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

You might have heard warnings about the potential for malicious computer hackers to sabotage infrastructure like electric utilities.

Turns out, there may be a bigger threat: squirrels.

Miguel Guitierrez Jr./KUT

As more and more new development comes to East Austin, some longtime residents at the Cactus Rose Mobile Home Park are facing an uncertain future.

Miguel Guitierrez Jr./KUT

Amidst talk of the potential plusses of a swollen Austin Convention Center, some council members Monday heard for the first time publicly about a recent consultant review of the Travis County Expo Center.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The department charged with policing overgrown grass, short-term rentals and illegally discarded junk fails to follow a consistent protocol for overseeing violations and does not enforce violations with equal fervor on city-owned property, reads a report by the City of Austin auditor. In a review of 306 code complaints, the auditor took issue with 77 percent of them.

Filipa Rodriguez for KUT

Last month, power plants and wind farms in Texas did something you wouldn’t expect them to do. They offered electricity at a negative price.

That’s right. They basically offered to pay for someone to use the electricity they generate. Sounds crazy, but it's something that analysts expect will happen more and more often.

Jorge Sanhueza Lyon/KUT

For once, rules batted around on the dais did not concern Uber and Lyft drivers.

Austin City Council members Thursday approved nationwide criminal background checks for would-be chauffeur permit holders – those authorized to drive taxicabs, pedicabs, limos or city charter buses. It’s another step in what has been a lengthy attempt to align the regulations that govern cab drivers and ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft have spent nearly $2.2 million so far this year to fund a campaign to collect petition signatures to get an initiative on the ballot in Austin and advocate for that measure.

Miguel Guitierrez Jr./KUT

City leaders are working to develop Austin’s first-ever housing plan. So, why does the city need one?

The Thresher, via Texas Portal to History

Believe it or not, Tuesday was National Deep Dish Pizza Day. Yes, apparently that's a thing. Blink and you miss it, right?

It’s a dish that’s best known as “Chicago-style” pizza for obvious reasons. But, the popular pie didn’t necessarily arise from the town from whence it sprung. Its roots go deeper south, and it wouldn’t have existed without the guiding hand of a former Texas Longhorn: Ike Sewell.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Visual artists seeking a muse and a commission may be able to find both with some of Austin’s emergency responders.

The city's seeking applicants for two new artist-in-residency positions, with the goal of featuring artistic portrayals of firefighters and emergency responders on soon-to-be-renovated buildings. One artist will create art for six firehouses, and the other will do the same for three Emergency Medical Services buildings. 

Miguel Gutierrez, Jr/KUT

Join KUT and the Austin Monitor on Thursday, April 14th at 6:30pm at the North Door (502 Brushy St.) for a live debate on the ride-hailing regulations that will be on the ballot in Austin next month.

RSVP here.

Miguel Guitierrez Jr./KUT

More power over more highways.

That’s part of what the Austin Police Department hopes to attain in its effort to reverse last year’s record number of fatal car accidents, which resulted in 102 deaths, and limit the number of pedestrian deaths, which totaled 30 last year.

Miguel Guitierrez Jr./KUT

As Austin’s housing prices continue to rise, the push for more affordable housing has grown louder, and there's an even greater need for places large enough to fit a family.

Nathan Bernier/KUT News

Austin police say an officer fatally shot man who had shot him in the stomach. Police Chief Art Acevedo says a security guard had seen the suspect breaking into cars Sunday morning. 

Jorge Sanhueza Lyon/KUT

Jimmy Reed, 78, stands in front of his childhood home on East Austin’s Garden Street. It has been stripped to the 1920s wooden frame, and the barely 800-square-foot home looks more condemned than livable.

Syeda Hasan for KUT News

The City of Austin is hosting a series of community meetings for Asian American residents as part of an effort to help improve their quality of life.

Mose Buchele for KUT News

You know what happens when you leave your car under a tree full of grackles? What your car looks like after a day or two? To hear John Burns tell it, there was a time when the University of Texas campus looked like that.

Miguel Guitierrez Jr./KUT

Recently, local political action committee Ridesharing Works for Austin hired two Republican campaign veterans – Reed Galen and Travis Considine. Between them, they’ve worked on campaigns for John McCain, George W. Bush and Rick Perry.

And in what feels like the same breath, the Travis County Democratic Party formally took a stance in opposition of Proposition 1, the ride-hailing regulations proposed by Ridesharing Works for Austin as an alternative to those passed by the city. The regulations were submitted by petition in January.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

Some birds are well-liked. Some are considered pests. Many just slip under the radar—but not the grackle. The grackle demands that you take notice. Pamela Gooby certainly did. 

“It’s like this big velvet wave of grackle in the parking lot of the grocery store," says Gooby, whose question was chosen for this edition of KUT's ATXplained series.

Carlos Lowry via Flickr

Mention the lowly-but-ubiquitous grackle to an Austinite, and you'll likely elicit a binary, typically love/hate, response. Unlike the city’s other winged mascot, the bat, which is more or less tolerated by some and celebrated by others, the grackles of Austin have been hunted, hated, loved and praised since their migration here more than a century ago.