Austin

Austin
8:00 am
Mon September 8, 2014

How Austin's Growth and Project Connect Could Impact the City's Bats

People gather on the Congress Avenue Bridge to watch the bats fly out in the evenings - but what happens if something is built in their flight path?
Caleb Bryant-Miller/KUT News

The bats that roost under the Congress Avenue Bridge have a hard-flown journey after their nightly show for tourists and passersby.

They cruise over the trees bordering Lady Bird Lake's southern shore – flying up to 40 miles away from the city every night – then come back, roost and feast on insects between Congress Avenue and I-35.

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Tejano Trails
5:09 pm
Fri September 5, 2014

Trails in a Changing East Austin Preserve Decades of Tejano History

Johnny Degollado, Tejano music legend, plays his accordion at the outdoor venue named in his honor – the Johnny Degollado Pavillion at Fiesta Gardens.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Many Latinos in Texas can trace their history back to the 1690s. They're descendants of Spanish, Mexican and indigenous people who were here when the land was subject to the Spanish crown, then later a part of the sovereign state of Mexico, the Republic of Texas and, finally, the United States.

They don’t consider themselves either Mexican or Anglo-Texan. They’re Tejanos, and they always have been.  Now, a six-mile path through Austin aims to preserve some of that history.

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SXSW 2014
2:49 pm
Fri September 5, 2014

Austin Calls for Less Free Booze, More Enforcement Before the Next SXSW

The city says the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission will have an expanded presence at this year's South By Southwest.
Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

City of Austin officials are out with their evaluation of this year’s South by Southwest Music Festival. Most of the changes and recommendations involve alcohol consumption and crowds.

A major issue, according to city officials, is over-consumption of free alcohol. The city says next year, a representative from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission will be at the South by Southwest command post during the day.

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Austin Police
1:03 pm
Wed September 3, 2014

APD Faces Tough Questions at Community Forum

Credit Austin Monitor

From our reporting partners the Austin Monitor:  

During an emotionally charged public forum on police accountability, Austin Police Department Chief Art Acevedo defended the department against accusations that officers unfairly target minorities.

The Travis County Democratic Party hosted Tuesday’s forum at the North Door after it passed a resolution calling for action for APD to “address systemic issues surrounding racial profiling, excessive use of force and accountability in relations to the African-American community.”

In particular, Travis County Democratic Party Secretary Vince Harding said members were alarmed that while black people account for only 8 percent of Austin’s population, they make up 24 percent of drivers whose cars are searched by APD. Also, between 2002 and 2012, seven of the 10 unarmed people killed by APD were black.

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Austin
10:41 am
Mon September 1, 2014

How Will Austin Police Enforce the Hand-Held Device Ban?

The Austin City Council approved a ban on hand-held devices last week, which will take effect at the beginning of next year.
Credit via Xconomy

Starting in January, you won't be able to have your phone in your hands while driving your car, or while riding your bike.

The Austin City Council passed an ordinance Thursday prohibiting use of devices unless drivers are at a complete stop, or if there is an emergency. Those caught in the act by Austin police face a citation for a Class C misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $500 – though, the city has not yet finalized a fine structure for the ban.

While some studies suggest devices with hands-free capability doesn't necessarily reduce safety risk or increase reaction times, the move is an extension of the city's current ban on using devices while on the road. But what do Austin drivers think of the ban, and how Austin police plan to enforce it?

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10-1
2:11 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

Ballot Boxing: The Austin City Council District Forums

Join KUT, the Austin Monitor, Univision 62, KXAN and the Austin Chronicle for our series of in-district Austin City Council candidate forums. All forums begin at 7 P.M. They are free and open to the public.
RSVP is recommended. 

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2014 Elections
10:35 am
Fri August 29, 2014

Why 10-1 Isn't Austin's First Go-Around with Geographic Representation

A map of Austin from 1873 by Augustus Koch.
Wikimedia Commons

Let's go back in time. It's 1839. Austin’s a brand new baby, the capitol is a one-story building at the corner of 8th Street and Colorado, the Austin City Gazette costs $5 for a yearly subscription, and Lamar is the President of the Republic of Texas, not an overly-congested thoroughfare.

While all that may sound antiquated, there was something else in Austin that only recently has been considered a fresh, previously unheard of idea: geographic representation.

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Austin
7:32 am
Fri August 29, 2014

City Council Bans Hand-Held Devices While Driving

The Austin City Council banned use of hands-free devices yesterday. The ban starts in January of 2015.
via http://www.flickr.com/photos/indyplanets/

Holding a phone while rolling on Austin streets is about to become against the law, but not just for Austinites driving cars and trucks.

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Eanes ISD
1:54 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

Eanes ISD Approves Sports and Community Complex (Update)

An image from the Westlake Neighborhood Alliance website opposing Western Hills Little League's proposed complex. The proposed center's also been fought in court, but the builders say they don’t understand the concern.
nottherightsite.com

Update: The Eanes School Board last night approved an agreement with a private contractor to build a 60-70,000 square foot facility next to Westlake High School. 

The proposed complex includes five to six basketball courts, nearly a dozen volleyball courts and an indoor turf field. There are also plans to build an aquatic facility and it will used for other sports and activities, like band, karate, yoga or gymnastics. There will also be space for video conferencing and camps. The company, Westlake Athletic Center (WAC), will build the complex and pay for constructions. Ten years after it's built, WAC will also pay Eanes ISD $60,000 per year as  rent the school, with escalation costs of 2.5 percent.

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2014 Elections
10:05 am
Thu August 28, 2014

Candidates Talk Transportation at Mayoral Forum

KUT's Jennifer Stayton moderated the panel of five mayoral hopefuls at KLRU's forum.
Sam Butler/KLRU

This story from our city hall reporting partners, the Austin Monitor.
You can hear the entire mayoral debate on KUT 90.5 FM tonight at 8 p.m.

Though Austin residents can only vote for one Council member to represent their geographic district this Election Day, everyone in the city gets a say in who becomes the next mayor. Five of those in the running showed up for the Civic Summit Mayoral Candidate Forum, Wednesday, presented by KLRU, Austin’s PBS station and the Urban Land Institute.

Moderator Jennifer Stayton, host of KUT’s Morning Edition, grilled candidates Todd Phelps, Mike Martinez, Randall Stephens, Sheryl Cole and Steve Adler about how they would govern the city, focusing specifically on what each candidate would do to alleviate Austin’s traffic congestion.

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Austin
7:58 am
Thu August 28, 2014

Austin's Experimental 'Micro-Housing' Project for Chronically Homeless Breaks Ground

The interior of one of the micro-homes. Some can be rented for as low as $180 per month.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Yesterday, a decade-long dream took root for Alan Graham of Mobile Loaves and Fishes. Graham and the organization celebrated the groundbreaking of Community First, a self-sustaining, employment-focused village for chronically homeless Austinites on the mend near Decker Lane.

The experiment aims to end homelessness by cheaply renting out up to 240 colorful cottages, offering tenants homegrown produce, employment services and a roof over their head in northeast Austin.

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Austin
2:43 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

City Council Will Consider Turning 'Barking Springs' Into an Off-Leash Park (Update)

Austin City Council will consider taking a look at turning the spillway outside Barton Springs Pool into a city park.
flickr.com/dingatx

Update: Council approved a study to turn the Barton Springs Pool spillway into a city park.

Original Post (Aug. 27, 2014): The Austin City Council will consider whether or not to turn the "free side" of Barton Springs Pool – some call it "Barking Springs" – into a city park.

A proposal from Council Member Chris Riley on tomorrow's agenda calls for studying the idea of turning the spillway that bridges the springs and Lady Bird Lake into an off-leash dog park, as well as allowing swimming there. Riley's resolution would direct City Manager Marc Ott to ask the Parks and Recreation Board and the Animal Advisory Commission what city code would need to be changed to make the park a possibility.

Earlier this month, the Austin Police Department banned drinking at the spillway after a rise in crime in the Barton Springs and Zilker Park areas.

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KUT's Summer School
4:24 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

The Secret of Comedy Success? Learning to Fail.

KUT's Mose Buchele on stage at the Velveeta Room in downtown Austin.
Terrence Henry/KUT News

On Thursday night, KUT's Mose Buchele found himself in front of a microphone, on stage at the Velveeta Room, a comedy club on Sixth Street in Austin.

"How did I get here?" he wondered. 

This summer, KUT reporters have been going to class, so to speak, to learn new skills or crafts from experts around Austin. So when Mose decided he would try his hand at stand up comedy, he called Brian Gaar for some advice. 

Take a listen to what happened:

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2014 Elections
5:29 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

Can Ballot Placement Influence an Election Outcome?

City Clerk Jannette Goodall randomly draws candidate names by district and announces the order in which candidate names will appear on the ballot.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

For the 78 people running for Austin City Council and Mayor this fall, where their name is on the ballot can make a real difference on Election Day. And that was determined by a random drawing on Wednesday.

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2014 Elections
11:44 am
Wed August 20, 2014

Lack of Connections & Savvy Block Some Would-Be Candidates in Council Races

A crowded ballot may be one hindrance, but some cite a lack of political influence and savvy as a barrier in running for office.
Credit Photo by KUT News

Now that the ballot is set for Austin City Council elections, we've got a clear picture of what the races will look like heading into November. Seventy-eight candidates will be featured on the ballot. Though that may seem like a crowded field overall, some districts have as many as 12 candidates, while other districts could only have a few candidates.

That kind of disparity has some asking whether the new, for-the-people-by-the-people ethos of the 10-1 system can help political neophytes overcome the hurdles and trappings of political campaigns.

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2014 Elections
10:19 am
Tue August 19, 2014

Here's Who's Running for Austin Mayor and City Council

Construction crews renovate the inside of the Austin City Council Chambers earlier this year, to make room for a larger council.
Bryan Winter/KUT News

Nearly two years after Austinites passed the 10-1 plan – which allows voters to elect city council members from their respective geographic district while the mayor is still elected by all voters – the plan has arrived at its penultimate step: The ballot is set. 

In total, 78 candidates submitted their names for voter approval ahead of the city and county elections in November. The ballot features some familiar faces, with current council members Chris Riley and Kathie Tovo pitted against each other in District 9 as well as a Sheryl Cole vs. Mike Martinez match up in the at-large race for mayor. 

Below you can find a full list of the candidates on the ballot listed by filing date:

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Austin
9:35 am
Tue August 19, 2014

PHOTOS: UT Students Gather in Support of Ferguson Demonstrations

Over one hundred people turned our for a rally on the south steps of the UT Tower. Organized by University of Texas students Jarius Sowells and Jasmine Graham the rally was meant to show support for the people of Ferguson, Mo.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Last night, 31 protestors were arrested in Ferguson, Missouri in the latest batch of demonstrations – some have turned violent – in the weeks following the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was unarmed, by Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson.

The event, and the controversy surrounding it, has inspired protests across the nation.

2014 Elections
10:14 am
Mon August 18, 2014

Could the Hyperlocal Focus of 10-1 Reverse the Push to Make Austin a 'World Class' City?

The Circuit of the Americas track has been a boon for Austin's international reputation, but it's come with a cost. Geographic representation, some say, will allow for more on-the-ground, hyperlocal governance.
flickr.com/oxherder

Today is the last day candidates can file to run in the next Austin City Council election. Those elected in November will represent one of Austin’s 10 new geographic districts.  Some campaigns are already underway, and candidates are hearing about needs that are exclusive to their district.

A lot of those district-exclusive needs don't involve more international flights or starting another international festival in Austin.

So if the candidates, once they're elected, focus on solving the small-scale problems their constituents bring to their attention during the campaign season, Austin may experience radical changes over the next decade or so.

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Austin
12:52 pm
Tue August 12, 2014

First Burn Ban of Summer Now in Effect for Travis County

The scorched earth after the Bastrop Wildfires of 2011. Fire Marshal Lee says this summer has not been nearly as dry.
Mose Buchele, KUT News

Travis County is under a burn ban for the first time this summer.

Fire Marshal Hershel Lee says the area has been getting drier over the past few months and yesterday’s rain just wasn’t enough to make a significant different in the soil moisture.

“There’s very little moisture in the top eight inches of soil for plants to grow so the plants have lost their fuel moisture and are more susceptible to fire starting easily," Lee said. "With all of these factors taken into consideration, long-term forecast of 10 to 12 days of 100 degree weather, we felt it was time to implement a burn ban.”

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Austin City Council
9:20 am
Thu August 7, 2014

Austin Could Create a Municipal ID Program

Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole says the municipally issued identification cards would allow undocumented immigrants to report crimes without fear of deportation.
Daniel Reese/KUT

Today, the Austin City Council could decide whether or not to move forward on municipal identification cards – cards which would allow undocumented immigrants to identify themselves without the fear of deportation.

The item on the council's agenda (PDF) would permit the city manager to conduct a study of the ID program to be delivered to council later this year.

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