BG Note | News - What We're Reading (December 14, 2017)


[Austin Metro]

In unanimous vote, Council rejects police contract, sends back to negotiations (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

City Council members voted unanimously to send a five-year contract between the city and the local police union back to the negotiating table late Wednesday. The contract, which dictates pay, discipline and oversight of Austin Police Department officers, is negotiated once every several years. The city and the Austin Police Association began negotiations back in May.
A city spokesperson said Council has never rejected a proposed police contract in the two decades it’s had one.
The decision came after more than 150 civil rights activists, police officers and residents testified for and against the proposed contract for more than seven hours. In their vote, Council members weighed the fact that Austin police officers are the highest paid in the state with the additional transparency and accountability speakers demanded throughout the evening...

Sid Miller calls for Travis GOP chairman to resign over campaign work (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller wants Travis County Republican Party Chairman Matt Mackowiak to resign his post after joining the campaign of Miller’s primary opponent Trey Blocker as a communications consultant. “How in the world can the Travis County Republican Party guarantee an impartial election process, when the person in charge of the election is working for one of the candidates?” Miller said in a statement Wednesday.
“I have been a Republican all my life and I have never seen such a blatant conflict of interest. I am calling on Matt Mackowiak to resign immediately as Travis County GOP chair or quit his campaign job. He cannot do both.” Mackowiak denied Miller’s charge of partiality in an emailed statement...

Toll officials hold off on U.S. 183 bidding in wake of toll storm (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Local toll road authority officials, caught up in a statewide backlash against pay-to-drive projects, delayed an effort Wednesday to build toll lanes on U.S. 183 north of MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1). But the delay in the $380 million project to add two toll lanes to each side of U.S. 183 from MoPac to Texas 45 North, requested by Texas Department of Transportation officials under pressure from Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, could be short. “I hope we’re able to address this next month, or at least in the next 30 to 60 days,” said Ray Wilkerson, chairman of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority board...

Traffic volumes increasing on MoPac (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

The MoPac Improvement Project, originally sold as a congestion relief initiative, has driven up the number of drivers on parts of the roadway, with some sections seeing an increase of nearly 30,000 vehicles per day.

“The traffic has returned,” Jeff Dailey, deputy executive director of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, told his board of directors on Wednesday morning...


Straus says "decency trumped tribalism" in Roy Moore defeat (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

House Speaker Joe Straus on Wednesday praised Alabamians for voting against Roy Moore, a U.S. Senate candidate accused of inappropriate sexual relationships with numerous underage women — and tied the implications of that vote on Tuesday to next year’s Texas elections. "
Last night in Alabama, something very important happened: Decency trumped tribalism," Straus said before calling on Texas voters to make similar decisions in 2018 races. "If more mainstream voters participate in primaries, there will be fewer Roy Moores in position to hold important offices."...

Dallas police can now shame property owners who tolerate crime with a sign (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY

The Dallas police chief has a new tool in her arsenal to force home and business owners to address crime on or near their properties: shame. On Wednesday, the Dallas City Council passed a "nuisance abatement" ordinance allowing Police Chief U. Renee Hall to identify properties that tolerate criminal activity and try to get the owners to address it. The new ordinance allows city officials to slap a sign on properties identified as sites of "habitual criminal activity."...

A plan hatched by a developer and a politician to grow southern Dallas raises eyebrows at City Hall (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY

A prominent developer and a state senator have carved out a section of southern Dallas they hope to see controlled by a hand-selected board with significant governmental and financial power over about 300 acres. The deal struck between developer Mehrdad Moayedi and state Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, has raised concern at Dallas City Hall, where some officials feel that the City Council was frozen out of its traditional oversight role. The council does have some say in the matter, though West has insisted the deal ought to be approved and has said he “will not be a happy camper if they can’t work this thing out.”


One Texan confirmed to federal judicial post, but another booted (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

It was a split decision Wednesday for federal judge nominees from Texas. The U.S. Senate confirmed Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett to be a judge on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but the White House pulled back from supporting Jeff Mateer, a top official in the Texas attorney general’s office who had called transgender children evidence of “Satan’s plan,” for a Plano-based federal judge position...

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