Austin

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

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

If you’re curious about how Austin City Council candidates fund their campaigns, you’re in luck: Beginning next year, that data will be more accessible to the public.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

From the Austin Monitor: On Monday, during the first day of trial in City Council Member Don Zimmerman’s suit against the city, the District 6 Council member told federal Judge Lee Yeakel that his First Amendment rights are being violated by Austin’s campaign finance laws.

Texas Tribune

This year, Austin Police have gotten at least seven reports of sexual assaults by drivers for transportation network companies (TNCs) like Uber or Lyft.

That’s one reason some members of the Austin City Council are pushing for tougher regulations for these companies – including requiring drivers to have fingerprint background checks. Right now, the companies conduct background checks that aren’t verified by fingerprints.

Courtesy of the Town Lake Animal Center

Austin’s animal shelters have suffered serious overcrowding and city’s response time to pick up aggressive stray animals, according to a city audit out earlier this year.

The report attributes those problems to Austin’s “no-kill” animal shelter policy that says at least 90 percent of animals brought to shelters cannot be euthanized. Today, the head of Austin’s Animal Services Department will talk to a city council committee about those concerns.


Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT News

A handful of gun rights activists laid down on the ground and doused themselves in ketchup, pretending to fall victim to pistols made from cereal boxes as, about two blocks away, a crowd of about 100 protesters waved dildos and noisemakers in the air.

Other than that, it was just a normal Saturday on the University of Texas at Austin campus, where most students were busy studying for exams.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

From the Austin Monitor: Mayor Steve Adler will sponsor an item on next week’s City Council agenda authorizing fee waivers and payments by the city in connection with the 2016 South by Southwest Music, Film and Interactive Festival for up to $309,310, according to Jim Wick, the mayor’s director of community engagement.

Neal Douglass via the Austin History Center, ND-50-283-01

This week two Texas-based cases got their day to argue before the Supreme Court. The case argued today, Fisher v. University of Texas, has appeared on the court’s docket before, but it’s not the first time a Texas case has challenged the consideration of race in higher education admissions.

Before Brown v. the Board of Education, Sweatt v. Painter opened up the University of Texas to African-American students. While the case was unanimously decided in favor of the plaintiff, Heman Marion Sweatt, the stress of the four-year trial sidelined his dream of graduating from UT Austin's School of Law.

Michael Tefft/Texas Tribune

Open carry of handguns will be legal in Texas starting in 2016. The Austin Police Department has been prepping for the fact that, most likely, more people will be carrying holstered guns in public view.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Three years ago, Austin was one of 15 cities to receive $1 million of federal funding for community policing programs to lower crime rates. The three-year program focused on the Rundberg area and, as the program wraps up, those involved with the Restore Rundberg initiative hope it becomes a template for crime-reduction throughout Austin.


ACLU of Washington via Texas Tribune

The Austin Police Department held an AMA (short for Ask Me Anything; it's a Q&A forum) on reddit Friday morning to take questions about officer body cameras. Technology Commander Ely Reyes fielded the questions submitted on the forum, many of which focused on who'd be able to access footage, and how. Redditors also wanted to know more about how the footage would be stored, and how the department planned to insure that officers turned cameras on and off at appropriate times.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon for KUT

Austin City Council members are beginning to approve the last batch of homes in the Williamson Creek flood buyout program. But the strength of the Austin housing market means the entire process has become more expensive.


Neal Douglass, via Austin History Center, ND-56-244-02

Six years ago, web designer Reagan Ray started a simple side project. He wanted to create portraits of 100 of Austin’s iconic signs. Inspired by frequent strolls along South Congress Avenue with his wife, he decided to start with one of their favorites, the South Austin Motel sign.

But, like many side projects, his plan to sketch all of Austin’s iconic signage fell by the wayside until the signs and some of the mainstays that accompanied them – places like Katz’s and Las Manitas – began to disappear.

ACLU of Washington via Texas Tribune

The Austin Police Department is moving ahead on plans to start wearing body cameras next summer, but some officers are already recording their actions on the beat. 


flickr/poolsafely

From the Austin Monitor: To date, Austin’s billboards have remained as static as the code that regulates them. But some are calling for changes that could allow digital billboards in the city.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

The Austin Police Department plans to buy 500 body cameras for their officers by next fall, and a meeting last night at the Palmer Events Center laid out the department’s plan for the $3 million project.

Those in attendance last night questioned whether the proposed body camera policy would hold police more accountable.


The Austin Monitor, the LBJ School of Public Affairs, and KUT News present the second edition of CitySummit on Friday, Dec. 4, from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at UT Austin's Thompson Conference Center.

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

Representatives at Austin’s Safe Place campus say they’re on track to conduct at least 600 sexual assault forensic exams this year. That's an increase from the past few years, when numbers averaged around 450 per year.

Safe Place credits its new clinic in East Austin as one reason for the increase.


Did Texas Host the First Thanksgiving?

Nov 24, 2015
Courtesy of the University of Texas at El Paso Library, via Jose Cisneros

It's common knowledge that in 1621 the first Thanksgiving was celebrated at Plymouth. 

But some say the “real” first Thanksgiving took place over 20 years before near present day El Paso, when at least 400 Spaniards, in an exploration led by Juan de Oñate, feasted with the Mansos tribe.

Like any good Thanksgiving discussion, there’s a thread of discord sown through that narrative. While everyone recognizes its importance in the history of North America, some argue that, unlike the feast at Plymouth, it’s not a harvest festival.

KUT News

If you’re thinking of volunteering this Thanksgiving holiday, you might have an image in mind of doling out piping hot spoonfuls of mashed potatoes and green beans. But up until recently, city code required all volunteers to be certified to do so.

Flickr/JVK

Every five years Austin Energy reevaluates the rates it charges customers. That process will begin in the spring when, for the first time, there will be an independent advocate at the table speaking for Austin Energy customers.


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