BG Note | News - What We're Reading (February 2, 2018)



[Austin Metro]

Austin to deny future business with border wall contractors (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

City Council members announced their solidarity Thursday with Austin’s immigrant community by pledging not to conduct any city business with border wall contractors.

“In Austin we build bridges, not walls,” said Mayor Steve Adler.

The resolution passed 10-1, with Council Member Ellen Troxclair dissenting...

Council approves dockless bike-share pilot and expansion of Austin B-cycle (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

City Council on Thursday approved the creation of a pilot program that will allow private companies to put their on-demand rental bikes on city-owned right of way throughout the city.

The vote on the pilot was one of three actions Council took based on recommendations made by Austin Transportation Director Rob Spillar that also included a fast-tracked expansion of Austin B-cycle, the city’s station-based bike-sharing system.

The Transportation Department will conduct a public input process before launching the 12-month pilot, which won’t kick off until “late spring,” according to Spillar...

Fate of controversial 300-unit Champion’s Tract development postponed after Austin City Council vote (Community Impact) LINK TO STORY

The fate of the controversial 300-unit multifamily development at the corner of RR 2222 and City Park Road was postponed on Thursday after Austin City Council decided it needed more time.
The City Council said it would come back at its next meeting Feb. 15 to make a final decision on a zoning case that, in its current edition, has taken more than a year to straighten out—the tract’s zoning has been an issue since 1996. In the balance hangs the construction of a 300-unit multifamily development and the environmental protection of a 45-acre tract in Austin’s Hill Country...


Dallas, Austin don't deserve Amazon HQ2 because Texas has no LGBT protections, campaign says (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY

A national campaign wants Amazon to knock off cities like Dallas and Austin, in states that don't protect the rights of lesbian, gay and transgender people, from the shortlist of locations being considered for the retail giant's second headquarters. The "No Gay No Way" group says 11 of 20 finalists for Amazon's HQ2 should be disqualified. Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos — who once pledged $2.5 million to a Washington State same-sex marriage campaign — have been vocal supporters of gay rights. "It is shocking that Amazon would consider locating HQ2 with its over 50,000 employees in a state that doesn't protect LGBT people or their families," the group says on its website...

Medical cannabis company makes first delivery to a Texas patient (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

A six-year-old girl suffering from a rare form of epilepsy received an order of Texas-produced medical cannabis on Thursday morning, marking the official opening of the state’s highly restricted but much-anticipated market for the treatment that’s derived from a non-psychoactive extract of marijuana.
Cansortium Texas, a division of Florida-based Cansortium Holdings, announced the first delivery from its dispensary in Schulenburg. The company didn’t release additional details about the patient who received it, citing privacy issues...

Health agency leader: "We welcome" audits into contracting issues (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission won’t fight an auditor coming through their doors — in fact, they welcome it. That’s what Charles Smith, executive commissioner for the state health agency, said just one day after his staff was blasted by state leadership for mishandling state contracts.
Smith said during a keynote speech at the State of Reform Health Policy Conference in Austin on Thursday that the commission is intent on making sure “we’re responsive to the taxpayer funds that we have.”...

After land office inks Harvey contract, Land Commissioner George P. Bush gets donations from contractor (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

The government’s seemingly sluggish response to Hurricane Harvey has been a headache for Land Commissioner George P. Bush, whose office plays a major role in getting Texans back into damaged homes. One company that is trying to help him out — in more ways than one — is Horne LLP, a big accounting firm that provides disaster recovery services to governments. On Oct. 30, 2017, the company signed a $13.47 million contract with the agency Bush oversees, the Texas General Land Office, to help with Harvey recovery efforts. Three days later, more than two dozen Horne LLP executives helped out Bush with his re-election campaign, sending him $27,500 in political cash — including $1,000 from the Horne partner who signed the contract...


In Austin, Rex Tillerson lays out Trump agenda for hemisphere (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Before kicking off his tour of Latin American countries, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gave a speech Thursday in Austin saying the Trump administration’s policy for the Western Hemisphere is built on promoting democratic values, strengthening economies and countering “predatory actors” that include Russia and China.
There can be no economic development in the hemisphere without security, and no security without stronger economies, Tillerson said in a half-hour speech at the University of Texas. “We must address security and development issues side by side. You cannot expect to have one without the other,” he said...

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