BG Note | News - What We're Reading (April 16, 2018)


[Austin Metro]

Fund to preserve workforce housing begins the hunt for first 1,000 units (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

A group of real estate investors focused on preserving housing for Austin’s middle-class workforce is on the hunt for properties, with the goal of purchasing up to 1,000 apartment units within the next year.

The Austin Housing Conservancy announced last week that it has received commitments from its first 20 investors and can begin negotiating for the first of three or four existing apartment complexes to launch its portfolio. The private equity fund is managed by the nonprofit Affordable Central Texas, which was founded by former Urban Land Institute Austin executive director David Steinwedell.

Steinwedell, who is CEO of Affordable Central Texas, wouldn’t disclose how much money was raised in its first round, but some of its investors include Sweet Leaf Tea founder Clayton Christopher, Amherst Holdings CEO Sean Dobson, and philanthropists Michael and Jeanne Klein...

Mary Street historic district sails to Council (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Travis Heights is one step closer to getting its first local historic district after a trip to the Planning Commission last week.
The Mary Street historic district is a modest bid for a historic district that would cover just 2.5 acres of the city. Scaled down from a recent attempt to create a Bluebonnet Hills local historic district that was itself a scaled-down version of an ambitious plan to create a local historic district for all of Travis Heights, the proposal now includes a total of 16 historic buildings on the 500 block of Mary Street...

As Travis County Home Values Rise, Tax Firms Report Increase In Homeowner Challenges (KUT) LINK TO STORY

The record number of protests could be a response to consistently rising home values. According to the Travis County Appraisal District, 2018 median home values rose by roughly 9 percent over the past year. That’s typical.
“It is in line with what we’ve seen in the last five to seven years,” said Marya Crigler, the district's chief appraiser. “We’ve been in a very thriving Austin market. We’ve got a real imbalance between the amount of available homes and the demand [for] homes that we’ve got.”...


Pressure builds for Lupe Valdez to agree to debate Andrew White (San Antonio Express-News) LINK TO STORY

Pressure was mounting over the weekend for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lupe Valdez to agree to debate her runoff rival, Andrew White. The two candidates have appeared together multiple times at campaign events in recent weeks, but they haven’t interacted. White, son of the late Democratic Gov. Mark White, has never held office and finished a distant second to Valdez in the March primary, so he has more to gain from a debate. Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke and Justin Nelson, the party’s nominee for attorney general, said this weekend that Valdez, the former Dallas County sheriff, should debate White...

Facebook may not sell the data it collects, but the state of Texas sure does (San Antonio Express-News) LINK TO STORY

Private companies aren't the only ones sharing users’ personal information to outside groups — some Texas state agencies do it, too. Earlier this week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was grilled during two separate congressional hearings over revelations that Cambridge Analytica, a political research firm that worked with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016, had inappropriately harvested detailed personal information of up to 87 million Facebook users. The news resulted in an uproar among Facebook users across the country, igniting a debate over whether it’s appropriate for private companies to share personal information with third parties without asking for users’ consent. Facebook does not sell data, as Zuckerberg repeatedly said during testimony...

How Dallas voters could get a chance to require private companies to offer paid sick leave (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY

A political push is on to give Dallas voters the chance to mandate that private employers provide sick leave to every employee they hire. At Dallas City Hall on Friday, a coalition of labor and faith groups and political activists announced they had filed paperwork with the city to collect signatures for a sick-time ballot measure. The ordinance would be aimed primarily at helping low-wage workers who don't have such benefits given by major employers.
"Today, we declare that every worker in Dallas, every cashier, every janitor has the right to dignity at work and that every worker in Dallas has a right to take care of themselves and their family," said Brianna Brown, deputy director of the Texas Organizing Project...


Supreme Court considers whether states should have power to tax all online sales (Washington Post) LINK TO STORY

An already-diminished perk of online shopping — avoiding the payment of sales tax — is in danger of extinction at the Supreme Court this week. The justices will consider deleting a 26-year-old precedent and uploading a new operating system for states and local governments, who say they have been improperly barred from requiring online retailers to send them billions of dollars in sales-tax revenue. Led by South Dakota, the states ask the court to overturn its 1992 decision in Quill v. North Dakota, which said retailers can be forced to collect taxes only in states where the company has a “physical presence.” The case requires the court to consider whether a decision made in the era of mail-order catalogues still makes sense in a time of one-click shopping, when a website can be more appealing and convenient...

How Trump Moved the Mexican Border North (Politico) LINK TO STORY

The official border zone, as defined by a 1953 Department of Justice rule, doesn’t end at the Rio Grande. Effectively, it is a hundred miles deep, stretching inward from the border in states from Maine to Florida to California to Washington. Within this zone, immigration agents can search and interrogate, without warrant, anyone suspected of being in the United States illegally.
In Texas, the undocumented typically reside in a section of the border zone before the checkpoints begin that is sometimes called la jaula, the cage, or la isla, the island. This widespread feeling of paranoia—that the threat of arrest and deportation lurks around the corner—has long been a common feature of life within the border zone in states like Texas, but under Trump, that fear is traveling toward the center of the country...

Trump to lift legal threat to states that permit marijuana use (Reuters) LINK TO STORY

President Donald Trump will lift his administration’s plans for a possible crackdown on states that have legalized marijuana after talks with a Colorado senator, the White House said on Friday, an action that undercuts U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Senator Cory Gardner, Trump’s fellow Republican whose state has some of the most permissive marijuana laws in the country, had blocked Senate confirmation of Justice Department nominations to force the change.

Sessions on Jan. 4 rescinded a policy begun under Democratic former President Barack Obama that had eased enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states that legalized it. In doing so, Sessions, who has taken a hard line against marijuana, gave federal prosecutors wide latitude to pursue criminal charges...

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