Austin

Border & Immigration
9:54 am
Mon November 24, 2014

Outreach Begins For Immigrants Who May Be Wary to Come 'Out of the Shadows'

A student on the UT-Austin campus protests the deportation of undocumented immigrants.
Photo by Jorge Corona

The specifics of how undocumented people will register under the immigration overhaul announced by President Obama last week that would bring nearly 5 million immigrants "out of the shadows" are still unclear.  But some groups in Austin are already reaching out to people who may benefit.  

Bill Beardall is with the Equal Justice Center, one of the groups organizing a series of educational forums for immigrants that start this week.   He says after this kind of policy change, immigrants are often initially reluctant to register.

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Weather
10:02 pm
Sat November 22, 2014

Saturday Night: Flood Warning Extended; City Monitoring Onion Creek Levels

Update (10:15 p.m.): The National Weather service has now placed Travis and Williamson counties under a flash flood warning until midnight tonight. A flash flood warning means flash flooding is occurring or imminent in the warning area.

Earlier: The National Weather Service has extended a flash flood warning for Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties until 10:15 p.m. Heavy rain has continued this evening. Parts of the Austin area have already received between two and five inches of rain today. The City of Austin is also keeping an eye on Onion Creek's water levels. It was the scene of devastating floods a little over one year ago.

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Weather
1:08 pm
Sat November 22, 2014

Saturday Afternoon: Flash Flood Warning in Effect for Parts of Central Texas

National Weather Service enhanced radar image for Austin/San Antonio at 8:19 p.m. on Nov. 22, 2014.

Update (7:36 p.m.): The flash flood warning has been extended until 10:15 p.m. by the National Weather Service because of thunderstorms producing heavy rainfall.

Areas under the advisory include Wimberley, San Marcos, Dripping Springs, Austin, Pflugerville, Taylor, Round Rock, Granger, Georgetown and Cedar Park.

Update (5:05 p.m.): The National Weather Service has extended the flood advisory for eastern Travis County and eastern Williamson County until 7:00 p.m.

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Austin
5:04 pm
Fri November 21, 2014

Former Texas Lawmaker & KUT Board Member Ray Farabee Dies

Mrs. Mary Margaret and former State Senator Ray Farabee at the KUT Public Media Studios Grand Opening in November
Paul Woodruff

Kenneth “Ray” Farabee died at his home in Austin on Thursday, November 20, 2014.  He was 81.

Farabee was born in Wichita Falls, Texas in 1932. He graduated from Wichita Falls High School before attending the University of Texas at Austin. Ray was elected Student Body President at UT and served with the National Student Association where he traveled the nation working with other university student government organizations.

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Google Fiber
10:36 am
Fri November 21, 2014

Google Announces Fiber Plan For Low-Income Homes

Unlocking the Connection will provide training, devices and Internet to connect HACA residents to high speed internet.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

Yesterday, the Housing Authority of the City of Austin and Google Fiber announced the launch of the the first so-called "digital inclusion program," that provides free Internet access to low-income residents. It's estimated to connect 4,300 affordable housing residents across the properties owned and operated by the housing authority.

"Closing the digital divide means that every child has a chance to succeed in the 21st century global economy," said U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro at an event yesterday.

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Austin
10:23 am
Fri November 21, 2014

Obama Immigration Plan May End City-County Tiff

President Obama's executive action may end the controversial Secure Communities program in Travis County, which detains, and often deports, suspected illegal immigrants for minor crimes.
Austin Monitor

From The Austin Monitor:

It may have taken an executive order, but President Barack Obama seems to have headed off a dispute between the City of Austin and Travis County. The long-standing controversy involving Sheriff Greg Hamilton’s participation in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Secure Communities program may soon be over.

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Health Care
9:16 am
Fri November 21, 2014

New Wellness Center Helps Fill Health Care Void in Dove Springs

Central Health has opened the Southeast Health and Wellness Center in the Dove Springs neighborhood, traditionally an underserved community.
Courtesy of El Mundo Newspaper

On Saturday, Congressman Lloyd Doggett, State Sen. Kirk Watson and a number of community leaders will gather at a new southeast Austin health center that’s been years in the making.

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Austin
12:46 am
Thu November 20, 2014

A Marriage in Transition

Greg Abbink and Joan Henke were married in 2012. Greg was born a female. This summer, he decided to transition.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

Tonight, in cities all around the world, people will gather together to remember those from the transgender community who have died. It's called the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Austin's memorial will be at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Tonight's speaker is Greg Abbink, the first transgender police officer in the Austin Police Department. He joined the force after serving in the Army. Back then, his name was Emily Abbink. This summer, Emily decided to transition her appearance to that of a male.

"Because even at five years old, I vividly remember asking my parents, 'Why did God make me a girl?'" he says. "I used to pray at night that I would wake up as a boy."

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2014 Mayoral Runoff
10:32 am
Mon November 17, 2014

Poll: Steve Adler Increases Runoff Lead Over Mike Martinez

Steve Adler increased his lead over Council Member Mike Martinez in the runoff for the Austin mayoral race.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

From The Austin Monitor:

A poll commissioned by the Austin Monitor shows that 56 percent of voters said they would likely vote for mayoral candidate Steve Adler, compared to 35 percent who said they would vote for his runoff opponent, City Council Member Mike Martinez. Only 8 percent of those polled indicated that they were undecided in the mayoral contest.

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Austin
10:05 am
Mon November 17, 2014

Check Out the High-End Golf Course Proposed For East Austin Tonight

Courtesy of the City of Austin

A plan to turn 735 acres of East Austin parkland into a high-end golf course will get a public airing this evening. The City of Austin is hosting a meeting on the proposal for Walter E. Long park from 4:30 to 7:30 at the Morris Williams Golf Course at 3851 Manor Road

The city says the plan will bring jobs and tourist money to the east side. Under the proposal, developers would pay to build and maintain the course and give the city a cut of the revenue. That appeals to the Parks Department which doesn’t currently do upkeep on the land.

But there’s opposition.  Some residents don’t think Austin should give up so much space to a costly sport that a lot of people don’t play. The parkland is in Austin's City Council District 1. Ora Houston, the front-runner for the District 1 seat opposes the plan and has asked the City to postpone a vote until after the new council is seated.

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Austin
10:41 am
Thu November 13, 2014

Looming State School Closure Leaves Austin's Most Vulnerable in Limbo

Judi Stonedale visits her 42 year-old daughter Julie Isbell at least once a week. Stonedale says her daughter gets outstanding care at ASSLC.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

Eviction notices have gone out to 77 people who live at Austin's State Supported Living Center on 35th Street and MoPac. The state’s Sunset Advisory Commission has recommended closing the facility which opened in 1917 and services 28 counties in Central Texas.

All of the people who live at the center have serious developmental disabilities, and a handful have already moved out.

As the eviction notices come in, residents and their families are searching for new housing alternatives as the state prepares for a likely sale that could turn the 94-acre property into a mixed-use development. But some say the commission doesn’t have the final word in the facility’s closure, and promise to fight.

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Austin
7:46 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

Gay Rights Group Gives Austin Policies Top Score

A banner at the city-owned Long Center welcomes people celebrating gay pride in 2010.
Austin Chronicle https://flic.kr/p/88nevS

Austin received the highest possible score in a new report card measuring city policies toward lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) scored 353 cities nationwide, including 22 in Texas, and gave Austin a score of 100 out of 100.

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Veterans Day 2014
8:36 am
Tue November 11, 2014

What's Open, What's Closed and What's Going on to Honor Veterans

Patricia Ray and Linda Palerma placed a flag by the war memorial in honor of their husband and father, respectively, who died in the Vietnam War. Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

Today is Veterans Day, and with that in mind we've got a rundown of all the parades, speeches and other events to honor Central Texas veterans in Austin, Georgetown and San Marcos.

In addition, we've got the full list of city office closures as employees observe Veterans Day. Check out the full list of events and closures below.

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Fun Fun Fun Fest
1:26 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

Fest-Goers Turn to Chargebacks After Friday's Fun Fun Fun Fest Line Snafu

Fun Fun Fun Fest attendees waited hours in the will call line that stretched as far as City Hall to get into the festival on Friday.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

The Fun Fun Fun Fest will call line blew up the Internet on Friday night.

The hours-long line that backed up across Lady Bird Lake inspired a parody twitter account, a couple of irate Reddit threads and prompted an apology from the fest’s organizers, Transmission Entertainment.

The variables that caused the backup stretch almost as far as the line itself – the festival’s queue this year formed into one line, as opposed to multiple lines like in previous years, because of construction at Auditorium Shores; the will call line was understaffed; talks between the City of Austin and Transmission broke down as they were trying to find a quick fix for the line. The list goes on. And so did the line. Until about 8 p.m., when organizers dissolved the front gate and allowed people a chance to catch the last Friday acts free of charge.

For some, (including this reporter) it was a footnote to an otherwise pleasant festival experience. Others, it seemed, wanted revenge.

Since Transmission has kept a strict no refund policy since 2006, some are turning to credit card chargebacks, a work-around that could refund those with un-scanned tickets on the grounds that they didn’t get what they paid for.

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2014 Elections
5:15 pm
Fri November 7, 2014

Clearing the Way for Tovo, Riley Withdraws from District 9 Council Runoff

Council member Chris Riley (left) and Council member Kathie Tovo at an October candidate forum.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Current Austin City Council Member Chris Riley is withdrawing from a runoff election with another current Council Member, Kathie Tovo.

In Tuesday's election for the District 9 seat, Tovo won 49.05 percent of the vote -- just shy of the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff. Riley earned 40.41 percent and the third candidate, Erin McGann, won 10.53 percent.

In a statement announcing his withdrawal, Riley congratulated Tovo on a hard-fought campaign.

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Austin
1:39 pm
Fri November 7, 2014

Austin City Council Seeks to Further Limit City's Role in Secure Communities Program

Speakers at Thursday's Austin City Council meeting emphasized that deportations hurt families.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

The Austin City Council is taking steps to limit its role in Federal Secure Communities, a program that relies on partnerships among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to deport undocumented immigrants. The program has been criticized for detaining and deporting individuals charged with misdemeanors, rather than serious crimes.

On Thursday night, the council voted unanimously to instruct city staff to make amendments to a proposed interlocal agreement with Travis County. The new language would require the Travis County Sheriff's Office to only honor detainer requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when there are judge-issued arrest warrants or probably cause of crime.

The amendments, proposed by Council Member Mike Martinez, were intended to “either minimize the impact of Secure Communities on Austin families, or increase transparency around the program” and its impact.

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Technology
11:21 am
Fri November 7, 2014

Austin Startup Uses Dumb Phones to Bring Smart Solutions to Africa's Ebola Epidemic

Developers Doing Development hopes to use texts and voicemails to Africans to help combat food, water and safety crises.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

Smartphones are now the norm in the U.S., and in Austin, brandishing a flip phone in most situations is the social equivalent to wearing a dunce cap while riding a Segway. 

But in Africa and other developing countries, mobile-only networks dominate communications markets. In those places, a "brick", flip phone or “dumb” phone is a communication lifeline. 

So this weekend, Austin-based group Developers Doing Development is asking tech communities in both Austin and Madison, Wisconsin to bring smartphone-level coding to the dumb phone, and create apps that will provide on-the-ground updates and vital information to developing countries. 

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2014 Mayoral Runoff
11:29 am
Thu November 6, 2014

Adler and Martinez Look to Ramp Up Fundraising Ahead of Mayoral Runoff

Both Mike Martinez and Steve Adler have sunk over $100,000 into their campaigns for Mayor of Austin.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

There was a time when it didn't cost a whole lot to win a race for Austin mayor.

Up until the election of outgoing Mayor Lee Leffingwell, mayoral elections in Austin were typically won with less than $300,000 – sometimes with much less.

But with the city's rapid expansion and efforts to combat low voter turnout, this year's mayoral election has produced the most expensive campaigns in the office's history -- and it's not over.

For the next six weeks, run-off candidates Mike Martinez and Steve Adler are poised to ramp up their fundraising efforts in the hopes of luring voters to the polls for the Dec. 16 runoff.

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Austin
8:56 am
Thu November 6, 2014

Austin City Council Returns to Renovated Chambers Today

The new Austin City Council chamber opens today and features an expanded dais and updgraded audio-video equipment.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

Austin City Council returns to City Hall today with a brand new council dais ahead of the city's new 11-member council.

The $1.7 million renovation started in early July and was slated to complete construction in last month, and includes audio-visual upgrades and the building out of four new offices to the executive suites on City Hall’s second floor. Construction on those offices is set to be done by Thanksgiving.

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SXSW
3:00 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

SXSW Installs Temporary Cameras on Sixth Street to Monitor Crowd Density

After a report said SXSW and the city of Austin could do more to manage growing crowds, SXSW organizers are trying to test out some of the report's recommendations.
flickr.com/photos/zub

Nearly two months after the global design and planning company, Populous, released a report saying South by Southwest and the city of Austin could do more to improve public safety and manage growing crowds at the festival, organizers are trying to test out some of the report’s recommendations.

Last Friday, on Halloween, South by Southwest organizers worked with private businesses on Sixth Street to set up three cameras on the street between Brazos and Red River streets. According to the festival organizers, the goal was to monitor crowd activity because Halloween and the first night of Formula 1 would attract crowds similar to those at SXSW.

According to a lawyer with the festival, SXSW believes the city could do more to deal with issues of overcrowding on Sixth street. 

SXSW would not say where exactly the cameras were located.

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