BG Reads | News - What We're Reading (June 20, 2018)


[Austin Metro]

Four Council members urge for new direction on CodeNEXT (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Four City Council members signaled their discontent with the current direction of CodeNEXT process and announced an effort to develop a new code that is “equitable, sustainable, accessible, vibrant and community-driven.”
Surrounded by supporters at a City Hall press conference Tuesday morning, Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo and Council members Alison Alter, Ora Houston and Leslie Pool argued that the current draft of CodeNEXT jeopardizes what makes the city special and will not necessarily lead to greater affordability.
“Right now Austin does not have a draft code that the community supports,” said Tovo in her opening remarks, adding that the city deserves a code that “balances growth and change alongside the needs of our longtime residents.”
Council Member Ora Houston decried what she described as a narrative that framed longtime residents – including renters and homeowners – as selfish and unwelcoming to newcomers. In fact, she said, it was the most “privileged” members of the community pushing that narrative.
Houston added that the new code needs to be “context-sensitive,” respecting the character of neighborhoods.
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Draft audit recommends changes, improvements for Visit Austin (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

A draft summary from the Office of the City Auditor finds that Visit Austin, the nonprofit organization charged with promoting Austin tourism, needs to improve its internal communication and tracking of deliverables related to its annual contract with the city of Austin.
The complete audit is expected to be finished this week in advance of Monday’s meeting of City Council’s Audit and Finance Committee, where the final document is expected to be accepted and adopted.
The two-page draft summary states Visit Austin, which received $14.9 million from the city for the 2018 budget year, is generally in compliance with the terms of its city contract that was approved in 2016. Auditors also found “Visit Austin’s financial policies do not have criteria for which expenses are charged to the City versus private funding sources.”
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City Council members plan to visit Tornillo ‘tent city’ on Thursday (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

The majority of the Austin City Council will head to the El Paso area on Thursday to visit the Tornillo tent city, where hundreds of immigrant children are being housed by federal authorities.
Mayor Steve Adler and eight other members of the council will head to El Paso on Wednesday and travel to the Tornillo site Thursday morning on a “mission” being led by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, said Tom Cochran, the group’s CEO.

City Council will discuss MLS stadium proposal at June 28 meeting (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

The Austin City Council agenda released for June 28 has two action items that could tip the scales on the city getting its first major professional sports team.
Item 64 on the agenda is to approve a resolution that would direct the city manager to begin negotiating with Precourt Sports Ventures for a Major League Soccer stadium at McKalla Place in North Austin.


Texas nonprofit has received $1.5 billion in federal money to run shelters for immigrant children (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY

A Texas nonprofit has received nearly half a billion dollars from the U.S. government this year to operate shelters for undocumented immigrant children who have been separated from their parents. That's nearly half the money allocated so far this year for the federal unaccompanied alien children program, which is at the center of a raging debate over the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy for people crossing the border illegally.
The Austin-based nonprofit, Southwest Key Inc., has made $1.5 billion from the federal government in the last decade, according to U.S. Health and Human Services data.

Joe Straus to Trump: separating families isn’t the law; end the policy (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, asked President Donald Trump in a letter Tuesday to end his directives that result in separating immigrant families at the border. “There is no federal law requiring the separation of children from parents at the border,” Straus said in the letter. “None of us wants to imagine the fear that overcomes young children who are forced out of their parents’ arms, which adds to the trauma that they have often faced in their countries of origin.”
Straus asked Trump to “listen to the growing number of Americans, faith leaders and elected officials from both parties” who have criticized the policy. “This is not a binary choice between rampant crime and tearing families apart,” he said.

Turner says he will not be “an enabler” of plan to put immigrant kids at downtown Houston facility (Houston Chronicle) LINK TO STORY

Saying he will not be an “enabler” of a plan to put immigrant children in a downtown Houston warehouse, Mayor Sylvester Turner called on the property owner Tuesday to reconsider plans to lease the facility to a nonprofit hoping to operate it as a detention center for children separated from their families at the border.
The mayor said he is in no rush to issue city permits at the site, and called on the state not to issue a child care license to the 54,000-square-foot facility two blocks north of BBVA Compass Stadium for use by federal contractor Southwest Key Programs. Turner, flanked by numerous nonprofit, religious and political leaders at City Hall, said he wanted to show a unified front to protest the “unjust and immoral policy” the Trump administration began enforcing in April, when a “zero tolerance” approach began driving up the number of children removed from their parents upon crossing the border illegally.


US pulls out of UN Human Rights Council (NPR) LINK TO STORY

After more than a year of complaints and warnings — some subtle and others a little less so — the Trump administration has announced that the United States is withdrawing from the United Nations Human Rights Council. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley announced the decision in a joint statement Tuesday.
"I want to make it crystal clear that this step is not a retreat from human rights commitments," Haley told the media. "On the contrary, we take this step because our commitment does not allow us to remain a part of a hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights."
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