Austin

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

A Look Back at Austin's Lesser-Known Petitions

Jan 27, 2016
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Petitions are having a moment right now.

But, despite their recent resurgence into the municipal zeitgeist, they’ve shaped the city in ways a lot of Austinites may or may not realize. There are well-known ones like the Save Our Springs ordinance or the 10-1 council reorganization petition, but what about the other times a petition's helped change Austin?

Photo by KUT News

“Austin is growing.” By now this maxim has become the resounding, if not infuriating, anthem of the city. It affects various sectors of life in Austin, from transportation to housing to health. And, as it turns out, it also affects how the city of Austin runs its 911 call center.


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon for KUT News

Last month KUT asked our audience to suggest stories they wanted us to report on. The story that listeners chose is about Austin’s African American population.  Specifically, why is it shrinking, while every other group in the city grows?  In the first installment of a project we’re calling ATXplained, KUT’s Mose Buchele reports. 

KUT News

Short-term rental website Airbnb has announced it wants to team up with cities throughout the country to collect taxes from people renting out rooms and homes on its website.


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Austin’s city government underwent a massive shift just over a year ago with the swearing in of the first City Council under the new 10-1 system, in which Council members are elected from geographic districts. The documentary “Ten Won” focuses on the campaign that brought out over 70 candidates and might be the start of a change in Austin’s politics. Former television journalist Judy Maggio co-directed the documentary. KUT’s Jennifer Stayton talked with her recently about how they packed all of that into half an hour.


Mike Blizzard via Twitter

As Mike Blizzard describes it, Wednesday morning began like any other. Then, came a knock at his door.

“A lot of people come through the neighborhood trying to get you to replace your windows, and I thought that’s who it was,” said Blizzard. “But instead it was a canvasser with a petition to recall City Council Member Ann Kitchen.”


Audrey McGlinchy/KUT

A local group funded by Uber and Lyft has turned into Austin City Hall a petition with the signatures of 23-thousand local voters, with the hopes of putting an ordinance on ride-hailing regulations it’s written to a public vote. To do that, a petition must have at least 20,000 valid signatures from local voters.

But that 20,000-signature threshold isn’t just a magic number for a city petition: It’s also a state threshold.

Courtesy of KUTX

KUT, KUTX and the music-loving folks of Austin all lost a luminary last Friday, when long-time DJ Paul Ray passed away at the age of 73. Ray was a fixture in the Austin music scene and his show "Twine Time" was a near-constant in an ever-changing Austin over the past 40 years. 

Shelby Knowles/Texas Tribune

From KUT's city reporting partner the Austin Monitor: Ridesharing Works for Austin has collected 65,103 signatures on a petition to change a city ordinance requiring that drivers be fingerprinted – which could force either a new City Council vote or a city-wide election.

The political action committee opposes rules that Council adopted in December that would require drivers of transportation network companies like Uber, Lyft and Get Me to submit their fingerprints for a background check. Council created a framework for a program that would encourage compliance through incentives and disincentives, which are set to be defined in a Jan. 28 meeting.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

A march today for Martin Luther King Jr. Day drew large crowds* of people who walked from the MLK statue at the University of Texas to Huston-Tillotson University, a historically black college in Austin. Cicily Roan took part and said she believes race relations are improving in America. 

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

Austin Mayor Steve Adler plans to propose a new set of incentives to resolve the standoff over fingerprinting drivers for ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft.

flickr/nomadicsun

The City of Austin is considering adding some structures to the downtown landscape: 24-hour public restrooms.

But, the initiative could benefit more than just tourists stuck downtown without a place to go. 


Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

The president of General Motors now says plans with Lyft to bring a fleet of self-driving cars to Austin were only hypothetical. But, what kind of regulations do self-driving cars face in Texas?

The votes are in!

Dozens of you submitted questions you wanted KUT to investigate for our ATXplained project. We chose three for our first voting round (don't worry, the others are eligible for future rounds). More than 600 people voted. Here are the results:

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

There are parts of Austin parks where you can drink alcohol without a permit, but sometimes the rules aren’t so clear. That’s the basis of the City of Austin's decision to redefine some of the parks’ alcohol-free zones.


The Last Dance of David Bowie and Stevie Ray

Jan 13, 2016
Chuck Pulin/Splash News/Corbis, via YouTube

The death of David Bowie has made many an Austinite reflect on the Thin White Duke’s most direct Austin connection: his partnership with Stevie Ray Vaughan that shined an international spotlight on the Austin guitarist. The two met at the Montreaux Jazz Festival in 1982, where Bowie first took a shine to the Austin guitarist despite a less-than-warm reception from the crowd. 

Lyft via youtube

Update 11:37 a.m. A General Motors spokesperson says that actually, this news is not confirmed; President Dan Ammann was just using Austin as an example.

“At this time, we do not have an active agreement with Austin. We are not pursuing an agreement with Austin. We do not have a forthcoming autonomous vehicle test in Austin. Dan was just using it as a hypothetical example," says Annalisa Bluhm, GM Spokesperson.

The city of Austin continues to disfavor minority- and women-owned businesses in its contracting, a 750-page study finds.

Jon Wainwright, a senior vice president with NERA Economic Consulting, which authored the study, spoke to City Council’s Economic Opportunity Committee on Monday. “We examined a total of over $4 billion across more than 3,500 prime contracts and over 8,500 subcontracts over this six-year period (from 2008 to 2013),” he said. “M/WBEs (minority- and women-owned businesses) received 18.75 percent of those dollars.”


via Flickr/fiftypercentchanceofrain

The Alabama Crimson Tide and the Clemson Tigers will face off tonight in college football's title game. College football has become a popular pastime for students, but new research from Texas A&M University suggests there’s a downside to game day: an increase in sexual assaults on campuses nationwide.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Demolition, it seems, follows Robin Wilkins.

Wilkins, 54, moved into the Lakeview Apartments on South Lakeshore Boulevard after another apartment building she was living in was slated to be torn down. She stayed for five years, paying no more than $720 a month for a two-bedroom apartment. Nonetheless, throughout that stay she knew the fate of the building: oblivion.


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