BG Note | News - What We're Reading (May 18, 2018)
Companies seek permits in bid to soon peddle rental scooters, bikes (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY
Keep an eye out. The rentable electric scooters that briefly zipped through downtown are on their way back. And they’re bringing dockless rental bicycles with them.
Dockless mobility companies were able to begin applying this week for permits to operate in Austin, following a meeting last Friday that drew interest from about 20 companies, said Marissa Monroy, a spokeswoman for Austin’s Transportation Department. Zagster, which operates Pace bike rental, and scooter rental company Bird submitted applications Friday, Monroy said.
Those could be approved within days, after an inspection of the two companies’ vehicles. Lime, Ofo and Spin said they were working on filing the needed paperwork.
Last month, Austin city staffers scrambled to complete rules and regulations for dockless rental bikes and scooters as companies anticipated a pilot program, and two companies, Bird and Lime, took advantage of a loophole to introduce electric rental scooters without the city’s permission. City Council members put a stop to that with an April 27 vote.
Applications for permits to operate legally, which also outline how Austin will enforce some control over the shareable, grab-and-leave-anywhere vehicles, became available Monday... (Read more)
Survey: Austin respondents support Major League Soccer but want transportation improvements (Community Impact) LINK TO STORY
For the past two months, staff from 14 city of Austin departments have gathered information for City Council about whether a Major League Soccer stadium is a proper fit for a city-owned property at 10414 McKalla Place in North Austin.
Part of the staff’s objective was to gather public feedback both at information sessions hosted by the city and through an online survey that closed Tuesday.
The city is still working on preparing the final report for council, but it released some preliminary results on Thursday.
A majority of the survey respondents generally support the idea of an MLS team coming to Austin.
When asked “in general, how do you feel about having a Major League Soccer franchise in Austin?”, 80 percent responded “very positive” and 4 percent responded “positive,” while a total of 13 percent of the 1,008 respondents chose “very negative” or negative.”... (Read more)
People Are Scalping Tickets To Hamilton Pool Because The Internet (KUT) LINK TO STORY
Hamilton Pool is not a last-minute destination. It’s about an hour away from Austin and before you even get in the car to make the drive, it takes weeks, or even months, of lead-time.
That’s because, for the last two years, Travis County Parks has used an online reservation system to save swimmers a coveted spot by the emerald pool.
It’s a change of pace from the old, crapshoot system that often required hopeful swimmers to wait to get in line (in a car in oppressive summer heat), only to get turned away if, or when, the park reached capacity.
The new process bypasses that uniquely sweat-logged misery, but the spots fill up fast.
Enter: Craigslist... (Read more)
In Central Texas congressional runoffs, candidates with traditional advantages face scrappy underdogs (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY
At a recent forum in Austin, there was a moment of unity between Matt McCall and Mary Wilson — candidates in the Republican and Democratic runoffs, respectively, for the 21st Congressional District. An audience member wanted to know: If you lose your party's nomination Tuesday, how will you support your runoff opponent in November? "Since I live in the district," Wilson said, pausing briefly after those six words, "I will be voting for whoever the winner of this runoff is, and that's the primary means of support." "I thought the first part of Mary's answer was funny," McCall said with glee when it was his turn, "because I can say the same thing: I can vote in this district."... (Read more)
Emails show ex-Congressman Blake Farenthold's eager pursuit of lobbying gig (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY
Nearly a month after abruptly resigning from Congress in the wake of revelations over lewd and verbally abusive behavior, former Corpus Christi Rep. Blake Farenthold had been angling for several days to get a lobbying job at a port authority in his district. And he appeared to be getting antsy. "What's up with the lawyers?" Farenthold wrote to Calhoun Port Authority director Charles Hausmann in an April 30 email, which was obtained by The Dallas Morning News through an open records request. "I'm ready to get work for y'all. "Any problems that I should know about?" Farenthold ended up landing the gig this month. He started Monday as a $160,000-a-year legislative liaison who will seek to boost the port's "presence and visibility in Washington"... (Read more)
Rep. René Oliveira's DWI arrest front and center in House District 37 Democratic runoff (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY
Cameron County Commissioner Alex Dominguez said he wanted to run for the Texas House this year because the timing was right: He would have had to leave office in the middle of a second term had he waited until 2020 and been re-elected to the local post. If he had any doubts about his decision after coming in second to long-time incumbent state Rep. René Oliveira, D-Brownsville, during the March primary election, those likely melted away last month after Oliveira, who was first elected to office in 1981, was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated. “People have been calling and volunteering, and people are tired," Dominguez said earlier this week about Oliveira’s arrest. "That pushed people over the top. If they were ever on the fence, they have fully come to our side. People want a change at this point.”... (Read more)
McConnell warns control of the Senate is ‘absolutely’ in play in midterm elections (Washington Post) LINK TO STORY
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) warned Thursday that control of the Senate is “absolutely” in play in the midterm elections, identifying the nine battleground states he believes will decide the outcome in November. In an interview with The Washington Post, McConnell also confidently predicted that the government will not shut down in September just weeks before the midterms, despite recent agitation from President Trump that there will be “no choice” but to shutter the government in September if he doesn’t get funding for his border wall. “I always think it’s better to be candid and not try to spin people into thinking this isn’t going to be a challenging election,” McConnell said in the Thursday morning interview. “I think the safest place to be is just to say that this is going to be a very challenging election, and I don’t think we know in May ... whether it’s Category 3, 4 or 5.”... (Read more)
Senate Confirms Gina Haspel As CIA Director (KUT) LINK TO STORY
The Senate on Thursday confirmed Gina Haspel as CIA director, making her the first woman to lead the spy agency, despite the controversy surrounding her role in the waterboarding program.
The Senate vote of 54-45 in favor of Haspel came mostly along party lines. She needed support from several Democratic senators to win confirmation.
Her confirmation effectively completes President Trump's shake-up of his national security and foreign policy teams. In recent weeks, John Bolton became the national security adviser, Mike Pompeo became secretary of state, and Haspel now takes over for Pompeo at CIA... (Read more)