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A midnight stroll, a grab and a push: When policing the mentally ill turns deadly

Sometime around midnight on Sept. 23, 2014, Tom Klessig left his stately home in the heart of the affluent Dallas suburb of University Park to go on one of his late-night walks around the neighborhood. Klessig, a 23-year-old former wrestling champion, was back in his childhood home, living with his parents after years of struggle with schizoaffective disorder, which left him hearing voices and...


Report: 'Hotbed of anti-Semitism' is not a foreign country. It's U.S. college campuses

Report: 'Hotbed of anti-Semitism' is not a foreign country. It's U.S. college campuses

As violent attacks against Jews worldwide drop to their lowest level in more than 10 years, the United States, particularly college campuses, has been the "hotbed of anti-Semitism," according to a new report. The report by researchers at Tel Aviv University, which covers data from 40 countries, found that violent anti-Semitic incidents, which include attacks with and without weapons, arson...
Austin rally calls for stronger action on climate change

Austin rally calls for stronger action on climate change

As tens of thousands of demonstrators marched in Washington, D.C., Seattle, Boston, San Francisco and other U.S. cities to demand action on climate change, a smaller but just as fervent group of protesters gathered at a sister rally on the steps of the Texas Capitol. Organizers of the Austin event — which drew at least 2,000 people, according to a Texas Department of Public Safety head count...
Wear: With wit and taunts, @EvilMopacATX taps Austin commuters’ pain

Wear: With wit and taunts, @EvilMopacATX taps Austin commuters’ pain

Until recently, I assumed my tombstone would include the note, “He once quoted a dead woman.” Which I did, innocently if idiotically, back in 2007. Long story, too long to explain here. And that was a very hard-to-write correction. But, anyway, I now have a replacement epitaph: “He interviewed a highway.” MoPac Boulevard pretty much moped through its first four decades without...
One Austin house. Five esports stars. Training for glory.

One Austin house. Five esports stars. Training for glory.

If this were a “Rocky” movie, this would be the montage where Rocky Balboa is eating raw eggs, slamming the side of beef with his fists and running up the 72 steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Instead, in this montage, there might be some slight chair adjustments and some incredibly focused staring at a computer monitor. An energy drink might be nearby. Instead of thrown...

House panel OK’s bill that would create ‘do not hire’ teacher registry

A bill that would create a “do not hire” list of teachers who have been convicted of improper relationships with students has advanced to the Texas House. House Bill 1799, filed by Rep. Tony Dale, R-Cedar Park, seeks to curb the growing number of improper relationships between teachers and students across the state by expanding reporting requirements and criminalizing the failure to report...
Amid controversy, Austin school police chief takes another job

Amid controversy, Austin school police chief takes another job

Austin school district Police Chief Eric Mendez is expected to announce his resignation Monday morning, taking another police chief position in another organization. The announcement comes just days after questions surfaced about whether his staff did enough to investigate a sexual assault allegation of a 4-year-old girl at Boone Elementary in February. On Friday night, Travis County District Attorney...
With $42 million upgrade, Texas telescope joins hunt for dark energy

With $42 million upgrade, Texas telescope joins hunt for dark energy

Dark energy is a mysterious force that astronomers haven’t detected, don’t understand and can explain only in the vaguest terms as the reason for the universe’s expansion. Even Karl Gebhardt, one of the world’s foremost astronomers — a man who discovered the largest black hole ever observed — has no idea what dark energy actually is. But he is hoping a $42 million...
Texas parks boosters approach lawmakers once again for more money

Texas parks boosters approach lawmakers once again for more money

Two years ago, George Bristol, perhaps Texas’ chief booster for state parks, thought he had scored a coup when lawmakers passed a measure that appeared to ensure that nearly all the tax revenue raised through the sale of tennis rackets, soccer balls, kayaks and other sporting goods would go to the state Parks and Wildlife Department. In theory, the Legislature had long declared that money should...
Texas Republicans say border wall still on track, despite little money

Texas Republicans say border wall still on track, despite little money

President Donald Trump last week pulled a $1.4 billion request to Congress to build initial sections of a border wall in a must-pass funding bill after Democrats balked. But Texas’ Republican lawmakers say the wall is still on track to be built. “There is money that will go towards securing the border,” said U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, chairman of the House Homeland Security...
UPDATE: Crews now searching for body of missing boater on Lake Travis

UPDATE: Crews now searching for body of missing boater on Lake Travis

3:15 p.m. update: Emergency officials say they now searching for the body of a missing boater on Lake Travis. Rescue crews were called to the area off Hiline Road Sunday afternoon to search for a person who had gone missing from a party barge. It was not known how long the person had been missing. The search was called off shortly after 3 p.m. Officials said they were now switching to a recovery operation...
Bill would give residents final say on whether they’re annexed

Bill would give residents final say on whether they’re annexed

Tim Mattox, an 18-year resident of River Place and a member of the homeowners association board, dreads the day when he and his neighbors in the master-planned community near Northwest Austin will be officially absorbed into the city and begin receiving its hefty tax bills. Despite pushback over the past decade from residents like Mattox — who will pay additional taxes for what they predict...
15 Austinites having more fun than you at Eeyore’s Birthday

15 Austinites having more fun than you at Eeyore’s Birthday

Eeyore’s Birthday Party, otherwise known as the yearly spring Saturday when Austinites gather in Pease Park to celebrate everyone’s favorite downtrodden donkey (and raise money for local nonprofits), hosted its 54th annual celebration Saturday. It’s an event that epitomizes “Keep Austin Weird,” promising fun costumes, acroyoga, bubbles, maypoles, drum circles and...
Storms bring cooler weather to Austin, destruction to North Texas

Storms bring cooler weather to Austin, destruction to North Texas

At least five people were killed when a violent storm raced across North Texas Saturday night, however the Austin metro area was mostly spared with only some slight rain and hail that brought significantly cooler temperatures Sunday morning followed by sunny skies. The National Weather Service has confirmed that three tornadoes touched down around Dallas Saturday evening, including one in Canton that...
PolitiFact: Trump’s correct to claim drop in immigration

PolitiFact: Trump’s correct to claim drop in immigration

President Donald Trump is still promising to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. But even before that, he says, border crossings are down. “People want the border wall,” Trump said in an interview with The Associated Press. “They want to see the wall, they want to see security. Now, it just came out that they’re 73 percent down. … That’s a tremendous achievement...

Community news: Recycling research to be shared May 8

TRAVIS COUNTY EAST AUSTIN Recycling research shared The public is invited to an interactive presentation of the city of Austin’s new recycling tools from 6:30 to 8 p.m. May 8 at the Carver Branch Library at 1161 Angelina St. The presentation is being done by Austin’s Design, Technology and Innovation Fellows, in partnership with Austin Resource Recovery. During the free public event, members...
Education nonprofit pushes entrepreneurship programs to older students

Education nonprofit pushes entrepreneurship programs to older students

Junior Achievement, the 98-year old nonprofit that teaches students about the economy and business, is having a rebirth in Central Texas schools with the goal of preparing more young people for Austin’s entrepreneurial culture. “When we relaunched two years ago, we knew we had to focus on what this community needed the most,” said Kristin Gossett, president of Junior Achievement...
Webb Report: Stephen Colbert’s Alex Jones parody is yogurt-smearing fun

Webb Report: Stephen Colbert’s Alex Jones parody is yogurt-smearing fun

Alex Jones has Stephen Colbert’s heart feeling like a volcano. We know the president of the United States pays attention to Austin’s most famous conspiracy theorist. Now we know he’s on the radar of late night TV, too. Inspired by Jones, “Late Show” host Colbert has dipped his toes back into the familiar waters of right-wing caricature. If the Infowars host’s on-air...
Latest numbers show rising use of Austin-area toll roads

Latest numbers show rising use of Austin-area toll roads

The four toll roads in the Austin area operated by the Texas Department of Transportation, after having sparse traffic when they first opened a decade ago, have seen steadily increasing use. Based on figures from the first six months of the 2016-17 fiscal year, here are five things to know about the growing revenue of the Central Texas Turnpike System: What’s in the system? The northern 49 miles...
Watch for a fight as Austin reviews who’s paying too much for water

Watch for a fight as Austin reviews who’s paying too much for water

Commercial businesses in Austin are overpaying for their water by nearly $4.4 million this year, while homes and apartments are underpaying to the tune of $2.1 million, according to preliminary numbers in an Austin Water cost of service review. Those customers are paying what they’re being charged. But the rates don’t align with what it costs Austin Water to provide service to them. The...
U.S. 290 shut down at William Cannon for tree in roadway, police say

U.S. 290 shut down at William Cannon for tree in roadway, police say

Both lanes of West U.S. 290 eastbound have been shut down just past West William Cannon Drive until authorities can remove a tree limb from the roadway, according to Austin police. The large tree branch fell down onto the road and authorities have to get the correct equipment to remove the limb from the roadway, police said. Drivers should expect some traffic delays in the area.

Judge says Houston-area bail system unfair to poor offenders

A judge rebuked Houston-area authorities for imposing a bail system that’s unfair to people arrested for lesser offenses who are detained for long periods because they’re unable to pay for their release. The ruling Friday by Chief U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal was part of a lawsuit from a single mother who was held for two days on a charge of driving without a license because she couldn&rsquo...
One killed in rollover crash in Southeast Austin

One killed in rollover crash in Southeast Austin

SOUTHEAST AUSTIN EMS: 1 dead in rollover crash A man believed to be in his 20s was killed Saturday in a single-vehicle rollover crash in Southeast Austin, Austin-Travis County EMS reported. Medics responded to the crash near the 4400 block of East William Cannon Drive just west of the intersection with South Pleasant Valley Road at 3:52 p.m. The man was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. Three...
Cedar Ridge rallies past Del Valle in best-of-three bi-district series

Cedar Ridge rallies past Del Valle in best-of-three bi-district series

One day after helping her team stave off elimination by tossing a four-hit shutout, Tori McCann limited Del Valle to a lone unearned run as Cedar Ridge topped the visiting Cardinals 6-1 Saturday in the deciding game of a Class 6A bi-district softball playoff series. After a 7-2 loss to the Cardinals on Thursday, the Raiders (22-7) totaled 28 hits over the final two games of the best-of-three series...
EMS: One person killed in rollover crash in Southeast Austin

EMS: One person killed in rollover crash in Southeast Austin

A man believed to be in his 20s was killed Saturday in a single-vehicle rollover crash in Southeast Austin, Austin-Travis County EMS reported. Medics responded to the crash near the 4400 block of East William Cannon Drive at 3:52 p.m. The man was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. Three others were involved in the crash but refused care or hospital treatment, EMS said. <div></div>...
Missing Austin officer faked his death, fled to Mexico, police say

Missing Austin officer faked his death, fled to Mexico, police say

An Austin police officer who was originally reported missing is believed to have tried to fake his own death and to have fled to Mexico, officials said Friday night. Officer Coleman Martin, 29, is facing a Class A misdemeanor charge of “false report” as a result. A year ago Sunday, Martin had received a Life Saving Medal from the Austin Police Department after he found and then administered...

UPDATE: Northeast Texas reels from deadly tornadoes as severe thunderstorm watch canceled for Austin area

10 p.m. update: The National Weather Service has canceled the severe thunderstorm watch for the Austin area that included Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties. A few showers and isolated thunderstorms are possible for the area overnight, but the storm system -- which ravaged northeastern Texas earlier in the day -- has grown weaker. Rainfall amounts in Central Texas are expected...
Have a great workplace? Let us know

Have a great workplace? Let us know

Help us spread the word about the best places to work in Austin. Nominations are now open for the American-Statesman’s 2017 Top Workplaces of Greater Austin project. The project recognizes employers that stand for the best in leadership, vision, an employee-centered culture and other qualities. Any employer is eligible — private company, nonprofit, government or school — as long...
PolitiFact: Yep, Legislature can make its own rules

PolitiFact: Yep, Legislature can make its own rules

State troopers arrested a Texas woman after she persisted in shooting video of a legislative hearing despite a state open-meetings law that says, “A person in attendance may record all or any part of an open meeting of a governmental body.” Amy Hedtke of Waxahachie streamed on Facebook Live a portion of the March 22 hearing of the House State Affairs Committee in a building on the Capitol...

Up the Ladder

Biomedical Aeglea BioTherapeutics has named Anthony Quinn interim chief medical officer. Health care St. David’s HealthCare has named Diana Kraus assistant vice president of trauma. Professional honors Sandra D. Gonzalez of Greenberg Traurig has been elected to the Fellows of the Texas Bar Foundation.
Taylor council candidates agree city needs to attract businesses. jobs

Taylor council candidates agree city needs to attract businesses. jobs

A real estate company owner and a concrete business’ vice president are running against each other for a place on the Taylor City Council. Gary Gola and Dwayne Ariola are competing for an at-large position left vacant by Taylor Mayor Jesse Ancira Jr., who has decided not to seek re-election. The five council members will choose the next mayor. Both Gola and Ariola said the city needs to attract...
Top Local Business Stories of the Week

Top Local Business Stories of the Week

WHOLE FOODS TAKEOVER? Report says Albertsons considering takeover bid for Whole Foods: Supermarket chain Albertsons is exploring a possible takeover of Austin-based Whole Foods Market, the Financial Times reported last week, citing unnamed sources. Albertsons, which operates about 2,200 stores, is controlled by buyout group Cerberus Capital Management. Cerberus has had preliminary talks with bankers...

House tax plan has surprising implications

Last June, Republicans in the House Ways and Means Committee rolled out their “Better Way” tax reform plan. It proposes big changes to business and personal taxation. Critics say it’s regressive and will likely decrease revenues because of the cut in personal rates. But a closer look suggests neither is true. Moreover, the business part of the tax plan promises to greatly expand...
Missing Austin cop faked his death, fled to Mexico, police say

Missing Austin cop faked his death, fled to Mexico, police say

An Austin police officer who was originally reported missing is believed to have attempted to fake his own death and to have fled to Mexico, officials said Friday night. Officer Coleman Martin, 29, is facing a Class A misdemeanor charge of “false report,” as a result. Martin’s wife told KVUE-TV on Saturday that “Cole recently received a new prescription medication." "...
NEW: AISD police chief leaving; DA says assault may not have occurred

NEW: AISD police chief leaving; DA says assault may not have occurred

Austin school district Police Chief Eric Mendez is expected to announce his resignation for another job Monday morning, days after questions surfaced about whether his staff did enough to investigate a sexual assault allegation of a 4-year-old at Boone Elementary in February, sources with knowledge of the investigation confirmed Friday night. The announcement came as Travis County District Attorney...
Austin man gets probation for fatal sleeper hold near homeless camp

Austin man gets probation for fatal sleeper hold near homeless camp

An Austin man who killed another man with a sleeper hold was convicted of manslaughter on Friday, but was sentenced to probation and soon will be released from jail. John Mouton, 23, testified to a Travis County jury that he acted in self-defense when a disagreement with victim Russell Fulghum, Jr. turned physical near a homeless camp in North Austin in June 2016. Mouton said Fulghum, 37, tossed his...
Dallas leader found not guilty in corruption trial

Dallas leader found not guilty in corruption trial

A Dallas County jury on Friday found a longtime County Commissioner John Wiley Price not guilty of bribery and mail fraud charges and failed to reach a verdict on other counts. Jurors told U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn that further deliberations wouldn’t yield a verdict on tax fraud charges against Price, so she dismissed the jury and ended the trial. Dapheny Fain, a top aide to Price and...

Bowie High parents seek student’s expulsion over alleged harassment

Parents of a Bowie High School student are seeking an order from a federal judge to expel a classmate they say has been sexually harassing their daughter since the fall. The parents filed a lawsuit Thursday against the Austin school district, alleging that the boy has repeatedly gotten into their daughter’s car without permission, demanded she take him out to dinner, hugged her on more than...
Campaign signs on Southwestern University campus spark debate

Campaign signs on Southwestern University campus spark debate

Whether a candidate for the Georgetown City Council violated election laws by posting her signs Monday on the Southwestern University campus was at the center of a debate this week. “According to several residents, self described ‘liberal Democrat’ Place 6 candidate Rachael Jonrowe possibly violated election laws concerning electioneering,” said the Wilco Report, an online...

Hamilton Pool to reopen May 1 with safety features to prevent drowning

Hamilton Pool Preserve will be open for swimming again, starting on May 1, Travis County Parks officials announced Friday. Two drownings last year prompted Travis County Parks to close the pool to swimmers while officials re-evaluated safety protocols. On Aug. 14, a 17-year-old from Harker Heights failed to resurface around 10:20 a.m. Emergency crews pulled the teen from the water and flew him to...

Business Digest: Germany-based group buys Austin office building

COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE Germany-based group buys Austin office building The Capital Ridge office building in Southwest Austin has a new owner. GLL Real Estate Partners, a real estate fund management group based in Munich, Germany, recently purchased the building from Capital Ridge-RE LP, according to Travis County deed records. The purchase price was $96.1 million, according to Real Estate Alert, a...
SPLASH TIME: Hamilton Pool to reopen May 1 with safety features

SPLASH TIME: Hamilton Pool to reopen May 1 with safety features

Hamilton Pool Preserve will be open for swimming again, starting on May 1, Travis County Parks officials announced Friday.   Two drownings last year prompted Travis County Parks to close the pool to swimmers while officials re-evaluated safety protocols.  Travis County Parks officials say they have installed a loaner life jacket kiosk at the pool entrance. Visitors can now borrow...
Texas franchise tax looks on way out after House vote

Texas franchise tax looks on way out after House vote

The third-largest source of revenue for Texas state government — the franchise tax — appears poised for elimination after the Texas House gave final approval Friday morning to a bill that would phase it out. The Senate previously approved an alternative proposal to wind down the franchise tax using a different formula and time frame, but both chambers now have signaled they want to get...
Goodwill worker stole $3,000 from nonprofit’s West Austin store, police say

Goodwill worker stole $3,000 from nonprofit’s West Austin store, police say

Police are accusing a Goodwill employee of stealing $3,000 worth of cash and merchandise from one of the nonprofit’s Austin stores. In an arrest warrant affidavit issued Thursday for 40-year-old Marcelita Felix, police say she stole $100 of merchandise and $2,900 cash from the Goodwill at 701 Newman Drive in West Austin.  On April 3, a theft report was made to police after the loss...
Meet the 4 companies reportedly interested in Whole Foods

Meet the 4 companies reportedly interested in Whole Foods

Two major investors in Austin-based Whole Foods Market have urged the company to consider putting itself up for sale in recent weeks. With 465 stores, 87,000 employees and annual sales of $15.7 billion, the grocer would seem like an attractive acquisition target. But it also has a bit of baggage. A Barclays analyst suggested in March that Whole Foods had lost 14 million customers since 2015 &ndash...
Austin police eyes $300,000 bomb robot to save human cops from danger

Austin police eyes $300,000 bomb robot to save human cops from danger

The Austin Police Department is planning to drop just over $300,000 for a new bomb squad robot that’s aimed at keeping officers out of harm’s way. City documents show the department is seeking approval for a contract with Remotec Inc. for an Andros FX explosive ordinance disposal vehicle, which is designed to knock out suspicious objects, explosive devices or other threats. Last year,...
Buda hosts Wiener Dog Races this weekend

Buda hosts Wiener Dog Races this weekend

The 20th annual Buda Wiener Dog Races takes place from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at City Park. Admission is $5 for ages 12 and older and free for children 11 and younger. Along with the dog races, which begin at 10 a.m. both days, there will be a pet parade, spelling bees, arts and crafts booths, bouncy houses, cook-offs, live music and a petting zoo. San Antonio Street will be closed to...
Valerie Jarrett on Trump’s win, Obama’s legacy and how to raise women up

Valerie Jarrett on Trump’s win, Obama’s legacy and how to raise women up

When Donald Trump visited the White House a few days after winning last year’s election, a photograph captured staffers and top members of the Obama administration looking markedly discontent. Valerie Jarrett, the longest-serving senior adviser to then-President Barack Obama, could be seen leaning cross-armed against a column in the Rose Garden. “The irony is I saw the cameras, so that...
‘Luxury’ island music festival turns into ‘disaster tent city,’ according to reports

‘Luxury’ island music festival turns into ‘disaster tent city,’ according to reports

Austin loves its music festivals, but even they aren’t always immune from troubles. Last year’s debut Sound on Sound Fest turned into a rain-soaked mess, and Austin City Limits Music Festival and South by Southwest have seen their fair share of mayhem (fences torn down, mud pits, what have you). But none of those events have ever been accused of turning into a “disaster tent...

Community news: Barbecue cookoff, demolition training this weekend

TRAVIS COUNTY CENTRAL AUSTIN Nonprofit dental clinic extends hours Manos de Cristo Dental Center will start extended hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and be open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. The nonprofit dental clinic at 4911 Harmon Ave. recently expanded its professional team and decided to extend the operating hours to better serve patients who normally could not schedule...
Round Rock to get 9th fire station when former home becomes firehouse

Round Rock to get 9th fire station when former home becomes firehouse

The Round Rock Fire Department will soon have a ninth fire station after a former home is renovated to serve as a new firehouse. Officials have begun renovations to a former single-family home, located at 2721 Sam Bass Road in northwest Round Rock, and construction is expected to be finished by the end of May, according to the city. The home was purchased by the city in 2015 with the intention of...
Reversing trend, abortion clinics reopening, including 1 in Austin

Reversing trend, abortion clinics reopening, including 1 in Austin

Three Texas abortion facilities have reopened or are about to reopen, reversing a trend of clinic closures caused by strict abortion regulations that the Legislature adopted in 2013 but the U.S. Supreme Court struck down last summer. A Dallas clinic, closed in 2013 because doctors with the North Park Medical Group could not obtain admitting privileges at a nearby hospital as required by the now-overturned...
Texas Observer names Austin Monitor boss as new publisher

Texas Observer names Austin Monitor boss as new publisher

The venerable and liberal, Austin-based Texas Observer named Michael Kanin as its new publisher Friday, putting the tattooed chief of a local news nonprofit in charge of the cash-strapped magazine that launched the careers of some of the state’s most notable journalists and columnists, including Molly Ivins. Kanin is leaving the Austin Monitor, a nonprofit online news organization that...
Wastewater treatment leading issue in Wimberley City Council elections

Wastewater treatment leading issue in Wimberley City Council elections

Now that Wimberley is at the precipice of dealing with wastewater treatment, an issue that has for more than a decade plagued the Hill Country town, it has again emerged as a leading issue in upcoming City Council elections. Two City Council seats are up for grabs in the May 6 election: Place 1, which pits former mayor and council member Steve Thurber against Sally Trapp, currently a council...
WOMAN FOUND: Police locate woman, 81, who was reported missing Thursday

WOMAN FOUND: Police locate woman, 81, who was reported missing Thursday

11 a.m. update: Austin police say Sarah Neil Gray has been found and is safe. Officials have not released any other details. Earlier: Austin police are asking the public’s help in finding an 81-year-old woman with medical issues. Sarah Neil Gray was last seen at 1:30 p.m. Thursday in the 2200 block of Pompton Drive, near West Anderson Lane and Burnet Road in North Austin. Police have released...
UPDATE: Austin breaks heat record, with damaging winds and hail possible Saturday

UPDATE: Austin breaks heat record, with damaging winds and hail possible Saturday

4:05 p.m. update: The temperature has risen 4 degrees at Camp Mabry in less than an hour, according to National Weather Service data -- meaning Austin just set another all-time record high, at 95 degrees. The heat index is 101. The normal high for today is 83 degrees, according to the weather service. The previous record, of 94 degrees, was set in 1955. This heat continues what was the warmest first...
House’s special education school choice bill garners criticism, cheers

House’s special education school choice bill garners criticism, cheers

Parents, educators and advocacy groups Thursday night both lauded and lambasted a Texas House bill that would create a school choice program for special education students. House Bill 1335 filed by Rep. Ron Simmons, R-Carrollton, would spend state money to help parents of special education students pay private school tuition, among other non-public school expenses. “If one thing we’re...

Krauthammer: Populism on pause

Yesterday’s conventional wisdom: A wave of insurgent populism is sweeping the West, threatening its foundational institutions — the European Union, the Western alliance, even liberal democracy itself. Today’s conventional wisdom (post-first-round French presidential election): The populist wave has crested, soon to abate. Chances are that both verdicts are wrong. The anti-establishment...

Collins: Trump’s can’t-do record

Well, heck, who said Donald Trump wasn’t going to accomplish anything in his first 100 days? All of a sudden there’s a one-page tax plan and a raft of deal-making, while the Senate was bused over to the White House grounds for a briefing on North Korea. Maybe the president believes that when you can make an entire chamber of Congress ride around like so many tour groups, the world will...
Rape inquiry at Austin school didn’t miss medical records, chief says

Rape inquiry at Austin school didn’t miss medical records, chief says

Austin school district police did not close a sex assault investigation without reviewing medical records of the alleged victim, Chief Eric Mendez told the media Thursday night, just after a parent meeting at Boone Elementary. The American-Statesman reported last week that school police had not obtained key medical information after doctors determined a 4-year-old prekindergarten student at Boone...
NEW DETAILS: Police ID Cedar Park man arrested after hours-long SWAT standoff 

NEW DETAILS: Police ID Cedar Park man arrested after hours-long SWAT standoff 

It began with a 911 call. A woman told a dispatcher she was worried about Galen Wasem and asked if someone could look in on him. That request triggered a series of events that culminated in a six-hour standoff between Wasem and Cedar Park police, which ended when officers broke down the door of the apartment where Wasem was hiding.  Wasem was taken to a Cedar Park hospital...
Bowie High School parents seek student’s expulsion, sue school district over alleged harassment

Bowie High School parents seek student’s expulsion, sue school district over alleged harassment

Parents of a Bowie High School student are seeking an order from a federal judge to expel a student they say has harassed their daughter. The unnamed male student attempted to commit suicide at school Jan. 18 in front of their daughter, according to a lawsuit the girl’s parents filed Thursday against the Austin school district. Additionally, he has repeatedly gotten into her car without...
Ex-wife of Infowars host Alex Jones wins joint custody

Ex-wife of Infowars host Alex Jones wins joint custody

After nine hours of deliberation, a Travis County jury in the Alex Jones-Kelly Jones child custody trial gave Kelly Jones a great victory, awarding her joint custody with the right to have their three children make their primary residence with her instead of her husband for the first time since the couple’s 2015 divorce. Alex Jones will share joint custody, which means that he will have visitation...
House panel weighs bill that would allow guns in school parking lots

House panel weighs bill that would allow guns in school parking lots

The House Public Education Committee heard testimony Thursday for a bill that would allow handguns on public school property in certain situations. House Bill 1692, filed by state Rep. Cole Hefner, R-Mt. Pleasant, would allow licensed individuals to store a firearm in a locked car that is parked in a school parking lot. The bill has 43 authors and co-authors, both Democrats and Republicans. &ldquo...
Legal challenges likely ahead for SB 4

Legal challenges likely ahead for SB 4

Now that Senate Bill 4 is on its way to becoming law, opponents are looking to the courts for relief – and a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court case is giving them hope. The high court struck down parts of a controversial 2010 immigration law in Arizona on the grounds that Congress, not the states, has the power to create immigration law. Experts say that argument could come into play with Texas&rsquo...
Tougher ‘sanctuary cities’ ban clears Texas House

Tougher ‘sanctuary cities’ ban clears Texas House

After debating for 16 hours and giving preliminary approval at 3 a.m. Thursday to a bill banning so-called sanctuary cities, Texas House members got a few hours of sleep and returned to work later in the day to give final approval in a 94-53 vote. All Democrats present voted “no.” Senate Bill 4, authored by Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, and carried in the House by Rep. Charlie Geren,...
Texas House OKs bill to eliminate franchise tax

Texas House OKs bill to eliminate franchise tax

A plan to eliminate the state’s main business tax won initial approval from the Texas House late Thursday, despite arguments from opponents that the move is short-sighted at a time when lawmakers already are struggling to bridge a multibillion-dollar funding gap with deep budget cuts. The House voted 98-45 to approve House Bill 28, which would phase out the state franchise tax, also called the...
Senate OK’s bill that would spend $100 million for school facilities

Senate OK’s bill that would spend $100 million for school facilities

The Texas Senate passed a bill Thursday that would dole out $100 million to traditional school districts and charter schools to build and maintain facilities over the next two years. Currently, charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately operated, can’t levy property taxes like traditional school districts to pay for construction or get additional funding for it. “This legislation...
Redistricting trial looms as election deadlines near

Redistricting trial looms as election deadlines near

With election deadlines looming, a federal court panel indicated Thursday that there will be a trial, likely this summer, over whether the Legislature drew illegal districts for the Texas House and U.S. House in 2013. During a courtroom conference with the many lawyers involved in the case, the three-judge panel repeatedly pressed for a streamlined process in a four-step case that has been winding...
Two more sex crime allegations in Austin schools getting new scrutiny

Two more sex crime allegations in Austin schools getting new scrutiny

Austin school police are reviewing two previously reported sex crime cases at separate campuses to ensure detectives properly handled them amid concerns from parents and others in the community, school district Police Chief Eric Mendez told the American-Statesman and KVUE-TV on Thursday. The investigations in both instances had already been suspended or closed, and the revelation of the reviews comes...
House committee approves tougher inspections of farmworker housing

House committee approves tougher inspections of farmworker housing

A pair of bills that would strengthen state inspections of farmworker housing, stiffen penalties on violators and require state regulators to look for unlicensed facilities passed the House Urban Affairs Committee with 7-0 votes on Thursday. With just weeks remaining in the legislative calendar, the legislation’s window could be closing quickly though. The House Calendars Committee still needs...
Austin police honor pedicab driver for helping catch assault suspect

Austin police honor pedicab driver for helping catch assault suspect

Luis Velazquez-Palos said he didn’t think twice before helping a woman who was in distress in downtown Austin last year, and police said his actions played a crucial role in helping them catch the man accused of sexually assaulting that woman that day. Austin police recognized Velazquez-Palos on Thursday with a Distinguished Service award. The Austin police Sex Crimes Division nominated Velazquez-Palos...
Police: 5 charged with assault in Pflugerville Saturday shooting

Police: 5 charged with assault in Pflugerville Saturday shooting

Four teenagers and one man have been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and engaging in organized criminal activity after a shooting Saturday at Lake Pflugerville that injured one person, according to police. On Saturday, officers responded to the lake after a call about shots fired, police said. One person was found injured, and the Austin-Travis County EMS took the person to Seton...

UT police investigating report of drive-by shooting

UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS UT police: Drive-by shooting reported University of Texas and Austin police are on the hunt for a gunman after reports of a drive-by shooting near campus Thursday morning. The scene unfolded at an off-campus construction site near the intersection of Dean Keeton and San Jacinto streets just after 10 a.m., when a man in a white sedan targeted an unidentified person he apparently...
Cancer patient gets wish to meet jewelry maker Kendra Scott

Cancer patient gets wish to meet jewelry maker Kendra Scott

It was a request Kendra Scott says she couldn’t – and wouldn’t – refuse. An 18-year-old Memphis, Tenn., girl with a form of brain cancer with no known treatment or cure was eager to meet her, so the Austin-based jewelry designer whose brand has become known worldwide put her team to work on setting up a visit. “Once I heard her story, I was like, ‘Get her on a plane...

Business Digest: Exxon fined $20M for emissions from Texas plant

OIL & GAS Exxon fined $20 million for emissions from Texas plant BAYTOWN — A judge has ordered Exxon Mobil to pay a penalty of nearly $20 million for releasing 10 million pounds of pollutants into the air over the course of eight years from a refining and chemical complex east of Houston. U.S. District Judge David Hittner in a ruling Wednesday determined that Texas-based Exxon on thousands of...
Senate approves bill to alleviate charter school construction costs

Senate approves bill to alleviate charter school construction costs

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said on Wednesday that he would push for more money for Texas charter schools during budget negotiations between the House and Senate. Officials from public charter schools, which are privately operated, have been pleading for the last few legislative sessions for more funding to help them build and maintain facilities. Unlike traditional school districts, charter schools cannot...
Austin’s interim police chief says he will comply with SB 4

Austin’s interim police chief says he will comply with SB 4

5:55 p.m. update: Interim Austin police Chief Brian Manley on Thursday repeated his concerns about key provisions of Senate Bill 4, the so-called sanctuary cities legislation now poised to become law, but said he will uphold the law if it is given the final thumbs-up. The bill earned initial approval in the early morning hours Thursday, then final approval later in the day in a 94-53 vote along party...
Round Rock among inaugural districts selected for Holdsworth training

Round Rock among inaugural districts selected for Holdsworth training

The Round Rock district has been chosen to be among the inaugural group of seven school systems to go through The Holdsworth Center, a new training and leadership development center in Austin. The center will draw upon best practices in strategic talent management to support current leaders and develop future superintendents and principals across the state. In January, H-E-B Chairman and CEO Charles...

Near-record heat, humidity Friday; storms to rock Austin late Saturday

Eeyore’s Birthday Party could start out sweaty and end up waterlogged. A cold front should pass through Austin as early as Saturday afternoon, according to National Weather Service forecasts, before turning the hot, muggy weather that has settled over the area into potentially severe storms. The front should disrupt what promises to be a stretch of days made for a shorts, shades and swimming...
Southwest Airlines to end practice of overbooking flights

Southwest Airlines to end practice of overbooking flights

Southwest Airlines plans to stop overbooking flights — an industry practice implicated in an ugly incident on a United Airlines flight that has damaged United's reputation with the flying public.  Last year Southwest bumped 15,000 passengers off flights, more than any other U.S. airline. Carriers say they sometimes sell more tickets than there are seats because often a few passengers don't...
Hip-hop music has fewer drug references than any other genre, but still dominates

Hip-hop music has fewer drug references than any other genre, but still dominates

Think Migos and other rap artists mention molly and marijuana the most in their songs? Think again, because hip-hop has the least number of drug references compared to any other musical genre, according to a recent study.  Using data from Songmeanings API, Addictions.com analyzed eight music categories to determine which style’s lyrics mentioned drugs the most. The website ranked country...
Commentary: Bills would accomplish what UT hasn’t — secure Muny’s value

Commentary: Bills would accomplish what UT hasn’t — secure Muny’s value

Recent commentary in this newspaper has suggested using Lions Municipal Golf Course as a Museum of Housing Segregation in Texas while developing the golf course itself. This is the wrong approach — and the university should be called out on it. If there is an educational value to preserving Muny, it rests in some part on showing the history of racism at the University of Texas and how the legacy...
Female dragonflies play dead to avoid amorous males

Female dragonflies play dead to avoid amorous males

Female dragonflies are one of only a few animal species that play dead to avoid mating or death, falling out of the sky and remaining motionless until the amorous male dragonfly leaves. That’s the conclusion of a new study in the journal Ecology by University of Zurich zoologist Rassim Khelifa, Newsweek reported. Khelifa, who documented the behavior while studying dragonflies in Switzerland...
Donald Trump’s first 100 days: How the president has changed Texas

Donald Trump’s first 100 days: How the president has changed Texas

From a renewed focus on deporting unauthorized immigrants to moves to build a wall along the Rio Grande, President Donald Trump has made his presence felt in Texas during his first 100 days in office. Trump moved quickly to follow through on his promise to crack down on illegal immigration, with coordinated raids in Austin and cities across the country in February. Austin saw the highest rate of noncriminal...
George Clooney takes trip back in time through classic movies in new coffee ad

George Clooney takes trip back in time through classic movies in new coffee ad

Actor George Clooney journeys through a number of classic movies in a new coffee commercial for Nespresso. Clooney, with the help green screen technology, travels from a remote movie set through scenes of six famous movies to get to a Nespresso store for a cup of coffee, only to find out that Andy Garcia has made it in the end to the original remote location with a cup of coffee for him. The Oscar...
Willie Nelson away on his birthday? That’s OK, Trey Anastasio will play along

Willie Nelson away on his birthday? That’s OK, Trey Anastasio will play along

Willie Nelson turned 84 on Saturday. Suzanne Cordeiro for American-Statesman 2016 Out west at the annual Stagecoach Festival in the California desert, Willie Nelson celebrated his 84th birthday Saturday night with a show that included an all-star jam at the end featuring the likes of Neil Young, Jamey Johnson, Margo Price and X’s John Doe.
End of an era as Ringling Bros. gears up for last two shows 

End of an era as Ringling Bros. gears up for last two shows 

It’s the end of an era.  After 146 years, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is folding up the big tent forever, shuttering the ticket windows and putting the animals out to pasture. The circus has been a staple of American entertainment since the mid-1800s, wowing audiences with an array of exotic animals, breathtaking acrobatics, comedy and costumes. But reign of the ringmaster...
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