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

Mose Buchele/KUT

In the past, hydrilla carpeted whole swaths of Lake Austin. The invasive plant ruined recreation and damaged ecosystems on the lake. So to counteract that, the City of Austin occasionally introduced tens of thousands of sterilized grass carp to eat the hydrilla. But the city is now on the lookout for unintended consequences.

You’ve got to hand it to the grass carp: They did their job swimmingly. There’s no hydrilla problem in the lake right now, but there is concern the thousands of hungry fish have turned their attention to native plant species, and even other fish.

“Yeah, some of the anglers have talked about while they’re off fishing that they’re actually able to catch grass carp on crank baits. So, that’s what really got their hackles up,” says Dr. Brent Bellinger, an environmental scientist with the Watershed Protection Department. “Well, if they’re going after something that looks like shad on crank baits, they might be going after shad in general.”

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

From the Austin Monitor:

Although the city’s Parks and Recreation Department ordered the repair of an East Austin neighborhood pool in late April, it appears that the department had bids for the work for some time. This, even as department officials initially told residents that the pool would have to be closed for the 2015 summer season and then back-tracked under community pressure.

On Nov. 5, 2014 (see below), the Parks Department received a bid from Commercial Swim Management for Metz Pool repairs totaling $10,232.60. Those repairs included replacement of the plumbing in a pool wall drain and installation of new valves and piping. That bid was eventually approved, and a purchase request was made by the city on April 30, 2015.

Screenshot courtesy of Bunker Labs Austin

Coming to Austin Tuesday: Shark Tank, the television show wherein small business owners pitch their ideas to wealthy investors. The show's searching Central Texas this week for a particular kind of businessperson: veterans.


Central Texas is under attack. No, not Jade Helm, or even the summer swarms of mosquitoes. We’re talking about an invasive species. Zebra Mussels? Nope. Fire ants? Try again. We're talking about an even more supposed "invasive" species: Californians.

They arrive with their telltale license plates, often heading straight to In-N-Out Burger and Trader Joe's. As Austin continues to grow at a rapid pace, plenty of anecdotal blame has fallen on people moving here from California. Except … they’re not?

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

The triple-digit summer heat typically leads more Central Texans towards pools and lakes to cool off. Unfortunately, it also raises the risk of drownings. Seventy-three children drowned in Texas last year. And this year is looking just as bad – so far 44 kids have drowned — most of whom were children of color.

Global sea levels are rising, and that's going to have a major impact on the Texas coastline, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's annual report card.

According to the report, global sea temperatures and levels hit modern highs last year in what was the warmest year on record. In Texas, that’s bad news for the Gulf Coast.

Most people feel in over their heads when they first enter a challenging situation or even a new job. And, while conventional wisdom suggests those with trepidations about trying new things should "fake it 'til they make it," it may not always be the best course of action.

In this edition of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Bob Duke and Dr. Art Markman discuss what's known as "imposter syndrome" — the practice of pretending to be the person you want people to see you as rather than who you truly are — and explain why it may just be better to just start working towards your goals instead of faking it.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

From the Austin Monitor: Mayor Steve Adler reported Wednesday that his campaign still owes him more than $418,315. Adler’s campaign finance report indicates that he paid himself back $31,077 in January. However, the campaign has no money remaining to repay the rest.

Other mayors in the same situation, such as former Mayor Lee Leffingwell, have relied on fundraising after they left office to recoup some of their expenses. Leffingwell reported Wednesday that he had repaid himself $56,000 this year, leaving a debt close to $35,000.

Campaign finance reports were due on Wednesday from all City Council members and all Council candidates who had not previously closed down their accounts, as well as anyone else still spending or collecting funds.

Austin History Center

In the early hours of Tuesday morning, the Iranian government and six other nations, including the U.S., agreed to a deal that would limit the country’s nuclear program in what some see as a historic moment for the country’s foreign relations.

Since country’s regime change, relations between Iran and the U.S. have been peppered with crises. However, shortly before the overthrow of the Shah in January of 1979, the U.S. hosted his family and Austin’s Bergstrom Air Force Base (now Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, even hosted the exiled Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi in 1978.


From the Austin Monitor:

Bicycle theft is an issue in every city, and Austin, with its enthusiastic cycling community, is no exception. Data that the Austin Monitor obtained from the Austin Police Department show that the number of reported bicycle thefts has increased slightly in the past year, though that corresponds with a spike in the average number of bicycles registered with the department every month.

From July 2014 through June 2015, there was an average of about 121 cases reported to the APD every month, a two-per-month increase over the previous 12-month period. During the same time frame, average monthly registrations increased from about 51 to about 79.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

If you’ve ever had a house or business project held up by the city’s convoluted permitting process, there may be hope for improvements ahead.

Today the city released an action plan in response to an outside review (done by California-based Zucker Systems) of its planning departments. That review found Austin’s code and regulations lacking, well below the standard set by other cities.

Joy Diaz/KUT News

The number of Austinites officially entering into the "third act" of their lives is growing by leaps and bounds – that's because Central Texas' 55-and-older population is growing faster than anywhere else in the country. And its 65-and-older population is growing the second-fastest in the country.

Both men and women in those age demographics are moving forward into their third acts. But, when broken down by gender, it turns out a woman's third act often looks very different from that of a man.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

The 65-and-older demographic grows nationwide by about a million people every year, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

That spike in growth has played out in Central Texas, and Austin's been the epicenter of that growth. The city's seen a higher growth rate of its pre-senior population — those between 55 and 65 — than anywhere else in the country, and it has the second highest rate of senior growth, those 65 and older. 

While getting older has its perks, it also has its challenges, and a major challenge people 65 and older face is housing.

Roy Niswanger/flickr

Another Austin club announced it’s closing up shop. Representatives of the Cielo Property Group, the company that owns Austin Music Hall, confirmed to the Austin Business Journal that they’ll knock it down to build a 28-story office tower, with construction starting early next year.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

Adelaide, the capital city of the state of South Australia, was designated in 1983 as one of Austin's sister cities. That's why, 32 years ago this Saturday, Adelaide officials gifted a $50,000 opal to Austin — a gift that the Australian city now wants back.

Adelaide newspaper The Advertiser reported back in May that the opal, which was worth $10,000 at the time, was “donated” to Austin as a result of an Adelaidian feud. Papers from the area report “mysterious” circumstances surrounding the gift. 

City of Austin

Earlier this month, Florida repealed its ban on adoption by same-sex couples. That’s never been illegal in Texas, but whether or not a same-sex couple can adopt a child has always come down to a judge’s opinion. But with the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges last month, judges in Texas can no longer discriminate based on a couple’s makeup.


High schools like to brag about how many students they graduate and how many of those students are headed to college in the fall. 

But once those graduating seniors receive their diploma, for many schools, their work is done. The support these students have grown accustomed to throughout high school disappears. 

From the Texas Tribune:

After years of experimenting with its groundbreaking autonomous vehicle technology almost exclusively in California, Google confirmed Monday that it has begun testing one of its self-driving vehicles in Austin.

A white Lexus RX 450h SUV outfitted with the company’s sensors and software began making trips without the aid of a driver in the city within the past week, said Jennifer Haroon, head of business operations for the Google self-driving car project. Another vehicle will join it in the area for testing this week.

Mengwen Cao for KUT

It’s nearly time for the Fourth of July celebration in Austin.

There’ll be warm weather and probably plenty of sun, all capped off by fireworks at Auditorium Shores for the first time in years. But there’s also going to be plenty of traffic, road closures and scarce parking. Here's a look at when and where to see the fireworks, closures and alternate ways of getting around. 

Jessica Wright/flickr

What does it mean to be a "welcoming" city?

More specifically, what would Austin need to do to become more welcoming toward people from other countries? Perhaps it would need to implement signage in different languages, or perhaps, it'd need to do other things.

In order to find out what those other things are, a team of advisors recently surveyed Austinites and is compiling the answers into a report.