BG Note | News - What We're Reading (November 22, 2017)


[Austin Metro]

Should city elections be moved to odd years? (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Some political leaders and activists in Austin believe the city would be better off if elections for City Council did not coincide with higher-profile campaigns for president, governor and Congress.

At a meeting of the Charter Review Commission on Nov. 13, Commissioner Matt Hersh floated the idea of changing the city charter so that Council elections are held during odd years. The problem with the current system, he said, is that many of those who show up at the polls are just there to vote in whatever race is at the top of the ballot...

Tech Demand Burns Through Austin Office Space (Bisnow Austin-San Antonio) LINK TO STORY

Nowhere has the growth of the technology sector impacted the office market more than Austin, according to the annual Tech-30 report out this month from CBRE Research.
San Francisco has added more jobs and office rents are highest outside Boston, but Austin is where the impact of office space demand has been felt the most.
“Despite robust inventory growth in Austin, total vacancy has remained at or below 10%, spurring continued rent growth market-wide, the highest of which is in the CBD and the Domain,” CBRE Senior Vice President Mark Emerick said. “The Domain has effectively become its own submarket, competing with the CBD for tech tenants as Austin’s ‘second downtown.’ Its urban-suburban setting offers the quality of amenities that occupiers are heavily focused on today.”...

Judge finds city violated open meetings law again (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Litigation about the Champion tract never really goes away. Originally filed in the early 1990s, the litigation simply morphs from one issue to another and one venue to another. It has cost the city of Austin an almost endless amount of trouble and untold dollars.

On Tuesday, District Judge Scott Jenkins ruled that the city violated the Texas Open Meetings Act last November by failing to disclose on the City Council agenda that Council would be voting on waivers to the Hill Country Roadway Ordinance and the Lake Austin Watershed Ordinance. That vote related to changes to a 1996 settlement agreement with the Champion sisters to resolve a lawsuit over conditions for developing the tract at 6409 City Park Road, although the wording of the item failed to describe what those changes might be...


How much damage did Harvey do to Texas homes? There may never be an exact answer. (The Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

As the state undertakes what could be the biggest housing recovery in American history after Hurricane Harvey, potentially thousands of Texas renters and homeowners trying to rebuild their lives are in danger of falling through the seams of a patchwork of agencies.
But no one knows how many Texans could get lost in the shuffle — or how much personal wealth they stand to lose.
That's because U.S. disaster recovery efforts are split between a number of government entities, so no single agency tracks the full extent of destruction the storm wrought on Texas homes. That leaves the Texas General Land Office, which is charged with overseeing the state’s housing recovery efforts, vying for limited long-term relief funds without an exact price tag for damage to private property...

Days later, cause of Border Patrol agent's death still unclear (The Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

More than two days after a U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed and another seriously wounded while on patrol in West Texas, exactly what happened to the agents is still unclear.

Agent Rogelio Martinez, 36, died Sunday after sustaining severe head and bodily injuries. His partner, who hasn’t been named, is recovering from his injuries and is in intensive care, according to federal authorities.

During a press briefing in El Paso Tuesday, Emmerson Buie Jr., the FBI's special agent in charge of the El Paso division, said the agency is investigating the death as the result of an attack on federal officers but left the door open to other possibilities. The FBI is the agency bureau charged with investigating potential assaults on federal officers...

Houston Councilman Dwight Boykins exploring run for Texas governor (The Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

As Democrats look for a serious candidate to challenge Gov. Greg Abbott in 2018, another big-city official is surfacing as a potential contender: Dwight Boykins, a member of the Houston City Council.
"I have had an opportunity to travel across our great state and meet a lot of hardworking people who feel no one is listening to their concerns or fighting for their families and I am humbled and encouraged by those who have asked me if I would consider running for Governor of Texas," Boykins said in a statement to The Texas Tribune on Tuesday...


Uber Paid Hackers to Delete Stolen Data on 57 Million People (Bloomberg) LINK TO STORY

Hackers stole the personal data of 57 million customers and drivers from Uber Technologies Inc., a massive breach that the company concealed for more than a year. This week, the ride-hailing firm ousted its chief security officer and one of his deputies for their roles in keeping the hack under wraps, which included a $100,000 payment to the attackers.
Compromised data from the October 2016 attack included names, email addresses and phone numbers of 50 million Uber riders around the world, the company told Bloomberg on Tuesday. The personal information of about 7 million drivers was accessed as well, including some 600,000 U.S. driver’s license numbers. No Social Security numbers, credit card information, trip location details or other data were taken, Uber said...

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