BG Note | News - What We're Reading (January 31, 2018)



[Policy Note]

Dockless Bike Share on Austin Council Agenda (Bingham Group) LINK TO STORY

The Austin City Council convenes this Thursday, February 1, for its first regular meeting of 2018. The Council agenda features a resolution and ordinance (#58 and #59) relating to dockless bike share...

[Austin Metro]

Live music proponents revive ‘agent of change,’ with eye toward fall (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

After it lay dormant since July, city leaders and music industry professionals are restarting the process that – it is hoped – will protect live music venues and nearby residential buildings from clashing over noise and general quality-of-life issues.

Known as “agent of change,” the concept would place the responsibility on the new business or development moving into an area to mitigate or lessen the impact of sound on guests and residents in a given area.

That means, in theory, that new hotels and condominiums constructed near entertainment districts would need to acknowledge the presence of nightlife nearby and take steps such as soundproofing rooms and homes to ensure guests and residents aren’t unreasonably disturbed. The opposite would hold true as well, with entertainment businesses moving into residential areas, thanks to increasing downtown rents, needing to make sure loud music or other activity doesn’t disturb longtime residents...

Cronk likely to be offered $325,000 to helm Austin city government (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

The Austin City Council on Thursday will likely offer Minneapolis City Coordinator Spencer Cronk $325,000 a year along with other incentives to be Austin’s next city manager.
The amount is more than interim City Manager Elaine Hart’s base salary and less than former City Manager Marc Ott’s salary.
The offer at Thursday’s regular council meeting will take the form of a resolution, which was provided to the American-Statesman. On top of the base salary, Cronk also would earn a $600 monthly “executive allowance,” a $4,500 monthly stipend for temporary housing during the first six months of employment and $1,845 a year for a cell phone...

Tough choices as Austin council weighs a pools plan with new input (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

The debate over the future of Austin aquatic facilities returns to City Hall this week, pitting Austinites’ love of their neighborhood pools against a hefty price tag and, some city leaders say, fiscal reality.

The Austin City Council is expected to vote this week on an aquatics master plan that had been punted some months ago amid outcry that it could set up a fierce battle between neighborhoods to save their pools from closure. The master plan comes back to the council with the input of a task force set up last year to look over the shoulder of the consultant-produced report...

In picking a new CTRMA rep, Travis County goes with a familiar face (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

The Travis County Commissioners Court on Tuesday chose an old hand to be its newest representative on the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority’s board of directors.
In a unanimous vote, the court awarded the seat to attorney John Langmore, a former vice chair of the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s board. Langmore most recently served the county as the vice chair of the Citizens Bond Advisory Committee, which produced last year’s pair of successful bond referendums...


Bullet train meetings for Houston-Dallas line kick off in North Texas (Houston Chronicle) LINK TO STORY

Once written off by many as a long shot, the Texas Bullet Train has started taking its next step even as dozens of roadblocks and critical communities stand in the way.
The first two of 10 meetings planned along the route were held Monday night in Dallas and Corsicana, organized by the Federal Railroad Administration. Meetings will be in the Houston area early next week. About 250 people attended the Dallas-area meeting...

Texas board considers Mexican-American studies course, after two failed attempts at a textbook (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

For the second time in the last year, the State Board of Education rejected a proposed Mexican-American studies textbook, leaving teachers without any state-approved materials for Mexican-American studies courses.

The board voted almost unanimously Wednesday to reject author Tony Diaz's textbook, "The Mexican-American Studies Toolkit," a year after rejecting a different book that Mexican-American studies experts called racist. Though most did not vote for the book — only one member voted in support — Democrats on the board argued the process was not fair to Diaz, saying he was given a short period of time and little guidance to create a high-quality book...

Mexican businessmen say they invested in FourWinds because they trusted Uresti (San Antonio Express-News) LINK TO STORY

State Sen. Carlos Uresti convinced a pair of Mexican business partners to invest in an oil field startup called FourWinds Logistics, even though they were leery of the company’s erratic CEO, the pair testified Tuesday in the San Antonio Democrat’s ongoing criminal fraud trial.
Uresti allayed concerns Pedro Yrigoyen and Hector Navarrete had with CEO Stan Bates by telling them at a 2014 dinner at Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille in La Cantera that the senator would serve as an escrow agent and watch over their money...


In first State of the Union address, Trump tells natural disaster victims: "We are with you" (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

In his first State of the Union address, President Donald Trump touted a "new tide of optimism" sweeping the country in the wake of his administration's "righteous mission" to address immigration reform and unemployment, among other issues.  
The president wasted no time in addressing the devastating impact of natural disasters on communities around the country, including in Houston following Hurricane Harvey. 
"We have endured floods and fires and storms, but through it all, we have seen the beauty of America's soul and the steel in America's spine," Trump said early in the speech...

SpaceX has plans for Texas – but border wall could be barrier to progress (The Guardian) LINK TO STORY

It is the place where Elon Musk might one day launch rockets on missions to colonise Mars, though it did not look like much on a drizzly and cold January afternoon. Two construction sites with a pair of antennae, a few rows of solar panels and a fenced-off hillock. No astronauts, just a handful of workmen, a couple of RVs parked at the beach and birds scavenging through washed-up litter.
Boca Chica was not pulsing with activity and adventure. It was, however, freighted with irony as, 1,800 miles to the north-east, politicians duelled over funding for border security – specifically Donald Trump’s cherished wall, some of the first segments of which are likely to rise here in the Rio Grande Valley...

In South Texas, tens of thousands live in border enclaves without water, power or certainty of their future (The Washington Post) LINK TO STORY

Buyers plunked down double-wide trailers or wood-and-cinder-block houses and waited for the paved roads, electricity, and water and sewer systems to arrive. For thousands of people, they never did. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas says the enclaves, known in Spanish as colonias, represent one of the largest concentrations of poverty in the United States. Texas outlawed their creation and expansion in 1989. The state and federal government have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to improve some of the outposts, but have done little in others, for reasons that include the high costs and questions about who owns which land...

The Bingham Group, LLC is an Austin-based full service lobbying firm representing and advising clients on municipal, legislative, and regulatory matters throughout Texas.


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