BG Reads | News - What We're Reading (June 28, 2018)



Epstein, PSV held soccer meeting prior to McKalla proposal’s release (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

A co-owner of the Circuit of the Americas met with representatives from Columbus Crew SC owners Precourt Sports Ventures about a possible deal to use the property as the team’s new home, just prior to the city receiving a proposal from the team’s owners seeking a $1-per-year lease on city property for a new stadium.
Bobby Epstein, one of the partners in the Austin racetrack and concert facility, told the Austin Monitor that the meeting didn’t result in any progress on a deal between the two sides, with PSV soon after releasing its proposal to use the 24-acre parcel near the Domain known as McKalla Place as the stadium site for the Major League Soccer franchise.
“We’d reached out many times, early on after they started exploring Austin, then it finally happened a month ago,” Epstein said. “They want a deal where they don’t have to pay property taxes, but out here they would have to pay property taxes. There’s no need for them to have further conversations if they get free land with no taxes.”
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PolitiFact: Claim of $1B giveaway on stadium gets a red card (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Our ruling:
A video by an anti-stadium group claims the Austin City Council is poised to give more than $1 billion to a company and receive nothing in return.
While the City Council potentially could provide incentives worth millions of dollars as part of the soccer stadium deal, the video’s scary “$1 billion giveaway” language doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny. The lengthy time frame invoked and the countless unknown events that could affect the deal make the math used in the video meaningless. Factor in that the video also doesn’t account for any return on the city’s investment, and it is clear the contentions are off-base — and ridiculous.
We rate the claim Pants on Fire!
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Retail group faces backlash over Domain Northside marketing materials (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

An uproar this week over language used in marketing materials promoting a North Austin shopping center shows that words do, in fact, matter.
Northwood Retail has been catching heat on social media sites over some of the terms and phrasing used in a brochure focusing on Domain Northside. The brochure has since been removed from the company’s website.
The marketing materials start off by stating that Domain Northside “serves a diverse group of consumers from across the region.”
In a bulleted list that follows, Northwood Retail lists some of the types of shoppers most likely to visit the center – data that is typically gleaned from market research. Retailers regularly rely on such data when looking where to expand.
The typical Domain Northside shopper is identified as a “classy, trendy, well-heeled” woman between the ages of 30 and 60. They are predominately married “but also highly successful in (their) own careers” and are “likely to describe (their) ethnicity as Anglo, Jewish or Asian.”
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Council gears up for bond debate (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

On Thursday, City Council members will try to put together a bond package that a majority on the dais agree to and that they believe a majority of Austin voters will support at the polls in November.
Whatever package Council approves on Thursday will lay out the biggest features of the bond, notably the dollar figure for the overall package and the amount in each of the large buckets that will be approved or rejected separately on the ballot: parks and open space, affordable housing, transportation, stormwater and drainage infrastructure, and municipal facilities.
Not all of the details about individual projects will necessarily be nailed down though; city staff will develop a more specific proposal to put on the ballot that Council will have to approve in August.
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Potentially Expanding His Power, Abbott Orders Agency Heads To Run Proposed Rules By Him First (KUT) LINK TO STORY

In a move that could expand the powers of his office, Gov. Greg Abbott has told Texas state agencies to submit proposed new rules to him before they are made available for public comment.

Citing the “success of regulatory review at the federal level,” Abbott’s office wrote in a June 22 letter obtained by The Texas Tribune that his staff would review policies before they’re published in the Texas Register, much as presidents do at the national level. That would mark a significant expansion in the role of the governor, which has historically been a relatively weak post compared with other states and with the federal government.

“Presidents have reviewed new regulations in order to coordinate policy among agencies, eliminate redundancies and inefficiencies, and provide a dispassionate ‘second opinion’ on the costs and benefits of proposed agency actions,” Abbott’s chief of staff, Luis Saenz, wrote in the letter.


US Attorney Ryan Patrick reaffirms enforcement of all illegal entry cases (McAllen Monitor) LINK STORY

Prosecutors in the Southern District of Texas will continue to prosecute 100 percent of the cases referred to them by U.S. Border Patrol.
U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick of the Southern District of Texas announced the news Tuesday while discussing the prosecution of illegal entry cases in Brownsville. It’s news that comes just one day after U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said his agency would stop referring migrants caught crossing the border with children for prosecution.
“We are still seeing lots of cases referred to us by Border Patrol — there was a statement from (Border Patrol) that, for the foreseeable future, family units will not be referred to us for prosecution for the misdemeanors,” Patrick said. 

Texas schools armed 33 staff members through School Marshal program (Houston Chronicle) LINK TO STORY

Only fifteen school districts out of more than 1,000 have enrolled staff members in Texas’ school marshal program, revealing the enormity of the challenge faced by the governor and lawmakers to use armed employees to help prevent future shootings. The School Marshal program, run by the Texas Coalition on Law Enforcement, provides 80 hours of training and licenses school members to possess a weapon on campus.
So far only 33 school staff members are approved school marshals. In the wake of the mass-shooting at Santa Fe High School, Gov. Greg Abbott said his office would pay for training this summer to increase the number of school marshals at participating school districts.


Justice Kennedy, the pivotal swing vote on the Supreme Court, announces retirement (Washington Post) LINK TO STORY

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy announced Wednesday that he is retiring from the Supreme Court, a move that will give President Trump a chance to replace the court’s pivotal justice and significantly shift the institution to the right, setting up a bitter partisan showdown over Kennedy’s successor.
Although Kennedy held the deciding vote on many issues, abortion is likely to be the key focus in what is expected to be a bruising nomination battle for whomever Trump chooses. While Senate Democrats lack the numbers to deny the seat to Trump’s picks, they will ratchet up the stakes of the choice. Liberals came to value Kennedy because he was the best they could hope for.
But Kennedy most often votes with the court’s conservatives: He is further to the right on law-and-order issues than Justice Antonin Scalia was, he is comfortable with the court’s protective view of business and he shared the losing view that the entire Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.
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Texas judge Don Willett is back under consideration to be Trump's next Supreme Court pick (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement creates the possibility that President Donald Trump will nominate a Texan for the seat. Don Willett, a Texas judge serving on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, made Trump's short list of 11 potential nominees before the president selected Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. After Gorsuch's nomination, Trump released an updated list in November 2017 with 25 names, including Willett.
Trump told reporters Wednesday that he plans to nominate a justice from that list. While Cruz supported Willett's nomination to the 5th Circuit, he endorsed Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, for Kennedy's Supreme Court seat in an appearance on Fox News on Wednesday. Both Cruz and Texas Sen. John Cornyn serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will hold hearings on Trump's nominee to fill Kennedy's spot.
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