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The Lead: Holiday Traffic Safety, County Line’s Obamacare Letter, Hostess Says Mediation Fails

Good morning. The National Weather Service says we’re in for more partly cloudy weather and slightly higher than normal temperatures today. And the same heading into Thanksgiving tomorrow. Here’s some stories KUT News has been working on:

“Starting Wednesday, APD will launch its sixth annual holiday traffic initiative aimed at increasing pedestrian and traffic safety. The initiative runs through Jan. 1. ‘All members of the department from the chief on down to the youngest rookie, all detectives, all members of this department that wear a badge will work traffic enforcement,’ Police Chief Art Acevedo said.”

“Today is historically one of the busiest travel days of the year. KUT News has compiled a list of things you need to know before you hit the roads … or skies, for that matter.”

“Austin police had said there would be a high risk of human sex trafficking during Formula One weekend, but that doesn’t seem to have happened. Police arrested 13 people on suspicion of prostitution over the weekend. They were all adults. And when given the opportunity, none of them claimed to be victims of human trafficking.”

“The Austin Chronicle reported that The County Line employees got a health care notice with their paychecks recently. It was an open letter that said as of January 2014, ‘you will be required to get and pay for health insurance. Your employer may help you but you will be legally required to buy health insurance.’ KUT’s Emily Donahue spoke with Gardner Selby of the Austin American-Statesman’s PolitiFact Texas fact-checking team to discuss the claim."

And here’s more local and state stories from around the web:

Video: Austin Police Want More Women Officers Patrolling The Streets (KEYE)

“So far, from January of 2009 to July of 2012, 378 officers have been hired. Only 34 were women. Some are criticizing APD for using the same standard for men and women to pass the physical fitness test. KEYE TV’s Christie Post and CrossFit Rep owner Robyn Pettinger went through the skills test to see if they could pass.”

“Ever since Hostess filed for bankruptcy last January, it has insisted that its labor costs were unsustainable and that it needed to cut its wage, health and pension costs to continue operating. … But Frank Hurt, the president of the bakery workers’ union with 5,600 members at Hostess, repeatedly said he would not entertain such steep concessions. … Mr. Hurt said that the company was brought down by private equity firms, which he decried as ‘vulture capitalists,’ criticizing them for not investing more to modernize Hostess’s bakeries and product offerings.”

  • Fecal Bacteria Levels High in Four Austin Creeks (KVUE)
“Biologists say the raised levels of bacteria shouldn't be a cause of alarm just yet, saying the amount found in the Austin creeks equals that of about a teaspoon in an entire swimming pool. Officials aren't closing access to the water just asking people to stay out.”

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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