BG Reads | News You Need to Know (August 22, 2019)



Budget, tax hearings coming soon (Austin Monitor)

Budget and tax rate season is upon us once again. As Deputy Chief Financial Officer Ed Van Eenoo told City Council at Tuesday’s work session, the city will hold three public hearings on the $4.2 billion budget, beginning today at Waller Creek parks system now called Waterloo Greenway, described by Van Eenoo as starting at 1 p.m. and by Mayor Steve Adler as “after lunch.”

Forty-two people had already signed up to give Council their take on the matter as of Wednesday evening. The budget is just one of 117 items on Thursday’s agenda.

Citizens will have another opportunity to comment on the budget at a public hearing at 6 p.m. on Aug. 28. In previous years, departments have prepared and presented individual budgets to Council, but since City Manager Spencer Cronk took over, those presentations are a thing of the past. Council members have all the documents and can read about each department at their leisure… (LINK TO STORY)

At Homelessness Forum, Council Members Challenge Fears And 'Urban Myths' About Shelters, Revised Law (KUT)

Austin's mayor and members of the City Council tried to allay fears about the city's revised rules on homelessness and its push to expand shelter space, at a forum hosted by the Downtown Austin Alliance.

The brunt of Wednesday's discussion focused on the rhetoric surrounding Austinites living on the street – and city efforts to address the issue. It was held a day after council members laid out plans to walk back a key tenet of rules they passed in June that allowed camping, resting and panhandling in many public areas… (LINK TO STORY)

Waller Creek parks system now called Waterloo Greenway (Austin Monitor)

The $250 million system of parks planned for areas surrounding Waller Creek in downtown Austin will be known as the Waterloo Greenway going forward, following a naming ceremony held Wednesday at the headquarters of the conservancy in charge of developing the park system.

The name comes after roughly a year of planning to brand the ambitious project, which sits in close proximity to the Austin Convention Center, Red River Cultural District, the Dell Medical School and Palm Park, all of which are undergoing changes expected to remake the face of downtown Austin over the next decade-plus.

Peter Mullan, CEO of the rebranded Waterloo Greenway Conservancy, said long-term planning for the park system accelerated last summer after City Council approved extending the duration of the tax increment reinvestment zone created initially to capture funds for the Waller Creek Tunnel that was created to prevent flooding concerns in large portions of the creek area. The extension is projected to generate $110 million for the park system, with the balance of the money coming from fundraising efforts… (LINK TO STORY)

Austin FC stadium gets fresh rendering, groundbreaking date (Austin Business Journal)

Austin FC will break ground on its stadium in about two weeks in the most visible sign yet of Major League Soccer coming to the Texas capital.

The team will host a groundbreaking ceremony for the $242 million North Austin soccer stadium on Sept. 5, officials announced at an Aug. 21 event. The stadium site, just south of The Domain, is on track to host the league's 27th team beginning in the spring of 2021.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber, Austin Mayor Steve Adler and team chairman and CEO Anthony Precourt will attend the groundbreaking but it won't be open to the public… (LINK TO STORY)


How a secretly recorded Dennis Bonnen-Michael Quinn Sullivan meeting could raise the stakes for the 2020 elections (Texas Tribune)

Whatever members of the Texas House think of the recent headlines involving Speaker Dennis Bonnen, the drama curdling the lower chamber has raised the stakes for Republicans and Democrats ahead of an already crucial election cycle — and it could undermine a recent warning the speaker issued about incumbents campaigning against colleagues in 2020.

In July, allegations surfaced that Bonnen, an Angleton Republican, offered a hardline conservative group House media credentials if its well-funded political action committee targeted 10 Republicans in the 2020 primaries. Perhaps more surprisingly, Bonnen allegedly made disparaging comments about colleagues in the process.

The allegations have been largely met with silence among House members who are waiting to see how the situation shakes out. Still, it’s prompted some Republican officials to acknowledge that the issue, should it linger, could distract a party that needs to focus on winning races this election cycle. A number of Democrats, meanwhile, have seized on the chaos, using it as fuel to charge an already energetic group hopeful about coming close or perhaps even flipping the 150-member House in 2020… (LINK TO STORY)

Hackers cripple 22 Texas government agencies, just as new cybersecurity law is enacted (Houston Chronicle)

About five months before 22 government entities in Texas were hit by a cyberattack that took their computer systems hostage, state Rep. Giovanni Capriglione gave his fellow lawmakers a sternly-worded warning that the state needs to be better prepared.

“We have to face the reality that we’re not currently developing the best practices necessary to protect the state’s data and confidential information,” the Southlake Republican said at a committee hearing in April. “By teaching our employees and contractors how to safeguard the delicate information they handle daily, we can take a solid step forward in minimizing the state’s cybersecurity risk.”… (LINK TO STORY)

Dallas County commissioners draw ire for voting down raises for elected officials — including themselves (Dallas Morning News)

Three members of the Dallas County Commissioners Court killed a measure to give themselves and other elected officials a raise, drawing criticism from their colleagues Tuesday. County Judge Clay Jenkins and Commissioners Elba Garcia and J.J. Koch voted against the 4% raise, while John Wiley Price and Theresa Daniel supported it.

The sheriff, county treasurer, county clerk, district clerk, tax assessor-collector, justices of the peace and constables also would have received raises if the measure had passed. The opposition to increasing pay didn’t sit well with several elected officials who attended the commissioners court meeting… (LINK TO STORY)

San Antonio has a new draft of the paid sick leave ordinance (San Antonio Express-News)

After four months of deliberation, the 13-member panel charged with honing the city’s paid sick leave ordinance so it survives a legal challenge from business groups has a new draft of the law.

The draft of the revised ordinance, which requires employers to provide earned paid sick time to full-time and part-time workers, isn’t final but shows what changes City Council members could approve to make the law more palatable to the local business community… (LINK TO STORY)

See also:

BG Podcast - Episode 10: Policy Discussion Rob Henneke on Paid Sick Leave and Local Control

BG Podcast - Episode 11: Meet James Hines, SVP of Advocacy and In-House Counsel, Texas Association of Business

BG Episode - 20: State Rep. Diego Bernal, District 123 (D-San Antonio), on local control by cities


New Trump Policy Would Permit Indefinite Detention Of Migrant Families, Children (KUT)

The Trump administration has announced it is ending a federal court agreement that limits how long migrant families with children can be detained.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan outlined the new policy Wednesday, which replaces the Flores settlement agreement.

That's been a longtime target of immigration hard-liners in the Trump administration, who contend the settlement has acted as a lure to families in Central America.

The new policy means that migrant families who are detained after crossing the border can be kept indefinitely, until their cases are decided. Today's policy doesn't specify a limit but sets an expectation that cases be resolved comparatively quickly — within about two months… (LINK TO STORY)


We’re taking a summer hiatus, so please enjoy some our favorite past episodes in the interim:

BG Podcast Episode 46: Austin FC Updates from Club President Andy Loughnane

On today's episode Austin FC President Andy Loughnane sits down for club updates with the Bingham Group Senior Consultant Paul Saldaña and CEO A.J. Bingham.

Andy was named president of the Major League Soccer (MLS) club on January 3, 2019. Most recently he was president of business operations for MLS’ Columbus Crew SC. 

Andy provided Bingham Group with the latest updates on Austin FC, including hiring for front office and coaching staff, groundbreaking, season tickets, and its development academy, among others.

Austin FC will be the 27th team to enter Major League Soccer, and will begin play in Spring 2021… (LINK TO SHOW)

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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