BG Reads | News - What We're Reading (August 20, 2018)



State appeals court temporarily blocks Austin’s paid sick leave ordinance (Texas Tribune)

Amid a legal challenge from a slate of powerful business-aligned groups, the city of Austin’s ordinance requiring employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave has been temporarily blocked from going into effect.
The city voted in February to allow workers at most private Austin businesses to accrue up to 64 hours of paid sick leave annually. But the measure quickly drew opposition from local and state leaders, including a lawsuit filed in April by the right-leaning Texas Public Policy Foundation claiming that the city measure violates the Texas Minimum Wage Act.
An Austin-based state appeals court ruled Friday to temporarily block the ordinance from going into effect while other parts of the case are litigated. The ordinance had been set to take effect Oct. 1.
“Without this stay, Austin business owners would be forced to incur significant costs implementing the requirements of the ordinance while its legality was in serious doubt,” said Robert Henneke, general counsel and litigation director for TPPF’s Center for the American Future...
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Listen Also: BG Podcast - Episode 10: Policy Discussion Rob Henneke on Paid Sick Leave and Local Control

Do ‘flag lots’ threaten neighborhood character? (Austin Monitor)

No neighbors voiced opposition to the plans, but two members of the Planning Commission last Tuesday voiced concern about a developer’s attempt to subdivide three large lots in East Austin to create “flag lots” that would each include two homes.
The properties are at 2106 EM Franklin Ave. and 1191 and 1197 Greenwood Ave.
Developers often seek flag lots when there is enough land on the property for two units but not enough street frontage. They build two or more units, one in front of the other, with a long, narrow strip of land (the “flagpole”) that becomes a driveway that extends from the street to each unit, so that each one has vehicle access to the street.
City staff had recommended the requested variance, saying that it was in line with the neighborhood plan, which was adopted in 2002...
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You’re going to start seeing Amazon-branded vans in Austin. Here’s why. (Austin American-Statesman)

Amazon sends out millions of packages each day. But rarely can anybody notice. 
That’s because Amazon uses a variety of methods to make the “last-mile” trips of its packages, including the U.S. Postal Service, contract workers and third-party companies. Which means it’s unusual to see Amazon-branded vehicles roaming the streets. 
But that’s about to change, starting in Austin. 
This week, Austin-based delivery company C.L.S. Express became the first in the nation to roll out Amazon-branded delivery vans through a new Amazon initiative.
The new system lets individuals start their own delivery operations using a suite of Amazon technology and products. It comes as the online retailer is looking for different ways to expand its ever-growing delivery business...
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Austin ISD Issues Clear-Bag Policy For All Home Sporting Events (KUT)

A new clear-bag policy is slated to begin Aug. 30 at Austin Independent School District home games. Only clear plastic, vinyl or PVC bags will be allowed into sporting events.
It's "all about safety," AISD Athletic Director Leal Anderson said.
“We want our fans to be safe as they enter into our stadium,” he said. “We’re just in a different time in our society now, and we’re taking an additional measure to be safe in Austin.”
The new policy will be implemented at the House Park Athletics Facility, Nelson Field, Burger Stadium, Ellie Noack Sports Complex and Delco Center. Anderson said it's also possible that the policy will be expanded to AISD campuses...
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New York and D-FW will have the most new apartments in 2018 (Dallas Morning News)

If you are looking for a new apartment, Dallas-Fort Worth is the right place. More than 17,000 new apartments are set to open their doors in the D-FW area this year. That's second only to New York City among the cities with the most new apartments on the way, according to a new report by Yardi Systems. "Hundreds of thousands of new apartments are opening their doors to renters across the country," Yardi's Ioana Popovici said. "The other two Texas metros that make the Top 20 are Austin, with over 8,800 new apartments, and Houston, with over 7,600...
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How George P. Bush’s agency stumbled in helping Harvey victims (Austin American-Statesman)

Less than a month after Hurricane Harvey struck, Gov. Greg Abbott tapped Land Commissioner George P. Bush to help put storm victims back in their homes. “I am confident Land Commissioner Bush is up to the challenge,” Abbott said in September. “His charge is clear — to be a champion for Texans whose residences have been damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Harvey and help them to feel once again at home.” The task appeared a big challenge — and an excellent opportunity — for an ambitious politician. Bush, the scion of Texas’ most famous political family, is widely thought to aspire to higher office. “We’re up to the task,” Bush said at the time...
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Border mayors frustrated with rhetoric from Washington, say wall not needed in region (El Paso Times)

Mayors of cities along the U.S.-Mexico border say negative rhetoric from Washington that labels the area a war zone remains a challenge and agree a wall isn't needed in the region. “Unfortunately, they don’t know the beauty of our communities in the border,” said Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima. The mayors of El Paso, Las Cruces, Sunland Park, N.M., and the mayor pro tem of Juárez met for a roundtable discussion during the 2018 U.S.-Mexico Border Summit on Wednesday at the Judson F. Williams Convention Center. The discussion comes at a time when the U.S.-Mexico border is under a political microscope over immigration and border security...
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HUD Hits Facebook For Allowing Housing Discrimination (NPR)

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is accusing tech behemoth Facebook of engaging in housing discrimination, according to a complaint filed on Friday.
In it, HUD says the social media giant allows landlords and home sellers access to advertising tools that limit which prospective buyers or tenants can view certain online ads based on race, religion, sex, disability and other characteristics.
"The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination including those who might limit or deny housing options with a click of a mouse," Anna María Farías, HUD's assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity said in a statement...
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St. Louis University is installing Amazon Alexa-enabled Echo Dots campus-wide (Fortune)

The first college or university in the nation is installing Alexa-enabled Amazon Echo Dots in every single dorm room across campus.
St. Louis University, a private four-year university in Missouri, unveiled a plan to install 2,300 intelligent assistant-enabled Echo Dots in residence halls and student apartments before classes begin later this month. The Alexa-enabled Echo Dots will be programmed to answer over 100 specific questions about the campus and student activities, such as the hours for the library or a list of upcoming public lectures...
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