BG Note | News - What We're Reading (January 2, 2018)


[Austin Metro]

Renteria concentrates on affordable housing (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

For District 3 City Council Member Pio Renteria, 2017 saw the culmination of projects large and small, many of which he has been working on for years. Most of those projects are related to helping low-income people who continue to maintain their homes in his district.

Renteria saw the groundbreaking this year for one of those long-term projects, the Plaza Saltillo development. He said he has worked on that one for the past 25 years. For much of that time he has worried that the redevelopment would not help people in the neighborhood but merely put more money into the pockets of a developer – or not happen at all...

Casar reflects on a ‘hellish year’ (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

On Nov. 9, 2016, the day after he was easily re-elected to Council, Casar was in no mood to celebrate. In an email missive to supporters and media, Casar called for a “resistance” to Donald Trump’s impending presidency, which he framed as a triumph of bigotry and authoritarianism.

“I will be a part of your civil disobedience. I will go to jail with you,” he said, citing a litany of “horrible things” that Trump stands for, but putting particular emphasis on the threats of deportation to immigrant families...

In 2017, Kitchen worked on the big issues (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY 

For Council Member Ann Kitchen, 2017 was a year of progress. In an interview with the Austin Monitor, she highlighted some of the ongoing work her office has done over the past year that deals with some of the city’s weightiest issues.
Like others on City Council, Kitchen is particularly proud of the progress she made working on the issue of homelessness in 2017. When she spoke to the Monitor, she noted the fact that she was able to bring the focus south in addition to supporting efforts citywide. For example, at the last Council meeting of the year, she initiated a pilot program to address public health and safety concerns near the U.S. Highway 290/State Highway 71 overpass at Manchaca Road and Pack Saddle Pass...

Houston stays true to her district (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Council Member Ora Houston sums up this past year as “very interesting.”
Speaking to the Austin Monitor, Houston started her review of 2017 by stressing her continued commitment to outreach in her district, which informs the work she does downtown at City Hall.
“When I ran, I said I was going to represent all of the people in the district and all of the people in the district are not necessarily progressive. They are not necessarily people who are engaged in city politics,” said Houston, who continues to make it her mission to get out to the “far ends” of her 46-square-mile District 1 to remind people that they “have an advocate in City Hall.”...

Child care, CodeNEXT, grocery stores: Garza focuses on economic justice (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Before walking into an executive session where City Council members decided unanimously to select Spencer Cronk as Austin’s next city manager, Council Member Delia Garza spoke to the Austin Monitor about her thoughts on her third year on Council.
Although she didn’t disclose who she planned to support for the position, she volunteered that all of the applicants were “very qualified.” Above all else, she wanted a city manager who would respect the will of Council and implement the policies that it passes...

Proposed $60 million plan for Georgetown airport angers neighbors (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

A 20-year proposed master plan for the Georgetown Municipal Airport that includes a longer runway, the possible buyout of up to 30 homes and the addition of 220,000 square feet of hangars at a cost of nearly $60 million has renewed calls from local residents to move the facility to another location. “These are major expansion plans,” said Rich Gottleib, who bought his home this summer. “When I bought near the airport, this was not in the plans I saw for it. This is really valuable land. Sell it to some developer, get rid of it and put the airport out in Hutto or somewhere there is open land,” he said...


Attorney General Ken Paxton's securities fraud trials on hold for now (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY

Attorney General Ken Paxton's fraud trials have been put on hold as the lawyers pursuing the criminal charges against him fight for years of back pay. Judge Robert Johnson has taken Paxton's three criminal cases off his docket for now, the court confirmed to The Dallas Morning News on Friday. While court staff did not have a reason for the removal, the three attorneys prosecuting Paxton have repeatedly asked for the cases to be halted while they fight to have their pay resumed...

How a South Texas bureaucrat became a multimillionaire amid the rush to build a border fence Houston (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

A decade ago, Congress gave officials at the Department of Homeland Security a year to build 60 miles of fence in the Rio Grande Valley to protect the Texas-Mexico border. They faced determined resistance. Political leaders denounced the border fence as wasteful and ineffective. Landowners refused to sell their property for its construction. Environmentalists argued it would slice up habitat for endangered species in one of the most biodiverse regions in the country. The officials found a savior in a politically savvy bureaucrat named Godfrey Garza Jr...

Julián Castro to launch new PAC (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

Former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro will launch a political action committee on Tuesday that aims to support Democratic Party efforts to take control of the U.S. House and groom younger candidates. Castro's PAC, Opportunity First, will have three aims: gaining Democratic control of the House, making headway in state legislatures ahead of the 2021 round of redistricting and electing younger leaders to local office...


Congress will return to a full slate of difficult issues (Washington Post) LINK TO STORY

Congress faces a jam-packed to-do list this month with deadlines looming on difficult issues — including how to fund the government and avoid a shutdown, stabilizing the nation’s health insurance program for poor children, and whether to shield young undocumented immigrants from deportation. Fresh off a party-line vote in favor of legislation overhauling the tax code, the negotiations will test whether Congress and the White House still have the potential to craft any form of bipartisan agreement. If so, several of the year’s most contested issues might be resolved with months to spare before the 2018 midterm campaign heats up...

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