BG Note | News - What We're Reading (December 13, 2017)
City manager candidates lay out their visions for leading Austin (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY
The two finalists for Austin’s next city manager took the stage at the convention center Tuesday night and offered two different visions of what the city’s next top employee could be: A young, consensus-building outsider on the one hand, and an experienced public servant familiar with Austin on the other.
At an open forum to meet the candidates, Spencer Cronk, the 38-year-old city administrator of Minneapolis, characterized himself as a person guided by curiosity, bridge-building, problem-solving, equity and collaboration. He’s Smokey the Bear, not Ranger Rick, he told the audience — someone with a focus on solving problems before they occur.
Howard Lazarus, the 61-year-old city administrator of Ann Arbor, Mich., and former Austin public works director, spoke about his time at West Point, noting that the military taught him about service and working in a large organization. Raising daughters, he joked, taught him about negotiating with unreasonable people...
Robot delivery drones are just around the corner (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY
City-sanctioned land drones could be hitting a sidewalk near you by February 2018.
That was the report Austin Transportation Department Chief of Staff Karla Taylor gave to the Urban Transportation Commission on Tuesday evening.
Her briefing was an update on the development of a pilot program that would allow private companies to deploy electric-powered personal delivery robots on sidewalks, crosswalks and other pedestrian ways. City Council authorized the pilot through a resolution the members passed in August.
“(Council members) see it as a disruptive or emerging technology that’s coming whether or not we want to pilot it,” Taylor told the UTC. “The thought is to pilot it and assess how it operates in our city right of way so that ultimately if and when it comes to making a recommendation for a regulation or incentives, we’ll be doing so based on knowledge rather than conjecture.”...
Eckhardt, Shea draw no challengers as local 2018 races come into focus (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY
Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt, Commissioner Brigid Shea and a handful of other county officials essentially clinched new terms this week after no one filed to run against them in the 2018 elections.
District Clerk Velva Price, County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir and County Treasurer Dolores Ortega Carter also drew no challengers before the filing deadline passed Monday evening.
“It’s been an incredible privilege to serve the residents of Travis County,” said Shea, who won the seat in 2014 after facing primary and general election opponents. “And I’m deeply honored to be given the opportunity to continue working with the community for another term.”...
Austin identifies sites for viable MLS stadium or practice facility (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY
Austin city staffers identified eight city-owned sites Tuesday that could house a Major League Soccer stadium or practice stadium, including three on parkland.
Precourt Sports Ventures, owners of Columbus Crew SC, announced Oct. 17 that it was exploring a move to Austin in 2019 if a suitable site for a privately funded stadium can be found
The five possible stadium sites include three pieces of parkland: Butler Shores Metropolitan Park, Guerrero Metro Park and the Travis County Exposition Center...
Straus censured by Bexar County GOP (San Antonio Express-News) LINK TO STORY
House Speaker Joe Straus, R- San Antonio, was censured by his hometown Republican party late Monday, dealing a symbolic blow to the five-term speaker on his way out of office.
Bexar County GOP precinct chairs voted 77 to 21 to rebuke Straus’ leadership, claiming he abused his power to block anti-abortion bills and obstruct Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s agenda, among other things, according to members present...
This Texas lawmaker could finish his term from jail (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY
There’s a chance state Rep. Ron Reynolds could be sentenced to serve a year in jail next year. If that happens, he wouldn't have to resign, according to state officials. The Houston-area Democrat recently lost his appeal to a 2016 conviction of five misdemeanor barratry charges for illegal solicitation of legal clients.
Reynolds, a once-practicing personal injury lawyer, says his attorney is working to submit a petition to the Texas Criminal Court of Appeals to review the opinions issued by Texas’ 8th Court of Appeals, which upheld his conviction. It’s a last-ditch attempt to avoid serving his sentence of a year in jail...
Doug Jones declared victor in Alabama race for Senate; Roy Moore may seek recount (The Washington Post) LINK TO STORY
In a stunning setback for the Republican Party, Democrat Doug Jones was elected Alabama’s next senator Tuesday, flipping a deeply red state after a campaign that showcased the increasing power of sexual misconduct allegations and the limits of President Trump’s political influence.
Jones’s victory in a part of the Deep South that has not elected a Democratic senator since 1992 was a dramatic repudiation of his opponent, Roy Moore, a former state judge twice removed from office. Moore responded to allegations that he made sexual advances on teenagers when he was in his 30s by describing his campaign as a “spiritual battle” against a conspiracy of Republican and Democratic leaders in Washington...
Texas General Land Office official to head regional EPA office (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has tapped Anne Idsal, a top official in the Texas General Land Office, to head its Dallas-based regional office.
Idsal will join the agency as Region 6 administrator on Dec. 18, responsible for overseeing environmental issues in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma, including recovery efforts following Hurricane Harvey.
The federal agency, which Texas repeatedly sued during President Barack Obama’s administration, has 10 regional offices, each headed by an administrator that acts as the local face of the EPA...
Trump authorizes a huge military expansion, including 4,100 new Air Force personnel (San Antonio Express-News) LINK TO STORY
A massive military authorization bill signed into law by President Donald Trump on Tuesday provides a 2.4 percent military pay raise and enables additional spending and hiring, including 4,100 new Air Force personnel. If the Air Force expansion goes through in a separate military spending bill — which Congress has yet to approve — most of the new airmen would be expected to begin their service at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, home of Air Force basic training...