BG Note | News - What We're Reading (June 5, 2018)


[Austin Metro]

The debate over decriminalizing homelessness (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

A campaign to decriminalize behaviors associated with homelessness got a boost Monday from the Public Safety Commission, which voted to approve a resolution that instructs the city manager to review ordinances that may “create barriers for people who are trying to obtain housing or employment.”
The resolution, which was authored by Commissioner Daniela Nuñez, highlights three city ordinances. One bars “camping” in public places, another bars sitting or lying down in certain areas of downtown, and the third bars “aggressive panhandling,” which includes making physical contact, making threats, using obscene language or following people.
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After years of delays and protest, West Lynn demolition moves forward (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

It took a long time to get there, and there was a lot of angst in the process, but, in the end, the demolition of 611 West Lynn St. was approved without much fanfare at all.
“This is a case that has been around for a long time,” said Historic Preservation Officer Steve Sadowsky, at the most recent meeting of the Historic Landmark Commission. Sadowsky explained that the first application to demolish the home was 15 years ago. At that point, he explained, the commission initiated a historic zoning case on the home, which was built in 1899 and is a contributing structure to the West Line National Register Historic District. That case ran out the clock, due to postponements. In 2015, the case came back, the commission initiated historic zoning, and the same thing happened again.
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Renteria opposes contract award to contractor who used racial slur (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

City Council Member Pio Renteria says he will oppose the awarding of a city road maintenance contract to a firm whose president used a racial slur at a Travis County-sponsored meeting last month.
According to a memorandum Capital Contracting Officer Rolando Fernandez Jr. wrote on Monday, Aaron Concrete submitted the lowest bid to replace two brick intersections along East Seventh Street. Because the bid conformed to procedure, staff is recommending that Council award the $325,000 contract to the firm at the June 14 Council meeting.
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Group sues Austin’s elected officials, city manager for failing to put CodeNEXT question on November ballot (Community Impact) LINK TO STORY

A group of Austinites sued the City Council and city manager Friday for dismissing a valid petition and voting against putting a measure on the November ballot to question whether citizens should have voting power over a land development code rewrite.
Leading up to the May 24th vote, city leaders and other parties involved acknowledged that lawsuits were imminent. At the center is CodeNEXT, the city’s five-year, $8.5 million project to rewrite the land code that has drawn sharp political lines through Austin’s neighborhoods.
Local attorney Fred Lewis filed the suit on Friday. Lewis is a leader in the anti-CodeNEXT ensemble Community Not Commodity. The suit was filed on behalf of vocal CodeNEXT opponents such as Jeff Jack, president of the Austin Neighborhoods Council; Mary Ingle, the neighborhood group’s former president and Nelson Linder, president of the Austin chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
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What the U.S. Supreme Court's Masterpiece Cakeshop decision means for religious refusal laws in Texas  (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

Last year, a dispute over a Colorado wedding cake made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court — and this week, the reverberations of the high court’s ruling made it all the way to Texas. After the high court ruled Monday in favor of a Christian baker in Colorado who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, conservatives praised it as a vindication of religious liberty and free speech.
Meanwhile, LGBT advocates focused on language in the decision that suggests future cases could be decided differently. At the center of the case was the question of “religious refusals” — whether, and when, a “sincerely held religious belief” justifies denying certain people certain services or privileges. The baker, Jack Phillips, sought what LGBT advocates have characterized as a “constitutional right to discriminate,” saying that he should not be forced to “use the talents that I have to create an artistic expression that violates [my] faith.”
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Trump’s legal team readies for fraught showdown with Mueller, even as president declares broad powers (Washington Post) LINK TO STORY

Despite President Trump’s declarations that he has expansive powers that could blunt the ­special-counsel investigation, his legal team is preparing for the possibility of a presidential interview, or a legally precarious subpoena battle over such a sit-down.
Trump declared in tweets Monday that he has the “absolute right” to pardon himself and called the special counsel unconstitutional, the latest efforts by the president and his lawyers to assert his authority over the federal law enforcement system. But private moves by Trump’s attorneys and advisers indicate that — despite the president’s public bravado — they are readying for a fraught legal confrontation that could have far-reaching consequences.
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