BG Note | News - What We're Reading (December 7, 2017)


[Austin Metro]

Columbus Crew owners offer sketch of potential Austin soccer stadium (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

If Austin signs off on a privately financed stadium on city parkland near downtown, the owners of a Major League Soccer team see a facility that would have a small geographic footprint yet make a giant positive impact on the community.
Precourt Sports Ventures, which operates Columbus Crew SC and is exploring a move to Austin, told the American-Statesman on Tuesday that finding the right stadium site remains the critical piece of the puzzle and that Butler Shores Metropolitan Park is the spot to beat.
The group rolled out a preliminary rendering of a 20,000-seat stadium tightly tucked into the western half of well-worn Butler Shores, leaving some parkland to the east.
“We want to improve it as a park site and play soccer matches there as well,” said PSV president Dave Greeley... 

Text messages reveal City Hall drama of Austin city manager search (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

To dodge reporters, consultants suggested the finalists to be Austin’s next city manager don wigs, pretend to be tourists or possibly even wear Halloween masks after American-Statesman reporters managed to identify several candidates during the city’s top secret search for its next leader.

That was one of many details revealed in more than 400 pages of communications the city provided in response to a request under the Texas Public Information Act made within hours of officials taking the legally murky decision to secretly change the location of a second round of interviews conducted Nov. 2.

The documents showed the subterfuge that Houston headhunter firm Russell Reynolds was willing to employ to hide the identities of finalists after the Statesman identified four candidates who met with the council Oct. 31 during the first set of interviews...

Round Rock lands city’s first-ever live-work-play project (Community Impact) LINK TO STORY

Mark IV Capital and the Round Rock Chamber announced plans for the massive mixed-use development project The District Nov. 8.
The $200 million private capital project will be the first undertaking of its kind in Round Rock—a live, work and play community boasting amenities for tenants, residents, shoppers and tourists. Initial specs for the development show plans for a grocery store, a hotel, office and retail space, close to 1,000 residential units and numerous pocket parks.
“I thought it was a great project for Round Rock because it’s like nothing we currently have,” Round Rock Mayor Craig Morgan said...

Threadgill’s fighting for airport contract (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

A battle is brewing over airport restaurant concession contracts, and Threadgill’s is in the middle of the fight.

Also in the middle of a contract fight is the local massage concession known as Knot Anymore, which has provided massage services at the airport for 15 years.

Those contracts will take center stage at today’s meeting, when City Council is scheduled to approve 15 retail packages, including eight food and beverage packages, to serve nine new gates at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport...

No Austin schools are being consolidated … yet (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

No Austin schools will permanently consolidate, but it could happen if under-enrolled schools in East Austin do not boost enrollment over the next few years.

In documents published last week, timelines for school construction projects showed six schools in East Austin that would be “unified.”

Unification is not the same as consolidation, but could lead there.

Right now, the six schools in question (Norman, Sims, Metz, Sanchez, Zavala and Brooke elementary schools) are under-enrolled. It’s expensive for the district to pay for electricity or air conditioning in a building that is only half full of students...

Parks board urges concessions expansion (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Taking a walk down one of the many beautiful trails of Butler Park, it’s easy to get lost in the beauty of the scenery and forget that Lady Bird Lake is also one of the city’s financial assets. Parks and Recreation Department financial contract compliance staff made a presentation to the board at its Dec. 5 meeting on the annual concessions report for the park, and while revenue had increased in some areas, the board made a recommendation to approve the report on the condition that the parks department follow through on adding more concessionaires to the roster.

The park already offers several concessionaires for visitors to pay for recreational activities, including boat rentals, golf and a miniature train. Those venues in turn pay a percentage of their revenue to the city, totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. This past year, rowing continued to be the most money-making enterprise at Lady Bird Lake, with Texas Rowing Center paying the most out of any other concession at $197,016...


Cybers threats on rise for state government, Texas Senate panel told (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

The terms vary — phishing, hacktivism and whaling are just a few — but they all represent serious cybersecurity threats increasingly menacing state governments throughout the U.S., some Texas state senators were told Wednesday.

“Unfortunately, the bad guys are getting very, very innovative in their approaches” to stealing data or disrupting an organization’s functions, said Doug Robinson, executive director of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers. 

Robinson made his comments at the state Capitol during the inaugural meeting of the Senate Select Committee on Cybersecurity, a newly created panel studying the cybersecurity risks and vulnerabilities facing Texas state agencies. Along with a similar House committee, the panel is charged with reporting its findings and recommendations for improvement to the full Legislature by Jan. 13, 2019... 

UT System Chancellor Bill McRaven staying put into 2018 — but without a new contract (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

This summer, after a bruising state legislative session for the University of Texas System and amid a debate over staffing and expenses of UT System offices, two questions loomed over Chancellor Bill McRaven: Will he still be chancellor in 2018? Or will UT regents choose to let his contract expire at the turn of the year?
The answer to both questions appears to be "yes."
McRaven is on pace to continue on as chancellor in the new year, but regents have no intention of renewing his annual contract, which promised $1.2 million in base pay. Instead, like most other UT System employees, including university presidents, he'll work with no written employment contract...

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