Austin ranked No. 2 most-walkable city in Texas in new study

Austin took up a third of the spots on a recent study that measures a city’s walkability.

Real estate brokerage firm Redfin measured the top 10 walkable neighborhoods in Texas.

Redfin
Redfin

While downtown Dallas took the No. 1 spot, Austin was right behind, with downtown Austin and West Campus coming in at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. East Austin came in at No. 8.

“Austin’s downtown, however, is full of people through the evening because they have access to a huge variety of interesting places to eat, drink or shop. If you live in one of the many condos downtown, you’ll be in the center of it all,” Redfin said of downtown Austin.

The site used walkscore.com to determine the neighborhood rankings. Walkscore.com ranks cities by how easy it is to walk, ride public transportation and ride bicycles.

Other Dallas neighborhoods in the Top 10 were Oak Lawn (No. 4) and Knox Henderson (No. 6).

See the full list for yourself right here.

 

The Austin Code Department’s YouTube channel features a flirting mosquito

We don’t know what’s going on with the series of comedic videos the Austin Code Department has produced, but we can’t turn our eyes away, either.

The code department has taken to YouTube to explain some of the most common code violations and how to fix them.

“Code Support Group” follows a small group of Austinites who meet to explain why they violated city codes, while a code enforcement officer explains how they can do better in the future.

The video series is filmed with a “Parks and Recreation“-style mockumentary feel, complete with talking head shots and field footage of the delinquent residents screwing up code in the wild. It’s an idea Tom Haverford or Leslie Knope would be proud of.

Each video focuses on a specific person and their code violation, like the above grass and weed violations with Meadow the Hippie.

The best part? One of the meetings features a life-sized mosquito menace who seeks shelter after the standing water he was living in got removed by the city. Also, he hits on Abby the Illegal Dumper (not what you think it is) from Episode 3.

Now, we get it, we miss “Parks and Rec” too, but that doesn’t mean we want to see a Michael Ian Black lookalike in a mosquito costume saying stuff like “What’s your type? You seem like an O Negative, or an AB Positive kind of person!”

YouTube screenshot.
YouTube screenshot.

Besides the already mentioned characters, the support group includes Virgil the Baby Oil Salesman, who keeps putting up “bandit” signs; Roscoe the Club Promoter, who wants to put broken glass in his club to make it feel more authentic; and Carleene the Hoarder, who is Abby the Illegal Dumper’s twin. There’s one other character in the support group that hasn’t been featured, a young businessman-looking type. Will he be featured in Episode 6? Will there be crossover episodes of the city’s confused code violators? The people need to know! (Personally I’m hoping for a crossover episode with Virgil and Roscoe—think of the business opportunities!)

The city gets an “A” for effort on this initiative, but these videos are confusing—are they creating a policy discussion or are they making a “Parks and Rec” parody? Do jokes like mosquitoes hitting on women and hippies saying stuff like “Grass is meant to grow, that’s the purpose, man, and as humans, we shouldn’t try to fight that” add to the policy discussion, or fall flat?

Some people aren’t happy with the videos. Austin resident and YouTube user Dale Flatt posted a parody of the series on his own YouTube channel Nov. 20 to talk about what he feels are hypocrisies with the way the code department enforces its rules.

All five episodes are up on YouTube now.

 

5 things to know Thursday, March 31: Trump under fire on abortion

 

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Janesville, Wis., Tuesday, March 29, 2016. (Anthony Wahl/The Janesville Gazette via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Janesville, Wis., Tuesday, March 29, 2016. (Anthony Wahl/The Janesville Gazette via AP)

Here’s what you need to know to stay informed this Thursday:

1. Trump criticized after comments on abortion, women.

GOP front-runner Donald Trump was heavily criticized for comments he made saying women who have abortions should be met with “some sort of punishment,” the Associated Press reports. Criticism came from those on either side of the abortion debate, which later spurred Trump’s correction that the doctors who perform the procedure should be “held legally responsible, not the woman.” Trump also clarified that in the case of an abortion the woman is a “victim” and so is “the life in her womb.” These comments, and attacks earlier in the week against a female reporter who claims she was assaulted by the candidate’s campaign manager, could hurt Trump’s standing among women. In 2012 women made up 53 percent of the electorate.

2. 14-month-old girl dies after dental procedure.

A 14-month-old girl died after undergoing a dental procedure at Austin Children’s Dentistry Tuesday morning, the American-Statesman’s Katie Urbaszewski reports. Daisy Lynn Torres was pronounced dead two hours after EMS were summoned to the dentist’s office. The office declined to say what procedure Torres was undergoing, and her cause of death is pending an autopsy report, performed Wednesday. “She went to the dentist. Then her mother called me and asked me to pray because something went wrong and they were taking her to the hospital. Next thing we know, we’re planning funeral arrangements,” said the girl’s aunt, Jessica Castaneda.

3. Fukushima plant switches on ice wall.

In an effort to create a barrier around the damaged reactors in Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant, the operator switched on a refrigeration system Thursday that is intended to create an underground ice wall, which will keep radioactive water from flowing freely, the Associated Press reports. The wall will form over several months as pipes the size of a 10-story building pump coolant, freezing the surrounding soil. The plant was damaged in an earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

4. Students won’t have to retake, finish STARR test affected by glitch.

Students who were affected by a glitch during this year’s STARR testing that prevented them from saving their answers, will not be required to finish or retake the test, the American-Statesman’s Melissa B. Taboada reports. The Texas Education Agency announced that students would face “no adverse consequences” for the glitch. It is still uncertain how many students were affected by the glitch. Similar issues occurred in 2012.

121008 Alberto Martínez AMERICAN-STATESMAN --- Michael Collins holds an adze, a stone tool used in working wood. On the mat is an unfinished spearhead, or preform, that is broken into three pieces, probably because the maker of the point could not get the tip thin enough. Collins has been digging for ancient artifacts for about 50 years, twenty of those at Zilker Park. He has uncovered pieces as old as 10,000 years in the area. "What we find out is more important than what we find," he says.
Michael Collins holds an adze, a stone tool used in working wood. On the mat is an unfinished spearhead, or preform, that is broken into three pieces, probably because the maker of the point could not get the tip thin enough. Collins has been digging for ancient artifacts for about 50 years, twenty of those at Zilker Park. He has uncovered pieces as old as 10,000 years in the area. “What we find out is more important than what we find,” he says.

5. Early humans originally settled near Austin. 

What does it really mean to be an “original” Austinite? According to the journal of Science, “the oldest confirmed site of human habitation in the Americas” may have been just north of Austin, the American-Statesman’s Eric Webb reports. Artifacts found near the site “appear to push back the arrival date [of early known humans] by several thousand years.” So what do you really know about the “old” Austin?

Jackie Robinson once coached basketball at an Austin college

Jackie Robinson is known for breaking baseball’s color barrier in 1947. But did you know that he once coached basketball in Austin?

College basketball, to be more specific. Robinson was a coach at Samuel Huston College, a historically black college in Austin that doesn’t exist anymore.

AP FILE -- Jackie Robinson swings a bat during spring training in Sanford, Fla., in this March, 1946 photo. Sunday marks the 50th anniversary of Robinson's debut in organized ball when he played for the Montreal Royals in an exhibition game against the Brooklyn Dodgers. (AP Photo/File)
AP FILE — Jackie Robinson swings a bat during spring training in Sanford, Fla., in this March, 1946 photo (AP Photo/File)

According to this Bleacher Report article, Robinson made his way to Austin following his honorable discharge from the Army in 1944. He was stationed at Ft. Hood at the time of his discharge, and accepted a job from Samuel Huston College president Rev. Karl Downs.

As it turns out, Downs was Robinson’s pastor in Pasadena, Calif., where the baseball star grew up.

Robinson went on to coach at the college for the 1944-45 season, when his Samuel Huston Dragons team competed in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

“There was very little money involved, but I knew that Karl would have done anything for me, so I couldn’t turn him down,” Robinson wrote of the coaching job in his autobiography, according to Bleacher Report.

According to the Bleacher Report article, little to no records of that season exist— the college merged with Tillotson College in 1952 to form Huston-Tillotson University, and the institution has no photos of Robinson or of the team from 1944-45.

Memories of Robinson’s coaching career have faded in Austin, but some residents remembered playing for him in a 1997 Statesman article.

“‘He was a disciplinarian coach,’ said D.C. Clements of Waco. ‘He believed we should be students first and athletes second. If you cut a class or anything like that, he would put you off the team or give you some laps. He was a great coach and a great teacher. He was way ahead of his time.'”

Harold “Pea Vine” Adanandus, the Dragons’ trainer during Robinson’s time as a coach, remembers the day Robinson accepted an offer to play baseball with the Kansas City Monarchs, the most successful team in the Negro Leagues at that time.

“‘We met up in Jackie’s office, and he was sorting his mail,’ said Waco resident Harold ‘Pea Vine’ Adanandus, who was then the team’s trainer. ‘He had received a letter from the Kansas City Monarchs. He showed me the letter, and they wanted him to play ball. They offered him a $500 bonus and $250 a month. He asked me, `Vine, what would you do?”

‘I said, `Well, Jackie, I didn’t even know you played any baseball.’ And he said, `Yeah, I play a little.””

And, as the rest of the game’s fans know, “a little” baseball playing was the start of Robinson’s professional career with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He made history on April 15, 1947 as the first black man to play professional baseball.

His professional debut might have been in Brooklyn, but Robinson’s career began in Austin.

 

 

 

5 things to know Wednesday, March 30: Apple remains unsure of FBI’s hacking method

FILE - In this Monday, March 21, 2016, file photo, Greg Joswiak, vice president of iOS, iPad and iPhone product marketing, announces the new iPhone SE at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. Unless you take a lot of selfies or need a bigger phone, Apple’s new 4-inch iPhone SE is a good choice at a good price. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
In this Monday, March 21, 2016, file photo, Greg Joswiak, vice president of iOS, iPad and iPhone product marketing, announces the new iPhone SE at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. Unless you take a lot of selfies or need a bigger phone, Apple’s new 4-inch iPhone SE is a good choice at a good price. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

Here’s what you need to know to stay informed this Wednesday:

1. Apple unsure of how FBI hacked iPhone, privacy concerns remain.

Apple remains unsure of how to restore the promise of privacy to its iPhone product after the FBI announced that it had successfully hacked one belonging to San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook without the company’s help, the Associated Press reports. Outside experts and Apple developers alike were puzzled when the FBI managed to successfully sidestep a security feature that deletes a phone’s contents after 10 failed passcode attempts. The agency was also able to surpass a feature that increases the time delay between guesses. FBI Director James Comey said with those features disabled the FBI could access the phone within 26 minutes.

2. Three Republicans in race won’t say they’ll back nominee.

Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich haven’t committed to backing the Republican Party’s eventual nominee, the Associated Press reports. While all three had previously said they would support the nominee, when asked during a CNN town hall Tuesday each had rescinded their commitment. Trump said he could no longer commit to backing the nominee because “I have been treated very unfairly.” Cruz said he isn’t “in the habit of supporting someone who attacks my wife and children.” Kasich said “if the nominee is somebody that I think is really hurting the country and dividing the country, I can’t stand behind them,” but was still open to seeing how the campaign unfolds.

3. Hamilton Pool to get reservation system, increased fees.

Come May 15 a visit to Hamilton Pool is going to be a little different. Travis County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to adopt a reservation system that would require visits to the pool be scheduled in advance, and a higher cost of attendance, the American-Statesman’s Sean Collins Walsh reports. The changes were spurred by an “increased visitation at an exponential rate,” said Dan Perry, a district manager for the county’s parks system. The changes will only be in effect during the pool’s peak season from May to September. Attending the park will go from costing a vehicle $15 to $26, because of a $10 online registration fee and $1 processing fee.

4. Texas lawmakers to push for stricter farmworker housing inspections.

Following the American-Statesman’s investigative piece into Texas migratory farmworker housing inspections, two lawmakers have said they will push for stricter enforcement of the state’s housing inspection law, Jeremy Schwartz reports. Sen. José Rodriguez, D-El Paso has said during the 2017 legislative session he will propose additional funding the inspection program after seeing that Texas has not made progress on the issue. State Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville similarly said his office is currently working with farmworker and housing advocates. You can read the American-Statesman’s investigation “Unlivable: How Texas fails farmworkers” here.

5.Groping in Sixth Street bar leads to Austin’s 3rd homicide of 2016.  

Spencer Frank Carlton faces manslaughter charges after man’s death in hospital.
Spencer Frank Carlton faces manslaughter charges after man’s death in hospital.

In what will be the third homicide case in Austin in 2016, a man faces murder charges after shoving a man, who he believed had groped his wife at a Sixth Street bar and then later died, the American-Statesman’s Roberto Villalpando reports. 52-year-old Spencer Frank Carlton pushed 54-year-old Jerry Don Summers to the ground March 15 after Carlton’s wife reported being groped by Summers at Sixth Street bar Dogwood. Austin police have used the incident as a warning against taking the law into your own hands. “What Texas law does not give you is the ability to retaliate — to pursue someone who has fled after committing an assault and use force against them,” said police Lt. Justin Newsom.

5 things to know Tuesday, March 29: FBI hacks iPhone without Apple’s assistance

CUPERTINO, CA - MARCH 21: Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an Apple special event at the Apple headquarters on March 21, 2016 in Cupertino, California. The company is expected to update its iPhone and iPad lines, and introduce new bands for the Apple Watch. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an Apple special event at the Apple headquarters on March 21, 2016 in Cupertino, California. The company is expected to update its iPhone and iPad lines, and introduce new bands for the Apple Watch. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Here’s what you need to know to stay informed this Tuesday:

1. FBI hacks iPhone without assistance from Apple.

The legal battle between the FBI and Apple came to a sudden end when the FBI said it had successfully hacked the iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino mass shooters, the Associated Press reports. The FBI did not reveal the technique it used to access the information on gunman Syed Farook’s iPhone, but said the Justice Department is now reviewing the information they found. The non-government “outside party” that showed the FBI how to gain access to the phone was also not revealed. The FBI’s request for assistance from Apple to hack the phone sparked a national debate about digital privacy rights and security concerns, which now remains unresolved.

2. Hijacker of Egypt plane arrested.

The hijacker of the EgyptAir plane, which was forcibly diverted to Cyprus, has been arrested and the situation is “over,” according to a Cyprus foreign ministry official, the Associated Press reports. Seifedeen Mustafa, who Egyptian officials identified as the hijacker earlier, originally allowed all passengers except for seven leave the plane after diverting it from Cairo and landing in Cyprus. The president of Cyprus said the incident was “not something which has to do with terrorism.”

3. Austin school board approves name change of Robert E. Lee Elementary.

The Austin school board voted Monday night to approve the name change of an elementary school named for Confederate General Robert E. Lee, the American-Statesman’s Melissa B. Taboada reports. The campus advisory council of Robert E. Lee Elementary originally voted unanimously for a name change, an issue that has been debated for months, in January. Community members will be able to submit nominations for the school’s new name starting Tuesday until April 15.

Classmates grieve at a vigil for Tanley Yacos on Monday March 28, 2016, at the railroad crossing at Houston Street in Buda where she was hit by a train on Saturday. Jay Janner
Classmates grieve at a vigil for Tanley Yacos on Monday March 28, 2016, at the railroad crossing at Houston Street in Buda where she was hit by a train on Saturday.
Jay Janner

4. Vigil held for 13-year-old Buda girl killed by train.

About two dozen Dahlstrom Middle School eighth-graders gathered at the railroad crossing in downtown Buda where classmate Tanley Yacos was hit by a train and killed Saturday to mourn the loss, the American-Statesman’s Nicole Chavez reports. Many left flowers and messages at the crossing. Yacos and her friend were having a sleepover Friday when they sneaked out and walked to the train tracks. A Union Pacific engineer saw the girls at around 1:50 a.m. before Yacos was struck by a freight train.

5. Austin ranked one of top 10 best cities for recent college grads.

A study done by NerdWallet recently shows Austin to be the eighth best city for recent college graduates, the American-Statesman’s Jake Harris reports. The study considered factors like job options, population age, rent costs, median earnings and unemployment rates in determining how the 100 largest U.S. cities ranked. Eleven other Texas cities made the list.

Follow live: Austin school board to vote on changing Lee Elementary’s name

Follow live as American-Statesman education reporter Melissa Taboada covers the Austin school board’s Monday night meeting, where the board is expected to vote on the process by which Lee Elementary could change its name. By choosing a process, the board would in effect be saying they approve of a future name change. Lee is the first school in the Austin district to request a name change amid a national rethinking of monuments to the Confederacy.

The Robert E. Lee Elementary School in Austin on Wednesday, June 24, 2015. Shelby Tauber / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
The Robert E. Lee Elementary School in Austin on Wednesday, June 24, 2015.
Shelby Tauber / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Public comments will start around 7:30 p.m., with discussion and a vote by the board to follow.

Michelle Obama met with Kealing Middle School students during SXSW

When first lady Michelle Obama came to Austin for South by Southwest, all attention was on her keynote appearance with Missy Elliott, Queen Latifah and other celebrities. But FLOTUS also made time for some local middle schoolers.

First Lady Michelle Obama joins students for a group photo prior to the keynote event to discuss the Let Girls Learn initiative during the South by Southwest Music Conference at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas, March 16, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
First Lady Michelle Obama joins students for a group photo prior to the keynote event to discuss the Let Girls Learn initiative during the South by Southwest Music Conference at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas, March 16, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Obama’s group photo with students from Kealing Middle School, provided by Spotify, was taken before the SXSW keynote.

The Spotify-Kealing connection? Equipment from the company’s Spotify House pop-up venue was donated to Kealing post-SXSW to build three studios for the school’s music production program.

“It was one of the most popular programs” between students in Kealing’s magnet and academy programs, said Kerry Steib, the streaming service’s director of social impact. “But they were running it out of a classroom. Totally OK facility, but not something where they could deepen their skills. And also, it could be a community hub within the school where lots of people could come in and record.”

Watch more below.

Austin ranked one of top 10 best cities for recent college grads

If you ask any local about what they think about out-of-towners moving to Austin, the response is almost unanimous: Don’t do it.

Finding an actual, born and bred Austinite in this city is about as rare as finding free parking, and Austin’s music festivals, low unemployment rate and “Keep Austin Weird” vibe ensure more people will continue to move here for work. That trend shows no sign of stopping, especially for recent college graduates.

Texas States University graduates are seen during the university's spring commencement ceremony at Strahan Coliseum on Thursday morning, May 9, 2013. McCoy College of Business Administration and University College graduated today. The ceremonies will continue Friday and Saturday for other colleges within the University. (RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL / AMERICAN- STATESMAN)
Texas States University graduates are seen during the university’s spring commencement ceremony at Strahan Coliseum on Thursday morning, May 9, 2013. McCoy College of Business Administration and University College graduated today. The ceremonies will continue Friday and Saturday for other colleges within the University. (RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL / AMERICAN- STATESMAN)

A recent NerdWallet study analyzed the the 100 largest U.S. cities and then ranked them based on which ones would be best for college graduates searching for their first job. Austin came in at No. 8, scoring a 69 on the NerdWallet scale.

The study was based on job options, population age, rent costs, median earnings and unemployment rates and used data from the 2014 U.S. Census Bureau and data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Austin’s job growth rate is at 3.8 percent, adding a net total of 34,900 new jobs from December 2014 to December 2015, according to the Austin Chamber of Commerce. The unemployment rate was at 3.1 percent as of December 2015, too, which was one of the lowest in the NerdWallet study and well below the 5 percent national average.

If that’s not enough, Austin’s tech worker salaries jumped up 6 percent from 2014 to 2015, and the Austin City Council recently voted to change the way private companies hire ex-criminals, effectively increasing job opportunities for people with criminal histories who are trying to break the cycle of poverty.

Eleven other Texas cities made the list, including Lubbock (No. 14), Dallas (No. 26), Houston (No. 27), Irving (No. 28), Plano (No. 30), Arlington (No. 42), San Antonio (No. 51), Fort Worth (No. 52), El Paso (No. 73), Laredo (No. 80) and Corpus Christi (No. 82).

Arlington, VA took the top spot in the study, with a score of 81.9 and top marks for management, business, science or art jobs.

View the full list here.

5 things to know Monday, March 28: At least 70 killed in Pakistani bombing

Women mourn the death of their family member who was killed in a suicide bombing, in Lahore, Pakistan, Monday, March 28, 2016. The death toll from a massive suicide bombing targeting Christians gathered on Easter in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore rose on Monday as the country started observing a three-day mourning period following the attack. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)
Women mourn the death of their family member who was killed in a suicide bombing, in Lahore, Pakistan, Monday, March 28, 2016. The death toll from a massive suicide bombing targeting Christians gathered on Easter in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore rose on Monday as the country started observing a three-day mourning period following the attack. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)

Here’s what you need to know to start off your week informed:

1. Death toll from bombing in Pakistan reaches 70.

The death toll from a suicide bombing targeting Christians who had gathered to celebrate Easter in Pakistani city Lahore has risen to 70, the Associated Press. An additional 300 people were injured in the bombing, which took place in a park. Many women and children were killed during the attack, credit for which has been claimed by a Taliban faction that supports the Islamic State. Today is the start of a three-day period of mourning for those killed during the attack. Although the faction has said it was targeting Christians in the attack, most of those killed were Muslim.

2. Dell Inc. sells IT services division for $3 million.

Dell Inc. announced Monday its agreement to sell its IT services division for over $3 billion to Japan-based NTT Data Corp. ahead of its $67 billion acquisition of EMC Corp., the American-Statesman reports. The sale will help the company raise cash to go toward the EMC deal, which is so big that some analysts remain unsure whether Dell actually has the funds to complete it successfully. It is currently set to be the biggest IT sector buyout ever.

3. Ted Cruz has head-start in Wisconsin.

While GOP front-runner Donald Trump is scheduled to make his first trip to Wisconsin Tuesday, Texas senator Ted Cruz has already garnered important endorsements in the state and campaigned in several key regions, the Associated Press reports. If Cruz were to win the state, Trump would face more difficulties on his path to the nomination and the chance of a contested party convention in July would increase. Trump currently has fewer than half the Republican delegates so far and will need the majority to win the nomination. If Cruz is to win in Wisconsin then the race could be determined by the outcome in states like Delaware, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey and North Dakota.

4. Jason Day wins Dell Match Play championship.

Despite a lot of concern over a sharp pain in his lower back, Jason Day went on to successfully win the Dell Match Play championship Sunday, earning $1.6 million, the American-Statesman’s Suzanne Halliburton reports. Sunday’s win was the second straight tournament victory for Day. Heading into the Masters, which start April 7, Day will most likely be the highest-ranked golfer in the world. “I just want to win. I wanted to win so bad that I felt with how I was playing, if I kept playing the way I was doing, I would be holding the trophy at the end of the week and that’s what kept me going,” Day said.

5. Driver arrested after crashing into pillar at Driskill Hotel.

A man who crashed his car into a pillar of the Driskill Hotel early Monday has been charged with a DWI, the American-Statesman reports. While the pillar was only scuffed in the crash, the man’s car was damaged. The man was not injured in the crash.