There are 10 days left for U.S. residents to complete the census, and local leaders are calling on Austinites to make sure they are counted.
The results of the decennial effort will determine how much federal funding is directed to Austin over the next decade as well as the upcoming redistricting process and the allocation of new state and federal representatives.
"It is vital that every single household do this," Mayor Steve Adler said during a press conference on Monday morning.
Every 10 years, the federal government is constitutionally required to count every person who is living in the country, regardless of origin or immigration status. For the first time, residents are able to complete the census online; the questionnaire takes about 10 minutes to complete.
This census, however, has been disrupted by myriad factors.
In 2018, the Trump administration attempted to add a question about citizenship to the census. Although the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that such a question was unconstitutional, the proposal prompted concerns about data privacy and confidentiality that could depress participation.
"It is safe to take the census," State Senator Sarah Eckhardt said, adding that census data is private and not shared across federal agencies. "But I also acknowledge the courage of the individuals in the foreign-born community in standing up and being counted."
Then, just as the nationwide census rollout was getting underway, the pandemic arrived, preventing traditional door-knocking campaigns and other in-person outreach.
Most recently, the U.S. Census Bureau announced on July 30 that it was shortening the response period, moving the deadline up to Sept. 30 from Oct. 31.
A bureau analysis concluded that a "compressed review period creates risk for serious errors," according to an internal document obtained by the House Oversight and Reform Committee
"One of the things that is a challenge right now is the 30 days that we were anticipating that we would have … are no longer with us," Adler said. "It makes the next 10 days that much more important."
It is critical that as many people respond to the census as possible because each person who is counted equates to around $1,500 in federal funding annually directed toward their community.
So far, only 66.3% of Travis County residents have self-responded to the census, which is a lower rate than Tarrant and Bexar counties but slightly higher than Dallas and Harris counties. The self-response rate in Travis County was around 75% in 2010, Adler said.
At the current response rate, Travis County stands to lose $350 million a year in federal funding, Adler said.
This funding supports a plethora of programs, including natural disaster relief, Medicaid, student loans, housing vouchers, highway construction and subsidized lunches.
"The census is the baseline document for the distribution of those federal funds," Eckhardt said.
Adler added that census numbers were used when allocating coronavirus relief dollars.
"The amount of money that we got was directly proportional to the number of people who are believed to live in our community," he said.
The census also informs the political redistricting process and the allocation of seats in Congress and the Texas House as well as school board members.
Texas is expected to gain two—possibly three—seats in the U.S. House due to its population growth over the last decade.
"The more people we have counted, the more voters we get," Adler said.
Since the census began early this year, outreach efforts have been targeted to hard-to-count communities.
Young children, homeless people, college students, people of color, immigrants living in the U.S. without legal permission and people who do not speak English are all considered hard to count, according to the bureau.
The lowest self-response rate in Travis County is found in the census tract just west of the University of Texas at Austin campus, where only 27.8% residents have participated, according to a mapping tool created by the City University of New York.
Local complete count committees—including Make Black Count ATX and the Austin Asian Complete Count Committee—have been working to encourage participation for months, but they have been stymied by coronavirus restrictions and the abbreviated timeframe.
As a result, Adler and Eckhardt called on Austinites to complete the census if they haven't already and encourage others to do the same while there is still time left.
"We really just need all hands on deck at this point," Eckhardt said.
- Everything we know about COVID-19 in Austin right now - austonia ›
- Texas launches last-minute, $15M census campaign amid COVID ... ›
- Austin takes a very middling place in U.S. Census return rates ... ›
Texas Longhorns linebacker Jake Ehlingers' death this spring was the result of an accidental drug overdose, according to a statement by the late student's family.
According to the statement, the 20-year-old University of Texas student and Westlake High grad overdosed on pills believed to be Xanax laced with Fentanyl, an often-deadly combo that has resulted in thousands of accidental fatalities nationwide.
Ehlinger was found dead off campus May 6 in a tragedy that shook the Austin and UT community, as well as Ehlinger's family, including his brother, former UT quarterback Sam Ehlinger, who now plays for the NFL's Indianapolis Colts.
An honorable mention All-State player and district defensive MVP while in high school, Ehlinger followed in his brother's footsteps and continued his football career as a walk-on at UT. He was also a sophomore in finance, a member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity and a member of the Texas Silver Spurs, a student organization that cares for beloved mascot Bevo the Longhorn.
Counterfeit Xanax pills have caused an increasing number of fatalities in the area with 1,000 deaths related to synthetic opioids in the state in 2020. Drug dealers have begun stuffing fentanyl, an opiod that the DEA said can be up to 60 times more deadly than heroin, into pills resembling the prescription anti-anxiety medication and selling them to unwitting customers.
"The spread of counterfeit pills is an ongoing and significant issue throughout our country, particularly in schools, colleges and universities," the the Ehlinger family said in a statement. "As our family continues to process Jake's death, we felt it was important to share these details with the hope that Jake will not have died in vain. We pray that sharing Jake's story will help shed light on this problem and prevent other families from also tragically losing a loved one."
To combat the surge of deaths, Austin police now have access to a supply of Narcan, a drug that can combat the effects of an opiod overdose. Though it's not mandatory, APD officers can now check out supplies of the drug when responding to calls. The department had almost completed training on the drug by June, according to a KXAN report.
"You can talk to a number of families that have had family members die because of opioid overdoses and if this was an option to help their loved one or save their loved one, I'm sure that every single one of them would tell you that it was incredibly important that we now have this incredible tool in our tool belt," Assistant Chief Scott Perry said in the report.
Ehlinger is remembered by his brother, Sam, his mother Jena, his sister Morgen and the University of Texas community. Ehlinger's father, Ross, died of an apparent heart attack while swimming in a triathlon in 2013.
"(Jake) was his dad's little buddy, and they shared an unbreakable bond," Jake's obituary read. "His father's spirit was alive and well in every part of Jake's life. Tragic life circumstances created a unique opportunity for Sam and Jake to uplift and empower each other. They were each other's biggest fans. Their mother, Jena, as well as their sister, Morgen, were the loves of Jake's life. Everyone will miss his giant hugs, but no one more than Jena and Morgen."
- Austinite Hudson Card confirmed for starting quarterback in Week 1 ... ›
- UT quarterback Sam Ehlinger gets picked up by Colts in NFL draft ... ›
- Jake Ehlinger, brother of quarterback, Sam Ehlinger found dead ... ›
- Austin-area governments are joining a multi-billion dollar opioid ... ›
- Opinion: Opioid overdose deaths are accelerating. Policing isn't the ... ›
- Obituary for Longhorns linebacker Jake Ehlinger as funeral set for ... ›
- Jake Ehlinger death: Funeral held for Texas football player in Austin ›
- Longhorns linebacker Jake Ehlinger laid to rest Wednesday | KXAN ... ›
- Texas LB Jake Ehlinger, brother of Sam Ehlinger, found dead in Austin ›
Eight of the world's best Brazilian jiu-jitsu athletes flew into Austin in September to be in the new hub for the sport. But after over a decade of fighting together, they'll no longer be under the same name.
The legendary Danaher Death Squad, which started in 2007 and was led by black belt John Danaher, made a highly-publicized split in late July while in Puerto Rico, with Danaher, legend Gordon Ryan and teammate Gary Tonon announcing the aptly-titled "New Wave Jiu Jitsu" as their new studio to open soon in Austin.
Missing from the new roster were former teammates Craig Jones, Ethan Crelinstein, Nick Rodriguez and even Ryan's younger brother, Nicky Ryan. The new crew announced that day that they would also be forming a new studio with the tongue-in-cheek title "B Team Jiu Jitsu."
Jiu jitsu greats Craig Jones (left) and Gordon Ryan have opened rival studios in Austin.
Both teams chose to move to Austin, a hotbed for the sport that the B Team's Seth Belisle said is becoming a "mecca for jiu-jitsu." With plenty of renowned studios, jiu-jitsu enthusiasts like Joe Rogan coming into town and the presence of Flo Grappling, the sport's premier media outlet, Belisle said there's now "more jiu-jitsu here than anywhere in the world."
While Belisle, an Austin native, handles the business side for the crew, the team's coaching is headed by Jones, a leopard-print wearing Aussie who has been known to sport assless chaps and places importance on the lighter side of things (the studio advertises that they train "Mexican ground karate," a name they created for jiu-jitsu).
Rumors abound about the famed fighters' breakup, including money issues in the Ryan family or a well-rehearsed PR stunt, but Jones told Austonia that the split of the Death Squad simply comes down to personal differences between the fighters.
"It wasn't an amicable breakup at all," Jones said. "What Gordan represents is quite controversial... I would say there would be no line he wouldn't cross to promote a grappling match. So in that sense, we're sort of focused on a different, more positive sort of vibe."
B Team and New Wave alike are opening at a critical time for jiu-jitsu, as the sport slowly becomes a household name. Now, top fighters can make a living from their sport while still maintaining a much lower profile than MMA fighters or boxers.
That name recognition and B Team's positive attitude drew in droves of new trainees, with many opting to move to Austin solely to train at B Team.
"Jiu-jitsu is a relatively new sport," Belisle said. "If you love basketball, it's impossible for you to say, 'I'm going to go play with LeBron James and learn from him this weekend... in jiu-jitsu, that's possible. You have access to the stars of the sport because it hasn't really blown up yet. It's something special."
After an open house that saw over 150 athletes show up, the team realized they needed to become more exclusive. Now, the studio trains only the "Olympians" of the sport, something that sets them apart from other local studios. They also frequently bring in celebrities of the sport for training sessions, including famed female fighter Ffion Eira Davies.
"We're obviously a new gym, but we're probably some of the best guys in the world," Jones said.
Meanwhile, New Wave is training at the famed Renzo Gracie Studio, Danaher's former trainer, as they wait for a new studio.
Will the world's two best teams soon have showdowns in the Texas capital?
While it's unclear whether or not things will get personal (no brother vs. brother matchup is on the horizon), trainees under each studio went head-to-head for the first time Wednesday as New Wave's Gordon Ryan announced his first match out of semi-retirement. Ryan, often lauded as the best grappler in the world, forced UFC fighter Phillip Rowe to submit four times in the 15-minute friendly exhibition match at Austin's Palmer Events Center.
But Rowe, who was first a jiu-jitsu athlete before switching to UFC, said he didn't know about the beef and was just looking to train under his favorite athletes, Jones and Rodriguez.
He competed for a few reasons—including a break from UFC and a chance to give BJJ a bigger name—but he mostly came into town for the fun of it. Ryan and Rowe talked often prior to the meet, with Rowe gifting Ryan a Bumpboxx, or decorated boombox, in honor of Ryans' father. The respect was mutual—Ryan shouted out Rowe after the match for coming out with a broken hand and the death of some loved ones a week prior.
The match was the first indirect competition between the two gyms. Jones said they won't be training with the goal of fighting any of their former New Wave compadres.
"I don't know what's going to happen ultimately," Jones said. "Because obviously, we're not friendly as it is right now, but I mean. I wouldn't go so far as to train someone that was going to compete against them directly."
But with B Team fighters like Nick Rodriguez expressing their interest in fighting in the future and both gyms training for the WNO Championships in 2022, it's almost inevitable that the former teammates will find themselves on either side of the mat sooner or later.
"'I'd be lying if I said that every day since I started jiu-jitsu my goal is to beat Gordon. I'd be lying if I was saying that isn't true," Rodriguez told the Jason Chambers podcast. "My goal is to be the best grappler in the world and nothing less. That's an old teammate that I have to go through to knock him out and get to the top, then that's fine with me."
Atop one of Austin's signature rolling hilltops, 1501 Ridgecrest Drive is similar to one of the plush palaces that one might find in Calabasas. For $10.9 million, the home has four bedrooms, four-and-a-half bathrooms and caps at 10,498 square feet.
Park in the massive, fully air-conditioned garage before walking in, where you'll have eight full spaces to park your collection of cars. If you're not a collector, the garage makes an excellent studio space.
The wide-open living spaces will draw your eyes to the two-story ceilings, glass catwalk, integrated fireplace and wall of floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the pool.
Though the house was built in 2011, it doesn't show its age. Sleek, clean lines lead seamlessly from the formal living area to an elite open-plan kitchen. Separated by a 25-foot waterfall island that can seat at least eight people, the kitchen is fitted with only the finest Miele and Subzero appliances. The custom cabinets are just as pricey as the rest of the place, finished with custom high-gloss Aston Martin (you read that right) paint.
Upstairs in the sprawling master's suite, there are enough amenities to never have to set foot outside again. Armani tile floors, space for living and a walk-in showcase closet lead into the resort-style bathroom, where you'll find dual vanities, a walk-in shower and a lounging bathtub.
The bedroom is a quick elevator trip away from the "party" room, complete with a bar, wine room and movie theater, only the best for entertaining. If your guests are staying over, rest assured they'll be comfortable with the kitchenette, washer and dryer and spa-like bath in their suite.
Though summer has passed, you can still enjoy the grand lap pool's unobstructed Hill Country views, many private lounging areas, grill a homemade snack at the outdoor kitchen or shoot some hoops at the newly-added court.
The listing is held by Compass' Gary Dolch.
- Two luxury Austin hotels listed on Conde Nast Travelers list - austonia ›
- Austin's luxury Soho House opens today for local creatives - austonia ›
- What $10 million or more can get you in Austin luxury homes ... ›
- Austin luxury real estate market booms in pandemic - austonia ›