BG Note | News - What We're Reading (May 15, 2018)


[Austin Metro]

Council votes to move ahead with People’s Plan to combat displacement (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

City Council’s push to address the area’s rising cost of living could soon include components of a plan put forward by a coalition of community groups to prevent low-income residents from being priced out of Austin. At last week’s meeting, Council unanimously passed a resolution directing the city manager to conduct an analysis and make recommendations on the actions included in the People’s Plan, which was created to keep residents in the fast-growing Eastern Crescent sections of Austin – traditionally a lower-income region where many longtime residents have lived for generations – from losing their homes.

The plan includes six resolutions to provide public funding and city land for affordable housing, improve infrastructure and other quality-of-life issues in existing low-income areas, and move forward with the development of a “right to return” policy that is intended to combat the effects of gentrification that have already forced some residents out of their neighborhoods...


Link to "The People's Plan" and "Austin Housing Justice Agenda" (City of Austin)

Planning commissioners propose ‘anti-McMansion ordinance’ for CodeNEXT (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Three members of the Planning Commission have proposed a series of “anti-displacement” measures in CodeNEXT that they say will discourage demolitions of existing low-cost housing and incentivize the construction of smaller units that middle-income people can afford.
Speaking to reporters at City Hall Monday before kicking off yet another marathon meeting of the Planning Commission on CodeNEXT, commissioners Angela De Hoyos Hart, Fayez Kazi and Conor Kenny unveiled what they called an “anti-McMansion ordinance,” a reference to the current “McMansion ordinance” that they said is woefully insufficient.
They pointed to statistics showing that most single-family homes that are demolished are replaced by larger single-family homes. When single-family homes are demolished, only 34 percent are replaced by duplexes and 7 percent by multifamily developments. Fifty-nine percent are replaced by other single-family homes...

Contractor drops racial slur at county meeting, participants say (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

A Travis County-led stakeholder discussion between construction contractors and labor interests reached a boiling point last week when one of the participants used a racial slur, according to people at the meeting.
Multiple sources confirmed to the Austin Monitor on Monday that, when discussing wages and other work site conditions, Aaron Cabaza of Aaron Concrete Contractors grew agitated and referred to construction workers as “wetbacks,” an offensive term used to derogatorily describe Mexican immigrants.
The county convened the meeting last Tuesday in order to discuss a set of proposals to bolster protections for workers on county projects. The Purchasing Office’s Contract Compliance Program cooked up the 10 recommendations aimed at ensuring contractors commit to paying appropriate wages, providing federally approved safety training, and other work site safety measures...


Despite Supreme Court ruling, sports gambling remains illegal in Texas (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday struck down a federal law that barred sports betting in most states, but the ruling will have no immediate impact on Texas, where wagering on sporting events remains illegal. To change that, the Texas Legislature would have to change state law — and likely the Texas Constitution as well — while overcoming strong anti-gambling sentiments that have doomed efforts to loosen state gaming laws in recent legislative sessions. Still, Monday’s 6-3 ruling will likely renew efforts to expand gambling in Texas, said Jay Stewart, an Austin lawyer who has worked on gaming issues for more than two decades...

Texas uses hypnosis to investigate crimes. Dallas death row inmates say it's time to stop (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY

For many people, the word “hypnosis” evokes images of swinging pocket watches, swirling vortexes and impressionable subjects mesmerized by movie villains. They think of Get Out, The Manchurian Candidate, even Office Space. But in the Lone Star State, it isn’t a parlor trick or Hollywood ploy. Here, hypnosis is a matter of life and death. Texas has the most robust forensic hypnosis program in the country, training police officers across the state to sharpen or recall crime witnesses’ lost memories. As more and more states ban the practice, law enforcement here turns to it at least a dozen times a year...

Embattled ex-congressman Blake Farenthold finds safe harbor at the Port of Port Lavaca (Corpus Christi Caller-Times) LINK TO STORY

Farenthold told listeners on a Corpus Christi radio show Monday morning he had landed a position working for the Port of Port Lavaca-Point Comfort. "I'm starting a new job today that has an hour-and-a-half commute," he said on 1360 KKTX-AM's Lago in the Morning talk show. "You're gonna have me listening and calling in a whole lot now." His annual salary will be $160,000.10, just below the $174,000 he earned in congress. In a statement, the port said Farenthold would be its full-time legislative liaison and will be tasked with promoting the port’s agenda. That's a challenge in a Gulf of Mexico region where the race is on among ports of call to expand to meet a growing global energy market...


Under banner of peace, U.S. opens embassy in Jerusalem. Sixty miles away, dozens of Palestinians are killed. (Washington Post) LINK TO STORY

A joyous ceremony marked the inauguration of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem on Monday, a largely symbolic step that nonetheless is of deep political significance, here and in the Palestinian territories, as well as farther away. Amid the happy bustle of about 800 guests, as Jared Kushner spoke, the controversial evangelical pastor Robert Jeffress blessed the occasion and President Trump delivered a prerecorded video address, there was little indication of what was unfolding less than 60 miles away on the border between Israel and Gaza. There, protests against the embassy opening and Israel’s continued blockade of the Palestinian enclave were met with gunfire by Israeli troops. Dozens of Palestinians were shot dead and thousands were injured...

Trump to press GOP on changing Senate rules (The Hill) LINK TO STORY

Frustrated with what he calls Democratic obstruction, President Trump is expected to press Senate Republicans during a lunch Tuesday to change the rules to speed up consideration of his nominees for vacant court seats and executive posts. It has taken an average of 84 days to confirm Trump’s nominees, far longer than for the four presidents who preceded him, according to the Partnership for Public Service, a non-partisan group that tracks confirmations. "Waiting for approval of almost 300 nominations, worst in history. Democrats are doing everything possible to obstruct, all they know how to do," Trump tweeted Saturday...

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