Audrey McGlinchy | KUT

City Hall Reporter

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Audrey McGlinchy is the City Hall reporter at KUT, covering the Austin City Council and the policies they discuss. She comes to Texas from Brooklyn, where she tried her hand at publishing, public relations and nannying. Audrey holds English and journalism degrees from Wesleyan University and the City University of New York. She got her start in journalism as an intern at KUT Radio during a summer break from graduate school. While completing her master's degree in New York City, she interned at the New York Times Magazine and Guernica Magazine.

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Today is the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth, the day when African-American slaves in Galveston, Texas were finally granted their freedom – two-and-a-half years after Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and just over two months after the Confederacy surrendered at Appomattox.

The day of celebration started as a Texas tradition but has since become a nationwide tradition, and in the late 1990s two Texas artists built statues to commemorate the holiday.

Those statues have now been installed in Austin’s George Washington Carver Museum, but the statues have had a long journey to what will likely be their permanent home. 

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After a shooting early Saturday at the police headquarters in Dallas, officials there are calling for more building security. One of the improvement measures they are considering is installing bulletproof glass.

Austin had its own shooting on police headquarters back in November, and repairs on the building will start in a few weeks. But the department did not have bulletproof glass before the shooting, and there are no plans to install it now.

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

This week, Austin City Council will start discussions about increasing the enforcement of short-term rental property regulations. Currently, the city requires short-term rental operators to hold a license, and renters must agree to certain rules.

But those rules have proven difficult to enforce, and council will hear recommendations on the license program and enforcement of  illegal rentals this afternoon.

Audrey McGlinchy/Austin Monitor

From the Austin Monitor:

Residents opposed to a proposed 65-room boutique hotel at 1207 East Cesar Chavez St. told the Planning Commission on Tuesday night that they do not want to see their neighborhood become “another Rainey Street.” At the meeting, several residents held signs that read, “Don’t Rain-ey on our Chavez … No East Side Hotel.”

Commissioners agreed that the hotel should not go up in East Austin, and a motion to approve a conditional use permit failed (Commissioner Richard Hatfield created the motion, but none of the other four commissioners present seconded it).

City of Austin

From the Austin Monitor

While City Council members have almost 300 spots to fill on commissions and boards before current membership expires on July 1, some groups have adjourned their June meetings still uncertain about who will be seated next month.

With Commissioner Reynaldo Moreno absent, the Public Safety Commission last week voted unanimously to cancel its July meeting because members were not assured they would have a majority, or quorum, present.

“I’ve been putting the pressure on the mayor and Council to continue making appointments,” said Boards and Commissions Coordinator Deena Estrada. “There’s a lot of guilty emails going out, or my stomping of feet in front of the mayor’s office. I’ll send an email saying we now have only five boards that are able to meet quorum. … I can handle the guilt trip pretty well.”

Audrey McGlinchy/flickr

School’s letting out for summer, and swimming pool season’s getting underway. But some of Austin’s pools aren’t ready for swimmers, at least not yet.

During last week’s floods, images circulated of Barton Springs Pool looking like a raging river. The water’s receded since then, but now, small islands of drying mud float atop murky, green water.

But there aren’t any swimmers. “Just a few ducks and some divers,” said Andrei Mellin, who was in town visiting from Cincinatti. He and his family showed up to Barton Springs, towels in hand, only to find out that the pool isn’t open.

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Texas law requires that a dog who’s attacked a human be placed on a “dangerous dog list.” These lists are updated by municipalities and counties, and many publish the dog owners’ names and where they live.

Austin has its own dangerous dog ordinance, but instead of "dangerous," the city uses the word “vicious.” The ordinance was passed more than two decades ago and is less forgiving than state law. But after an increasing number of complaints about recourse for those dogs who violate the city law, members of the Animal Advisory Commission say they’ll reconsider what it means to be a vicious dog in Austin.

Callie Hernandez for KUT

From the Austin Monitor:

Facebook posts did them in.

As City Council members nixed two of Council Member Don Zimmerman’s appointees — some citing comments made on social media pages — they debated Zimmerman’s judgment following what they said has been a string of controversial nominees to city boards and commissions.

Council Member Greg Casar said he felt the time that has been taken discussing Zimmerman’s appointees, and their various merits, could be better spent. “Our time on Council is very precious, and I don’t want to spend my time having these discussions,” he said. “There are people that could have diverse viewpoints that would not cause us to take so much of our time that we really need to dedicate to greater policy issues.”

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

Last year, we met Redding McArdle outside Hyde Park’s Shipe Pool. The two-year-old wore blue arm floats and a bathing suit, but the gates to the pool were locked, and McArdle had a slightly dejected look on his face.

Nathan King/flickr

From the Austin Monitor: Before the Austin Animal Advisory Commission endorsed a proposed ordinance Wednesday banning the use of painful devices on circus animals, commissioners deliberated how the city should define a circus animal.

Members said the inclusion of lions, tigers and bears, plus other usual circus animals, was certainly right. However, Commissioner Babette Ellis worried that including horses and dogs might affect those animals traveling to the city for non-circus events, such as the upcoming Austin Kennel Club Dog Show.

Miguel Gutierrez, Jr./KUT News

For some, Easter means dyeing eggs, stuffing candy into colorful baskets, and maybe eating some of those chocolate Easter bunnies. But some people have noticed another trend: Parents buy their kids baby bunnies – real ones – for Easter.

Then, once the bunnies grow to full size – some can be up to 13 pounds – what had at first seemed like a cute gift ends up demanding a lot of care.

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

You might be surprised to hear that Sweden is the world’s third biggest exporter of music. ABBA, Ace of Base, and the guy who invented Spotify are all Swedes.

And when Swedish musicians travel outside their country, one of their first stops is South by Southwest.

But what makes Swedish music so popular?

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

Think of a time you’ve talked to an object that can’t talk back. Maybe you’ve yelled at your car when it wouldn’t start, or screamed at the leg of a table after stubbing your toe on it.

While Austinites have always had the option to talk to inanimate objects while walking down the street, now the objects will talk – or rather, text – back.

KUT News

Here’s another example of how Texas does things bigger: university funds.

The University of Texas System now has the second largest endowment among universities in the U.S.

That’s according to a survey released today from the investment firm Commonfund and the National Association of College and University Business Officers. 

National Weather Service

Update (9:47am): The National Weather Service says there's now a flood advisory in effect until 11am for several counties in the Austin area.

Update (9:06 a.m.): The National Weather Service has ended the flood advisory it issued earlier this morning for parts of Central Texas. 

Low water crossings continue to close in the Austin Area.

MLKMarch
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Temperatures on a warm winter Monday rose alongside the shouts and cheers of Austin politicians, students, and families who showed up for today's Martin Luther King Jr. Day March and Rally.

Hundreds of participants stood or sat on the steps of the University of Texas at Austin's East Mall, while at the podium above their heads UT faculty and local church members spoke about King's legacy. UT Austin President William Powers said he saw the ripples of King's work throughout the country – and as close to home as the UT football field.

screenshot/USA Cycling

USA Cycling has issued an apology to its members for the postponement last Sunday of the Cyclocross championships in Austin.

By now you've probably heard the story: The Cyclocross races in Zilker Park were scheduled to end Sunday. But the city's Parks and Recreation Department postponed the event until Monday because of rain. 

Michael Femia/Flickr

Following an attack last week by Islamic extremists on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the publication announced today that it would print five million copies of its latest issue.

It's out today, and an Austin independent bookstore is hustling to stock copies.

BookPeople on North Lamar Boulevard has talked with distributors – one in France, the other in Canada – that normally have copies of the magazine. But thus far they've come up with nothing, said BookPeople CEO Steve Bercu.

"We're not going to have any today, for sure," he said. "And the question is whether we can get any or not. We're certainly making any effort we can."

Caleb Bryant-Miller/KUT News

The bats that roost under the Congress Avenue Bridge have a hard-flown journey after their nightly show for tourists and passersby.

They cruise over the trees bordering Lady Bird Lake's southern shore – flying up to 40 miles away from the city every night – then come back, roost and feast on insects between Congress Avenue and I-35.

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

Ben Johnson is combing through a list of names, addresses and mental health histories in the driver seat of a Jeep Compass. He works for Austin’s Mobile Crisis Outreach Team, MCOT, a branch of Austin Travis County Integral Care comprised of 18 licensed mental health counselors who respond to mental health crises across the county.

Johnson is deciding who to visit today. Another patient has paranoia. In addition, she's having problems at home, and is in danger of losing her housing. 

Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for Yahoo News

What do Latina women see when they see themselves represented in the media?

Austin-based nonprofit Latinitas and Univision Austin took to Twitter yesterday to sound off on the media’s portrayal of Latinas.

Latinitas co-founder Laura Donnelly-Gonzalez says the image of Latin American women presented in television and film is often that of a beautiful but petulant woman with little education.

“Most of the time [a Latina] is overly sexualized, she has a heavy accent and she’s put in these very dated roles,” Donnelly-Gonzalez says – an archetype not unlike Colombian actress Sofia Vergara’s character in ABC’s “Modern Family.”

flickr.com/raondo

As the conflict between Israel and Palestine in Gaza continues, officials with the University of Texas International Office say they've been in close contact with graduate students and faculty conducting research in Israel.

“None of our students are anywhere near the Gaza Strip or the West Bank,” UT International Office risk analyst Erin Wolf says.

Wolf says six graduate students and a handful of faculty are doing research projects in Israel and that in addition to providing academic support, local universities are also giving them direction.

Audrey McGlinchy/KUT

To Veronica Escobedo, it resembled a fancy hotel – not quite a college campus.

But the first-year radiology student said the stylish and comfortable furniture, much of it still wrapped in plastic, would encourage her to stay on Austin Community College’s new campus between classes.

“There are bigger areas to actually study with people,” Escobedo said. “Most of the time I found myself studying with people off campus. The design and architecture make it really feel like a home.”

Joanne Nabors via Twitter

Half a foot of rain pelted the city of Austin and the surrounding area last night, with rainfall totals topping out at seven inches in the Walnut Creek area and Downtown Austin receiving a bit less than five inches of rain.

The National Weather Service’s flash flood warning for Travis and Williamson Counties expired before 5 a.m., but the city’s still tackling flooded roadways in Spicewood Springs. Additionally, Austin-Travis County EMS used a helicopter to evacuate 13 campers stranded on the Colorado River, dropping them safely near Webberville Road. Below, you can view the latest flood updates, and a list of downed trees, delayed public transportation and power outages in Austin.

Audrey McGlinchy/KUT

Nearly 300 people sat cross-legged in the Texas Capitol extension’s open-air rotunda, tracing wooden sticks around crystal, brass and iron bowls.

They were there to celebrate the Dalai Lama's birthday and – with the utmost tranquility – become the largest group to ever play Tibetan singing bowls, according to the Guinness Book of World Records

Jon Shapley for KUT News

The Austin Police Department will be monitoring the roads extra carefully this weekend, and enforcing a "no refusal" mandate; law enforcement will be able to quickly obtain a warrant to test the blood-alcohol level of any suspected drunk driver who objects to a Breathalyzer or blood test.

Fourth of July revelers who don’t think they’ll make fit drivers this weekend will have their pick of get-home-safe cards.

1. Capital Metro has some late-night options, including year-round Night Owl buses that run until 3 a.m. Monday through Saturday. Night Owl services travel five different routes between popular spots on 6th Street and city neighborhoods.

facebook.com/ArtPlaceAmerica

Flanked by poster board renderings and city officials, urban planners and arts nonprofits gathered in City Hall Wednesday to announce that two Austin community art projects will receive federal and private funding from the organization ArtPlace America totaling $656,500.

Austin Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole said that Austin, whose population has increased by nearly 70 percent since 1990, is being looked at by the rest of the nation as a hub for artists and art-making.

“All eyes are on Austin for a lot of reasons, but one of the reasons that we have to be very proud of is our creative class,” said Cole. “The work that the artists are doing to bring such vibrancy and diversity to our city – the nation is watching and we are receiving funds for that.”

KUT

Update: The City of Austin opened three more pools over the weekend. 24 city pools are now open, while 10 remain closed.

All pools were originally scheduled to open Friday, June 6.  The city is still hiring and training lifeguards to staff the remainder of the pools.

Original story (June 12): Outside Shipe Pool Wednesday afternoon, two-year-old Redding McArdle wore two blue, inflatable arm floats – one on each arm.

But instead of splashing in the pool, Redding ran around the playground in his swim trunks because the Hyde Park neighborhood pool he’d come to swim in was closed today.

Jack Plunkett

Henry Winkler – better known as Arthur Fonzarelli in iconic 1970s sitcom “Happy Days,” and Barry Zukerkorn in cult favorite "Arrested Development" – was in Austin recently, accepting the first-ever Achievement in Television Excellence Award from the ATX Television Festival.

Winkler talked about his battle with dyslexia, the struggle to get casting directors to see beyond the Fonz, and his love for Austin barbecue. He also offered a lot of advice.

We've collected his best advice in this 90-second clip. Listen: 

Laura Rice/KUT

For the next three days, the streets of downtown Austin will be full of flips – Ninja flips, inward flips and varial kickflips – as dozens of professional skateboarders, BMXers and other athletes descend upon Central Texas for the first ever X Games Austin

Housed in the Austin360 Amphitheater with a large “X” marking the spot, the X Games arena features an ESPN Clubhouse and a video gaming venue along with a full schedule of skateboard and BMX competitions. Musicians including Kanye West and The Flaming Lips will also be in town with the athletes, along with a roster of local acts. (KUT's sister station KUTX is a media sponsor of the X Games, and is hosting its own stage of Austin performers at the fest.)

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