BG Note | News - What We're Reading (December 19, 2017)


[Austin Metro]

Advocates: Lack of Latinos shows flaws in Austin city manager search (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

As the Austin City Council is set to pick the city’s next top administrator Tuesday, many from organizations representing Austin Latinos are crying foul about the selection process because none of the six finalists was Hispanic.

The two remaining candidates to be Austin’s city manager are Minneapolis City Coordinator Spencer Cronk and Ann Arbor, Mich., City Administrator Howard Lazarus.

Paul Saldaña, co-founder of Hispanic Advocates Business Leaders of Austin, also questioned the experience of Lazarus and Cronk, given that the cities they now lead have far fewer Latinos per capita than Austin...

Capital Metro reveals final four in its CEO search (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.”...

Austin Water pitches rate reductions in 2018 (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

It has been 15 years since the last time Austin Water reduced the rates for the utility. There is a chance, however, that this trend may end in January.

On Dec. 13, the assistant director of Austin Water, David Anders, presented the Water and Wastewater Commission with the results of its Cost of Service study, which indicated that with the new revenue requirements, the utility “had a 0 percent rate increase (for the customer) for 2018,” according to Anders.

In fact, Anders said, “All classes would see a reduction to their current rates.”

The possible $14.6 million reduction is for all classes of retail customers. All wholesale customers will see a significant increase in their rates...

28 Austin ISD schools are frozen to transfers in 2018-19 (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

The Austin school district has announced 28 schools that are frozen to transfers in the 2018-19 school year because the campuses are expected to be above capacity.

The school district in recent years have limited more transfers. Priority transfer requests, including sibling, majority-to-minority and tracking transfers, will not be accepted at the frozen schools.

The following campuses will not accept transfers:...


Internal strife plagues billion-dollar Texas Facilities Commission (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

Insecure. Insubordinate. Shameful.
Those aren’t even the worst slaps delivered to former state Rep. Harvey Hilderbran, now director of the billion-dollar agency that builds and maintains state office buildings. 
Here are a few more choice words and phrases being applied to Hilderbran by two of his own superiors — political appointees who oversee the Texas Facilities Commission: “Duplicity and lying;” “typical politician looking to blame others;” “leadership abdication.”...

DFW Airport has spent $40 million to prevent power outages like the one in Atlanta (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY

DFW officials avoided unequivocally stating that a similar outage couldn’t befall their airport, but a spokesman did note that DFW’s backup utility services come from “geographically independent transmission and distribution sources, ensuring there is no single source feed exposure.” “DFW Airport continually evaluates best practices to provide our customers and airline partners with the reliable operations they expect,” spokesman David Magana said in a statement.

“In addition, Oncor constantly monitors the DFW distribution system and can quickly isolate issues and redirect power to minimize any operational impact.”...

Lawsuit claims Houston misled voters on $1B pension bonds (Houston Chronicle) LINK TO STORY

Mayor Sylvester Turner misled voters into approving a $1 billion pension bond referendum last month, a new lawsuit alleges, claiming that city officials plan to use the bonds' passage to sidestep a voter-approved limit on the property tax revenue Houston can collect.
Turner's office flatly denied that reading of the Proposition A ballot language, calling the wording "boilerplate" and saying the city has not and will not sidestep the revenue cap as a result of the vote on the mayor's landmark pension reform package or any of the prior bond issuances that included the same phrasing...

Amid state cuts, a Texas high school football coach got a $20,000 raise. His district says he's earned it. (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

As he succeeds on the field, [Scott] Surratt, who's also the district's athletic director, has been rewarded off of it. Carthage ISD increased his salary this year by $21,400, the district's biggest administrative pay raise this year. With a total salary of $154,900, Surratt is paid just a little less than the high school football coach in Lake Travis, where the district's student body is nearly four times larger and its median income is six figures. Carthage ISD's median income is $49,886, a few thousand below the state average...


Pew study: Lawmakers’ Facebook news feeds reflect political polarization (Politico) LINK TO STORY

A new Pew study highlights the extent to which political polarization in the U.S. has impacted the dissemination of news from government representatives to their constituents on social media over the past several years. Nearly half of the news stories shared by lawmakers on social media were largely distributed among a single political party, the report published Monday shows.
The study, which analyzed nearly half a million Facebook posts by members of Congress from January 2015 to July 2017, found 48 percent of the links to national news outlets shared by congressional members were predominantly limited to one party, while 52 percent of the stories were widely shared across major parties...

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