BG Note | News - What We're Reading (May 2, 2018)
City Manager Spencer Cronk settles in (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY
City Manager Spencer Cronk already has allergies. “When I first moved here, they hit me hard. I’ve never had allergies in my life,” he explained. “I haven’t gone to the doctor yet, but I’m pretty sure I either broke or bruised my rib from sneezing so hard.”
While that metaphor could go either way, in terms of his settling into Austin, through the course of a conversation with the Austin Monitor, it became clear that Cronk is taking his time and getting to know the city. Since the conversation, Cronk has made his first big move, announcing Interim Police Chief Brian Manley as the sole final candidate for the permanent position. (Manley has held the position for the past 16 months.) Even that can be read as cautious, though, coming more than two months after Cronk’s official start date of Feb. 12, and more than a month after City Council made noise about making Manley chief following a series of bombings in Austin...
Purple pipe to save water, Travis County tax dollars (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY
Travis County Commissioner Brigid Shea gathered members of the media at the Heman Marion Sweatt Courthouse on Tuesday afternoon to tout a water conservation program that will save millions of gallons of drinking water per year.
Those savings are courtesy of a new connection to a so-called purple pipe that will pump treated sewage water into the cooling plant that provides air conditioning for four of the county’s downtown campus buildings.
“Most people don’t realize that the major use of water for large commercial buildings is for air conditioning. It’s not for sinks or toilets,” Shea said...
City Council approves plan to end homelessness (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY
The rising concern surrounding homelessness and its growing numbers will receive greater attention and resources moving forward, now that City Council unanimously approved a resolution to endorse the city’s Action Plan to End Homelessness at its April 26 meeting.
The action plan is the result of the combined efforts of the city and the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO). Both parties worked together to develop a plan that indicates key areas of investing to expand the homelessness response system and increase resources within the city. The plan specifically points to the implementation of five components to help reach that goal: outreach services and shelters, addressing disparities within the city, providing housing and support services, strengthening the city’s response system, and building community commitment from both the public and private sectors...
Roughly a week out, Euphoria Fest still without Travis County permit (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY
After a close call last week, it appears Finding Euphoria, the electronic music festival held at Carson Creek Ranch in southeast Austin, will get its mass gathering permit from Travis County just days before the event begins.
Travis County staffers told the Commissioners Court last week that event organizers had delayed sending required documents and that more time was needed for review, raising questions among commissioners about whether they realistically would have enough time to permit the event.
The electronic music festival, which made its debut four years ago and is set for May 11-13, will downsize this year, producer Stuart Sharpe said...
Beto O'Rourke wants to debate Ted Cruz 6 times, including twice in Spanish (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY
U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-El Paso, has invited U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to participate in six debates with O'Rourke across Texas, two of them in Spanish, during their U.S. Senate race.
O'Rourke campaign manager Jody Casey made the proposal in a letter last week to Cruz's senior staff, adding that the debates should have "media reach to all twenty markets in the state."
"I would like to begin direct coordination of the debates with your campaign team between now and May 10th," Casey wrote to Cruz advisers Bryan English and Eric Hollander in the April 24 letter. “Please advise my best point of contact on the Cruz campaign team."...
Fight over Texas' Confederate symbols continues across the state (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY
One by one, over 50 Dallas residents stepped up to the microphone at a city council meeting last week. In their one minute of allotted time, some remained calm about their opposition or support for the removal of the city's Confederate War Memorial. Others were fired up — one woman opposed to the removal called two city officials “snakes in the grass.”
There was a common theme among those against the removal of confederate monument: Don’t erase history. Dallas — where a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee was taken down last year — has joined other Texas cities that have grappled over what to do with their cities' Confederate symbols. For example, Austin last week decided to rename two streets named for Confederate leaders. Other Texas cities, including El Paso, have wrestled with the issue in recent months but have not taken significant action...
Many Texas businesses have yet to invest tax breaks in higher wages or new investments (San Antonio Express-News) LINK TO STORY
Most Texas retailers expect lighter tax burdens because of the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul, but few have used the cushion to reinvest in their companies, according to a survey released Tuesday. Three-quarters of Texas retailers polled in April said they expected a significant or slight reduction in their 2018 tax bills, the results of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas’ monthly service sector and retail outlook surveys show. The tax overhaul signed by President Donald Trump in December lowered the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent...
Hypocrisy and errors as Trump brings a gun-free zone to the NRA convention (Washington Post) LINK TO STORY
National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch on Monday fact-checked an error that might have been only the second-worst mistake in an Associated Press tweet, which read: “NRA bans guns at President Trump, VP Pence speeches during it's annual meeting in Dallas.” Loesch noted it was inaccurate to report that the NRA had imposed the ban, since the Secret Service dictates security measures for the president and vice president. She overlooked the it's/its slip-up, arguably more egregious for the keeper of journalistic grammar and style. The AP tweeted a correction two hours later...
Mueller raised possibility of presidential subpoena in meeting with Trump’s legal team (Washington Post) LINK TO STORY
In a tense meeting in early March with the special counsel, President Trump’s lawyers insisted he had no obligation to talk with federal investigators probing Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. But special counsel Robert S. Mueller III responded that he had another option if Trump declined: He could issue a subpoena for the president to appear before a grand jury, according to four people familiar with the encounter. Mueller’s warning — the first time he is known to have mentioned a possible subpoena to Trump’s legal team — spurred a sharp retort from John Dowd, then the president’s lead lawyer...
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