Austin

Austin
10:05 am
Tue August 5, 2014

No One Dies Alone: Austin Program Ensures Patients Don’t Face Death By Themselves

Dr. Leigh Fredholm, medical director of Seton Palliative Care, and Liz Powell, Seton’s Network Palliative Care Chaplain, visit a patient at the University Medical Center at Brackenridge in Austin.
Tamir Kalifa/Texas Tribune

When a loved one is near death, friends and family often rush to their side – saying their goodbyes and remembering a loved one before they pass.

Yet sometimes that’s not possible. Family members may be unable to travel, or some may have completely severed ties with their loved ones.

But a program at Seton and Brackenridge medical centers ensures that patients don't face death alone – even if they were alone in life.

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Fun Fun Fun Fest
12:36 pm
Mon August 4, 2014

Beards Versus Drag Queens: Just a Typical Afternoon in Austin

The may have lost, but the Tug Boat Queens still feel strong
Mengwen Cao/KUT News

Water, the outdoors, music: all things Austinites enjoy, especially when the weather is nice. And all three can go well with some type of beverage in hand.

That was the case during this weekend’s Aqua Olympics. The fourth annual family/tattoo/dog-friendly event, presented by Fun Fun Fun Fest, took over Fiesta Gardens on Saturday afternoon. Events included classic outdoor games like a potato sack race, balloon toss and a ‘6-legged’ race. And, in typical Fun Fun Fun Fest fashion, there were activities like a paddleboard joust on Lady Bird Lake, a taco cannon, a belching contest, and a ‘lagoon launch’ where some of Austin’s best BMX bikers shot down a ramp, flew and flipped through the air, landing in the lake. For many, it could be considered a typical Austin afternoon.

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Austin
7:41 am
Tue July 29, 2014

Despite a Rate Cut, Travis County Could Still See a Property Tax Increase Next Year

The Travis County Commissioners Court will debate the proposed budget and hear public comments up until a final Sept. 23 vote.
Credit Jillian Schantz Patrick for KUT News

Travis County residents could see a property taxes increase in the $901 million proposed budget for 2015. The increase, however, isn’t because of rising property values, but because of the demand for countywide services.

The budget calls to build out integral services for the ever-expanding county, but may lower the tax rate. County officials will debate and hear public comment on the budget before the final Sept. 23 vote.

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Housing
3:36 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

Under 10% of Austin Landlords Accept Vouchers. This Rule Could Change That.

Austin's "source of income" discrimination rule could require landlords accept vouchers and other housing subsidies.
flickr.com/milestonemanagement

The rental market in Austin is hot. The Austin Board of Realtors says more units are being leased than last year and the prices are higher.

But the City of Austin says it can be hard for people who use housing vouchers to find a place to live. Now, some city commissions are considering adding “source of income” discrimination [PDF] to a list of banned landlord behavior.

A study found fewer than 10 percent of rental units in Austin currently accept vouchers – a move that critics say contributes to a concentration of poverty in the northern and eastern parts of the city.

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KUT's Summer School
4:32 pm
Fri July 25, 2014

Don't Get it Twisted: Making Balloon Animals Takes Lots of Practice

Kristen Crandall and Michael Hale work for Austin Kids Parties, a small business that does balloon twisting and face painting at birthday parties, festivals and corporate events.
Joe Capraro/KUT

It’s time for another edition of KUT’s Summer School! Every Friday this summer, we head out to learn new skills from people in Austin who are experts in their field. Today’s subject? Balloon Twisting.  

KUT’s Kate McGee teaches us how to learns the squeaky, yet delicate art of creating shapes out of balloons.

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Austin
9:20 am
Thu July 24, 2014

Why Kids' Summer Activities Could End Up Saving Parents Money

Isabelle DiCarlo rides a horse at Switch Willow. The money her mother Julie spent on activities this summer is around $5,000, which she could write off as a deduction in next year's taxes.
Filipa Rodigues for KUT News

For busy parents, the dog days of summer are less about beating the heat, and more about finding a way to keep the kids preoccupied.

Activities can range from summer camps to soccer leagues or stints at daycare, but they all have one thing in common: they cost money. But, while there's no such thing as a free summertime preoccupation, the money parents spend on their kids' activities could return later in the form of a welcome tax deduction.

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Traffic
7:19 am
Thu July 24, 2014

How Much Do Bad Roads & Texas Traffic Cost Drivers Every Year?

Deteriorating roadways and traffic congestion costs Austin drivers $1,700 every year.
Callie Hernandez for KUT News

Believe it or not, the state of Texas needs to spend money every year just to maintain current and ever-growing levels of traffic.

The Texas Department of Transportation needs at least $4 to 5 billion in additional funds to maintain roads and keep traffic from getting worse. In November, Texans will take to the polls to decide the fate of the agency's request via a constitutional amendment for the roadway funding.

While the sticker shock of that may not sit well with some, a new study says shaky infrastructure has an annual statewide cost of over $25 billion and Austin drivers an average of $1,700 a year.

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Austin
7:34 am
Wed July 23, 2014

Police Officer Deaths Are on the Rise Across the Country

Police officer deaths are higher than in previous years, according to a survey from the National Law Enforement Officers Memorial Fund.
KUT News

The number of law officer deaths across the nation has risen dramatically so far this year, according to a report from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

During the first half of this year, 67 law enforcement officers in the U.S. were killed while on duty – a 31 percent increase over the same period last year.

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Austin
10:13 am
Tue July 22, 2014

Running for Austin City Council? The Time to File is Here

Earlier this month, crews began renovating the dais in City Hall in order to fit 11 council members. The filing period to run for council this fall opened this week.
Bryan Winter/KUT

Austin City Council hopefuls are trickling into City Hall to file for a place on the ballot.

The application period, opened yesterday, goes through August 18. While currently just a handful of people have filed, the election is generating excitement that's hard to come by in local politics

Jannette Goodall is Austin's City Clerk. But if you didn't know that, you'd think she's a wedding planner – for months, Goodall and her staff have been prepping for this moment. "You're kind of planning for the big ball, you know? It's kind of fun," she says.

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Austin
3:32 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

UIL Moves Basketball Championships to the Alamodome Because of SXSW Crowds

The Frank Erwin Center has hosted UIL basketball championships since 1978.
Dave Wilson Photography http://davewilsonphotography.com/

Believe it or not, some young people in Austin during the second week of South by Southwest aren’t necessarily in town for free beer, live music and free (and occasionally questionable) promotional materials. Some brave the traffic and throngs of people in the hopes of winning a championship.

The University Interscholastic League – the state’s host and organizer of high school academic and athletic competitions – has held its UIL Basketball State Tournaments in Austin for more than 90 years. But, because of waning attendance and the high cost of Austin hotels during South by, UIL has decided to move the championship from the Frank Erwin Center down I-35 to San Antonio’s Alamodome starting next year. 

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Best of Austin
4:14 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Chronicle 'Best of Austin' at 25: What's Changed, What's the Same & How It's Different Than Yelp

A collection of Austin Chronicle "Best of Austin" covers from over the years – including ones featuring Lance Armstrong and Willie Nelson.
Austin Chronicle

If there’s one thing you hear consistently from Austinites, original and transplanted, it’s how much the city has changed over the years.

One interesting gauge of that might be the Austin Chronicle’s “Best Of Austin” poll, which is now in its 25th year.

Chronicle Special Issues Editor Kate X Messer has been around for almost 20 of those years. She sat down with KUT to talk about what she's seen over that time.

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The Franklin Fist Bump
3:04 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Listen: Why Obama's Austin Fist Bumper Made a Call for Gay Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama fist bumps Daniel Webb at Franklin Barbecue. Webb called for gay equality in his exchange with the president.
Kevin Lamarque/Reuters /Landov

By now, you've probably seen the photo from President Barack Obama's recent Austin visit: the president smiling and extending a fist bump to a cashier at Franklin Barbecue.

If you've followed the story further, then you may be familiar with what prompted the exchange: the cashier, comedian and performer Daniel Webb, exclaimed "Equal rights for gay people!" when the president approached the counter. When Obama asked Webb if he was gay, he answered, "Only when I have sex."

Originally reported by The Austin Chronicle, the story has been written up everywhere online.

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Halloween Floods
8:43 am
Mon July 14, 2014

How Long Will It Take to Finish the Onion Creek Buyout Demolitions?

Workers from AAR Inc., a company hired to remove asbestos, inside a house on Onion Crossing Drive. The crew leader said many of the workers live in the Dove Springs neighborhood.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Last Halloween at least 580 homes in Austin were damaged by floods in the Onion Creek area, causing nearly $30 million in property damage. So far, the city has purchased 116 properties that were either damaged by flood waters or are in danger of future flooding. 

By the end of the year, demolition contractors plan on knocking down 105 homes in the area. But what happens to all the leftover debris from those homes, and how long will the project take to complete? 

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Austin
1:41 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

Google Fiber's Slow Start to High-Speed Internet in Austin

High school students develop apps in a University of Missouri–Kansas City program. Kansas City was the first city to receive Google Fiber.
flickr.com/umkc

“We hope to have services to our first customers by the middle of 2014.”

As recently as May 17, this message was posted on the Google Fiber website for Austin, according to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.

Well, July 2 marked the middle of 2014, and beside the announcement of a new employee, Austinites hungry for the tech giant’s ultra-fast Internet service – first promised in April 2013 – have received nary an update. Except for a vague update to the website, that is: “We hope to have services to our first customers later this year.”

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Obama in Austin
10:29 am
Thu July 10, 2014

Austin Says 'Thanks Obama!' for All the Traffic

Pres. Obama speaking at UT in 2010.
Caleb Bryant Miller/KUT

Normally the "Thanks Obama" meme is reserved for things beyond the president's control: paper cuts and infomercial disasters, to name a few.

But Pres. Obama's visit to Austin today – and its effect on morning traffic ­– has more than a few Twitter users directing their gridlocked ire at the president. To the surprise of no one stuck in traffic, #ThanksObama is trending in Austin this morning.

Here's a roundup of what's out there:

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Austin
4:09 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

UT President Bill Powers Will Stay One More Year

Embattled University of Texas President Bill Powers resigned today under the threat of firing from the university's board of regents.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers has announced his resignation, effective about a year from now on June 2, 2015.

Last week, U.T. System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa called on Powers to resign or face being fired at tomorrow’s meeting of the Board of Regents. Powers responded with a letter asking that he stay on until after the next session of the Texas Legislature. Cigarroa has accepted Powers' letter of resignation; the Board of Regents still needs to sign off on it. 

Below, you can listen to Powers' exclusive interview with Texas Standard's David Brown about what he wishes to accomplish in his remaining year and his future with the University of Texas.

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City Council
3:36 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Dais Gets Renovated Ahead of Changes at City Council

Crew members disassemble the dais on July 9, 2014.
Bryan Winter/KUT

Come November the Austin City Council is going to look a bit different. The council will expand from six at-large-elected  members to 10 members elected by citizens within their district — plus the mayor, naturally. In anticipation of the change, the city is revamping the council's dais. 

Energy & Environment
11:04 am
Wed July 9, 2014

A New Proposal For a Coal-Free Austin Could End the City's LCRA Partnership

Some say the city should cut ties with the Fayette Power Plant. Others say a binding partnership between the city and the LCRA legally prohibits any dissolution.
KUT News

Today, the group tasked with figuring out how to wean Austin off carbon dioxide-emitting coal power is scheduled to vote on its recommendations, and some members of that group think they  have found a new approach to the biggest road block between Austin and a coal-free future: the Fayette Coal Plant.

Austin Energy owns the plant along with the Lower Colorado River Authority, and gets about 20 percent of its electricity from it. While selling off the plant or retiring it completely has been a long held dream of city officials and environmentalists, city staff has warned that it could be prohibitively expensive and legally tricky. Previous plans to sell off that stake, or shut down the plant have also been opposed by the LCRA.

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KUT's Summer School
1:15 pm
Fri July 4, 2014

How Math and Memory Can Make or Break Your DJ Skills

DJ Orión Garcia, left, teaches KUT reporter Veronica Zaragovia what it takes to be a DJ at his home studio in Austin.
Sergio Padilla for KUT

It’s time for another class in KUT’s Summer School series!

So far, our reporters have learned how to glass blow, make wooden bowls and become a knight!

KUT’s Veronica Zaragovia visited some of Austin’s most talented DJs -- Orión Garcia of Peligrosa and Lorenzo Villareal of Dub Academy -- to learn what it takes to get behind the turn tables.

And as she learns, it takes far more than loving music to be a DJ. For starters, DJs are really good at math and have a vast memory. Find out if Veronica stands a chance.

Fourth of July
9:31 am
Fri July 4, 2014

Photos: ABIA Celebrates the Fourth of July with a Showcase of WWII Bombers

Celebrating Independence Day this year the B-17 Red Raiders will host rare vintage WWII aircraft plus a noted local WWII aviator.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

The Texas Raiders have descended upon Austin. No, it's not a football team. It's the codename for a group of  B-17 pilots who have brought four renovated World War II-era planes to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport this weekend to celebrate the Fourth of July.

The exhibition of rare planes including the P-51, a C-47 and a B-25. Tours and low-altitude flights over Austin are open to the public all weekend from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.at Atlantic Aviation

Check out our gallery above for a view from KUT's flight on the "Flying Fortress."

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