Austin

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

Seton Healthcare Family

The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation is donating $25 million in a challenge grant to pay for Seton Healthcare Family’s new teaching hospital in Austin.

Susan Dell, who announced the decision today, says they want the community to get involved in donating the remaining $25 million. The $50 million combined will go toward the Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas.

"We will have state-of-the-art treatments for our patients, we’ll be able to attract the best talent in the country to our team here in Central Texas," Dell said. "One of Michael and my biggest goals is always about elevating the level of care for the entire community here in Central Texas, and this project helps us do that."

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

The city's Ethics Review Commission (ERC) is looking for ways to update Austin’s campaign finance rules for two simple reasons.

One, the language is very complicated. And two, the limits that are in place haven't been updated in a long time. The ERC is meeting tonight to hear from Austinites about how to spruce up the rules.

Anyone with ideas as to how the ERC can make the language on campaign finance rules more understandable, can post those ideas at SpeakUpAustin.org or can attend the public meeting at City Hall at 7 p.m.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

It's no secret that Austin Mayor Steve Adler is independently wealthy and that he doesn't need the $82,000 and change his position pays every year.

Adler has said he instead wants to use the money to boost the salaries of some of his staff, but the move may have some tricky implications for his successor.

Steve Adler is not the only Austin politician to forgo his salary. Recently, former Austin Mayor Bruce Todd got paid one dollar to complete Sarah Eckhart's term as Travis County Commissioner for Precinct 2.

Why did he do that?

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

The new 10-1 Austin City Council will gavel in for its first regular meeting this week, and one of their ambitions is to be a more open, efficient council. To that end, they've indicated they want to move much of the nuts and bolts of policy-making to council committees, much in the way the state legislature works. The number of committees proposed is a big jump, from eight to at least 14 so far.

Here's what we know so far about the different committees:

Joy Diaz/KUT News

Among the many politically contentious issues the new Austin City Council will need to grapple with is the issue of “No Kill.” This February will mark the fourth consecutive year that Austin's shelters have achieved a no kill status, meaning that ten percent or fewer animals in shelter care are euthanized.

But, even with several measures including "no kill," Austin is still dealing with a large number of homeless animals.

Del Goss lives in Montopolis, one of Austin's poorest neighborhoods in City Council District 3. Every evening, he hops on his old white pick-up truck and heads to his friend Florence's. On the truck's bed sits a five-gallon plastic bucket full of cat food.

Goss feeds Florence's cats. And then he makes seven other stops to feed colonies of homeless animals.

Callie Hernandez/KUT News

From the Austin Monitor:

On Thursday, City Council temporarily backed away from a plan that could have members voting to reduce their own salaries.

Council members voted 11-0 to postpone action on the resolution until their Jan. 29 meeting. The resolution directs the city manager to change the current office budgeting structure to allow Council members to decrease their individual compensation and shift funds within their offices. Mayor Steve Adler explained that the postponement will give Council members the opportunity to take a closer look at the proposition, then address it further at next week’s Tuesday work session.

Callie Hernandez/KUT News

The end of the open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act is less than a month away. In Austin, city leaders are pushing hard to get the word out.

At City Hall Thursday, some Austin City Council members reminded people they have until Feb. 15 to sign up.

"I just want to join my colleagues in this great group in getting the message out to folks that now is the time to do it," Austin Mayor Steve Adler says. "It’s easier than you think, and there’s more assistance available than you might think."

Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Update 11:26 a.m.: Austin police have identified the suspect who was killed: 61-year-old Robert Francis Mesch. Mesch was armed and suicidal, police say. Two-year police department veteran Daniel Hannah was the officer involved in the shooting, and he has since been placed on leave as a routine procedure. Police Chief Art Acevedo calls the shooting a "tragedy for everyone involved."

The Austin Police Department says an officer shot and killed a man in his early 60s. The shooting happened just before 4 a.m. near Bill Miller Bar-B-Q on West Slaughter.

Austin Police Department Chief Art Acevedo says a woman called police around 3:30 a.m. to say that her husband was threatening to kill himself and threatened her life as well. Two officers pursued the man in his tan pickup. Police say when he got out of the car near West Slaughter, the suspect was carrying a gun. The officer fired several rounds at the man. He was pronounced dead soon after.

Below, you can listen to the full audio of Acevedo's press conference from earlier this morning.

From the Austin Monitor:

City staff has revealed a one-year plan that they hope will remediate tree and turf damage related to a national Cyclocross championship held in Zilker Park earlier this month.

Watershed Protection Department Environmental Officer Chuck Lesniak told the Environmental Board Wednesday that Parks and Recreation Department staff and City Arborist Michael Embesi have “a pretty robust restoration plan in place to address any damage to root zones and trees.”

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

As you might have heard, and most probably have felt, Austin is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. But how it should handle that growth is an ongoing debate. As a new city council steps forward, it might help to take a look at some of the people who are likely to be a vocal part of that debate: your neighbors.

KUT News

The new Austin City Council knows everyone has an opinion about what things it should be doing, what things it should change and how those changes could come about. A recurring theme along the current council’s campaign trail was that many Austinites felt unheard and sometimes outright disregarded by city politicians.

At the beginning of the year, council proposed altering its meeting and committee format to pare down their traditionally long meetings.  So, starting tonight, there will be new ways to communicate with council and the mayor.

Indrani via Flickr

For decades, Austin has been a host to thousands of refugees arriving from Cuba. In fact, up until around 2010, Cubans were the largest single group of refugees in the city.

Now that diplomatic talks have started between the United States and Cuba, some in Austin wonder what role will our city play in this new relationship.

National Weather Service

Update (9:47am): The National Weather Service says there's now a flood advisory in effect until 11am for several counties in the Austin area.

Update (9:06 a.m.): The National Weather Service has ended the flood advisory it issued earlier this morning for parts of Central Texas. 

Low water crossings continue to close in the Austin Area.

For a city of nearly a million people, many big decisions in Austin tend to be influenced by a self-selected few. Lots of small recommendations by neighborhood associations can end up having a big impact on how Austin handles its growth. But now, changes in city governance and the neighborhoods themselves may upset the status quo. 

Take the neighborhood of Hyde Park. Lorre Weidlich moved to Hyde Park in the seventies when she moved to Austin for graduate school and immediately fell in love with the neighborhood. "I like the old houses, the vintage feel to it all, the streetscapes with all the bungalows," she says. "And it's also very much a community. It's a friendly place."

MLKMarch
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Temperatures on a warm winter Monday rose alongside the shouts and cheers of Austin politicians, students, and families who showed up for today's Martin Luther King Jr. Day March and Rally.

Hundreds of participants stood or sat on the steps of the University of Texas at Austin's East Mall, while at the podium above their heads UT faculty and local church members spoke about King's legacy. UT Austin President William Powers said he saw the ripples of King's work throughout the country – and as close to home as the UT football field.

screenshot/USA Cycling

USA Cycling has issued an apology to its members for the postponement last Sunday of the Cyclocross championships in Austin.

By now you've probably heard the story: The Cyclocross races in Zilker Park were scheduled to end Sunday. But the city's Parks and Recreation Department postponed the event until Monday because of rain. 

s-t-e-v-e-n/flickr

From the Austin Monitor:

Amid concerns that state leadership will take steps to limit city ordinances such as Austin’s plastic bag ban, the Zero Waste Advisory Commission has instructed city staff to study the ban in time to send the results to the state legislature.

The commission unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday requesting that the Austin Resource Recovery Department complete a study of the results of the city’s Single-Use Carryout Bag Ordinance by no later than May 1.

ThoseGuys119/flickr

You might think every company with a large vehicle fleet would be happy about the low gas prices we’re seeing right now. But when it comes to gas prices, things are never that simple.

One of the largest vehicle fleets in Austin belongs to the Austin Independent School District. AISD's Transportation Director Kris Hafezi oversees more than 1,000 vehicles. About half run on diesel, and about half run on gas. So fluctuating gas prices used to make him nervous – but not anymore. "[AISD] has a fixed fuel contract with our provider."

Burley Auction Group

This Saturday, Eddie Wilson, longtime proprietor of Threadgill’s and former owner of the Armadillo World Headquarters, will auction off a massive 500-item horde of memorabilia from the famous venue, which closed its doors in 1980.

Though the days of quarter-cup, dollar-pitcher beer prices may be bygone, Austinites looking to relive those cloudy memories can pick up plenty of classic concert posters with art from Austin luminary Michael Priest; an abundance of neon signs for now-defunct beers like Falstaff, Grand Prize, and Southern Special; and even the club’s house piano played by Ray Charles, Fats Domino, and Randy Newman.

Austin History Center

Today’s Wayback Wednesday recognizes the 134th anniversary of Ben Thompson’s assumption of the position of City Marshal. The 134th anniversary of what was ostensibly a city police chief may not seem like an auspicious anniversary to revisit, but Thompson wasn’t your typical police chief.

In his life, Thompson was a gunfighter and professional gambler, served as a member of the Confederate Cavalry, was a hired gun for the first (and only) Emperor of Mexico and was indicted (and later acquitted) for murder while serving as the city’s highest-ranking law enforcement officer.

Thompson was born in Knottingly, England in 1843, and his family moved to Austin in 1851. Six years later, while working as a newspaper typesetter, Thompson shot somebody – presumably for the first time. His friend, 14-year-old Joe Brown, bet Thompson that he couldn’t shoot.

Pages