BG Note | News - What We're Reading (October 3, 2017)

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[Austin Metro]

Amid legal challenge, Austin may craft new campaign fundraising limits (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

More than a year after a judge threw out limits on when candidates for the Austin City Council may raise campaign cash, council members are looking at establishing a wider fundraising window they hope will survive challenges. The council on Thursday will consider an ordinance that would allow candidates for city office to accept campaign contributions only during a “campaign period” of a year before an election. Previous city rules allowed campaign fundraising only within six months of an election. Former City Council Member Don Zimmerman sued to challenge that provision and won. The city’s appeal of that decision remains pending.

Audit: Public Works skipped quality controls (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

The Public Works Department, which oversees the city’s capital projects, like the new Central Library and Water Treatment Plant 4, has failed to “consistently follow processes designed to contain costs and ensure the quality” of such projects, according to a report released by the Office of the City Auditor on Wednesday.
City Council’s Audit and Finance Committee received and accepted the report at its Wednesday meeting.

Austin Energy to turn over Holly Power Plant site by December (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

The bitter reminder of decades of pollution that the Holly Street Power Plant presents to the residents of the Holly neighborhood will soon disappear.
As of the Parks and Recreation Board meeting on Sept. 26, the plant is in its final phase of decommissioning before the land will be transferred from Austin Energy into the hands of the Parks and Recreation Department.
Nine acres of land will be transferred to Parks and Recreation once the final cleanup is complete. Currently, Austin Energy is removing the remaining concrete and continuing with its soil cleanup to ensure that the eradication of toxins complies with Texas Commission on Environmental Quality criteria. According to Eric Stager, a senior environmental scientist for Austin Energy, “For future Parks land, we are cleaning up to the strictest residential standards.

Austin officials reassure public about ACL safety after Vegas shooting (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY 

In the wake of Sunday night’s sniper attack in Las Vegas, authorities in Austin rushed to reassure the public they are ready to protect the 75,000 people expected each day to pack Zilker Park for the Austin City Limits Music Festival this weekend.
Interim Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said the biggest issues with ACL are usually traffic and getting massive crowds of people in and out of the city.
While he expects the same issues this year, he said authorities have reviewed a security plan months in the making that identifies and addresses any potential threat.

Capital Metro board approves new budget (Austin Metro) LINK TO STORY

The Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority will cruise through its next fiscal year with a budget of $419 million.
The agency’s board of directors approved that budget with a unanimous vote – minus an absent Board Member Terry Mitchell – during its regular monthly meeting on Friday.
The new budget reflects the tenuous position the agency maintains when it comes to external economic conditions.
“Most of our service expansion will be funded by lower diesel costs next year,” Budget Director Kevin Conlan told the board.
A large chunk of the coming year’s spending – $152 million – will go toward capital projects including the expansion of the MetroRail’s Downtown Station and a brand new park-and-ride facility beneath State Highway 71 near South Lamar Boulevard.

[TEXAS]

Texas solar industry watches as trade case moves forward (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY 

A recent solar energy boom in Texas and other states could be hobbled, critics warn, if a federal agency agrees to levy taxes or other protective measures on solar products made abroad.
The U.S. International Trade Commission is scheduled to hold a hearing Tuesday to consider imposing a tariff or price floor on imports of solar panels and cells to help domestic manufacturers compete. But opponents hope to convince the commissioners that protectionist policies would harm the bulk of the industry that works with solar panels and cells but doesn't manufacture them.

Governor’s new chief of staff was one of the top lobbyists in Texas (San Antonio Express-News) LINK TO STORY

Luis Saenz is taking over the top job in Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s office less than a month after he was registered to lobby for the largest health insurer in the country, the Philip Morris parent company and a New York-based hedge fund, filings with the Texas Ethics Commission show.

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