spokesperson

A man died after falling from the San Antonio parking garage early Friday morning, according to UTPD spokesperson Rhonda Weldon.

Weldon said UTPD received a call about the incident around 12:10 a.m., and when officers arrived, the man was pronounced dead at the scene. According to Weldon, officers estimate the man fell approximately 70 feet from the garage. Weldon said the man was not affiliated with the University. 

UTPD is still investigating the incident, Weldon said. 

"We don't have any witnesses, so we are unable to determine the circumstances of the fall at this time," Weldon said. 

UTPD also investigated another incident involving a fall from the garage Sept. 24. According to Weldon, UTPD has found no link between the two incidents. 

Three months after announcing intentions to place a Daily Texan news box in front of the Belo Center for New Media, the College of Communication is now saying it hopes to install specially designed and built boxes by January.

College of Communication spokesperson Laura Byerley said the college accepted three bids and will pick a contractor to construct the box next week. Normally Texas Student Media, the entity that owns The Daily Texan, provides boxes to locations free of charge.

“We’re hoping they’ll be installed by the first day of school in the spring semester,” Byerley said. “The news boxes are being designed. There isn’t anything new to report at this time.”

In September, Wanda Cash, the assistant director of the School of Journalism, asked college officials for a Daily Texan news box in front of UT’s newest building. Assistant dean Janice Daman told Cash it was the College of Communication’s policy to not have any news boxes, signage or paper in front of or in the Belo Center for New Media, the building that hosts the journalism school, for environmental concerns. The building is striving for the “silver certification” from U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

An article about this policy appeared in The Daily Texan, and following public outcry from media and former Daily Texan editors, the College of Communication reversed its decision. At the time, College of Communication dean Roderick Hart said it was never the intention of the college to ban the boxes.

Later in October, Hart said he was hoping to get the boxes installed by late November.

“They’ll certainly be operational by the start of spring semester,” Hart said in an October email.

Mark Morrison, former Daily Texan editor and Texas Student Media board member, said the slow response to placing a box in front of the new building has frustrated him.

“The University certainly does not seem to be able to move very quickly on issues such as this,” Morrison said.

He said the College of Communication should have set up temporary Daily Texan distribution areas in the Belo Center for New Media.

“There should be a high priority to get the Texan to communication college students, including journalism students, and if it’s going to take this long to get a permanent spot, why don’t they set up some temporary distribution points?”

Morrison said while the more permanent box is built, the newspapers could go in the building, on a table, in a rack or in a temporary box.

Jalah Goette, the director of the Texas Student Media board, said no one from the College of Communication has contacted her about the news boxes at the Belo Center.

After Friday, The Daily Texan will stop printing until Jan. 14, the first class day of the spring semester.

Printed on Friday, December 6, 2012 as: Belo Center to acquire custom-made newsboxes

Psychology junior Maria Cardenas, a volunteer for Austin Pets Alive!, adopted her dog Dash after fostering and treating the dog for parvovirus with medicine provided by the organization. Austin Pets Alive! aims to rescue animals at risk of being euthanized but a lack of city funding may affect how many animals can be admitted.

Photo Credit: Marisa Vasquez | Daily Texan Staff

Austin Pets Alive! has saved more than 5,400 animals from euthanasia this year, but the organization may have a harder time rescuing animals soon because it has lost all city funding.

Austin Pets Alive! maintained its no-kill status this month without any funding from the city. While the organization will maintain its facilities and programs without city funding, Austin’s no-kill status is now threatened. In order for Austin to remain no-kill, 90 percent of all animals brought into facilities must be saved from euthanasia.

Part of what lead to the organization losing its funding from the city this month was an influx of rescued pets. Austin Pets Alive! spokesperson Laura Hoke said the city budgeted to help save 3,000 animals this year. So far, Austin Pets Alive! has taken in 5,400 animals.

“Funding has been an issue since day one,” Hoke said. “We fight every month to keep Austin no-kill. Animals continue to be born, neglected and dumped. No-kill is not a destination. It is a constant journey and monthly struggle.”

Psychology junior Maria Cardenas, a Longhorn Pets Alive! member, was volunteering for the organization when she met Dash, her newly adopted dog. Cardenas said Dash was on the euthanasia list because he was suffering from parvovirus, a cardiac and intestinal virus. Although Dash was on the euthanasia list, Austin Pets Alive! provided Cardenas with the opportunity to rescue the animal and treat him with medicine, she said.

“When I saw him I just thought he was the cutest thing I had ever seen,” Cardenas said. “The amount of work they do is ridiculous because most of the work is done by volunteers.”

During fiscal year 2011, the Austin Animal Center euthanized 1,969 animals, and Austin Pets Alive! pulled 2,774 animals from the euthanasia list, according to the organization. Hoke, the shelter’s spokesperson, said although the loss of city funding does not pose a threat to the organization as a whole, it will affect how many animals can escape euthansia and be admitted into Austin Pets Alive!

Hoke said the organization plans on lobbying for the city to restore funding so the shelter can care for 1,500 more animals in 2013 than were budgeted for this year. She said although city funding helped the organization, Austin Pets Alive! will continue to thrive on community donations.

Biology senior Helena Wayt, Longhorn Pets Alive! vice president, said Austin Pets Alive! has affected not only the Austin community, but also the UT community. Wayt said the organization provides students with opportunities to get involved with the community and volunteer.

“Austin is known for being weird and unique, and Austin Pets Alive! has definitely contributed to the city’s unique innovation,” Wayt said.

Printed on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012 as: Funding Fido: influx of rescued animals continues to mount as APA! loses city funding

Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade submitted her letter of resignation Tuesday to Gov. Rick Perry. Her resignation goes into effect Friday, and it will now be up to Perry to appoint someone new to the position.

Alicia Pierce, a spokesperson from Andrade’s office, said Andrade was satisfied with her time in office and was ready to move on.

“Having finished a successful statewide election, her fifth, the secretary believed that it was a good time to make the transition and let someone else have this great office,” Pierce said.

Andrade’s resignation comes after controversy surrounding an effort overseen by her office to remove dead voters from lists of those registered, which resulted in many voters who are still alive getting letters telling them they would be removed from the voter registration list if they did not respond within 30 days.

Andrade was sworn in as Texas’ first Latina Secretary of State on July 23, 2008. She will leave office as the fourth-longest serving Secretary of State in Texas history.
Before serving as Texas Secretary of State, Andrade served as chair of the Texas Transportation Commission.

In the press release, issued Tuesday, Andrade said it has been her honor to serve in the position.

“It has been the highest honor of my professional life to serve as the Secretary of State for the greatest state in our nation,” Andrade said. “I am truly humbled by the trust and confidence Gov. Perry placed in me nearly four and a half years ago and will forever be grateful for the opportunity to represent Texas in this esteemed office.”

Sara Armstrong, a spokesperson in Perry’s office, said Perry has not yet announced his plans for a new appointment, and an “appointment will be made in appropriate time.”

Assistant government professor Jason Casellas said it will be interesting to see who Perry appoints to take her spot, since her becoming Texas’ first Latina Secretary of State was such a high-profile Hispanic appointment.

Perry released a statement about the impact Andrade has had on the state Tuesday.

“As the first Latina Secretary of State, Hope has a permanent place in our state’s history books and her personal commitment to making Texas a place of unlimited opportunity will leave a lasting impression on our state’s future,” Perry said. “Her leadership was fundamental during five successful statewide elections, and we will all be blessed by her work to promote the Texas success story around the country and around the world.”

Future plays by UT’s College of Fine Arts scheduled for second graders in the Austin Independent School District have been put on hold because of concerns about the “age appropriateness” of a play about two male penguins who adopt and hatch an egg.

 UT was scheduled to perform “And Then Came Tango,” for 10 elementary schools, but after performing the play for Lee Elementary School for the first time Oct. 16, AISD stopped the tour to discuss the play further. UT was supposed to perform the play for Campbell Elementary School on Tuesday, but instead UT students will perform it for AISD elementary school principals, who are still reviewing the play.

The play for Campbell Elementary School is the second of the tour to be canceled. This is not the first year UT has put on plays for AISD students.

AISD spokesperson Alex Sanchez said the issue is whether the play’s content is appropriate for second graders.

“All of our principals and teachers support a message of love and acceptance for all. This has never been a question,” Sanchez said. “The question is one of age appropriateness based on the subject matter and parent permission.”

“And Then Came Tango” is about two male penguins at a zoo who build a nest and become frustrated when their rock does not hatch into a baby penguin. So, a girl who cares for the penguins steals an abandoned egg and gives it to Roy and Silo, the two male penguins. But when the zoo gets bad publicity because of the pair, there is talk of splitting the penguin family. However, the play ends with the egg hatching and Roy and Silo getting to stay together. The play is based on the true story of an identical situation at the Central Park Zoo in Manhattan.

UT’s theatre director Brant Pope said AISD’s response surprised him.

“AISD’s Fine Arts Coordinator and principals had all gotten a plot synopsis,” Pope said. “We understandably assumed they were familiar with the play.”

Pope said AISD has not been specific about what content within the play concerns them, although he has heard general concerns.

“I do not know if anyone has said what the precise nature of the objection is,” Pope said.

A student in the play, who spoke to The Daily Texan on condition of anonymity because the cast and ensemble were told to not speak to the media, said AISD has not communicated its concern clearly.

“It has been super vague,” the student said. “AISD has been very careful about their choice of words and very adamant that the problem is about sex and sexuality.”

The student said the play does not have any themes of sex or sexuality. The student said the play deals with families and raising a child, not with sexual attraction. AISD starts sexual education in fifth grade, but not before.

When UT put on the play for Lee Elementary School for the first time Oct. 16, the student said the second graders there were interactive and responded well to the play. But on Thursday, the cast and ensemble found out their scheduled play at Highland Park Elementary School was canceled, and instead they performed the play for AISD’s Fine Arts Director.

Both the student and Pope said UT sent a plot synopsis and teaching guides to the elementary schools weeks in advance.

“We forwarded them everything. They had a copy of everything,” the student said. “The educational packets asked questions for students and helped teachers facilitate conversation about this show with their students.”

AISD spokesperson Sanchez said AISD is still in discussion with UT about whether to require permission slips, present the play to fifth graders or proceed with an alternative solution. Until a decision is reached, the tour has been put on hold.

Clarification: "And Then Came Tango" is an original play, not an adaptation. An early version of this article did not make that clear.

Printed on Tuesday, October 23, 2012 as: UT theater performance put on hold

Texas A&M Receives Bomb Threat, Evacuates Campus

Update: "Maroon Alert" issued by Texas A&M University at 12:30 p.m. said classes are cancelled for the day, and activities are cancelled until further notice

Texas A&M University spokesperson Layne Stephenson said the university received a bomb threat call at 11:30 a.m. Friday morning targeting the campus. Efforts to evacuate the campus were “immediately” begun, and the campus was still in the process of being evacuated at 12:22 p.m.

Texas State University received a false bomb threat on Thursday and UT received a false bomb threat on Sept. 14.

Certified medical assistants Irene Gutierrez, Alesia Bolden and family nurse practitioner Emily Lee loosen up after a day of appointments at the CommUnity Care health center Wednesday afternoon. UT’s new teaching hospital will not be offering family planning services but will direct patients to health clinics such as this one that do. 

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

Abortion and family planning services including birth control pills and emergency contraceptives will not be available at a proposed UT teaching hospital because of the operator’s religious beliefs.

The UT System Board of Regents pledged $30 million to a proposed Travis County medical school in May after receiving a $250 million preliminary commitment toward the hospital from the Seton Family of Hospitals, a Catholic hospital network. Neither a location nor a timetable for the hospital has been decided.

“It isn’t a matter of preaching to anyone,” Seton spokesperson Steven Taylor said. “We try to live within the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

Seton does not provide abortions, birth control pills, emergency contraceptives or sterilization. In addition to Seton’s pledge, Proposition 1, a Nov. 6 ballot initiative, would increase property taxes allocated to Central Health that would help fund the hospital and provide care to underserved citizens of Travis County.

Representatives from Seton and Central Health, a taxing authority that provides health care to Travis County citizens, said patients seeking family planning services will be directed to other health care facilities that do provide the services.

Central Health spokesperson Christie Garbe said, for example, female patients seeking a tubal ligation, a form of sterilization, after giving birth will be directed to St. David’s Medical Center, which performs the procedure and also contracts with Central Health.

Garbe said the Central Health board of managers passed a measure that allows contracted providers to bill Central Health for family planning services cut by the state.

Central Health also funds clinics that provide family planning services including CommUnityCare, Lone Star Circle of Care, People’s Community Clinic and Planned Parenthood, Garbe said.

UT students may access contraceptive services on campus. University Health Services provides access to condoms, birth control pills and emergency contraceptives.

Douglas Laycock, a former UT law professor who specializes in church and state relations, said about 20 percent of U.S. hospitals are operated by Catholic health organizations that receive public funds including Medicare, Medicaid and government contracts. He said religious organizations receiving public funds that do not provide family planning services have not presented a substantial legal problem.

“That has never been much of an issue, and the healthcare system could not function without [religious organizations],” Laycock said.

Central Health contracts Seton to manage operations at University Medical Center Brackenridge and contracts with St. David’s and local clinics to perform services Seton does not perform at Brackenridge.

Dr. Sue Cox, regional dean of the medical education program offered by Seton and UT Southwestern Medical Center, said students who complete residencies in Austin that include family planning components complete those components at community care clinics and St. David’s. Students complete other segments of their residency at Brackenridge and other Seton hospitals.

David Huffstutler, president and CEO of St. David’s HealthCare, was quoted last week in the Austin American-Statesman saying he sees no reason why Central Health’s role would change at the proposed hospital.

During the last legislative session, the Texas Legislature cut the state’s 2012-2013 budget for family planning services from $111 million to $37.9 million. As a result, 53 out of 240 clinics that provide family planning services and received public funds closed statewide, according to a story in The Texas Tribune last week.

Danielle Wells, spokesperson for family planning and contraception provider Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, said 22,902 patients visited Planned Parenthood clinics in Austin seeking contraceptive methods last year.

As a spike in bomb threats at major universities continues across the country, many schools are preparing for the possibility that they will be the next target.

Since Friday’s bomb threat at UT, bomb threats have targeted Arkansas State University, Louisiana State University, UT-Brownsville, North Dakota State University and The University of Mississippi football players’ cars. As a result, major universities are taking notice, sending out safety messages and reviewing their emergency procedures in case they are the next target, said Allan Baron, Texas A&M Universtiy Police Department spokesperson.

“It’s a really difficult situation to deal with,” he said. “So, that’s the whole thing. I think a lot of these colleges and universities are taking an in-depth look.”

Baron said Texas A&M University has taken measures to increase campus awareness and review emergency plans of action.

“In light of the recent threats, we have made our staff and faculty aware of what the procedures are for reporting these incidents,” he said. “Also, we have discussed the different options that are available, that can be utilized in a situation such as what The University of Texas had on their campus, so that we can adequately deal with the whole situation.”

During UT’s evacuation, not everyone moved at least 300 feet away from evacuated buildings, which is the minimum evacuation distance listed in UT’s emergency plans. The alerts UT issued did not specificy the minimum evacuation distance listed in UT’s security plans.

Baron said he hopes Texas A&M University is able to properly evacuate people, should it recieve a bomb threat. He said, like UT, Texas A&M University also has a 300-foot minimum evacuation distance in case of possible hazards.

“That 300-foot radius, that’s really hard to control,” Baron said. “A lot of time and man-power has to be put into a situation like that, and it has to be done in a relatively short amount of time.”

Erik Vasys, spokesperson for the FBI office in San Antonio, said investigations into all recent bomb threats are ongoing, and he is not able to say whether there is a connection between any of the threats at this time.

“It could just be copy cats,” he said.

Officials said arrests have been made in connection with the threats to Louisiana State University, Arkansas State University and UT-Brownsville, but not in connection with the threats targeting UT, North Dakota State University and University of Mississippi football players’ cars.

Officials with the Oxford, Mississippi, Police Department said a man called 911 at 7:46 a.m. Tuesday and told the operator there were bombs in cars belonging to University of Mississippi football players. Police then tracked down all the players, searched their cars and deemed the threat false. No one has been arrested in relation to the Miss. bomb threat, said Mike Martin, Chief of the Oxford Police Department.

Kimberly Dandridge, student body president at the university, tweeted a copy of the University of Mississippi’s emergency-situation instructions Monday morning as a precaution. She said she couldn’t believe it when a threat was called in later that day.

Vasys said penalties for the individuals making these threats will be severe if they are caught.

A terroristic threat charge under Texas state law would be classified as a third degree felony in these cases. That comes with a penalty of 2 to 10 years in prison and a possible fine of up to $10,000. Other states have varying penalties for the crime. Civil implications could exist as well.

University spokesperson Rhonda Weldon said she is unsure of the direct financial cost of Friday’s threat for UT, as it would be difficult for the University to calculate.

Printed on Thursday, September 20, 2012 as: Universities respond to bomb threats

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge received a bomb threat that was called into 911 around 10:30 a.m. Monday, a spokesperson said. The university sent an emergency text alert ordering the campus to be evacuated, and police were still clearing many of the buildings on campus Monday evening. No explosives have been discovered so far.

“We’re checking the residence halls first,” spokesperson Ernie Ballard said.

Ballard said one of the residence halls, Evangeline Hall, was cleared so the 6,000 students who live on campus would have somewhere to go. He said the investigation is ongoing, so the school has not yet determined if the threats were false. He said he does not know how many of the university’s 29,000 students and 2,700 faculty and staff members were on campus, and that he did not know of any prior LSU campus evacuations larger than Monday’s.

LSU mass communications junior Kevin Thibodeaux said he was on campus when the text alert reached his inbox at 11:32 a.m. He walked into a building and someone told him the campus was being evacuated.

“Most people are taking it not too seriously,” Thibodeaux said. “The traffic over here is probably the craziest part.”

Thibodeaux said many people were stuck in traffic near Tiger Stadium immediately after the evacuation was ordered.

UT alumnus Matt Portillo will watch Saturday’s football game against Wyoming from the Texas Exes Etter-Harbin Alumni Center. Although great company is an attraction, Portillo is not going there for the company. He is going because it is one of the few places in Austin to watch the game.

Longhorn football fans without tickets or a subscription to cable providers carrying the Longhorn Network will not be able to watch UT’s first two football games against Wyoming and New Mexico.

Although frustrations are high, Austin fans are in luck. LHN announced Wednesday it will host free viewing parties for both games at Republic Square Park, located at 422 Guadalupe Street in downtown Austin.

Friday morning, officials announced AT&T UVerse will carry the LHN in time for the football game against the University of Wyoming, and UVerse's almost 6 million sbscribers began seeing the channel in their program guides. Until the UVerse deal, LHN was only offered on Grande Communications, national provider Verizon FiOS and many other smaller providers like Austin’s Consolidated Communications and Houston’s En-Touch Systems.

Portillo, who was a student last year when the first game was also shown exclusively on LHN, said the students most affected would be alumni living far away who can’t attend viewing parties or watch the game on campus. Texas Exes hosts tailgates for all home games and will get coverage directly from the stadium, not LHN.

“I feel like we’re at the point now where we almost need to start asking, ‘Is the Longhorn Network doing more harm to the University’s brand than good?” Portillo, a Texas Exes member, said. “I know it is a 20-year contract, but it seems to be costing us more, and it’s not strictly monetary.”

Apart from offering fans an opportunity to watch the first two games, LHN has released no further information on when the UT community can expect wider distribution. Kristy Ozmun, a spokesperson for LHN, said ESPN is having active discussions with all cable providers. Last week Ozmun said she could not comment on a timetable for negotiations.

Matt Murphy, Grande Communications president, said his company decided to sponsor viewing parties because they are aware the company has somewhat limited coverage in Austin. Murphy said Grande covers near 25 percent of the city and provides service to the UT area, including the residence halls, and is looking to expand during the next three years.

He said carrying the Longhorn Network has helped business at Grande.

“It is certainly a plus for us, because our competition doesn’t have it,” Murphy said. “But for UT and Longhorn Network, more distribution is better. They’ve been a great partner and we want them to succeed.”

Launched August 2011, LHN is a 20-year partnership between UT and ESPN. For the first five years, 50 percent of net right fees from LHN will go toward academic initiatives, according to Texas Sports.

Some endowed academic chairs have already been created by this agreement. All on-campus residence halls carry LHN, paid for by student fees.

UT President William Powers Jr. and athletics director DeLoss Dodds were scheduled to give a five-minute LHN status update to the UT System Board of Regents last week. However, plans changed at the last minute, and the board took the update off the agenda.

At the meeting, Powers told The Daily Texan that talking about ongoing negotiations could cause potential harm and said he would update the regents at a later time. He said ESPN is dedicated to getting wider distribution.

“We want the widest distribution for fans,” Powers said at the meeting. “We have a great partner in ESPN and this is job one for them.”

At his weekly press conference, UT head football coach Mack Brown said he has become more comfortable with LHN and its involvement with Texas football during the past year. Brown is currently doing three one-hour shows on LHN.

“I don’t have anything to do with the sales of it or where it’s going, but like the large number of our fans, I’ll be happy when it gets greater distribution.”

Ryan Kelly, a Time Warner Cable spokesperson for Central Texas, said although Time Warner has a great relationship with ESPN, LHN negotiations are not active, and the company has no plans to carry LHN. All Time Warner Cable programming is distributed nationwide to more than 15 million customers.

“As expected, we’ve had inquiries about the LHN which coincides a lot with college football season, but right now the overall volume remains light,” Kelly said.
The Longhorn Network will broadcast Texas v. Wyoming Saturday at 7 p.m.

Story updated to incude current information about the LHN deal with AT&T UVerse: 11:30 p.m. 8/31/12

Additional reporting by Chris Hummer.

Printed on August 31, 2012 as: "Limited coverage causes frustration"