BG Note | News - What We're Reading (January 9, 2018)

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[Austin Metro]

Former Council Member Laura Morrison to run against Adler for mayor (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Austin Mayor Steve Adler has his first official challenger in the race for mayor in November.
Former City Council Member Laura Morrison announced in an email Monday that she will run against Adler for the city’s top elected position.
“I’m running for mayor to reset that path that Austin is on, so that our future enhances the quality of life for the people who live here, rather than diminishes it,” she said in the email. “I hear from anxious Austinites from every corner of town, from every income level, and across every walk of life. All of them are worried about Austin’s direction. It’s time for a leader whose priority is the people who live here now. It’s time Austin had a mayor for all of us.”...

Capital Metro CEO finalists face the public (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

The auditions are over and now it’s time for the judges to determine who gets to be Austin’s next top transit executive.

The final four candidates in the running for the open president/CEO job at the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority faced three separate rounds of interviews on Monday in front of the board of directors, the media and members of the public.

All four are vying to replace former President and CEO Linda Watson, who announced her retirement last summer and officially stepped down at the end of 2017...


CAMPO keeps Conley as chair (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

After legal counsel proposed a unique interpretation of Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization bylaws, CAMPO Transportation Policy Board members voted on Monday to keep Will Conley as chair but removed his ability to vote on policy issues.
Although federal statute dictates that board members of powerful planning bodies such as CAMPO must be local elected officials, state officials or “officials of public agencies that administer or operate major modes of transportation in the metropolitan area,” CAMPO’s counsel interpreted that requirement to apply only “at the time of election.” Although elected to the board during his time as Hays County commissioner, Conley is not currently an elected official. In early October 2017, he relinquished his post as Hays County commissioner in order to run for Hays County judge...

[STATE]

Transportation commissioner billed taxpayers for trips while advocating for auto industry  (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

Before billionaire Warren Buffett learned that his new Texas car dealerships had a big problem with the state’s protectionist auto laws, his company had a small problem with them. To fix that small problem, Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Automotive turned to a man juggling perhaps too many roles for his own good: a state highway commissioner and former chairman of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles who is also an auto industry consultant and namesake of five of the Berkshire dealerships. “Chairman, members, my name is Victor Vandergriff,” he said at an April 16, 2015, Senate committee hearing. “I’m here representing Berkshire Hathaway Automotive Group.”...

Uresti co-defendant Bates pleads guilty to money laundering, other charges (San Antonio Express-News) LINK TO STORY

Former FourWinds Logistics CEO Stan Bates pleaded guilty Monday to eight felony charges, including securities fraud and money laundering, in the criminal case where he’s a co-defendant with state Sen. Carlos Uresti. Bates’ surprise plea came Monday at a hearing where his attorney was slated to ask U.S. Senior District Judge David Alan Ezra that Bates be tried separately from Uresti and a third defendant, Gary Cain. The three men were arrested in May and charged with a combined 22 counts, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering, in connection with their work with FourWinds...

[NATION]

Trump administration renominates 6 Texans for senior posts (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

President Trump renominated six Texans for senior positions Monday, including two nominees for environmental posts: Former Texas comptroller Susan Combs and Kathleen Hartnett White, a former chair of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality whose nomination has generated considerable controversy from Democrats. The nominations were among dozens from around the country that the White House sent to the U.S. Senate again because of a Senate rule that nominations will not carry over into another calendar year without unanimous consent...

Congress To Take Up DACA, Border Wall As It Advances On 2018 Agenda (KUT) LINK TO STORY

It may be a new year, but Congress plans to spend most of January wrapping up old business left over from 2017.
Congressional leaders are promising to head off any chance of a government shutdown well before the Jan. 19 deadline, but a nearly yearlong fight over President Trump's demands to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border could threaten those plans.
Democrats want the upcoming spending bill to also permanently protect the roughly 700,000 immigrants who are in the country illegally after being brought to the U.S. as children. They stand to lose the protected status they were given under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA...

Mueller indicates he is likely to seek interview with Trump (Washington Post) LINK TO STORY

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has told President Trump’s legal team that his office is likely to seek an interview with the president, triggering a discussion among his attorneys about how to avoid a sit-down encounter or set limits on such a session, according to two people familiar with the talks. Mueller raised the issue of interviewing Trump during a late-December meeting with the president’s lawyers John Dowd and Jay Sekulow. Mueller deputy James Quarles, who oversees the White House portion of the special counsel investigation, also attended. The special counsel’s team could interview Trump soon on some limited portion of questions — possibly within the next several weeks, according to a person close to the president, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal conversations...

The Bingham Group, LLC is an Austin-based full service lobbying firm representing and advising clients on municipal, legislative, and regulatory matters throughout Texas.

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