BG Note | News - What We're Reading (March 8, 2018)


[Austin Metro]

Austin law requires job seekers with criminal pasts get a fair shot. But it’s not being enforced. (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

When Lauren Johnson started job hunting in the early 1990s, she walked from business to business, filling out applications by hand. “It’ll be so much easier someday when this is all computerized,” she remembers thinking.
Two decades later, job applications had moved online. Something else had changed, too: After spending three years in and out of prison for various drug charges, Johnson had a felony record. She now had to start checking the “yes” box on applications that asked whether she had a criminal record. Electronic applications often wouldn’t let her leave this blank...

Waller Creek Tunnel wasn’t built right, won’t function fully, city says (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Poor-quality concrete. No tunnel liner. Missing rebar. A “patchwork of repairs.”
After more than $161 million spent, the new Waller Creek Tunnel has severe structural problems that will reduce its ability to control flooding in downtown Austin and lessen the tunnel’s lifespan, an attorney representing the city said in a letter to a contractor last month.
“This impacts the entire purpose of the tunnel,” the Feb. 23 letter said...

Legal memo says CodeNEXT petition flawed (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Texas courts have ruled that “zoning is a subject that is outside the scope of the initiative and referendum process.” Therefore, the city is neither required nor authorized to call an election on the petition currently being circulated by opponents of the new land development regulations known as CodeNEXT.
That is one of the conclusions of a memorandum from well-known Austin attorney C. Robert Heath of Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP, which City Attorney Anne Morgan recently forwarded to City Council. The subject of the memo is the petition titled, “Petition for an Austin Ordinance Requiring Both a Waiting Period and Voter Approval Before CodeNEXT or Comprehensive Land Development Revisions Become Effective.”...

Council considers gentrification and ‘right to return’ policy (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

On Tuesday, City Council members got their first glimpse at a study they voted to authorize that examines gentrification in Austin.
The first phase of the study, conducted by three University of Texas professors, analyzed the demographic profile of nearly every census tract in the city. The analysis sought to highlight areas that have experienced significant gentrification as well as neighborhoods that are most likely to gentrify in the coming years...


Texas poised to send its first two Latinas to Congress (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

The state of Texas is all but certain to break a major glass ceiling and send at least one, and likely two, Hispanic women to Congress next year. 
In El Paso, former El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar declared victory Tuesday night in her race to replace Democratic U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, who is running for the U.S. Senate. 
Across the state, state Sen. Sylvia Garcia won her bid for the Democratic nomination for the seat to replace U.S. Rep. Gene Green, D-Houston.
Each woman won the Democratic primary in districts that are heavily in favor of their party in the fall... 

There are three Hispanic Republicans in the Texas Legislature. Only one is coming back. (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

And then there was one.
After Tuesday's primary elections, the only Hispanic Republican incumbent who will return to the Texas Legislature in January is state Rep. J.M. Lozano of Kingsville. That's after three Hispanic GOP lawmakers served during the 2017 legislative session. 
On Tuesday, Dallas Republican state Rep. Jason Villalba lost his re-election bid to Lisa Luby Ryan, a primary opponent who flanked him on the right. His departure from the Legislature follows Round Rock Republican state Rep. Larry Gonzales’ previous decision to not seek re-election...

Texas Democrats won the early voting battle, but Republicans won the turnout race (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY

Texas Democrats may have beaten Republicans in the early voting numbers game, but GOP voters usually come out in full force for the primaries — and 2018 was no exception. Democrats nearly doubled their numbers since the last midterm election, from 560,000 in 2014 to more than one million in Tuesday’s primary. This year, 1.5 million voted in the Republican primary, a slight increase from 2014 when 1.3 million people voted. Though Republicans warned voters of a blue wave, it’s unlikely Democrats will prevail in November, said Brandon Rottinghaus, a University of Houston political science professor...

Election night a mixed bag for state’s top business group (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

The state’s main business lobbying group batted 0-4 during Tuesday’s primaries, in terms of its efforts to oust a handful of socially conservative Republican incumbents — whom it views as anti-business — from the state Legislature. But primary night may not have been quite as big of a downer for the Texas Association of Business as that record implies. The group went 2-1 against Gov. Greg Abbott, who tried to unseat three GOP House allies of business-friendly but retiring House Speaker Joe Straus. The Texas Association of Business endorsed all three of the lawmakers opposed by Abbott, and only one of them lost...

Wave of women crashes Texas primaries (Texas Tribunes) LINK TO STORY

A wave of Texas women candidates won or made it to runoffs in more than 50 primary races statewide amid a surge of interest in running for office among women around the country. Texas women dominated in dozens of congressional, legislative and statewide primary races on Tuesday night in the wake of federal elected officials retiring, the #MeToo movement, mounting frustration over a lack of elected women and President Donald Trump's win in 2016.
While the majority of the women who succeeded in their primaries were Democrats, a number of Republican women also advanced. Among the results Tuesday: Democrat Jennie Lou Leeder won her 11th Congressional District primary outright with 82 percent of the vote; Republican Angela Paxton beat Phillip Huffines in Texas Senate District 8, which was the most expensive primary contest for a state office this year; and Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones was the top vote-getter in the 23rd Congressional District and will face Rick Treviño in a primary runoff to determine who will take on U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-Helotes...

Ted Cruz calls out challenger Beto O’Rourke in a sign of a tough fight to come in Texas (Washington Post) LINK TO STORY

Even before the primary votes were counted Tuesday in Texas, Sen. Ted Cruz (R) went on the attack against his November opponent. Cruz and Democratic U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (Tex.) were both quickly declared winners by the Associated Press on Tuesday after polls in the state closed. And, quickly, both candidates turned toward facing each other in November. Cruz called out O’Rourke by name in a conference call with reporters before polls closed and then repeated his criticisms of O’Rourke’s support of gun-control measures, the Affordable Care Act, and “amnesty and open borders” in a TV interview after results were in...

Beto O’Rourke fell short of expectations in the Texas primary. Was it because of his name? (Texas Tribune)

In his bid to take down U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, Democrat Beto O'Rourke has visited 226 of Texas' 254 counties, won glowing coverage from the national media and raised nearly $9 million. 
His Democratic primary opponents mostly campaigned on social media, and reported raising less than $10,000 combined. 
But as the votes rolled in Tuesday night, O'Rourke's win wasn't as massive as traditional indicators might have suggested. O'Rourke won less than two-thirds of the statewide vote. Sema Hernandez, a 32-year-old Houston activist and a self-described “Berniecrat,” picked up a surprising 24 percent. And she trounced O'Rourke in several key border counties with large Hispanic populations...

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