BG Reads | News You Need to Know (December 4, 2018)



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Austin looks to other music cities as ‘agent of change’ ordinance develops (Austin Monitor)

If Austin is to make real progress in its new round of trying to pass an ordinance intended to calm noise complaints between residential buildings and entertainment venues, a number of lingering issues from the shelved 2017 effort will have to be resolved. Among them: how to properly enforce the city’s sound ordinances in popular music and entertainment districts, and to what degree developers and residents of condominiums and hotels bear responsibility for coexisting with music venues that may predate new surrounding construction.

Those were two of the matters discussed last week when the city’s music office hosted a “best practices” teleconference with city officials in Toronto, San Francisco and Brisbane, Australia.

Like Austin, all three cities experienced friction between venues and the residential developments they tend to attract, with noise complaints spiking as a result. The representatives shared strategies that included a mix of adjusted or flexible noise limits around venues, increased building requirements for new projects near licensed venues, and agreements about expectations for both sides…

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Apple keeps adding jobs in Austin; headcount balloons to 7,000 (Austin Business Journal)

Apple has added 2,852 full-time employees at the Parmer campus since early 2012, according to the Statesman, and the total workforce there was 5,819 at the end of 2017. That's well above the targets set in the incentives agreements.

Under the agreements, Apple will need to add 3,635 new hires at the Parmer facility by the end of 2025 while maintaining 3,100 pre-existing jobs.

In addition, Apple has employees at the Capital Ridge office it leases in Austin.

The Texas capital is the second-largest hub for Apple outside company headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. A recent report by Yardi Systems Inc. pegged Apple as one of Austin's largest office landlords with ownership of 725,000 square feet…

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See also:

BG Podcast - Episode 23: Policy Update - Austin's Chapter 380 Economic Incentive Agreements

BG Podcast - Episode 12: Policy Discussion RE Austin's Chapter 380 Economic Incentive Agreements

Austin Energy finishes the year with $50.5M in excess revenue, lower bills for customers (Austin Monitor)

After weathering an erratic Electric Reliability Council of Texas market this summer, Austin Energy finished the year in a financially stable position with extra revenue that will be passed on to the public in the coming year.

According to Mark Dombroski, chief financial officer at Austin Energy, who addressed the Electric Utility Commission at its Nov. 19 meeting, the expected revenues can be attributed to an increase in the cost of energy from the ERCOT market as well as a larger-than-anticipated consumption of energy in the summer months. Forty percent of the utility’s sales occurred from June to September.

Operating expenses were 2.7 percent, or $27.2 million, over budget, yet still “we significantly reduced our debt services income and financing,” said Dombroski. There was a 32 percent reduction in debt service for the utility.

This excess in revenue is good news for Austin customers. Due to the Power Supply Adjustment policy that Austin Energy applies to bills, the utility anticipates returning the excess collections to customers this year. (The Power Supply Adjustment allows for the utility to keep electricity prices lower overall and not be subjected to the erratic price changes of the grid.)…

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Gov. Greg Abbott calls meeting of board with power to remove Confederate plaque from Texas Capitol (Dallas Morning News)

Gov. Greg Abbott has called for a meeting of state officials who could discuss the fate of a controversial Confederate plaque in the Texas Capitol.

On Monday, Abbott sent a letter to the five other governing members of the State Preservation Board, an agency responsible for the upkeep of historic sites including the Capitol and governor's mansion. While the letter did not specify he wanted to discuss the Children of the Confederacy Creed plaque, it was sent amid growing calls for the divisive marker to come down. "As the Chairman of the State Preservation Board, I hereby call a board meeting for January 11, 2019," Abbott wrote in his succinct letter. "Please coordinate all administrative issues related to the meeting." Erected in 1959 with the Legislature's blessing, the plaque features the Children of the Confederacy creed, which, until recently claimed to "teach the truths of history ... one of the most important of which is, that the war between the states was not a rebellion nor was its underlying cause to sustain slavery." That statement directly conflicts with Texas' reasons for seceding from the Union, which included "the unnatural feeling of hostility to these Southern States and their beneficent and patriarchal system of African slavery."…

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott closes state agencies Wednesday to mourn George H.W. Bush (Texas Tribune)

All state agencies, offices and departments will be closed on Wednesday for a day of mourning to honor former President George Herbert Walker Bush, Gov. Greg Abbott said in an executive order Monday.

“Under this proclamation, the people of Texas are encouraged to gather, assemble, and pay their respects to the memory of George Herbert Walker Bush through ceremonies in homes, businesses, public buildings, schools, places of worship, or other appropriate places for public expression of grief and remembrance,” Abbott said in a statement.

The order does not include schools and universities. The governor also ordered flags to be flown at half-staff at all state buildings for 30 days.

Government operations will continue with skeletal crews on the day of mourning, according to Abbott…

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Ted Cruz quips that he needed Beto O'Rourke to teach him humility, since Trump's lesson didn't take (Dallas Morning News)

Fresh from a brush with political death last month, the newly bearded Sen. Ted Cruz cracked jokes at a black tie dinner with journalists in a speech laced with some wicked jabs - many aimed at the president and himself.

As a Republican, I believe everything happens for a reason,” Cruz said. “The 2016 race was meant to teach me humility. Beto’s candidacy was meant to teach me humility when the first time didn’t take.” Much of the Texas senator’s routine at Saturday night’s Gridiron dinner focused on his close call against Rep. Beto O’Rourke. The El Paso Democrat held him below 51 percent and raised a whopping $70 million, a showing so strong that Democrats nationwide have urged him to run for the White House. “I know that all of you in the media were betting big on Beto. And what gets me is that you still are,” Cruz said. “I’m starting to see a disturbing pattern.... I took on Trump. He became president. I beat O’Rourke, and somehow that’s launched Beto 2020. ... It’s like there’s some unspoken rule that anybody is presidential timber once they have proven they’re not Ted Cruz.” Cruz poked plenty of fun at himself - “what my friend Rick Perry calls self-defecating humor.” There’s no record of the energy secretary and former Texas governor saying that, though he did have that “oops” moment in a GOP debate in 2011…

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Congress Poised To Punt On Government Spending Fight Over Border Wall (KUT)

Congressional leaders are planning to delay a spending fight until after the memorial ceremonies for former President George Herbert Walker Bush are completed.

House leaders are drafting a bill to postpone a potential government shutdown from midnight on Friday night to the end of the day on Dec. 21.

That gives negotiators an extra two weeks to finalize legislation to fund roughly a dozen agencies, including critical areas like the State Department and the Departments of Homeland Security and Transportation. But it is the fight over money for President Trump's planned wall on the U.S. border with Mexico that has been the main sticking point in the talks so far…

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Arrival of George H.W. Bush brings a mellower mood to Washington (Houston Chronicle)

As befitting a fallen leader, George H.W. Bush’s final trip to Washington on Monday was marked by bands, honor guards, and 21-gun salutes.

But as a hearse carrying his casket crept toward the colonnades of the U.S. Capitol, a mood of perils surmounted and gentler times past descended over a city caught up in the throes of an embattled chief executive at war with the same machinery of government that is central to the Bush legacy. In the morning hours as the 41st president was memorialized in Houston and flown to the nation’s capital on Air Force One - renamed “Special Air Mission 41” for his last journey - President Donald Trump unleashed a torrent of tweets about Roger Stone, Michael Cohen, Robert Mueller and other figures in the ongoing Russia investigation. Settling into a mellower mood as the plane carrying Bush’s casket took to the air, Trump tweeted, “Looking forward to being with the Bush Family to pay my respects to President George H.W. Bush.” Out of deference to Bush, who died Friday at 94, Trump also agreed with the decision of congressional leaders to postpone what had been expected to be a weeklong partisan battle over funding for his proposed border wall -- a fight that could end with a partial government shutdown. But for a moment, to the soft strains of “My Country Tis of Thee,” there would be a brief spell of unity in America. The public tributes in Washington began spontaneously Sunday night at the Kennedy Center, where a gala event honoring American artists began with an extended standing ovation in Bush’s memory at the request of singer Gloria Estefan. “I think it’s appropriate to recognize the passing of a wonderful man who dedicated his life to service and who graciously attended this event many times during his administration, laughing, applauding, singing along and even shedding a tear from right up there in the presidential box,” Estefan said. Her remarks provided an inescapable contrast Trump’s combative relationship with many of the artists and Washington figures featured in the event, which Trump has skipped as president…

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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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