‘This is not free food!’: Over 250 people fight over discarded food at Austin H-E-B, constable says
A days-long power outage and a misleading social media post led to hundreds of people fighting over food at an H-E-B on the Southeast Side of Austin, according to Travis County Constable George Morales III.
Why some Texas cities and counties had to return millions of dollars meant to help renters during the pandemic
For some local relief programs, a lack of staffing, political support and effective community outreach got in the way of spending federal funds to prevent evictions, a new report found. More than $30 million went unspent and had to be returned.
Texas struggles to get guns away from domestic violence suspects, leaving victims in danger
Although there are laws on the books preventing certain people from possessing guns, there are few places in the state where the criminal justice system has programs to hand over firearms to law enforcement — leaving survivors at a heightened risk for gun violence.
Hays County commissioner pleads to lesser charge in 2021 DWI crash case
A Hays County commissioner who was charged with driving while intoxicated after crashing into a vehicle in Austin last year has been sentenced to nine months of community supervision in the case, Travis County court records show.
Indictment: Woman convicted of murdering husband provided false payroll info in $9 million scheme
A woman convicted in 2016 of murdering her husband during a road rage incident provided false payroll information over a seven-year period in order to avoid more than $9 million in payments, Texas Department of Insurance officials confirmed Thursday.
Gov. Greg Abbott floats pardons for Austin police officers charged with excessive force in 2020 protests
Abbott’s move is the latest in a long clash between Texas Republicans and Austin-area officials over policing — and comes as the push for reform in the Texas capital enters a more complex and uncertain chapter.
Austin police officers charged with aggravated assault for force used in 2020 protests
Defense attorneys for eight of 19 indicted APD officers say they were following orders when they used force against 2020 protesters. So far, there are 14 lawsuits against the city for injuries suffered during those confrontations.
In fight for Congress, Eddie Rodriguez targets Greg Casar’s record on Austin homelessness, police funding
Casar has impressive progressive endorsements, from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders. But he also is tied to some of Austin’s most progressive policies, which have attracted powerful enemies and turned off some moderate Democrats.
Vote-by-mail rejections are testing integrity of Texas Republicans’ voting law
With less than a month left to vote by mail in the March primary election, hundreds of applications for mail-in ballots are being rejected as both Texas voters and local election officials decipher new ID requirements enacted by Republican lawmakers.
Court fight brews over constitutionality of Texas governor’s border arrests
A legal defense group is asking Travis County courts to throw out the arrests of hundreds of migrants swept up in the governor’s border initiative. The case is expected to draw in the Texas attorney general and address whether Gov. Greg Abbott’s plan is unconstitutional.
Texas judge opens door for widespread constitutional challenges to Gov. Greg Abbott’s border initiative
A Travis County judge Thursday tossed out the trespassing charge of an Ecuadorian man who said he came to the United States seeking asylum. His lawyers argued that the governor’s directive to arrest migrants on state charges unconstitutionally usurps federal immigration law.
Amid Texas GOP’s effort to question electoral integrity, attorney general tried to indict Travis County elections chief
The effort to charge Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir came at a time when many Texas Republicans questioned the integrity of last year’s election despite there being no evidence of widespread voter fraud.
Austin announces stricter coronavirus protocols for unvaccinated residents as cases increase. But it can’t legally enforce them.
The city’s return to Stage 3 risk-based guidelines marks the first time a major Texas city has reversed direction in the trend toward normalcy. But others are also reporting surges in cases.
Army sergeant indicted on murder and aggravated assault charges after fatally shooting Austin protester Garrett Foster in 2020
Army Sgt. Daniel Perry shot and killed Foster, who was legally armed, after an altercation during a protest against police brutality last summer, police said. Perry argues it was in self defense.
“If you are vaccinated, go for it”: Large counties roll back some pandemic-era limits as COVID-19 deaths drop statewide
Officials in Travis and Harris counties — both early adopters of pandemic restrictions — rolled some back Tuesday in an effort to allow vaccinated residents to return to pre-pandemic living.
Authorities say they won’t seek charges after investigating allegation that a lobbyist drugged a Texas Capitol staffer
The Texas Department of Public Safety and Travis County District Attorney’s Office said Thursday “that there is not enough evidence to support” an allegation that a lobbyist used a date rape drug on a Capitol staffer and that “no crime occurred in this instance.”
Court says Ken Paxton’s case against Austin and Travis County for issuing New Years curfew is moot, dismisses case
An Austin court on Thursday dismissed Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s appeal challenging Travis County and Austin’s New Years holiday curfew, months after it ended — in a perhaps symbolic win for local officials.
Austin and Travis County officials can keep enforcing local mask mandate for now, judge says
Paxton sued the local officials for refusing to end the mandate after Gov. District Judge Lora Livingston has yet to issue a final ruling on the merits of the case, meaning Austin and Travis officials may later be told to comply with state officials. Ad“I've been doing everything that I can to protect the health and safety of people in Travis County,” Brown said in an interview. However, this was not the case in Travis County where officials said they would continue to require public mask use. Therefore, masks remained required in Travis County in the meantime.
Austin can keep enforcing mask mandate for at least two weeks until trial is held, judge says
Austin and Travis County officials can continue enforcing their mask mandates after a district judge delayed action on the Texas attorney general’s request to immediately stop the mandates. That means city and county officials can continue to require masks until at least March 26, when District Judge Lora Livingston will hold a trial. "I told Travis County and the City of Austin to comply with state mask law. Travis County Judge Andy Brown counts the two-week delay as a win. The pandemic has especially impacted Texans of color — including in El Paso where Paxton previously blocked a county judge from ordering non-essential businesses to shut down.
Texas AG sues Austin, Travis County to block mask mandate
AUSTIN, Texas – Acting on his threat, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued Austin and Travis County officials on Thursday over their decision to continue requiring mask-wearing in public. “Judge Brown and I will fight to defend and enforce our local health officials’ rules for as long as possible using all the power and tools available to us," Adler said in a statement. State officials reported that 4,053 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases Thursday raised the Texas pandemic total past the 2.7 million level to 2,704,344. Of those, the Texas Department of State Health Services estimated that 121,882 cases were active Thursday and 4,406 hospitalizations Wednesday, the latest data available. AdThe state reported 231 new COVID-19 fatalities in Texas on Thursday, taking the state's pandemic death toll past 45,000 to 45,106.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sues Austin to stop it from imposing a local mask order
A COVID-19 safety sign in Austin on June 24, 2020. Credit: Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas TribuneTexas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing Travis County and Austin officials in an effort to force them to rescind their local mask orders, he announced Thursday. "I told Travis County & The City of Austin to comply with state mask law," Paxton tweeted. There have been more than 2,200 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Travis County in the past two weeks. Travis County Judge Andy Brown, who presides over the county government, said the authority to impose the local mask mandate comes from the county health authority, not from Brown’s emergency powers. Paxton’s office successfully defeated an effort by Travis and Austin officials to restrict in-person dining at restaurants around New Year’s.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton warns Austin to drop mask mandate by 6 p.m. Wednesday or be sued
AUSTIN, Texas – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is threatening to sue Travis County and the City of Austin if officials don’t back down on local orders that continue to require masks despite Gov. Austin and Travis County public health leaders recently announced they would continue to require masks, even though Abbott forbade local authorities from superseding his order. It does not rest with jurisdictions like the city of Austin or Travis County or their local health authorities,” Paxton wrote in a statement Wednesday. pic.twitter.com/IP9UpZPplh — Texas Attorney General (@TXAG) March 10, 2021“Otherwise, on behalf of the state of Texas,” Paxton wrote, “I will sue you.”Paxton’s office successfully challenged Austin and Travis officials’ attempts to restrict holiday restaurant operations around New Year’s. Sign up for The Brief, our daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas news.
Texas woman convicted in child’s death released from prison on new evidence
AUSTIN, Texas – A Texas woman convicted of murder in the 2003 choking death of a boy she was babysitting was released from prison on bond after a judge said new evidence shows she didn’t intentionally hurt the child. Travis County District Judge Karen Sage ordered Rosa Jimenez released on bond Wednesday, citing “clear and convincing evidence.” The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals will make the ultimate decision on whether to overturn Jimenez’s conviction or grant a new trial. Jimenez has served 15 years in prison in the death of 21-month-old Bryan Gutierrez, who choked on a wad of paper towels while in Jimenez’s care. Ad“Justice delayed is justice denied, and I am deeply sorry for that,” Sage said in her decision. The Innocence Project, which is representing Jimenez, said Jimenez has advanced kidney disease that makes her particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, which has ravaged prisons throughout the U.S.Jimenez was sentenced to 99 years in prison.
Bexar County’s 11% increase in home sales in 2020 surpassed other major Texas counties
SAN ANTONIO – Editor’s note: This story was published through a partnership between the San Antonio Business Journal and KSAT. Bexar County saw the greatest percentage increase in home sales of the four largest Texas counties last year, according to the latest multiple listing system report from the San Antonio Board of Realtors. Bexar County saw a 11.2% increase in home sales in 2020 — 27,855 homes last year compared to 24,936 in 2019. Travis County saw a 3.2% increase; Harris County saw a 6.7% increase; and Dallas County saw a 4% increase. Read more on this story at the San Antonio Business Journal.
Austin won’t be allowed to restrict dining-in at restaurants, Texas Supreme Court says
In a further blow to the state, Texas’ Third Court of Appeals swiftly rejected an appeal later that night. Friday’s Supreme Court order, however, directs the lower court to block enforcement of the orders, pending any further appeal. Abbott, that allows for dine-in restaurant service and bars local officials from enacting more restrictive rules. Abbott and Paxton have sparred with other local officials who pushed aggressive measures meant to tamp down on the virus’ spread. Samaniego ordered a curfew similar to that in Austin and Travis County for Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Austin can prohibit late on-site dining over holiday weekend, judge rules. But the state could appeal.
Elia Montoya serves breakfast dishes to U.S. Rep. Chip Roy and his family at Juan In A Million in East Austin in May. After the ruling, Deputy Attorney General Aaron Reitz announced on Twitter that the state would appeal. Under the curfew, patrons are not ordered to leave at 10:30 p.m., but they could not be served on-site. “It is our position that these local officials are in the best position to make the best decision for this jurisdiction,” said Travis County attorney Leslie Dippell. “My executive order stops cities like Austin from arbitrarily shutting down businesses,” he said.
Abbott, Paxton condemn Austin’s dine-in curfew for bars, restaurants on New Year’s weekend
Abbott spokeswoman Renae Eze said the governor ordered state health and emergency management officials to “strategically surge” medical teams to help with vaccinations in long-term care facilities. In Austin, officials moved to tamp down social gatherings and parties with new limits on dine-in and drink service at restaurants and bars. In a letter to city and county officials, Paxton said the order improperly restricts business hours in violation of a previous order by the governor. Austin Mayor Steve Adler said health officials are trying to corral surging hospitalizations and new cases. Adler said city attorneys were consulted on the Austin order.
Texas extends rental assistance program designed to avoid evictions until March 15
The Texas Supreme Court has extended its emergency eviction relief program for tenants behind on rent through at least March 15, lengthening the program’s expiration date by a month and a half. The move comes after Congress passed a stimulus bill Monday extending the federal moratorium on evictions through the end of January. The state created the Texas Eviction Diversion Program earlier this fall with the help of $171 million in CARES Act funding, the vast majority designated for rental assistance. But some housing advocates said the extension doesn’t go far enough to address the large number of struggling renters, even as the federal government extended its eviction moratorium. "There could be tens of thousands of evictions on the horizon in Texas later this winter,” said Michael Depland, spokesperson for the advocacy group, Texas Housers.
‘Tiger King' star arrested in Travis County, made officers ’aware of his social status,’ police say
‘Tiger King' star arrested in Travis County, made officers ’aware of his social status,’ police sayPublished: November 17, 2020, 12:21 pmA star of the Netflix hit series “Tiger King” was arrested on a charge of driving while intoxicated over the weekend and allegedly touted his “social status” to officers in Travis County.
‘Tiger King' star arrested in Travis County, made officers ’aware of his social status,’ police say
A star of the Netflix hit series “Tiger King” was arrested on a charge of driving while intoxicated over the weekend and allegedly touted his “social status” to officers in Travis County. Dillon Passage, husband to the jailed “Tiger King” himself Joseph Maldonado-Passage, was stopped while driving a Dodge Challenger around 1:30 a.m. Sunday on U.S. Highway 290 in Manor, according to police. Passage made officers aware of his social status and marriage to famed Joe Maldonado-Passage (Tiger King) on scene of the incident," Manor police said in a statement. He also said that he “may be a bit intoxicated," according to investigators. His story grew to fame in the Netflix documentary series “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness,” which showed his disdain for Baskin and his obsession with big cats.
Texas counties will only be allowed one drop-off location for mail-in ballots, state Supreme Court rules
In what’s expected to be the final ruling on the matter, the Texas Supreme Court has upheld Gov. Greg Abbott’s order limiting Texas counties to only one drop-off location for voters to hand deliver their absentee ballots during the pandemic. In their opinion, the justices wrote that Abbott's order "provides Texas voters more ways to vote in the November 3 election than does the Election Code. The Texas Supreme Court has kept Texas’ limitations on mail-in voting, but allowed drive-thru voting in Harris County to continue. In typical elections, Texas voters who wish to deliver their absentee ballots in person can only do so on Election Day.
Texas court upholds order allowing multiple absentee ballot drop-off locations, but appeal will keep that from happening yet
The Travis County Tax Office at 5501 Airport Blvd. A state appeals court has upheld a Travis County State district court order allowing Texas counties to have multiple drop-off locations for hand delivery of absentee ballots, undercutting Gov. But it remains unclear if the intermediate court's decision will lead to the reopening of ballot drop-off locations that were shut down in Harris and Travis counties following Abbott's order. Abbott and Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs are expected to quickly appeal the ruling to the Texas Supreme Court to again block the order from taking effect. Last week, Travis County State District Judge Tim Sulak agreed, ruling against Abbott’s order.
Travis County judge says Texas counties can have multiple absentee ballot drop-off sites, but an appeal is likely
The Travis County Tax Office at 5501 Airport Blvd is now the only drive-thru location open for hand delivery of mail-in ballots in the county. A Travis County state district judge on Thursday ordered a halt to Gov. Greg Abbott’s directive limiting Texas counties to one drop-off location for hand delivery of absentee ballots. In a short order Thursday, Travis County District Judge Tim Sulak ruled against Abbott and the Texas secretary of state. Travis County had four drop-off locations before the Oct. 1 order, and Harris County had a dozen in place.
Despite virus fears, Texas sends most voters to the polls
With an election official looking on an elderly voter uses the drive-thru option to vote outside Richardson City Hall during early voting Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, in Richardson, Texas. Texas is one of just five states that did not dramatically expand mail-in voting this year because of COVID-19. Long lines were common at polling sites across Texas, as were masks, although voters are not required to wear them inside polling places. Travis County, which includes the state capital of Austin, will also offer extended hours at select locations during early voting. Upping the ante is the chance to flip the Republican-controlled Texas State House of Representatives.
Texas counties can offer only one drop-off ballot location, federal appeals court rules, upholding Gov. Greg Abbott’s order
Texas counties may collect mail-in ballots at only one location, a federal appeals court ruled late Monday, once again upholding an order from Gov. Abbott in July acted to lengthen the early voting period and allow voters to deliver completed absentee ballots in person for longer than the normal period. A number of civil rights groups sued in at least four lawsuits, calling the order an act of voter suppression that would disproportionately impact low-income voters, voters with disabilities, older voters and voters of color in Democratic counties. “Leaving the Governor’s October 1 Proclamation in place still gives Texas absentee voters many ways to cast their ballots in the November 3 election. These methods for remote voting outstrip what Texas law previously permitted in a pre-COVID world,” wrote U.S.
Texas counties can have multiple absentee ballot drop-off locations, federal judge says, blocking Gov. Greg Abbott’s order
A federal judge Friday ruled that Texas counties can have multiple drop-off locations for absentee ballots during the Nov. 3 general election, blocking the enforcement of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent order that sought to limit counties to just one such location. Saying Abbott's order confused voters and restricted voter access, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman granted an injunction late Friday barring its enforcement. With an unprecedented number of Texas voters requesting mail-in ballots during the coronavirus pandemic, and concerns about the reliability of the U.S. Postal Service, some large, Democratic counties had set up numerous locations to accept the ballots before Abbott's order.
Texas governor restricts mail-in ballot drop-off locations
AUSTIN, Texas – Texas Gov. Trump has spread falsehoods about mail voting, suggesting without evidence that the process — which is surging in popularity during the coronavirus pandemic — was ripe for fraud. Texas is one of just five states not allowing widespread mail-in voting this year, with polls showing unusually tight races in America’s biggest red state. “Mail ballot voters shouldn’t have to drive 30 miles to drop off their ballot, or rely on a mail system that’s facing cutbacks,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, a Democrat. “Our office is more than willing to accommodate poll watchers at mail ballot drop-off locations,” Hollins said.
3 hurt when small plane crashes northwest of Austin, Texas
LAGO VISTA, Texas – Three people were injured when their single-engine plane crashed in a wooded area northwest of Austin on Monday afternoon, Texas authorities said. Darren Noak with the Austin-Travis County EMS said that of the three adults aboard, one who had to be extricated from the plane was taken to a hospital with serious, life-threatening injuries. He said the other two were also taken to hospitals, one with serious injuries and the other with potentially serious injuries. Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said the Beechcraft BE 36 Bonanza crashed 3 miles (5 kilometers) south of Rusty Allen Airport in Lago Vista. She said the plane was on approach to the Lago Vista airport from from Brownsville, located 370 miles (595 kilometers) to the south.
Travis County officials confirm 31 mosquito pools have tested positive for West Nile Virus
SAN ANTONIO – Austin Public Health officials are confirming that 31 pools of mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile Virus in Austin-Travis County. Three probable human cases of West Nile Virus have also been reported in the county so far, officials say. The affected ZIP codes of where the positive mosquito pools are located can be viewed in the map below, provided by Austin Public Health. Mosquito update: There have been 31 total mosquito pools positive for West Nile Virus this year across Austin-Travis County. To learn more about protection against the West Nile Virus, click here.
15 boats were in distress, 5 boats sank during Lake Travis Trump boat parade, Travis County officials say
TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas Fifteen boats were in distress during a boat parade in support of President Donald Trump on Lake Travis, according to the Travis County Sheriffs Office. The boat parade began around 12:15 p.m., Saturday, which is when the sheriffs office first began receiving incident reports. Of the boats that were in distress, the sheriffs office said five boats sank along the parade route, three boats were towed out and two boats are still submerged in the lake, as of Sunday. The distress calls varied and included: boats taking on water, stalled engines, capsized boats and boats sinking. More from KSAT:Several boats did sink during Lake Travis Trump boat parade, Travis County officials sayIn Texas, President Trumps team hit the road to shore up support
As eviction cases resume in parts of Houston, low-income Texans fear losing a place to live
Demonstrators rallied against evictions Friday outside of a Harris County justice of the peace precinct in Houston. The two justices of the peace for Harris Precinct 5, unlike some of their counterparts elsewhere in the county, resumed eviction proceedings as soon as they were allowed, in mid-May. In Houston, the first round of a rental assistance program ran out in 90 minutes, according to the Houston Chronicle. Although both judges are hearing eviction cases, protesters said that Ridgways court has more evictions scheduled and handles cases for immigrant neighborhoods like Gulfton. According to January Advisors, the precinct also had the most evictions compared with other parts of the county before the pandemic.
Electric vehicles part of San Antonio plan to get city carbon neutral by 2050
The city of San Antonio has a plan that aims to get the city to carbon neutral by 2050 -- meaning less dangerous emissions into the air we breathe, and a big part of that is the use of electric vehicles. Families around San Antonio have said they are unsure about an electric vehicle and spoke about the concern about the price of owning one. An iconic image of the electric vehicle world is the Tesla and according to Tesla.com, the cheapest car starts at $33,690. But thats not the only electric vehicle or EV, out there. The city of San Antonio has had a robust charging network for almost a decade.
Sarah Eckhardt wins special election for Texas Senate seat after Rep. Eddie Rodriguez forgoes a runoff
Former Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt at The Texas Tribune Festival in 2018 Thomas Meredith for The Texas TribuneFormer Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt is set to succeed former state Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, in the Texas Senate after state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez said Monday he is dropping out of the race. Eckhardt and Rodriguez, both Democrats, were poised to face off in a special election runoff for the seat. "For that reason," he wrote, "I have decided to forego the runoff for Senate and focus my efforts on winning a Democratic majority and promoting an aggressive, progressive agenda in the Texas House." Eckhardt and Rodriguez finished first and second, respectively, in the six-way race on July 14. Greg Abbott had not yet set a date for the runoff.
Gov. Greg Abbott and Elon Musk pose with uniquely Texas hand gesture
TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Tesla CEO Elon Musk were smiling big this week and for good reason. Abbott posted a photo on Wednesday of the pair posing with the hook em horns hand gesture and thanked Musk for embracing our great state. For anyone that doesnt know - hook em horns is the hand signal for the University of Texas at Austin, which Abbott previously attended. Welcome to Texas, Abbott seemingly said to Musk in a Facebook post.
Sarah Eckhardt may avoid a runoff in Texas Senate District 14 special election, but its too close to call
Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt speaks at The Texas Tribune Festival on Sept. 29, 2018. Thomas Meredith for The Texas TribuneFormer Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt was leading the way Tuesday night in the special election to replace former state Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, though it remained unclear whether she would be able to avoid a runoff. Eckhardt, who needs 50% of the vote to win the election outright, was hovering around that figure Tuesday night. Rodriguez touted his 18 years in the Texas House, arguing that his relationships there will serve him well in the Senate. His district includes all of Bastrop County, most of Austin and northern Travis County.
Texas city orders residents to cover mouth, nose amid virus
LAREDO, Texas – Residents in one Texas city are being required to wear something that covers their nose and mouth when they’re out in public during the coronavirus pandemic — or face a fine of up to $1,000. Residents will also have to cover their mouth and nose when using public transportation, taxis, ride shares or when pumping gas. Laredo reported its first four deaths from COVID-19 within the past five days. The South Texas city of more than 261,000 residents along the U.S.-Mexico border is about 155 miles (250 kilometers) southwest of San Antonio. There are nearly 4,700 cases of coronavirus in Texas and at least 70 related deaths, according to state health officials.