Austin

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

The city of Austin continues to disfavor minority- and women-owned businesses in its contracting, a 750-page study finds.

Jon Wainwright, a senior vice president with NERA Economic Consulting, which authored the study, spoke to City Council’s Economic Opportunity Committee on Monday. “We examined a total of over $4 billion across more than 3,500 prime contracts and over 8,500 subcontracts over this six-year period (from 2008 to 2013),” he said. “M/WBEs (minority- and women-owned businesses) received 18.75 percent of those dollars.”


via Flickr/fiftypercentchanceofrain

The Alabama Crimson Tide and the Clemson Tigers will face off tonight in college football's title game. College football has become a popular pastime for students, but new research from Texas A&M University suggests there’s a downside to game day: an increase in sexual assaults on campuses nationwide.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Demolition, it seems, follows Robin Wilkins.

Wilkins, 54, moved into the Lakeview Apartments on South Lakeshore Boulevard after another apartment building she was living in was slated to be torn down. She stayed for five years, paying no more than $720 a month for a two-bedroom apartment. Nonetheless, throughout that stay she knew the fate of the building: oblivion.


From the Austin Monitor

From the Austin Monitor: Travis County has seen an astonishing rise in the number of inmates dealing with mental health issues in the past decade.

That message was the thrust of a lengthy briefing delivered to the Commissioners Court on Tuesday by a broad coalition of county officials and community stakeholders, including Austin Travis County Integral Care and the Capital Area Private Defender Service.

amorton via flickr

The City of Austin has been under Stage 2 water restrictions since 2010. That means you cannot wash your car at home, and restaurants cannot serve water unless a customer asks for it. Presumably all of these restrictions are temporary, as the City of Austin has the ability to declare a new Level at any time, from the lowest Level 1 up to the most restrictive Level 4.


Andrew Weber/KUT

The emotional bond between a human and an animal can be hard to explain.

A lot of people are skeptical if you talk about your dog or cat like a member of the family. It’s even harder when the animal is not your typical pet, and even harder still when that pet goes missing. 


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

The Austin Police Department has some ideas how reducing pedestrian traffic fatalities in the new year, some of which they shared with the city’s Public Safety Commission Monday night.

In 2015, more than 100 people died on Austin’s roads. That’s nearly double the number of traffic fatalities the year before. Roughly one-third of those deaths in 2015 involved a pedestrian, which is why APD is considering ways it can make more unsafe pedestrian behavior illegal.


Mengwen Cao/KUT

Over the last month you’ve probably seen plenty of roadside trees decked out for the holidays, and not just in peoples’ front yards. Sometimes it’s trees on public land that get the Christmas treatment, but that can make clean up a challenge on one Austin road now that the holidays are over. 


Screenshot via NBC News

Texas made plenty of national headlines in the New Year, as it became the largest state in the U.S. to allow citizens to openly carry handguns. On Sunday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick went on national television to defend the new law, and point towards further loosening of gun regulations.


The equipment on Austin’s playgrounds is slowly, but surely, being replaced, and the new equipment looks a little different.


A “Big Year” is a tradition in birdwatching when a birder tries to spot as many bird species as they can over the course of a year in a certain place. It’s an intensely personal thing, when a man or woman travels to far-flung locales just to check another bird off their list. But this year, some Travis County birders put a new, more social spin on the tradition.


Steve Hopson, via WikiMedia Creative Commons

Thirty-five years ago Thursday, the Armadillo World Headquarters was on its last leg.

After a decade on the scene, Eddie Wilson's legendary club had one last blowout to bookend its time at the forefront of Austin's live music scene, culminating in a New Year's Eve party on December 31, 1980.

Screenshot via Youtube

He was a larger-than-life lawyer and a major supporter of the University of Texas at Austin. Word came from Houston this morning that Joe Jamail has passed away at the age of 90 from complications with pneumonia.

University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections, ITC_TFF83-C37-H, via Portal to Texas History

For today's Christmas-themed edition of Wayback Wednesday, we have a radio-centric Christmas treat in the form of John Henry Faulk's "Christmas Story."

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

From the Austin Monitor: The battle over fingerprint background checks for transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft has taken a turn that may ultimately result in the two companies pausing operations in Austin.

City Council passed an ordinance on all three readings that “sets benchmarks that work towards a goal of fingerprinting for all drivers and disincentives for not reaching those goals,” according to Council Member Ann Kitchen, who led the charge on the new rules. The measure passed on a 9-2 vote, with Council members Ellen Troxclair and Don Zimmerman casting the dissenting votes.

Audio Pending...

KUT News

UPDATE Friday 1:15 a.m. – The Austin City Council moved forward on new regulations for ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft last night.

On a 9-2 vote, the Council passed a framework that, among other things, would require fingerprint-based background checks for drivers. The expanded background check requirement would be phased in over the next year. But some key details remain to be worked out, including what the penalties will be for failing to comply with the law.

Lyft via youtube

Molly is a 26-year-old who lives in Austin. She was laid off from her job in April of this year and given a severance package, but wanted something to do while she looked for a new job. So, she signed up to drive for both transportation network companies in Austin: Uber and Lyft.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

As James Maxwell tells it, the first journey nearly broke him. “I almost gave up bike riding,” he said. “These are something else.”

Maxwell, 68, stares down a line of five glossy, red tricycles. While at the moment they’re idling in the rear parking lot of East Austin’s Conley-Guerrero Senior Activity Center, later in the morning they’ll hit the road as part of an adult trike-riding program at the senior center. As local nonprofit organizers have pitched it, it’s a chance to bring mobility and activity to some of Austin’s more seasoned and minority residents. 


Texas Archive of the Moving Image

The “Star Wars” hype machine is in full effect.

It’s impossible to look at any screen without seeing something plugging the latest reboot of the space opera, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which hits Austin theaters tomorrow night. But, a long time ago in the wake of Alderaan’s untimely end, before Luke lost a hand and before George Lucas’ prequel trilogy took the franchise far, far away from its roots, some of the original film’s key players sat down with Austin’s own Carolyn Jackson to talk about the film.

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

If you’re curious about how Austin City Council candidates fund their campaigns, you’re in luck: Beginning next year, that data will be more accessible to the public.


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