BG Note | News - What We're Reading (May 21, 2018)

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[Austin Metro]

CodeNEXT: What’s the plan, here? (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

After seeing the city spend five years and $8.5 million on CodeNEXT, some members of the Planning Commission are worried that the final product will be little more than a “plan to plan.”
Currently, the commission is in the process of making recommendations about what the different zoning categories available under the new code should allow. Last week, for instance, commissioners debated what size lots should be allowed in R2C, one of several residential zones crafted by city staff and a team of planning consultants.
However, the commission has not yet recommended where R2C, or any other zoning category, should apply. Some commissioners have suggested that that should not be part of the CodeNEXT process. Instead, they have suggested that the new zoning map will be crafted incrementally by city staff through “small area plans.”
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City planners picture fewer cars on Congress (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Imagine if the main street of Texas had wider sidewalks, dedicated bike lanes and no pull-in parking spaces.
That’s one potential outcome of the city of Austin’s Congress Avenue Urban Design Initiative.
Last week, the Public Works and Planning and Zoning departments debuted renderings of what they have dubbed as “alternatives” for the stretch of Congress between the state Capitol and Riverside Drive. Each of the concepts envisions reducing the number of lanes north of Lady Bird Lake to five, or even to four.
“We recognize strongly that what can happen in those big, crowded intersections like Cesar Chavez and Riverside Drive is more limited,” project manager David Taylor with the Public Works Department told the Austin Monitor on Friday.
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Austin jobless rate falls to 2.8% as tech, hospitality sectors boom (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Austin’s booming technology sector and its status as an entertainment destination continued to power the local economy in April, with the monthly unemployment rate slipping below 3 percent as thousands of new workers moved into the region over the past year.
The April unemployment rate in the Austin metro area — which includes Travis, Williamson, Hays, Bastrop and Caldwell counties — came in at 2.8 percent, according to the Texas Workforce Commission, compared to 3.1 percent in March and 2.9 percent in April 2017. Those figures aren’t seasonally adjusted.
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Parmer Innovation Center to become mammoth employment hub in Northeast Austin (Austin Business Journal) LINK TO STORY

A California real estate firm is buying an abandoned, half-built apartment complex in Northwest Austin and plans to transform the decaying site into a future phase for its nearby 300-acre mixed-used project.
The move is the latest in a string of new developments at Parmer Innovation Center, a sprawling project packed with Fortune 500 companies that could eventually become yet another hub for retail, housing and office in North Austin.
Karlin Real Estate wants to incorporate the 28-acre apartment property at 12600 McAllen Pass, called the IO at Tech Ridge, into Parmer Innovation Center across the street, potentially for restaurants and multifamily housing, said Matthew Schwab, managing director with Karlin.
Trammell Crow Co. is the master developer and CBRE Group Inc. handles leasing for Parmer Innovation Center, where General Motors, Home Depot, Natera Inc., Allegran and Blue Apron operates. 3M Corp. plans to move in next year.
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[STATE]

State backs off cannabis oil ban, seeks ‘big picture’ plan (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

A state health agency has tapped the brakes on its drive to strip food and supplements infused with CBD oil — a non-psychoactive extract of marijuana — from Texas retail store shelves. But it’s unclear how long the reprieve will last for over-the-counter food products containing CBD, or cannabidiol. An official with the Texas Department of State Health Services said the agency has slowed the rollout of its previous proposal while it consults with a number of other government entities, including law enforcement, to devise a broader framework for regulation of foods, drugs and cosmetics that are sold at retail and advertise CBD among their ingredients.
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Dan Patrick renews call to arm more teachers (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Sunday blamed the Santa Fe High School shooting on “a violent culture where we devalue life,” citing movies and video games, bullying on social media, and abortion. He called for arming teachers as part of the militia envisioned by the Second Amendment. Patrick’s remarks on ABC’s “This Week” won a swift rebuke from an enraged Fred Guttenberg, the next guest on the show. His 14-year-old daughter, Jamie, was killed in the Parkland, Fla., school shooting in February. “I think those are the most idiotic comments I’ve ever heard regarding gun safety,” Guttenberg said. “Let me be clear: He should be removed from office for his failure to want to protect the citizens of Texas.”

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Amid questions of whether ex-Congressman Blake Farenthold was hired inappropriately as lobbyist, he says, "I wasn't involved" (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

Asked Friday about a news report that said former U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold's recent hiring as a lobbyist for the Port of Port Lavaca may have violated the Texas Open Meetings Act, the Republican said he "wasn't involved." The Victoria Advocate reported Friday that Farenthold’s hiring may have been illegal since the notice posted by the Calhoun Port Authority, which oversees the port, was too vague in describing what was going to be said at a closed meeting where the former congressman's hiring was discussed. "I’m trying to get on with my life. I wasn’t involved other than I talked to them about a job. I don’t know anything about it," Farenthold said after an event hosted by The Texas Tribune. "I’m not talking to reporters. I’m a private citizen now.”

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Texas runoff between Laura Moser and Lizzie Pannill Fletcher a pivotal moment for national Democrats (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

Houston Democratic players are now calling what was once the wildest Democratic primary in the state a word not spoken often in Texas politics: boring. 
But even as local political junkies are tiring of the national drama surrounding the 7th Congressional District's Democratic primary in west Houston featuring attorney Lizzie Pannill Fletcher and activist Laura Moser, what happens here Tuesday night will have outsized implications for national Democrats' optimism and tactics in their bid to take control of the U.S. House in the fall. 
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[NATION]

Giuliani: Mueller plans to wrap up Trump obstruction probe by Sept. 1 (The Hill) LINK TO STORY

The special counsel hopes to finish by Sept. 1 the investigation into whether President Trump obstructed the Russia inquiry, according to the president’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, who said on Sunday that waiting any longer would risk improperly influencing voters in November’s midterm elections. Mr. Giuliani said that the office of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, shared its timeline about two weeks ago amid negotiations over whether Mr. Trump will be questioned by investigators, adding that Mr. Mueller’s office said that the date was contingent on Mr. Trump’s sitting for an interview. A spokesman for the special counsel’s office declined to comment. Wrapping up the obstruction case would not signal the end of Mr. Mueller’s work. That is one piece of his broader inquiry, a counterintelligence investigation into Russia’s campaign to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump associates coordinated with it.
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