BG Note | News - What We're Reading (January 25, 2018)
Austin lobbyists agree to disclose how much they’re paid (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY
Seventeen Austin lobbyist lawyers who initially declined to cooperate with city ethics rules requiring them to tell how much their clients pay them have changed their minds.
A day before the city’s Ethics Review Commission was set to hear ethics complaints Wednesday from local activist Fred Lewis, the city let Lewis know that all the lawyers had agreed to provide the information, he said.
Austin began requiring registered lobbyists last year to give a ballpark figure for what clients pay them to woo city officials, as they must disclose on the state and federal level, after a yearslong process to close loopholes in city ethics rules. But at least 17 lobbyists who are also lawyers refused to do so, saying the disclosure would violate attorney-client privilege...
Planning Commission takes on transit and CodeNEXT (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY
Two of the great planning processes of Austin’s current age came together under one roof on Wednesday night as the Planning Commission talked both CodeNEXT and Project Connect with the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Todd Hemingson, Capital Metro’s vice president for strategic planning and development, used the opportunity to make the case for more transit-supportive land use.
He started by showing a list of the eight priority programs of Imagine Austin, the city’s comprehensive plan approved in 2012. Along with ensuring environmental sustainability, investing in creative sector jobs, and developing and maintaining housing affordability, Imagine Austin calls for the revision of the city’s development regulations in such a way as “to promote a compact and connected city.”...
Housing repair funds, 3-D printed homes pitched as affordability solutions (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY
For the past several weeks, nine local nonprofits, government agencies and private companies have been mapping out new solutions to the city’s housing affordability problem. Last night, they presented their ideas at the Impact Hub, a co-working space on North Lamar, which organized the effort.
Ashley Phillips, managing director of Impact Hub, said the process has allowed groups that might hold different values to find common ground...
Council members blast city savings program (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY
Members of the City Council Audit and Finance Committee on Wednesday expressed outrage over the lack of oversight exercised by the city’s Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Department in administering a program designed to help low-income residents learn how to handle money...
How might Texas win Amazon's second headquarters? Not because of flashy financial incentives(Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY
Georgia has reportedly offered $1 billion worth of incentives. In Philadelphia, it’s more than $2 billion; in Maryland, $5 billion; and, from high-rolling New Jersey, a whopping $7 billion. But in Texas, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said this week, “We will not give away the farm.” After an elimination round reality TV-like in its mystery, only 20 contenders remain in the competition to win Amazon’s coveted second headquarters, an economic development opportunity that would pour as much as $5 billion and as many as 50,000 jobs into the community that wins it...
Texas smugglers say Trump's border wall wouldn't stop immigrants, drugs from pouring across the border (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY
Whether a wall will happen, whether it would extend across the entire 2,000-mile border and whether it would be a solid wall or more fencing remains the subject of intense, shifting debate in Washington.
But if the wall comes, will it help stop people like Perez or the drug smugglers the president says are pouring into the country virtually unfettered? Manuel Padilla says it will. Padilla, chief of the Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley Sector, which stretches for 320 river miles from the Gulf of Mexico to Falcon Lake, says the Valley has become smugglers’ favorite crossing point in part because it still lacks the barriers erected at one-time hot spots like San Diego and El Paso.
But one of his former foes on the border, Norma Armendariz, says Padilla’s wrong. The Laredo native and sister of carjacking kingpin Jose Antonio “El Comandante” Armendariz estimates she earned $15,000 to $20,000 a week smuggling immigrants before she was busted in 2012. She says if she were still in the business, a wall wouldn’t slow her down much because there’s always a Border Patrol agent or customs official willing to take a bribe and look the other way...
Potential citizenship question in 2020 Census could shift power to rural America (Washington Post) LINK TO STORY
A request by the Justice Department to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census could shift the nation's balance of political power from cities to more rural communities over the next decade and give Republicans a new advantage drawing electoral boundaries. Population numbers produced by the census are used in many ways, notably to draw political districts and distribute government funds across the country. Adding questions to the decennial survey is usually a controversial and difficult process because of the potential to affect both of those functions — either by suppressing census participation or by creating new ways to define populations. All of it has prompted advocates for Hispanic communities to accuse the Justice Department of wanting to produce a less accurate count in 2020...