In the Studio: A Discussion about Austin’s Latino Identity 4/6

Civic Summit Taping Announcement

For generations, Latinos have shaped Austin’s culture, and in recent years the number of people who identify as Latino has surged. Join moderator Josefina Casati, Editor of ¡Ahora Sí!, as we examine the challenges Austin’s Latino population faces, and discuss how this community contributes to the tapestry of our city. 

Wednesday, April 6
6:30pm Doors | 7pm Start
KLRU Studio 6A (map)
This event is free but an RSVP is required

Have a question or topic you’d like to pose to our panelists on this subject? Email us at:

Civic Summit: Austin’s Latino Identity will air on KLRU on May 12, 2016 at 9pm

Want to learn more about Austin’s Chicano heritage? KLRU’s Austin Revealed: Chicano Civil Rights tells the story of Austin’s Chicano history through first-person accounts of civil rights leaders.

What is the Texas Railroad Commission?

A line of pumpjacks in production for Fasken Oil and Ranch, Ltd., near Midland, Texas.

The Texas Railroad Commission has nothing to do with the railroad. It’s actually a state agency in charge of regulating oil and gas production, natural gas utilities, pipeline safety, and surface coal and uranium mining. Since this agency has a lot of power but is often misunderstood, we hit the streets of Austin to see what people knew about the commission – and asked The Texas Tribune’s Ross Ramsey to clear up the confusion.

One of three seats on the commission is open, and 7 Republicans are running in the primary. The Texas Tribune produced a forum between the Republican candidates, which will air on KLRU tonight at 7pm. On the Democratic side three candidates are running, Lon Burnam, Cody Garrett, and Grady Yarbrough. Libertarian Mark Miller is also running and isn’t facing a primary challenger.

You can watch The 2016 GOP Race for Railroad Commissioner Forum in the video clip below.


Photo copyright Jerod Foster.

In the Studio: Ethan Hawke tapes Overheard February 18!

Copyright Sam Jones

Photo by Sam Jones

Join KLRU’s Overheard with Evan Smith for an interview with Ethan Hawke on February 18 at 11:15am in KLRU’s Studio 6A (map). Doors open at 10:45am.  The event is free but an RSVP is required. 


Ethan Hawke is an Academy Award-nominated actor and screenwriter. He’s also an author of three novels, including his most recent Rules for a Knight, which The New Yorker called “a hybrid parenting guide and self-help book.” Hawke was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role last year for his performance in Boyhood. In his newest film, Born to be Blue, he plays legendary jazz musician Chet Baker. That film will be released March 25th.

We hope you’ll be there as Overheard with Evan Smith continues a 6th season of interviews featuring engaging conversations with fascinating people. The show airs on PBS stations nationally and presents a wide range of thoughtmakers and tastemakers from the fields of politics, journalism, business, arts, sports and more. Please join us and be part of the studio audience at this taping with Ethan Hawke. And don’t forget you can watch past episodes anytime at


In the Studio: KLRU & Texas Tribune host GOP Railroad Commission Candidate Forum

A drilling rig worker ascends the rig's tower.

Join us in studio to hear from six of the Republicans running for an open seat on the Texas Railroad Commission. The Texas Railroad Commission is the primary regulator of oil and gas production and drilling in the state. These candidates are seeking their party’s nomination in the March primary for the open seat on the three-member commission.

During this hourlong forum, the candidates and moderator Evan Smith of the The Texas Tribune will discuss their ideas about the industry, regulation, the state economy, and other issues that will confront the commission in the years ahead. This forum will air on KLRU Feb. 15th at 7 pm.

Monday, February 8th
6PM-7PM, doors at 5:30PM
KLRU’s Studio 6A (map)
Please RSVP

Lance Christian has worked as a geoscientist for the Texas Railroad Commission since 2013. Previously, he served as a geoscientist for the Texas Water Development Board.

Wayne Christian served in the Texas House, representing District 9, from 1997 to 2013. During his time in the Legislature, he served as vice chairman of the Regulated Industries Committee and president of the Texas Conservative Coalition. Christian is also a member of the SunAmerica President’s Club and owns his own financial consulting business, Wayne Christian Financial.

Gary Gates serves as CEO and owner of Gatesco, Inc., a real estate investment company in the Texas Gulf Coast region. He has also served as a delegate for the State Party Convention since 2002 and is a lifetime member of the Fort Bend County Fair Association. Previously, Gates served as board member for the Fort Bend Pregnancy Resource Center.

John Greytok is an attorney based in Austin and has worked as a briefing attorney to the chief justice of the Austin Court of Appeals. Previously, Greytok served as a special assistant attorney general for the State of Texas, and he has worked as a precinct chair, election judge, campaign treasurer, convention delegate and member of the county resolutions committee.

Ron Hale serves as CEO for Duboise Industries LLC and as director of operations for the private security company NZ Control Specialists, which specializes in anti-terrorism consulting for the oil and gas industry. Hale previously ran for the District 15 seat in the Texas Senate.

Doug Jeffrey manages his family’s cattle farm and ranch business in Vernon, Texas. He is also an investor in the oil and gas industry. Jeffrey was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Air Force, where he served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Weston Martinez is an oil and gas business development and government affairs strategist and works as a political commentator. He was appointed in 2011 by then-Gov. Rick Perry to serve as a public member of the Texas Real Estate Commission. Previously, Martinez worked in the regulated telecommunications industry.

This production is a partnership with The Texas Tribune and will be livestreamed on TexasTribune.orgSupport for the livestream is provided in part by the Texas Oil & Gas Association, CenterPoint Energy, and Texas Pipeline Association. Photo copyright Jerod Foster. 


AISD looks at affordable housing options for teachers

Austin ISD Looks for Housing Solutions to Stop Teacher Flight

Austin ISD is losing about 800 teachers each year. Many of those teachers are pushed out of Austin by rising housing costs, and opt to teach in the districts in which they live. The district is working collaborating with the City of Austin and Travis County to find ways to use the large amount of public land each taxing entity owns to create affordable housing options for those teachers and for AISD students and families.

“There’s a lot of land there, but I think that’s part of the task,” Vice President of the Austin School Board Paul Saldaña says. “We’ve all shared a list of inventory that we own and it’s just a matter of prioritizing. The longer we sit around and don’t have a plan of action we’re going to continue to be ranked as the most economically segregated city, and we’re going to continue to lose students and teachers as a result.”

Melissa Adams has been teaching in Austin ISD for 6 years. A few years ago she was tempted to leave the district because of rising rent. She decided to stay out of loyalty, but worries she’ll continue getting priced out.

“It’s kind of sad when you go to apartment hunters and tell them your price range and they laugh,” Adams says.

She calls the Austin ISD Board “very pro-teacher” and appreciates their efforts on this issue. But, she thinks the district-owned land could be better utilized by selling it, making a profit, and using that money to pay Austin teachers more.

“Let’s let teachers choose where they want to live,” she says. “I think all of us have the right to safe affordable places to live when we’re providing a service to our city.”

According to Saldaña, some Austin teachers are now able to qualify for subsidized housing. Adams says she finds that fact insulting.

“I’m college educated, I got my Masters so I could be a better teacher, I love what I do,” she says. “I don’t want to say ‘Oh , I’m totally opposed,’ or ‘It’s totally nice,’ it’s just, isn’t there a better solution than this? That professionalizes and humanizes teachers more?”

Texas Tribune Political Roundup: Harris County grand jury indicts the people behind undercover videos of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast

In this week’s Texas Political Roundup from Alana Rocha of The Texas Tribune, the founder of the Center for Medical Progress, David Daleidan, who secretly recorded video of the Houston clinic last summer, is accused of “unlawfully, intentionally and knowingly” offering to buy fetal tissue via email. Daleidan faces a class A misdemeanor charge.

Rocha also reports on Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s final push in Iowa before Monday’s Caucuses and a UT Austin professor who says it’s within his rights to ban guns in his classroom.

News Briefs: Obamacare deadline & Texas immigration

Open enrollment in the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace closes January 31. A number of Austin-area nonprofit groups are busy signing up as many people as possible before the deadline, especially people who are not native English speakers or who are low income.

The Center for Healthy Communities is one of those groups. Isabel Lopez spends her days crisscrossing Austin, dropping off information at elementary schools and doing Spanish-language presentations and TV interviews. Her goal is to reach an often under-served, and therefore often misinformed, community.

“Misconceptions are that everybody will be fined if they don’t have health insurance,” Lopez says. “The other thing is that it’s really expensive and I don’t think they understand how big the subsidy can be.”

She says there is also a lot of fear, especially from documented immigrants who may have family members who are undocumented.

“There is a lot of fear of deportation and because of the immigration status, but a lot of these families do qualify,” Lopez explains. “I think we need to do way more outreach to the hard to reach populations. Not only Spanish speaking, but we have a big population of Arab-speaking, Vietnamese, Burmese.”

To qualify for Obamacare you must be a U.S. citizen, or have legal status, such as legal residents or registered aliens.


In Washington this week the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge from Texas, and 25 other states, to President Obama’s 2014 executive order on immigration. The Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA, has been on hold for nearly a year after a Texas-based federal judge blocked the measure.

DAPA would allow more than four million undocumented immigrants to apply for a renewable work permit and avoid deportation. The case is expected to go before the court in April, with its decision issued in June. Our weekly Texas Political Roundup comes from Alana Rocha with our reporting partner The Texas Tribune.

In the Studio: Civic Summit Examines First Year of Austin’s Single-Member District Council

Civic Summit Taping Announcement

January marks one year since Austin’s first 10-1 City Council was sworn into office. For the first time Austin voters elected a council member to represent each of the 10 new geographic districts, and elected new Mayor Steve Adler to represent the city as a whole. 

Many hoped the historic election would be a watershed moment, inspiring more people to get involved in city politics. More than 70 people ran for office and 8 of the 10 new council members have never held public office before. But, Austin’s voter turnout is still dismally low and very few residents engage regularly in city issues.

CIVIC SUMMIT, in partnership with Leadership Austin, will convene a community conversation to discuss this transformative time in Austin’s city government, and look ahead to Austin’s future.

Join host Judy Maggio and panelists Mayor Steve Adler, Council Member Ora Houston, EngageATX’s Annie Dlugokecki, and AISD Trustee Paul Saldaña

Wednesday, January 13
6:30pm Doors | 7pm Start
KLRU Studio 6A
This event is free but an RSVP is required.

CIVIC SUMMIT airs on KLRU January 22 at 8:30pm, immediately following 10-WON, a documentary following the seismic shift in Austin’s political landscape, from the time the 78 candidates signed up to the swearing-in ceremony. The film will be screened prior to taping the Civic Summit.

Educating Students about Native American Culture

November is Native American Heritage Month, and to celebrate Great Promise for American Indians held its 24th annual Powwow and American Indian Heritage Festival on November 7th. While the Powwow has wrapped up, the goal of it’s organizers is ongoing. Great Promise is working to educate youth both in and out of their culture on Native American heritage and traditions.

Self-Defense Class Fights for SAFE Austin

This is the fifth year that the Moy Yat Kung Fu Academy has offered self defense classes for women, but this year they’re doing something a little different.  The entry fee for the class is a donation to SAFE Austin, an organization dedicated to ending cycles of abuse and violence.

KLRU News Briefs air locally during PBS NewsHour Weekend, Saturday and Sunday evenings at 6pm. 


In the Studio: Presidential Candidate Martin O’Malley


RSVP to be in our studio audience when KLRU’s Overheard with Evan Smith interviews Democratic Presidential Candidate Martin O’Malley. RSVP now

Thursday, November 12 at 10:15am in KLRU’s Studio 6A (map). Doors open at 9:45am.

O'MalleyMartin O’Malley is a Democratic candidate for president running against Secretary Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders. Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley is a lifelong Democrat and the frontman of an Irish rockband. He served as Mayor of Baltimore for 7 years. As Governor, O’Malley tackled many of the hottest issues in the Democratic party. He signed one of the nation’s toughest gun bills, legislation repealing Maryland’s death penalty, a bill expanding pre-K, one that decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana, and one that increased the state’s minimum wage.

This taping is a co-production with The Texas Tribune.

Be there as Overheard with Evan Smith continues a 6th season of interviews featuring engaging conversations with fascinating people. And don’t forget you can watch past episodes anytime at!

The event is free but an RSVP is required. Admission is based upon capacity.

Ideas and Politics Exchanged at Texas Tribune Festival


The fifth annual Texas Tribune Festival took place on the University of Texas campus last weekend, bringing with it hundreds of lawmakers, policy experts, and civically-minded Texans for in-depth conversations and panels about issues facing our state. KLRU’s Public Affairs team attended the Fest, and while we wish we could have cloned ourselves and seen even more, there are a few panels we keep thinking about almost a week later.

How to Turn a School Around

After spending January-August reporting on Eastside Memorial High School’s struggles to make state accountability, we knew we couldn’t miss this panel. Austin ISD Superintendent Dr. Paul Cruz spoke, along with Donna Bahorich, Chairwoman of the SBOE, David Anthony of Raise Your Hand Texas, Superintendent Juan Cabrera of El Paso ISD, and Steven Tallant of Texas A&M University-Kingsville.

When asked how AISD turned Eastside around after more than a decade of failing scores, Dr. Cruz explained the process was complex because of the low-income community the school serves.

“It was a very methodical process,” Dr. Cruz said, explaining that TEA gave Eastside and AISD more time than usual in the reconstitution plan. Cruz stressed the importance of understanding the home lives of at-risk students, and the need for a “community schools approach.”

An audience member who serves on a school board in another Texas district asked Dr. Cruz if AISD would be releasing a white paper about the methods used at Eastside. Dr. Cruz said yes, a report will be compiled so other districts can see what worked.

One-on-One with Nancy Pelosi

Another high point for us during the Texas Tribune Festival was the National Keynote with U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi sat down with Tribune Washington Bureau Chief Abby Livingston in front of a packed audience in Hogg Memorial Auditorium.

Seemingly no topic was off limits – Pelosi discussed the House Speaker race, Hillary Clinton’s run for office, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Iran nuclear deal, immigration reform, gun control, and even Ann Richards.

Pelosi said she is confident Democrats will regain control of the U.S. House by 2018, though she was noncommittal when asked if she would hold the Speaker’s gavel again. “I think the Democrats can have the gavel in 18 months,” she said.

When asked how to ensure more women run for office and are elected, Pelosi blamed campaign finance. Repeatedly during her keynote conversation she stressed the need to limit the amount of money that can be contributed to campaigns and Super PACs. She said if the money could be reigned in, more women and more minorities would run for office and be successful getting elected.

You can see video from Leader Pelosi’s conversation in the video below, courtesy of The Texas Tribune. All of the keynote events were recorded and can be seen here.