BG Note | News - What We're Reading (November 21, 2017)


[Austin Metro]

Council reveals six finalists for city manager position (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

After getting heat for keeping candidates’ identities secret and evading reporters, City Council has released the names of six finalists for the city manager position.
Mayor Steve Adler published the names and biographies to the Council Online Message Board Monday afternoon.
The city has spent more than a year searching for a city manager, Austin’s highest unelected position. Marc Ott, who last held the role, left Austin in October 2016.
In two weeks, each candidate will meet with Council members and the City Manager Search Advisory Task Force. The shortlist, generated with the help of Russell Reynolds Associates, an external search firm, will then be narrowed from six to three after Council meets Dec. 7. Final interviews will take place mid-December and include members of the public.
These are the current candidates for the job...

Audit: City jobs programs disorganized (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

The city’s workforce development programs are neither well-planned nor well-coordinated, and the city does not have reliable data to evaluate the success of the programs, according to an audit released last week by the Office of the City Auditor.
The audit, which was presented to the City Council Audit and Finance Committee by Assistant City Auditor Katie Houston, also notes that the city lacks goals related to market needs, and found that “while it appears that workforce development programs benefited some participants at the individual level, it does not appear that the City prioritized contracted services to meet its own target industries or the needs of Austin area employers.”...

Building that houses Yeti flagship store listed for sale (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

The building that houses Yeti’s Austin flagship store is for sale.

HFF has been retained to market the property at 220 S. Congress Ave., calling the offering “a rare mixed-use investment opportunity.”

The building, at the foot of the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge and just south of Lady Bird Lake, was originally constructed in the 1930s and extensively renovated in 2016. It is fully leased to Yeti Coolers, Hossley Lighting Associates and Boulder, Colo.-based Techstars, a venture capital and startup accelerator which recently snagged the last space in the building...

AISD May Sell Headquarters To Austin Developer; Baker Center To Alamo Drafthouse (KUT) LINK TO STORY

The Austin Independent School District is prepared to sell two of its largest, highest-value properties. Bids for the district’s downtown headquarters and its teaching facility in Hyde Park were revealed in the agenda for the Board of Trustee’s Nov. 27 meeting, where members are expected to OK the sale.
Austin-based development firm SDC placed a $36.5 million bid on the West Sixth Street headquarters, the Carruth Administration Center; Alamo Drafthouse submitted a $10.6 million bid for the district’s Baker Center, located on Avenue B at 39th Street in Hyde Park...


Congressman ‘shocked, outraged’ by Statesman report on Temple VA abuses (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

U.S. Rep. John Carter sent a letter to Department of Veterans Affairs Director David Shulkin on Monday demanding answers regarding findings of abuse of veterans, equipment theft, abuse of power and possible financial crimes at the VA’s Temple campus. On Sunday, the American-Statesman detailed the results of an internal investigation into issues with the Temple VA’s motor pool and grounds crew, as investigators reported years of mistreatment of veterans undergoing substance abuse treatment, as well a “complex scheme” to profit from fraudulent purchase orders and questionable contracts...

4 years later, Texas still not drug testing unemployment benefit applicants (The Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

In 2013, the Texas Legislature passed a law allowing for the drug testing of certain out-of-work Texans applying for unemployment. Republicans say politics is the reason they haven't been able to start the testing. They are waiting on the Trump administration to launch new federal guidelines on who the state is allowed to test.
Under Senate Bill 21, those who test positive would be ineligible to receive benefits for at least a month, until they passed another drug test. An applicant could also enroll in a treatment program to remain eligible for benefits within a week of receiving notice of a failed drug test...


Federal judge rules Trump defunding sanctuary cities 'unconstitutional on its face' (The Hill) LINK TO STORY

A federal court on Monday ruled to block President Trump's executive order halting certain federal funds for so-called sanctuary cities, calling it "unconstitutional on its face." 
"The defendants are permanently enjoined from enforcing Section 9(a) of the Executive Order against jurisdictions they deem as sanctuary jurisdictions. Because Section 9(a) is unconstitutional on its face, and not simply in its application to the plaintiffs here, a nationwide injunction against the defendants other than President Trump is appropriate," U.S. District Judge William Orrick ruled...

Texas Businesses Tell Congress They Want to Keep Nafta Largely Intact (Bloomberg) LINK TO STORY

At the border of Mexico, heads of Texas industries ranging from energy to farming are saying they’d like to keep Nafta largely intact with minor modifications.
Key business leaders talked up the economic benefits of the 23-year-old accord at a U.S. Senate committee field hearing in San Antonio, countering the message of U.S. President Donald Trump who called the pact a “disaster.” Trump has threatened to exit Nafta if current talks to update the deal don’t yield more benefits for American workers and companies.  
“We believe in Nafta, it makes sense and we ask for your help in continuing to go forward,” Richard Perez, chief executive of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, said at the hearing on Monday, led by Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican...

FCC plans total repeal of net neutrality rules (Politico) LINK TO STORY

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai will reveal plans to his fellow commissioners on Tuesday to fully dismantle the agency's Obama-era net neutrality regulations, people familiar with the plans said, in a major victory for the telecom industry in the long-running policy debate.
The commission will vote on the proposal in December, some seven months after it laid the groundwork for scuttling the rules that require internet service providers like Comcast or AT&T to treat web traffic equally...

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