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Dec 23, 2022

Broken Spoke Is Counting on a City Hall Two-Step to Protect Its Future

The Broken Spoke faces a critical turning point this spring, as the Austin City Council considers designating the lot surrounding the Texas dance hall as a historic zone, a declaration that would protect the 58-year-old venue from real estate development along South Lamar Boulevard.
In November, the council initiated a proclamation naming the Broken Spoke a historical landmark. But that largely ceremonial proclamation, brought by Council Member Ann Kitchen, in itself does not ensure long-term preservation of the dance hall and restaurant. So, Kitchen initiated the city’s historic zoning process that would make it more difficult for the landowner to develop the Broken Spoke site.
“She didn’t want it to go the way of so many other historic landmarks unofficially named in town,” said the author of a 2017 book on the dance hall. “She wanted it to be here for future generations. So she started the process.”

Dec 11, 2022

Alex Jones in Her Courtroom Is the Least Interesting Thing About Judge Maya Guerra Gamble

The world came to know Maya Guerra Gamble last summer as the no-nonsense judge presiding over the Texas defamation trial of Austin-based conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his Infowars media company.
“It seems absurd to instruct you, again, that you must tell the truth while you testify,” the Travis County district court judge lectured Jones at one point. “But here I am. You must tell the truth while you testify. This is not your show. You need to slow down and not take what you see as opportunities to further the message you’re wanting to further.”
Speaking directly is a trademark of Gamble’s personality. “I’ve always been a pretty direct person. … And in both directions. I have never enjoyed false praise. I would rather hear the truth. Whatever it is,” Gamble said.

Dec 07, 2022

Construction Funding, New School Board Bring Changes, Optimism to Austin Public Schools

Travis High School was built in 1953, making it the oldest high school in South Austin, and a broken heating system is hardly the first issue to arise in the aging facilities. The school will soon get a major renovation to fix much more than the heating. The Austin Independent School District is set to receive $252 million to construct a modern facility completely replacing the old Travis High. 
The renovation of Travis High is part of $2.44 billion in bonds that Austin voters approved in November, when they also elected five former teachers to the district’s board of trustees. With the district facing stagnant state funding, a teacher shortage and decreased enrollment, AISD leaders see the election results as setting a new course for Austin public schools. 
“The community said they are willing to pay to improve our schools, but simultaneously they said they want new leadership on the board to guide this money,” said Ken Zarifis, president of Education Austin, the labor union for Austin school employees.

Nov 11, 2022

Harm Reduction Services Struggle to Tame Austin’s Accelerating Opioid Overdose Rates

With overdose deaths mounting, harm reduction groups are providing overdose reversal medications and other supplies to ensure safer substance use and generally healthier living. But the groups operate in a legal gray area. 
“This work is important for everybody here,” one clinic coordinator said after a day of outreach in his group’s mobile clinic. “Don’t you know we all can go to jail right now? Because everything that we do is illegal, technically. When I was doing the (safe syringe exchange) van, all of that stuff on there was illegal. But guess what? Ain’t never stopped me.”
The group takes its clinic van to several encampments each Tuesday through Friday, providing Narcan nasal spray, an opioid overdose reversal medication, safe smoke kits, needle exchanges, hygiene supplies, wound care kits and Plan B contraception pills.
“Fundamentally, harm reduction is about saving people’s lives and increasing safety around unsafe behaviors,” said one expert.

Oct 14, 2022

Austin City Council Approves $15 Monthly Electricity Bill Increase Starting Nov. 1

The Austin City Council voted to increase the average monthly residential electricity bill by about $15 starting Nov. 1.
In voting for the increase, Council Member Allison Alter said the increases are “primarily driven by external market factors beyond our control.” 
The increase is one of two rate increases proposed by Austin Energy, the city’s nonprofit publicly-owned electric utility company. The $15 increase will cover rising costs from the record-high price of natural gas, increasing energy demand and regulatory changes coming from ERCOT, Texas’ grid operator, according to Austin Energy.

May 31, 2022

Pandemic, Criminal Conviction Resulting from Nurse’s Mistake Raises Concerns for Future Healthcare Workers

Hot on the heels of the conviction of a Tennessee nurse at another university medical center, University of Texas at Austin nursing students are wary of joining healthcare workers already stretched to the limit by the COVID-19 pandemic. RaDonda Vaught injected Charlene Murphey with an incorrect drug and failed to monitor her, resulting in Murphey’s death. […]

May 17, 2022

As Teacher Vacancies Mount, Special Education Teachers Struggle to Meet Student Needs

Nearly all states in the U.S. are dealing with teacher shortages in special education. Texas school districts have struggled to fill teacher vacancies for years. The situation worsened during the pandemic.

May 17, 2022

Residents, Businesses Face Prospect of Moving to Make Way for I-35 Expansion 

TxDOT’s $4.9 billion I-35 Capital Express Central project is intended to reduce congestion and improve the safety of the highway. The Austin section of I-35 has twice been named in the Congress for the New Urbanism’s “Freeways Without Futures” report as one of the American highways in most need of elimination. That section of highway ranked second among Texas’ most congested roadways by Texas A&M’s Transportation Institute. 

May 15, 2022

Kirk Watson, Running Again for Mayor, Wants Austinites to Look Forward

Watson, who was mayor from 1997-2001, says Austin needs a mayor with long-term, forward-looking direction —  not someone simply reacting to the day-to-day issues facing one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. 

May 06, 2022

City Council Again Discusses Austin Opera House Redevelopment

The dispute over a proposed 1,200-seat music venue on the site of the old Austin Opera House continued to flare during an Austin City Council meeting Thursday. 

Apr 25, 2022

Austinites Dance With Dogs To Encourage Adoptions From Animal Center

Dances for Dogs and People Who Walk Them, an event held in cooperation with Forklift Danceworks, aimed to encourage adoptions from the Austin Animal Center, the largest no-kill animal shelter in the nation.

Apr 21, 2022

New Pool Creates New Opportunity

AUSTIN – In his final months before becoming a collegiate swimmer, Dietrich Hagenau will train at the new Eanes Aquatic Center at Westlake High School. Ever since Hagenau moved to Austin from California, he has been fighting to get a new pool built for himself and his teammates. “It’s very rewarding to hear that we […]

Apr 21, 2022

UT Student Raises Money for a School in El Salvador

AUSTIN, Texas – Students at the University of Texas are joining together to raise money to repair a school in El Salvador Antony Efrain Rodriguez, a senior nutrition major, visited the Complejo Educativo De San Fernando in Morazan last summer. The United States built the school in the 1970s. He saw a need for new […]

Apr 21, 2022

From Lake to Tap: How Austin’s Water Becomes Safe to Drink

The water that is used by the Ullrich Water Treatment Plant, one of three water-purification plants for Austin, begins its journey in Lake Austin, along with the multitude of debris that makes it undrinkable. 

Apr 19, 2022

With New Funding, Future Looks Bright for Austin’s Art in Public Places

The public art installation Tau Ceti is the tallest of the more than 325 art pieces in the archive of the City of Austin. Eight more public art projects soon will be added to the collection after the city announced $700,000 in additional funding.

Dec 27, 2021

How Austin’s LGBTQ Community Hopes to Recover from COVID’s Cultural Vacuum

As venues, bars and theaters shut their doors and cultural funding dried up because of COVID, many Austin LGBTQ arts organizers struggled to keep their heads above water and found it increasingly difficult to connect with their communities. 

Dec 13, 2021

The Naked History of Hippie Hollow

In a city that prides itself on being weird, Hippie Hollow remains one of Austin’s most unique places. At this county park, stone steps wind their way down a rocky shore on Lake Travis. The Texas sun’s harsh rays are reflected off of the clear waters as the trees provide some shade to bathers. The […]

Dec 13, 2021

Austin Amps Up Communication to Answer Concerns About Feared Return of Deadly Winter Storm

No one could have seen it coming. In a state like Texas, bitter cold temperatures are common during the short winter months, but what happened on Valentine’s Day of 2021 was almost as likely as hell freezing over. The storm, that has come to be known as Winter Storm Uri, brought unprecedented low temperatures to […]

Dec 08, 2021

A Dozen Years On, Austin Organization Still Offering Stuffed Animals for Adoption 

Austin resident Wendy Mitchell has offered stuffed animals for adoption for a decade.

Nov 12, 2021

Central Texans Find Joy and Connection in Roller Skating 

While many roller rinks were shut down during COVID, Central Texans took to Facebook, Instagram and TikTok to find fellow roller skaters and public spaces to skate.

Social skate sessions now happen seven days a week at public spaces around the Austin area, including the Long Center, Palmer Auditorium, Alamo Pocket Park, Bartholomew Park and Rock Sports Arena.