BG Reads | News You Need to Know (October 5, 2018)
Housing, CodeNEXT restart and Houston’s positions shape D1 candidate forum (Austin Monitor)
Ora Houston’s decision to exit City Council at the end of the year has ushered in a crowded field of contenders for her District 1 seat, but her presence and influence are still well felt in the positions and talking points taken among the seven candidates headed into the November election.
One of the first questions to the candidates at Monday’s District 1 forum – held at Wesley United Methodist Church and organized by the Austin Monitor, KUT, Glasshouse Policy, Austin Tech Alliance and A Functional Democracy – asked them to name positions where they differ politically from Houston.
All seven said they would have supported the city’s recently passed and enjoined paid sick leave policy instead of voting against it as Houston did, with other positions bringing into relief the issues and policy points that are at the top of their minds…
Small progress, but Austin still lags in enabling 5G adoption (Austin Monitor)
A pair of efforts to bring 5G telecommunication technology to portions of Austin is welcome news to proponents of the smart city capabilities available with widespread use. But the city still lags far behind other Texas cities in installation of the street-level “cells” needed to enable the standard that tech experts expect will start becoming widely available on consumer devices next year.
Late last month AT&T and Samsung announced a partnership to create a 5G innovation zone on Samsung Austin Semiconductor’s 160-acre campus in North Austin. And the city’s Communications and Technology Management Division recently prepared a pre-proposal document that could lead to a collaboration with Texas A&M University and Texas State University to bring 5G cells to a portion of the Riverside Drive community just east of downtown Austin.
Those efforts will add 5G cells to the city, which currently has three units installed in the downtown core compared to more than 800 units installed in Houston and more than 300 installed in Dallas, according to the Texas 5G Alliance…
City Council votes: Manchaca to become Menchaca (Austin Monitor)
Austin City Council voted Thursday afternoon to rename South Austin’s Manchaca Road to reflect its allegedly historically accurate spelling: Menchaca.
While the issue may appear to be too simple for debate, the vowel in question is a placeholder for a much broader controversy involving the intersection between historical record, identity and the right way to implement change when a community does not speak with one voice.
At the heart of the debate is a belief that Manchaca Road was named for Captain José Menchaca, an American soldier and politician who fought in the 1835-36 Texas Revolution for independence from Mexico. Most proponents of this belief argue that words often evolve in pronunciation and in spelling, particularly when a mixture of languages are present, as has long been the case in Texas. With this conviction, organizations and individuals have advocated for the name change as a sign of respect for Menchaca and all Austin residents of Spanish descent…
When the Texas House and Senate fight, legislative agencies squirm (Texas Tribune)
We already knew the Legislature was going to start its January session without a House Appropriations Committee; naming a new budget-writing panel will follow the election of a new speaker of the House.
Now there’s a new kink in the preparation of the state’s next two-year budget: Ursula Parks, the beleaguered director of the obscure but critical Legislative Budget Board, is retiring at the end of the month.
Her departure is notable for a couple of reasons that have nothing to do with Parks and everything to do with the finances at the heart of state government. The LBB has played the part of the rope in a fierce tug-of-war between the House and the Senate.
Parks’ departure caps a series of tense moments between lawmakers and a prominent agency that belongs not to the executive branch, like most agencies, but to the Legislature itself…
Key Republicans signal satisfaction with FBI report, increasing confirmation odds for Kavanaugh (Washington Post)
A pair of key Republican senators expressed satisfaction Thursday with a new FBI report, increasing the odds of Senate confirmation this weekend of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee who has faced sexual misconduct allegations.
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, one of three Republicans who had not indicated how they plan to vote, said Thursday that “it appears to be a very thorough investigation, but I’m going back later to personally read the interviews.” Shortly afterward, Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who requested the investigation, told reporters that “we’ve seen no additional corroborating information.” Collins, Flake and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, are the critical votes that could ensure Kavanaugh’s ascension to the nation’s highest court. On Thursday afternoon, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of N.D., a red-state Democrat whose vote Republicans were courting, said she would vote no on Kavanaugh…
Musk trolls the SEC with tweet mocking agency (Politico)
Tesla CEO Elon Musk fired off a tweet on Thursday that took a not-so-subtle shot at the Securities and Exchange Commission, which on Saturday settled fraud charges with the tech billionaire.
At 4:16 p.m., Musk tweeted that "the Shortseller Enrichment Commission is doing incredible work. And the name change is so on point!" On Saturday, Musk agreed to step down as Tesla chairman and pay $20 million for an Aug. 7 tweet that said he had "funding secured" for a deal to take the electric car company private. Musk has railed against short sellers who are betting Tesla’s shares will fall and who have raised doubts about the company’s vehicle sales. His latest tweet came as the judge overseeing the settlement on Thursday declined to immediately approve the deal, leaving open the possibility it may not go through. U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan asked the SEC and Musk to file a joint letter "explaining why the Court should approve the proposed consent judgment." The SEC settlement, which allowed Musk to remain Tesla’s CEO but would remove him as chairman, required the company to put additional controls in place "to oversee Musk’s communications." An SEC representative declined to comment on Musk's tweet and a Tesla representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The tweet landed after the stock market closed…