November 11, 2014

What's Open, What's Closed and What's Going on to Honor Veterans

Patricia Ray and Linda Palerma placed a flag by the war memorial in honor of their husband and father, respectively, who died in the Vietnam War. Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

Today is Veterans Day, and with that in mind we've got a rundown of all the parades, speeches and other events to honor Central Texas veterans in Austin, Georgetown and San Marcos.

In addition, we've got the full list of city office closures as employees observe Veterans Day. Check out the full list of events and closures below.

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Fun Fun Fun Fest
1:26 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

Fest-Goers Turn to Chargebacks After Friday's Fun Fun Fun Fest Line Snafu

Fun Fun Fun Fest attendees waited hours in the will call line that stretched as far as City Hall to get into the festival on Friday.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

The Fun Fun Fun Fest will call line blew up the Internet on Friday night.

The hours-long line that backed up across Lady Bird Lake inspired a parody twitter account, a couple of irate Reddit threads and prompted an apology from the fest’s organizers, Transmission Entertainment.

The variables that caused the backup stretch almost as far as the line itself – the festival’s queue this year formed into one line, as opposed to multiple lines like in previous years, because of construction at Auditorium Shores; the will call line was understaffed; talks between the City of Austin and Transmission broke down as they were trying to find a quick fix for the line. The list goes on. And so did the line. Until about 8 p.m., when organizers dissolved the front gate and allowed people a chance to catch the last Friday acts free of charge.

For some, (including this reporter) it was a footnote to an otherwise pleasant festival experience. Others, it seemed, wanted revenge.

Since Transmission has kept a strict no refund policy since 2006, some are turning to credit card chargebacks, a work-around that could refund those with un-scanned tickets on the grounds that they didn’t get what they paid for.

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2014 Elections
5:15 pm
Fri November 7, 2014

Clearing the Way for Tovo, Riley Withdraws from District 9 Council Runoff

Council member Chris Riley (left) and Council member Kathie Tovo at an October candidate forum.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Current Austin City Council Member Chris Riley is withdrawing from a runoff election with another current Council Member, Kathie Tovo.

In Tuesday's election for the District 9 seat, Tovo won 49.05 percent of the vote -- just shy of the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff. Riley earned 40.41 percent and the third candidate, Erin McGann, won 10.53 percent.

In a statement announcing his withdrawal, Riley congratulated Tovo on a hard-fought campaign.

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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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Technology
11:21 am
Fri November 7, 2014

Austin Startup Uses Dumb Phones to Bring Smart Solutions to Africa's Ebola Epidemic

Developers Doing Development hopes to use texts and voicemails to Africans to help combat food, water and safety crises.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

Smartphones are now the norm in the U.S., and in Austin, brandishing a flip phone in most situations is the social equivalent to wearing a dunce cap while riding a Segway. 

But in Africa and other developing countries, mobile-only networks dominate communications markets. In those places, a "brick", flip phone or “dumb” phone is a communication lifeline. 

So this weekend, Austin-based group Developers Doing Development is asking tech communities in both Austin and Madison, Wisconsin to bring smartphone-level coding to the dumb phone, and create apps that will provide on-the-ground updates and vital information to developing countries. 

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2014 Mayoral Runoff
11:29 am
Thu November 6, 2014

Adler and Martinez Look to Ramp Up Fundraising Ahead of Mayoral Runoff

Both Mike Martinez and Steve Adler have sunk over $100,000 into their campaigns for Mayor of Austin.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

There was a time when it didn't cost a whole lot to win a race for Austin mayor.

Up until the election of outgoing Mayor Lee Leffingwell, mayoral elections in Austin were typically won with less than $300,000 – sometimes with much less.

But with the city's rapid expansion and efforts to combat low voter turnout, this year's mayoral election has produced the most expensive campaigns in the office's history -- and it's not over.

For the next six weeks, run-off candidates Mike Martinez and Steve Adler are poised to ramp up their fundraising efforts in the hopes of luring voters to the polls for the Dec. 16 runoff.

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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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SXSW
3:00 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

SXSW Installs Temporary Cameras on Sixth Street to Monitor Crowd Density

After a report said SXSW and the city of Austin could do more to manage growing crowds, SXSW organizers are trying to test out some of the report's recommendations.
flickr.com/photos/zub

Nearly two months after the global design and planning company, Populous, released a report saying South by Southwest and the city of Austin could do more to improve public safety and manage growing crowds at the festival, organizers are trying to test out some of the report’s recommendations.

Last Friday, on Halloween, South by Southwest organizers worked with private businesses on Sixth Street to set up three cameras on the street between Brazos and Red River streets. According to the festival organizers, the goal was to monitor crowd activity because Halloween and the first night of Formula 1 would attract crowds similar to those at SXSW.

According to a lawyer with the festival, SXSW believes the city could do more to deal with issues of overcrowding on Sixth street. 

SXSW would not say where exactly the cameras were located.

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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. 

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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Austin ISD
11:22 am
Mon November 3, 2014

Meet the Groups Backing Candidates in the AISD School Board Campaigns

While some Austin School Board candidates have decided to run without contributions, others have accepted over $80,000 in total in contributions.
Photo by KUT News

When it comes to fundraising, Austin school board candidates run the gamut. Some have chosen not to fundraise at all, while others have received more than $80,000 in donations.

But who are the organizations giving money to candidates in this year’s AISD school board elections?

Before the 2012 school board elections, the local teacher’s union, Education Austin, was the only major donor in Austin school board elections. But that year, a new group entered the fray – a political action committee called Austin Kids First.

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10-1
9:05 am
Mon November 3, 2014

In District 10, Worry on Both Sides of Debate Over Private Wells

Photo credits (L to R, top to bottom): Filipa Rodrigues for KUT, flickr.com/photos/atmtx , Filipa Rodrigues for KUT and flickr.com/photos/bougher7

This election, Austinites are voting in 10 different geographically drawn city council districts. So, we’ve been taking a look at each of the city's 10 new districts.

In the final installment in our series, KUT's Joy Diaz takes a look at District 10, which covers Tarrytown, Spicewood Springs Road, Northwest Hills and ends just at U.S. Highway 183.

There are many issues District 10 neighbors would like the new Austin City Council to address, but water is one that gets folks here pretty animated. Specifically, how the city addresses the drilling of private wells.

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Austin
6:42 pm
Sat November 1, 2014

A Story of Survival: One Year After the Halloween Floods

From left to right: Lawrence Joiner, Acelee Joiner, Kailynn Childers, Alyssa Joiner, Natalie Lindsey, Isaac Jacobs, and Bene Jacobs.
Ilana Panich-Linsman, KUT News

It was still dark the morning of Halloween 2013 when hundreds of families in Onion Creek, a neighborhood in South East Austin, woke up to rising water in their homes.

Bene Jacobs and her family survived the flood by taking refuge on their neighbor's roof.

She remembers that morning clearly.

Bene and her partner Lawrence waded through the waters with their three children in tow. Ten-year-old Isaac was in Lawrence's arms. Isaac was born with special needs. His wheelchair would have been swept by the fast moving waters. Alyssa was five at the time and Acelee, a toddler.

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10-1
1:33 pm
Thu October 30, 2014

The Long-Term Problems of Short-Term Rentals in District 9

Photo credits (L to R, top to bottom): Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT, City of Austin, Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT, flickr.com/photos/gold41 and Filipa Rodriguex for KUT.

Austinites are voting in 10 different geographically drawn city council districts this election. We’ve been taking a look at each of those districts.

Today, we’ll a look at District 9, a compact district that touches Oltorf and goes up through downtown and the UT campus to just south of U.S. Highway 290.

At its heart is the Clarksville neighborhood, with its historic freedman's homes. It’s one of many district neighborhoods dealing with a problem some say robs the city of revenue, disrupts neighborhoods and lowers property values in the much-coveted, centrally-located district: short term rentals.

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