BG Note | News - What We're Reading (December 11, 2017)

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[Austin Metro]

Community activist launches campaign for District 1 seat (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Council Member Ora Houston is the first representative of the city’s first district and she’s also the first incumbent to draw a serious challenger in the 2018 election.
Last Monday afternoon in East Austin, community activist Lewis Conway Jr. announced his bid for Houston’s District 1 seat.
“In order to serve the people of District 1, we must conduct an aggressive, robust and nontraditional campaign,” Conway said. “A style of leadership that has proven to be nebulous and uncertain has had almost four years to make a difference in the conditions in which the people in District 1 find themselves.”...

Stadium proposal renews talk of hotel taxes for Expo Center revamp (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Travis County officials appear ready to push for some of Austin’s growing pool of Hotel Occupancy Tax money to be used to pay for an ambitious expansion of the Travis County Exposition Center site, which is also where a group of local sports businesspeople want to build an open-air stadium and an arena.
The announcement earlier this week of the proposed East Austin District project to add large-capacity entertainment and sports facilities to the 300-acre site in Northeast Austin has county leaders saying the Expo Center redevelopment should share HOT funds with a proposed $600 million expansion of the Austin Convention Center downtown.
Travis County Commissioner Jeff Travillion, whose precinct includes the Expo Center site, told the Austin Monitor the tax dollars paid by tourists using Austin hotels could pay for new meeting and other facilities to support Rodeo Austin and would help jump-start private investment that would likely run into the hundreds of millions of dollars...

Trendy, members-only social club to open first Texas location on South Congress  (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Following rumors that swirled all year, it’s official: Soho House, a trendy, members-only social club, will open an Austin location in a mixed-use project that is under construction on South Congress Avenue.

The first Texas location for Soho House will be in the $55 million Music Lane development that will bring more office, dining, shopping and entertainment options to bustling South Congress Avenue...


[STATE]

“Who?” for governor of Texas (The Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

It’s not that the Democrats don’t have any candidates for governor of Texas; their problem is that the state’s voters know next to nothing about the eight people who are running. A melodious name might be more valuable in this primary than a winning political philosophy.
All eight Democrats start out at the same point: getting asked about their beef with Gov. Greg Abbott. They drop “I’m in,” and the news tribe starts its downpour of questions: Why do we need a change? Why are you the answer? What’s your plan for November? Do you have any money for this? Can you get any money for this? Democrats are hopeless, right? Why would a smart person jump into a race against an incumbent with more money than Bluebeard the Pirate?
All of that is important, but it’s really not the first round of questions the candidates have to answer. The race against Abbott doesn’t start until the Democrats have a nominee. Whoever faces Abbott next November has to first get out of the primaries alive...

State permits bring big savings to Uber, Lyft compared to Austin fees (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft will pay the state $10,500 a year each to operate in Texas, and just $7,500 in subsequent years, under rules that went into effect Dec. 1. That statewide figure amounts to less than 2 percent of the $560,000 that Austin collected from about a half-dozen ride-hailing companies combined during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. Other cities had even larger fees meant to cover the expense of regulating the industry...

Former Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson to challenge current Commissioner George P. Bush (The Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

Former Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson confirmed Friday he will challenge incumbent George P. Bush, the man who replaced him as Texas' land commissioner, in next year's Republican primary. The winner of what has turned into a crowded the Republican primary for the job could face Miguel Suazo, an Austin-based energy attorney and likely the first office-seeker to launch his campaign with proceeds from investing in Bitcoin.
Patterson, who was first elected as the state's land commissioner in 2003, wants to head the agency that manages state-owned lands and the Alamo. He gave up the job to run for lieutenant governor in 2014, but came in last in a four-way GOP primary race...

Upcoming court ruling could derail — or at least delay — prosecution of AG Ken Paxton (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY

It’s been 2 1/2 years since Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was indicted, and there’s no end in sight for the case. Since he was charged with securities fraud in July 2015, Collin County taxpayers have shelled out $604,343.27 in costs related to Paxton’s legal woes.
Less than half that has gone to pay for the prosecution itself. Nearly $350,000 has been spent to fund multiple investigations into Paxton’s past, defend the county against a handful of lawsuits filed by the attorney general’s political allies and challenge the prosecution's cost...

NATION]

Tech's new D.C. partner: Charles Koch (Politico) LINK TO STORY

The tech industry has found a surprising new ally in its effort to shape public policy in Washington: the 82-year-old libertarian billionaire Charles Koch. Two organizations founded by Koch, one an education-focused institute and the other a grant-making foundation, have spent the past year ramping up their efforts to shape public debate on tech policy topics like self-driving cars and the rights of online publishers. And despite their ideological distance on issues like the Paris climate accord, the Koch groups and left-leaning Silicon Valley are working together to advance the argument that innovation is most likely to flourish when legislators and regulators leave it alone...

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