BG Note | News - What We're Reading (January 3, 2018)


[Austin Metro]

After one year on Council, Flannigan having the time of his life (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Council Member Jimmy Flannigan said his first year on the dais has been defined by “many, many, many little victories.” And that’s how city government is supposed to work, he insists.
“Municipal issues are by and large about filling potholes and picking up the trash,” he said during an interview at his City Hall office in mid-December.
He recalled talking to a friend who was considering running for office and pooh-poohed the idea of serving on City Council, which lacked the opportunities to “slay dragons” presented by state or national offices...

Pool proud of 2017 budget actions (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Some of District 7 Council Member Leslie Pool’s biggest accomplishments for 2017 show up on a list of budget riders. That’s not the stuff of big headlines, but the kind of nitty-gritty details that make up the life of a government advocate.
For example, Pool worked to make sure that the city budget included $175,000 to replace Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services’ system for tracking medical records. As she told the Austin Monitor, EMS is required to share its information on patients with other medical providers upon transfer. However, its current software is outdated, making it difficult to track health data and integrate that data with other records systems. The city’s Public Safety Commission recommended the upgrade in March...

Austin apartment complex plan hits speed bump with new tax law (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY 

Travis County staffers warned Tuesday that the federal tax overhaul could stymie efforts to fund a proposed affordable housing project in Austin that largely depended on low-income housing tax credits.
Tax credits are the U.S. government’s primary tool to encourage the development of affordable housing. The government grants the credits to developers, who then sell the credits to banks and other investors, who in turn use those credits to lower their own tax bills...

Austin Board of Realtors names interim CEO (Community Impact) LINK TO STORY

Emily Chenevert was named interim chief executive officer of the Austin Board of Realtors starting Jan. 1, as the organization’s board of directors seek a permanent CEO with the help of an executive search firm. Chenevert currently serves as chief operating officer. 


Willett leaves Texas Supreme Court for federal bench (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Changing his title from justice to judge, Don Willett took the oath of office Tuesday, leaving the Texas Supreme Court for a lifetime appointment to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. His vacancy lasted only minutes, ending when Gov. Greg Abbott swore in the man he had chosen to replace Willett — Jimmy Blacklock, Abbott’s general counsel. “Today is simply a day to say thank you,” Willett told an invitation-only crowd in the Texas Supreme Court’s downtown Austin courtroom after he was sworn in using the Sam Houston Bible, said to have been owned by the former Republic of Texas president, as it was held by Willett’s wife, Tiffany...

Jimmy Blacklock joins Texas Supreme Court as latest justice mentored by Gov. Greg Abbott (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY

In a changing of the conservative guard, Gov. Greg Abbott's longtime associate James D. "Jimmy" Blacklock on Tuesday filled a vacancy on the Texas Supreme Court. In a joint swearing-in ceremony, Abbott administered the oath to Blacklock while the 12-year justice he is replacing, Don Willett, formally ascended to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht swore in Willett, who was President Donald Trump's appointee...

What to expect in Texas' voting rights court fights in 2018 (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

As far as court battles go, 2017 was a busy year on the voting rights front in Texas — and 2018 will likely be no different. After years of litigation, Texas and its legal foes — minority and civil rights groups and voters of color — begin the year waiting on the courts to rule on the fate of the state’s embattled political maps and voter identification requirements. Federal judges are also expected to have the final word on whether lawmakers intentionally discriminated against Texans of color in drawing up both measures...


Commercial real estate comes out on top in tax law overhaul (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY

While housing sector proponents gave a thumbs down to the new tax law, most commercial real estate industry execs are celebrating the federal overhaul. Housing took a hit with fewer deductions in the just-passed tax law rewrite. But lower corporate tax rates and special treatment for many real estate companies could give the commercial property sector a boost and more profits for big builders...

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