Wells Dunbar, Texas Standard

Social Media Host & Producer, Texas Standard

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.

Before joining KUT, Wells served as staff writer and news blog editor at The Austin Chronicle, and covered the Texas Legislature for Gallery Watch. Hailing from El Paso, Wells is a longtime Austin resident whose interests include technology and social media, film and music, and spending quality time with his wife, child and cat.

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Tonight, KUT presents the world premiere of a new radio documentary, “The Long Game: Texas’ Ongoing Battle for the Direction of the Classroom.”

Produced by Trey Kay (producer of "The Great Textbook War," which was honored with Peabody, Murrow, and DuPont Awards), “The Long Game” delves into the culture war battles over public school curriculum content, which have ebbed and flowed in the Lone Star State for the past fifty years. Read more about the program.

Mary Kang, KUT

The Austin City Limits Music Festival isn’t the only production put on by parent company C3 Presents. In addition to booking and promoting Austin concerts throughout the year, C3 also puts on Chicago’s annual Lollapalooza music festival.

Like ACL, Lollapalooza is hosted on public parkland, requiring a contract with the city. So how do the contracts compare? KUT scoured C3’s deals with Austin and Chicago to find out.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Update: The final Sunday of ACL's second weekend has been canceled due to weather.

For more, including information on refunds see: Heavy Rains Soak Austin, Central Texas; ACL Festival Cancels Final Day  

Update (Oct. 11): Traffic could be a bigger problem in the Austin area for weekend two of the Austin City Limits Music Festival. Road closures around Zilker Park and Republic Square Park will be in place just like last weekend (see below). But the highways may also be packed.

KUT

Update: Austin City Limits Music Festival organizers just announced tickets are officially sold out for their second weekend. But tickets are still available on the secondary market, although they're selling fast there too.

Reseller StubHub currently has tickets left. Tickets for ACL’s second showing are also still for sale on Craigslist, with most passes going for well under the festival’s $225 face value. Austin City Limits Music Fest kicks back off this Friday.

Original story (Oct. 4): Don’t have tickets for the 2013 Austin City Limits Music Festival? Surprisingly, you’re in luck.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

After sparking raucous protests and a famous filibuster, new restrictions on abortion in Texas captured the nation’s attention this summer. But the fight over abortion and women’s health is not new in Texas.

In a new piece for The Austin Chronicle, investigative reporter Jordan Smith examines how the fallout from the abortion fight impacts care options for college-aged women. Her article, “From ‘Abstinence-Only’ to Plan Z” is part of a nationwide day of reporting on women’s health and reproductive issues.  

Ben Philpott, KUT News

Update: Our reporting partners at the Texas Tribune have a recap of Davis' announcement:  

Davis promised to be an advocate for those who feel they no longer have a voice in the halls of the Texas Capitol, to fight for more education dollars and to take on Republicans leaders who she said are listening to their campaign contributors instead of average Texans.

 "In Austin today, our current leadership thinks promises are just something you make to the people who write big checks," she said, according to remarks distributed before she delivered them. "But the promise I’m talking about is bigger than that. It’s the promise of a better tomorrow for everyone. Texas deserves a leader who will protect this promise. Texas deserves a leader who will keep it."

It’s a long campaign ahead. Republican opponent Greg Abbott has a head-start in fundraising; the Davis campaign is said to need to raise about $40 million to be competitive.

flickr.com/brendangates

The man behind Silk Road – a site on the hidden “deep web” where users can buy drugs – has been arrested. And he appears to have Austin ties.

The FBI arrested Ross William Ulbricht this morning, accusing him of multiple offenses in connection with running Silk Road.

Vimeo

Remember this haunting time-lapse video of Austin at night? Well, University of Texas grad student Andrew Takano is back with a sequel of sorts to “Sleepwalking Austin.”

His new video? “Spectral Austin,” which applies Takano’s smooth stop motion technique to Austin during day and night.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

The word is out: Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis will run for governor.

News of Sen. Davis’ run, attributed to anonymous Democratic sources, shot around newsrooms yesterday; a formal announcement is expected next week. But it’s unlikely the story was an inadvertent leak from the Davis camp. 

KUT News

Is a Pike Place-style permanent farmers market a perfect fit for downtown Austin? The Austin Downtown Alliance held a meeting this morning exploring the possibility.

David O’Neill with the Project for Public Spaces spoke about the concept earlier today. He tells KUT News that permanent farmers markets are cropping up all over the country.

notevenpast.org

It's no secret that traveling through Austin comes with a price: traffic.

However, the way Central Texans commute could change by the turn of the next decade as the region seeks a potential solution to traffic: urban rail.

flickr.com/djhon

Update: Shortly after Ian Dille’s Slate article appeared online, he received a handwritten apology from Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler.

The band's PR company “forwarded me a handwritten note from Win Butler apologizing for the graffiti and explaining that it was supposed to be put up in chalk or water-soluble paint,” Dille tells KUT News. “And somewhere along the line, someone started using spraypaint. He said it was hard to control all the small details of such a large project.” (Read the letter below.)

KUT News

The Austin Chronicle’s 24th annual Best of Austin issue is on newsstands and online right now.

Senior Chronicle editor Kate Messer has overseen 19 of the paper’s Best of Austin issues. She stopped by the KUT studios to talk about this year’s issue: changes, surprises and the issue’s role in a growing Austin. 

Liang Shi for KUT News

Update: For the first time since 2007, the Austin City Council has voted to lower the city’s property tax rate. The council finalized the fiscal year 2014 budget this afternoon.

Granted, the tax rate hasn’t fallen by much: two-hundredths of a penny (from 50.29 to 50.27 cents) for every $100 dollars of valuation. For the owner of a $200,000 home, that amounts to a savings of 40 cents a year. Mayor Lee Leffingwell had pressed for a bigger cut.

flickr.com/cote

The Austin City Council returns to the dais as 10 a.m. this morning to finalize the city's Fiscal Year 2014 budget.

Yesterday, council members voted unanimously to hold the line of property tax rates. They also spent most of the day funding initiatives that weren't in City Manager Marc Ott's initial budget proposal.

Stuart Isett/Fortune Brainstorm Tech

Investor Carl Ichan says he will not longer fight Michael Dell’s bid to take his namesake company private.

For the last several months, Michael Dell – who began selling PCs from his dorm room at the University of Texas – had been attempting to take the publicly-traded company back under private control. But his buyout bid, arranged though investment firm Silver Lake, had been fought tooth and nail by Ichan, a major Dell stockholder. Ichan said the bid undervalued the company.

The Justice Department won’t be taking another look at Austin Police policies.

City Manager Marc Ott asked the department to review Austin Police procedures following the shooting death of Larry Jackson Jr. by Austin Police Detective Charles Kleinert. Jackson, an African-American, was unarmed.

Erik Reyna for KUT News

It may not be news to anyone trapped on Interstate 35, or suffering a meltdown on MoPac, but a new study confirms the obvious: Austin drivers are far less safe than the nationwide average, according to a study from insurance company Allstate.

Austin ranks among the bottom quarter of U.S. cities in Allstate’s “Americas Best Drivers” report – 155th out of 200 largest cities. The city actually fell six places from its ranking last year (149th), meaning Austin drivers have gotten less safe by Allstate's standards.

reddit.com/r/austin

One of the dangers in using a stock photo? You never know who else has used it.

That’s the situation the Austin School District is finding itself in. As a post on the Austin Reddit page points out, the stock photo gracing the cover of AISD’s guide for new hires is the same photo used in a popular, unfortunately named meme: Unhelpful High School Teacher.

Wells Dunbar, KUT News

The Austin City Council convenes today to another crowded agenda. Here’s a rundown:

  • Sound off on the proposed city budget, property taxes and fees

Lots of council action won’t happen until much later today: Several public hearings are set for this afternoon related to City Manager Marc Ott’s proposed city budget, which the council is currently discussing. There’s public hearings on the proposed property tax rate, Austin Energy and Austin Water rates, and additional proposed fee increases (trash, drainage, etc.)

Wells Dunbar, KUT News

Last November, Austin voters approved a plan to fundamentally change the city’s elections and form of government: Right now, all City Council members run citywide and represent all of Austin. But after the passage of Prop 3, beginning next year, they’ll be elected by district.

Dr. David Hills

Meet two of the newest creatures to receive federal Endangered Species Act protection: the Austin Blind Salamander and the Jollyville Plateau Salamander.

The Austin Blind Salamander – sightless, due to living deep in the Edwards Aquifer that feeds Barton Springs – was listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Jollyville Plateau Salamander, native to streams and karst formations in Travis and Williamson Counties, was listed as threatened this week.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Perception means different things to different people. The perception of Austin as a place that embraces the weird and wild is something the city – and its listicle writers – have embraced throughout the years.

Yet if you don’t pay close attention, these perceptions can change just as quickly as the declining reservoir in Lake Travis. Now in its fourth edition, KUT News presents The Top 10 Austin Top 10 Lists, a compilations of the accolades and slights – some rigorously methodical, some seemingly made up – that Austin’s received in the last few months.

They say charity begins at home. But here in Austin, it took some prodding.

I Live Here, I Give Here was founded in 2007 to support charitable giving and Austin nonprofits. It was born out of necessity: a Chronicle of Philanthropy report from that time found Austin ranked 48th out of the 50 largest U.S. cities when ranked on giving. (Disclaimer: As a nonprofit, KUT partners with I Live Here, I Give Here.)

Marsha Miller, The University of Texas at Austin

William S. Livingston, an educator and scholar who served as acting president for the University of Texas' flagship campus, passed away this morning at the age of 93.

Livingston joined the university in 1949 as a political science instructor. Before retiring from UT nearly 60 years later, he amassed an impressive string of positions on campus, including Chairman of the Government Department, Vice Chancellor for Academic Programs for the UT System, and Chairman of the Comparative Studies Program.

Wells Dunbar, KUT News

Every budget year, public safety – police, fire and EMS – take the biggest chunk of money from the funds used to finance city services. Today, Austin City Council Member Bill Spelman asked if the city was getting a good return on its investment.

The Austin City Council is considering the city budget for the next fiscal year. And the Austin Police Department was among the groups presenting budget requests to the council today. Police Chief Art Acevedo spent over an hour discussing the city manager's proposed city budget – which preserves Austin’s informal policy of two police officers for every thousand Austin residents.

KUT News

The Austin Lawyers Guild wants Austin schools to end disciplinary policy of ticketing students for minor misbehaviors – a practice it says creates a “school-to-prison pipeline” for troubled students.  

They want the school district to changes its policies for the upcoming school year. Last year, Texas schools issued over 300,000 non-traffic tickets to students with the most common offenses being truancy, disorderly conduct and simple assault.

BOKA Powell + Design Workshop/City of Austin

Update: The city has named three finalists in its design contest reimagining the Seaholm Intake Structures. The three finalists are:

  • “Link,” Gumbully
  • “The Lakehouse,” BOKA Powell + Design Workshop
  • “Intake,” Gensler

Take a look at the three winning entries in the slideshow above, which are expected to inform the redevelopment of the structures. The Parks and Recreation Department says it will issue a proposal for public-private partnerships for the intake structures in the near future.  

flickr.com/atmtx

Austin’s seen its share of boom-and-bust food cycles: Think the explosion of cupcake places, or proliferation of upscale burger joints. One of the newest beneficiaries of Austin’s irrational culinary exuberance is the pizza place. The last few years has seen a marked increase in the number of posh pie purveyors: Umami Mia, backspace and Winflo, to name a few.

Austin’s pizza scene garners some shine in controversial rankings from TripAdvisor – controversial, as Austin’s sixth place ranking puts it just two spots behind behind pizza mecca New York City. 

flickr.com/ejmc

Launching a new medical school is a major undertaking. But launching the University of Texas’ new medical school – in tandem with a new model of treating the sick and preventing illness – is even bigger.

When Austin voters approved Proposition 1 last year, increasing the property tax collected by Central Health, the measure was commonly referred to as the medical school initiative. But instead of financing the building of a medical school, taxpayer dollars are going toward a new medical program aiding the uninsured and under-insured. And yes, UT’s Dell Medical School is a part of that.

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