Austin

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

Screenshot via Youtube

He was a larger-than-life lawyer and a major supporter of the University of Texas at Austin. Word came from Houston this morning that Joe Jamail has passed away at the age of 90 from complications with pneumonia.

University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections, ITC_TFF83-C37-H, via Portal to Texas History

For today's Christmas-themed edition of Wayback Wednesday, we have a radio-centric Christmas treat in the form of John Henry Faulk's "Christmas Story."

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

From the Austin Monitor: The battle over fingerprint background checks for transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft has taken a turn that may ultimately result in the two companies pausing operations in Austin.

City Council passed an ordinance on all three readings that “sets benchmarks that work towards a goal of fingerprinting for all drivers and disincentives for not reaching those goals,” according to Council Member Ann Kitchen, who led the charge on the new rules. The measure passed on a 9-2 vote, with Council members Ellen Troxclair and Don Zimmerman casting the dissenting votes.

Audio Pending...

KUT News

UPDATE Friday 1:15 a.m. – The Austin City Council moved forward on new regulations for ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft last night.

On a 9-2 vote, the Council passed a framework that, among other things, would require fingerprint-based background checks for drivers. The expanded background check requirement would be phased in over the next year. But some key details remain to be worked out, including what the penalties will be for failing to comply with the law.

Lyft via youtube

Molly is a 26-year-old who lives in Austin. She was laid off from her job in April of this year and given a severance package, but wanted something to do while she looked for a new job. So, she signed up to drive for both transportation network companies in Austin: Uber and Lyft.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

As James Maxwell tells it, the first journey nearly broke him. “I almost gave up bike riding,” he said. “These are something else.”

Maxwell, 68, stares down a line of five glossy, red tricycles. While at the moment they’re idling in the rear parking lot of East Austin’s Conley-Guerrero Senior Activity Center, later in the morning they’ll hit the road as part of an adult trike-riding program at the senior center. As local nonprofit organizers have pitched it, it’s a chance to bring mobility and activity to some of Austin’s more seasoned and minority residents. 


Texas Archive of the Moving Image

The “Star Wars” hype machine is in full effect.

It’s impossible to look at any screen without seeing something plugging the latest reboot of the space opera, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which hits Austin theaters tomorrow night. But, a long time ago in the wake of Alderaan’s untimely end, before Luke lost a hand and before George Lucas’ prequel trilogy took the franchise far, far away from its roots, some of the original film’s key players sat down with Austin’s own Carolyn Jackson to talk about the film.

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. 


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