BG Reads | News - What We're Reading (July 10, 2018)



Here’s why Ken Paxton wants to kick members off Austin’s Planning Commission (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

A city statute that governs the makeup of Austin’s Planning Commission is at the center of a legal challenge from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office.
Paxton is taking legal action to remove eight members of the 13-member commission, citing a rule that limits how many commissioners can have some sort of affiliation with real estate or land use interests.
In 1994, Austin voters approved a proposition that added members to the commission, as well as tightened guidelines from 1973 on the number of Planning commissioners who could be “directly or indirectly connected with real estate and land development.”
“It was a major issue, because Austin was in one of its boom periods, as it is now,” former Austin Mayor Bruce Todd said.
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SXSW economic impact grows north of $350M (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

The economic impact of the South by Southwest festival inched across the $350 million mark in the latest analysis by Greyhill Advisors of the spring festival’s effect on the community. The $350.6 million total for the 2018 festival represented growth of just over 0.5 percentage point from the 2017 impact of $348.6 million.
With a worldwide media impact calculated in excess of $430 million, city and festival leaders repeated a common refrain of SXSW being roughly equivalent to having a Super Bowl game, which is estimated to generate $400 million for host cities, played locally every year. Ben Loftsgaarden, managing partner for Greyhill Advisors, explained the impact includes operational impact of $148 million, attendance impact of $175.5 million and consumer event impact of $27.1 million.
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Texas Education Agency gives AISD another chance to save Mendez Middle (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

After being at risk of closure for failing to meet academic standards for four consecutive years, Mendez Middle School will get a new shot at a turn around.
The Texas Education Agency has approved the Austin school district’s choice in a partner to help save the 700-student middle school in Southeast Austin, which could have faced state sanctions if it failed again this year.
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Right or left? Contests for key state offices offer clear contrast between Democratic challengers, GOP incumbents (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY

Texas Republicans and Democrats are like oil and water, so voters generally have an easy time distinguishing between the conservative and liberal ideologies of the parties. Nowhere is the choice between Democrats and Republicans as clear as it is in the races for lieutenant governor and the state senate.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is seeking re-election to a second term in November against Democrat Mike Collier, is steadfast in his promise to continue to produce conservative legislation, while Democrats want more progressive laws. In North Texas, several staunch conservatives face challenges from Democrats who contend their rivals are not in step with most Texans.
But like Patrick, the incumbents defend their brand of conservatism. Democratic strategist Matt Angle said incumbents like Sens. Don Huffines of Dallas and Konni Burton of Colleyville would have trouble. Former Burleson school board member Beverly Powell is challenging Burton in Tarrant County and Dallas lawyer Nathan Johnson is running against Huffines in Dallas County. Collier said Democrats will win in November because of their down-ballot slate.
He has been campaigning with state senate candidates Johnson and Kendall Scudder, who's running against incumbent Sen. Bob Hall. "Just is as important as talent at the top is people running for state house and state senate and county commission and county judge," Collier said. "After 2014, I've always viewed this as a reverse coattail state."
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Facing a Tuesday deadline to reunite about 100 migrant toddlers with their parents, feds say they've reunited 2 (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

The court-imposed deadline is only a day away for the federal government to reunite the families of about 100 migrant children under the age of 5 who were separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. But a lawyer for the government said in court Monday that only two children of that "tender age" have been reunited so far.
And, the lawyer said, the government expects to reunite less than 60 of those children with their parents by the Tuesday deadline.
U.S. Department of Justice lawyer Sarah Fabian said the children on track to be reunited have been transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody and, pending final confirmation of parentage, will be reunited with their parents by Tuesday. ICE will then release the families from detention, since the facilities where the parents are currently housed cannot shelter children.
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Trump Taps Brett Kavanaugh As His Second Supreme Court Pick (KUT) LINK TO STORY

Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, told President Trump this past week that Judges Raymond M. Kethledge and Thomas M. Hardiman presented the fewest obvious obstacles to being confirmed to replace Justice Anthony M. Kennedy on the Supreme Court, according to Republican officials briefed on the conversation. Mr. McConnell made clear in multiple phone calls with Mr. Trump and the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, that the lengthy paper trail of another top contender, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, would pose difficulties for his confirmation.
Mr. McConnell is concerned about the volume of the documents that Judge Kavanaugh has created in his 12 years on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, as well as in his roles as White House staff secretary under President George W. Bush and assistant to Kenneth W. Starr, the independent counsel who investigated President Bill Clinton. while Judge Kavanaugh’s judicial opinions are publicly known, Mr. McConnell is uneasy about relitigating Bush-era controversies, the officials briefed on his discussions with Mr. Trump said. 
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