BG Note | News - What We're Reading (April 20, 2018)


[Austin Metro]

Commission votes to allow residential buffer between neighborhood and small business development (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

At its April 17 meeting, the Zoning and Platting Commission approved a rezoning on Ferguson Lane and Sansom Road, despite strong urges to reject the proposal from the residents of Walnut Place Neighborhood Association. The agreed-upon motion includes a residential barrier along the east side of the lot.
Originally, developers had requested the site at 3207 Ferguson Lane be rezoned from a mix of commercial and residential uses – Warehouse/Limited Office (W/LO), Rural Residential (RR), Neighborhood Office (NO) and Single Family Residence-Large Lot (SF-1) – to W/LO in its entirety. But that proposal received strong pushback from WPNA residents. The latest proposal, according to Colin Armstrong, one of the project’s developers, takes into account the neighborhood’s suggestions and requests that had been voiced since talk between both parties began in early 2017...

Precourt, MLS file for dismissal of ‘Art Modell Law’ suit (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

The owners of the Major League Soccer franchise Columbus Crew SC struck back Thursday against an Ohio lawsuit aimed at keeping the team from potentially relocating to Austin.
Precourt Sports Ventures and MLS jointly filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that Ohio Revised Code 9.67 does not apply to the Crew and is unconstitutional. In the 25-page document, obtained by the Austin American-Statesman, the defendants claimed at least five independent reasons the law violates the United States Constitution and the Ohio Constitution.
“At its core, Plaintiffs are unhappy that Columbus Crew SC, an MLS club, might relocate, and want to use the heavy hand of the state to prevent that possibility,” the motion said. “The Court should reject that attempt and promptly dismiss this case.”...

Austin Energy troubled by hiring concerns (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Other reasons [Austin Energy CFO Mark Dombroski] cited for the utility’s difficulties in hiring quality candidates are Travis County’s low unemployment rate of 2.6 percent, a bureaucratic process that can discourage potential candidates since Austin Energy competes more with the private sector rather than with other municipalities, and a paper-based documentation during the hiring process.
Austin Energy confirmed that although much of the paperwork is literally done on paper during the interview process, the initial application process is online. However, there is no planned timeline to bring the Austin Energy hiring process into an electronic workflow. According to Chair Cary Ferchill, this change would have to be approved at a City Council level, and he therefore recommended that all the commissioners speak to their respective Council members about the critical nature of this issue.
“To help us overcome some of these challenges, we’re working closely with city of Austin Human Resources,” said Dombroski. One of the first steps they are taking besides transitioning the hiring process online is to try and implement more competitive compensation...

Defendant Onyeri testifies, admits to shooting Judge Kocurek (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

The two people central to Chimene Onyeri’s alleged shooting of state District Judge Julie Kocurek took the witness stand Thursday — and one of them started sobbing. It was not the person who was nearly killed in front of her teenage son.
Kocurek was composed as she presented gripping testimony about her road to recovery from four gunshot blasts in November 2015, revealing that at the darkest point “I felt so damaged and I wanted to die.”
The two people central to Chimene Onyeri’s alleged shooting of state District Judge Julie Kocurek took the witness stand Thursday — and one of them started sobbing. It was not the person who was nearly killed in front of her teenage son.
Kocurek was composed as she presented gripping testimony about her road to recovery from four gunshot blasts in November 2015, revealing that at the darkest point “I felt so damaged and I wanted to die.”
Testifying for more than an hour before a packed courtroom of prominent lawyers and her judicial peers, Kocurek touched on the 20-some surgeries required to patch skin on the left side of her body and the therapy sessions she needed to “restore life.” She was happy to report that her hand is doing much better.
Kocurek’s stoicism was a contrast to the emotional, meandering and profanity-laced testimony from Onyeri, the 30-year-old Houston native who prosecutors say plotted to kill Kocurek before she could send him to prison on a probation violation.
After more than three hours of testimony, Onyeri ended up admitting to walking up to Kocurek’s Tarrytown home and shooting into the Lexus SUV in which she was a passenger, but said it was only to destroy her property. His intent was akin to slashing her tires, he said.
“I didn’t even know she was in the car,” he said...


Straus endorses Allison to succeed him in Texas House (San Antonio Express-News) LINK TO STORY

House Speaker Joe Straus on Thursday endorsed Steve Allison in the runoff for the Republican nomination in his north Bexar County district. Straus, who announced in October he was not seeking re-election, called Allison “the one candidate in this race who has proved himself ready to serve in the Texas House.” Allison faces Matt Beebe, Straus’ two-time primary opponent, in a May 22 runoff. “Steve is a man of strong character and sound judgment, and I have no doubt that he will be an effective voice for our community,” Straus said in a statement...

Abbott wants special election for Farenthold seat as soon as possible (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

Gov. Greg Abbott wants to hold a special election to replace former U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, as soon as possible. That's according to a letter he sent Thursday to Attorney General Ken Paxton, seeking guidance on whether the governor can suspend certain laws he believes are standing in the way of a timely special election.
The letter amounts to Abbott's first public comments on the subject since Farenthold suddenly resigned earlier this month, leaving the governor to ponder how long the Coastal Bend-area district could go without representation given that it is still reeling from Hurricane Harvey. Abbott made clear Thursday he believes there is no time to waste...

Mexicans help create, not take jobs away from Texans, SMU study says (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY

Far from taking jobs away from Texans, Mexicans are helping create additional employment opportunities, providing valuable labor for a growing economy and helping the deepening integration with Mexico, according to the Texas-Mexico Center at Southern Methodist University. The findings of the first research study by the center come as the Trump administration cracks down on unauthorized immigrants, referring to them as criminals and calling for a wall between both countries. The center's study called for "freer migration" across the border and fewer barriers to international crossings, touting Texas as an example of cooperation with Mexico...

Alamo up in arms over new unofficial app (San Antonio Express-News) LINK TO STORY

Call it the battle of the unofficial Alamo app. The keepers of the historic shrine have taken up legal arms against the makers of Experience Real History: Alamo Edition, a new augmented reality app that transports users to the Alamo compound as it appeared in 1836. Alamo CEO Douglass McDonald said that not only is the app not endorsed by the Alamo or the Texas General Land Office, which oversees the San Antonio landmark, it also is an unauthorized commercial product that conducts commercial activities while on the Alamo grounds. “We are going to pursue all available options to stop them” said McDonald, who noted that the General Land Office has referred the matter to its intellectual property counsel, Austin-based law firm Pirkey Barber...


Rudy Giuliani Among 3 New Lawyers Joining Trump's Legal Team (KUT) LINK TO STORY

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is joining President Trump's legal team to help deal with the ongoing special counsel investigation into whether Trump's campaign conspired with the Russian attack on the 2016 election.
"Rudy is great," Trump said in a statement released by his attorney Jay Sekulow. "He has been my friend for a long time and wants to get this matter quickly resolved for the good of the country."...

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