BG Note | News - What We're Reading (January 29, 2018)


[Austin Metro]

Soccer proponents abandon Butler Park, turn to alternate stadium sites (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Owners of a Major League Soccer team hoping to move their club to Austin have turned their ambitions for a new stadium away from a controversial waterfront site.

On Friday, Dave Greeley, president of Precourt Sports Ventures, issued a statement announcing the group was giving up its work related to Butler Shores Metropolitan Park following community objections and possible City Council action that would have removed all city parkland from stadium site consideration.

“Some in the community and the neighbors near Butler Shores have valid concerns about a possible stadium location at that site,” Greeley’s statement says...

CTRMA board finalists talk up transit during Travis County interviews (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

The Travis County Commissioners Court will decide on Tuesday which two of six candidates it will appoint to the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority’s board of directors.

The court interviewed the applicants during a special session on Thursday.

Of the six, two are current incumbents. David Armbrust has held his seat since 2012, while Charles Heimsath was first appointed in 2009. They’re both now facing competition for their positions from attorney Amy Pattillo, former city of Austin planner Amanda Brown, Federal Highway Administration staffer Donny Hamilton, and attorney John Langmore...


Texans have one week left to register to vote in time for the 2018 primaries (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

Texas will host the first statewide primaries of 2018 on March 6 and, with the Feb. 5 registration deadline fast approaching, Texans don't have much time left to become eligible to vote. 
For both Democrats and Republicans, the race for U.S. Senate will be at the top of the ballot. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is vying against four other Republicans in his bid for re-election and U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-El Paso, is the most well-known of three Democrats aiming to unseat him.
Eight Texans in the U.S. House aren't running for re-election, which has led to some packed races to replace them, including 18 Republicans and four Democrats running for the seat U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, has held for more than 30 years. And three Republicans running for re-election — U.S. Reps. John Culberson of Houston, Pete Sessions of Dallas, and Will Hurd of Helotes — have emerged as top targets for Democrats as potential pick-ups in November, creating higher stakes in the Democratic primaries there...

Texas Republican executive committee censures House Speaker Joe Straus (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

The State Republican Executive Committee voted to censure Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, on Saturday, dinging the outgoing state leader for standing in the way of the party leadership group's priorities.
The vote was 44-19, with Texas GOP Chairman James Dickey and vice chair Amy Clark helping put it over the top. Two-thirds support was required from the 64-member committee, which includes the party leaders plus two members from each of the 31 state Senate districts...

With $2.4 million haul, Beto O'Rourke easily outraised Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to close out 2017 (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-El Paso, easily outraised U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz over the last three months in his campaign to unseat the Texas Republican, raking in over $2.4 million to Cruz's $1.9 million.
Yet Cruz maintains a big cash-on-hand advantage, closing out 2017 with $7.3 million in the bank, his campaign said late Sunday. O'Rourke, who revealed his haul a short time earlier, has $4.6 million to spend, according to his campaign.
Still, O'Rourke's $2.4 million haul shows his fundraising is gaining steam — it's his biggest fundraiser quarter since launching his bid in March. O'Rourke said the figure was accompanied by a spike in the number of individual contributions that his campaign received — from almost 33,000 in the third quarter to over 55,000 during the most recent period, he said in an interview...

After no-bid deal falls apart, Texas Education Agency review calls for clearer contracting procedures (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

An internal review of the Texas Education Agency's contracting regulations found this week that the agency needs a more concrete process for determining whether to bypass competitive bidding when it enters into a new contract. Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath ordered the review after a controversial no-bid contract to overhaul special education fell apart last month. More than $2 million had already been spent on services rendered through the deal before it was axed. TEA's internal audit division found Thursday that the agency's contracting manual "basically follows" state regulations but needs more clarification and development to "reinforce best practices."...

State board to discuss new high school Mexican-American studies course (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

The State Board of Education on Tuesday will discuss creating a Mexican-American studies course for high school students. The discussion comes after the board rejected two proposed Mexican-American studies textbooks over the past two years. Here is how the board got to this point: Course proposed before : Instead of creating a statewide Mexican-American studies course as a high school elective in 2014, a divided board opted to offer school districts recommended textbooks for such a course and other ethnic studies areas...


Booming city economies push middle class out (The Hill) LINK TO STORY

An explosion of job growth in the hearts of America’s largest cities has driven the recovery from the worst economic recession in modern history, sending wages soaring and unemployment rates plummeting. But along with a growing number of high-wage, high-skill jobs, home prices are rising in urban cores at a much faster clip than in suburbs or rural areas. It’s an indication that the decades-long trend of upper-income residents moving out of urban areas is reversing itself. Increasingly, metropolitan leaders say that higher housing prices are threatening their middle class, forcing residents to choose between exorbitant housing costs or long commutes from the suburbs...

In State of Union, Trump to make case that America is back (Associated Press) LINK TO STORY

Seeking to move past the shadow of the Russia investigation, President Donald Trump intends to use his first State of the Union address to cite economic progress under his watch while pushing for bipartisanship with Democrats on issues such as rebuilding roads and bridges.

The White House said Sunday that the president would point to a robust economy and low unemployment during his first year and the benefits of a tax overhaul during Tuesday's address to Congress and the nation. Aides have said Trump, who stayed at the White House over the weekend as he prepared, is expected to set aside his more combative tone for one of compromise and bipartisanship...

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