Austin

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

Mike Davis via Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: Baylor University has fired head football coach Art Briles and reassigned President and Chancellor Ken Starr after months of scrutiny over how university administrators handled allegations of sexual assault against football players. 

Starr, who was previously chancellor and president, will now be chancellor and professor. Briles is suspended with intent to terminate. And Athletic Director Ian McCaw has been sanctioned and placed on probation.

Jorge Sanhueza Lyon / KUT

"Would you like to have a little Coke?" asks Kathy Bell Hargrave, cracking open a can of soda in her daughter's kitchen.

Some things we do in life without giving a second thought, but when we stop to think about them we realize they raise a lot of questions. 

“Every can that I open, every piece of paper, everything I want to recycle it,” says Bell Hargrave. “I put it all in a giant blue bin, but what happens to it? I don’t know."


A Look at Texas Through Russell Lee's Lens

May 25, 2016
Russell Lee, Library of Congress

What do Ada Lovelace, Adolf Hitler, Kanye West, Donald Trump, Elisabet Ney and even Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson all have in common? At one point, they were all in the running to replace Robert E. Lee as the namesake of a Hyde Park elementary school. 

Earlier this week, the Austin School Board finally decided on someone to replace the Confederate general: Russell Lee, the nationally lauded photographer. He moved to Austin in 1947 and established UT Austin’s photography department, serving as its first instructor. Below are a few of Lee's photographs from his time in Central Texas. 

via Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: In a stunning comeback, State Board of Education hopeful Keven Ellis won Tuesday's District 9 Republican primary runoff over Mary Lou Bruner, who drew national attention for social media posts touting far-right conspiracy theories and other fringe views.

City leaders are considering a change that could add more affordable housing throughout Austin using the state’s Homestead Preservation District (HPD) designation.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT News

Standing atop the same stage where men and women perform bawdy pranks as part of adult entertainment-themed Bingo every Tuesday at the Alamo Drafthouse’s Highball, local tech leader Joe Liemandt added another ride-hailing company to the list of those scrambling to fill the roads in the absence of Uber and Lyft.

This one is called RideAustin, and it’s a bit different than the others.


From the Austin Monitor: Travis County’s renewed search for a suitable site for a new civil courthouse is facing stiff headwinds from a state law aimed at stifling development in downtown Austin.

Last Wednesday, the Civil and Family Courthouse Community Advisory Committee showed little interest in taking on the Texas Legislature and the Capitol View Corridors that the body established back in the early 1980s.

Miguel Guitierrez Jr./KUT

The Austin Police Department is changing its approach when it comes to dealing with homelessness by starting a new outreach program, targeting two areas in which those experiencing homelessness congregate.


Texas Tribune

It’s no secret that Austin’s rapid growth and gentrification have forced some residents out of their longtime neighborhoods. That trend is also posing a challenge for healthcare providers. 


Miguel Guitierrez Jr./KUT

New numbers out today from the U.S. Census Bureau show that five of the fastest growing cities in the nation are here in Texas.

Georgetown tops the list of cities with a population of 50,000 or more. The latest estimates show the Williamson County seat saw a 7.8 percent jump in residents over a recent one-year period. 


Austin History Center PICA-26317

Austin’s in a new era of ridesharing. In the exhaust of Uber and Lyft’s departures, a salvo of ride-hailing providers (some app-based and others not) are vying to fill the pothole left by their industry standard-bearing predecessors. Some of those providers and their practices have been questioned, with some calling current options “gypsy cabs” – like the proto-ride-hailer SideCar was in 2013. But in the early 20th century, the unlicensed ride-hailers were called bootleg cabs and the city’s 14-year fight with them helped galvanize its extensive taxi regulations.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT News

From the Austin Monitor: City leaders traded accusations of dishonesty over ride-hailing regulations at a meeting Tuesday as they grappled with potential solutions to the transportation void created by the recent departure of Uber and Lyft.

The debate was prompted by a resolution proposed by Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo that directs city staff to explore a number of means of helping other ride-hailing companies and taxi services in the city prosper, including city loans or technical assistance.

Miguel Guitierrez Jr./KUT

Would you use a self-driving car? That’s the question the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) asked people in the Austin area.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT News

Former full-time Uber and Lyft driver Kurt Wagenman showed up to Austin’s first transportation network company (TNC) driver fair on Tuesday with a misleading email in his inbox.


Jorge Sanhueza Lyon/KUT

UPDATE: After our story was originally published, we heard from several members of Flood Mitigation Task Force, who disputed the assertions made by some task force members, including the group’s chairman, who said the final report lacked prioritization.

An executive summary of the report, not available at Monday’s meeting of the Council's Public Utilities committee, whittles down the nearly 200 recommendations into 19 high priority ones. Topping that list is the creation of a city-wide policy that prioritizes life, safety and property when it comes to flooding. The task force recommends that the city then consider this when making upcoming budget decisions.

In conversations with other members of the task force, some took issue with chairman Matt Reinstra’s presentation of the report to the Public Utilities Committee. At that time, he did not present the executive summary to council members because it had not yet been finalized by the task force.

“Many of the things he mentioned as recommendations were very minor things that were in there,” said task force member Ken Jacob. “We’re trying to come forward and say this is important. This is something you, the council, needs to pay attention to and the city needs to pay attention to because it’s a big issue.”

Jacob also cautioned against considering too heavily the report’s note that, at the city’s current rate of improvements, it would cost $2 to $4 billion to address local flooding issues.

“The numbers are just estimates [staff] were able to pull out there,” said Jacob. “And they’re going to have to do more work on that to finalize it.”

ORIGINAL STORY: Nearly a year after floodwaters wrecked businesses and homes in Austin over Memorial Day, members of the city’s Public Utilities Committee heard a rundown of a report from the city’s Flood Mitigation Task Force.

It’s a 89-page document bursting with nearly 200 recommendations for city staff – among them, suggestions to replace aging storm drainage systems and enhancing public outreach by the city’s Watershed Protection Department. According to the report, the total cost of these recommendations ranges from $2 billion to $4 billion.


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Rapid development is just about everywhere in Austin. Some of that development has brought up environmental questions, or concerns over the increased traffic they could bring. But one developer has a fight on their hands that's not about what’s happening above ground, but below.


Shelby Knowles/Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday the fight is not finished when it comes to regulations in Austin that have driven ride-hailing companies out of the state capital. 

"The issue's not over," Abbott said in an interview on CNBC. "Republicans in the Texas Legislature have already raised proposals coming up in the next session to override the Austin vote." 

Syeda Hasan / KUT

City of Austin regulators have released their latest report focused on making housing more affordable. This weekend, staff from the CodeNEXT initiative hosted a community walk to show how those changes could be implemented.


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

This week, the Vision Zero draft plan moved through the city council’s Mobility Committee this week. The committee voted 3 to 1 to send it to the full council for final vote. If approved, it’s up to the Vision Zero task force and various city departments to make sure the recommendations become a reality. Not everyone is confident the lead department, Austin Transportation, can handle that responsibility.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

Andrew Nierengarten used to make most of his income driving for Uber and Lyft. But since the two companies exited Austin Monday, he’s been working for another ride-hailing app: Get Me. And he says since the failure of Proposition 1, passengers assume he has been fingerprinted.


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