BG Note | News - What We're Reading (January 16, 2018)


[Austin Metro]

East Austin residents protest gentrification, CodeNext (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

There were carefully made signs and snappy chants, but also solutions to try to put an end to gentrification in East Austin and salvage the fabric of neighborhoods marred by the displacement of families who no longer can afford to live in them.

In recognition of Martin Luther King Jr., a gathering of mostly Hispanic and black residents protested what it believes is a social injustice that city officials continue to ignore with the revision of a land development code that activists say will exacerbate their gentrification concerns.

Dr. Fred McGhee, an urban anthropologist and author, called for immediate action.

“We do not need any more delay tactics; we do not need any more studies,” he said. “We do not need charity. What we need is respect.”...

Crowded field of candidates emerges to challenge Troxclair in Southwest Austin (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

In addition to Mayor Steve Adler, five City Council members are up for re-election this November. In three of those races – District 9, District 5 and District 3 – nobody has yet declared their intention of running against the incumbent, although challengers will most likely emerge eventually.

The one race that is attracting a great deal of interest is in Southwest Austin’s District 8. Four candidates have said they are considering running against incumbent Council Member Ellen Troxclair, who has confirmed that she plans to run for re-election...

Empty city site, once meant for police station, will have new future (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

For nearly a decade, a building that once housed a Home Depot and a neighboring car dealership in Northeast Austin have remained almost completely unused, slowly deteriorating behind chain-link fences.

Since the city purchased the two lots totaling about 20 acres, plans to develop the property into a police substation and a courthouse have become all but abandoned. In the meantime, the parking lots now serve as makeshift depositories for thousands of trash bins, lawn mowing equipment or whatever else the city can’t find a place for at any given time...

Experience put Capital Metro CEO finalist over the top (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

The chair of the board at the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority said experience was the deciding factor when it came to selecting a lone finalist to take the executive reins.
On Friday, after the board voted 7-0-1 to tap Randy Clarke to replace former CEO and President Linda Watson, Chair Wade Cooper said Clarke’s background at Boston’s transit agency as well as his time with the Washington, D.C.-based American Public Transportation Association put him over the top.
“We feel like his operational experience, his capital project experience, and now his time at APTA really gives him a great knowledge base to help take Cap Metro to the next level,” Cooper said...

AISD submits top picks for Transformation Zone partner (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

After meeting with representatives from eight Northeast Austin campus advisory councils last week, the Austin Independent School District administration has selected its top picks for the role of design partner in a Transformation Zone grant. Empower Schools Inc. from Boston earned the district’s first choice, followed by Mass Insight Education and the University of Virginia’s Darden/Curry Partnership for Leaders in Education.
The district earned the planning half of the grant last December and is now in the process of preparing an application for the actual implementation of funds, due in May. The Transformation Zone program is a Texas Education Agency strategy intended to create an autonomous group of schools with one leadership team in charge of bringing up the performance of struggling schools. The planning grant provides $446,681 in funding, $220,000 of which will go to the final design partner...


Political fallout of Hurricane Harvey could begin this year in Houston (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

The latest drama involving President Donald Trump may dominate the political conversation in every major America city, except one – Houston. There, where a handful of congressional races are heating up ahead of the Texas March 6 primary, there’s another name on voters’ minds: Harvey. 

In Texas’ largest city and its suburbs, incumbents and candidates alike are making the case to voters that they can best represent a region that continues to reel from last year’s devastating hurricane...

See also: At fundraiser, Abbott says Davis bill could have undercut Harvey response (Texas Tribune)

Top Dems running for Texas governor raise less than $300,000 combined (San Antonio Express-News) LINK TO STORY

The top Texas Democrats running for governor on Monday reported raising less than $300,000 combined in their first three weeks of campaigning, significantly less than most statewide political competitors have usually posted just over eight weeks before their primary. Houston entrepreneur Andrew White disclosed in new state campaign-finance reports that he has raised $219,277 from more than 200 contributors — including $40,000 from himself — in the fundraising period that ended Dec. 31, 2017. Former Dallas Sheriff Lupe Valdez, who announced her campaign a day before White, reported raising less than a quarter of White’s amount: $46,498. White, son of the late Gov. Mark White, reported he has about $104,000 in the bank as fundraising continues, compared to Valdez’ $40,346...


Supreme Court to weigh wider collection of billions in internet sales taxes (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY

The U.S. Supreme Court will consider freeing state and local governments to collect billions of dollars in sales taxes from online retailers, agreeing to revisit a 26-year-old ruling that has made much of the internet a tax-free zone. Heeding calls from traditional retailers and dozens of states, the justices said they would hear South Dakota's contention that the 1992 ruling is obsolete in the e-commerce era and should be overturned. This is a big issue for states like Texas, which doesn't have a state income tax and depends heavily on its 6.25 percent sales tax. Texas may be losing more than $1 billion a year in sales taxes, according to an estimate from the Texas Comptroller's Office...

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