BG Reads | News You Need to Know (September 5, 2018)



A year into Amazon’s HQ2 search, Austin is still waiting (Austin American-Statesman)

For the past year, Angelos Angelou has faced the same question time after time. He’s come to expect it in calls with journalists, or when talking to fellow economists and business partners. 
Where will Amazon build its second headquarters? 
It’s been one of the biggest questions of the business world since Sept. 7, 2017  -- the day Amazon announced plans for its giant project. 
The company publicly invited every North American city to bid for the development, promising them that its eventual pick would receive $5 billion in investment from the company over 15 to 17 years, along with up to 50,000 high-paying jobs. 
“We look forward to working with you,” Amazon told cities in its request for proposal for the development it has called HQ2. It also boasted that its investment in its hometown Seattle had pumped $38 billion into the local economy from 2010 to 2016.  
Since then, however, a year’s worth of days have passed. 
As the process has gone on, with little public comment from Amazon, the tension level has continued to rise.
"This has been going on for so long that everyone is just anxious to figure out who Amazon is going to pick," said Angelou, the head of Austin-based economic consultancy Angelou Economics. "There will be quite an amount of debate in the community that wins it about the opportunity, but also the challenges."...
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Activists: Overhaul AISD school boundaries or split district into two (Austin American-Statesman)

A group of community activists Wednesday morning will call on Austin district leaders to redraw school boundaries to end long-standing segregation or allow eastern Austin to form its own school district.

The demands are among a list of changes the coalition — which includes leaders of the NAACP, League of United Latin American Citizens and teacher labor group Education Austin and a sitting school board trustee — says are necessary to improve the quality of education for low-income students of color, particularly those living in eastern Austin.

The activists, who have worked on their goals for months, will announce their “declaration of principles and actions” at a news conference Wednesday morning while delivering their demands to district leaders...

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Judge doesn’t rule on Columbus Crew lawsuit after hearing arguments (Austin American-Statesman)

The first hearing in Ohio lawsuit that could affect Austin’s chances of landing a Major League Soccer team was held Tuesday, with Franklin County judge Jeffrey M. Brown hearing arguments for and against dismissing the case.
Brown did not rule on a motion dismiss filed by defendants Precourt Sports Ventures and Major League Soccer, but said a decision would be forthcoming.
Last month, Columbus Crew SC investor-operator Anthony Precourt reached a deal with the city of Austin to build a $200 million stadium on city-owned land near the Domain. The Ohio lawsuit, brought forth by Attorney General — and gubernatorial candidate — Mike DeWine along with the city of Columbus, seems to be the only thing holding up MLS from officially announcing a move.
On Tuesday, both sides were given 45 minutes to present Judge Brown with arguments for and against dismissing the suit...
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Chamber groups’ funding would become leveled under proposed process (Austin Monitor)

Austin’s Economic Development Department is in the beginning stages of restructuring how local chambers of commerce are funded by the city, with the goal of making the funding more equitable and available to more groups.
A recent memo from interim EDD Director Rebecca Giello details the options for opening a stakeholder process that would convene members from more than a half-dozen specialized chambers, with an eye toward making the funding in the city’s Fiscal Year 2019-20 budget align with City Council’s most recent strategic plan through 2023.
For a decade or more there has been a wide disparity in the amount of funding the city provides to the four chambers that make up the Multi-Ethnic Chamber Alliance, the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce and other similar groups. The memo notes: “Performance metrics in these various contracts may or may not align with Council’s new Strategic Direction. There have been requests by other chambers regarding access to financial assistance from the City of Austin.”...
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Dallas County’s secret bail machine (Texas Tribune)

In most places around the country, bail hearings are open to the public. The idea is that if the government is going to try to imprison you, the news media and your family and friends should be able to see what goes on and make sure it’s done fairly.
Not so in Dallas County, where people accused of crimes have their bail set behind closed doors — without any family, lawyers, social workers or journalists present.
A class action lawsuit against the county compelled a district court judge to order the release of video footage of some hearings. After numerous objections, the county issued three days of July bail hearings. The Marshall Project was among those who obtained copies...
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Cruz allies take aim at O'Rourke over eminent domain, father-in-law (Texas Tribune)

Allies of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, are targeting his Democratic opponent, Beto O’Rourke, in a new TV ad over his support on the El Paso City Council for a plan to redevelop downtown El Paso that raised the threat of eminent domain.
The plan never went that far but fueled a contentious chapter in El Paso politics starting over a decade ago. The new TV ad from the Club for Growth — a national conservative group that recently announced a seven-figure offensive in the race — portrays O’Rourke as a puppet of wealthy developers who pushed the project, including his father-in-law, Bill Sanders.
“El Paso’s rich and powerful stay that way by controlling politicians like Beto O’Rourke,” a narrator says in the 30-second spot. “As a councilman, Beto carried water for his wealthy father-in-law, the developer behind a downtown redevelopment scheme, pushing the city to bulldoze an historic Hispanic neighborhood using eminent domain."...
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Deepfakes are coming. Is Big Tech ready? (CNN)

Mark Zuckerberg insisted at Facebook's annual developer conference earlier this year that his company "will never be unprepared ... again" for meddling and disinformation efforts like those run by Russian trolls on its platform during the run-up to the 2016 election.
Yet the social media behemoth and its competitors may still be ill-equipped for their next great challenge: Fake videos that look so real you'd believe former President Obama really did call President Trump a "dipsh*t."
Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have been moving recently to deal with the threats posed by misinformation and meddling that they didn't see coming, but now they face an emerging form of disinformation they know is on the horizon: Deepfakes -- doctored videos that will eventually fool even the sharpest eyes. As the technology to create deepfakes advances, experts say, it won't be long before it's used to foment discord or even affect an election...
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Former Sen. Jon Kyl To Replace The Late John McCain In Senate (KUT)

Former Republican Sen. Jon Kyl has been tapped to replace the late Sen. John McCain in the Senate.
Kyl, 76, served three terms in the Senate, rising to become the No. 2 Republican before retiring in 2013.
He has been helping guide Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh through the Senate and has been a lobbyist at a Washington law firm. He also previously served in the U.S. House.
In making the announcement, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, said "there is no one in Arizona with the stature of Sen. Jon Kyl" and that he is "prepared to hit the ground running."...
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