BG Note | News - What We're Reading (November 29, 2017)


[Austin Metro]

Travis County braces for new annexation law (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

The state’s new law that will make municipal annexations more difficult will also bring new complications for Travis County, the Commissioners Court learned on Tuesday.
Scheleen Walker, long-range planning manager at the Transportation and Natural Resources Department, told the court to expect a mixed bag that could mean potentially more county parks, along with higher costs of road maintenance.
“We build new roads and the cities … annex them, so we generally maintain about the same number of miles that we have to maintain,” Walker reported. “We do believe that that equilibrium might come unbalanced, and may require more staff in the future.”...

Trustees alarmed at exclusion of minority-owned businesses from middle school renovation (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Choosing the highest score in the tabulation had formerly been the process, explained Chief Financial Officer Nicole Conley Johnson, but changes to the HUB program last November had put in place stricter standards for HUB compliance in relation to proposals. It is no longer enough for a company to represent one minority category, but it must try to include as many different categories as possible, through its own firm’s participation or that of subconsultants.
If a company cannot demonstrate a diverse representation that exceeds goals set by the district, it must illustrate a “good faith” effort showing that it at least tried. In this case, Royce exceeded representation for the category of women-owned businesses, but not for the other categories: Hispanic, African-American and Asian/Native American. However, the firm did meet the criteria for making a “good faith” effort to recruit businesses owned by these ethnicities.
Gordon King, the district’s executive director of construction management, said that firms must present documentation as part of their proposals that proves they attempted to contact every firm on the HUB list in at least two ways. “If there are no firms that are available to do a certain type of work, we don’t pose unattainable goals,” Conley Johnson said, “but if we know that there are providers that do a certain level of work, we do anticipate that there is participation, that there is some compliance with the HUB program.”...

Opening of Fairmont Austin, city’s largest hotel, delayed yet again (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Opening day for the $370 million Fairmont Austin Hotel has been pushed back yet again.
Representatives for the hotel told the American-Statesman this week that they’re now looking at opening in early 2018.
When first announced, the hotel had been set to make its debut in June of this year. That was later pushed back to August, late fall and then November...

In this new neighborhood, none of the homeowners own the land (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

[Laura] Soto is buying a home in what will be the state’s largest community land trust, a model where a nonprofit or a municipality owns the land a home sits on. In this case, Austin Habitat for Humanity will own the land. The city and several nonprofits currently run community land trusts throughout the city...


In wake of nude photo, Tarrant County Republicans urge Barton to drop re-election bid (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram) LINK TO STORY

One day after a group of local Republicans met privately with U.S. Rep. Joe Barton about a nude photo of him that ended up online — and his political future — a number of Tarrant County Republicans are calling on the longtime congressman to not seek re-election. “Since Mr. Barton’s highly-publicized issues have come to light, I have talked to numerous Republican activists, leaders, voters and elected officials about this situation — not a single one of them thinks he should run again,” said Tim O’Hare, who heads the Tarrant County Republican Party. “I personally hope he learns from this and tries to be a better father and man.”...

DeSoto Democrat Helen Giddings won't seek re-election to Texas House, will retire after 26 years (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY

After more than two decades of serving her southern Dallas County district, Helen Giddings is retiring from the Texas House. The Democrat made her final decision Tuesday. "After much prayer, combined with careful and thoughtful deliberation with my family, I have decided not to seek re-election. This is obviously a difficult decision and one that tugs at my heart," Giddings said in a prepared statement. "I deeply appreciate the respect shown to me by elected officials, community leaders and friends in asking me to reconsider my decision. Although extremely difficult, respectfully, my decision remains the same."...

Texas Democrats unveil 2018 slate for top state courts (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Texas Democrats on Tuesday unveiled their slate of candidates for the state’s two highest courts — a prize the party has not captured since the 1994 election. Four are state district judges in Houston, one is a lawyer practicing in Houston, and all five face an uphill battle in 2018 as they vie for seats on the important, though little-known, Texas Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals — particularly with Democrats still lacking a well-known candidate for governor to lead the ticket and stir attention. “We all know it’s a stretch goal,” said District Judge Steven Kirkland, running for the Supreme Court...

Californian visits Lubbock because it’s ‘most boring city’ (Lubbock Avalanche-Journal) LINK TO STORY

Lubbock has lots of attractions it likes to promote, but being deemed a boring city typically isn’t one of them. But visitors come for all sorts of reasons. It turns out one reason is to see what’s so boring about the most boring city in America. That’s why 30-year-old Steve Kranz of Oakland, California, who works at a 3-D printing startup company departed from a plane at the Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport a few weeks ago. As Kranz recalls, Lubbock back in 2014 was named the most boring of the 100 most-populated places in the U.S. by a real estate blog...


A political earthquake hits the Texas congressional delegation (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

Six gone, and counting: It usually takes a brutal round of redistricting to get rid of this many members of the Texas congressional delegation.

This is not yet a record, but the quitting season has a couple of weeks left. Not everyone in the state’s 36-member delegation to the U.S. House has filed for re-election, but just a few months ago, nearly all were expected to.

Things changed rapidly; at least a sixth of those people are leaving, and more could join them...

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