BG Note | News - What We're Reading (October 13, 2017)
Visit Austin to pay for its own alcohol, promote only Austin musicians (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY
Visit Austin, formerly known as the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau, will no longer be paying for alcohol to entertain would-be Austin conventioneers with city Hotel Occupancy Tax collections. The group promised the mayor and City Council that in the future it would only use private funds for alcohol purchases.
In addition, Visit Austin will no longer be wooing clients with Lady Gaga tickets as they have in the past. Instead, they will only entertain with local Austin musicians.
Those are two of the promises Tom Noonan, Visit Austin’s president and CEO, made to Council in response to criticism of those marketing practices. Noonan sent a letter to the mayor and Council on Tuesday outlining the changes Visit Austin was preparing to make.
Council pushes ahead with CodeNEXT contract (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY
City Council has voted to authorize spending what is supposed to be the final chunk of money allocated for the consultants hired to craft CodeNEXT, the rewrite of the city’s Land Development Code.
The $2.27 million will go to Opticos Design Inc., the California-based consulting firm in charge of the rewrite, as well as a number of subcontractors, bringing the total taxpayer bill to $8.5 million over the past four years.
Facing opposition from most of her colleagues, who voiced concerns about making changes to the contract that might make the process longer or more expensive, Council Member Leslie Pool backed off an effort to add amendments to the contract that would require the consultants to “complete all missing or incomplete components” of the current draft before getting started on the third and final draft. Among other things, Pool wanted answers on how the current draft would affect flooding, signage regulations and site plan requirements for “missing middle” housing.
East Austin community looks to AISD for affordable housing (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY
At a September meeting of the Austin Independent School District Board of Trustees, almost half of the public comments weren’t about academic issues. Instead, they were about housing. Students, parents, teachers and other community members were asking the board to create affordable housing at the former Allan Elementary School on the east side.
It wasn’t a random request. More than a year ago, the district announced it wanted to sell 10 properties, including Allan Elementary. Some of the other properties got bids from commercial developers, nonprofits, the city and even Alamo Drafthouse. But this summer, the district took Allan off the market.
Straus calls scuttling of bathroom bill a `turning point’ for Texas (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY
Declaring that the scuttling of the bathroom bill this year “can be and needs to be a turning point” in how Texas presents itself to the world, House Speaker Joe Straus on Thursday named a special committee to study and highlight what the state should do to draw jobs, investment and workers.
“We can continue to focus on issues like bathrooms that divide Texans and hurt the recruitment of employers and top talent, or we can focus on issues that actually support growth and respond to the demands of the local economy,” Straus told a Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce breakfast at the Hilton Austin Hotel downtown.
After "bathroom bill" fight, Straus launches panel on Texas business climate (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY
In the wake of the "bathroom bill" fight that generated strong business backlash, House Speaker Joe Straus is putting together a committee to make sure Texas can continue to chase new companies.
On Thursday, the San Antonio Republican unveiled the House Select Committee on Economic Competitiveness, saying it will look at the factors that draw businesses to Texas, including education and infrastructure. He said he wanted the panel to "work quickly and aggressively," giving it a Dec. 12 deadline to report its findings.
"It’s time that we re-assert that Texas is fully committed to private-sector growth," Straus said in a speech to the Austin Chamber of Commerce, where he announced the committee. "There should be no ambiguity that the Texas House will focus on the big and consequential instead of the petty and the polarizing."