BG Note | News - What We're Reading (May 7, 2018)


[Austin Metro]

Emotions high as residents weigh fighting East Austin gentrification (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Already struggling to bear rising costs of living in the historically black and Hispanic east side of Austin, members of the community said at a forum Sunday that they fear their culture, homes and schools are being taken away through gentrification. Making CodeNext — Austin’s controversial attempt to rewrite the city’s land development code — a reality would make matters worse, they said.
“It’s been heartbreaking,” said Susana Almanza, an activist in East Austin who described changes over the past 60 years. “It destroys a lot of the social fabric. … There was a very rich community of peoples of color.”
She said the discussion Sunday at Southwest Key Programs addressed how the community can “mitigate the displacement and gentrification.”
A number of ideas were floated ahead of a May 24 City Council meeting and the June 2 CodeNext hearing. Many organizers and community members expressed support for a six-point plan that includes establishing a living wage for the city, funding a trust for low-income housing and adopting a policy that gives certain residents the right to stay where they live and return in the community...

Corbin Van Arsdale says it will be an ‘honor’ to be mayor of Cedar Park (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY 

After having served two terms on the Cedar Park City Council, Corbin Van Arsdale said he is looking forward to leading the city as mayor.

“It’s been good to us and given us a wonderful and safe place to live,” Van Arsdale said after winning 70 percent of the vote Saturday against opponent Bob Cornelius. “So it will be a real honor to continue serving Cedar Park residents on the council as mayor, and work with all of our council members, all of our staff, and all of our residents to keep this great thing we have going and make it even better.”

Van Arsdale, who also served three terms in the Legislature as a representative from Harris County, received 3,711 votes, while Cornelius garnered 1,617 votes, or 30 percent...

Are electric scooters eco-friendly? It depends on what they’re replacing (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

When electric scooters flooded into Austin, the companies that rent them touted their environmental benefits: “Riders were able to prevent 445,334 pounds of carbon emissions,” a press release from Bird said. The startup LimeBike estimated its scooters reduced 8,500 pounds of CO2 here in just two weeks.
But those numbers are based on some shaky assumptions.
Sam Sadle, LimeBike’s director of strategic development, said his company assumes most scooter users are riding them instead of riding in cars. Bird said it assumes half its scooter rides are replacing a 1-mile car ride. So, are scooters replacing car trips?...

Garbage companies fight over landfill standards (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Over the past two years, City Council has faced challenges in deciding who to pay to haul and dispose of the large amount of trash generated by city facilities.
One of the big local trash players, Texas Disposal Systems, has claimed that city lobbying rules, which limit communications between a company bidding on a contract and city officials, put it at a disadvantage because its employees are constantly in communication with city officials relating to an existing, long-term deal it has with Austin Resource Recovery to dispose of curbside waste at the TDS landfill in Creedmoor, southeast of the city.
Council responded to the company’s concerns, first by revising lobbying rules and then by directing city staff to develop a new point system for evaluating landfills...


In NRA speech, Trump promises to protect gun rights — and endorses Texas politicians (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

President Donald Trump, addressing the National Rifle Association on Friday, vowed to protect gun rights as long as he leads the country — and ventured into unrelated territory as he doled out endorsements to the state's Republican leaders, among other things.
"Your Second Amendment rights are under siege, but they will never, ever be under siege as long as I am your president," Trump said at the NRA-ILA's Leadership Forum here at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.
Despite the venue, Trump's talk of guns was limited as he dived into politics several times, starting with the endorsements for some of Texas' statewide officials who were in attendance. In each case, he echoed support that he had expressed for them on Twitter in the lead-up to the March primaries...

Microsoft’s deal with Houston fits the company’s ongoing reinvention (Houston Chronicle) LINK TO STORY

Friday’s announcement that Microsoft would partner with the city of Houston on a wide-ranging technology agreement hit all the right checkboxes. Digital literacy, check. STEM education, check. Helping Houston’s startup ecosystem, check. A smart city bristling with the “internet of things,” check and double-check. Missing, though, was detail, which is where the devil lives, and a looming question: What’s in it for Microsoft? Mayor Sylvester Turner and assorted Microsoft executives touted what the company was going to do for Houston, but nothing was said about how this benefits the software giant. In fact, there were none of the particulars offered that typically accompany a partnership announcement of this scope. Turner and the Microsoft contingent never even talked about the cost of the initiative, implying that the city was going to receive the benefit Microsoft’s expertise at little or no cost...


McCain says he regrets picking Palin as running mate (The Hill) LINK TO STORY

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he regrets choosing former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) to be his running mate during the 2008 presidential campaign. The New York Times reported on Saturday that McCain, while still defending Palin’s performance, said in his upcoming book, “The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights, and other Appreciations,” that he wishes he had instead selected former Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) His advisers reportedly had warned against choosing Lieberman, who was once a Democrat, stating that Lieberman’s support of abortion rights could divide Republicans...

Should the Fed Create ‘FedCoin’ to Rival Bitcoin? A Former Top Official Says ‘Maybe’ (New York Times) LINK TO STORY

Many enthusiasts of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are motivated by deep skepticism of the central banks that control the world’s money supply. But what if central banks themselves entered the game? What would happen if the Federal Reserve, or the European Central Bank or the Bank of Japan used blockchain technology to create their own virtual currencies? Besides, that is, having some cryptocurrency fans’ heads explode? A former Fed governor — who was also a finalist to lead the central bank — thinks the idea deserves serious consideration. “Most central banks have a view that these crypto-assets are clever, like guys in the garage did it and it’s kind of cool, or risky,” given the potential investor losses and widespread fraud, said Kevin Warsh, who was a governor at the Fed from 2006 to 2011 and was a top contender to become its chairman late last year when President Trump instead appointed Jerome Powell...

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