Austin

Austin City Council
10:00 am
Fri April 3, 2015

Council Votes for Extra Staff Through September

Mayor Steve Adler's proposal to expand council staff last night passed last night on a vote of 9-2.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

From the Austin Monitor:

Following weeks of deliberation, the mayor and City Council offices are receiving a boost in staffing — at least for the next few months.

Council voted 9-2 Thursday to approve a resolution that will effectively add three full-time staff members to Mayor Steve Adler’s office and one full-time staff member to each Council office for the remainder of the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 1. This will raise the number of staff members in Adler’s office from five to eight, and in each Council office from three to four.

Council Members Delia Garza and Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo cast the dissenting votes.

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Austin
4:19 pm
Thu April 2, 2015

Council Approves Further Study, Input Process for Proposed Barbeque Smoke Regulations

Brisket at Franklin's. Owner Aaron Franklin visited city council Monday to explain the potential effects of proposed regulations on his, and others', barbecue businesses.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

Update Thursday April 2, 2015, 4:20 p.m. At today’s meeting, the Austin City Council voted to start a stakeholder input process on possibly regulating barbecue smoke from restaurants.

Recommendations will be made by the city manager to the Health and Human Services Committee and the Economic Opportunity Committee. After July 31, there will be another chance for public comment.

ORIGINAL STORY from the Austin Monitor: In response to owners of barbecue restaurants worried about their future in Austin, City Council Member Pio Renteria is making some changes to his resolution directing city staff to create rules to regulate smoke from commercial barbecue smokestacks.

Originally, the resolution was written to require restaurants and mobile food vendors who use a wood or charcoal burning stove or grill within 150 feet of properties zoned residential to install exhaust systems called smoke scrubbers or similar devices.

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2015 Legislature
10:30 am
Thu April 2, 2015

Bill Proposing Constitutional Protection of Hunting Passes Texas Senate

Sen. Brandon Creighton's bill would prevent any future ban on hunting.
Greg Westfall/flickr

The Texas Senate has approved a proposed amendment to the Texas Constitution that would guarantee Texans’ rights to hunt and fish, and it is now headed to the House for a vote.

The amendment would not affect any current laws but would add a constitutional provision that would legally prohibit any future limitation of hunting or fishing.

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Wayback Wednesday
1:50 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

A Look Back at Texas' Unfunniest April Fools' Jokes

The Texas House recognized Albert DeSalvo's work in "applied psychology" and "population control" in 1971.
Credit Wikipedia

It’s April Fools' Day, the holiday that not only celebrates but encourages folks to play jokes and pranks on their loved ones and coworkers.

Sometimes, those jokes and pranks don’t turn out so well. So in honor of April Fools' Day, this Wayback Wednesday looks back on the jokes and pranks in Texas’ history that, even if they landed at the time, would likely fall flat today.

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Austin
1:11 pm
Sun March 29, 2015

AT&T Outage in Austin Reportedly Caused by Cut Fiber Optic Line

Kent Chen/flickr

An AT&T outage affecting Austin and surrounding areas was caused by a fiber optic line cut, officials say.

Update 1:30 p.m. Austin-Travis County EMS sent out a final situation alert tweet stating that most if not all service has been reinstated.

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Austin
5:13 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Co-owner of Former Jumpolin Property Forced Out as CEO of Status Labs

The Jumpolin site shortly after the demolition.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Jordan French, the landowner responsible for the Cesar Chavez piñata store teardown that rocked Austin in February, resigned Thursday as CEO of Austin-based reputation management and PR company Status Labs. The company's employees asked French to resign, according to a press release they sent out Thursday afternoon.

Their request for French's resignation appears to be a direct result of the actions he took in ordering the demolition of Jumpolin, an East Austin party supply store, with all the merchandise still inside. 

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Austin
12:23 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Housing Prices are Rising Faster than Wages in Austin, But Maybe Not for Long

flickr.com/gjmj

Austin home values are going up much faster than wages, according to a new report. But experts say it likely won’t continue that way for long.

If you own a home in the Austin-Rock Rock area, it's probably worth a lot more now than it was two years ago: Median home prices here have gone up by almost 23 percent over the last two years, according to RealtyTrac, a real estate data firm based in California. 

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Austin
10:27 am
Thu March 26, 2015

MoPac Boulevard Project Completion Delayed

Officials have pushed back the MoPac construction completion date.
Courtesy of MoPac Improvement Project

From the Austin Monitor:

Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority officials announced Wednesday that a fully operational MoPac Boulevard may not happen until the end of the year. While the announcement currently delays construction only three-and-a-half months, officials said they were not confident they could complete the work even then.

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Wayback Wednesday
2:11 pm
Wed March 25, 2015

A Look Back at Texas Relays' Long Run in Austin

Texas Archive of the Moving Image

This week's Wayback Wednesday marks the Texas Relays weekend, an 88-year-old tradition that brings some of the country's finest track-and-field athletes to the 40 acres.

With that in mind, we've cobbled together a collection of gifs to mark the occasion, taking a look at highlights from past years' competitions.

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Austin
10:10 am
Wed March 25, 2015

Boot Camp Helps Small Business Owners Build Entrepreneurial Strength

PCW, a small construction business in Austin, Tex.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

Hispanics are twice as likely to start a small business as any other group in the United States, according to a report commissioned by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

But the failure rate for small businesses is high – nearly 50 percent don't make it. An organization in Austin hopes it can train small business owners the skills to succeed.

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Austin
10:30 am
Tue March 24, 2015

Map: In Austin, Noise Complaints are on the Rise

Austinite Kingston Arbor, 3 months old, hangs with his father Ryan Arbor at an Austin music festival in 2013.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Despite the best efforts by Austinites to dissuade out-of-towners from moving here, they are. The city’s grown more than any other metropolitan area over the last five years, and with all that growth comes plenty of noise. That's not to mention the additional noise brought about by events like SXSW, which draw thousands of party-happy visitors from all over the world.

So it's not surprising that as Austin grows larger, it might also be growing louder. Over the past five years, noise complaints in Austin have gone up by 470 percent, from 2,782 total complaints in 2010 to 13,100 in 2014. Still, only 1.5 percent of those have faced citation – 515 out of 33,107, according to city data obtained by KUT. Below you can view the increase in noise complaints from 2010 to 2014 in an interactive map.

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SXSW 2015
5:22 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

How One Austinite Learned to Stop Being a Cynic and Love SXSW (Sort of)

The line at Fader Fort on 5th Street on Thursday afternoon.
Matt Largey/KUT News

You might have seen it on Buzzfeed.

An article called “Here’s what Austinites really think about South by Southwest.”

"Utter madness," they called it. "Crazy." "Thrilling."

I was suspicious.

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Austin
9:37 am
Fri March 20, 2015

In East Austin, A Shared Worship Space Brings Quakers and Muslims Together

Annie Holleman, 27, and Kathy Stanton, 29, sit with other parishioners before a Quaker service in Austin.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

Churches are among the most segregated places in the country, according to a study by religious scholar Curtiss Paul DeYoung. He found that only five percent of churches in the U.S. are racially integrated.

But it happens that there's at least one integrated house of worship here in Austin: Muslims and Quakers have been sharing the same space on MLK Boulevard for a couple of years.

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SXSW 2015
3:12 pm
Wed March 18, 2015

Has SXSW Interactive Done More to Embrace Latinos in 2015?

The 'Bilingual Media: Latino Entertainment in the 21st Century' took place on March 17, 2015 at the Austin Convention Center.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

During the South by Southwest Interactive conference last year, only a handful of panels were on Latinos in tech, and those panels were held at an isolated Holiday Inn, nowhere near the convention center downtown.

This year, the panels on Latinos have stretched across a number of days, and all of them have been inside the bustling convention center. We spent some time with people at South by Southwest who identify as Latino to hear about their experience at the conference this year.  Listen to their voices below. 

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Wayback Wednesday
2:03 pm
Wed March 18, 2015

In Photos: A Look Back at the Early Days of SXSW

Roland Swenson at the second installment of SXSW.
Austin History Center

Today marks the beginning of SXSW Music — the final stretch of the three-headed chimera of a festival that draws in droves of music-loving revelers and fills the streets of downtown Austin with both music and traffic.

Austin Monitor
9:36 am
Wed March 18, 2015

Austin Energy Payments to City Keep Growing

Sue Jones/wikimedia commons

From the Austin Monitor:

Even though City Council froze the transfer from Austin Energy to the city’s general fund at $105 million in 2012, the amount the utility pays for support services has continued to grow. For the current fiscal year, the utility will fund more than $20 million for support services as well as to departments that may or may not have much to do with the utility.

The transfer, of course, is like a dividend payment to the taxpayers, reducing the amount they would have to pay to fund the city. It is used to defray costs and reduce taxes. The city uses various methods to allocate administrative costs, some of them intuitively obvious, but others not.

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SXSW 2015
4:58 pm
Tue March 17, 2015

Lifestyle Startups Gain Attention at SXSW, But Can They Survive?

Companies connect with users and venture capitalists at SXSW Interactive to promote their ideas.
KUT News

Earlier this year, a sometimes-fierce debate broke out between students at Austin High School and the head of an Austin company called #BeSomebody. The company makes money by encouraging people to follow their passions. But when the company’s founder came to speak at the school, the students criticized his message as privileged and disconnected from reality.

Controversy aside, it got us thinking about these lifestyle tech startups — ones based on ideas or messages rather than products and services.

Can they survive? 

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SXSW
3:56 pm
Tue March 17, 2015

One Year After the SXSW Crash, A Survivor Returns to the Hospital to Say 'Thank You'

A little less than a year ago, Mason Endres (pictured here with her parents Dan and May) was undergoing therapy after being hit by an intoxicated driver at last year's SXSW.
Jon Shapley/KUT News

Mason Endres still needs a knee brace to walk. She's one of the 23 survivors of the car crash that killed four people at South by Southwest last year. Endres set aside this morning to visit St. David's Hospital and thank the staff for her recovery.

May Endres, Mason's mom, corralled a big group of doctors and nurses for a photo. 

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SXSW 2015
10:14 am
Mon March 16, 2015

What's New at SXSW Interactive 2015

Wells Dunbar, KUT News

With just two days left, SXSW Interactive is in its home stretch, ahead of the start of the fest's music portion on Wednesday and the inevitable second surge of festival-goers.

Interactive may be the calm before the storm that is SXSW Music, but it's always delivered on promises of drawing tech luminaries to Austin — highlights this year include keynotes from Lyft CEO Logan Green today and a Tuesday keynote from Dr. Astro Teller, head of Google X's "moonshot" initiatives.

KUT spoke with festival director Hugh Forrest about what's new to Interactive and why he thinks, after years of consistent growth, the crowds may have finally plateaued.

SXSW 2015
5:00 pm
Fri March 13, 2015

SXSW Guide to Getting Around

Hot tip: Try to avoid driving.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

Austin officially opened its queso-filled veins to the masses today, and in order to service them, roads must be closed, buses must be detoured and late-night transit options must be broadened to accommodate the influx of visitors.

Traffic is always bad downtown during the festival. But you'll want to make sure to avoid the areas around these road closures:

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