Austin

News, events, and entertainment happening in and around Austin and the Central Texas counties of Travis, Hays, Caldwell, Bastrop and Williamson

UT Austin's Briscoe Center

After months of controversy swirling around the statues memorializing Confederate leaders on UT’s campus, the group tasked with helping President Greg Fenves decide their ultimate fate handed up their recommendations on Monday.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

The Austin Animal Center is finally fully staffed: Tawny Hammond, who just moved to Austin from Fairfax, Virginia, has taken over as the city's new Chief Animal Services Officer. 

Hammond's new job involves getting to know her bosses on the Austin City Council, like East Austin representative Ora Houston. Recently, after meeting some of the staff, Hammond sat with Houston to learn about the specific animal needs of the council member's East Austin district. Hammond says she's learned some districts in Austin have a large number of homeless animals. 

Hammond says there are three things she wants to do in her new role.

The City of Austin has its own department dedicated to auditing the police force – it’s called the Office of the Police Monitor. It’s supposed to issue an annual report summarizing all the year’s officer-involved shootings, complaints against police and investigations into the department.

But if you go to the Police Monitor’s website, the latest report is from 2012

The backlog is real.

Charlotte Carpenter for KUT News

The city of Austin has released a report on health gaps throughout Travis County. It touches on high rates of teenage pregnancy, infant mortality and HIV among African-American and Hispanic communities.

But this report is just the first step toward helping the city and local non-profits find a way to use the city budget to bridge gaps between different communities.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

The group tasked with providing solutions to the controversy surrounding statues of Confederate figures on the University of Texas at Austin campus has submitted its suggestions to the school’s president, Gregory Fenves.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

Mary Blackstock has no idea when she learned how to swim. In fact, the Louisiana native says she doesn't remember "ever not knowing how to swim."

Blackstock, 88, was born in between the great wars. Her father was a dentist, her mother, a stay-at-home mom. She says her mother couldn't swim and was afraid of the water. But her father's family owned a paddle-boat. They transported sugar cane and cattle to New Orleans. The family home was on a hill at Babylon Bayou, and that's where Mary Blackstock and her siblings would swim every evening — but only when her father was home from work. He was the one who would throw the kids in the water.

Swimming, Blackstock says, changed her life.

Gabriel Cristover Perez

From our city reporting partner the Austin Monitor:

Amid concerns that Fun Fun Fun Fest would not take place this November at Vic Mathias Shores, City Council has intervened in negotiations between festival organizers and the city’s Parks and Recreation Department to ensure that it goes forward as planned.

Council unanimously passed a resolution Thursday directing Parks and Recreation Department staff to allow organizer Transmission Events to use up to 1 acre of a newly renovated off-leash dog park to accommodate the event, which will take place Nov. 6-8.

KUT News

Travis County residents can now use their phones to register to vote, with a new text-based system available to any eligible voter in the county.

Former State Senator Joe Christie spent the last two years helping to develop the tool, in part to encourage more millennials to get registered.

wallercreek.org

With all of the cranes and construction going on downtown, you might not have noticed one of the biggest projects of them all.

Austin will soon be home to the largest urban creek renewal project in the country’s history. Waller Creek, which winds through downtown and connects to Lady Bird Lake, is set to be transformed into a chain of parks, part of a long-term revitalization project. [See more project details here.]

KUT spoke with Peter Mullan, CEO of the Waller Creek Conservancy, to learn more about the project and how the public can get involved in the planning.

Man Ray, via the J. Paul Getty Museum

Forty-two years ago today, Vander Clyde died of a drug overdose in Round Rock.

Clyde, who performed as Barbette, wasn’t an archetypal Round Rocker (if there is such a thing) in the sense that, for a stretch of his 68-year life, he was a sensation in Paris’ vaudeville scene, became the muse of a proto-surrealist avant garde poet and filmmaker, and went on to become a circus director for Ringling Barnum Circus.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Fun Fun Fun Fest is set for November, but festival organizers don’t yet know how much of Auditorium Shores they’ll be able to use.

The battle, it turns out, is over a three-acre tract of dog park.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Department says they never promised this area for festival use. Fun Fun Fun Fest organizers say at least part of this space is essential to making the festival work.

City Council will wade into the issue tomorrow.

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Neighbors filed a lawsuit against Terry Black’s barbecue last week, saying the smoke from its pits was disruptive. But in a Health and Human Services Committee meeting Monday, city staff argued that complaints like these are mostly isolated incidents.

Vince Delisi with the city’s Health and Human Services Department talked to the Texas Commission on Environmental Equality, which tracks air pollution complaints such as barbecue smoke.

“That report was a little bit disappointing," Delisi says.

flickr.com/photos/tabor-roeder

Seventy-three children died in Texas last year from a single cause. And so far this year, 56 children have died as a result of that same cause: drowning.

And, while there are efforts at both the statewide and local levels to educate adults on how to avoid drowning deaths, children of color are disproportionately represented among the victims.

Austin Monitor

From the Austin Monitor

Despite Austin being the country’s only large, fast-growing city with a waning African-American population, businesses owned by black residents in the greater area appear to be outperforming those in the rest of the state.

According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics that Greater Austin Black Chamber board member Hopeton Hay presented in July, Travis County topped the state in average receipts for firms owned by black residents in 2007, with $131,400 per company. That is more than double the average for Dallas County, which came in second place at $63,200 per company.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Austin's roads are busier than ever, and there’s more than just cars and trucks on them. As more and more Austinites choose bikes to get around, where exactly are they allowed to ride?

It can be a little confusing knowing where it’s okay to ride your bike. For instance, you’re not supposed to ride on the sidewalk in parts of downtown Austin. But when it comes to the road? Well, a bike is welcome pretty much everywhere. It’s right there in the Texas Transportation Code.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Food can be delicious, heart-warming and life-sustaining. So, how did eating become a constant battle with the refrigerator?

In this edition of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Bob Duke and Dr. Arthur Markman discuss the challenges in maintaining a healthy diet and how changing our perspectives on food may be a vital approach to solving these problems.

Photo by KUT News

The City of Austin today presented its proposed budget for FY 2015-16 to the new 10-1 City Council, which will work on finalizing the proposal before the new fiscal year on Oct. 1.  [View the proposed budget in full here.]

The proposal calls for spending a total of $3.5 billion, a $39-million increase from last year. The increase in property tax revenue for the city would total about $36 million.

Terrence Henry/KUT

Austin’s well-known as the Live Music Capital of the World, but it’s also becoming known as a place that’s running out of room. There's one neighborhood in town where old-time residents are probably going to be moved out in order to make way for new development. And it’s ruffling some feathers.

We're talking, of course, about monk parakeets. In particular, the two hundred of them that live at the University of Texas at Austin Whitaker Intramural Fields, in Central Austin on Guadalupe. Head there at dusk, and you'll see not just soccer or lacrosse scrimmages, but you'll see hundreds, if not thousands, of birds. 

And the most colorful and charismatic of them are the monk parakeets. But soon they're likely going to have to move out of their longtime home. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Austin music leaders are suggesting changes the city could make to protect and enliven its live music industry. On Wednesday, they presented their recommendations at Holy Mountain, a downtown venue closing its doors later this year – partly because of rising rent.

The recommendations are aimed at five issues advocates say are plaguing Austin’s music scene, including affordability of commercial space, stagnant event revenues, venue preservation, permitting and code enforcement complications and a gap in community engagement.

Milton Hinnant/The Dallas Morning News

Tomorrow, the Dallas Cowboys start a month-long training in Oxnard, Calif., ahead of the 2015-2016 season. The state of California has long been a staple base of operations for the Cowboys – California Lutheran College in Thousand Oaks served as the team’s longest-serving venue for camp from 1963 until 1989, and the state’s hosted 10 camps since 2001.

But, before the Cowboys migrated back to California for camp, the team spent its most productive (and controversial) summers right here in Austin, when the team used St. Edward’s University as a base of operations during their Super Bowl runs of the 1990s.

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