BG Note | News - What We're Reading (April 3, 2018)

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[Austin Metro]

‘Snoopy PUD’ wins first-round approval (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Council approved a complicated set of Planned Unit Development regulations at their March 22 meeting for the piece of property at Riverside Drive and South First Street currently occupied by a Hooters and a surface parking lot.
As Planning and Zoning Assistant Director Jerry Rusthoven explained to Council, “We have renamed this PUD the Snoopy PUD,” because Charles Schulz, the creator of the cartoon “Peanuts,” once owned the property. It is directly across the street from One Texas Center.
The PUD zoning won unanimous approval on first reading, with Council members Ellen Troxclair and Leslie Pool absent. At Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo’s request, the public hearing will remain open so citizens can comment when the item comes back for second and third reading...

Will Manley be made police chief? City manager remains mum (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

In spite of the praise he has received from city leaders for his response to the Austin bombings, Interim Police Chief Brian Manley is not necessarily a shoo-in to be the next permanent police chief.

City Manager Spencer Cronk is still in the process of deciding what to do about the vacant position, which Manley has filled in an interim capacity since former Police Chief Art Acevedo left in November of 2016.

“He’s going to be announcing shortly how he proceeds in that regard,” explained Assistant City Manager Rey Arellano at a meeting of the Public Safety Commission on Monday...


Lawsuit: Infowars’ Alex Jones defamed man in Florida shooting (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

A man whose image was used by InfoWars to depict the Parkland, Fla., school shooting suspect as a communist is suing the conspiracy website and its founder Alex Jones for $1 million.
A petition filed in Travis County District Court on behalf of Marcel Fontaine, a Massachusetts resident with no ties to the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, says an article published on InfoWars using his picture has resulted in “enormous injury and continuing personal harassment.”...

[STATE]

With new "Tough as Texas" slogan, Ted Cruz launches re-election bid emphasizing Harvey recovery (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, formally began his re-election campaign Monday, hitting the road extolling Lone Star State exceptionalism — especially in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
It was an ostensibly unifying message that complemented Cruz’s new campaign slogan — “Tough as Texas” — and punctuated a period of home-state re-engagement following his unsuccessful 2016 presidential campaign. Still, as his second-term bid got underway Monday, there were signs abound that the Cruz Texas elected in 2012 — conservative insurgent, political provocateur — is not about to tone it down...

As teachers strike in other states, Texas teachers are also unhappy (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Although there’s little indication Texas teachers will go on strike as their colleagues in other states have done, Texas educators have long been unhappy with how the Legislature funds public school, affecting their pay and benefits. Texas was 27th in the nation for teacher pay in 2016, according to latest data available from the National Education Association.
That year, the average teacher salary in the state was $51,890, about $6,500 below the national average. Salaries and benefits typically make up the largest parts of school districts’ budgets. School district officials often say they can’t afford pay raises because the state’s school funding formulas are outdated and don’t provide sufficient dollars to schools...

Texas woman sentenced to 5 years in prison for voting while on probation (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY 

If she had known it was illegal, Crystal Mason said she would have never cast a vote in the 2016 presidential election.
The 43-year-old former tax preparer hadn’t even planned on voting until her mother encouraged her to do it. She had only recently been released from federal prison for a 2012 tax fraud conviction, in which she pleaded guilty to inflating returns for her clients, her attorney, J. Warren St. John, told The Washington Post...

Analysis: Changing the Texas Senate, a special election at a time (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

Texas is poised to have a couple of state Senate elections ahead, in Houston and in San Antonio — races that are not yet on the ballot. One is opening because the incumbent, Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, ran for higher office (successfully, so far); the other could happen because the incumbent, Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, was convicted of 11 federal felonies including money laundering and fraud...

Dallas-to-Houston high-speed rail plan will make Texas' I-35 corridor a loser, competitor says (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY

One of the world's largest train operators says that its proposal of a passenger rail network that includes the Interstate 35 corridor would be a better fit for Texas than the $15 billion Dallas-to-Houston bullet train that's on the table.

"Look at the state as a whole. Instead of creating a link, create a network," said SNCF America president Alain Leray, who is visiting Dallas, Austin and Waco this week on the heels of filing his company's eight-pages of commentary on the Federal Draft Environmental Statement for the Dallas-to-Houston line...


[NATION]

Trump’s claim of ‘enemy combatants’ pouring across southern border worries advocates (San Antonio Express-News) LINK TO STORY

As President Donald Trump returned to the theme of illegal immigration in recent days, he painted the southern border as an uncontrolled haven for “enemy combatants” pouring into the country and a magnet for young Central Americans seeking to take advantage of DACA protections. Immigrant advocates say neither claim matches reality.
“He’s obviously conflating at least illegal immigration with terrorism or threats to national security,” according to Muzaffar Chishti, director of the Migration Policy Institute’s office at New York University School of Law. “For his base, what is important is that he is uttering the words that they like to hear.”...

The U.S. wrote the rules for global trade. Now China is using them against Trump. (Washington Post) LINK TO STORY

The Chinese government designed its first concrete response to President Trump’s recent wave of protectionist policies to inflict noticeable political and economic pain upon the United States while remaining within the bounds of global trade rules. China imposed tariffs on a relatively modest $3 billion in American imports. But by hitting numerous products, including fruit, wine, ginseng and pork, that affect congressional districts across the country, China demonstrated that it can exert pressure within the American system.
The goal was to demonstrate resolve without escalation and to encourage disadvantaged farmers and workers to complain to their elected representatives. Beijing is prepared to engage in a slugging match, but its preferred solution to the deepening trade dispute remains a diplomatic outcome, analysts said...

The Most Powerful Lobbyist in Trump’s Washington (Politico) LINK TO STORY

When Brian Ballard signed the lease last year for an office on the second floor of the Homer Building, a downtown Washington edifice that's home to a number of lobbying firms, he promised himself he would stay in the space for five years. He lasted one. In February, his firm, Ballard Partners, moved into a bigger office on the fourth floor to accommodate the new lobbyists Ballard has hired since the election of one of his former clients, President Donald Trump.
At the firm's first staff meeting in the new offices, Ballard and five of his Washington lobbyists sat in new leather chairs around a small conference table, with Ballard at the head. Robert Wexler, a former Democratic congressman from Florida whom Ballard hired last year, phoned in from Paris with an update on the firm's work for the Turkish government...

The Bingham Group, LLC is an Austin-based full service lobbying firm representing and advising clients on municipal, legislative, and regulatory matters throughout Texas.

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