BG Note | News - What We're Reading (May 4, 2018)


[Austin Metro]

North Shoal Creek plan put on hold (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY 

Despite an overwhelming workload courtesy of CodeNEXT, Planning Commissioners managed to spend more than three hours discussing a plan centered on just one neighborhood at its most recent regular meeting.
Neighbors have been pushing for a North Shoal Creek Neighborhood Plan for about a decade and actively working on the current plan for two years. For better or worse, the plan arrived at the Planning Commission in the middle of the city’s rewrite of the Land Development Code, CodeNEXT. Commissioners ultimately voted to postpone the case to their June 12 agenda, but not before diving into some weighty discussion about the role neighborhood plans play in the growth of the city and whether the process that creates the plans is fundamentally broken...

Advocates say HUD proposal to raise rents could hurt struggling families in Austin (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Watchdog groups in Austin say a plan to raise rents for millions of people who get federal housing assistance would hurt the area’s most vulnerable residents.
“What this will do is increase housing costs, force more families to choose between food and the rent, medical care and the rent, utilities and the rent,” Maddie Sloan, a manager with the nonprofit Texas Appleseed, said. “And (it) will ultimately force more families into homelessness and housing instability.”...

Stuck in park, the CTRMA looks beyond tolls (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

The agency primarily known for building toll roads in the Austin region is spitballing some new ideas as state policy keeps its activities largely in a holding pattern.
Last week, board members of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority briefly discussed the effective prohibition mandated by the Texas Transportation Commission against building new toll projects.
Under pressure from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Gov. Greg Abbott, the commission decided last fall to abandon highway expansion plans that featured both tolled and nontolled lanes. That put on ice several CTRMA projects, including MoPac South, 183 North and the Oak Hill Parkway...


Top Texas health official to step down amid contracting missteps (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Charles Smith, executive commissioner of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, will retire May 31 in what will be the sixth and most high-profile departure from the troubled agency since major contracting errors were revealed last month. Smith has come under fire over the last several weeks from lawmakers and Gov. Greg Abbott over missteps in awarding $600 million in contracts. Contracting problems have plagued the agency in recent years, leading to rapid turnover among the agency’s top brass. Smith, who announced his retirement Thursday, did not say in his letter to Abbott — who appointed him to the post in 2016 — why he was leaving. Smith had previously worked for Abbott when he was Texas attorney general...

City Council decides against bidding for GOP national convention in 2020 (San Antonio Express-News) LINK TO STORY

San Antonio will not submit a bid to host the 2020 Republican National Convention, a decision announced after council members met Thursday in closed session to discuss the matter. The cost of pursuing the event — an international spectacle that could draw 40,000 visitors, including 15,000 reporters — outweighs the potential economic impact that could be $200 million, Mayor Ron Nirenberg and most council members agreed. The host city would be expected to raise about $70 million, including about $6 million from public coffers. “We discussed the economic impacts and the overall impacts of a political convention in San Antonio,” Nirenberg said after emerging from the executive session. “I will tell you that as a whole, the City Council did not believe that moving forward with the bid was worth it.” ... The only city to come forward publicly so far with hopes of landing the 2020 RNC is Charlotte, North Carolina...


Analysts: Giuliani's media blitz gives investigators new leads, new evidence (Houston Chronicle) LINK TO STORY

Rudy Giuliani's media blitz to convince the public that neither Donald Trump nor his lawyer had violated the law by paying a porn star to keep quiet about an alleged affair might have backfired, giving investigators new leads to chase and new evidence of potential crimes, legal analysts said. ... "I'm sure his strategy was damage control," said Barbara McQuade, a former federal prosecutor who now teaches at the University of Michigan, "but I'm not sure he controlled much." ... Giuliani first contradicted Trump's assertion last month that he was unaware of the payment to Daniels, then offered details of which federal investigators are sure to take note. He mused on "Fox & Friends," for example, about what might have happened to Trump's campaign had Daniels made her allegation on the eve of the election. "Imagine if that came out on Oct. 15, 2016, in the middle of the last debate with Hillary Clinton," Giuliani said. "Cohen didn't even ask. Cohen made it go away. He did his job."...

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