BG Reads | News You Need to Know (November 29, 2018)



Find Voting Locations Here (Travis County)


Ward, Ellis offer contrasting views (Austin Monitor)

Early voting starts today in City Council District 8, as well as Districts 1 and 3, for the Dec. 11 runoff elections.

Frank Ward, the outspoken Republican seeking to represent Southwest Austin’s District 8 on the Austin City Council, believes a substantial portion of Austin’s city government is broken. He also believes that the representative from District 8 should be markedly different – that is to say more conservative – than the other 10 members of the City Council, because the district is more conservative.

His opponent, progressive Democrat Paige Ellis, disagrees with that assessment. She told the Austin Monitor, “I think there is a misconception that we are a conservative district,” noting that “75 percent of the (Nov. 6) general election voters voted for progressive candidates.” Ellis bested two other Democrats in that election and they have since endorsed her. She also points to the fact that Council Member Ellen Troxclair, who chose not to run for re-election, beat the progressive candidate in 2014 by only 57 votes…

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Should the city move to a two-year budget? (Austin Monitor)

Every week that City Council holds a Thursday meeting, Council members meet Tuesday for a “work session” to discuss items that they plan to vote on at the meeting. In recent months, however, Council has also begun setting aside an hour during some work sessions for a broad conversation about how to make city government more efficient and effective.

The exercise is part of an ongoing effort to orient every city program and process toward one of six “strategic outcomes.” The relevant outcome in this case is somewhat of a catchall: “Government that works.”

The most recent hourlong discussion focused on two ideas that Council members have floated in recent years: Switching from a one-year budget cycle to a two-year budget cycle, and developing a process to regularly review programs and consider whether they should continue.

Council Member Jimmy Flannigan has been talking about biennial budgets ever since his election two years ago. Flannigan contends that Council and city staff would make better use of their time if a large chunk of each year weren’t devoted to crafting a budget...

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Weeks before Project Connect vote, city talks community engagement (Austin Monitor)

The Dec. 17 Capital Metro Board of Directors vote on the Project Connect vision plan is quickly approaching. Austin residents are being asked by the transportation agency and City Council representatives to take the time this holiday season to attend and participate in community conversations regarding their specific transportation needs. As new public discussion dates and times are being added to the calendar on a regular basis, some Austin districts are reporting big turnouts while others are struggling to get the word out with such short notice.

In the middle of a week with two of those community conversations as well as a citywide event on Saturday, the Capital Metro Board of Directors sat around the dais with City Council Wednesday afternoon to reflect on the public engagement process up to this point and define what effective community engagement looks like in relation to the controversial and ambiguous Project Connect vision plan. The dais heard from Capital Metro and Austin Transportation Department representatives about where Project Connect is now and how the various organizations involved in Austin’s transportation future may each engage the public in the remaining time before and after the Dec. 17 vote…

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Report: Texas has the highest number of uninsured kids in America (Texas Tribune)

For the first time in a decade, the number of children without health insurance in the United States has risen — and Texas again has the largest share.

A Georgetown University Center for Children and Families report released Thursday found that more than one in five uninsured children in the U.S. live in Texas — about 835,000 as of 2017. The state saw an increase of about 83,000 uninsured children from 2016 to 2017.

Researchers are most vexed that the report marks the first time since the data was collected in 2008 that the nationwide number — as well as the rate — of uninsured children increased, after a decade of decline. The national rate increased from a historic low of 4.7 percent in 2016 to 5 percent in 2017. Texas’ rate of uninsured children in 2017 was at 10.7 percent, up slightly from the previous year and still more than double the national average…

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Surge of oil and gas flowing to Texas coastline triggers building boom, tensions (Texas Tribune)

To the east, the Gulf of Mexico stretches out, blue-green and sparkling. To the west and north, flounder and trout meander in a chain of bays. People flock here to fish. Others come to this beach town near Corpus Christi to kayak, parasail or admire the hundreds of bird species on the barrier island, which is deep into rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Harvey damaged or destroyed 85 percent of the buildings here last year.

A perfect location, from a certain point of view, to put not one but two crude-oil export terminals for ships so big they’re called supertankers.

Those proposals are part of a historic buildout of oil and gas infrastructure in the United States as it becomes a top exporter of both fuels. Texas, home to the most prolific oilfield in the country, is at the epicenter of the frenzy. More than 80 plants, terminals and other projects are in the works or planned up and down the state’s Gulf Coast, from Port Arthur to Brownsville, according to a Center for Public Integrity and Texas Tribune review of corporate plans. Companies have been laying enough pipeline in Texas in the last several years to stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific three times over, more than 8,000 miles in all…

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Democrats Pick Nancy Pelosi As House Speaker, Despite Earlier Internal Opposition (KUT)

House Democrats nominated Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to serve as the next speaker of the House. If approved by the full House, Pelosi would again wield the gavel in January — a dozen years after she became the first female speaker in 2007.

The vote was 203 voting for Pelosi, 32 opposing her and three members leaving their ballot blank. One member was absent.

After more than a year of party angst about needing fresh and younger faces in leadership, House Democrats will almost certainly emerge from their internal caucus election with the same three people in its top three posts: Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and James Clyburn…

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Obama Says 'Dysfunction' Under Trump Is Hurting US Security, Prosperity (KUT)

Former President Barack Obama visited Houston Tuesday night. He spoke at Rice University’s Baker Institute at an event marking the think tank’s 25th anniversary.

Joining Obama on stage was former Secretary of State James Baker. Much of the event focused on the importance of bipartisanship and how that had broken down in the years between Baker going to Washington and when Obama took office. The two agreed the changing media landscape played a big part.

“In 1981, your news cycle was still governed by the stories that were going to be filed by the AP, Washington Post, maybe New York Times, and the three broadcast stations,” Obama said. "Whether people got their news from Walter Cronkite or David Brinkley, they tended to agree on a common set of facts. That set a baseline around which both parties had to adapt and respond to."…

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Cornyn to seek cooperation on trip to inauguration of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (Houston Chronicle)

Sen. John Cornyn, who will join Vice President Mike Pence in Mexico City at this weekend's inauguration of incoming Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, said Wednesday that U.S. officials hope to send a strong message of international cooperation on the trip.

"Obviously, we have a lot in common and I think it's important that members of Congress and members of the administration, like Vice President Mike Pence, who will be travelling there, will make a statement by their presence," Cornyn said. "That we value the relationship, we understand that many of the challenges we face individually we face together, and it's imperative that we work together." Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, will be part of a bipartisan U.S. delegation that includes at least three other Texans: Energy Secretary and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, suburban Houston Republican Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and Laredo Democrat Henry Cuellar, whose district spans the southern border. President Donald Trump will not attend Saturday's inauguration, which will usher in a left-wing populist Mexican government that is expected to clash with the U.S. in a number of areas including trade, immigration, drug trafficking, border security and oil and gas production…

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BG Podcast Episode 24: Tech Talk - 5G and the City

Today's BG Podcast features a conversation with Bob Digneo, Assistant Vice President - External and Regulatory Affairs, AT&T, on the 5G wireless standard and its potential impact on cities and consumers.

What is 5G?

5G, which stands for "fifth generation," is an upcoming standard for mobile telecommunications service that promises to be significantly faster than today's 4G technology.

Austin connection.

AT&T recently opened what it calls a 5G testing lab in North Austin. The lab, one of several AT&T has throughout the country, is a testing ground for 5G signal transmitters and how they handle certain conditions

Why you should care?

It will allow users to browse the internet, upload or download videos, and use data-intensive apps or features such as virtual reality much more quickly and smoothly than is possible now.

What it means for cities?

"Almost any function that a city performs has the potential of being enhanced and being smarter and better, and more efficient with a better more robust wireless network.” - Bob Digneo

Link to BG Podcast Episode 24

Reference links


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