KLRU News Briefs: East Austin Revealed

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This week during PBS NewsHour Weekend we preview part of Civic Summit: East Austin Revealed. On Saturday, Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell and former State Representative Wilhelmina Delco discuss why many African Americans are leaving East Austin, an area where they were once required to live by law. Today, many African Americans are moving to Austin’s suburbs.

Delco, who has lived in East Austin for more than 50 years, says the city can do more to highlight the region’s rich history.

“We as a city ought to be more conscious of the preservation and the need for saving what was good and important to our people,” Delco said. “We don’t have nearly enough historical markers to mark all of the things that made black East Austin a unique community that thrived in spite of all the obstacles that were put in our way.”

On Sunday, our story delves into rising property values and tax rates in East Austin. Again, we’ll hear from Delco, Mayor Leffingwell and current State Representative Dawnna Dukes.

The entire Civic Summit: East Austin Revealed airs Thursday, April 24 at 8:30pm, immediately following a documentary about East Austin’s Civil Rights history.

KLRU News Briefs: Austin’s Bitcoin ATM & Civil Rights Summit Preview

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This weekend during PBS NewsHour Weekend our local news stories look back in history, and look forward at what some call the “currency of the future.”

On Saturday it’s one of Austin’s newest gadgets: a Bitcoin ATM. The machine, designed by a company called Robocoin, was the first of its kind in the U.S. It’s located at HandleBar downtown.

The machine allows people to walk up and either enroll in Bitcoin on the spot or buy and sell from a pre-existing account. You can also withdraw cash.

“The one in Canada, it’s brought a lot of business. Ideally we get some foot traffic, get some booze sold and merchandise and stuff like that,” HandleBar Co-Owner Willie Stark told us.

But, Bitcoin has had some setbacks recently. We asked LBJ School economics professor Dr. Yanis Varoufakis about the risks involved.

“There is no telephone number you can dial if suddenly your Bitcoins have disappeared. All you need is a clever hacker who hacks into your wallet and suddenly your fortune in bitcoins has disappeared,” Varoufakis said.

On Sunday, we preview the LBJ Presidential Library’s Civil Rights Summit, which runs from April 8-10. Three of the four former living presidents will be on the University of Texas campus for the event, as will President Obama. The summit marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act.

“We thought what better way to [mark the anniversary] than with a summit that really celebrates the advances that were made in ’64 but also looks hard at some of the open issues in 2014,” LBJ Foundation President Elizabeth Christian told us.

NHW.SUMMIT PVW.WEBPanel discussions will be held each afternoon with activists and civil rights leaders before the evening keynotes with Presidents Carter, Clinton and George W. Bush. President Obama will speak Thursday morning at 11:30.

Tickets are no longer available but the entire summit will be streamed online on the summit’s website: www.civilrightssummit.org and will be televised on The Longhorn Network. You can see the entire Summit schedule here.

 

 

KLRU News Briefs: No Kill Anniversary & Art from the Streets

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This weekend during PBS NewsHour Weekend, we have stories about two Austin non-profits with different plans for expansion.

On Saturday (3/29), our story is about Austin’s three year anniversary of being a “No Kill City.” That means 90% or more of the animals that enter the city’s shelter are coming out alive and being adopted.

Austin’s city council passed its first No Kill resolution back in 1997, with the goal of becoming a no kill city at some point. It wasn’t until October 2010 when the city put a plan into action, and allocated about $650,000 toward the goal. February 2011 was the first month the 90% goal was achieved. Austin is the largest no kill city in the US.

The non-profit Austin Pets Alive! is one of many shelters in the city working toward No Kill. APA is unique because it focuses on the “bottom 50%” of animals who might otherwise end up on the euthanasia list. In the past few years APA set its sights beyond Austin with a goal of making America “No Kill.” APA hosted its fourth annual AmPA Conference in Austin in February and is working with organizations and shelters in many other states.

On Sunday (3/30), we visit Art from the Streets, an organization which has taught art classes and offered open studio time to Austin’s homeless for more than 20 years.

“It started very, extremely, low key. We came in with pieces of paper and crayons,” Co-Founder Heloise Gold said. ”It shatters our stereotyping of who we think homeless people are, completely shatters it. If you have the right support, people flourish in their creativity.”

 Art from the Streets hosts an annual art show and sale each year around the holidays. The group is trying to raise money to improve its website to allow the artists to sell their work online throughout the year. They would also like to add another location for open studio time.

You can see both of these stories during PBS NewsHour Weekend on KLRU Saturday and Sunday at 6:30pm. 

Something new during PBS NewsHour Weekend: KLRU News Briefs

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We’re rolling out something new this Saturday and Sunday during PBS NewsHour Weekend: local news from KLRU. KLRU News Briefs are short local news stories focused on the rich culture and community in Austin and Central Texas. The weekly pieces will air Saturday and Sunday near the end of the regular broadcast.

This Saturday (3/22), we look at why people who receive food assistance in Texas were not affected by the recent Farm Bill. We spoke to Kathy Green, Senior Director for Advocacy and Public Policy at the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas about beneficiaries in Central Texas, and why only 56% of people in Travis County who could sign up for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or what’s commonly called “food stamps,” are actually enrolled.

“People who are senior citizens, a lot of times they don’t realize their eligible for SNAP and that that’s an additional benefit that they can have. Also we have a lot of veterans, we have a lot of people who can enroll on behalf of their children,” Green told us.

On Sunday (3/23), our story focuses on Austin’s affordable housing bond, which was approved by voters in November. The bond was similar to one that passed in 2006. We spoke to Mandy DeMayo, Executive Director of the non-profit HousingWorks Austin about the 2013 bond and what advocates and officials hope will happen with the money.

“What we found with the 2006 housing bond and something that we really struggle with as a community is incorporating affordability throughout the city. It shouldn’t just be in one area. We don’t want to concentrate poverty, we don’t want to concentrate low income families, we want to provide them with opportunity. So, about half of the bond funds [in 2006] were invested west of I35, which I think is a success story. We can do better with 2013 and we’re planning on doing that,” DeMayo said.

We also spoke to Charles Cloutman of Meals on Wheels and More Home Repair Program. Cloutman chairs the Austin Housing Repair Coalition, a group of 12 organizations working together on home repair for low-income homeowners. Part of the bond funding goes toward repairs to existing homes and Meals on Wheels and More does some of that work in Austin and Travis County.

Austin City Government 101 forums 2/8 and 2/22

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Join KLRU and our community partners for Why Bother? Austin City Government 101 forums.
DATE: Saturdays, Feb. 8 and Feb. 22
TIME: 10 am (doors will open at 9:30 am)
LOCATION: KLRU’s Studio 6A (map)

Austin’s form of government just got a big overhaul, and it can be confusing knowing who does what inside City Hall. KLRU is teaming up with The Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life, The League of Women Voters of Austin Area and KUT 90.5, Austin’s NPR Station, to host two forums to answer your questions and to teach you how to make your voice heard at City Hall.

Why Bother? Austin City Government 101 is a general overview and education on the functions of Austin’s city government in order to increase civic engagement, with an emphasis on the challenges and opportunities the new 10-1 form of governance will bring.

The forums will take place both Saturdays, February 8 & 22 in KLRU’s historic Studio 6A on the University of Texas-Austin campus at the corner of Guadalupe and Dean Keeton. The two hour forums start at 10am. Doors will open at 9:30 a.m.

Joining us for the discussion on February 8 will be a number of city officials, including City Attorney Karen Kennard, City Auditor Ken Mory, Deputy CFO Ed Van Eenoo,  former General Manager of Austin Energy Roger Duncan, former Assistant City Manager Terrell Blodgett and Assistant Director of Planning and Development Garner Stoll.

On February 22, Nelson Linder, President of Austin’s NAACP chapter, Gonzalo Barrientos, Chair of the Charter Revision Committee, Susan Morrison, League of Women Voters, as well as a number of city board and commission members. Reporters from KUT 90.5 will moderate the discussions. Audience members will be able to participate in a Q&A portion with panelists on both days.

Why Bother? Austin City Government 101 is part of our Why Bother? initiative, an effort with the Annette Strauss Institute and KUT 90.5. It is aimed at increasing civic engagement in Austin through voter education. Watch the other programs in the Why Bother? series on klru.org

This week on Overheard: Novelist Jonathan Lethem

On this episode of Overheard, Jonathan Lethem discusses his writing process. Lethem is an award winning, best-selling novelist, essayist, and short story writer. His most recent novel, released in September, is Dissident Gardens.

Jonathan Lethem explains how he drew from his real life in order to create the setting and characters for his most recent novel. He explains how his grandmother and mother inspired the way his characters act and think. His characters in Dissident Gardens, he explains,”are passionate believers that they are on some kind of committed course the change the world.”

He also discuss modern publishing, how technology is changing publishing and the new idea of marketing yourself. Plus, he tells Evan what’s next in his career.

Tune in November 21 at 7 p.m. to see Jonathan Lethem on Overheard with Evan Smith. Watch the video above for an excerpt from our interview.

Community Cinema: The State of Arizona 12/3

KLRU and the Austin Public Library present Community Cinema. The free public screenings take place at the Windsor Park Branch Library (5833 Westminster Dr.) from 7 pm to 9 pm.

On December 3rd, watch a preview and discuss The State of Arizona. The divisive battle over illegal immigration in Arizona that came to a head with Senate Bill 1070 frames this tense documentary that tracks multiple perspectives – activists, politicians, Latino immigrants, controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio, ranchers, and others – as America eyes the results.

After the documentary screening, we’ll have a community discussion of the issues in the film with guest Matt Simpson, Policy Strategist with ACLU of Texas. Simpson has served as a policy strategist at the ACLU of Texas since 2008. He advocates for civil rights and civil liberties at the state legislature and assists with local campaigns related to criminal justice reform, such as prison and jail policy, law enforcement information sharing, and ending the school-to-prison pipeline. Matt holds a J.D. from Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon and a B.A. in political science from Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

Community Cinema is a groundbreaking public education and civic engagement initiative featuring screenings of films from Independent Lens on location in 100 cities and online. Between September and June, Community Cinema brings together leading organizations, community members and public television stations to learn, discuss and get involved in today’s critical social issues.

Special thanks to

Austin American-Statesman

This week on Overheard: Author & Commentator Jonathan Alter

In this episode of Overheard with Evan Smith Jonathan Alter discusses his new book The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies. Alter previously worked for Newsweek for close to three decades. He’s written three New York Times best sellers on American presidents.

Alter tells Evan how he must get inside of the minds of leaders in order to write. He also touches on the Obama “haters” who took part in the so-called Birther Movement as well as the haters of former presidents. Alter explains how Obama is often criticized for not accomplishing what he said he would.

But, not all of his comments about the president are negative. He also explains the legacy Obama will leave behind with healthcare. He says while many people are unhappy with it now in 2016 it will be something celebrated by future candidates. Alter explains, although people were scared of what the healthcare reform would do that “America is not Texas and is not going to be Texas anytime soon,” citing the state’s decision not to implement parts of the law.

Alter gives insight to the government shutdown. He explains the “effort by the Tea party, essentially, to put a gun to the head of the government and of the global economy” which he notes was “utterly defeated.” He explains that the party failed and Ted Cruz himself had to acknowledge he was “defeated.”

Tune in tonight at 7 p.m. to see Jonathan Atler on Overheard with Evan Smith. You can see a preview in the video above.

Overheard with Evan Smith: Eugene Robinson

Eugene Robinson is a Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist. He writes for The Washington Post and appears as a panelist on NBC’s Meet the Press. His 2008 coverage of the election of the first African American president earned him the Pulitzer.

In this episode, Robinson give us his take on the “broken government” and how the United States should focus on moving forward with the economy. Robinson also explains how the Tea Party has influenced the government.

The subject of race comes up as Robinson address Obama and how the race factor affects the people’s view of him. He explains that race plays an important part of how the Obama administration and it’s decisions are viewed. He also contrasts how different racial issues are currently compared to when he was growing up.

Robinson gives insight to government issues and compares them to the issues of past administrations, including the Clinton era. He explains how President Obama can look back on what mistakes he has made and how the president has transformed while in office.

Evan and Robinson also discuss his career at The Washington Post and his reaction to Jeff Bezos’ purchase of the paper. He shares his hopes for how technology can transform newsrooms.

Don’t miss this informative and timely episode of Overheard airing November 7th at 7:00 p.m. on KLRU.