Austin

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

Lyft via youtube

From the Austin Monitor: Mayor Steve Adler on Sunday revealed that he has been working with a representative of Lyft, one of the transportation network companies that has been backing an initiative on the May 7 ballot to prevent the city from enforcing mandatory fingerprinting for TNC drivers. Adler said he has been discussing with attorney Michael Whellan, who represents Lyft, the idea of entering into a Memorandum of Understanding with the TNCs.

Mike Blizzard via Twitter

Updated: Feb. 9, 2:00 p.m. According to the City of Austin's website, the Austin4All PAC filed its treasurer appointment form Monday.

An effort to remove Austin City Council Member Ann Kitchen may have hit a bump. On Friday, a local attorney filed a complaint with the Texas Ethics Commission against the political action committee (PAC) organizing the recall.


Photo Illustration: Todd Wiseman/TexasTribune

It appears more likely voters will decide the future of regulations for ride-hailing companies in Austin.

Next week the Austin City Council will decide whether to adopt rules written by Uber and Lyft, or put them to a public vote. A petition by Ridesharing Works for Austin calling for those rules was certified Tuesday by the city clerk. The rules do not include fingerprint background checks for drivers – as some council members would like to see.

Mike Blizzard via Twitter

The Austin Monitor reports: While the city clerk still has not received a promised petition seeking the recall of Council Member Ann Kitchen, the Texas Ethics Commission has received four complaints filed against the group behind the alleged effort.

Austin attorney Fred Lewis filed the four complaints on Friday morning. They name Austin4All PAC, Rachel Kania, Tori Moreland, and Joe Basel as respective respondents.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT News

Antonio Mancinas, 68, leans against a tree in his front yard. He lives in a house with his wife at the end of Sam Rayburn Drive in the Rundberg neighborhood. Despite having spent roughly a quarter of a century on the street, he thinks back just a few years.

“Just imagine,” he says. “We were always afraid. It was dangerous, never knowing when there was going to be a shootout.”


April King via Wikipedia

Another Groundhog Day has come and gone and, despite the predictable smattering of Bill Murray-related memes, there’s not much solace in the promise of an early spring in a state like Texas. The state has its own version of the holiday based right here in Central Texas and, as one Waco writer put, “the groundhog knows no more about the weather than a man who has only been in Texas two days.”

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

The Austin City Council continued discussing regulations for ride-hailing companies like Lyft and Uber at its work session Tuesday, in response to a petition that was validated Monday by the city clerk's office. 


Mike Blizzard via Twitter

After news that a Political Action Committee had gathered enough signatures to recall an Austin City Council member, neighbors and fellow council members came out Monday to show their support.

“My experience with the Council member is that she is so hard-working and diligent and cares so much about this community,” District 4’s Greg Casar said of Kitchen.


MIguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT News

The Austin City Council today passed a plan to further regulate ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft.

The language in the ordinance is not entirely clear – but it calls for the “preferred ability” of drivers who do get fingerprinted to pick up and drop off passengers in the downtown entertainment district and around major events such as South by Southwest. Drivers who don’t get fingerprinted would pay higher fees and be barred from some wait areas. They may also be restricted from operating during certain hours.

Mike Blizzard via Twitter

Austin is riddled with petition fever, or so it seems lately. Last week, local group Ridesharing Works for Austin – a political action committee funded by Uber and Lyft – handed 23,000 petition signatures over to the Office of the City Clerk, making it highly likely that its ordinance will go in front of City Council, if not in front of the public for a city-wide vote.

A Look Back at Austin's Lesser-Known Petitions

Jan 27, 2016
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Petitions are having a moment right now.

But, despite their recent resurgence into the municipal zeitgeist, they’ve shaped the city in ways a lot of Austinites may or may not realize. There are well-known ones like the Save Our Springs ordinance or the 10-1 council reorganization petition, but what about the other times a petition's helped change Austin?

Photo by KUT News

“Austin is growing.” By now this maxim has become the resounding, if not infuriating, anthem of the city. It affects various sectors of life in Austin, from transportation to housing to health. And, as it turns out, it also affects how the city of Austin runs its 911 call center.


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon for KUT News

Last month KUT asked our audience to suggest stories they wanted us to report on. The story that listeners chose is about Austin’s African American population.  Specifically, why is it shrinking, while every other group in the city grows?  In the first installment of a project we’re calling ATXplained, KUT’s Mose Buchele reports. 

KUT News

Short-term rental website Airbnb has announced it wants to team up with cities throughout the country to collect taxes from people renting out rooms and homes on its website.


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Austin’s city government underwent a massive shift just over a year ago with the swearing in of the first City Council under the new 10-1 system, in which Council members are elected from geographic districts. The documentary “Ten Won” focuses on the campaign that brought out over 70 candidates and might be the start of a change in Austin’s politics. Former television journalist Judy Maggio co-directed the documentary. KUT’s Jennifer Stayton talked with her recently about how they packed all of that into half an hour.


Mike Blizzard via Twitter

As Mike Blizzard describes it, Wednesday morning began like any other. Then, came a knock at his door.

“A lot of people come through the neighborhood trying to get you to replace your windows, and I thought that’s who it was,” said Blizzard. “But instead it was a canvasser with a petition to recall City Council Member Ann Kitchen.”


Audrey McGlinchy/KUT

A local group funded by Uber and Lyft has turned into Austin City Hall a petition with the signatures of 23-thousand local voters, with the hopes of putting an ordinance on ride-hailing regulations it’s written to a public vote. To do that, a petition must have at least 20,000 valid signatures from local voters.

But that 20,000-signature threshold isn’t just a magic number for a city petition: It’s also a state threshold.

Courtesy of KUTX

KUT, KUTX and the music-loving folks of Austin all lost a luminary last Friday, when long-time DJ Paul Ray passed away at the age of 73. Ray was a fixture in the Austin music scene and his show "Twine Time" was a near-constant in an ever-changing Austin over the past 40 years. 

Shelby Knowles/Texas Tribune

From KUT's city reporting partner the Austin Monitor: Ridesharing Works for Austin has collected 65,103 signatures on a petition to change a city ordinance requiring that drivers be fingerprinted – which could force either a new City Council vote or a city-wide election.

The political action committee opposes rules that Council adopted in December that would require drivers of transportation network companies like Uber, Lyft and Get Me to submit their fingerprints for a background check. Council created a framework for a program that would encourage compliance through incentives and disincentives, which are set to be defined in a Jan. 28 meeting.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

A march today for Martin Luther King Jr. Day drew large crowds* of people who walked from the MLK statue at the University of Texas to Huston-Tillotson University, a historically black college in Austin. Cicily Roan took part and said she believes race relations are improving in America. 

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