BG Note | News - What We're Reading (January 5, 2018)


[Austin Metro]

For Adler, 2017 was busy, successful (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

It was another very busy year for Austin Mayor Steve Adler. He represented the city both in the United States and abroad on climate change. He joined with other Texas mayors in fighting Senate Bill 4, the Texas legislation to punish cities and local officials for failing to cooperate completely with federal immigration officials.
Adler told the Austin Monitor he was not optimistic about winning the immigration law battle at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. However, he said he thought the court would likely strike one section of the law that threatens to remove local officials from their offices for endorsing policies contradictory to federal law. That same provision prohibits criticism of SB 4 and criticism of federal immigration law. A lower court has already blocked enforcement of that particular provision...

Eckhardt’s watchword for 2018: Teamwork (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Christmas came early for Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt when, on Dec. 11, no one from either of the two major parties stepped up to challenge her for her seat.

That means Eckhardt will skate to a second term without the distractions of fighting to retain the Democratic nomination in March and fending off a Republican opponent next November.

“I’m super grateful that I don’t have an opponent because it means I have five more years and I get to work right now. So (2018) is kind of like a bonus year,” Eckhardt told the Austin Monitor in a recent one-on-one interview. “I can bend all of my energies to what’s currently in the pipeline and what needs to come next, and I can start now instead of starting in January of 2019.”...

Next Austin city manager to continue in old job into February (Austin Business Journal) LINK TO STORY

Spencer Cronk, the presumptive Austin city manager, will stay in his current job in Minnesota until next month.
Cronk will reportedly serve as the city coordinator for Minneapolis until after that Midwestern city hosts the Super Bowl on Feb. 4.
"His last day (at the city of Minneapolis) will be Feb. 11, just after the Super Bowl, the terms of which he helped negotiate for the city," the Star Tribune newspaper reports...


Nearly 24,000 Texas state employees quit in 2017, report finds (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY

Almost 24,000 state employees voluntarily left their jobs in 2017, according to a report from the Texas State Auditor’s Office. In 2017, 18.6 percent of state employees left their jobs, the highest rate since George W. Bush was governor. After retirement, exit surveys conducted by state agencies showed that the biggest reason state employees quit was to find better compensation and benefits elsewhere. The auditor's office found that the lower the pay, the more likely employees quit in 2017...

Texas poised to end dry spell of electing new women to Congress in 2018 (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

Eighteen months and several political lifetimes ago, U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee held court at a table at the Democratic National Committee Texas delegation breakfast in Philadelphia. Just hours before Hillary Clinton was set to become the first woman to accept a major-party nomination for the presidency, Jackson Lee conceded she was "worried ... but not panicked" about the advancement of women in politics in her own backyard. The Houston Democrat's concerns stemmed from being one of just three women in the 38-member Texas delegation. The prospects of other women stepping in once all three retired, let alone expanding their ranks, seemed dim...

Abbott endorsement likely to deepen GOP divide (San Antonio Express-News) LINK TO STORY

Longtime Republican state Sen. Joan Huffman of Houston won a key endorsement Thursday from Gov. Greg Abbott in her primary re-election fight with an outspoken GOP challenger. The move is expected to deepen existing divisions in the Texas Republican Party that have been simmering for years and have surfaced anew as control of the party took a hard-right conservative turn in recent years that left party moderates and the establishment wing increasingly isolated...


Trump Administration Opens Door To Dramatic Expansion Of Offshore Energy Leases (KUT) LINK TO STORY

The Trump administration is proposing dramatic changes to policies on offshore leasing for oil and gas, opening the door to radically expand drilling in waters that were protected by the Obama administration.

It's the "largest number of lease sales ever proposed, " Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told reporters. The proposed plan to sell offshore drilling leases in the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic over a five-year period was detailed Thursday...


North and South Korea Agree to Hold High-Level Talks Next Week (Wall St. Journal) LINK TO STORY

North and South Korea agreed to hold high-level talks next week to discuss Pyongyang’s potential participation in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February. During a regular press briefing Friday, Unification Ministry spokesman Baek Tae-hyun said North Korea accepted Seoul’s offer to hold talks at the border village of Panmunjom on Tuesday. The two sides will also discuss ways to improve their relations. The announcement came shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed to delay joint military exercises until after the Winter Games, which could cool tensions on the Korean Peninsula...

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