BG Note | News - What We're Reading (February 26, 2018)
Staff overrules Design Commission on downtown tower (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY
A controversial downtown tower is moving forward despite the Design Commission’s declaration that it violates the city’s urban design guidelines.
The project at 405 Colorado St. would replace a surface parking lot with a 25-story structure with 13 levels of parking. The building would feature 11 floors of office space on top of 13 floors of parking. A 14th-floor “sky lobby” would separate the two uses.
Brandywine Realty Trust, the developer, has secured a density bonus for the project in order to increase the allowable floor area ratio from 8-to-1 up to 13-to-1. To achieve the bonus, Brandywine promised to provide Great Streets improvements on surrounding sidewalks and achieve at least a two-star rating under Austin Energy’s Green Building Program...
Austin Parks Board now wants Guerrero off shrinking stadium list (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY
The Austin Parks and Recreation Board wants to boot Roy G. Guerrero Metropolitan Park from the rapidly dwindling list of city-owned properties that city staff presented two months ago as potential Major League Soccer stadium sites.
A board recommendation posted Friday will be discussed and perhaps voted on at a meeting Tuesday night.
It was the parks and recreation department that helped put together that list, which included Guerrero Park, for Precourt Sports Ventures...
Split vote likely on removing Confederate names from Austin schools (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY
A split vote is expected Monday night as the Austin school board decides whether to remove Confederate names from five campuses.
At least five of trustees, the minimum needed to move the measure forward, have expressed support for the measure. But others on the board continue to raise concerns about the name changes, saying the board’s action on the matter has felt very top-down because it was not prompted by a call from community members, as was the case in 2016 when the board renamed the former Robert E. Lee Elementary...
Statue honoring eccentric Austin icon Leslie Cochran one step closer to reality (KXAN) LINK TO STORY
A bench downtown could soon pay tribute to the beloved homeless, cross-dressing Austinite Leslie Cochran, who died in 2012.
He was an Austin fixture for more than two decades. For years, he patrolled the area of Congress Avenue and Sixth Street, often pushing an oversized cart containing his belongings and adorned with hand-crafted signs and slogans.
He bounced around the country for several years before settling in Austin, where he became known simply as “Leslie.” The persona included wearing lacy bras, boas and glittering thongs. Many of his handmade signs advocated for the rights of Austin’s homeless.
Three times Cochran’s name appeared on the ballot for Austin mayor — and once he finished as high as second.
Texas teachers, officers buck Trump’s idea to arm teachers with guns (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY
Texas teachers, school district officials and school resource officers are panning President Donald Trump’s idea to arm more educators, even as state law already permits certain teachers to carry guns into classrooms. “As superintendent, I don’t believe most teachers would welcome the idea of being armed,” Round Rock school Superintendent Steve Flores said. “While they would do anything to protect their students, they are trained as educators, not as a security force. The potential danger of (having) more guns in the school, particularly not in the hands of trained law enforcement, is a serious concern as we look for opportunities to keep our campuses safe and secure.”...
Texas billboards could grow taller as height limit rises (Houston Chronicle) LINK TO STORY
Some 25,000 billboards along certain stretches of Texas highways could soar in size under a regulatory change approved by state transportation officials. The Texas Transportation Commission voted unanimously Thursday to eliminate the existing 42½-foot height restriction beginning September 2019, allowing the size limit to double.
The ruling followed months of deliberation and discussion, including a write-in campaign that generated thousands of letters both against and in favor of taller billboards...
Uresti’s political, legal career unravel fast following felony conviction (San Antonio Express-News) LINK TO STORY
It didn’t take long for Carlos Uresti’s political career to unravel after he was convicted on 11 counts of felony fraud charges. Within hours of the jury’s verdict Thursday, friend and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick took steps to strip Uresti of plum committee assignments, “effectively immediately,” and Senate Democrats called on him to resign.
The Senate could expel him with a two-thirds majority vote. His livelihood as a lawyer also is coming to an end. He faces disbarment once he’s sentenced for his crimes in June, but it's possible his law license could be suspended before then. And he’s staring at a prison sentence that could range from eight to 12 years — in addition to likely owing millions in restitution to victims, some attorneys say...
After testy call with Trump over border wall, Mexico’s president shelves plan to visit White House (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY
Tentative plans for Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to make his first visit to the White House to meet with President Trump were scuttled this week after a testy call between the two leaders ended in an impasse over Trump’s promised border wall, according to U.S. and Mexican officials.
Peña Nieto was eyeing an official trip to Washington this month or in early March, but called off the plan after Trump would not agree to publicly affirm Mexico’s position that it would not fund construction of a border wall that the Mexican people widely consider offensive, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a confidential conversation...