BG Note | News - What We're Reading (April 23, 2018)


[Austin Metro]

Changes ahead for Planning Commission? (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

At this week’s meeting, City Council is scheduled to consider changes to how members of the city’s Planning Commission are selected. The city attorney’s office has offered two alternative approaches – one of which could have a radical impact on the number of engineers, architects and other design professionals allowed to serve on the commission.
The Planning Commission, as required by state law, makes recommendations to Council on zoning ordinances and also has the responsibility for approving subdivision plats and various other administrative decisions such as drainage, water quality and some other development regulations. The commission, as well as the Zoning and Platting Commission, has been working hard to understand and develop recommendations for the rewrite of the city’s Land Development Code known as CodeNEXT...

Events ordinance approaching completion, with rules TBD (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

It appears that the city’s ordinance to manage the thriving and lucrative special events industry in Austin is finally about to become a working part of local code.
City Council is expected to have a third reading and final approval of the ordinance at its May 10 meeting, nearly five years since officials first began trying to streamline and improve the process that local groups and event planners must go through to host gatherings of various sizes and impacts around the city.
But even if Council approves the measure then, city staff will still need time to craft the rules regarding notification of neighbors impacted by an event and the deadlines for submission and approval, as well as the process to appeal a decision in a timely manner...

New poll shows how far Austin residents will go—and won’t go—to land Amazon’s HQ2 (Community Impact) LINK TO STORY

A new poll released Wednesday suggests Austin residents generally support Amazon’s potential expansion to the area, but they do not want generous incentives used to lure the tech giant’s second headquarters to the region.
Elon University Poll conducted what it called a “representative survey” of residents in each of the country’s 16 metropolitan areas named as finalists for Amazon’s second headquarters. The report states that roughly 357 Austinites were surveyed for the poll.
Austin, as well as 238 other North American cities, submitted a proposal in September to host the second headquarters, or HQ2, for Seattle-based Amazon. In a Jan. 18 announcement, Amazon named Austin and Dallas among the 20 finalists to land the project, which is estimated to generate thousands of high-paying jobs and millions of dollars in economic activity.
Austin leaders said previously the city has not committed to any financial incentives to lure Amazon to the region. Amazon is expected to narrow the list of potential cities and choose a finalist sometime this year.
Click here for the full report of the poll’s findings and to see other cities’ reactions.


Ramsey: A poll showing a close race in Texas, if most Texans voted (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

You probably saw the new Texas political survey from Quinnipiac released last week — the one that had Democrat Beto O'Rourke running just a few percentage points behind Republican Ted Cruz in this year’s U.S. Senate race. Heady stuff, or scary stuff, depending on your team. It’s a highly regarded polling operation, but there are a couple of caveats that ought to figure into your jubilation/trepidation. The biggest is that the poll included a lot of Texans who have never been in a voting booth, and likely never will be...

Fifth Texas health commission official out amid contracting woes (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

The shakeup over contract mismanagement at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission continued Friday with the resignation of another state official who oversees contracting.
Ron Pigott, the agency's deputy executive commissioner for procurement and contracting services, is leaving as the officials work to rebound from continued verbal shellackings and scrutiny by auditors, legislators and Gov. Greg Abbott in the past week. Pigott stepped into the role in 2015 and previously headed procurement at the Texas Comptroller's Office...

Federal money to connect Texas schools to fiber at risk, officials say (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Delays and denials by the federal government are putting Texas schools at risk of losing millions of dollars in potential subsidies that would help pay for installing high-speed fiber internet in classrooms, according to state officials. Last year, state lawmakers approved $25 million to help school districts over the 2018-19 budget period replace or install fiber-optic cable, arguably the fastest, most reliable and scalable form of internet access available. In return, the federal government promised to match the state money dollar-for-dollar through the E-Rate Program, administered by the Federal Communications Commission through a nonprofit organization called the Universal Service Administrative Company, or USAC. Texas will shell out $6 million this year and, based on applications from school districts, the state is estimated to pay $16.4 million next year...


Trump Will Tell Kim Jong Un That Dismantling Nuclear Arsenal Must Precede Economic Benefits (Wall St. Journal) LINK TO STORY

President Donald Trump will urge North Korea to act quickly to dismantle its nuclear arsenal when he meets North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and isn’t willing to grant Pyongyang substantial sanctions relief in return for a freeze of its nuclear and missile tests, administration officials said. Those two closely related questions—the pace of Pyongyang’s nuclear dismantlement and the timetable for sanctions relief—stand to be the major issues of the summit. “When the president says that he will not make the mistakes of the past, that means the U.S. will not be making substantial concessions, such as lifting sanctions, until North Korea has substantially dismantled its nuclear programs,” a senior Trump administration official said on Sunday...

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