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Lawsuit from Planned Parenthood, legal group targets new Texas abortion restriction

SPECIAL SESSION: $1 million ad buy to target transgender bathroom bill

One day before a Senate committee hearing on a bill to limit transgender-friendly bathroom polices, the Texas Association of Business on Thursday announced a $1 million radio ad campaign targeting the legislation as an unnecessary distraction “from the real challenges we face.” Also Thursday, leaders of the national Episcopal Church released a letter urging House Speaker Joe Straus...


Senate Judiciary Committee approves FBI director nomination

Senate Judiciary Committee approves FBI director nomination

The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved the nomination of President Donald Trump's pick to head the FBI. Christopher Wray's nomination will now move to the Senate floor. The former Justice Department official won unanimous support from the panel, with senators from both parties praising his promise at his hearing last week never to let politics get in the way of the bureau's mission. "Beyond...
Sen. John McCain diagnosed with brain cancer, statement says

Sen. John McCain diagnosed with brain cancer, statement says

Senator John McCain had a cancerous tumor removed from his brain last week during a routine yearly physical at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, according to a Wednesday statement from his office. A statement from the Mayo Clinic was released at the request of McCain, 80, and his family.
Travis Co. sheriff, ICE spar over how 4-time deportee was released

Travis Co. sheriff, ICE spar over how 4-time deportee was released

Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez is disputing the details given by federal immigration officials who touted the arrest of a known Mexican gang member and four-time deportee and their claim that he was released from the Travis County Jail in June despite a request to detain him. Julio Cesar Mendoza-Caballero, 33, had been booked into the jail June 16 on a misdemeanor assault charge and a...
Bohls: State’s bowl games are wary over potential Bathroom Bill fallout

Bohls: State’s bowl games are wary over potential Bathroom Bill fallout

While I got ya, here are nine things and one crazy prediction: 1. Cotton Bowl president/CEO Rick Baker is watching with great interest the deliberations in the Legislature over the pending Bathroom Bill that could cost the state millions in tourism with canceled events from out-of-state visitors and corporations. But his anxiety doesn’t raise to the level of concern that his bowl game could...
Herman: Texas Democrats’ special session quandary, fight or flight?

Herman: Texas Democrats’ special session quandary, fight or flight?

I don’t often take requests, but… A local House Democrat, perhaps perturbed by my Wednesday column about his party’s futility in slowing the special-session train engineered by Republicans, asked me if I, for once, could write something nice about the Democrats. Let’s find out. Bless their long-outgunned hearts, Democrats in the Texas Legislature are planning and thinking...
Austin dentist in toddler death sues Nancy Grace, other media outlets

Austin dentist in toddler death sues Nancy Grace, other media outlets

An Austin dentist whose 14-month-old patient died after being put under anesthesia in 2016 is suing multiple national media outlets and broadcast personalities, including Nancy Grace, over their reports of the case. In the lawsuit filed Tuesday in Travis County state district court, Dr. Michael Melanson says the media outlets committed libel and slander by broadcasting and publishing what Melanson...
QUINCEAÑERA PROTEST: Texas teens protest against SB 4 at Capitol

QUINCEAÑERA PROTEST: Texas teens protest against SB 4 at Capitol

Texas teens took part in a quinceañera-themed protest Wednesday morning on the south steps of the Capitol to voice their opposition to Senate Bill 4, the so-called sanctuary cities ban. About 50 people were also there to support the 15 young Latinas, who donned the puffy party dresses commonly seen at the coming-of-age celebrations. Some of the participants told their stories of how the...
5 places in Austin to find elotes, mangonadas and other Mexican street foods

5 places in Austin to find elotes, mangonadas and other Mexican street foods

It’s not all tacos. The sour, salty, sweet and spicy flavors (usually together, all at once) of Mexican street food can be found all around Austin. Whether you’re looking to try something new, or yearning for familiar flavors, elotes, mangonadas, raspas, papas locas, every fruit you can name covered in chili and lime and other “Mexican fast food” staples can be...
Lawsuit by abortion providers targets new Texas restriction

Lawsuit by abortion providers targets new Texas restriction

Texas abortion providers and a advocates filed a federal court lawsuit Thursday seeking to overturn a new Texas law that will limit the most commonly used second-trimester procedure. The restriction, included in sweeping abortion regulations approved in the closing days of the Legislature’s regular session in May, is set to take effect Sept. 1 and targets “dismemberment” abortions...
NEW DETAILS: Officials: Corrections officer had cocaine packed in car to deliver

NEW DETAILS: Officials: Corrections officer had cocaine packed in car to deliver

A Williamson County correctional officer who was charged this week after cocaine was found in his car had the illegal drug packaged up for delivery, according to an arrest affidavit released Thursday. Deputies found a black sock under the front seat of Richard Acuna Jr.’s car on Tuesday that contained 13 plastic baggies with cocaine in them, the affidavit said. The total weight of the cocaine...
SCAM ALERT: Thieves posing as IRS workers demand money over phone, police say

SCAM ALERT: Thieves posing as IRS workers demand money over phone, police say

Austin police are warning the public about a phone scam in which callers pose as IRS employees looking for money. Several people in Austin have reported these scam calls, police said in a statement Thursday.  According to police, the scammer’s caller ID resembles an Austin Police Department number, 512-974-8243, to appear legitimate. The caller, posing an Internal Revenue Service employee...

Community news: Austin Regional Clinic accepts Sendero patients

TRAVIS COUNTY TRAVIS COUNTY Clinics accept Sendero patients The Austin Regional Clinic announced that members of Sendero Health Plans can seek care at its clinics. ARC has 22 clinic locations across Travis, Hays and Williamson counties, offering access to more than 325 primary and specialty care providers. Sendero is a nonprofit group based in Austin that is focused on improving access to health care...
MID-YEAR REPORT: Austin home sales still growing, but slower than 2016

MID-YEAR REPORT: Austin home sales still growing, but slower than 2016

Central Texas home sales grew at a slower pace in the first half of the year, while home prices continued to rise at a steady clip, the Austin Board of Realtors said Thursday. Through June, single-family sales in the five-county Austin metro area — stretching from Georgetown to San Marcos — rose 2.8 percent year-over-year to 14,958 sales. The median price of those sales was $300,000, a...
Case closed? Judge Naranjo issues final orders in Alex/Kelly Jones child custody case

Case closed? Judge Naranjo issues final orders in Alex/Kelly Jones child custody case

  Kelly Jones and attorney Robert Hoffman after Wednesday’s court hearing. Good day Austin: I am not quite prepared to credit state District Judge Orlinda Naranjo with the wisdom of Solomon. But she did manage yesterday to orally render a permanent order in the child custody case of Alex Jones, his ex-wife Kelly Jones and their three children – a 14-year-old son and...
FIRE ALERT: Blaze near Onion Creek and FM 967 contained again, officials say

FIRE ALERT: Blaze near Onion Creek and FM 967 contained again, officials say

1:10 p.m. update: The Onion Creek fire on FM 967 in Hays County, is now considered contained; some hot spots are still being extinguished, Hays County officials said. Fire officials reported Wednesday night that the fire, a prescribed burn that jumped its boundaries, was 100 percent contained. But the fire kicked up again today. Earlier: The Onion Creek fire on FM 967 in Hays...
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the pizza delivery man?

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the pizza delivery man?

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick promised to bring the Texas Senate “pizza and soda pop” for its midnight session early Thursday morning, and he delivered. Literally. Patrick completed his look with an apron, and the Houston Republican had some social media users curious about where he ordered the pizza.  <div></div><br><blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p...
JUST IN: Man killed in FM 973 motorcycle wreck near Travis-Williamson county line, EMS says

JUST IN: Man killed in FM 973 motorcycle wreck near Travis-Williamson county line, EMS says

A man described as in his 30s was killed Thursday in a motorcycle collision on FM 973 in northeastern Travis County near the Williamson County line Travis County paramedics and STAR Flight responded to the scene around 7:30 a.m. near FM 973 and Pfluger-Berkman Road and performed CPR on the man.     Few other details were immediately available.  Authorities are asking drivers...
What are you doing with the family this hot weekend? July 21-23

What are you doing with the family this hot weekend? July 21-23

The heat is on. Keep that in mind as you are heading out this weekend for some family fun. Expect to see very little (probably no) rain and temperatures in the 100, 101 range. It will feel much hotter because that’s how we roll in Austin in July. Bring sunscreen, water and bug spray with you if you are headed outside. Andrew Cannata, Hannah Roberts and Jordan...
FORECAST: Stay hydrated – heat blast to last through weekend

FORECAST: Stay hydrated – heat blast to last through weekend

Thursday’s forecast for Austin: The scorching heat blasting Austin will last through the weekend, as temperatures are expected to hit or break the 100-degree mark every day through Sunday — and humidity will make it feel even warmer, the National Weather Service says. “Stay hydrated, limit time outdoors, never leave children in a vehicle alone,” said Yvette Benavides,...
Gov. Abbott expands special session after Senate’s midnight action

Gov. Abbott expands special session after Senate’s midnight action

Voting shortly after midnight, the Texas Senate gave final approval to two “sunset” bills that will allow five state regulatory agencies, including the Texas Medical Board, to continue operating until 2019. After a short wait, Gov. Greg Abbott announced that he had expanded the list of topics available to be considered in the 30-day special session that began Tuesday, including transgender...
Austin lawmaker asks Abbott to explain militia group’s presence

Austin lawmaker asks Abbott to explain militia group’s presence

State Rep. Gina Hinojosa, D-Austin, is asking Gov. Greg Abbott to explain why a private militia group appeared at a Saturday campaign stop in McAllen. Abbott, who’s running for reelection, visited with supporters but also drew protesters — some of whom were stunned when they noticed armed, camouflage-wearing members of the Texas State Militia. The group reportedly stood with local law...
UPDATE: Prescribed burn that jumped boundaries near Buda now 100% contained, officials say

UPDATE: Prescribed burn that jumped boundaries near Buda now 100% contained, officials say

9:15 p.m. update: A prescribed burn near Buda that jumped its boundaries earlier this afternoon is now fully contained, Austin fire officials said. The fire burned 250 acres of land that were not part of the planned burn that Austin Water Utility held that day, the Texas A&M Forest Service reported. Crews from Austin Water Utility and the Austin Fire Department will remain at the site overnight...
2 more Austin officers hospitalized due to carbon monoxide exposure, official says

2 more Austin officers hospitalized due to carbon monoxide exposure, official says

Two additional Austin officers were hospitalized Wednesday due to possible carbon monoxide exposure, the Austin police union president said. The recently installed carbon monoxide sensors went off in the officers’ police vehicle Wednesday evening, and they were taken to Dell Seton Medical Center to be checked out, President Ken Casaday said. “I think we're getting to the point where we're...
Gov. Abbott launches media blitz to ride herd on special session

Gov. Abbott launches media blitz to ride herd on special session

Gov. Greg Abbott Wednesday launched a blitz of some 60 radio and TV appearances planned through next week to promote his bid for a second term, which he announced Friday, and to ride herd on the special legislative session that got underway Tuesday. Abbott has promised a running public accounting of who’s with him and who’s against him on the 20 items on his special session agenda, and...
Boone Elementary parents who alleged daughter was assaulted drop suit against AISD

Boone Elementary parents who alleged daughter was assaulted drop suit against AISD

The parents who sued the Austin school district and others, alleging school officials did not do enough to investigate a campus sexual assault allegation, have dropped the lawsuit.  Court documents filed last week noted the parents “do not desire, at this time, to prosecute the claims against” the school district, former Austin school district Police Chief Eric Mendez, and school...
Austin police seize 75 lbs. of crystal meth in I-35 traffic stop

Austin police seize 75 lbs. of crystal meth in I-35 traffic stop

NORTH AUSTIN Police seize 75 lbs. of meth in traffic stop A Laredo woman faces federal charges after Austin police say they found $2 million worth of liquid methamphetamine in her car as she was traveling to Dallas with her 4-year-old daughter last week. Officers made the discovery after pulling over the driver, identified by police as 22-year-old Seline Ayala. Police said she was driving her Dodge...
Small thunderstorm rolling through Austin

Small thunderstorm rolling through Austin

6:15 p.m. update: A small thunderstorm is currently rolling through Austin. Keep an eye on the Statesman’s weather radar to track the storm. Earlier: Wednesday’s forecast for Austin: The graphic may say 99 degrees and the text forecast may say 100 — but either way, searing heat will return to the Austin area this afternoon and stick around through at least the end...
UPDATE: Prescribed burn that jumped boundaries near Buda now 100% contained, officials say

UPDATE: Prescribed burn that jumped boundaries near Buda now 100% contained, officials say

9:15 p.m. update: A prescribed burn near Buda that jumped its boundaries earlier this afternoon is now fully contained, Austin fire officials said. The fire burned 250 acres of land that were not part of the planned burn that Austin Water Utility held that day, the Texas A&M Forest Service reported. 6:50 p.m. update: The prescribed burn that extended 200 extra acres of brush than the 560...
Glitch leads to toll tag customers getting bills at higher rates

Glitch leads to toll tag customers getting bills at higher rates

Tens of thousands of toll tag holders throughout Texas have erroneously received pay-by-mail bills in recent weeks, rather than having the tolls subtracted from their tag accounts at lower rates, officials said Wednesday. The glitch, which grew out of an attempt by toll agencies statewide to make Texas electronic toll tags usable in Kansas and Oklahoma, has clogged customer phone lines at TxTag and...

Dallas hires its first female police chief

Dallas has hired its first female police chief to lead a department that last summer saw several officers killed when a gunman opened fire during a protest. City officials announced Wednesday that U. Renee Hall will take over the Dallas Police Department on Sept. 5. Hall is currently deputy chief of the Detroit Police Department, where she directs the neighborhood policing bureau. Hall says she&rsquo...

BUSINESS DIGEST: Work starts on Round Rock office project

DEVELOPMENT Work starts on Round Rock office project Mark IV Capital Inc. has broken ground on Summit II at La Frontera, a 95,000-square-foot building scheduled to open in 2018 in Round Rock. Located near of Interstate 35 and Texas 45, the two-story building will be adjacent to the 87,186-square foot Summit I at La Frontera, which Mark IV purchased in 2013 and has since fully leased. Mark IV said...
Problems persist with police drunken driving data, Austin auditor says

Problems persist with police drunken driving data, Austin auditor says

The Austin Police Department has changed how it tallies drunken driving wrecks, now using the Texas Department of Transportation’s database, according to a new report by the city auditor’s office. That change alone increased the average annual number of drunken driving wrecks in Austin by 52 percent — more than 600 collisions — when compared with numbers pulled from the Police...
Lawyer: Woman to plea guilty in 2014 shooting death of Round Rock man

Lawyer: Woman to plea guilty in 2014 shooting death of Round Rock man

A woman accused of robbing and killing a Round Rock man at his home in 2014 is scheduled to plead guilty in August, her lawyer said Wednesday. Lindsey Hanks, 25, is charged with capital murder in the shooting death of 33-year-old Jerrod Stanford. Hanks was supposed to plead guilty Wednesday, but the hearing was reset because of a scheduling conflict, said her lawyer, Amber Farrelly. Farrelly declined...
Barton Creek Resort plans $70M expansion, will add 10-story tower

Barton Creek Resort plans $70M expansion, will add 10-story tower

The 309-room Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa is planning a major renovation and expansion that will cost nearly $70 million, according to filings with the city and state. Work on the project, which includes plans for a new 10-story hotel tower, will start this fall, with completion set for 2019, according to applications submitted by Dallas-based Omni Hotels & Resorts. The first phase has a $10.2 million...
Man accused of aiming rifle at DPS helicopter faces assault charge

Man accused of aiming rifle at DPS helicopter faces assault charge

A man faces up to 20 years in prison for pointing his rifle several times at a Department of Public Safety helicopter in Williamson County, according to an arrest affidavit. Clint E. Noe, 39, of Georgetown was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. A trooper said that he was in a marked DPS helicopter flying in the 11900 block of FM 1331 Sunday when he saw a man pointing a rifle at...
Texas health officials warn of outbreak of diarrhea-causing parasite

Texas health officials warn of outbreak of diarrhea-causing parasite

Texas health officials are investigating an outbreak of cyclosporiasis, a parasite-borne illness that has typically popped up in the state from imported food. Doctors diagnosed 68 cases in Texas from June through July 18, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. The state has identified eight cases in Travis County, and one each in Hays and Williamson counties, health department...
Got a scrape or cut? Austin company wants you to rub some Curoxen on it

Got a scrape or cut? Austin company wants you to rub some Curoxen on it

This could be a good one to add to your first aid kit, something you should restock regularly. Back to school time is a great time to do so. Austin company OrganiCare has taken an Old World remedy for scrapes and cuts that Italians have been using for centuries and turned it into a modern product. Curoxen is oxygenated olive oil, calendula extract and lavender essential oils...
Ex-officer says shooting that killed teen justified

Ex-officer says shooting that killed teen justified

A white former suburban Dallas police officer who fired into a moving car carrying five black teenagers, killing one of them, says in a court filing that his actions were justified because he believed his partner’s life was in danger. Former Balch Springs officer Roy Oliver said in Tuesday’s federal court filing that he and his partner were in fear for their lives in April when the car...
Overlapping stripes in I-35 construction near Oltorf causes headache

Overlapping stripes in I-35 construction near Oltorf causes headache

Flummoxed by the jumbled lane striping that has infuriated drivers heading south on Interstate 35 around the Oltorf Street intersection? It should be fixed by Thursday morning, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. TxDOT crews have been working since February on that stretch of I-35 as part of a $42.6 million project to remake the highway interchange with Oltorf Street. At some point...
Work starts on new Round Rock office building

Work starts on new Round Rock office building

Mark IV Capital Inc. has broken ground on Summit II at La Frontera, a 95,000-square-foot building scheduled to open in 2018 in Round Rock. Located near the intersection of Interstate 35 and Texas 45, the two-story building will be adjacent to the 87,186-square foot Summit I at La Frontera, which Mark IV purchased in 2013 and has since fully leased. Mark IV said it plans to connect the two buildings...

Senate coming back at midnight to speed passage of 2 key bills

The Texas Senate on Wednesday gave initial approval to two key “sunset” bills and will return one minute after midnight to give final passage. The unusual schedule, meant to underscore Senate Republicans’ commitment to quickly passing all 20 of Gov. Greg Abbott’s special session agenda items, was set after Democrats refused to waive a rule requiring legislation to receive two...
Gillespie County couple gives Abbott campaign $1 million

Gillespie County couple gives Abbott campaign $1 million

Michael and Mary Porter, a retired couple from the Hill Country hamlet of Doss, contributed $1 million to Gov. Greg Abbott’s campaign at the end of June. Reached by phone Wednesday, Michael Porter said he was a humble rancher, that he and his wife are “very, very, very private people,” that they just like and support Abbott, “and there is really not much more to it than that...

Community news: I-35 lanes to close at Oltorf on Friday and Saturday

TRAVIS COUNTY SOUTH AUSTIN I-35 lanes to close at Oltorf The main lanes of Interstate 35 will be temporarily closed for partial bridge demolition from 11 p.m. to 10 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights at exit 232A for Oltorf Street. During the closure, I-35 traffic will be detoured to the northbound and southbound frontage roads. Drivers headed east or west on Oltorf will be detoured to the Woodward and...
UPDATE: Sheriff: Cocaine found in Williamson County correctional officer’s car

UPDATE: Sheriff: Cocaine found in Williamson County correctional officer’s car

The drug found Tuesday inside a Williamson County corrections officer’s car was cocaine, the sheriff’s office said Wednesday. Richard Acuna Jr. was charged with possession of a controlled substance, a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. At 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, deputies used dogs to search Acuna’s vehicle that was in the public parking garage of the Williamson...
Abbott says no one will be arrested just for being in Texas illegally

Abbott says no one will be arrested just for being in Texas illegally

Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday in a pair of radio interviews that no one will be arrested under Senate Bill 4 simply for being in the country illegally. He also said that he will do his first public accounting of who’s with him and against him in the special session at the end of the week, that President Barack Obama is to blame for the need for a “bathroom bill,” and that unlike...
JUST IN: Austin police seize 75 pounds of liquid crystal meth in I-35 traffic stop

JUST IN: Austin police seize 75 pounds of liquid crystal meth in I-35 traffic stop

A Laredo woman faces federal charges after Austin police say they found $2 million worth of liquid methamphetamine in her car as she was traveling to Dallas with her 4-year-old daughter last week.  Officers made the discovery after pulling over the driver, identified by police as 22-year-old Seline Ayala, 22. Police said she was driving her Dodge Avenger 5 mph above the 60 mph speed limit in...
Gov. Abbott jokes he’ll dance on the Capitol steps if he goes 20 for 20

Gov. Abbott jokes he’ll dance on the Capitol steps if he goes 20 for 20

Gov. Greg Abbott began a week-long blitz of radio interviews Wednesday with an introduction by Bob Cole on KOKE-FM in Austin that referred to the 1982 film musical, “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.” “There’s a classic scene in there with Charles Durning (playing the governor of Texas), there on the Capitol steps of our great state Capitol, doing the dance that he calls...
Is it Day 200 of Joe Straus not meeting one on one with Dan Patrick?

Is it Day 200 of Joe Straus not meeting one on one with Dan Patrick?

More than halfway through 2017, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick told reporters he’d repeatedly sought one-on-one meetings with Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, a fellow Republican, without drawing a single “come on over.” Past the 32-minute mark of Patrick’s July 13 Texas Capitol press conference, Peggy Fikac of the San Antonio Express-News inquired into teamwork between Straus and Patrick...
UPDATE: Texas teens hold quinceañera protest of SB 4 at Capitol, walk to lawmaker offices

UPDATE: Texas teens hold quinceañera protest of SB 4 at Capitol, walk to lawmaker offices

1 p.m. update: About 50 people stood outside the Texas Capitol on Wednesday to support 15 young Latinas as they took a stand against Senate Bill 4 and other legislation that they say is discriminatory.  The event began with the teenagers, dressed in their quinceañera gowns, performing a choreographed routine to songs that reflected their stance including “Immigrants (We Get...
Study: UT System graduates earn more, but major, campus matters

Study: UT System graduates earn more, but major, campus matters

Workers who received bachelor’s degrees from University of Texas System schools tend to earn more than their peers who graduated from other Texas or U.S. universities, with choice of major exerting the most influence on future earnings, according to a study released Wednesday. Researchers at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce found that UT System graduates earned...
Police seeking assailant after man shot in Northeast Austin

Police seeking assailant after man shot in Northeast Austin

A man was shot, possibly in the course of a robbery, in Northeast Austin tonight, police said.  Around 8:16 p.m., the 911 caller told medics to come to a home on Cameron Road, just south of U.S. 183, to help the victim – a man in his 20s who was shot in the leg, police said. He is expected to survive the shooting. Officers are looking for the shooter in that area, though they haven&rsquo...
Drugs found in Williamson County correctional officer’s vehicle in jail parking lot, officials say

Drugs found in Williamson County correctional officer’s vehicle in jail parking lot, officials say

A Williamson County correctional officer was arrested Tuesday after deputies found drugs in his personal vehicle at the jail, the sheriff’s office reported. Richard Acuna Jr. was charged with possession of a controlled substance, the Williamson County sheriff’s office said. The drugs were found in his vehicle – which was in the parking lot of the jail – around 5 p.m., soon...
Proposed $144 million Travis County road, parks bond takes shape

Proposed $144 million Travis County road, parks bond takes shape

A Travis County citizens bond advisory committee on Tuesday recommended a $144 million bond package for the November ballot and $90 million in projects to be funded by bonds that don’t require voter approval. Out of a county-provided list of possible projects totaling $1.1 billion, the committee selected more than 50 transportation- and parks-related projects outlined in two bond propositions...
UPDATE: Travis Co. sheriff’s office challenges ICE’s details about ‘gang member’ released from jail

UPDATE: Travis Co. sheriff’s office challenges ICE’s details about ‘gang member’ released from jail

TRAVIS COUNTY Tuesday 9:45 p.m. update: The Travis County sheriff’s office is challenging some of the details the U.S. Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement provided Tuesday afternoon concerning the release from the county jail of an inmate federal immigration officials described as a “documented” gang member.  ICE officials said Tuesday Julio Cesar Mendoza-Caballero...
Waiving rules, Senate GOP moves fast on key bills

Waiving rules, Senate GOP moves fast on key bills

Waiving rules and blocking Democrats, Republicans in the Texas Senate opened the special legislative session Tuesday by taking rapid action on two key bills, potentially allowing Gov. Greg Abbott to open the overtime session to a longer list of conservative priorities as early as Wednesday afternoon. Abbott said he will expand the special session’s agenda after the Senate approves two &ldquo...
Rally at Capitol takes aim at Abbott, Patrick’s special session agenda

Rally at Capitol takes aim at Abbott, Patrick’s special session agenda

More than 350 people called together by a coalition of social advocacy groups and Democratic-leaning political organizations rallied on the south steps of the state Capitol on Tuesday, the first day of the special legislative session. The group gathered in the dead heat of an Austin summer day to air their grievances against Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s special session agenda...
Travillion decries lack of civil rights advocates in DNA lab review

Travillion decries lack of civil rights advocates in DNA lab review

Travis County Commissioner Jeff Travillion stormed out of Tuesday’s meeting during a presentation about the Austin Police Department’s troubled DNA lab, later expressing frustration that civil rights advocates and others in the community haven’t had the chance weigh in on the issue. The heated exchange began when Travillion tried to ask Assistant District Attorney Gregg Cox a question...

BUSINESS DIGEST: Ascension Texas names new leader

HEALTH CARE Ascension Texas names new leader An executive with Houston’s renowned Memorial Hermann Health System has been selected to oversee Ascension hospitals in Austin and Waco. Craig Cordola succeeds Jesús Garza as senior vice president of Ascension Healthcare and ministry market executive for Ascension Texas beginning Sept. 1. In Austin, Ascension operates the Seton Healthcare Family...

Texas Digest: Traffic stop leads to marriage proposal

GRAPEVINE Traffic stop leads to proposal A police dispatcher recently arranged to have his girlfriend stopped by an officer under the ruse that her car was reported stolen so that he could surprise her with a marriage proposal. Grapevine dispatcher Stephen Smith earlier this month told his girlfriend Amanda Radican that he left his cellphone at home and needed her to bring it to him at work. He was...
UPDATE: Sheriff’s office challenges ICE’s details on release of ‘gang member’ from Travis County Jail 

UPDATE: Sheriff’s office challenges ICE’s details on release of ‘gang member’ from Travis County Jail 

9:45 p.m. update: The Travis County sheriff’s office is challenging some of the details the U.S. Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement provided Tuesday afternoon concerning the release from the county jail of an inmate federal immigration officials described as a “documented” gang member.  ICE officials said Tuesday Julio Cesar Mendoza-Caballero, 33, was released from...
New leader selected to oversee Seton Healthcare Family, Dell Children’s

New leader selected to oversee Seton Healthcare Family, Dell Children’s

An executive with Houston’s renowned Memorial Hermann Health System has been selected to oversee Ascension hospitals in Austin and Waco. Craig Cordola succeeds Jesús Garza as senior vice president of Ascension Healthcare and ministry market executive for Ascension Texas beginning Sept. 1. In Austin, Ascension operates the Seton Healthcare Family, including Dell Children’s Medical...
Following low reading scores, Abbott launches new school initiative

Following low reading scores, Abbott launches new school initiative

Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Education Agency have launched an elementary school reading initiative in the wake of declining reading scores on state standardized tests this spring. Parts of the Texas Readers initiative build on efforts to improve literacy among public school students. However, included in the plan that Abbott outlined on Tuesday are a public service marketing campaign in partnership...
GREG KELLEY CASE: New suspect won’t disclose phone code, lawyer says

GREG KELLEY CASE: New suspect won’t disclose phone code, lawyer says

Johnathan McCarty, described as an alternative suspect in the sexual assault of a 4-year-old boy, has stalled investigators by refusing to comply with a court order to provide his cellphone pass code, the American-Statesman and KVUE-TV have learned. McCarty’s former friend, Greg Kelley, is serving a 25-year prison sentence for the crime, and McCarty so far has refused to provide the information...
NEW INFO: Man killed in Northwest Austin crash was 29, police say

NEW INFO: Man killed in Northwest Austin crash was 29, police say

Police have identified a man who died Thursday in a crash in Northwest Austin as Robert David Register, 29. Police said a 2007 Kenworth dump truck was headed south on North Capital of Texas Highway (Loop 360) when it slammed into Register’s 2016 Ford Mustang near Courtyard Drive around 9 p.m. on July 13. Both vehicles continued south and crashed into a parked vehicle before coming to a stop...
UPDATE: Council Member Ann Kitchen belatedly files finance report

UPDATE: Council Member Ann Kitchen belatedly files finance report

11:45 a.m. update: Council Member Ann Kitchen filed a campaign finance report for the first six months of the year late Tuesday, Kitchen told the Statesman. The report is not yet posted to the city of Austin’s website. Earlier: Austin City Council Member Ann Kitchen failed to file a campaign finance report Monday, missing a deadline for a mid-year report that is required of all council members...
Doctor leads by example with garden at People’s Community Clinic

Doctor leads by example with garden at People’s Community Clinic

Fresh as mint in an eco-green riding shirt, Dr. John Day steers his bicycle into the parking lot of the spacious new offices of People’s Community Clinic on Camino La Costa. You couldn’t tell it from his dry brow, but he commutes 22 miles round-trip daily from Far Northwest Austin in order to take care of patients. It is clear right away that Day doesn’t stop his medical care with...
PRESCRIBED BURN: Expect some smoke Wednesday in northwestern Travis County, officials say

PRESCRIBED BURN: Expect some smoke Wednesday in northwestern Travis County, officials say

If you see smoke in the area of Spicewood and Lago Vista on Wednesday, there’s a good chance it will be the prescribed burn that officials have planned for Pace Bend Park.  The prescribed burn will take place between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m., and light smoke will likely waft northwest into communities north of Lake Travis, Travis County Parks officials said.  “The prescribed burn...
Democrats call for a vote to repeal the sanctuary city ban

Democrats call for a vote to repeal the sanctuary city ban

Democrats on Tuesday called on a vote to repeal the sanctuary city ban passed during the regular session and signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott. “We ask [Straus] to bring SB 4 to the floor to repeal the bill,” said state Rep. Rafael Anchia, a Dallas Democrat and Mexican American Legislative Caucus chairman. “He knows it’s not a good bill. His constituents know it’s not...
Ex-Austin Energy worker, advisory board members face ethics complaints

Ex-Austin Energy worker, advisory board members face ethics complaints

A former Austin Energy supervisor signed off on more than $8 million in payments to a company his brothers worked for without disclosing that conflict of interest, the city’s investigative auditor said in an ethics complaint. The complaint was one of three that auditors filed Monday claiming conflict of interest violations at the city. The others involve members of two city commissions who voted...
Frontier to double nonstop destinations from Austin airport

Frontier to double nonstop destinations from Austin airport

Frontier Airlines is doubling the number of cities it serves with nonstop flights from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, officials with the airline announced Tuesday. Half of the eight new flights will available in October, with the other four next year. The seats available in October will cost $49 one-way for an unspecified time, a company official said at a news conference. Frontier, founded...
7 free ways to lower your energy bills in a Central Texas summer

7 free ways to lower your energy bills in a Central Texas summer

Summer in Central Texas means cranking up the air conditioning, but that can translate into higher electric bills. These seven tips from Austin Energy can help you keep your utility bills lower as the days get hotter: 1. Beware of phantom load: Unplug appliances and electronic devices when you aren’t using them. They use energy even when they are turned off. Turn off your lights when you...

Best rivers in Texas: Llano River

LLANO RIVER VALLEY – Checking into our Junction motel, we asked the desk clerk about fun things to do in town. She quipped, “When you find out, let me know.”True, for a student at Texas Tech University-Junction like her, this old Edwards Plateau ranching town offers little social life. Yet for buddy Joe Starr of Houston and me, it served...
IN COURT TODAY: Johnathan McCarty, new suspect in 2013 sex abuse case

IN COURT TODAY: Johnathan McCarty, new suspect in 2013 sex abuse case

Today’s hearing was postponed, with no action in the case. Johnathan McCarty, who has been named as an alternative suspect in a child sexual assault case that led to the conviction of Greg Kelley, is expected to appear in Williamson County court Tuesday afternoon. McCarty hasn’t been charged with the crime but the hearing concerns his probation violation on drug charges. He...
Amid declining reading scores, Gov. Abbott launches new initiative

Amid declining reading scores, Gov. Abbott launches new initiative

After almost all Texas students posted worse reading scores on state standardized tests this spring, Gov. Greg Abbott along with the Texas Education Agency have launched an elementary school reading initiative. Parts of the Texas Readers initiative builds on current programs to improve literacy among public school students. However, included in the plan that Abbott outlined on Tuesday are a public...
Texas lawmakers show their special session agenda opinions with pins

Texas lawmakers show their special session agenda opinions with pins

Texas lawmakers are taking sides on Gov. Greg Abbott’s special session agenda, and they are expressing their support or discontent through a somewhat nontraditional method: lapel pins.  Abbott called a special session to address issues that didn’t make the cut by sine die of the regular session of the 85th Texas Legislature. Lawmakers can only address topics...
Report: Teen driver in crash that killed 3 had drugs in blood

Report: Teen driver in crash that killed 3 had drugs in blood

A teenage driver from Round Rock who was killed along with two of her friends in a wreck in April had cocaine and marijuana in her blood, according to autopsy results from the Travis County medical examiner’s office. June Smith, 18, and her two passengers, Isabella Torres and Taylor Mendez, both 17, all died at the scene April 1 when Smith’s 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt hit a chartered bus at...
NO-FRILLS FARES: Frontier to offer nonstop flights from Austin to 8 more cities

NO-FRILLS FARES: Frontier to offer nonstop flights from Austin to 8 more cities

Frontier Airlines is doubling the number of cities it serves with nonstop flights from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, officials with the airline announced Tuesday. Half of the eight new flights will available in October, with the other four next year. The seats available in October will cost $49 one-way for an unspecified time, a company official said at a news conference. Frontier, founded...

Community news: Police group hosts car show Saturday

TRAVIS COUNTY SOUTHEAST AUSTIN Police group hosts car show The Austin Police Department Community Liaison Corp. will host the second annual AusTx Cops & Rodders car show and fundraiser from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Omni Southpark, 4140 Governor’s Row. The free event will feature food, vendors and cars on display. Proceeds will help support the department’s summer youth and faith-based...
JUST IN: Nursing home employee accused of assaulting 90-year-old woman

JUST IN: Nursing home employee accused of assaulting 90-year-old woman

Austin police have issued an arrest warrant for a nursing home employee who is accused of beating a 90-year-old woman after she wet her bed in the facility in May. Carly Vondra, a 44-year-old certified nurse’s assistant, faces a second-degree felony charge of injury to a disabled individual, according to an arrest affidavit filed on Monday. Austin police began investigating the incident on May...
In party-line fight, Texas Senate moves quickly on 2 key bills

In party-line fight, Texas Senate moves quickly on 2 key bills

Updated at 1:20 p.m. The Texas Senate adjourned Tuesday without voting on two sunset bills but will return at 1 p.m. Wednesday to take up the legislation. Democrats said they expect both measures to pass, allowing Gov. Greg Abbott to open the session to 19 other issues, many of which are conservative priorities. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick had hoped to pass both bills on the opening day of the special session...
UPDATE: More than 300 rally on Capitol steps to denounce Abbott, Patrick legislative agenda

UPDATE: More than 300 rally on Capitol steps to denounce Abbott, Patrick legislative agenda

4:45 p.m. update: More than 350 people gathered outside the Texas Capitol in the dead heat of an Austin summer day to air their grievances against Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and their special session agenda.  The rally, which lasted about an hour, included personal stories from protesters about how certain agenda items would affect them.  “This (bathroom) bill is...
On special session’s first day, Texas House previews quorum tussle

On special session’s first day, Texas House previews quorum tussle

Like the first day of school, a rowdy Texas House convened Tuesday for the start of the special legislative session. After the invocation, the chamber quickly adopted resolutions recognizing Tuesday as Nelson Mandela International Day and Dr. Hugh Dell Gatewood for her service to the Woman’s Auxiliary of the National Baptist Convention, USA. RELATED: In party-line fight, Texas Senate moves quickly...
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott falls in ranking of most, least popular governors in U.S.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott falls in ranking of most, least popular governors in U.S.

Though Gov. Greg Abbott dropped 7 points in a recently released poll, he remains one of the most popular governors in the nation, according to approval rankings.  In the Morning Consult Governor Approval Rankings, released Tuesday, 60 percent of those polled about the Texas governor said they approved of his job performance; 27 percent disapproved; and 14 percent had no opinion. The...

Another classic diner turns off the grill, a victim of rising rents

John Vasilopoulos and Nick Tragaras stood before an assembly line of egg sandwiches. Tragaras slid the eggs and bacon from the griddle onto the buns as Vasilopoulos followed to wrap and stack. It was a familiar rhythm for the owners of Cup & Saucer, a diner on the eastern edge of Manhattan’s Chinatown. But on Monday afternoon, after more than 70 years, the clink of metal spatulas flipping eggs...

The one bright spot in Penn Station's summer

When Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency over New York's dreadful commuting situation in late June, locals didn't think things could get any worse.  It turned out they could, at least at Penn Station, the epicenter of the so-called "summer of hell." Earlier this year the Pennsy, the year-and-a-half-old food hall at 2 Penn Plaza at the northeast corner of the complex, unexpectedly...
Linkin Park lead singer Chester Bennington dead of suicide, report says

Linkin Park lead singer Chester Bennington dead of suicide, report says

Chester Bennington, the lead singer of the rock group Linkin Park, has died, according to TMZ.  Citing law enforcement sources, the website reported that the 41-year-old singer died of a suicide by hanging. Linkin Park is well known for hits like 2000’s “In the End” and 2003’s “Numb,” the latter of which led to a collaborative EP with Jay-Z called ...
Spherical panoramic image shows drone’s eye view of downtown Austin

Spherical panoramic image shows drone’s eye view of downtown Austin

Robert Youens stitched together 34 images to create a spherical panoramic image of downtown Austin. Click on the link in the blog to experience the image. Photo by Robert Youens   In case you’ve never hovered high over the intersection of Sixth and Guadalupe streets, Robert Youens can help. Just click on this link to see a spherical panorama image taken by the...
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