Austin

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

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

The City of Austin’s Vision Zero plan continued its final parade through boards and commissions Monday with a visit to the Public Safety Commission. And while some commissioners were dissatisfied with the 94-page document, others had little to say.

“About the only thing I can say is the pictures are pretty,” said Commissioner Mike Levy to open the discussion. “It was as if it basically has nothing to do with what the task force did.”

Mose Buchele/KUT

We’ve had a pretty rainy April here in Central Texas, with more rain ahead for May.  During our weekly deluge, you might have noticed a lot of rain seems to fall in the middle of the night.  Well, KUT’s Mose Buchele has always wondered why. So, he took his questions to Time Warner Cable News meteorologist Burton Fitzsimmons.

vcucns / flickr

The University of Texas at Austin is working to get a drug that stops people from overdosing on opioids, such as heroin and prescription pills, into the hands of resident advisors and campus police. The student government recently approved a resolution, and advocates are working to get a standing order at the school’s pharmacy.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

The political action committee that put Proposition 1 on the ballot and is campaigning for it received about $6 million from ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft in the past month.

According to documents filed Friday with the Austin City Clerk’s office, Ridesharing Works for Austin raised that sum between March 29 and April 28. The campaign has spent the bulk of that money over the past month, in staff salaries, television advertising, direct mail and consulting work.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Zilker Tree turns 50 this coming winter, and it’s getting spruced up for the occasion. The Tree, which most of the year is actually one of Austin's moontowers, was taken down Friday morning and removed from Zilker Park to be sandblasted, repainted and touched up at a shop in New Braunfels.

The city still has 17 of its original 31 moonlight towers (the uninitiated might remember the towers from cameos in Dazed and Confused), and Austin Energy has contracted with tower restoration company Enertech Resources, LLC, to repair and restore all 17. They’ve fully restored one so far, but they have inspected all of them. None of the towers, more than a century old, have any major structural damage, said Carlos Cordova with Austin Energy.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

This year's heavy rains and severe thunderstorms have city officials asking Austin’s small business owners to set aside time to prepare for natural disasters and emergencies.

David Hook was working at his furniture store last year when floodwaters began seeping in from under the door. He was able to move a lot of the merchandise out of the water’s way.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

When she’s not driving for ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft, Sara Kaminsky works as a personal trainer. In fact, I exited her Toyota Corolla with a brochure for Shakeology, a weight loss program that helped Kaminsky shed more than 100 pounds over two years.

I confessed that I needed to get in shape. “I could help you with that,” said Kaminsky. But mostly she helped me with a free ride Thursday morning to my nearest polling station, at Maplewood Elementary School.


Miguel Guitierrez Jr. / KUT

At the City of Austin’s budget season opener Wednesday, council members heard again of Austin’s two cities: the city’s widening economic divisions amidst claims that the city is “an economic star.”

“This is extraordinary growth,” economic consultant Jon Hockenyos told council members as he pointed out a 4.6 percent increase in jobs last year, plus an anticipated 7 to 8 percent gain in personal income in the coming year. “It is hard to imagine any other community that has consistently grown in the aggregate that the Austin metro area has.”

Jimmy Maas / KUT

What’s on your city flag? If your city has one at all, it’s likely an official seal with wording. More likely, you have not given a city flag any thought at all. But there is one man who wants to change that for his town.

Cedar Park Mayor Matt Powell is on a mission to create a lasting legacy for his city, something citizens can look upon for generations: a city flag.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

UPDATE: In a news conference this afternoon, City of Houston officials made clear they did not plan to concede to Uber's demands to repeal the city's current regulations for permitting ride-hailing drivers.

“If the city’s process protected even one person as relates to public safety, it has been worth it, and in this city we cannot afford to compromise public safety,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.

Turner said he hoped Uber would not leave, but stood firm that the company must comply with the city's current regulations. He claimed to be surprised by a letter from Uber today saying it would cease doing business in Houston if the rules, specifically related to fingerprint background checks, were not altered. Turner said the company had not expressed their need to leave, absent a change, in meetings he had with company officials in the past several months.

Turner called it "ironic" that Uber would make such a demand in the midst of Austin's vote on a measure that would roll back requirements for fingerprinting driver here.

From the Texas Tribune: Uber announced Wednesday that the company plans to cease operations in Houston if the city council does not repeal its existing regulations relating to vehicle-for-hire companies.

Houston is one of two cities in the country where Uber continues to operate despite a local requirement that its drivers undergo fingerprint-based background checks. Uber has recently left three cities in Texas for approving similar regulations and has threatened to do the same in Austin.

Austin History Center

Today's Wayback Wednesday looks back at Austin's onetime Victorian-era literary magazine, The Rolling Stone. The DIY-minded rag published short stories, cartoons and other Onion-esque items, but it is largely known as the first creative sandbox for its publisher, William Sydney Porter.

Porter, a North Carolina transplant who moved to Austin in the late 1880s, worked as a druggist and as a clerk at the General Land Office before he took a job at the First National Bank as a teller. It was during his time as a teller that he started The Rolling Stone in 1894. 

Jorge Sanhueza Lyon/KUT

City of Austin Manager Marc Ott has reprimanded Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo, docked him five days pay and warned him he could be fired for continued insubordination for his comments surrounding the shooting of David Joseph earlier this year, according to a report from the Austin American-Statesman.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

In Austin’s Shoal Creek neighborhood, residents are divided over the prospect of a massive new mixed-use development. While some welcome the growth, others say the proposal hasn’t been properly vetted. But take a walk around the Shoal Creek neighborhood, and you can clearly see that, for or against, the residents are all concerned.

Photo by KUT News

Most of the Austin School Board members want a larger salary increase for teachers than the district recommended. At a meeting Monday night they urged district officials to consider large pay bumps before bringing the budget back to the board for a vote, but that could mean deficits in future budgets.


It's time for another voting round in our ATXplained project!

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / Texas Tribune

From the Austin Monitor: Travis County has officially launched a lawsuit against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in a dispute over how much information the county should share about a program that seeks to give ex-convicts access to jobs.

LCRA, via Facebook

Last week’s torrential rains have left some Central Texas reservoirs at full capacity. This morning, authorities are working to move some of that water downstream to protect against flooding, and, for the first time in almost 10 years, the Lower Colorado River Authority is opening a floodgate at Lake Travis.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Along the outskirts of Austin, many mobile home residents are feeling the pressure of looming development. Now, city leaders are working on a plan that would offer assistance to displaced residents.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

In both sides of the tug of war over what rules should govern ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft in Austin, everyone seems to agree that having more transportation options is a potential antidote for DWIs.


On Thursday night, KUT and the Austin Monitor hosted a live debate at the North Door on the May 7 ballot question about regulations for ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft. 

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