BG Note | News - What We're Reading (December 18, 2017)

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[Austin Metro]

Unclear regulations and development top music venue concerns (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Thursday’s summit with music venue owners and operators saw a bit of political scheduling serendipity.
Among the many issues discussed by them and other music community stakeholders was the fact that that afternoon City Council was set to consider a resolution that could impact their bottom lines on one of the busiest nights of the year.
The resolution was a formal approval to allow a later outdoor music curfew on New Year’s Eve for outdoor music venues downtown, an apparent first that was drawing some concern from a group of neighborhood activists who have begun to push for a lowering of the allowed decibel level for outdoor clubs...

Resolutions could change how demolitions are done in Austin (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

On Thursday, City Council approved two resolutions that direct the city to take a look at the literal and figurative cost of demolitions in Austin. Each could lead to increased fees for the growing number of building demolitions in Austin. Demolitions in the city have increased by about 13 percent per year since 2010.

Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo sponsored both resolutions, and she explained the the effort was part of a deconstructed “demolition omnibus.”...


Hilda Montgomery defeats two for Round Rock council spot (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Hilda Montgomery, who works for Round Rock bell cow Dell Technologies, defeated two opponents Saturday in a special election to serve on the Round Rock City Council.

Montgomery, a financial services project manager at Dell, had 55.8 percent of the vote in final but unofficial results from the Williamson County clerk...


[STATE]

Lack of transparency clouds spending decisions after Harvey (Associated Press) LINK TO STORY

Texas has been awarded billions of dollars in federal aid to help recover from Hurricane Harvey and the devastating flooding that followed, but it’s unclear how the state is spending its share of the money.

State records don’t indicate which contracts are storm-related, making fund tracking — and spending accountability — nearly impossible. Disaster recovery experts say a lack of transparency in Texas could hinder coordination, encourage fraud and squander an opportunity not only to rebuild after one of the country’s costliest natural disasters, but also to mitigate the risks of the next monster storm...


Some Texans dodge bullet train, others are square in its path (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

Federal officials narrowed the possible paths for a Dallas-Houston bullet train down to one likely route Friday, providing an unknown number of rural Texans the most definitive answer so far as to whether their land will be in the path of the controversial project.
Much of the planned route had already been largely solidified. But documents released Friday by the Federal Railroad Administration filled in the rest of the gaps, favoring a more westerly route that runs through Navarro, Freestone, Leon,  Madison and Limestone counties. Another potential route that was dropped from consideration would have avoided Limestone County...

Texas Education Agency ends controversial no-bid special education contract (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

The Texas Education Agency is ending a no-bid special education data mining contract after fielding criticism for weeks about its decision to bypass a competitive bidding process, according to an agency release.

Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath ordered an immediate end to the $4.4 million no-bid contract with Georgia-based company SPEDx to help overhaul its special education practices by analyzing thousands of personal records of students with disabilities. Special education advocates this month asked the agency to temporarily pause the contract to review it more thoroughly, and at least one school district has pulled out of the agreement with the company...


[NATION]

GOP faces 5-day scramble to pass tax bill, avoid government shutdown (Washington Post) LINK TO STORY

Republicans return to Congress on Monday facing a packed agenda with little time to enact it, as party leaders aim to quickly pass their massive tax plan and then cut a budget deal with Democrats before the end of Friday to avert a government shutdown.
Republicans’ tight timing on taxes is self-imposed. GOP lawmakers have for months been racing to meet President Trump’s demand that they send him tax legislation before Christmas — a timeline that gained new urgency when Alabama Democrat Doug Jones won the Senate seat currently occupied by Sen. Luther Strange (R)...

As Atlanta airport recovers, only 2 flights from Austin canceled Monday (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport was recovering Monday morning from a power outage that lasted nearly 11 hours on Sunday, but a quick check of the boards at Austin’s airport shows only two canceled flights to Atlanta and all seven arriving flights were “on time.”
A fire in a Georgia Power underground electrical facility caused the outage at Hartsfield-Jackson, the nation’s busiest airport. Nearly 1,200 flights were canceled going into and out of Atlanta, according to flight data tracker Flight Aware.
According to the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport’s website, Monday’s five Delta Airlines flights and two Southwest Airlines flights were to arrive from Atlanta as scheduled...

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