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Stories by Cate Malek

Wednesday, September 20, 2017 by Cate Malek

Despite Austin’s crime lab meltdown, Texas is working to clear its DNA backlog

When Wendy Davis decided to find out how many untested rape kits there were in the state of Texas, she readily admits she had no idea what she was getting into.Davis, a former state senator, was first told that there…

Tuesday, September 19, 2017 by Cate Malek

Austin’s crime lab failure points to national crisis

The latest audit of the Austin Police Department’s crime lab would read as a comedy of errors, if the stakes weren’t so high.Some concerns in the report released last fall are simpler to fix – equipment failures or cross-contaminating evidence.…

Monday, September 18, 2017 by Cate Malek

The implosion of Austin’s crime lab: A timeline

Click on the circles or rectangles to display information about events. By Cate Malek and Luis PedrazaIt has blindsided Austin’s criminal justice community.What started a year ago as a few concerns over an audit has spiraled into the permanent closure…

Tuesday, February 7, 2017 by Cate Malek

APD still years away from clearing DNA backlog

Austin’s Public Safety Commission gave mixed reviews to the Austin Police Department’s attempts to recover from the shutdown of its DNA lab and its backlog of thousands of untested rape kits.At its meeting on Monday, the commission responded favorably to…

Monday, February 6, 2017 by Cate Malek

Elysium Park gets initial Council approval, despite neighborhood opposition

For those wondering why building affordable housing in Austin is going so slowly, the Elysium Park development has been a case study of many of the tensions City Council is facing in its attempts to keep low-income people from fleeing…

Tuesday, January 24, 2017 by Cate Malek

Human Rights Commission condemns Trump

Austin’s Human Rights Commission is pushing City Council to take the bold move of condemning the president of the United States and banning official use of his company’s products and services.At its meeting on Monday, the commission voted 8-2 to…

Friday, January 20, 2017 by Cate Malek

Study reveals why some Austinites don’t recycle

Austin has declared that it will be a zero-waste city by 2040. But lack of progress toward that goal over the last five years has prompted the city to call in a team of researchers to better understand why Austinites…

Monday, December 12, 2016 by Cate Malek

LCRA defends wind power divestment decision

The Lower Colorado River Authority is responding to pushback against its decision to end a $360 million contract to take power from the Papalote Creek Wind Farm.On Dec. 2, the LCRA sent out an email to its employees laying out…

Wednesday, December 7, 2016 by Cate Malek

Human Rights Commission prepares to take on Trump and SB 92

Austin’s Human Rights Commission is testing how much influence city government can have at both the state and national levels this year.Members of the commission are proposing to take a strong stand against President-elect Donald Trump in January and are…

Tuesday, November 29, 2016 by Cate Malek

City works to create more aggressive response to major floods

As Austin adjusts to the reality of major flooding on a regular basis, City Council is working to create a more comprehensive set of policies to respond to the damage caused by heavy rainstorms.Last year, Council created a Flood Mitigation…

Tuesday, November 22, 2016 by Cate Malek

City investigates whether spay/neuter clinics are reaching the people who need them

The city of Sunset Valley is leading other Austin-area locations in taking advantage of free spay/neuter clinics – a surprise, since these clinics are usually used more heavily in poorer neighborhoods.City staff is working to better understand who is using…

Monday, November 21, 2016 by Cate Malek

Broadstone 620 development limited by environmental risks

There are some limits to Austin’s breakneck expansion, and the developers of Broadstone 620 may have stumbled into them on Nov. 16.Austin’s Environmental Commission voted 7-2 not to recommend building a new wastewater system for the development because it would…

Monday, November 14, 2016 by Cate Malek

Ethics Commission says voters have given Zimmerman a greater sanction than it ever could

Austin’s Ethics Commission dismissed a complaint against City Council Member Don Zimmerman on Nov. 9, saying there was no sanction it could give him greater than being voted out of office.Commissioners voted 5-3 in favor of the complainant. But, in…

Friday, November 11, 2016 by Cate Malek

Citizens sound off on wastewater plan in Dripping Springs

Over 200 people packed the event center in Dripping Springs on Nov. 10 for what they said was their first real chance to get their questions answered about a proposal that would allow the city to discharge treated effluent into…

Monday, November 7, 2016 by Cate Malek

Council votes to spay/neuter stray animals on first impoundment

A proposal that requires that stray dogs and cats be spayed or neutered so they can’t reproduce moved forward this week, despite questions over whether the measure actually addresses the problems it’s meant to solve.City Council voted 8-1 to pass…

Friday, October 28, 2016 by Cate Malek

Proposal stirs debate over whether internet would bring Pokemon or porn to parks

Members of the Parks and Recreation Board recently painted two very different images of a proposal to investigate the idea of bringing free Wi-Fi access to Auditorium Shores.In an 8-1 vote at their Oct. 25 meeting, board members passed a plan…

Friday, October 21, 2016 by Cate Malek

Hotel strives to preserve Austin’s heritage, but not all of its heritage trees

The developers of the Carpenter Hotel are trying to strike a delicate balance between protecting the environment, preserving Austin’s heritage and creating a viable business.That was the argument they made before the Environmental Commission on Oct. 19, when they asked…

Tuesday, October 11, 2016 by Cate Malek

Council votes down attempt to revisit McMansion exemption

An amendment that some hoped would lead to more clarity in the McMansion Ordinance only seemed to lead to greater confusion at a City Council meeting on Oct. 6.The McMansion Ordinance was passed in order to prevent developers from building…

Monday, October 10, 2016 by Cate Malek

New section of Guadalupe named activity corridor, despite neighborhood concerns

City Council designated a new section of Guadalupe Street as an activity corridor despite some neighborhood concerns, making its higher concentration of businesses, people and services official.The change came as part of a package of amendments to the Imagine Austin…

Tuesday, October 4, 2016 by Cate Malek

Parks and Rec Board hopes to make golf courses self-sustaining

Worried that Austin’s municipal golf courses are sucking money away from the city’s already underfunded parks, the Parks and Recreation Board is investigating how to make the courses pay for themselves.The city’s municipal golf courses have been operating at a…

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