BG Reads | News You Need to Know (April 16, 2019)
Adler And Flannigan Pass Over Texas Candidates To Endorse Pete Buttigieg For President (KUT)
Two Austin politicians endorsed a Democratic presidential candidate over the weekend – but it wasn't either of the candidates from Texas.
Mayor Steve Adler introduced fellow mayor Pete Buttigieg on Sunday as he formally launched his campaign in South Bend, Ind. Just a few weeks ago, Adler introduced former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke at a rally in Austin.
Adler told the crowd in South Bend that the White House would benefit from someone with city leadership experience.
“Potholes are neither Republican nor Democrat; they just need to be filled," he said. "Politics in cities is the politics of everyday life. ... It is the stuff that hits home. That's why in cities, leadership matters."
Adler said he’s known Buttigieg – a Rhodes Scholar and former Naval intelligence officer – for years and relied on him as a mentor when he was first elected Austin's mayor in 2014… (LINK TO STORY)
Board of Adjustment grants unpermitted carport permission to stay parked (Austin Monitor)
After a bitter neighborhood battle took place last month over a carport, the owner of the unpermitted car shelter was given a verdict to take down the structure that had stood for 16 years.
However, the owner gave it one more fighting chance, presenting the Board of Adjustment with new evidence at its April 8 meeting.
“We took the feedback from last time very seriously,” said Josh Westheimer, the owner of 1802 Cloverleaf Drive, referring to the board’s suggestion to investigate replacing the carport by extending the existing garage to an appropriate length for modern-day vehicles. Both board members and Westheimer agreed that acceptable dimensions for a usable garage are 20 feet wide by 20 feet long. Currently, the property has a garage that is 18 feet wide and just over 15 feet long.
Photo evidence at the hearing showed the family’s cars hanging out of the garage and squeezed in too narrowly to allow an adult to comfortably exit the vehicle, especially if he or she was carrying a child’s car seat. (The Westheimers have welcomed a new member of the family.)
Following the board’s advice at the last hearing, Westheimer explained that he had requested bids to extend the garage that sits in front of the carport. The bids ranged from $14,500 for construction and materials only to $54,000 for all the nitty-gritty details, including permit pulling.
Although a high price to bring his property back into code compliance, not all board members were sympathetic.
“It’s not an entitlement to have a full, two-car covered parking area,” said Chair William Burkhardt, who pointed out that the Westheimers had purchased an older home that would logically have a garage of an appropriate size for vehicles of a bygone era… (LINK TO STORY)
Ex-UT tennis coach Center could get at least a year in prison in admissions scandal (Austin American-Statesman)
Federal prosecutors will recommend that former University of Texas tennis coach Michael Center spend more than one year in prison for accepting $100,000 to help a student get into the university disguised as a scholarship athlete in 2015.
The specifics of a plea negotiation approved by Center and his lawyer are outlined in a court document filed last week in Boston, where prosecutors are striking deals with many of the 50 people accused of using bribery and other forms of fraud in the nationwide college admissions scandal.
Center will plead guilty to a single count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, court document show. He is likely to enter the plea at the next setting in his case on April 24. In exchange for admitting guilt, prosecutors say they will ask a judge to sentence the coach to a prison term at the low end of the sentencing guidelines. The guidelines point to 15 to 21 months in prison.
Prosecutors say they will also request that Center be under court supervision for 12 months after his release and pay a fine of up to $75,000. Center must also forfeit $60,000 that prosecutors say he received from California college admissions adviser Rick Singer in exchange for helping the son of a wealthy Silicon Valley venture capitalist get into UT as a scholarship tennis player and avoid the stringent admission standards imposed against non-athletes. Center received an additional $40,000 that prosecutors say went to the Longhorns tennis program.
The judge in the case is not required to follow the plea agreement… (LINK TO STORY)
Texas Senate Passes Property Tax Bill, Avoids 'Nuclear Option' Procedural Move (KUT)
The Texas Senate broke a logjam Monday that had paralyzed a piece of priority legislation for weeks — blunting a controversial provision in its property tax reform package and then advancing the bill, without having to deploy a procedural “nuclear option" to move it.
A vote on Senate Bill 2, a top imperative for state leaders, had been expected last week. But an apparent lack of support stalled the vote in the upper chamber, where the backing of 19 senators is generally required to bring a bill up for debate. After Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick threatened to blow past decades of tradition and bring the measure to a vote with a simple majority, state Sen. Kel Seliger, a vocal dissenter, relented Monday, allowing the bill onto the floor. He did not support its passage… (LINK TO STORY)
Texas Senate gives local governments more breathing room for property tax revenue growth (Texas Tribune)
The Texas Senate broke a logjam Monday that had paralyzed a piece of priority legislation for weeks — blunting a controversial provision in a property tax reform package and then advancing the bill, without having to deploy a procedural “nuclear option" to move it.
A vote on Senate Bill 2, a top imperative for state leaders, had been expected last week. But an apparent lack of support stalled the vote in the upper chamber, where the backing of 19 senators is generally required to bring a bill up for debate. After Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick threatened to blow past decades of tradition and bring the measure to a vote with a simple majority, state Sen. Kel Seliger, a vocal dissenter, relented Monday, allowing the bill onto the floor. He did not support its passage.
Seliger’s announcement came alongside a reworked bill, that was unveiled Monday with a handful of technical changes and one notable concession. As updated, SB 2 will force cities, counties and other taxing entities to receive voter approval before raising 3.5% more property tax revenue than the previous year — a change from the 2.5% trigger originally proposed. School districts would still face the 2.5% threshold under the version of the bill approved Monday… (LINK TO STORY)
Nirenberg says San Antonio is stronger than ever (Rivard Report)
Because of San Antonio’s strides in increasing equity, decreasing crime, and planning efforts surrounding transportation and affordable housing, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said Friday during his second annual State of the City address, “If you were to choose any time in our 301 years of history to live in San Antonio, you’d pick right now.”
Nirenberg didn’t make any grand announcements to the hundreds of business and community leaders who gathered at the large ballroom in the Henry B. González Convention Center, but he assured them that the City is “stronger than ever” this year because of comprehensive planning efforts launched under his first term as mayor.
During his address last year, Nirenberg announced the creation of Connect SA, a nonprofit dedicated to formulating a comprehensive multimodal plan that will bring a substantive direction for transportation to voters in 2020. City Council adopted a first-of-its-kind affordable housing policy last year… (LINK TO STORY)
Trump campaign machine has two year head start (Wall Street Journal)
Before any well-known Democrats even began their White House bids, President Trump’s re-election team had spent more than $83 million on rallies, fundraising and other expenses associated with the thick of a heated race.
Mr. Trump set up his 2020 operation as he moved into the White House, the earliest start of any president in modern history. His three political committees raised more than $127 million between January 2017 and the end of last year, mostly from small donors, according to Federal Election Commission reports. But the PACs aren’t waiting for the general election to start spending, a Wall Street Journal analysis of FEC reports found… (LINK TO STORY)
Trump sees an obstacle to getting his way on immigration: his own officials (New York Times)
Stephen Miller was furious — again. The architect of President Trump’s immigration agenda, Mr. Miller was presiding last month over a meeting in the White House Situation Room when he demanded to know why the administration officials gathered there were taking so long to carry out his plans.
A regulation to deny welfare benefits to immigrants — a change Mr. Miller repeatedly predicted would be “transformative” — was still plodding through the approval process after more than two years, he complained. So were the new rules that would overturn court-ordered protections for migrant children. They were still not finished, he added, berating Ronald D. Vitiello, the acting head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement… (LINK TO STORY)
On April 10th, 2019 the Bingham Group team marked its Two Year Anniversary!
Public Affairs Associate Intern Julie Potrykus spoke with Bingham Group CEO A.J. Bingham about the start of the firm, reflecting on the past two years, and what’s ahead. She also speaks with Bingham Group Senior Consultant Paul Saldaña who recently joined the firm about his experience in the Austin market.