BG Reads | News You Need to Know (May 10, 2019)



Austin Board of Realtors issues cease and desist order in data dispute (Austin American-Statesman)

The Austin Board of Realtors on Wednesday doubled down on its promise to “ensure full accountability from all parties” responsible for the “unauthorized exploitation” of its private database, sending a cease and desist order to the Travis Central Appraisal District.

In a letter emailed to the group’s13,000 members, Austin Board of Realtors president Kevin Scanlan and CEO Emily Chenevert wrote that the group’s layers “sent a cease and desist order to the Travis Central Appraisal District (TCAD), calling on TCAD to stop the unauthorized use of ... MLS (Multiple Listing Service) data in any form or fashion. We also demanded the destruction of any existing (MLS) data in use by TCAD. Unauthorized access to proprietary MLS data by an appraisal district is unacceptable."… (LINK TO STORY)

Austin City Council approves ‘Affordability Unlocked’ program relaxing regulation on affordable housing (Community Impact)

A program that aims to remove barriers to affordable housing throughout the city of Austin is now city law.

Austin City Council approved the program, called “Affordability Unlocked,” on May 9. The program was first introduced in February by District 4 Council Member Greg Casar.

Council spent the majority of the afternoon May 9 discussing a host of amendments to the program. Some tweaks, such as amendments from Council Member Leslie Pool to allow qualifying housing co-ops to be eligible for the program, were folded into the final plan. Other amendments, such as a proposal from Council Member Kathie Tovo that would not allow any developments in the program to rent out some of their units as short-term rental properties, were voted down… (LINK TO STORY)

See also:

BG Episode 40: Discussing Affordability Unlocked with Megan Lasch- Saigebrook Development

Another big lease signed at Block 71, Austin's next huge office skyscraper (Austin Business Journal)

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas has leased 100,992 square feet at Block 71, the office skyscraper under construction at the corner of Sixth Street and Colorado Avenue in downtown Austin.

The high-rise is also called Indeed Tower since the job-search company leased the top 10 floors of the 36-story building, or about 307,000 square feet.

The 709,000-square-foot building is being developed by Trammell Crow Co. It will be the largest office building in Austin when it's finished, surpassing Frost Bank Tower, which has 535,078 rentable square feet… (LINK TO STORY)


Attorneys won't reopen Sandra Bland cases after video surfaces (Houston Chronicle)

Neither a special prosecutor nor the family's attorney plan to try to reopen the criminal or civil cases stemming from Sandra Bland's death in a Waller County jail cell after a new video publicly surfaced in the case.

A Dallas television station on Monday published the recording, made by 28-year-old Bland on her cell phone. It renewed debate over whether the state trooper who pulled her over was properly prosecuted and prompted the family's attorney to question why he had never seen it. The two Democrats from Texas running for president, Beto O'Rourke and Julian Castro, called on Twitter for another look at the case. State Rep. Garnet Coleman, a Houston Democrat, planned to hold a hearing related to the video… (LINK TO STORY)

Texas Narrows Law Barring Contractors From Boycotting Israel (KUT)

Two weeks after a federal judge blocked the enforcement of a state law that prohibits government agencies in Texas from doing business with contractors who are boycotting Israel, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill this week narrowing the controversial law to exclude individual contractors.

The previous version of the law, signed in 2017, mandated that the state could not have a contract with a company unless the company signs a statement saying they do not boycott Israel. Texas is one of 25 other states that have passed such measures in recent years in response to a pro-Palestinian movement that aimed to change Israel's treatment of Palestine through the boycott, divestment and sanction (BDS) of businesses and organizations that support Israel… (LINK TO STORY)

Months after scathing audit, VisitDallas CEO Phillip Jones and its CFO are out (Dallas Morning News)

Two embattled leaders of VisitDallas are out months after a city audit called into question the organization's management of tax dollars. VisitDallas, the city's re-branded convention and visitors bureau, announced CEO and President Phillip Jones' resignation Wednesday evening in a news release. Jones' parting, the release said, was "a mutual decision."

And Mayor Mike Rawlings told The Dallas Morning News on Wednesday evening that VisitDallas Chief Financial Officer Matthew Jones, no relation to Phillip, also is no longer with the organization. When asked why, VisitDallas chief marketing officer Frank Librio said only that he couldn't "get into the details of a personnel matter."… (LINK TO STORY)


Struggling to House Migrant Families, Local Governments Weigh Using Taxpayer Funds (Governing)

The space the Kino Events Center occupies once was a local YMCA, which closed about two years ago.

A mural of brightly colored children's faces overlooks its spacious gymnasium.

The court is lined with numbered green cots, 119 total, provided by the Salvation Army. Each has a towel neatly folded on top.

All are empty at the moment, but that could change at a moment's notice, and so the shelter remains open and fully staffed, just in case.

The number of asylum-seeking families that federal officials are releasing in Tucson has been fluctuating greatly. In the past few weeks, they've overwhelmed the city's existing network of permanent and temporary shelters run by area nonprofits… (LINK TO STORY)


Episode 45: Political Talk with Houston Chronicle Metro Reporter Erica Grieder

On today's BG Podcast Houston Chronicle Metro Reporter Erica Grieder discusses Texas and National politics, including the current legislative session and 2020 elections, with Bingham Group CEO A.J. Bingham.

Check out Episode 45 here!

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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