BG Note | News - What We're Reading (January 4, 2018)


[Austin Metro]

Austin, Atlanta now share 3-to-1 odds of landing Amazon HQ2 (Austin Business Journal) LINK TO STORY

Austin and Atlanta share the best odds of landing Amazon's HQ2, says Irish betting site PaddyPower.
Back in October, PaddyPower put Atlanta’s odds of landing Amazon’s $5 billion second headquarters at 2-to-1, beating Austin (3-to-1) and Boston (6-to-1).
But as of Dec. 31, PaddyPower reports that Atlanta and Austin each share a 3-to-1 chance of landing HQ2.
Among other top contenders, PaddyPower as of Dec. 31 gives Boston a 7-to-1 chance; and Washington, D.C., and New York City each a 14-to-1 chance. Check out PaddyPower's odds list here.
But how reliable is PaddyPower, and what exactly is it? Its forecasting has been questioned widely since it prematurely and incorrectly paid out $1.1 million to people who bet that Hillary Clinton would beat Donald Trump in the presidential election. It declared Trump's campaign dead three weeks before the election.
However, it is a 29-year-old Ireland-based betting powerhouse that stretches far and wide online and in the real world — mostly in Europe. The Irish Times reports PaddyPower's first-quarter revenue last year equated to about $566 million, and it turns the heads of respected media outlets.
A Jan. 2 story from Fortune, for instance, notes that, "When cities submitted their bids in late October, Fortune turned to a popular betting site to see which of the more than 200 candidates had the early edge. Fast forward to the new year, and the initial favorite — Atlanta — is still at the top of the list, but its chances have declined from 2/1 to 3/1 and it now shares the perch with southern rival, Austin, Tex."
Both cities offer much of what Amazon seeks, but Atlanta recently started boasting of something unique: Amazon lobbyist Jacob Oster registered Dec. 7 with the Georgia state ethics commission, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution reports, though it's not clear exactly what he'll lobby for or against.

See also:

Amazon lobbyist registers in Georgia, triggering buzz amid ‘HQ2’ search (Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Troxclair continues to fight (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

In 2018, Council Member Ellen Troxclair will be having a baby and running for office in addition to continuing to serve as the lone conservative on City Council. Despite a crowded agenda ahead, Troxclair sat down with the Austin Monitor to take a look back at the past year’s wins and losses.

She started with the change to how Austin allocates its Hotel Occupancy Tax. Up until this year, the city was not taking advantage of a law that allowed up to 15 percent of HOT revenue to be spent on parks and preservation. Those funds have mirrored the city’s explosive growth – from about $50 million four years ago to almost $100 million today – so the change is significant, and Council now has the annual ability to put about $15 million into preservation efforts that might otherwise have come out of the budget or gone into a bond package...

Tovo keeps chipping away (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo came prepared with folders of articles for her look back on 2017. Immediately, she notes that this year’s progress looks a lot like last year’s, but there is a reason for that. Her focus has remained on the issues that are closest to her heart: housing and homelessness.

“I’ve made good progress on the issues that are most important to me,” said Tovo, though she noted that in a year of long discussions about CodeNEXT, downtown puzzles and the city manager search, “it’s just been a challenge to balance it all.”...

Adler blasts ICE director’s threat to jail local elected officials (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Austin Mayor Steve Adler on Wednesday blasted threats made by the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Fox News to jail local officials who enforce so-called sanctuary policies. “Threatening to jail political opponents, especially for laws they aren’t breaking, is not the America I grew up in,” Adler said in a statement. “I will oppose anti-immigrant policies, regardless of the personal consequences, because spreading fear and making threats makes us all less safe.”...


State Sen. Bettencourt says homes up to $500,000 can still get full tax deduction (Houston Chronicle) LINK TO STORY

Texas Senate Select Committee on Property Tax Reform Chairman Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) has responded to the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 by the U.S. Congress. The legislation passed by a margin of 224-201 in the House of Representatives and a 51-48 margin in the U.S. Senate. Bettencourt has been getting calls about how big of a Texas home, in value, is still covered under this act. "Clearly a home worth between $400,000 to $500,000 in value, depending upon optional homestead exemptions should allow for a property taxpayer to write off 100 percent of their property tax payment on their federal income tax return," said Bettencourt...


Researchers discover two major flaws in the world's microprocessors (New York Times) LINK TO STORY

Computer security experts have discovered two major security flaws in the microprocessors inside nearly all of the world's computers. The problems, called Meltdown and Spectre, could allow hackers to steal the entire memory contents of computers, including mobile devices, personal computers and servers running in cloud computer networks. There is no easy fix for Spectre, which could require redesigning the processors, according to researchers. As for Meltdown, the software patch needed to fix the issue could slow down computers by as much as 30 percent - an ugly situation for people used to fast downloads from their favorite online services...

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