BG Note | News - What We're Reading (May 30, 2018)


[Austin Metro]

Public Weighs In On Final Draft Of CodeNEXT (KUT) LINK TO STORY

Austin residents expressed strong feelings for and against CodeNEXT today at the first public hearing on the final draft of the rewrite of Austin’s land development code.
City Council members spent hours hearing from members of the public, including Dennis Oxford, who said he preferred the status quo to what he called a “bit by bit” approach to the rules governing what can be built where.
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Employees coming, going at City Hall (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

The city of Austin has lost two well-known employees in the last few days, including Mark Dreyfus, Austin Energy’s vice president of regulatory affairs and corporate communications.
According to a memo from Jeff Vice, AE director of local government relations, Dreyfus has retired “after nearly 19 years of dedicated service to Austin Energy.” But there was no party and no City Council recognition of his contributions to the utility. According to Vice, starting in 2010 Dreyfus “successfully led a two-year process to design and implement the utility’s first electric base rate increase and rate restructuring in 18 years.”
Asked for a comment, Dreyfus said, “I came to work every day of the last 19 years with only one objective, to protect the long-term viability of Austin Energy and all of Public Power. I am pleased to have played at least some role in our continued success.”
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Cramped for space, Austin Energy searching for new HQ (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Austin Energy is in the market for a new headquarters capable of housing employees currently scattered across the city.
The city’s electric utility is reviewing proposals recently solicited – with help from commercial real estate firm CBRE – from developers for a building of about 300,000 square feet. For comparison, that is about half the square footage of downtown Austin’s Frost Bank Tower.
Developers who responded have pitched a variety of sites citywide, CBRE said.
Austin Energy and CBRE expect to make a decision in the coming weeks. After that, it would be presented to Austin City Council for approval before construction could begin, with a targeted completion date as soon as 2020.
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Video game sparks outrage among Texas officials, gun control advocates (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Texas officials and gun control advocates are decrying a forthcoming video game that allows players to simulate school shootings. In the “Active Shooter” simulator, players can control a school shooter or a responding SWAT officer and “protect and extract or hunt and destroy.”
The game has drawn condemnation from those on both sides of the gun debate ahead of its June 6 release date for being insensitive to recent mass shootings like those at high schools in Santa Fe and Parkland, Fla., which killed more than two dozen people combined. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick issued a letter Tuesday urging Valve Corporation President Gabe Newell to stop the release of the game on Steam — a digital gaming storefront that Valve owns. More than 120,000 petitioners on have also asked Valve to not release the game.
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Hispanic identity is already shaping the race between Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

Flanked by a nine-piece mariachi band, U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez leaned on Beto O'Rourke’s roots while introducing his congressional colleague to a crowd of Rio Grande Valley residents at a recent campaign event.

“Beto is one of us,” Gonzalez told the nearly 400 people who crowded into a local football stadium concourse on a humid May afternoon. “He’s from the border. ... He understands our culture. El nos conoce.” ("He knows us," the McAllen congressman said.) 

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Moderate Republicans could temper caucus’ choice for House speaker (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

The results in key GOP Texas House runoffs last week promise to reverberate later this year, when House Republicans meet to select a preferred candidate for House speaker. In a handful of Republican runoff contests, moderates prevailed over more conservative candidates, which could favor a choice more in line with retiring Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, who was a bulwark against socially conservative legislation such as bills limiting bathroom use for transgender people.
The runoffs, said Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University, “kept the balance of power within the House from moving more to the right than where it was.”
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Dallas’ Place in the ‘Texas Triangle’ (D Magazine) LINK TO STORY

Texas’ economy has been one of America’s fastest growing for decades. The powerful engine of it all can be found in a triangle roughly formed by Interstate 45 from Dallas to Houston, Interstate 10 from Houston to San Antonio, and Interstate 35 from San Antonio through Austin back to Dallas. Nicknamed the Texas Triangle, this region of more than 20 million people produces nearly $1.3 trillion a year in output, good enough to rank 17th among the world’s economies.
Employment exceeds 8 million workers—more than that of Illinois and only a bit less than that of Florida. Roughly 10 percent of the state’s land mass, the Triangle contains 70 percent of the state’s population, 74 percent of its jobs, 75 percent of its real personal income, and 80 percent of its gross state product (GSP).
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High-Ranking North Korean Official Is Traveling To New York (NPR) LINK TO STORY

The former head of North Korean military intelligence is traveling to New York, according to President Trump, who says Kim Yong Chol is coming to the U.S. to discuss the possible summit with Kim Jong Un.
The senior North Korean official's trip to the U.S. was initially reported by South Korean media, which said Kim Yong Chol had flown to Beijing and is booked on an Air China flight to New York that leaves Wednesday.
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