Mayor Lee Leffingwell

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

The final meeting of Austin's at-large city council went much like their previous ones over the years: late. It all started out cheerily enough, at 10 am Thursday morning, with a prayer. But that moment of reflection quickly faded away as the council got into the grueling business of cleaning out their policy inbox. It was the longest agenda in council history, and the council didn't gavel out until the early hours of Friday morning.

It was, true to council meetings under the leadership of outgoing Mayor Lee Leffingwell, a very long day, dealing with everything from the height of signs at a strip mall to a request to re-zone a modest house into a modest office. But it wasn't all small potatoes.

Jenna VonHofe/KUT

After years of false starts and changed plans for light rail in Austin, voters have decided against a billion-dollar plan that would have brought the city its first light rail line and hundreds of millions of dollars in road improvements. 

Rail hasn't been on the ballot in Austin for ten years (though it did come close), so there was a lot of anticipation about this vote. If it had been approved, a billion dollars in all would have be taken on in city debt, $600 million to partially pay for a starter 9.5 mile light rail line and $400 million for improvements to state roads aimed at easing congestion. (For a detailed explainer on the proposal, we've got you covered.)

The final tally of votes had the proposal losing by a wide margin, with 57 percent of voters saying "No" and 43 percent voting "Yes." That's a 14-point loss for the light rail and roads proposal. (By comparison, in 2000, a light rail proposal in Austin was defeated by a margin of less than a point.) Overall, more people voted on the rail and roads proposition than did in the race for mayor (nearly 15,000 move votes in all). Voters in the urban core voted to pass the measure (map below), but they were outnumbered by voters outside of the urban core that voted against. (You can view an interactive map and see how your precinct voted here.)

Project Connect

Update, Nov. 5: Austin voters decided against the light rail and road improvements proposal, commonly known as Austin's 'Prop 1.' The final tally of votes had the proposal losing by a wide margin, with 57 percent of voters saying "No" and 43 percent voting "Yes." That's a 14-point loss for the light rail and roads proposal. 

Original story, Nov. 4: It's the biggest debt proposal in Austin history, and it comes to a billion dollars in all: $600 million of it for a starter light rail line, with $400 million for improvements to state roads.

There's a lot to unpack here, and plenty of debate on the merits of this transportation proposal. So here it is, the (hopefully) last explainer you'll need this election for Austin's rail and roads proposition, featuring our reporting over the many months (and years) leading up to today's decision. 

Sam Ortega for KUT News

Former Longhorns head coach Mack Brown and wife  Sally were honored by the City of Austin last night.

Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell issued a proclamation marking Thursday, Jan. 30 as “Mack and Sally Brown Day” in the capitol city. Brown resigned in December after 16 seasons with 158-48 record, being replaced by Louisville’s Charlie Strong.

See photos of the event in the slideshow above.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange will speak via satellite at SXSW Interactive in March. In a rare public interview, Assange will discuss the "pervasive spread of surveillance, advantages and abuses of the digital age, and the future of democracy," according to a statement from the festival. 

Assange will speak with Benjamin Palmer of New York-based web marketer The Barbarian Group at 11 a.m. on Mar. 8, the second day of the Interactive portion of the festival. 

Palmer told KUT that his conversation with Assange at South By will be more of a conversation about the future of the Internet and international communication, and less of a formal interview. 

"This is where everyone that's inventing all the next platforms goes to kind of hear thought leadership, you know?" Palmer said. "And I feel like Julian's point of view — where the Internet has come from, where it's going and what's generally happening — is a really important conversation to have at a place like South By Southwest."

Talking or texting at any movie theater is frowned upon, but at the Alamo Drafthouse it’s an actionable offense.

For years, the Austin-based theater chain has kept audiences tight-lipped with its pre-show “Don’t Talk/Don’t Text” PSAs and ejection policies – often resulting in viral success.

KUT News

While campaigning for background checks with gun purchases, Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell referenced polls showing public support for the policy.

Mayor Leffingwell joined a press conference supporting background checks in March – and said 90 percent of Americans and 74 percent of National Rifle Association members support universal background checks.

KUT News

In this week’s Politifact: a fact check that started with a KUT News report.

Emily Donahue with KUT News spoke with Gardner Selby of the Austin American-Statesman’s PolitFact Texas team. It all started with a KUT News report on Mayor Lee Leffingwell’s push for non-stop flights from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to Europe. We quoted Austin lawyer Pete Winstead, who said Austin is the biggest city in the country without a nonstop flight to a European capital.