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A second staff member at the University of Texas at Austin has died after contracting COVID-19, President Jay Hartzell announced in an email on Thursday.
The university did not name the employee, but Hartzell wrote that the individual had worked for a decade in utilities and energy management.
"Our hearts and minds are with the family, friends and co-workers of our colleague, who are now grieving this terrible loss," he wrote.
The staff member is believed to have contracted COVID-19 on campus, but the university's contact tracing efforts have not detected any spread related to the case.
In July, a custodial staff member died of COVID-related complications.
The university released a list of triggers in late June that could lead to a closure or partial closure of campus. One of the triggers being a COVID-related death of a student, staff or faculty member.
Since classes began on Aug. 26, UT Austin has reported 868 COVID cases among students and 13 among faculty and staff.
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Save Austin Now police petition will reach November ballot after county clerk certifies 25,000 signatures
Save Austin Now is now 2-0 over Austin City Council after its petition to add more staffed police officers to the Austin Police Department was certified, garnering over the 20,000 votes needed to make it on an election ballot.
The petition calls for more police staffing per city resident, quicker response times and more training for city police officers in the wake of increasing violent crime rates nationwide and a year of limited APD staffing. The City Council will now decide whether to implement the ordinance outright or add it to the November election ballot; it will likely do the latter.
Over 25,000 of the 27,778 signatures racked up by the public safety petition were certified as valid, well over the 20,000-vote threshold required to be certified with the City Clerk. City Clerk Jannette Goodall placed the city's seal of approval on the petition on Tuesday morning.
The petition, by the same political group that got the camping ban reinstated through a petition in May, seeks to:
- Require minimum staffing of two officers per 1,000 residents
- Require a minimum standard of 35% community response time
- Add 40 hours of training
- Require city council members, Mayor Steve Adler and other city staff to enroll in the Citizens Police Academy
- Facilitate minority officer hiring through foreign language proficiency metrics
Austin's 160 patrol vacancies have dropped its staffing rate to 1.2 officers per 1,000 residents, according to the department. APD's response time has increased by about one minute and 50 seconds in a year.
The petition comes nearly a year after APD's budgets were slashed by city council following the summer's Black Lives Matter protests, which saw several demonstrators severely injured as millions called for justice in the police-related deaths of George Floyd and locally Mike Ramos, an unarmed Black man killed by APD officer Christopher Taylor, in April 2020.
Austin and the U.S. have experienced a widespread uptick in violent crime rates in 2021. The city has reached 49 homicides in 2021, higher than the total number of murders in all of 2020 and the 38 homicides in the city in 2019. Austin police officers have seen response times rise as the department suffers increased vacancies and fewer newcomers while cadet classes are being readjusted.
Opponents argue the ordinance would ramp up a policing budget while taking away from other departments including Fire, EMS, violence prevention, and mental health care. City Council Member Greg Casar, the Travis County Democratic Party and the Austin Justice Coalition have spoken out against the organization's latest public safety move, calling out the campaign as a "right-wing petition" that misleads those who sign.
🔥 PANTS ON FIRE: Republican-front group Save Austin Now is lying about their petition!
They say their measure is about police reform, when it's really about devastating our city budget - all for the benefit of the police union. Watch the video here ⬇️ #ATX pic.twitter.com/Z6QQSfhHfH
— Gregorio Casar (@GregCasar) August 2, 2021
The latest battle between city council and Save Austin Now will be decided by Austin residents in the Nov. 2 election.
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Austin City Limits fest and iHeartRadio Fest are the latest festivals to announce the removal of rapper DaBaby, who has come under fire for homophobic comments made during a recent festival.
The 29-year-old rapper, whose real name is Jonathan Lyndale Kirk, was dropped by Lollapalooza just hours before his set on Sunday, followed by the Governor's Ball in New York and Nevada's Day N Vegas after making unsolicited comments about men with HIV/AIDS at the Rolling Loud Festival in Miami. Rolling Stone Magazine confirmed with iHeartRadio organizers that DaBaby will no longer perform.
DaBaby will no longer be performing at Austin City Limits Music Festival — lineup update coming soon. pic.twitter.com/jAYfdJFxJf
— ACL Festival (@aclfestival) August 3, 2021
There is no word on who he will be replaced with yet, though rumors on ACL's subreddit, r/aclfestival, are saying they expect Tyler, The Creator, who performed at Lollapalooza. Kirk will be replaced at Day N Vegas by rapper Roddy Ricch.
Kirk later backtracked his offensive statements on his Instagram story, but again faced criticism for not exactly apologizing.
After facing a second round of backlash for his Instagram statements, the rapper posted on Instagram, saying:
In addition to being dropped from the festivals, DaBaby has been denounced by fellow celebrities like Dua Lipa, Madonna and Elton John.
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A goal-desperate Austin FC to likely play without its 3 new strikers in Wednesday rivalry match vs. Houston Dynamo
Austin FC Head Coach Josh Wolff has run out of ways to say it: the team needs to score goals.
Austin is now scoreless for four of five of its home matches and has been shut out for nine of its last 11 games. Instead of trending upward after their grueling seven-match road stretch, the team has tanked to the bottom of the West as they head to a home match against Houston Dynamo at 8 p.m. on Wednesday.
For everything, you need to know about attending the game, click here.
What to expect
They say all good things come in threes, and for Austin those come in the names of Sebastian Driussi, Moussa Djitte and McKinze Gaines. Driussi, who is Austin FC's most expensive signee yet and could solve Austin's scoring woes, can stop quarantining Tuesday. He likely won't play Wednesday since he will have had only one minute of training but will probably debut in a road match against FC Dallas on Saturday. Meanwhile, Djitte is still missing and hasn't made it to the U.S. at the confusion of Austin FC fans and staff and there's no news of Gaines playing on Wednesday after signing on Saturday.
Austin's injured roster is finally drying up: right back Nick Lima subbed in for a few minutes for the first time in weeks on Saturday against Colorado, and just four others are still off the pitch. Dani Pereira is still out, however, and he's proven to be the secret ingredient for many of Austin's best matches in the past.
Houston was Austin FC's first-ever MLS opponent as they beat the club 3-2 for a preseason La Copita match. Since then, the club has stayed out of the limelight and is ninth in the Western Conference off of a nine-match winless streak. Like Austin, the Dynamo are skimpy on scoring, but their solid defense has led them to three straight draws.
On Saturday, Houston made a big move by signing LAFC winger Corey Baird. Baird scored against Austin in the teams' first matchup on April 17 and has scored two more goals since, but it's unclear whether the experienced winger will be wearing orange come Wednesday.
Though unlikely, it could be a signee vs. signee situation as Austin and Houston head into their first official Texas Derby match.
Projected starting lineup
Sans Driussi, Austin will still be hard-pressed to find their perfect fit as striker up top. A young Manny Perez took the starting spot for the first time on Saturday and could crown the offense again. Meanwhile, Rodney Redes is as likely as any other to take the winger position as he looks to finally nab that first official goal with the team. Jon Gallagher, who scored Austin's first home goal, and winger Jared Stroud are also options to play on the right flank.
Nick Lima saw limited playing time on Saturday, and he could be back to take his starting spot this week—this time sporting a mohawk. His replacement, 32-year-old Hector Jimenez, has still been playing well and could hold onto the spot for longer.
Cecilio Dominguez could permanently be back in his left winger position, or he could sit up top and adopt his most comfortable "false-9" status as the club waits for Driussi to take the striker spot.
Meanwhile, Brad Stuver continues to save the team from catastrophe in the keeper position. Stuver once again pulled off two nail-biting saves in the 1-0 loss to Colorado on Saturday and is quickly gaining acclaim as a potential MLS All-Star roster member.
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