Austin

Austin
5:55 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Does Austin's Economic Segregation Threaten Its Charm?

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

Austin-Round Rock is the third most economically segregated metropolitan area in America, according to a University of Toronto study released this week. It ranks highest among the country’s large metro areas.

The study, led by urban researcher Richard Florida, measures how much residents concentrate by income, occupation and educational attainment. Only Tallahassee and Trenton are more segregated than Austin.

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Austin
11:34 am
Tue February 24, 2015

Professor Lectures Adler on Austin Government

Mayor Steve Adler announced that he would no longer try to use a nonprofit foundation to add up to 15 new members to his office staff, which currently has five. He's pictured here at KUT studios.

From the Austin Monitor:

Terrell Blodgett, professor emeritus at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, has written to Mayor Steve Adler and his City Council colleagues expressing concern about the mayor’s plan to add more staff for his office and lecturing him on the fact that the mayor has no more power than any of his Council colleagues or mayors before him.

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Weather
8:05 am
Tue February 24, 2015

Most Austin-Area Schools Will Operate on Two-Hour Delay Tuesday

Nathan Bernier/KUT

Update (7:00 A.M.): Capital Metro has lifted detours, and is now following its regular routes.

Tuesday morning update (4:15 A.M.): The City of Austin has announced all City offices and facilities will open at 10 a.m. today.  That includes Austin Municipal Courts and the Downtown Austin Community Court. The City Council work session will begin at 10:30 a.m. Capital Metro will detour some bus routes because of possible inclement weather this morning.

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Austin
3:56 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

How Many Austinites Will Register Their Short-Term Rentals Before SXSW?

A map shows the parts of town where no more permits are available for non-owner occupied short-term rental spaces. Those are the spaces colored in red.
Credit City of Austin

South by Southwest is coming up. That means a crush of visitors and extra cash in the pockets of people renting space to those visitors.  But the City of Austin has a message for potential short-term landlords: You've got to register your home by Feb. 28th if you hope to rent the space legally.

"Before every major event we see a number of applicants that come into our office," says Marcus Elliot with the Austin Code Department. "They're really interested in that last-minute rush to try to get the license." 

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Austin
2:10 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Apartment Complex Turns to DNA Database to Solve Dog Waste Problem

Credit Screengrab via the City of Austin's YouTube

Cleaning up after four-legged friends is a paramount part of dog ownership.

As many can attest, there’s nothing worse than stepping in a canine’s gastrointestinal afterthoughts, not to mention the host of health hazards to other pups that could be transmitted by not picking up after one’s dog.

Being the dog-friendly city it is, many an Austin apartment manager struggles with those who refuse to clean up after their pets. Now, one apartment complex is taking fecal matters to the next level by using DNA testing to sniff out irresponsible owners.

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Austin
9:00 am
Mon February 23, 2015

Winter Weather Advisory in Effect Monday; Austin ISD Operating as Normal

National Weather Service Austin/San Antonio

Update 8:55 a.m.: Capitol Metro has ended its detours and returned to regular routes.

Police in Pflugerville and Cedar Park are reporting icy conditions on bridges and overpasses in the area.

Update 7:25 a.m.: The National Weather Service reports light icing in towns northwest of Austin, stretching from Cedar Park to Kerrville.

Area schools continue to publish updates to today's class schedule:

  • Burnet CISD will cancel classes today. All BCISD schools and offices are closed, and all afterschool activities have been canceled.
  • Marble Falls ISD will also cancel all classes today.
  • All other area schools, including Austin ISD, will operate on a regular schedule.
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Austin City Council
9:48 am
Fri February 20, 2015

Adler Gives Up on Foundation Funding for Office Staff

Mayor Steve Adler during a visit to KUT on February 16, 2015.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

From the Austin Monitor:

After hearing strong opposition from his colleagues as well as others, Mayor Steve Adler is proposing a complete revamp of his plan for additional staffing in the Mayor’s office.

Adler told the Austin Monitor Thursday that he would be pulling down his proposal to fund additional staff for the Mayor’s office through the Better Austin Foundation. Adler said he expects to have a total of nine staff members. He currently has four on his staff plus Sara Hartley, who is on loan from the public works department.

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Same-Sex Marriage
10:19 am
Thu February 19, 2015

First Same-Sex Couple Married in Texas

Sarah Goodfriend (left) and Suzanne Bryant are Texas' first married same-sex couple. They were able to marry in Austin Thursday morning thanks to a court order. They're pictured here with their two daughters.
Courtesy of Goodfriend and Bryant.

Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant were married Thursday morning in Austin. The county clerk issued the couple a marriage license based on a court order. Theirs is Texas' first same-sex marriage.

The order, the county clerk's office confirms, will only apply to this one couple, one of whom is "medically fragile." [See the judge's order here.]

KUT's Nathan Bernier spoke with Goodfriend and Bryant earlier this afternoon.

Update Friday 1:36 p.m. Texas Attorney General Paxton filed a petition asking the Texas Supreme Court to rule that the same-sex marriage license issued yesterday is void. 

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Austin City Council
8:50 am
Thu February 19, 2015

Council Looks to Work Out Kinks in New Meeting Process

Long lines and deep crowds are nothing new to those familiar with Austin City Council meetings, but a new meeting structure aims to cut down on the council's historically long meeting times.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Officially, the Austin City Council meets every other week. This would've been an off week. But, this new council has so much to learn and so much to do that unofficially, it meets virtually all the time.

In a special called meeting today, the council will try to work out how the new meetings system will work.

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Wayback Wednesday
1:19 pm
Wed February 18, 2015

Wayback Wednesday: Rediscovering Barbara Jordan

Jordan during a meeting on February 13, 1967 with President Lyndon B. Johnson about the Civil Rights Act.
Yoichi R. Okamoto, via Texas Southern University

Today’s Wayback Wednesday honors the birthday of Barbara Jordan. Born on February 21, 1936 in Houston’s Fifth Ward, Jordan went on to become the first African-American woman to serve in the Texas Senate, the first woman to represent Texas in the House of Representatives and was nearly nominated to the United States Supreme Court by then-President Bill Clinton before her death in 1996.

Below you can listen to KUT’s award-winning hour-long documentary on Jordan’s life and legacy, “Rediscovering Barbara Jordan,” which was produced in association with Public Radio International. Above, you can view photos from her life and the exhibit at the Capitol honoring her legislative career.

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Austin
9:55 am
Mon February 16, 2015

Developers Propose Brackish Water for Decker Golf

Austin Monitor

From the Austin Monitor:

In a major shift, Decker Lake Golf LLC representatives have proposed a new plan they say would not use reclaimed water to irrigate a PGA-class golf course proposed for Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park.

The company’s vice president, Warren Hayes, told the Water and Wastewater Commission on Wednesday that he and his associates would pump brackish water from the Hosston formation of the Trinity Aquifer, which is not part of the city’s water portfolio.

City Council is scheduled to consider the item at its next regular meeting Feb. 26. The previous Council set that date after postponing the controversial item last year.

Several commissioners expressed at the meeting that they had not previously heard of such a plan, and approached the issue with caution.

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Austin
1:16 pm
Fri February 13, 2015

In Photos: East Side Piñata Shop Owners Surprised to Find Building Demolished

Jumpolin Rentals store owner Monica Lejarazu (R) and neighbor Diane Ontiberos look on as a fence is erected around the remains of her storefront. Lejarazul said that she received no notification from the building owner about the demolition.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Monica and Sergio Lejarazu say they were surprised Thursday morning to find their party supply shop on Cesar Chavez, Jumpolin, being demolished.

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Austin
10:22 am
Thu February 12, 2015

Property Tax Exemptions, Explained in Terms of Pie

How much pie (ok, it's cheesecake) equals a property tax exemption?
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

Today the Austin City Council will talk about the possibility of implementing a twenty percent homestead property tax exemption. It's something many of the newly elected council members promised on the campaign trail last year.

So, what exactly does a twenty percent homestead exemption mean for homeowners?

Let's look at your property taxes as a whole, as though they were a pie.

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Austin
8:43 am
Thu February 12, 2015

Watch: Austin Unveils the World's Nosiest Lamp Posts

A text from a thing.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

Think of a time you’ve talked to an object that can’t talk back. Maybe you’ve yelled at your car when it wouldn’t start, or screamed at the leg of a table after stubbing your toe on it.

While Austinites have always had the option to talk to inanimate objects while walking down the street, now the objects will talk – or rather, text – back.

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Wayback Wednesday
3:43 pm
Wed February 11, 2015

How Chicken Salad Helped Bring Down a Texas Governor

A campaign poster from James "Pa" Ferguson's first run for governor. He was elected in the 1914 election and served one full term, but was impeached in the first year of his second.
Credit Texas State Library

Today’s Wayback Wednesday marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the end of James “Pa” Ferguson’s tenure as governor of Texas. The unlikely harbinger of his premature departure from the Governor’s Mansion? Chicken salad.

One hundred years ago today, in Ferguson’s first month as governor, the legislature passed a bill to pay for the groceries of his predecessor, O.B. Colquitt, with services and sundries on Colquitt’s tab including butter, eggs, feed for horses, car repairs, stationary, punch and chicken salad, among others.

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Austin
10:48 am
Wed February 11, 2015

Zimmerman Struggles to Stop Subsidized Housing

District 6 council member Don Zimmerman.
Credit KUT News

From the Austin Monitor:

There are only two subsidized housing developments in City Council Member Don Zimmerman’s District 6, as compared to 47 in Council Member Ora Houston’s District 1 and 46 in Council Member Pio Renteria’s District 3, according to data compiled by the group Housing Works Austin.

But Zimmerman would like to make sure there is not another one in District 6. He is particularly opposed to the Cardinal Point Apartments that are to be developed by Foundation Communities, Inc. at 11011 1/2 Four Points Drive.

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Austin
6:07 pm
Tue February 10, 2015

School for the Deaf Staff, Students React to Potential Downsizing

Miguel Gutierrez, Jr./KUT News

The Texas School for the Deaf sits on 67 acres in between South 1st and South Congress. It looks more like a small college campus than a traditional school building. But then again, says school superintendent Claire Bugen, this isn't a traditional school.

"We serve students from age zero, in our parent/infant program, through home visits. And then when the student is 18 months old, they start to come on campus for part-time services. Now these are local students. All the way through age 22. So our continuum of services is very broad," Bugen says.

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Austin
9:18 am
Tue February 10, 2015

What Does It Mean If Some City Council Districts Have Children and Some Don't?

Despite their close proximity, Districts 4 and 9 have a huge gap in the number of children in each, and some wonder how that will affect each district's budgets and policies going forward.
Miguel Gutierrez, Jr./KUT News

Every one of Austin's 10 geographic districts is unique, but there's one fact they share: Each has roughly 80,000 people.

That allows for a relative population equality between the districts, but the differences in district-to-district demographics can be anything but equal.

One of the biggest differences is between Districts 4 and 9.

District 9 has about a fourth of the number of children in District 4 and some wonder if that disparity will affect how the Austin City Council prioritizes money for each district in future budgets.

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Austin City Council
11:09 am
Fri February 6, 2015

Aleshire Files Criminal Complaint Against Zimmerman

District 6 City Council member Don Zimmerman is accused of wrongly using campaign funds to pay his wife.
KUT News

From the Austin Monitor:

District 6 City Council Member Don Zimmerman may be headed back to court, but this time as a defendant in a criminal prosecution.

On Thursday, Aleshire LAW PC attorney Bill Aleshire filed a criminal complaint against Zimmerman with the Travis County Attorney and the Texas Ethics Commission.

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Austin
3:46 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

Where Should Austin Build Affordable Housing?

Austin faces a challenge when it comes to building more affordable housing.
Credit Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

Now that the new Austin City Council is in place, it faces a challenge: On the one hand, council members know just how necessary affordable housing is. Virtually all of them ran on an "affordability" platform.

Advocates will tell you Austin is short tens of thousands of housing units specifically for low-income residents. Non-profits have been working hard in recent years to building more affordable housing (below-market rate units for low- and middle-income residents, often subsidized through public and/or private funding).

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