Stories by Cate Malek

Friday, July 29, 2016 by Cate Malek

Sexual harassment and retaliation claims haunt Austin’s housing department

By Jo Clifton, Cate Malek and Elizabeth PaganoCity of Austin documents show that employees in the Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Department have made numerous complaints involving inappropriate behavior, a hostile work environment, sexual harassment and retaliation over the past…

Tuesday, July 26, 2016 by Cate Malek

State law forces environmental groups to change strategy

The effects of Senate Bill 709, signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott last year, are starting to be felt.The bill changed Texas’ contested hearing process for environmental permits. One of its main effects was to shift the burden of…

Monday, July 25, 2016 by Cate Malek

Austin’s reputation as an animal haven may be slowing pet rescues

Six years ago, City Council passed a resolution that animal shelters would no longer kill homeless pets for the sake of space or convenience.But now that Austin has a solid reputation as a no-kill city, Animal Services officials are worried…

Tuesday, July 19, 2016 by Cate Malek

Dripping Springs’ proposed wastewater plan could threaten aquifers

The Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District is moving quickly to prevent a change in the city of Dripping Springs’ wastewater management that could threaten Dripping Springs’ drinking water.The city of Dripping Springs has applied for a permit to discharge treated…

Friday, July 15, 2016 by Cate Malek

Austin suffers from lack of animal protection officers

Although Austin has a reputation as a city of pet lovers, a chronic shortage of animal protection officers may be putting pets, and local communities, at risk.The city currently has 20 officers, only one-third of the number recommended by the…

Thursday, July 14, 2016 by Cate Malek

Music Commission recommends new policies to rescue Austin’s music industry

Austin’s music industry is hoping for a new era of cooperation with city government, and the Music and Creative Ecosystem Recommendations are meant to kick-start these long-awaited changes.At a special meeting of the city’s Music Commission on July 12, a…

Friday, July 8, 2016 by Cate Malek

Environmental Commission pushes city to join lawsuit over SH 45 SW toll road

Citing concerns about whether a proposed state highway improvement project will contaminate Barton Springs, the Environmental Commission recommended that City Council join a lawsuit against the state agencies behind the project.The proposed toll road, which would be built between MoPac…

Tuesday, July 5, 2016 by Cate Malek

Newly created Equity Office to address lack of equal representation in city government

Austin is a majority-minority city, or, in other words, a city where no demographic group forms a majority of the population. But that status presents considerable challenges when it comes to making sure Austin’s diverse population is represented equally in…

Friday, July 1, 2016 by Cate Malek

Parks and Rec budget bogged down by golf

The Parks and Recreation Board is concerned that expenses from Austin’s city golf courses will overshadow the other needs in its already tight budget.At their meeting on June 29, board members looked over a budget forecast that predicts an increase…

Friday, July 1, 2016 by Cate Malek

City of Austin reaches out to unengaged citizens

Austin residents who have tried to get their voices heard by City Council know well the frustrating experience of sitting in a meeting for sometimes as long as 10 hours waiting for the chance to speak for their allotted three…

Wednesday, June 29, 2016 by Cate Malek

Human Rights Commission pushes Council to address gentrification

Although gentrification is a well-recognized problem in Austin, the Human Rights Commission believes it has reached crisis level and is pushing City Council to take concrete action.The commission passed a recommendation that Council recognize gentrification as a human rights issue…

Monday, June 27, 2016 by Cate Malek

Council reaches compromise on charter school land use debate

Last week, City Council voted to apply the same development standards to charter schools that were already required of local public schools, ending months of emotionally charged debate on the issue.In a 7-1-2 vote, with Council Member Ellen Troxclair opposed,…

Monday, June 27, 2016 by Cate Malek

Ethics complaints over free SXSW tickets dismissed

Complaints against two city officials alleging that they used their positions to acquire free tickets to the South by Southwest Interactive Festival were dismissed quickly by the City Council Ethics Review Commission on June 22.The commission determined that although the high…

Friday, June 24, 2016 by Cate Malek

Council approves $17M contract for police body cameras

Despite lingering questions about the technology involved, City Council passed two contracts adding up to over $17.2 million to purchase body cameras and iPhones for the Austin Police Department at its meeting on Thursday.The purchase of the cameras has been…

Monday, June 20, 2016 by Cate Malek

Charter school agreement held up by environmental dispute

A debate over development standards for charter schools is close to being resolved, but reaching a final agreement hinges on finding a solution to a dispute over environmental regulations.The city has been working to close a loophole that effectively means…

Monday, June 13, 2016 by Cate Malek

Ethics Review Commission overhauls complaint requirements

The process for bringing a complaint before the Ethics Review Commission will become more complicated, but hopefully more transparent, if City Council passes a recommendation to overhaul the commission’s ethics complaint requirements.Commissioners want to address common and long-running problems with…

Friday, June 10, 2016 by Cate Malek

Council delays purchase of police body cameras

Expressing concern that they were moving too fast, City Council members voted 7-1 to delay the purchase of body cameras for the Austin Police Department for two weeks.At their meeting on June 9, Council members cited concerns with transparency when…

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