BG Note | News - What We're Reading (October 16, 2017)
City debuts robot car roadmap (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY
The dawn of the robot car future is just around the corner but the full obsolescence of human drivers is still decades away, according to Austin Transportation Director Robert Spillar.
More specifically, Spillar told the Mobility Transformation Advisory Council earlier this month that a complete conversion to automated vehicles will likely be 40 years down the line.
In the meantime, he said, the city and region will need to continue to invest in transit, sidewalks and other multimodal transportation options.
“If we continue to conceive of automated technologies just as a replacement for the driver-owned vehicle, I’m not sure we can achieve some of the municipal goals that we’re still after,” Spillar said.
Texas Disposal Systems unhappy with proposed new lobbying rules (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY
City Council is scheduled to take up a recommendation from city staff at its meeting on Thursday that will make changes to the longtime Anti-Lobbying Ordinance in response to problems the city has encountered with its waste contracts.
The main problem is that Texas Disposal Systems, which currently is under a 30-year contract with the city to collect waste and yard trimmings and a 20-year contract to process recycling, has claimed that the city’s lobbying rules prevent it from bidding on any other waste hauling contracts. If TDS did submit additional bids, the company claims that its regular back-and-forth communications with city officials might constitute a violation of the ordinance and put it at risk of losing its existing multimillion-dollar contracts. That’s a risk the company is not willing to take, its representative, Michael Whellan, told the Ethics Review Commission on Oct. 11.
Even though TDS is no longer bidding on the contracts, it has dispatched Whellan to argue against the city awarding contracts to other companies, a practice that some of its smaller competitors have denounced as bullying.
Texas among states most affected by lag in Hispanic education (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY
As America’s Hispanic population has expanded, the group has had an increasingly larger role in the country’s workforce.
Despite that trend, a new study shows Hispanics are having a more difficult time than other ethnicities in landing better-paying jobs, with the shortfall being driven by a gap in higher educational attainment. The issue has particular impact in states such as Texas, which has the country’s second-largest Hispanic population and is significantly affected by a high number of foreign-born Hispanics, according to the study.
What does Trump's repeal of environmental rules mean for Texas? (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY
Earlier [last] week, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt announced the agency will seek to repeal the Clean Power Plan — President Barack Obama’s signature effort to combat climate change.
The announcement is the latest of the Trump administration's moves to unravel several nationwide and Texas-specific environmental regulations that would have required the state to slash industrial emissions that are linked to global warming, human illnesses and diminished visibility in Big Bend and other national parks.
Other regulations on the chopping block would have allowed the federal government to regulate small streams and wetlands so they don’t leach pollution into larger waterways and to require automakers to increase fuel efficiency standards.
What Would Happen if the U.S. Withdrew From NAFTA (New York Times) LINK TO STORY
President Trump continues threatening to withdraw the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement, and with negotiations on rocky ground, that risk could soon become reality. Withdrawing from the pact would bring big changes for the economy and for consumers.
Since the pact came into effect in 1994, United States trade with Mexico and Canada has more than tripled, growing more rapidly than American trade with the rest of the world. Mexico and Canada are now the second and third largest exporters to the United States, after China. And the two countries are the leading importers of American products.