BG Note | News - What We're Reading (April 19, 2018)


[Austin Metro]

Without final rules in place, Austin closes two fair chance hiring complaints (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

In March, the Austin Monitor and KUT ran a story about how the city of Austin had not yet begun enforcing its two-year-old fair chance hiring ordinance. The law prohibits employers from checking an applicant’s criminal history until a job offer is on the table. The problem, in part, was that the city had not yet written administrative rules for how it would investigate complaints and penalize noncompliant companies.
But without those rules, the city decided to dismiss two of the five complaints it had received by the end of February...

Planning Commission skeptical of apartment complex in Southeast Austin (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Concerns voiced by neighbors about the additional traffic that would be generated on Nuckols Crossing – which is only 25 feet wide and has no sidewalks – clearly resonated with commissioners. Even those who said they were eager to see more multifamily housing in the area conceded that the existing infrastructure was troublesome.
The commission ultimately voted 7-4 to postpone the case until May 22, with a number of commissioners urging the applicant to try to develop a proposal that would ease some of the neighbors’ concerns. Commissioner Greg Anderson suggested that the developer could offer some “community developments,” such as public open space or sidewalks, that could appeal to the neighbors...

Extra bond requests – $65M and counting – bring worry for cultural centers (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Requests for additional funds for cultural and arts needs in a bond proposal expected to be voted on in November are causing worry from community groups that sticker shock could put much-needed funding at risk.
Some of those concerns bubbled up at Monday’s meeting of the Arts Commission, during discussion on possibly linking requests from that body and the Music Commission for $40 million to fund one or more new “hub” facilities for local artists and musicians threatened by disappearing performance space...


The next local control fight? Like Uber before, city regulations for AirBnB and HomeAway are in the crosshairs (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

When the Zaataris moved to Texas from Lebanon, part of the draw was the American Dream. In Austin, they're working toward that dream in the real estate business.
The young couple wants to grow their family — “I’m negotiating for three,” Ahmad Zaatari joked — but they rely on the income from their short-term rental property to support the one child they already have. But with overburdensome regulation, some argue, “the City of Austin wants to shut them down.” That claim appears in glossy detail in a promotional video compiled recently by one of Texas’ most influential conservative think tanks. The video closes: “The Zaatari family believed in the American Dream. The Center for the American Future is fighting to keep it alive.”...

State officials detail increased National Guard deployment to border (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

At least 762 Texas National Guard troops are now deployed to the border, state officials announced at a legislative hearing Wednesday. The figure — up from 130 in March — shows how Texas has stepped up operations in response to President Donald Trump’s call for broader border security operations. Speaking to the Texas House Committee on Appropriations, Angela Isaack, manager of the Legislative Budget Board, said deployment will increase by 300 each week until the total deployment reaches 1,400. The Texas National Guard troops are chiefly being deployed around El Paso and the Rio Grande Valley, the Texas Military Department’s adjutant general Maj. Gen. John Nichols, told lawmakers...

Texas health official resigns amid contracting errors (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

The state official who oversees information technology and contracting at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission – which has had a series of contracting mishaps — resigned Wednesday, according to the agency.
Heather Griffith Peterson, chief operating officer for the commission, is leaving as the agency continues to get hit by auditors over mismanagement of state contracts. She stepped into the role in June 2016. Wednesday is her last day...

Andrew White proposes expanding gambling in Texas to fund 'education emergency' (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY

Declaring an "education emergency" in Texas, gubernatorial candidate Andrew White wants to expand casinos and horse racing to help fund schools. White, the son of late Democratic Gov. Mark White, told reporters at a news conference Wednesday that he would expand gambling in the state so that the extra money can go toward public schools and scholarships for high school students. That would generate an estimated $3 billion of revenue, he said. "Texans are driving hours out of state to gamble in Louisiana and invest in Louisiana schools, and Oklahoma's health care and New Mexico's highways," he said. "Let's keep that money in Texas and invest in our own schools."...


Trump vows to cancel or walk out of meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un if it’s not ‘fruitful’ (Washington Post) LINK TO STORY

President Trump voiced optimism Wednesday about his potential summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, but he vowed to cancel the meeting or walk out if there are signs it “is not going to be fruitful.” Trump also said his administration is negotiating with Pyongyang for the release of three Americans who remain captive in the North and suggested that they could be freed as part of a diplomatic thaw between the two nations, which do not have formal government relations.
“If I think it’s a meeting that is not going to be fruitful, we’re not going to go,” Trump said at a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, after two days of meetings at Mar-a- ­Lago, the president’s winter resort. “If the meeting, when I’m there, is not fruitful, I will respectfully leave the meeting.”...

Border standoff ends as Jerry Brown-- berated by Trump--agrees to send California troops, with conditions (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY

An impasse between California and the Trump administration over the president's demand for National Guard at the border ended Wednesday night with a deal to mobilize troops on condition they have nothing to do with immigration enforcement or a border wall. Gov. Jerry Brown announced that he would mobilize to 400 California guardsmen at least through Sept. 30.
On Monday, the nation's Border Patrol chief said that Brown had so far rejected President Donald Trump's request for troops -- an assertion that Brown aides and the state's National Guard insisted was untrue. In their view, it was federal authorities who had so far refused to agree to limits Brown set forth two weeks ago...

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